Ron Hunter (Georgia State, Head Coach): From a ruptured Achilles to having to play in the tournament as a 14 seed without his starting point guard and leading scorer, Hunter has impressed as a head coach as much as his son R.J. has impressed as an NBA prospect. The Mississippi State head coaching job just opened up and more high major openings are sure to follow. Look for Hunter to be a serious candidate, if he’s interested.
Bryce Alford (UCLA, Guard): A lot of people didn’t think the Bruins belonged in the tournament, but there’s no denying their worthiness now as they are dancing on to the Sweet 16. Alford has been the catalyst behind their run, averaging 24.5 points and three assists a game. He’s also shot a scorching 12-16 from beyond the arc. As just a sophomore, this could be a sign of things to come in his junior and senior years.
Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin, Center): The senior was in peak form against Coastal Carolina, scoring 27 points, hauling in 12 rebounds and four assists – all of which were team highs in an 86-72 win. It’s not easy for seniors to climb into the lottery, especially late bloomers like Kaminsky, bbecause of his size, skill and versatility, he’s very likely to be off of the board in the top 14. He’ll really climb draft boards if he keeps playing like he did in the second round.
Rick Barnes (Texas, Head Coach): Coming into the tournament, Barnes was already on the hot seat and a second-round exit to Butler has not done anything to cool it down. The Longhorns are seven years removed from their last trip past the opening weekend and Barnes may have milked his past glory days for all their worth.
The Big 12: The Longhorns weren’t the only team from the “best conference in the country” to struggle in the second round of the tournament. Iowa State, Baylor and Oklahoma State also didn’t last a single game. Kansas and Oklahoma helped salvage the opening weekend for the conference, but only Oklahoma is standing now. This year’s run will go down as a major disappointment for the league, even if Oklahoma goes on a run to the Final Four.
12 seeds: For the first time since 2007, every 12 seed lost in the seeding pairing that traditionally holds the highest probability for an upset. Wyoming, Stephen F. Austin, Buffalo and Wofford were all viewed as having a chance to keep the tradition intact by beating a 5 seed, but ultimately fell. The latter three were all within striking distance late, while Wyoming lost by 17. Don’t expect this to become the norm, though. It’d be shocking if there wasn’t a 12-5 upset next year as well.