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Momentum vital going into NCAA tournament? Ask a Gopher ... or a Badger



The teams riding momentum, a winning streak or that “get hot” late in the regular season win championships. At least that is the assumption or cliché.

Seven of the 12 teams remaining in the NCAA tournament would argue otherwise.

Gary Parrish, CBS sports college basketball columnist and TV analyst, provided evidence in support of this argument Friday morning. He tweeted “Next time somebody tries to tell you about the importance of ‘momentum’ heading into the NCAA Tournament, show them this.”

The screen grab documented a combined 18-31 record that seven of the remaining teams in the tournament produced leading up to March Madness.

Xavier advanced to the Elite Eight Thursday night by upsetting Arizona. The Musketeers were 3-7 in 10 games before the NCAA tournament.

Wisconsin is appearing in its fourth consecutive Sweet 16 despite going 4-6 before the tournament. The Badgers play Florida, who was 1-3 in its four games before the tournament, Friday night.

Baylor was 5-5 in 10 games before the tournament. South Carolina was 3-6, North Carolina 2-2 and Butler 0-2.

Based on Sweet 16 pairings, four of these 12 teams will survive to the Elite Eight and at least one will play in the Final Four.

The Gophers’ early exit supports Parrish’s argument that momentum is a non-factor in the NCAA tournament. The Gophers were 9-2 in 11 games before the NCAA tournament, yet were upset in the first round. If you look at the Gophers' record at a different angle, though, they were 1-2 in the final three games leading up to the tournament. One could argue the momentum had already been wiped out by the time they faced Middle Tennessee in the Round of 64.

Consider this: Wisconsin was 3-1 in its final four games with a run to the Big Ten tournament title game. That looks like a little bit of momentum. 

Oregon, UCLA, Gonzaga, Kansas and Kentucky are the five other remaining 12 teams that have been riding momentum all season. The four teams have only a combined 11 losses.

Kansas and Oregon entered the tournament on a 9-1 stretch. Gonzaga and UCLA were 8-2. Kentucky was a perfect 10-0 and hasn’t lost since Feb. 4. It is tough to argue against momentum like that. 

'He needs to get the ball more.' C-Webb gushes over J.P. Macura

 

J.P. Macura stepped into the national spotlight Thursday night after taking a leading role in No. 11 seed Xavier’s upset of No. 2 Arizona in the Sweet 16.

The former Lakeville North star and two-time All-Metro selection scored 14 points, pulled down seven rebounds and dished out seven assists while playing 38 minutes in the 73-71 victory.

The stats were enough to earn Macura the attention, but it was his hustle, vision, defense and overall versatility on that court that impressed the game’s broadcast team and opposing coach Sean Miller.

“Wow, this guy has got heart,” play-by-play broadcaster Brian Anderson said on the call after one of Macura’s buckets in the second half.

“Xavier asks Macura to do a lot,” Anderson added. “And of all the players that Sean Miller talked about [Trevon] Bluiett was certainly on his mind. [Bluiett] was the first on the game plan to be discussed, but [Miller] was raving about Macura and what he does for Xavier. Last year, he was the Sixth Man of the Year in the Big East and now he’s in that starting role for Xavier ... and one of the toughest kids you’ll see in the game.”

Even former NBA All-Star Chris Webber, Anderson’s broadcast partner Thursday night, was impressed, but wants to see even more from Macura.

“Do not want to overemphasize this point, but only because he’s so talented, Macura needs to get the ball more,” Webber said. “And he needs to get it more inside so that then he can space the floor. But right now, a little bit predictable in how he plays and it’s just a physical game. … Macura don’t care, though.”

Cameras caught Miller embracing Macura after the game telling the Minnesota native how much he respects his game. 

Read: Macura elevates Xavier from survival mode to Sweet 16.

Basketball fans proclaimed their newfound love for Macura through social media. Here is a sampling:

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