Top takeaways from a mad March

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  1. Deandre Hunter is an amazing player. Only a year removed from becoming the first one seed to lose to a sixteen seed in tournament history, the Virginia Cavaliers were led by sophomore Deandre Hunter on an impressive championship run. Hunter is a projected lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft and has drawn comparisons to Kawhi Leonard and other elite “two way” professionals. He raised his draft stock mightily with an elite performance in the championship versus defensive powerhouse Texas Tech, racking 27 points on 50 percent shooting, and forcing overtime with a clutch corner three in the last minute of the game. Hunter is projected to play either the three or four on the next level, and should be able to make an instant impact on any team that drafts him.
  2. Defense ACTUALLY wins championships. Statistically, the national championship game consisted of two of the most competent defensive teams in college basketball. Playing a slow paced style of basketball, Virginia and Texas Tech have both prioritized defense throughout the season, both teams being led by elite defenders – Deandre Hunter and Jarrett Culver, respectively. Culver, similar to Hunter, is projected to be a top five pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, but unlike Hunter, struggled throughout the tournament, especially during their Final Four matchup against Michigan State and the championship game.
  3. Coach K isn’t as great a coach as we thoughtCoach Mike Krzyzewski incurred one of the greatest recruiting classes of all time for the 2018-2019 NCAA College Basketball season. The class was composed of surefire first pick in the NBA Draft, Zion Williamson, bona-fide scorer and top high school recruit on ESPN’s top 100, R.J. Barrett, and sharpshooter Cameron Reddish. Unsurprisingly, the Duke Blue Devils were the overwhelming favorites to take the national championship. Ranked as a number one seed heading into the tournament, Duke’s first scare came against ninth seed UCF led by defensive juggernaut Tacko Fall, who stands at 7’6”, and crafty point guard Aubrey Dawkins. In crunch time, and throughout the game, Duke was unable to compose a gameplan to thwart Fall or Dawkins, who had control throughout the game. However, in the final moments, with a second effort by RJ Barrett on a missed free throw, Duke pulled out on top. In Duke’s next game, they opposed their ACC rivals, the Virginia Tech Hokies, coached by Buzz Williams (the former Marquette head coach) and led by point guard Justin Robinson. Similar to the UCF game, Duke struggled until the final moments of the game, where they narrowly escaped after a missed layup at the buzzer. Until their eventual defeat against the Michigan State Spartans in the elite eight, it seemed obvious that the Duke coaching staff, led by the legendary Mike Krzyzewski, couldn’t figure out their own team, and lead the talented roster to the NCAA championship.
  4. College athletes should be paid. The debate over giving college athletes wages for their contributions to the success of the NCAA continues to rage. Zion Williamson, the polarizing power forward for Duke, created an unseen attention for college basketball in the past season, with his flashy dunks and incredible prowess on the defensive end of the floor. However, he was unable to benefit from his name financially throughout the year, according to the rules created by the NCAA. Despite this, some still believe that college athletes should not be given wages. Junior Georgia Malo added, “In a way, college athletes are already paid… many of them go to college for free… they are able to get an education for a lot cheaper than non – athletes do.” The debate over the wages of college athletes is and will continue to keep growing in the near future.
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