March Madness 2019: Three storylines to follow in Round of 32

first_img March Madness 2019: Duke’s Zion Williamson pulls off freakishly athletic finish on fast break The first round brought four big upsets. The No. 13 seeded UC Irvine Anteaters advanced — and became Twitter celebrities because of their colorful nickname — and No. 12 seeds Liberty, Murray State and Oregon are also still alive.Can any of those four teams keep it going in the Round of 32? Will some other underdog slay a blue-blood program and march into the Sweet 16? Here are three storylines to watch heading into the Round of 32. Related News March Madness 2019: UC Irvine Anteaters score first NCAA win in upset, Twitter cheers Just over 48 hours into the NCAA Tournament and more than half the field has been eliminated.The attrition continues Saturday when the 32 remaining teams begin play. 1. Can Ja Morant continue his magic and carry Murray State to the Sweet 16?Ja Morant had a phenomenal game in No. 12 Murray State’s upset of No. 5 Marquette on Thursday. The sophomore All-American posted a triple-double with 17 points, 16 assists, and 11 rebounds, the first triple-double in the NCAA Tournament since Michigan State’s Draymond Green turned the feat in 2012.Now Morant and the Racers take on a deep and talented No. 4 Florida State squad Saturday at 6:10 p.m. ET. It doesn’t take much imagination to think the 6-3 Morant could do what another 6-3 All-American did in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, when Stephen Curry carried mid-major Davidson to the Elite Eight before a two-point loss to Kansas in the regional final. Not to say Morant will go on to match the two-time MVP Curry’s feats in the NBA, but he is a projected top-five pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and presents matchup problems for anyone at the college level. But the Seminoles have won 15 of 17 and looked solid in beating No. 2 ranked Virginia in the ACC Tournament semis.2. Recent history suggests one of the No. 1 seeds will lose — but which one?No. 1 seeds once seemed to have a clear path to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. For example, all four No. 1 seeds advanced to the five Sweet 16s between 2005 and 2009. It’s been a different story in recent years. At least one No. 1 seed has failed to make the Sweet 16 in seven of the past nine tournaments. Putting aside Virginia’s historic first-round loss to No. 16 seed UMBC in 2018, six No. 1 seeds have fallen in Round of 32 action since 2010.Duke, Gonzaga, North Carolina and Virginia have all looked invincible at times this season, but have shown weaknesses. North Carolina and Virginia in particular looked shaky early in their first games. If you had to pick one of those four top seeds to falter this weekend, Virginia might be the best bet. The Cavaliers have lost their first or second tournament game four of the past seven years. But again, the Cavaliers finished ranked No. 2 in the country this season, and could well put together a run to the national championship.3. Which LSU team will show up in the Round of 32?No. 3 seed LSU entered the tournament arguably the hardest team to figure. The Tigers’ talent is unmistakable. They won 19 of their last 21 games in the regular season. But that momentum skidded to a halt after head coach Will Wade was suspended indefinitely before the last regular-season game. (Wade was suspended after news surfaced of an FBI wiretap involving possible recruiting violations.) The Tigers lost their SEC opener to Florida, and they squeaked by No. 14 seed Yale, 79-74 in their NCAA Tournament opener.Sophomore guard Tremont Waters, the team’s leading scorer at 15.1 points per game, told reporters Wednesday the team is using Wade’s suspension as a rallying point.“All season we’ve been saying, ‘We are a family. We are going to grow together. Keep pushing through everything, all the adversity that’s been thrown at us,’” Waters said Wednesday. “We know we have to come together as a family even more now because we don’t have our head coach.”No. 6 seed Maryland (23-10) poses a tough challenge for LSU Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *