The NCAA tournament started with 65 teams and a plethora of NBA prospects. Two weekends later, we're down to four teams -- and zero lottery prospects.
It's been Waterloo for the draft's elite prospects. John Wall of Kentucky and Evan Turner of Ohio State lost in the Elite Eight and Sweet 16, respectively; Wesley Johnson of Syracuse was out in the Sweet 16 as well. Ekpe Udoh and the Baylor Bears then fell to Duke on Sunday afternoon, keeping the last potential lottery guy from the Final Four.
They weren't the only casualties. With the pressure mounting, NCAA tournament (and Bill Simmons') darlings like Omar Samhan, Ryan Wittman and Jacob Pullen came up short, too. Samhan, who Simmons claimed could score on anyone in the NBA not named Dwight Howard, couldn't do much of anything against Udoh. Wittman couldn't get his beautiful shot off against Kentucky's long-armed defenders. And for Pullen, a double-overtime game against Xavier seemed to leave him running on fumes against Butler.
It seems the slipper didn't quite fit for Cinderella after all.
This is the problem with putting too much emphasis on the tournament. If we're going to praise marginal prospects thanks to a couple of good games in the first rounds of the tournament, do we also pound them for falling short when the pressure and stakes mount?
However, if you consider the NCAA tournament a piece of a much bigger puzzle, you can learn a lot from what happened this past weekend. A number of players did make favorable or unfavorable impressions during those most recent games. Here's a look at who helped and hurt themselves over the past four days of the tournament.
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