The Most Famous Wrist in College Basketball:
When Carolina’s Kendall Marshall went down (on what I think was a borderline dirty foul) and broke his wrist against Creighton, it seemed like every Tar Heel fan immediately feared the worst, while everyone else took the team off the list of potential national championship contenders. Which, to be honest, I can see why. Marshall was playing the best basketball of the year in the tournament, and he has a hand in over 50 percent of UNC’s points per game. His passing has never been in question – the guy dished out the fifth-most assists EVER in a single season in this year – but what has put him over the top in terms of value to this team is his recent hot shooting streak. Teams are no longer able to simply sit back and wait for him to pass. They have to respect all aspects of his game, and with a guy that talented, is a recipe for disaster for the defense.
Will He Play?
If we’re talking about the rest of the tournament, I don’t know. I am leaning toward him suiting up for at least one game if he is anywhere near 100 percent. But I do know one thing for sure – THERE IS NO WAY HE SHOULD PLAY ON FRIDAY AGAINST OHIO. He shouldn’t even suit up “in case of an emergency”. Now, this isn’t a knock on OU as much as it’s a testament to how much talent is on this Carolina squad. They should win easily, even without Marshall. If the rest of the team plays up to their potential, I think Roy Williams could start at the point and the Tar Heels would win. And I think Roy feels the same way – which is why if Marshall doesn’t play in the Sweet 16, it shouldn’t be an indication of his health for the rest of the tournament.
Don’t Call Them A Cinderella:
How about the N.C. State Wolfpack? From a team who had to wait until the last game was announced on Selection Sunday to find out if they’d even be in the tournament, the Pack sure have looked like they belong. This is no Cinderella team. They are a legitimate Final Four contender from an BCS conference who took the top teams in the country to the wire. Their biggest knock during the regular season is their inability to get over the hump and win those games, a problem they’ve definitely fixed. And while I’m on the topic, I’m going to have to brag that I picked them to reach the Sweet 16 in my bracket. What can I say, I just had a feeling. My brother, a current NC State student, had them making the trip to New Orleans, but I think he’s a little biased. But also may look pretty smart by the end of the weekend.
How About Ohio?
The state of my birth has been the story of the Sweet 16 so far – four teams from the state are still in the tournament, the first time that has ever happened to one state. (Which I was shocked to hear – I could’ve sworn that NC would have pulled off the feat at some point.) Besides Ohio University, the lowest-seeded team still alive, the Buckeye State contingent includes perennial power Ohio State, a #2 seed who many feel could make a run to the title game, and two teams whose campuses are 8 miles apart in Cincinnati – Xavier and the Univ. of Cincinnati. Now who would’ve thought that when these two teams got into a black eye-to-the-game fight after their matchup in January that both would be playing on the second weekend of the tournament? Surprising turnarounds for both squads.
It Starts at WHAT Time Again?
I have one off-the-court topic that is really getting on my nerves. Much like Major League Baseball refuses to start any World Series games seemingly before midnight on the east coast, the NCAA has pushed the starting times back so late for the Sweet 16 contests that many people won’t even get to watch them all. I mean, the Florida-Marquette game starts at 10:17 p.m. EST, meaning it will end in the early hours of Friday. How many people are going to stay up and watch this, even if it’s a great game? I know that this is only 7 p.m. out west, but still. The thing that gets me is that the solution is so simple. Just move the games up an hour or two? Nobody minds that there are contests going on during the workday in the first few rounds of the tournament. Why would it be such a big deal if a few tip off around 2 or 3 p.m.? That way, the first round of games finishes by 8:00 or so, giving the sound wave a chance to finish on the same day they started.
I hope everyone enjoys the games, and that your brackets aren’t too busted. After a week off, I’m ready for March Madness to be back!