NCAA Tournament Round of 64 Storylines to Watch
The Selection Show has come and gone and the 68 teams have been selected. I actually did better than I expected in my first attempt to predict the bracket. The full field is set and every year, the committee tells the world’s worst lie and says they don’t pick certain teams to pair up based on storylines. So let’s dive in.
The Pitino Revenge Game
Minnesota and Louisville in the 7-10 matchup in Des Moines is absolutely wild. The hope is that Slick Rick will still be there to watch his son take on his former school. Given the unceremonious ending to the Louisville-Rick Pitino relationship, there’s absolutely no way anyone on that committee could tell me that they didn’t do this intentionally. I think the best thing that can be done is have Rick come out and do a ceremonial opening tip.
Ja Morant vs Markus Howard
Two of the most electrifying guards in the country will square off as Marquette takes on Murray State. Ja Morant was all-world in the Ohio Valley conference tournament to get his team to the NCAA Tournament while Markus Howard struggled in the Big East tournament. It should be noted that he was dealing with a wrist injury, which he claims is much better now. It will be interesting to see the defenses thrown at these two, I’d have to assume Sacar Anim gets the call for Marquette on Morant while Ja might take Howard for the Racers. Either way, this is a compelling 5-12 game.
The 12-seed Oregon Ducks
The Ducks were left for dead just a few weeks back, the team was floundering in a bad Pac 12 and the bid seemed destined for 1 total bid. Fast forward to Saturday night as the Ducks wrapped up a blowout win over top-seeded Washington to win the Pac 12 title, without star Bol Bol. The rise has been fast and timed perfectly for Dana Altman and I think they got one of the best possible draws in Wisconsin. The Badgers are a hot and cold team and rely so heavily on Ethan Happ who is one of the best players in America within 5 feet of the rim and a problem elsewhere.
Kansas is somehow in the Midwest Region
The Jayhawks have had a challenging year with injuries, departures, etc wrecking havoc on their team. It is the first time in over a decade that they didn’t win the Big 12 regular season title and they were still somehow awarded a 4-seed in the Midwest regional that is going to be played in Kansas City. Now it would be a microcosm of the year Kansas has had if they were to lose before getting to the regional site in upset fashion, but man oh man I’m not sure Bill Self could have gotten a better draw if he chose it himself.
Fletcher Magee vs Myles Powell
Two of the most talented scorers in America will square off late on Thursday night as Seton Hall and Wofford play in the 7-10 game. Fletcher Magee is one of the most prolific 3-point shooters ever in College Basketball. Magee shoots an impressive 42.8% on a massive 10.7 attempts per game. On the other side Myles Powell has the ability to absolutely take over games, we saw him do it many times this season and a few times in the Big East Tournament. It will be a treat to watch these guys go at it.
Game of Scandals
LSU and Yale are set to play early on Thursday in one of the strangest matchups for the single reason that both are allegedly involved in recruiting scandals. For LSU, they look to be without head coach Will Wade who was allegedly caught on a wiretap mentioning a “strong ass offer” to get a recruit. Yale was recently named as one of the schools in the admissions scandal that saw Lori Laughlin among others go down for paying to get their kids into prestigious schools.