Can a player who has appeared in two college games become a difference-maker in the NCAA Tournament?
Michael Porter Jr. will try.
Porter, among the nation’s top recruits when he signed with Missouri, is only now getting started. A back injury kept him out of all but 2 minutes in the opener until playing 23 minutes of the Tigers’ loss to Georgia in the SEC Tournament.
With a game under his belt, Porter should be more comfortable as the eighth-seeded Tigers meet Florida State in a West Region opener.
Xavier is a No. 1 seed for the first time, earned by winning the Big East. The Musketeers hope that an off night by star Trevon Bluiett in a league tournament semifinal loss to Providence was a one-off.
Second-seeded North Carolina might have become a top seed had the Tar Heels won the ACC Tournament, but the defending national champion is battle-tested and has won nine of its last 12 games.
Third-seeded Michigan roared to the Big Ten Tournament title with victories over Michigan State and Purdue and has to be considered one of the dangerous teams in the field.
No. 12 seed South Dakota State figures to give fifth-seeded Ohio State a fight. It’s the third straight NCAA Tournament appearance for the Jackrabbits, who are led by Mike Daum. He averages 23.8 points and 10.4 rebounds.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ohio State is dragging, having lost three of five, but the Buckeyes have one of the nation’s top players in forward Keita Bates-Diop.
Providence has defeated a No. 1 seed in the tournament three times this year, Xavier twice and Villanova. Look for the 10th-seeded Friars to take down seventh-seeded Texas A&M.
Michigan over Gonzaga