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Down go Villanova and Kansas, and right here comes Zion vs. Tacko

Half of the Candy 16 subject was established on Saturday, with the opposite half of the remaining 2019 NCAA match subject to observe Sunday. ESPN.com’s panel of school basketball consultants weighed in on what has impressed them (and what hasn’t) within the spherical of 32 up to now and what they anticipate to see from Sunday’s motion.

What (or who) impressed you most on Saturday?

Jeff Borzello, school basketball Insider: It must be Purdue and Carsen Edwards of their 26-point win over Villanova. The Boilermakers weren’t all that spectacular the previous few video games, dropping twice to Minnesota and letting Outdated Dominion hold round within the first spherical. A lot of Purdue’s struggles offensively may very well be attributed to Edwards’ inefficiency in these video games. Within the 4 video games main as much as Saturday, he shot 27.Zero % from the sector (24-for-89 FGA) and 24.Four % from Three-point vary (11-45 3PT).

However on Saturday, Edwards went off. He completed with 42 factors on 12-for-21 taking pictures, together with 9-for-16 from Three-point vary. Villanova merely had no reply for him. When Edwards has it going like that offensively, Purdue is able to beating anybody within the nation. Matt Haarms supplied stability on the within, and Ryan Cline made photographs from the perimeter. Defensively, the Boilermakers held Villanova to fewer than one level per possession for the primary time within the Wildcats’ previous eight video games. They is perhaps hitting their stride heading into the match’s second weekend.

Villanova had no reply for Purdue’s Carsen Edwards (42 factors) on Saturday evening. David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports activities

John Gasaway, school basketball author: Two phrases: Brandon Clarke. The junior scored 36 factors on 15-of-18 taking pictures to go together with 5 blocks in Gonzaga’s 83-71 win over Baylor. He is arguably the very best participant within the nation not named “Zion” or “Ja,” and he confirmed it Saturday evening. Neither is this some loopy opinion from out of left subject: Mark Few’s star is projected as a first-round decide in 2019. Future historians are going to surprise two issues about school basketball awards in our period. One, how Ja Morant didn’t win Ohio Valley Convention freshman of the yr in 2017-18, and two, how Clarke did not win West Coast Convention Participant of the 12 months in 2018-19.

By the best way, honorable point out for this award goes to Auburn and Bryce Brown. The senior rang up 25 factors on 7-of-11 taking pictures on his 3s because the Tigers ran previous Kansas. That was one spectacular and never fully anticipated sight.

Jordan Schultz, insider/analyst: I believed Kentucky performed a fairly spectacular sport in opposition to Wofford. With out PJ Washington — who’s a authentic professional — John Calipari’s membership was in a position to coerce Wofford right into a depressing offensive sport, together with a season-worst Eight-for-27 (29.6 %) from deep. Freshman blue-chipper Tyler Herro didn’t have his finest taking pictures efficiency, however his sensational effort defensively helped restrict Fletcher Magee — who has made extra Three-pointers than anybody else in school basketball historical past — to an Zero-for-12 effort from distance.

Kentucky’s self-discipline as a complete in opposition to the Terriers’ high-level units and talent stood out in a giant manner. We all know this group desires to get its athletes in area — an skilled and sound Wofford bunch made positive that didn’t occur — however the younger Cats’ defensive effort ensured that they moved on to the second weekend and can absolutely repay in a significant manner transferring ahead.

Murray State bowed out of the match, although Ja Morant (28 factors, 5 assists) was once more spectacular. What is going to we be saying about Morant 5 years from now?

Borzello: Morant is a star. He is a star now, and he will be a star in 5 years. After all, the NBA is crammed with star level guards proper now, so all-NBA and even All-Star is perhaps a stretch at that time, however Morant goes to be an above-average starter within the NBA.

His mixture of athleticism and imaginative and prescient is unparalleled on the school degree, and he answered some questions within the NCAA match. NBA scouts had some issues about his turnovers and his exterior taking pictures capacity, however Morant totaled 45 factors, 16 rebounds and 20 assists in two video games — whereas turning the ball over 9 occasions and taking pictures 7-for-Eight from Three-point vary. He handled Florida State’s size and dimension pretty properly, and I believe he’ll solely get higher transferring ahead.

The Murray State star’s transient however spectacular match run (and possibly his school profession) ended with Saturday’s loss to Florida State. However is he prepared for the NBA?

The Tigers interim coach leads a squad that has overcome the dying of a teammate and the suspension of its head coach.

Duke’s Zion Williamson will meet 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall of UCF on Sunday within the NCAA match. Here is how they stack up.

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Gasaway: Morant goes to be within the prime of an NBA profession that can showcase his skills much better than two fast visits to the 2018 and 2019 NCAA tournaments may. Scouts rave about his court docket imaginative and prescient, his deal with and his capacity to alter instructions. That is all nice, and it is also encouraging that his school stats translate so properly to the following degree. Sure, he dedicated a excessive variety of turnovers every so often as a sophomore, and his depth on protection will want an improve. However you do not see this degree of potential popping out of school on daily basis. Relying on the franchise and the expertise round him (notably the skin taking pictures of his teammates), Morant may very well be choosing aside opposing NBA defenses off the dribble because the starter for a playoff group.

Schultz: Morant has all of the traits to be the NBA’s subsequent nice level guard. Possibly we’ll ask why the group that took Zion Williamson No. 1 general didn’t select Morant. I really like Zion, however that’s how distinctive and distinct Morant’s expertise is. Other than the highlight-reel dunks, there may be large substance to his sport. Not solely does he see the ground, however Morant — who leads the nation in assists with greater than 10 dimes per sport — additionally has the mandatory basketball acumen to ship pinpoint passes from essentially the most difficult of positions. Higher but, he’s a really prepared passer, displaying each the creativity and really feel to dictate his exact phrases to a protection. Moreover, he’s a troublesome shot-maker, showcasing the aptitude to isolate in 1-Four units and thriving in pick-and-roll, a staple of any NBA offense.

