Weekend Review: Sweet 16/Elite 8 Awards
Rick Pitino and the Cardinals are in the Final Four. (Icon SMI)
By Michael Scotto
Monday, March 26, 2012
BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE:
Tyler Zeller, UNC: 20 pts, 22 reb, 4 blocks, 8-14 FG, 4-7 FT – vs. No. 13 Ohio
The senior forward has solidified his NBA Draft status as a first-round pick that could sneak into the late lottery. Zeller took advantage of an overmatched Ohio frontcourt in the paint in the Sweet Sixteen. Had the Tar Heels gotten Zeller the ball more we could be seen a 30-30 game. With UNC losing to Kansas in the Elite Eight, Zeller's collegiate career is over with the NBA on the horizon.
BEST TEAM PERFORMANCE:
No. 4 Louisville beats No. 1 Michigan State: 57-44
Coach Rick Pitino is on one of the best winning streaks in his coaching career. Louisville won the Big East Tournament and is headed to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament thanks to defense. Draymond Green, one of the best players in the country was held to 5-16 shooting and 1-7 from downtown. Overall, Michigan State shot a horrendous 29 percent thanks to Louisville's harassing defense.
No. 1 Syracuse holds No. 4 Wisconsin on the last shot to win: 64-63
Syracuse and Wisconsin was a battle of scoring runs as both teams got hot for significant stretches. Towards the end of the game Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor was dialing long distance as if he had free weekend minutes to pulls the Badgers close, but his final three-point shot went off the mark. Syracuse survived another scare and advanced to the Elite Eight before losing to Ohio State.
WORST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE:
D.J. Cooper, Ohio: 10 pts, 6 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 reb, 2 steals, 3-20 FG, 1-10 3PT, 3-3 FT – vs. No. 1 UNC
Without Kendall Marshall and an injured John Henson, UNC was in serious trouble, but Ohio couldn't capitalize thanks to the poor play of D.J. Cooper. The junior guard couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat! Cooper's poor shooting from the field was compounded by the fact that he couldn't get to the rim or the foul line to get in a rhythm on offense.
WORST TEAM PERFORMANCE:
No. 1 Michigan State fails to show up vs. No. 4 Louisville: 57-44
Michigan State failed to show up against Louisville. It's no secret that Louisville is a great defensive team, but shooting 29 percent is as much bad offense as it is good defense. Draymond Green, one of college basketball's best players, was bottled up on offense when his team needed him most and shot 5-15 from the floor.
Kendall Marshall's injury
UNC barely made it through the Sweet Sixteen against Ohio and eventually fell to Kansas in the Elite Eight. Kendall Marshall, arguably college basketball's best pure point guard, was lost due to a wrist injury. Freshman guard Stilman White was thrown into the fire and was burned in the process. After averaging only five minutes per game during the season, White looked nervous and hesitant on the court. College fans and bracketologists across the country can only wonder “what if” thanks to the loss of Marshall.
No. 7 Florida beating No. 3 Marquette: 68-58
Marquette's veterans failed to show up. Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom shot 5-15 from the field each (10-30 combined) and 3-14 from downtown combined. Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan were also missing in action combining to shoot 1-13 from the field. Meanwhile, Florida's freshman sensation Brad Beal couldn't miss shooting 8-10 from the field.