All season long, this promised to be the most wide-open NCAA men’s tournament in a generation. The bluebloods weren’t as blue. The top-ranked teams had obvious flaws. The combination of an extra COVID year for older players, an out-of-control transfer environment and a crop of freshmen that largely weren’t ready for prime time meant teams’ fortunes yo-yoed from game to game, week to week.
Now here we are, nearly done with the first weekend of March Madness, and there’s an important question to ask: Who is going to win the national championship?
Maybe it would be better to say it another way. If you’re still alive by Sunday night in this crazy tournament, go ahead and dare to dream. Even you, Princeton. It’s truly that up for grabs.
A sport of small sample sizes and microscopic margins has turned into a roulette wheel of possibilities that will likely be determined over the next two weeks by health, random shotmaking and perhaps sheer luck.
For a moment Saturday, it appeared that Houston might be the third No. 1 seed to fall on the first weekend, following Purdue and Kansas right out of the bracket. Instead, the Cougars came from 10 points behind at halftime and eventually asserted themselves to shut down Auburn’s upset bid, 81-64.
Marcus Sasser, left, and Jamal Shead are playing with injuries for No. 1 seed Houston.
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But it’s clear Houston’s championship chances are as fragile as the injured muscles in Marcus Sasser’s groin and Jamal Shead’s knee. Both of them played against Auburn, and Sasser in particular looked like himself with 22 points in 31 minutes. Can that hold for four more games and not much time to get fully healthy?
In a single-elimination tournament, these are the things that determine championships. Just ask Kansas, whose season ended without head coach Bill Self on the bench. Self had a procedure last week to fix blocked arteries and wasn’t deemed fit to return yet.
Source link : https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaa-mens-tournament-grabs-never-112930241.html?src=rss
Author : USA TODAY Sports
Publish date : 2023-03-19 11:29:30
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