Grant Hill: Mercer Beating Duke Is Why The Tournament Is Great
Duke basketball legend Grant Hill, turned NCAA tournament analysis for Turner, joined the Mac Attack to discuss the tournament, his playing days and compares Wichita State and an undefeated nemesis from his past, the 1991 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.
On the most impressive performances of the NCAA tournament so far: Dayton beating Ohio State and advancing to the Sweet 16. Even though Harvard lost, playing Michigan State really tough and showing they’re the real deal. I know Steve Smith was a little scared and nervous during that game. One of the interesting things, is the blue bloods, the traditional powers, those teams are out and that’s unusual and speaks to the parity and the talent level overall of college basketball. Mercer beating Duke was a great story and that’s what makes the tournament great.
On the most valuable player so far: I like Adrien Payne. I thought he had the best first round performance with 41 points. We hear all the Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins talk and they’re out and the didn’t have their best tournament, but the beautiful thing is other players who we haven’t seen or haven’t been on the national radar are getting an opportunity to step up and showcase what they do and it’s been fun to watch.
On comparing Wichita State to 1991 UNLV: There were still doubters with Wichita State this year, people questioning their conference and not giving them their proper credit for how good they were. With UNLV, everyone knew how dominant they were, everyone respected them. There was an attitude that they could go into the NBA and have tremendous success. They were hands down the best team and everyone feared them and gave them the respect of being the best team.
On facing undefeated UNLV in the 1991 Final Four: For us, what made it an interesting situation was the year before they had beaten Duke and embarrassed Duke in the finals, so it was it almost personal in some respects. They returned most of their players, if not all of them and we lost three senior starters, so when we got back into that position, everyone picked UNLV to win, but Coach K had us ready and the great thing was we had a week to prepare. One of the things that was important was to keep it close. Because they were so good, they had not been in a close game all year, and we had been.