This is only the 3rd year I have really been heavily involved in the NCAA Tournament or "March Madness" as it is nicknamed and I have been on a roller coaster of highs and lows since it started. In the years past I just followed casually and kept an eye on the projected draft picks for the NBA but as of 2 years ago I have entered the relm of the "Madness" and have not looked back. The whole atmosphere of the tournement is electric and every single game has meaning, especially if you have a bracket filled out and are looking for the wins. The biggest thing I have learned is that there are no locks, whether you are a #1 facing a #16 or a #8 facing a #9 nobody is safe from the upset. We've seen Butler take down Pittsburg, Virginia Commenwealth top Georgetown and Purdue, Richmond beat Vanderbilt and Morehead State shock Louisville. There has been numerous buzzer beating shots and countless games coming down to the wire this year and needless to say, I have been on the losing end of 8 of those games decided in the closing seconds. However, despite my initial frustration and still lingering anger (the Texas loss is still fresh) I thoroughly enjoy every second of the madness and eagerly look forward to the next game. Seated on my couch with one game playing on the TV and another one going next to me on my laptop courtesy of CBSsports.com, I enter the crazy world of NCAA basketball and don't surface until it is all over. Here's a few things I have learned from this year's play and expect to see as it progresses.
1.) Derrick Williams is a beast on both ends of the floor. Whether it's blocking a game winner or hitting the eventual game winning And 1, Williams is shoving his talent and sheer will to win in everyone's face as Arizona continues towards a Sweet 16 matchup against Duke.
2.) Nobody is safe. Just because your team is playing a crappy seeded team, it doesn't mean it's a gimme win. Just like every year, the lower seeds show up and use every ounce of hustle and talent they have to upset the big dogs and destroy the brackets of guys like me. We love and hate these games because nobody likes to have brackets shattered, but everyone loves the underdog story. Whether it is George Mason of a few years ago, Butler of last year or Virginia Commenwealth of this year, we all feel for the little guys.
3.) This is where the men are seperated from the boys. In the moments where it counts, when the game is on the line, this is when we see the true mettle of these players. Guys like Jacob Pullen, Derrick Williams, Matt Howard, and J'Covan Brown to name a few. These players step up and deliver when their team needs them the most. In the case of Pullen and Brown, their teams fell sort but they did everything physically possible to give themselves the chance to come out on top. The NBA scouts love this time of the year because they truly see what these young men are made of.
4.) Never count out the Jimmer. Jimmer Fredette has been just incredible this year, doing absolutely everything for BYU. When Brandon Davies was suspended, nobody gave BYU much of a chance to do much in the tournement. Ya they had Jimmer but without Davies inside they were at a disadvantag at both ends of the floor. Now after 2 games, BYU is going strong and Jimmer is averaging 33 point per game and stil carrying this team on shoulders. Don't be surprised now that Pittsburg is out if Jimmer and BYU challenge for a spot in the Final 4.
5.) Don't forget about Duke. With the talk about Ohio State, Kansas and even North Carolina, it's really easy to overlook Duke. Which is odd because it's not often that the defending NCAA champions are left out of the title talk. Any team with Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, the twin towers (Miles and Mason Plumlee) shooters in Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins and then Kyrie Irving of course, should never be counted out when talking about tournament champions. They have the talent, experience and coaching to very possibly take the title home again.
6.) There is a fantastic point guard class in the NCAA. It has been a while since we've seen a group of point guards like we have right now. With players like Jacob Pullen, Kyrie Irving, Isiah Thomas Jr, Ben Hansbrough, Kemba Walker, Brandon Knight, Nolan Smith(He played point for the majority of this year) Jimmer Fredette(he is pretty much the point for BYU) and Shelvin Mack, the NCAA and the NBA are set for point guards in the coming years.