Derrick Williams Drank His Muscle Milk Before the Duke Game

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If there’s one player who has made a name for himself this NCAA Tournament, it would be Arizona forward Derrick Williams. The man his teammate Momo Jones once called a “skinny bum” muscled his way to 13 rebounds and 32 points against the vaunted Dukies, and helped ensure his team was in the game at halftime.

Williams had 25 points at halftime and tied a season-best performance by going 5-6 from the three-point line. Everything possible that a player could do in a game, Williams did. He played 35 minutes, went 11-17 from the field and 5-6 at the line while opening everyone’s eyes to the type of player he can be. All throughout the evening the television commentators and pundits on twitter were raving about his skills and ability. After his standout performance — the type that can happen in March and forever raise a player’s profile — people were saying Williams is a lock to be the top overall pick in the draft.

That’s not a joke either.

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VCU Proving it Deserved a Tourney Bid

When the NCAA Tournament brackets first came out, the at-large selections that drew the biggest criticism were VCU and UAB. Even Dick Vitale, who sees more positive signs in college hoops than a third grade math class, ripped the selection of VCU. Before the tourney started, I said on twitter that VCU had to be the worst at-large selection, and that was based on their losses and schedule. But after three wins and an upcoming trip to the Sweet 16, VCU is proving they belonged in the tournament.

First the Rams topped USC in the play-in game 59-46, holding the Trojans to 1-9 shooting on threes. They forced USC to commit 15 turnovers and advanced to the main draw for a clash with six-seed Georgetown. They beat Georgetown 74-56 and held the Hoyas to 19% three-point shooting including Chris Wright and Austin Freeman going a combined 0-13. They also forced 17 turnovers while committing just six. While both of those wins by VCU were impressive, the real stunner was beating Purdue in the second round.

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Big East Had Many Good Teams but No Great Teams

It was widely acknowledged that college basketball was down this year. There was one bonafide superstar — The Jimmer — and you could possibly argue that the heroics of Kemba Walker were in a similar class. Relatedly, Duke, Ohio State, and Kansas were all very good, but few would argue they were great teams. Freshman like Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger got plenty of hype, but again, there weren’t many driving forces in college basketball this year. In my estimation, the one consistent theme was that the Big East seemed to be the top conference in the country.

Throughout the season, 7-8 Big East teams found themselves in the Top 25 rankings. Pitt, Syracuse, UConn and Notre Dame got high up on the charts while West Virginia, St. John’s, Louisville, Georgetown, and Villanova all filled up Top 25 spots as well. Come tournament time, a record 11 teams from their conference made the Big Dance.

Sending 11 teams to the tourney should be an indication that the Big East was the best, but it is somewhat misleading.

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Luke Hancock Has Flu, May Not Play Against Ohio State

It would take a major upset for No. 8 George Mason to take down No. 1 Ohio State on Sunday afternoon. The task became that much tougher with the news that one of their top starters, sophomore forward Luke Hancock, has yet to arrive at the arena and is sick in his hotel room with the flu. Hancock had 18 points and the game-winner in George Mason’s first round win over Villanova.

Gus Johnson announced before the game began on CBS that Hancock has been feeling under the weather, and despite team doctors working him with IV treatment the sophomore wasn’t feeling well enough to show up for the start of the game.  Doctors are still with Hancock at the hotel, and the team has not ruled out the possibility of him showing up for the second half.

This could be a huge blow for the Patriots who will need all the help they can get against the best team in the country.  Hancock averages more than 10 points, four assists, and four rebounds per game.  Ohio State loves to get up and down the floor, and depth will be important for George Mason.  Having one less big body down low to stop Jared Sullinger could also come into play.

On the flip side, all the stars are aligned for an earth-shattering upset.  The fact that Gus Johnson is calling the game paves the way , but wouldn’t it be something if Hancock showed up at halftime and lit it up in the second half, leading George Mason to the win?  Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Ohio State won 98-66 and Hancock did not play.

Greg Gumbel Calls CBS ESPN (Video)

During March Madness, a lot of broadcasters do some double dipping — especially with the new, brilliant coverage schedule.  Guys like Charles Barkley have strayed away from their normal duties to cover college basketball.  This is not the case for Greg Gumbel, who has worked for CBS and covered professional football and college basketball since 1988.  That didn’t stop him from having a brain fart on Sunday and calling his employer of 20-plus years ESPN.  Check out the Greg Gumbel ESPN screw-up video, courtesy of Mocksession:

Tisk, tisk.  Had Gumbel said something like, “we bring you more NFL action after this,” it would have been excusable.  Reverting to his Sportscenter anchor days was completely random.  If not for YouTube and sports blogs, he probably would have gotten away with it.  Glad we could help.

Pittsburgh-Butler Ending Was Called the Right Way (Video)

Controversial? Yes. Shocking? Sure. Unfortunate for Pittsburgh fans? Absolutely. A referee debacle? Quite the contrary.

Take it from a person who had Pittsburgh winning the National Championship in his bracket — the referees got the ending of the Pittsburgh-Butler game right on Saturday night.  In fact, I commend them for not being afraid to make the tough calls when they knew they were the right calls.  A bump is a bump and a smack on the arm is a smack on the arm.  Both are fouls with 19 minutes remaining in a half and two seconds remaining in a half.  Most officials don’t have the stones to call them in the latter situation.

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Morehead State Received 3,000 New Applications Day After Louisville Upset

Unless you plan to play a sport in college, athletics should have a minimal influence on your school choice.  Realistically, we understand that is not the case.  A lot of high schoolers want to go to a school who’s team plays on ESPN.  People aspire to be Cameron Crazies, so they plan their futures accordingly.  I would be lying if I said UConn’s basketball program had zero influence on my decision to head to Storrs for an education.  The Huskies, however, had won more than one big game prior to my applying to UConn.

Sport Biz’s Darren Rovell called our attention to an interesting tidbit about Morehead State and how their huge tournament victory affected the school’s application numbers.  It turns out the Eagles’ upset victory over Louisville on Thursday resulted in an application spike of almost 3,000.

“After the game, there were 3,000 in one day (applying) for admission to our university,” Morehead State coach Donnie Tyndall told the Courier-Journal on Friday, noting that there were only 200 applicants the previous day. “I think that speaks for itself in regard to the publicity and notoriety not just our basketball program has received, but obviously our university has received.”

First of all, it’s one game people.  Secondly, is a win in the NCAA tournament really enough to make 2,800 people decide Morehead State is worth the $60-ish dollar application fee?  If the Eagles make any type of Final Four push, Morehead State could end up with a larger rejection rate than Harvard.