The Raptors were able to take the perfect backseat to March Madness last night. They did not cause me any extra stress while breezing past the Pacers without much trouble, and they forced a visibly frustrated Paul George to stop trying at both ends midway through the third quarter.
While sitting in section 305 and furiously refreshing my phone for updates on the tourney, it got me thinking about the best performance each Raptor has had during March’s best event.
Sadly, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas, Lucas Nogueira and, of course, Bruno never took part in March Madness, so they won’t be on the list. Cory Joseph was also on an underperforming Texas team under Rick Barnes that didn’t make it... shocker! As for the rest:
Facing John Calipari’s Memphis Tigers in the ‘09 Sweet Sixteen, Carroll put up 17 points on 6-11 from the field, as well as six assists, six boards, two steals and a block in the 102-91 win against Tyreke Evans and co. DePeep Dick Enberg on the call. #Legend
DeMar only played in two tournament games, and posted his better line in the 2nd round against Michigan State. He finished with 18 points, five rebounds and two assists, but could he have made this bucket, things could’ve gone much differently for his #10 seed USC team:
Siakam only played in one tourney game, in which his 15-seed New Mexico State Aggies led by Canadian Daniel Mullings were easily handled in the opening round by 47 year old Perry Ellis and the Kansas Jayhawks. Siakam’s line was eight points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Powell is one of the most decorated Raptors in terms of NCAA tournament experience, reaching three tournaments in his four years at UCLA. In his senior season his best game came in their 11-6 upset of the SMU Mustangs, in which he scored 19 points, grabbed six rebounds and doled out four assists. He also got Uncle Verne hella excited on this reverse:
Tucker was an absolute monster of a player in the tournament, as in his final season of 05-06, he posted a double-double in each of the Longhorns four games alongside LaMarcus Aldridge and Boobie Gibson.
Against West Virginia in the 2006 Sweet Sixteen, he put up 15 and 14, along with four assists in a game which ended with madness:
In his only trip to the tourney in 2015, Wright struggled mightily offensively, as he shot sub-35 percent in all three games. His best line came against the Hoyas in the 2nd round, when he was able to score 12 points and put up five rebounds and assists a piece.
Poeltl was also on that 2015 team with Wright that advanced to the Sweet 16 before being knocked out by Duke, but his tourney breakout came the next spring in the opening round against Fresno State.
Along with the 16 points and 18 rebounds, you saw the pretty passing out of the post that led to his four assists.
Lowry’s better tournament performance came in his first trip when he was the Wildcats starting point guard alongside Randy Foye. In the Sweet Sixteen against UNC at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, he nearly lead the Wildcats to the upset win over the eventual national champion Heels, putting up 18 points on 6-of-8 from the floor, and grabbing seven rebounds, “on his birthday!”
Part of the legendary mid-major run Wichita State had, and continues to have under Gregg Marshall, VanVleet made the tournament in each of four years in school, with his best performance coming against the Hoosiers of Indiana. Dropping 27 points and pulling a “YES!” out of Marv Albert is certainly a big time accomplishment.
Pat was the veteran on the Wildcats who bridged the gap between the Billy Gillespie era and the Calipari era, playing his final college season on the team of future All-stars with DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and of course Josh Harrellson.
His best performance came in the opening round of that season’s tourney in a game against East Tennessee State (thanks for losing to Florida and busting my bracket on Thursday), in which he scored 22 points on 9-10 from the field.
My predictions for this week are a losing streak breaking victory against the Bulls at home, a loss on the road in Miami on Friday before bouncing back in Dallas on Saturday night.
And on the college side of things, my title game of Arizona vs. Kentucky is still alive.
Who ya got?