March Madness is the essence of college sports. It's where parody thrives and the upset lives. Small schools across the country unite with the hope that they can be the George Mason, Davidson or Texas Western in 2012.
One such school is the University of Detroit Mercy.
Led by sophomore point guard Ray McCallum Jr., the Titans put on a phenomenal performance to overcome Valparaiso in the Horizon League tournament, a team that had beaten them twice in the regular season, the Titans drew the Kansas Jayhawks—and player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson.
Though the Titans are not the long shots they appear to be. With McCallum, the Titans are poised to be the Cinderella of the 2012 NCAA tournament. He can be the difference maker in this game for a many reasons.
McCallum has all the talent needed to be a big time player on the college stage, as evidenced by recruitment offers from high-profile programs like Florida, UCLA and Arizona.
He proved all the hype was merited with his play this year, averaging 15.6 points and almost four assists per game. He's a general on the floor, leading his team as a sophomore with a fiery intensity that is rarely seen in underclassmen.
As the son of head coach Ray McCallum Sr., you can bet MaCallum Jr. will be more than prepared to do what is necessary on the court. To beat the Jayhawks, the Titans will need to attack the the basket and force a shallow Kansas team into foul trouble.
On defense, they will need to take away the three-point shot and force Thomas Robinson to prove he can fight through a tough matchup with Eli Holman.
But any chance the Titans have to win on Friday starts and ends with Ray McCallum Jr.
Guard play is what drives teams through the NCAA tournament, and McCallum could be the next Kemba Walker or Stephen Curry.