You can always count on March Madness to deliver the goods.
Every year the last thing you’d expect happens. Great teams are stunned like last year when a 16 seed (UMBC) finally defeated a number one seed (UVA). It had never happened in the entire history of the tournament.
So here are 5 takeaways from the first weekend of this year’s March Madness tournament.
All the number one seeds are still alive but there were some upsets like three of the 12 seeds – Liberty, Oregon and Murray State – all defeated the much higher 5 seeds.
Stars like Ja Morant and Zion Williamson put on shows and they are clearly far above the best NBA prospects.
So here are the 5 takeaways.
5) Duke Got Lucky
All of the one seeds are still alive but Duke got crazy lucky. University of Central Florida (UCF) stuck around and even led with 2:00 left in the 2nd half by 3. In the final seconds, Duke needed 3 points for a tie, Zion Williamson gets the ball, drives, spins, makes it and gets fouled. Silly foul by UFC. Just let him score.
Williamson misses his game-tying free throw and Duke got an easy put-back.
UFC takes the ball up the court and calls a timeout with 8.1 seconds left. After the timeout, UFC drives to the basket. They an easy layup – then another UFC player has a chance for an easy put-back. Both shots barely rimmed out.
Duke should be out.
4) Zion Williamson is Without a Doubt the Best NBA Prospect Since LeBron James
Speaking of Duke, Zion Williamson is a revelation. Williamson is by far the best NBA prospect since the LeBron James and he may even be better. Yes, that also includes Kevin Durant.
Williamson is huge in the body but only 6’7” and can jump out of the gym. Physics don’t apply to this beast of an athlete.
He’s got the whole package too. He can shoot, rebound (offense and defense), body, he’s smart and clearly a leader on the floor.
It’ll be awesome to see him body LeBron James next year.
3) Ja Morant is the Real Deal (although Murray State lost in the 2nd round)
This kid is special. Talk about someone who has the whole package, Ja Morant’s talent is undeniable.
In the first round, Morant had 17 points on only 9 shots and he had 16 assists. You can tell by the way he moves around the floor, with spacing, that he has a high basketball IQ.
Even when his Murray State team got blown out by Florida State in the 2nd round 90-62, Morant had a 28-point performance. He literally almost had half his team’s score by himself. He showed up. His team did not.
Morant averaged 24.4 points and 10.2 assists per game for the season, becoming the first college player to accomplish that feat since assists were officially recorded in the 1983-84 season.
2) UNC Tar Heels Look Like the Favorites to Win it all
The UNC Tar Heels look unstoppable. Roy Williams is one of the best coaches in the NCAA and the way his team plays, with no lottery pick household NBA prospects mind you, it clearly proves that. It’s a very disciplined team.
1) 3 Teams From the Big 10 Make it to Sweet Sixteen
It was almost four teams from the Big 10 but Ohio State lost to Houston in a tough game in the 2nd round. That leaves Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State who advanced to the Sweet 16.
Here’s the thing; the ACC had three number 1 seeds in the tournament with North Carolina, Duke and University of Virginia, and all of them advanced to the Sweet 16, so why isn’t that a bigger story?
It’s because the ACC is the most dominant in NCAA men’s basketball so it’s a surprise that despite the seeding going into the tournament, 3 out of 4 Big 10 teams with lower seeding made the Sweet 16. That’s impressive.