What Have We Learned About The NCAA Tournament So Far

It’s Saturday night/Sunday morning, & we have gone through 3 days of an amazing NCAA Tournament so far. We have seen last minute buzzer-beaters, great comebacks, passionate fans on Twitter, & everything you could possibly ask for while watching quite possibly the greatest tournament in all of sports, professional & college. 

We have seen top teams go down to Cinderellas, we have seen top teams also dominate & we have seen young players step up & old seniors show that experience can sometimes beat pure talent. 

Jabari Parker was one of the most heralded freshmen in the country coming out of high school in Chicago. When he made the decision to go to Duke, we knew that he was going to get good teaching from Coach K as well as be on a team that can compete for a national championship. 

Jabari Parker
Duke Freshman Jabari Parker.

Well, the first part is definitely right. Parker did become a solid player under Krzyzewski, but his Duke Blue Devils were not a complete team enough to beat a 15-seed in Mercer on Friday, & what made it so odd to watch on TV was that Mercer muscled Duke around & made the Blue Devils take 37 3-point shots, the most in years under Coach K. 

This year, the Blue Devils didn’t have the team makeup that was made for a championship run. No big men down low as the Plumlee boys were all gone & the one that is there now, Marshall Plumlee, wasn’t as prominent in the NCAA Tournament, but will probably be a stud next year. Sulaimon, Cook & Dawkins are mostly jump shooters right now. 

Basically, the team was built around Parker being the star, & he was humbled on the biggest stage. While Parker may end up going to the NBA as he is projected by ESPN & other publications to be the #2 pick overall coming out, he should come back & grow as a player with this team. Parker has not made any real decision on whether he is coming out in June’s draft, but the idea has to be in Parker’s head that there is unfinished business to be taken care of, & with Duke’s freshman class & having a very experienced team coming back, Parker – & Duke – can become a powerhouse. 

Plus, Parker would probably go to the Los Angeles Lakers or Philadephia 76ers. If he is with the Lakers, it ends up being a strong move & he can learn from Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest of all time. If he is with the 76ers, well……..he’s better off just being on Duke since the team they have right now could beat the crap out of the 76ers. 

We knew that the talent levels across the board in college basketball were leveling out because of the freshmen & sophomores going to the NBA so quickly, but this NCAA Tournament has completely opened that idea up in a whole new way. 
This NCAA Tournament has shown that a team of seniors & juniors can beat a team of just young, upstart freshmen & sophomores. That it takes more than just hype to win the NCAA Tournment. 
This tournament shows that the NCAA basketball realm of this organization is in a great situation, with the ability to have players stay 4 years, especially at colleges where you may not be looked at to be a #1 NBA Draft pick or touted as an All-American from the day you come out of the womb. 
The NCAA Tournament showed in the first 3 days that truly when the tip-off happens, no matter what your seed is, when you are between those lines, talent & leadership will normally win out, & that has been prevalent with 3 12-seeds being 5 seeds, a 14-seed beating a 3-seed, & an 11-seed beating a 6-seed. 
Seeds are just numbers. They don’t represent the great parody & talent disbursement across college basketball. They don’t represent desire or the ability to make a big shot when needed. They are only for people to have better self-esteem about themselves when they are putting together their brackets. 
On Sunday, there will be more about the teams themselves, but right now, lets enjoy the idea that college basketball is no longer about what conference you are in or the level of the competition you played against all year. 
Its about who has the leadership & talent between the lines. 
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