The NCAA tournament started last Thursday and Murray State point guard Ja Morant stole the show. Morant was the highlight of his team’s 83-64 win over Marquette in the opening round of the tournament.
Morant had a triple-double, his third of the season – 17 points, 16 assists, and 11 rebounds. It was the first triple-double in the NCAA Tournament since Michigan State’s Draymond Green did it in 2012.
It’s March, which means that the frozen hellscape outside will soon be transitioning into a sunny playland. The birds will sing, flowers will bloom, and I will be sneezing uncontrollably while watching college basketball for 72 hours straight. That’s right baby—it’s time for MARCH MADNESS. So, to celebrate I want to break down three of my favorite plays from this college basketball season and give out a couple of goat awards.
First. For those of you unfamiliar with Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield I’ll allow him to introduce himself.
ANCHORS AWAY ADMIRAL. With that backdoor slam Admiral Schofield and the Vols set sail for a beat down of the top ten Kentucky Wildcats. It should be a surprise to no one that Tennessee Basketball has seen a revival since being graced with the best name in college basketball. For those without the eyeballs or the time to watch the Vols this year, The Admiral—he doesn’t even need a nickname—has been the second leading scorer for the Vols. The 6’6 and 24-pound guard has been an offensive and defensive force—averaging sixteen points, six rebounds, and two steals a game. While the Admiral did not enjoy his normal scoring output in this game—he only scored seven points—he got the highlight of the contest by rocking the rim with that sweet jam.
Times have not always been this good for Admiral, patience has paid off for the senior. Tennessee suffered though two losing seasons his first two years before converting these last two seasons into a genuine SEC challenger to Kentucky and the Cal Pals. I wouldn’t be shocked the Admiral and the rest of the Tennessee Volunteers at the top of the SEC at the end of the week.
Second. JESUS JA. May I present to you the Lord and Savior of Murray State basketball.
With his burst, court vision, and heavens blessed athleticism Ja split the Belmont defense and blessed the rack with a divine dunk in the OVC championship game. That jam wasn’t the only inspiring play Ja had in the championship game—his footwork and handles also come from above. The way Morant moves in the paint to create space for himself or for his teammates to score is otherworldly. With a head fake or a quick spin he’s either laying it in himself or willing into existence a scoring opportunity for a teammate. While the rest of Murray State might not share his top talent—Ja is the only division one player in the top ten of both scoring and assists—let us bask in Ja’s warm glowing warming glow while we still can.
Third. MOTHER OF GOD DID ZION JUST DO THAT!?
Zion Williamson—the thiccest thick boy to ever live and the most exciting prospect since Anthony Davis—just did an Olympic long jump in game to spike the basketball into a black hole. He is the best. Zion Williamson is without a doubt the G.O.A.T. of this college basketball season. Let us not forget that when this season began the common thought was that Steve Nash’s godson R.J. Barrett was considered the better player. Zion Williamson has hulk smashed that notion into oblivion with earth crushing dunk after earth crushing dunk. His superhuman leaping ability—no mortal weighing 285 pounds should be able to leap six feet straight into the air—has enticed everyone from Floyd Mayweather to Barack Obamas to Cameron Indoor Stadium. Nike shoes cannot contain him, the Super Bowl tickets cannot outsell him, and my eyes cannot wait to witness his return to the basketball court to rampage across the NCAA tournament.
When I think about March Madness, memories of watching guys like Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette carry their team on tournament runs always come to mind. It’s one of the most interesting narratives in the tournament-one guy putting the team on his back, especially offensively, and willing them to victories. Everyone loves watching a hero, here are this year’s candidates to play that role.
No season in college basketball is created equal. Last year’s unpredictable nature in which top-ranked teams fell from grace at a higher clip than ever before, was certainly not expected to be duplicated one year thereafter.
While that narrative proved to be true, storylines and plot twists alike were in abundance once again as we now find ourselves on a crash course for what many believe to be the greatest tournament in all of sports.
With conference tournaments set to get juicy in the coming 48 hours, we look back on who stood out amongst the rest en route to my college basketball regular season awards for the 2018-2019 season.
First off, I don’t consider the American Conference a mid-major and obviously I’m not going to write about Gonzaga, Nevada, Buffalo, and Wofford. Those four will all make the tournament with a top 8 seed barring something crazy. However, some of these teams may sadly not end up in the tournament. But if they do, I think they could do some damage.
The Rams are no stranger to upsets in the tournament so this year wouldn’t be anything new. VCU has KenPom’s #4 defense that is allowing just 62 points per game. They do have a lackluster offense but they have won 9 games in a row and have wins over Temple, Hofstra, Texas, and Dayton (twice), and close losses to St. John’s and Virginia. They’ve held good offenses like Texas and Virginia to under 60 points. VCU could easily shut teams down and win a couple games in the tournament. Continue Reading!