The madness continues this weekend as we enter the Sweet 16. Here’s what we know:
The preseason #1 team is not in it.
Sorry, Duke fans, the Blue Devils didn’t make the cut. The South Carolina Gamecocks chased Duke out of the gym like the big chicken that went viral on Sunday. This shouldn’t shock Duke fans. The team consistently underperforms in the tournament. Yes it is true Coach K has five championship rings, but the Blue Devils have, more times than not, found themselves being upset during the tournament. Remember how Lehigh did the very rare thing (a No. 15 beating a No. 2)? Let’s not forget about Mercer doing close to the same thing (No. 14 beating No. 3). Now we can add South Carolina to the list.
Speaking of which, South Carolina is underrated.
They scored 65 points in 20 minutes. Either Duke’s defense is extremely weak, or the Gamecocks are for real. Star player Sindarius Thornwell thinks people have been sleeping on him and his team. “I feel like I’m underrated. I feel like we’re underrated,” Thornwell told ESPN. “I definitely have a chip on my shoulder. There are a lot of great players that were mentioned in the player of the year conversation, and it’s fun to go up against them.” So far in the tournament, Thornwell is averaging 20+ points. The team faces Baylor on Friday and if Thornwell and the Gamecocks continue doing what they’re doing, they could pull off another upset.
Lonzo Ball’s dad might be crazy, but this guy is good.
UCLA’s freshman point guard Lonzo Ball has been making headlines lately, but not for his outstanding performances. His father, former college basketball player LaVar Ball, has been playing himself. His most recent comments include wanting a billion dollar shoe deal for all three of his sons (two still being in high school). Jumpman should not worry (not that he is anyway). No one is taking Ball seriously. He took another shot at MJ, saying, “Back in my day, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.” Let us just point out that Ball didn’t inspire NBA interest, and averaged 2.2 points during his college career.
Oh, but the ridiculousness doesn’t end there. Upon bragging on himself, Ball began reaching in regards to his son, saying he was “better than Steph Curry.” Let’s get one thing straight – Lonzo Ball is a great ball player, but Steph Curry is in a whole different category.
Regardless of his father’s problematic mouth, Lonzo Ball has been gaining NBA attention from his tournament performance. The freshman has averaged double figures in both games and is shooting over 70%. He’ll face other top NBA prospects, Kentucky’s Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox.
Expect this game to be a war.
Michigan continues dancing towards their destiny.
During their conference tournament, their plane had a mishap taking off and veered off track and into a ditch. Thankfully, everyone remained unharmed, but players were so shook that they considered not competing in their conference tournament. They did go, and they won. Now, fighting for their lives in the big league, Michigan continues to dominate. They’re coming off their upset win against No. 2 Louisville, whom many had in the championship game or at least the Final Four. Now the Wolverines face an injured Oregon team, and many stats are riding the Michigan bandwagon and picking them to defeat the Ducks.
Watch for Michigan’s Cinderella story to continue.
There is one ACC team left.
Raise up, North Carolina. After claims that the ACC was the best conference in college basketball, their teams enormously underpreformed. In fact, most of the teams didn’t even go out in a dignified way. Virginia lost their game by only scoring 39 points, Miami lost by 20, the once highly raved Florida State team was blown out by a No. 11 seed by a whopping 25 points, national title contenders Louisville was upset by Michigan, and we all know what happened to the preseason number one Blue Devils. Nine ACC teams entered, but Wake Forrest didn’t even win their play-in game. Virginia Tech wasn’t overly favored to win, so let’s not put too much blame on them.
North Carolina is the only team left to represent the ACC. The biggest question is, will the ACC ever gain back their respect? The ACC didn’t just underperform. Their teams caused a financial disaster for the ACC.
There are three No. 1 seeds left.
Count ’em: Gonzaga, Kansas, and North Carolina. Villanova is the only No. 1 seed not dancing after being upset by, who some consider underrated, Wisconsin team. After being pronounced the first No. 1 seed to leave the dance early, Gonzaga has surprised everyone and has been in talks about this team being legit. Gonzaga plays in a conference full of cupcakes, and most years they’re seeded pretty high in the tournament, only to end up getting knocked out early. Is this year different for the Zags? We’ll see when they play West Virginia, aka Press Virginia, aka Gonzaga’s toughest competition yet.
Kansas is a lethal weapon. Frank Mason II and Josh Jackson are beasts on the court, demolishing anyone who crosses their path. Don’t let their fluke loss in their conference tournament fool you. They were down one of their weapons, Frank Jackson, but that loss did prove that the team, who no one thought was beatable, is in fact beatable. Top POY candidates, Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan and Frank Mason II, have a lot on the line in their game on Thursday. Expect this to be a fight to the finish.
North Carolina barely escaped a heart wrenching loss against Arkansas. Regardless of how you feel about the Joel Berry call, the Tar Heels held an impressively offensive Arkansas team scoreless in the last three minutes. The Tar Heels were behind late in the game, but rallied, the first time this season they were able to come out on top in one of these tight games. They’re still running off the adrenaline, and have proved to themselves that they can win games despite the circumstances. They will face Butler on Friday and then are matched up against two atomic bombs: UCLA or Kentucky.
The Sweet 16 starts this weekend and ends with the Final Four being chosen. Come watch with us at our fundraiser on Sunday from 4-8pm at Elevation 3,333. There will be tacos! Let the madness continue!