Which team provided the biggest underdog moment in NCAA history? 2013 Florida Gulf Coast? 1983 NC State? 1996 Princeton?
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Round one goes to Wiggins, but get used to this matchup as we’ll be seeing it for years in the NBA. Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker have taken turns being crowned the inevitable top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, but now we’ll have a year of college basketball to settle the matter, though Kentucky’s super freshman Julius Randle may have something to say about it as well.
Both Wiggins and Parker were magnificent last night. Parker dominated in the first half and finished 27 points. He’s an all-around great player who can do everything very well from rebounding to draining three-pointers. Then in the second half Wiggins and the Jayhawks took over as Wiggins showed off his incredible athleticism that has people comparing him to Jordan and Lebron. The highlight above gives just a glimpse of what he will be capable of. Wiggins ended up with 22 points.
I had the opportunity to interview both Wiggins and Parker in the past as both of them won the Gatorade High School Player of the Year Award for basketball (Wiggins won the overall award as well). Both are great kids and have a bright future ahead of them.
With these two and Julius Randle, it’s hard to imagine any team in the top three of next year’s NBA Draft being disappointed. In the meantime they can fight it out for the National Championship.
Even though he just recently finished his sophomore season at the University of Wisconsin, Traevon Jackson comes across just like his game- confident, smooth and mature.
For being just 20 years old, he’s so calm and composed, you can’t help but think about where you were in life at 20….and then sheepishly quit punishing yourself.
Some of that confidence undoubtedly comes from his famous genetics and being the son of NBA star player Jim Jackson, but the greater part of it comes from his faith and approach to life, off the court.
What was your experience like playing in the NCAA Tournament?
“Obviously, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. Just the fact of me playing in the tournament was great because it’s the attitude of “loser goes home” and unfortunately we had to go home. But it really puts into perspective what you need to do to prepare for it going forward. And learning from that this year helps us next year.”
Is there added pressure based on who your dad is to succeed? What’s the dynamic of that like?
“Growing up, I felt it more than I do now, but now I don’t even think about it at all, actually. The pressure that I feel now the most is pleasing the Lord. That may sound cliché, but that’s an everyday type of task and the biggest thing for me. As long as I continue to grow in that aspect, there is no other question.”
Who would win a game of one on one right now?
“Oh, me of course (laughing). Easily. He can beat me in golf and all the other, cards, all that stuff, but he’s not beating me on the court.”
The Louisville Cardinals won the National Championship, but you knew with Michigan making it to the final game we would have plenty to talk about regarding fresh faces of March Madness as Michigan was the youngest team in the tournament. But while much of the talk going into the tournament surrounded freshmen Glenn Robinson III and player of the year Trey Burke, a sophomore, it was freshman Mitch McGary who was the story of the tournament. But that was before tonight, when an unknown freshman took over the game in the first half. You had probably never heard of Spike Albrecht before tonight, but by halftime that’s all anyone was talking about.
Spike Albrecht averaged less than two points per game during the regular season, and he hadn’t done much in this tournament until he put on a shooting clinic in the first half. He hit four three-pointers and didn’t miss any. One was a complete bomb from way beyond the arc. He scored 17 points in 20 minutes as he single-handily led Michigan to a 12-point lead while Trey Burke was sitting on the bench with a couple of fouls. He was also driving to the rim with reckless abandon. The kid was on fire and so was Michigan, but it wouldn’t last. His first half will be remembered for a long time, but Louisville was able to close the gap with a run before the half, as Michigan coach John Beilein left Burke on the bench as he seemed mesmerized by Albrecht like everyone on Twitter. The kid ran out of steam in the second half, but we’ll always remember that amazing first half run.
Like I said above, going into this game Mitch McGary was the story of the tournament. The freshman big man was the key to Michigan’s win over Syracuse as his play in the middle helped to counter the tough 2-3 zone that everyone was talking about before the game. His shooting ability was exceeded by his passing ability, and he had to turn some heads in NBA scouting departments with his performances. He finished that game with 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 critical assists. Against Kansas and their impressive front line, McGary finished with a whopping 25 points and 14 rebounds. Remember his name come draft day. But tonight wasn’t his night as he got into foul trouble and wasn’t as effective against Louisville’s tough front line.
Even with these two Michigan freshman steeling all the headlines, Glenn Robinson III also had an excellent tournament for the Wolverines. He basically did everything well, as he was able to score and rebound, but he also played excellent defense and had some big steals as well. He also sank some critical free throws against Syracuse when it seemed like nobody on Michigan could hit one down the stretch when it mattered. He definitely lived up to his talent and all the hype surrounding his name.
The champs were a more veteran team, and that might explain their ultimate success, but they had one freshman in forward Montrezl Harrell who found ways to contribute throughout the tournament. He had a monster dunk tonight on a fast break, and he had eight big points against Wichita State. He also had a combined 19 points in the first two games of the tournament. He was an important cog of a truly impressive championship team.
Finally, apart from Louisville and Michigan playing an incredible final game, this tournament will be remembered for the excellent run by Wichita State and the excellent coaching from Gregg Marshall who urged the Shockers to “play angry.” Freshman guard Fred VanVleet was a big part of this run, scoring 13 points in the huge upset over #1 seed Gonzaga and then 12 points against #2 seed Ohio State. Unfortunately for the aptly named Shockers they couldn’t get past Louisville and VanVleet only had three points in that game. Still, he played very well in his first NCAA tournament, just like the other guys listed above.