The wildest aspect of the NCAA Tournament is its proclivity for upsets. Unless you have an allegiance to Michigan State, West Virginia, or Cal, or you really care about the health of your bracket, those teams all losing to lower seeds was the most thrilling part of the opening weekend. Chaos is the rule of the first round of games, and unexpected as Michigan State boning it and losing to Middle Tennessee State was, a heavily favored team will inevitably lose to a pipsqueak team at some point in every Tournament.
What doesn’t always happen, and what’s much more fun than an upset, is a player catching fire and holding it for a sustained run deep into the tournament. Steph Curry’s 2008 flamethrower of a postseason comes to mind, as does Kemba Walker’s 2011 tournament.
Final Four-bound Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield is currently in the midst of a similarly dominant run of his own, and last night’s 37 point destruction of Oregon was his most impressive display yet. He went eight-for-thirteen from three-point range, and became the first player since Curry to score 100 points and hit 15 threes before the Final Four.
Hield has all the basketball tools he needs to put together one of the best and most fun NCAA Tournaments in recent memory: his team is good enough that defenses can’t load up on Hield like they could against Curry in 2008, he can drive to the rim if any defender gets too close on him (look at this violent crossover), and he has that beauty of a shot he can score with from a healthy variety of distances and angles. Check out those first few threes he made against Oregon, dude doesn’t need much space to get a shot off.
The Sooners’ forthcoming matchup with Villanova will be quite a contrast of styles. Nova’s attack is incredibly balanced, and they usually win with defense. Oklahoma has a handful of very good players, but Hield is the star around which they orbit. He’s the first player averaging over 25 points per game to make the Final Four since 1990.
The Villanova defense will be the most organized unit he’s gone up against this March, but that’s what makes the matchup so exciting. Hield’s already roasted four schools (although he had a bit of an off night against Texas A&M, he had the most rebounds and assists he’s had all Tournament), and he has the talent and momentum to keep on roasting.