INDIANAPOLIS — Welcome to Second Guess Tuesday, NCAA Tournament edition.
n Former West Virginia high school players have made the state proud in the men’s tournament. It started with West Virginia University’s Jalen Bridges, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound true freshman from Fairmont.
He got the tournament off to a good start by helping Deuce McBride defeat Morehead Stare 84-67 in an opening-round game. Bridges was WVU’s second-leading scorer with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 3 for 5 on 3-pointers, along with five rebounds.
Next, in Sunday’s 75-72 second-round loss to Syracuse, Bridges scored four points on 1-for-4 shooting but grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
His future in Morgantown is very bright.
Then there’s former Poca star Elijah Cuffee. The 6-4 senior guard for Liberty University was the Flames’ leading scorer with 16 points in a hard-fought 69-60 loss to Oklahoma State.
Besides that, Cuffee and three rebounds, four assists, one steal and one blocked shot while guarding the Cowboys’ freshman sensation Cade Cunningham man-to-man for most of the game.
Cuffee averaged 10.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists in the two games.
I saved the only former West Virginia high school player who is still competing in the NCAA Tournament for last. Loyola Chicago senior guard Keith Clemons was a star at St. Joseph in Huntington and led the Irish to a Class A state championship.
Clemons is now a senior starting guard for everybody’s favorite underdog, the Ramblers. In Loyola Chicago’s 71-60 first-round win over Georgia Tech, Clemons scored 12 points on 3-of-8 shooting — all 3-pointers — with three rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Next, in the Ramblers huge upset 71-58 win over No. 1 seed Illinois on Sunday, Clemons had seven points on 3-of-7 shooting, including 1 for 1 on 3s, with two steals and two assists. One of his assists was a showtime lob to Ramblers’ center Cameron Krutwig for a perfect touch slam dunk.
Clemons is averaging 7.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists with a shooting percentage of .458 in the tournament.
The next game for Clemons and Loyola Chicago is in the Sweet 16 against Oregon State at 2:40 p.m. Saturday.
Oh, and if anybody is looking for a state connection to boo, permit me to suggest Oregon head coach Dana Altman.
Altman accepted the Marshall University head basketball coaching job in 1989, coached the Thundering Herd to a 15-13 record and then abandoned MU’s program by abruptly resigning and taking the Kansas State job.
That set the Herd’s basketball program back for years.
Feel free to boo now.
n The Big 12 was having a great NCAA Tournament.
The league was cruising along with a perfect 6-0 record through the opening round. Texas Tech beat Utah State, Baylor hammered Hartford, Oklahoma State defeated Liberty, WVU got past Morehead State, Kansas defeated Eastern Washington and Oklahoma edged Missouri.
Then the slide started. In the last game of the first round, Texas suffered an unthinkable 53-52 loss to Abilene Christian.
The trend continued in the second round.
Yes, Baylor beat Wisconsin, but WVU fell to Syracuse, Texas Tech lost to Arkansas and Oregon State defeated Oklahoma State.
And just like that, the Big 12’s 6-0 record had turned into a not as nearly impressive 7-5 mark.
Oh well, that’s how the tournament crumbles.