Due to Morant’s elite above-the-rim ending capacity, his explosive first step propels him to the basket, the place few NBA guards possess such particular ending capacity. The turnovers don’t worry me, nor does the subpar Three-point jumper. Morant is a high-usage lead guard — a la Russell Westbrook — who shows good kind and stability (he improved from 30.7 % taking pictures on 3s as a freshman to 34.Four % as a sophomore) and is strictly the kind of freakishly gifted, downhill lead guard thriving in as we speak’s spread-oriented professional sport.

What’s the most urgent query you need answered on Sunday?

Gasaway: Can Buffalo earn the Mid-American Convention’s first spot within the Candy 16 since 2012? The Bulls regarded like a group that may give Texas Tech a handful of their 91-74 win over Arizona State. Nick Perkins, CJ Massinburg and Jeremy Harris scored a mixed 60 factors on 18-of-33 taking pictures, and UB lit up the Solar Devils for 1.23 factors per possession. Sustaining these excessive numbers in opposition to the favored Crimson Raiders possible is not within the playing cards, and the Tech protection would be the finest unit on the court docket statistically on both facet of the ball for both group. However, Chris Beard must have his group prepared for Buffalo as a result of, on paper, this strains up as a detailed sport.

Borzello: Is Justin Robinson totally wholesome? Virginia Tech’s star level guard returned Friday after lacking 12 video games as a consequence of a foot harm. He performed 28 minutes and completed with 9 factors and two assists. He clearly wasn’t at full energy, although, and turned it over 4 occasions. Robinson additionally had a number of stretches within the second half during which he was strolling off — extra precisely, limping off — numerous knocks to his foot. If he is 100 %, Virginia Tech ought to deal with Liberty and provides Duke a run within the Candy 16. If he is something much less, the Hokies will not be as harmful.

Justin Robinson returned Friday evening, and the Hokies want him to spherical again into kind. Ezra Shaw/Getty Photos

Schultz: Nice factors by Gasaway and Borzello about Justin Robinson’s Hokies and the Buffalo Bulls out of the MAC. I’m equally inquisitive about 13-seed UC Irvine, although. With their dimension, quickness and talent to defend — holding opponents to 38 % taking pictures on the season — the Anteaters beat up a bodily albeit depleted Ok-State group. No group in America guards the 2-pointer higher than Irvine does, which issues as a result of few groups are extra disciplined on either side of the ball than Dana Altman’s bunch from Eugene.

It has been a revelation watching the Geese’ transformation with out injured potential top-five decide Bol Bol again since early January. Altman’s whole group was constructed round Bol’s numerous and uncommon talent set. Let’s examine how junior level guard and Pac-12 match MVP Payton Pritchard (tallying a team-high Four.6 APG) handles the Anteaters’ energetic protection. If the artistic Pritchard can’t create attractiveness — each for himself and others — Oregon will lose this sport. If he can, the Geese will advance to their third Candy 16 in 4 years. It is that straightforward.

Duke, North Carolina and Virginia are all in motion Sunday. Which No. 1 seed is in most hazard of dropping?

Borzello: I am going to preface it by saying I do not assume any of the three will lose, but when there’s one most in peril, I’d go together with North Carolina. That has extra to do with Washington than the rest, as I believe the Huskies are flat-out higher than UCF and Oklahoma, the opposite 1-seed opponents. Washington appeared to snap out of no matter was fallacious late within the season on Friday, stifling the Utah State offense and making 10 Three-pointers.

If the Huskies can management tempo and make photographs, they will keep within the sport in opposition to Carolina. That 2-Three zone protection is tough to arrange for on quick discover, despite the fact that Carolina has performed in opposition to Syracuse’s model for years. The Tar Heels ought to nonetheless win, nevertheless it may very well be nearer than anticipated.

North Carolina should look higher than it did within the first half vs. Iona. Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports activities

Gasaway: Do I believe Duke goes to lose to UCF? Effectively, no, however to borrow the language of Big Killers, it is not fully loopy, both. Begin with what Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson stated after his Cougars misplaced at house for the primary and solely time this season to the Knights: “He takes away half your playbook.” “He” after all is Tacko Fall. The 7-foot-6 senior is not the final phrase in quickness, and one can actually envision the Blue Devils attending to the rim in transition or on drive-and-dish motion. However one factor that Fall does make rather more problematic is straight-line drives ending in a dunk over the opponent — or, for that matter, lobbing over the opponent for a dunk. Fall can complicate issues for Duke in a manner that few opposing gamers left within the match can.

Schultz: Does North Carolina shoot it properly sufficient to deal with the Huskies’ stingy 2-Three matchup zone? Mike Hopkins’ protection is constructed across the reigning two-time Pac-12 Defensive Participant of the 12 months, Matisse Thybulle, who leads the nation together with his Three.5 steals per sport and whose presence on the high of the zone couldn’t solely frustrate the smaller Coby White on the perimeter but in addition hound Luke Maye across the mid-post. The Heels rank simply 75th nationally, changing 36.Four % of their 3s, they usually must be higher in opposition to the regular-season Pac-12 champs. Washington predicates its protection on contesting 3s and utilizing its size and quickness to create deflections and steals. If North Carolina can reduce the zone up, it’ll go a great distance in figuring out whether or not this group has sufficient to assist Roy Williams win his fourth nationwide title — together with his third in Chapel Hill — and the seventh in class historical past.


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