There’s a surprise frontrunner in the Most Outstanding Player conversation at this year’s NCAA tournament. It’s not a stud freshman or a seasoned senior; it’s not a blue-chipper on a blue blood and it’s not an unheralded star sparking a Cinderella run. It’s an orange piece of metal, and it is dominating.
In the first round, The Rim stifled Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo twice on two breakaways. First it stopped a powerful throwdown attempt:
DiVincenzo tried to throw off The Rim with a softer attempt, but The Rim wouldn’t be outsmarted.
DiVincenzo has dunked in the past, but he’d never faced an opponent like The Rim before.
Florida Gulf Coast earned its reputation as Dunk City. More like Nope Township.
In the second round, Louisville’s Anas Mahmoud thought this dunk was uncontested. But every part of The Rim contributed to keeping the ball out.
When Mahmoud tried to hold The Rim to corral his miss, he was called for basket interference. That’s how you know The Rim is a star — the refs are starting to help protect him.
But nobody could win the tournament’s highest honor without shutting down another team’s star. And look at what The Rim did to Kansas freshman Josh Jackson:
Some might see these as bloopers. I see them as highlights for an inanimate object. For too long we’ve seen The Rim as a passive party, staying stationary as errant shots clank away. I think this uncharacteristic run of stonewalled dunks during the most important part of the college basketball season proves The Rim can create sensational plays. The Rim is the best defender in the game; this year, he’s finally getting his due.