ESPN analyst Jay Williams’ three must-watch players during March Madness
SportsPulse: Former Duke star and current ESPN analyst Jay Williams spoke with Mackenzie Salmon about three players in the NCAA Tournament who could instantly make an impact in the NBA.
SportsPulse, USA TODAY
Less than 12 hours removed from the culmination of an entertaining First Four games, the 2021 men’s NCAA Tournament formally began Friday.
No. 1 seeds Baylor and Illinois will be in action later in the afternoon, with other intriguing matchups sprinkled throughout, in the first true day of March Madness in nearly two years. And if Friday’s games rival the First Four in terms of down-to-the-wire finishes and drama, college basketball fans will be in for a real treat.
Follow along from the first tip to the final buzzer for the latest updates, reaction and analysis from USA TODAY Network reporters, editors and columnists.
Colgate jumped out to a 14-point lead in the first half vs. Arkansas, but the Razorbacks scored 17 unanswered points to take a three-point lead into the locker room. The last Colgate points, on a Jack Ferguson 3-pointer, came with 5:30 remaining in the half. Arkansas reeled off its run over a four-minute span to head into halftime with a 36-33 lead.
Jordan Burns, the Patriot League Player of the Year, has yet to score and was 0-for-6 from the field. He picked up his third foul with 46 seconds left in the half.
In the first game of the first round, No. 10 Virginia Tech matched up against No. 7 Florida. The Hokies started 5-for-9 from three-point range, and Hunter Cattoor made his first three attempts from deep, while the Gators as a team were 1-for-6 from three.
Virginia Tech used some seriously selfless play to create space (and this isn’t bad defense from Florida, either).
In the same corner of the South region, No. 14 Colgate and No. 3 Arkansas was the second game of the day to tip off (TruTV). Through the first 14 minutes, Colgate has yet to be outmatched physically and is shooting well from deep to build an 11-point lead.
Pictures surfaced Thursday showing the stark differences in gifts that were presented to women’s basketball players compared to men’s. Stanford sports performance coach Ali Kershner posted photos of the facilities inside the Indianapolis-area bubble (where the men are playing) compared to the San Antonio bubble (where the women are).
The NCAA acknowledged the discrepancy in amenities, citing space limitations — although those on the ground quickly disputed the point — and said “we want to be responsive to the needs of our participating teams, and we are actively working to enhance existing resources at practice courts, including additional weight training equipment.”
The men’s tournament had outdoor space at a nearby minor league baseball stadium, while the lone opportunity for fresh air on the women’s side is the walk from the team hotel to coronavirus testing sites. There is even a sizable quality difference between the “swag bags” men’s and women’s players received.
Contributing: Chris Bumbaca, Scott Gleeson