A look at Friday’s opening round of the NCAA Tournament
A look at some interesting things in Friday’s opening round the NCAA Tournament:
Marquette graduate transfer Katin Reinhardt will play with his third school in the NCAA Tournament.
The 6-foot-6 Reinhardt played with UNLV as a freshman in 2012-13 and after a redshirt transfer season he played for Southern Cal in 2014-15 and 2015-16. This season he’s with Marquette, which opens play Friday against South Carolina. His NCAA Tournament record is 1-2.
“It’s a blessing for me to be part of the three teams that have been in the NCAA Tournament,” said Reinhardt, who averaged 10.9 points and 2.8 rebounds. “I’ve just been fortunate to be on teams that are good enough to make it in March.”
SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE
The Marquette-South Carolina game matches the top 3-point shooting team in the country against one of the top defensive teams against the 3.
Marquette leads the nation in 3-point shooting at 43 percent. The Gamecocks are fifth in Division I in guarding the 3, 29.3 percent.
“We’ve seen that they like to pressure the ball, and pressure off the ball as well,” freshman guard Markus Howard said. “So just pinpointing that in preparation for us has been a key part of what we’ve been doing to practice and prepare for South Carolina.”
North Carolina’s Justin Jackson, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, has been in a bit of a shooting slump.
“My confidence isn’t gone. I mean, it was four games that I have not shot the ball well. And that’s all it is,” Jackson said. “And so for me, still going to shoot the ball the same way, still going to be aggressive, still going to do everything I’ve been doing all year.
“It’s not like all of a sudden the world is ending. And I got in the gym a bunch after the ACC Tournament. And I’ve been doing the same exact things I’ve been doing all year,” Jackson said.
FIRST No. 1?
No No. 16 seed has beaten a No. 1 seed since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. No. 1 North Carolina faces No. 16 Texas Southern on Friday.
“I’ll tell you what,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. “Every coach of the No. 1 always worries like the dickens about it the night before. It’s something you always think about.
“I forget what year it was, but I’m going to guess 2002, when I was at Kansas, we were right there. We were a 1 seed in St. Louis playing against Holy Cross. And Kirk Hinrich got hurt during the course of the game. We were right there starting to make history and the kids made some big plays down the stretch and we ended up winning the game.”
Roy Williams gave the perspective of a No. 1 seed. Time for the other side of the matchup.
“We’re going to come out and play right there, just anybody else at the park,” Texas Southern graduate transfer Marvin Jones said. “I’m not going to go out there, be timid or nervous just because their jersey says North Carolina or just because Roy’s over there.
“I know how historic this program is. It’s a blessing to be able to go up against those guys. But I’m going to go out and compete, like I was going up against Jackson State or anybody in the SWAC. That’s not the problem for us because we all play versus high-level talent all our lives.”
South Carolina hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game in 44 years. That is the same year Mac Credille started working at the school. Four years later, he became equipment manager, a post he has held since.
“We had Mac come talk to us,” Sindarius Thornwell of the Gamecocks said. “Mac’s been around the program longer than anybody than I know. And he came and talked to us and told us how much it means for him for us to just make the tournament and how much it would mean for him to just, for us to win that win first game.”
“We all have a relationship with him and how much he loves and cares for the program and the work he put in goes unnoticed,” Thornwell said.
Southern Cal faces SMU in an 11-6 matchup Friday. The two met earlier this season with the Trojans coming away with a 78-73 victory, one of just four losses on the season for the Mustangs, who have won 16 straight and 26 of 27.
“A lot of people said so what, you beat SMU? And I was trying to tell people that SMU is going to be one of the best teams we face all year,” Trojans coach Andy Enfield said. “Offensively, they can score at every position. And defensively they’re extremely solid and they hold teams about 60 points. So I was their biggest fan when we played them in November, and I’m still their biggest fan.”