NCAA Tournament Tidbits on Opening Day


March Madmen all over the globe are about to become one with their favorite sporting event. A quick look at some NCAA Tournament tidbits with quotes spiced in from press conferences:

Eight New Mexico State players, including its top five scorers, were born outside the United States. The Aggies feature four players from Canada, two from France, one from Croatia and and one from South Africa.

New Mexico State not only has the most international team in the tournament, it also has the tallest player. Sim Bhullar, a freshman from Toronto, is a 7-foot-5, 355-pound starting center for the Aggies. Bhullar averages 10.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 24.3 minutes per game.

“I think he changes the whole game for us and other teams as well because a lot of teams are not used to seeing that (much size) in there,” teammate Daniel Mullings said. “And while guys are driving in he’s just a big force, just blocking everything and altering shots. So it’s a great advantage for us having him inside.”

St. Louis junior Rob Loe is the biggest player in most games he plays, but he’ll be giving up six inches and 110 pounds to Bhullar.

*Michigan starters Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III and reserve Jon Horford all are sons of former NBA players.

“Purely coincidence, but we feel really good about it because you know their dads do know basketball,” Wolverines coach John Beilein said.

*One of the better individual tourney matchups pits Michigan’s Trey Burke and South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters, two of the nation’s top point guards, on each other.

“We’ll have Nate on Trey,” South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy said. “I don’t know what they’ll do. ... And I’ve said this before, Nate is a tremendous defender, but we’ve relied on him so much to play 40 minutes and to handle a basketball that I think sometimes people don’t get to see how good a defender he is."

*Bryce Drew is the third member of his family to serve as head coach at Valparaiso University, which faces Michigan State today. His father, Homer Drew, coached the Crusaders for 22 seasons. Bryce’s brother, Scott, was head coach for one year and is in his 10th season at Baylor. Bryce is in his second season as head coach at Valpo. He played six seasons in the NBA after hitting one of the most famous shots in recent NCAA Tournament history. Drew hit a 23-foot buzzer-beater to score an upset of Ole Miss in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament. He said he enjoys watching replays of the shot but never brings it up to recruits.

“I think the last thing that players want to hear is a coach talk about himself or what he’s done,” Drew said.

*At times, it looks as if a rebound or pass sneaks up on Marquette center Chris Otule, catches him by surprise, and he drops it. The temptation is to downgrade his hands when that happens, but it’s actually not the case. Otule wears goggles when he plays to protect his right eye. His left eye is artificial.

“I guess you could call it glaucoma,” Otule told the Milwakuee Journal-Sentinel. “I was born with one ye, actually, and the other one wasn’t full developed. So I had to get an artificial eye, since I was 1 or 2. And every time I grew out of it, I had to go back to the doctor and they’d make a new one.”

Otule, who splits time with more gifted offensive center Davante Gardner, had one of his better games, last season against UConn, the day he met Charlie Krauss, a 2-year-old boy from the Milwaukee area who lost his left eye to a congenital disorder known as Coats’ disease.

“It felt so good holding him, knowing that he’s going through the same thing I went through and that he looks up to me,” Otule told the Journal-Sentinel. “It helped motivate me more in that game, and for the rest of my life, to play for people like him.”

*Three factors contribute greatly to No. 14 seed Davidson becoming such a popular upset pick against third-seeded Marquette: 1. Davidson has won 17 in a row; 2. The Wildcats lead the nation in free-throw shooting, making 80.1 percent; 3. Forward Clint Mann, out since mid-January with an injury, is expected to play.

Not only that, Davidson has all 80 points back this season from the team that scored an 80-74 upset victory against Kansas on Dec. 19, 2011 in Sprint Center.

*If Josh Pastner ever leaves Memphis for another college job, he left himself open for an obvious question at his introductory news conference by saying, “I think our fan base is the best fan base in the entire country, hands down, and that’s not just coach-speak.” The question: How would you compare the fan base of your new school to that of your last one?


Steve Gantz 5 years, 2 months ago

Every time I watch Michigan play I have bad memories because of Hardaway and Robinson. Their dads both inflicted painful losses on us back in the 90's. UTEP defeated our #1 seeded team in 1990 (?), a painful loss for our team that proved its' potential a year later making it back to the title game.

Glenn Robinson and Purdue was #1 seeded in '93 or '94 and we were a 4 in the sweet 16. I don't remember why I thought we could win, but he dropped 40 on us and we never had a chance.

Ten Yeahs 5 years, 2 months ago

The UTEP loss was definitely the more painful of the two. But every season ending loss was painful. But if I had to rank them all, the Purdue one was one of the less painful.

Before playing the #1 Purdue we beat a good Wake Forest team led by Randolph Childress and a young Tim Duncan. But as the #4 seed in that 94 tournament we were not expected to beat the #1 seeded Purdue. And you just have to applaud Glenn Robinson who was on fire dropping a Durrant-like 30 first half pts and 44 total. But it was the sharp shooting of Univ of Tenn's current coach Cuonzo Martin that really hurt us. He poured in a McNamara-like 8 threes! It was a fine bball game played by both teams and the fact that we were still in the game was amazing considering.

That UTEP game though was a huge upset and painful to watch. Don Haskins pulled a Dean Smith and slowed Roy's uptempo #1 seeded team, using the 4 corners. That was Roy's 2nd time losing in the second round but first time as a #1. Roy never lost in the first round but he was upset twice in the 2nd round as a #1 seed. During the great Roy era I rank that as one of the top 3 most painful upset losses. The others (dare i mention them).....Rhode Island, Arizona. That UTEP loss was sandwiched between Roy's first two final fours. Coach K won his first title against this team the previous year. We rebounded from the UTEP loss to make it back next year to the Final Four - thanks to some good ole spitting in a river good luck :) lol- held in New Orleans that year.

FYI - Yes Hardaway played at UTEP, but his last year there was '89

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