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Experience trumping Young Talent so far in the NCAA
By Reel Robinson

Seniors proving a point in the tournament 

March Madness has been all any basketball fan could ever have hoped for. Your bracket may have taken its hits and you're probably out of the running to win some money, but the fact that certain teams have failed to step up to the plate is satisfaction enough in most cases. The people I have talked with over the last few days have put their ambitions to win aside in order to enjoy the upsets that the tournament has presented us in the first two days of action. After day one I figured the higher seeds would learn from the mistakes that teams like Ohio St and Cincinnati and Oklahoma made in their defeats on Thursday. After yesterday the continuous trend showed its face as veteran teams made it hard on these big-name schools to get wins. Just ask Duke who'll be watching the rest of the tournament.

No. 3 seeded Duke was placed in the difficult Midwest Region with teams like Wichita State, Michigan and defending champions Louisville. Maybe the experts overlooked a senior driven team in Mercer, who played Duke with poise and confidence the entire game. I watched Duke make 17 three pointers and gather every offensive rebound available in the first half and only maintain a small lead throughout the game. Mercer put the Blue Devils on their heels the entire game scoring in the paint on numerous occasions. They held freshman star Jabari Parker to a meager game keeping him off the floor by attacking him and getting him in some early foul trouble. No. 14 Mercer pulled out a 78-71 victory on the ACC juggernaut advancing to the third round of the tournament. Mercer, who had seven seniors, showed their experience late in the game to gain control and the young Duke squad couldn’t find easy buckets. The old saying “Live by the three, die by the three” came to pass once again.

The No. 5 seeds did not fare well in the second round of the tournament this year. To be honest, if NC State doesn’t miss 15-plus free throws that helped Saint Louis climb back into an otherwise dominant game by the wildcats, there would be no five seeds left in the tournament. Stephan F. Austin took down No. 5 VCU 77-75 in an overtime thriller last night. Down four points with less than five seconds to play, SFA senior guard Desmond Haymon tied the game on a questionable four-point play to send the game to overtime where the No. 12 seed would eventually take the W.

There have been mostly competitive games is this tournament which I love. The parody across the country I spoke about in my earlier post has reign true. Ironically, the only No. 1 seed to dominate their game was the mid-major team Wichita State who some question their validity. There are no more questions after their performance on Friday. Providence Guard Bryce Cotton put 36 points against North Carolina to push the sixth seeded team to the brink of elimination. Despite Cottons amazing game, it wasn’t enough for the upset with UNC winning 79-77 off junior forward James Michael McAdoo's free throws. Another veteran team giving a younger squad all they could handle and UNC is fortunate to be coming out with the W.

A year where the media focused on the many freshman sensations, the tournament has proven to be experience based. The veteran teams have been able to sustain against the younger and perceived more talented programs. I think this will benefit college basketball if one of these smaller programs with veteran leadership can go deep in the tournament and challenge for a title. Wichita State, unfortunately, will have to play my wolverines in the elite eight and I just can’t bet against my boys.

What do you think about the senior leadership controlling the tournament?

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