It took some time to process this one. So let’s talk about last night.
The first game of the NCAA Tournament, pitting ESPN’s favorite son against a team most of America probably thought was from Quahog (which doesn’t actually exist) more than lived up to expectations.
What are some things you’d want from an NCAA Tournament game? I don’t know, maybe some near-half-court threes, a handful of lead changes, a missed buzzer beater and overtime? That sounds good to me.
Rhode Island versus Oklahoma had it all. Throw in some media obsession with the losing star, and you’ve got a recipe for ratings!
After a back-and-forth contest, the Rams missed what would have been a walk-off put back, but the ball rolled around the rim and fell off as time expired. In overtime, Rhode Island proved they were the better team as they finished off the Sooners’ season with style.
The unlikely hero of the night had to be Fatts Russell. With a name like that, we should have known he was going to light it up. By the end of it, he had 15 points and 3 assists off the bench for the Rams, going 3-6 from behind the arc.
In fact, Fatts may have the highlight of Rhode Island’s season after the utter disrespect he put on Young’s name. After a huge three-ball by E.C. Matthews (team-high 16 points), Russell pick-pocketed Young after the inbounds pass and drained a three in Trae’s eye as he looked on in awe of the greatness he was watching.
Trae Young (28 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 6 turnovers) lived up to his expectations of filling the stat sheet with everything but a win, all while avoiding doing anything at all without the ball in his hands, something Oklahoma has become accustomed to over their last 11 games (2-9 over that span).
This game may have busted some brackets, but only those who don’t actually watch college basketball. Anyone that has watched both of these teams would know to pick the Atlantic 10 runner-up over the overrated Big 12 mediocrity that is the Oklahoma Sooners. I mean, come on. The Rams have FATTS RUSSELL.
Opinions Over Statistics of Course
EC Matthews – 16 points, 5 rebounds
Jared Terrell – 13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
Cyril Langevine – 14 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks off the bench
Fatts Russell – 15 points, 3 assists, 3-6 3PT off the bench
Trae Young – 28 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 6 turnovers
Jamuni McNeace – 14 points, 10 rebounds
|FG%||42.0 (29-69)||39.0 (30-77)|
|3P%||20.0 (4-20)||39.3 (11-28)|
|FT%||66.7 (16-24)||60.0 (12-20)|
Moral of the Story
Maybe someday the media will cover a Forgotten 5 team other than the big names (Villanova, Gonzaga, etc.). Maybe eventually people will realize that just because a school is from a Power 5 conference does not mean they will just bully their way through the NCAA Tournament (how’s that Arizona pick looking?).
That’s the beauty of March Madness. The little guys get their chance to shine, even if no one wants their light to be seen.