What did we learn from the 1st weekend of the NCAA tournament? A LOT.
1ST LESSON: Are they ready?
A few of the college stars projected as top NBA picks don’t seem ready for the big time - at all. Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and Duke’s Jabari Parker will more than likely be drafted #1 and #2, but their performances were lacking in the tournament. In two games Wiggins had just 23 points (4 in the loss to Stanford) and 8 rebounds. To me, Wiggins looked lost on the floor in that 2nd game, like the freshman he is. In Duke’s monumental loss to Mercer, Jabari Parker was not himself. While his stat line wasn’t horrible (14 pts, 7 reb), he also looked like he needs more grooming for the big stage. Lastly, in that same game, the Blue Devils’ Rodney Hood disappeared. His 6 points was another reason Duke fell to the 15 seeded Bears. Being a 21 year-old red-shirt sophomore probably will lead Hood to jump to the NBA.
2ND LESSON: Wichita State was overrated and over-seeded.
When a team goes undefeated against lesser competition, you should not give them a #1 seed. Wichita State had one “quality” win on their schedule, beating St. Louis. The Shockers had beaten five NCAA tournament teams through the regular season, but only one (St. Louis) was seeded higher than 10. (10 BYU, 11 Tennessee, 13 Tulsa, 14 NC Central). Kentucky was perhaps a bit under-seeded as an 8, but the Shockers’ demise was inevitable.
3RD LESSON: Leadership counts for a lot in March.
Experience matters come tournament time. Senior-laden teams (Mercer, Dayton, Stanford) are knocking off teams with young, inexperienced studs.
4TH LESSON: A lone star does not a team make.
Having a single star on the floor cannot take you far in the tournament these days. Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart tried his best to carry his team to a tournament win but it didn’t happen. The kid put up 23 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 steals against Gonzaga. Also, in two games “Dougie McBuckets” Doug McDermott scored 45 for Creighton. The Blue Jays’ loss came when Baylor was able to shut McDermott down. He still scored 15 that game.
5TH LESSON: The ACC was either overrated or terribly unlucky.
It is hard to admit that the ACC is not as good as we all thought it was during the regular season. The fact that only one team from the conference remains, is telling. Duke, UNC, Syracuse, Pitt and NC State went 4-5 over the three opening rounds. In comparison, the SEC (hardly a basketball conference) still has 3 teams in. The Big Ten and the PAC-12 also have three teams each still alive. The AAC (formerly the Big East) has two, as does the Big XII.