Rothstein: 10 Things I Learned During The First Weekend Of The NCAA Tournament
By Jon Rothstein
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1. ANDY ENFIELD HAS WON AT LIFE
There isn’t much more to say than that. The head coach at Florida Gulf Coast, Enfield married a supermodel in Amanda Marcum and has somehow led the Eagles to the Sweet 16 as a 15-seed. What’s next? We hear the White House may be available in 2016.
2. GREGG MARSHALL HAS TAKEN A SEAT AT AN ELITE TABLE
Just like Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens, Marshall has found a home at a lower-level school. Wichita State’s win over Gonzaga on Saturday was a seminal moment in Marshall’s career, and it reiterates that coaches no longer need to jump to a BCS program to play in the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
3. HARVARD WILL BE A TOP 25 TEAM NEXT SEASON
And they gave us a mere glimpse of what they’re going to be capable of in their win over New Mexico. Next season the Crimson will return jet-quick point guard Siyani Chambers, as well leading scorer Wesley Saunders. Harvard will also welcome back Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey, and add a Top-100 recruit in 6-8 Zena Edosomwan. Tommy Amaker may very well have the most talented team the Ivy League has seen in decades in 2013-14.
4. WE SHOULD ALL FEEL PRIVILEGED EACH TIME WE WATCH AARON CRAFT
Ohio State’s point guard is the epitome of what a college basketball should be, and he is more than capable of leading the Buckeyes back to the Final Four for the second straight year. Craft’s late three-pointer pushed Ohio State past Iowa State on Sunday, and his ability to do things that don’t show up in the box score cannot go unnoticed. This guy is a flat-out winner.
5. DANA ALTMAN IS ONE OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL‘S ELITE COACHES
If you watched Oregon dismantle Saint Louis on Saturday, you probably felt like you should grab a clipboard and pay $100 because you were watching an absolute clinic. The Ducks switched defenses, used different lineups, and flat out stifled the Billikens for 40 minutes. Altman doesn’t get the nearly the attention he deserves nationally. This guy can flat-out coach.
6. JOHN GIANNINI DESERVES A LOOK AT NORTHWESTERN
He’s proven he can build programs at multiple levels —- Rowan, Maine, and now La Salle, and taking the Explorers to the Sweet 16 is a miraculous accomplishment that’s never occurred in the school’s history. Giannini is a Chicago native who knows how to grind. We’re hearing Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen is one of the leaders in the clubhouse in Evanston. Duke Associate Head Coach Chris Collins is also in the mix.
7. DENZEL VALENTINE IS A HIDDEN GEM FOR MICHIGAN STATE
He’s not the first player people think of when it comes to the Spartans, but he could be an incredibly valuable piece moving forward. In Saturday’s win over Memphis, Valentine played multiple positions, including point guard, and filled up the box score with nine points, six rebounds, and six assists.
8. RION BROWN IS MIAMI’S KEY TO REACHING THE FINAL FOUR
The Hurricanes’ X-Factor gave them serious scoring pop off the bench in wins over Pacific and Illinois, scoring a combined 30 points in both victories. If Miami is to reach Atlanta, Brown will have a major role in getting them there. The junior guard is 8-of-13 from three-point range in the NCAA Tournament.
9. ARIZONA HAS REGAINED THEIR SWAGGER
The Wildcats may have played two mid-major teams in Belmont and Harvard, but their defense was spectacular. In two convincing victories, Arizona held the Bruins and Crimson to a combined 13-of-45 from three-point range. For a team that struggled to defend the long ball, that’s a terrific improvement.
10. GONZAGA SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN A No. 1 SEED
I’ve preached for weeks that that the Bulldogs were an unknown commodity because they had gone through such a long period of their schedule without playing quality teams with regularity. It finally came to pass that they weren’t worthy of their billing. Gonzaga struggled with Southern, and then fell to Wichita State, proving that they were a solid team — but not one worthy of being mentioned among college basketball’s elite.
Let’s hear your thoughts on this year’s tourney in the comments section…