Prior to the the start of March Madness, I wrote about the “Idols of March”. Guys that seemingly took over the the NCAA Tournament from Cinderella teams and captured the hearts of America in the process.
I also made a few predictions of who might emerge as such a March Madness “Idol” in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Some of these were spot on and others… not so much. Now that we are through the first weekend, let’s take a look and see who is still in the running and who has added themselves to the mix.
- Cameron Krutwig C, Loyola-Chicago – This is really Krutwig’s award to lose. His eight-seed Ramblers took down a severely underseeded Georgia Tech and then dominated one-seed and in-state rival Illinois. Not only is Illinois instate but it is the flagship university, this was like the kid brother finally beating his older brother one-on-one in front of the entire family reunion. No one will let the older brother live this down for years even though it turns out that the kid brother is really freaking good at basketball. Krutwig went for 19 pts, 12 boards, five assists, and four steals in that game by the way. As I mentioned in the previous article, he does have to compete with Sister Jean for the spotlight but I think there is room for both of them on this Rambler hype train.
- Chris Duarte G, Oregon – We were robbed of Duarte and the Ducks in their first-round matchup against VCU but the Basketball Gods have made up for it with Oregon’s dismantling of two-seed Iowa in the Round of 32. Duarte was electric, posting 23 and seven assists. F Eugene Omoruyi has also come on strong and might challenge Duarte if the Ducks go on a deep run.
- Buddy Boeheim, G Cuse – The son of Cuse perma-coach Jim Boeheim, Buddy went off for 30 and 25 pts respectively in Cuse’s first two games of the tournament. He’s done it mostly by being blazing hot from three, going 13 for 23 from downtown so far. Buddy and the Orange’s heroics have also given his father the distinction of being the only men’s coach to win an NCAA Tournament game in six different decades!
- Kevin Obanor F and Max Abmas G, Oral Roberts – Obanor has led the Golden Eagles with 30 and 11 in an OT victory over two-seed Ohio State and 28 and 11 over seven-seed Florida. Abmas was right behind him with 29, five, and three assists and 26 and seven assists respectively. Oral Roberts become only the second 15 seed to ever make the Sweet 16 (2013 FGCU aka Dunk City was the first). Quite the historic team, ORU also has a chance to break Harvard’s record for free-throw shooting percentage in a season (82.18% in 1984). This is because Obanor and Abmas take the vast majority of the free throws!
- Oregon State – No one player has jumped out for the 12-seed Beavers as a March Madness Idol but my money is between G Ethan Thompson and C Roman Silva if anyone does emerge.
- UCLA – Again, no clear-cut player has emerged as an idol but both of the Smoking J’s (Gs Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Johnny Juzang) have been pretty great so far. Both are solid contenders for the name portion of the criteria as well.