By RENALDO DORSETT
FOUR Bahamian players entered the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball tournament, however just one remains - albeit in an injured role, as the field narrowed to the Sweet 16.
Wannah Bail and the UCLA Bruins, the No. 4 seed in the South region, will face the No.1 seed in the region and top overall seed in the tournament, the Florida Gators, 9:45pm March 27 in Memphis, Tennessee.
In his redshirt freshman season, Bail has been seldom used and underwent his second knee surgery for the year, just prior to the start of the tournament. He underwent a procedure to remove torn cartilage in his knee and was initially expected to miss the first weekend of the tournament. His return for its remainder is questionable.
The PAC 12 conference tournament champion Bruins opened with a 76-59 win over No.13 Tulsa and followed with a 77-60 win over Stephen F. Austin in the round of 32.
Kadeem Coleby and the Wichita State Shockers, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region, saw their undefeated season end at 35 games when they were upset in the round of 32 by the No.8 seeded Kentucky Wildcats.
The Shockers fell 78-76 when a Fred VanVleet three pointer from the top of the key rimmed out.
Wichita State opened the tournament with a 64-37 win over No. 16 Cal Poly. Coleby ended the season with averages of 2.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.
Tristan Curtis and the No. 16 ranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers seemed poised to pull off an historic upset before the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers pulled away in the first round of the East region.
The Cavaliers faced a 10-point deficit in the first half and trailed 35-30 at the half before they pulled ahead for good with about nine minutes left to play. A No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Curtis averaged 1.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game on the season.
In the West region, Buddy Hield and the No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners suffered an upset loss in an overtime thriller to No. 12 North Dakota State. The Sooners lost 80-75 in what has become an annual tradition of 12-seed upsets over number 5s.
Hield, the Sooners’ leading scorer, was limited to just nine points on 4-14 shooting, including 1-9 from three point range, in his NCAA tournament debut. The Sooners’ had several opportunities to win in regulation, including an open three pointer from Hield that rimmed out. Hield finished the season scoring 16.5 points per game and grabbing 4.4 rebounds per game. He shot 39 per cent from the field and 75 per cent from the free throw line.