Where’s Admiral?

How was that not a charge? How did that ball not go in? Oh, no Virginia. Again? Really? Tremont, are you kidding me? How good would Wofford be had Zion stayed home? Bruce Pearl, have you ever seen a full-court press? Ja Morant, nobody in the ACC wanted you?

Those questions dominated the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s 1 more question I have about every Sweet 16 team.

East Region

Duke: Is anybody going to help the Duke Duo?

Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett combined for 51 points in the first-round game and 48 in the second-round squeaker over UCF. That’s 99 out of Duke’s 162 points (61 percent). They scored 54 percent of Duke’s points this season, but are doing even more, now. Cam Reddish has been streaky all season — he has 8 20-point games and 8 games under 8 points. Tre Jones has to get going this weekend. Duke’s bench is essentially useless. It contributed all of 3 points in 24 minutes against UCF.

Virginia Tech: What’s your plan for Zion?

The Hokies beat Duke in their lone regular-season matchup, but Duke didn’t have Zion Williamson, Barrett supposedly was sick and the game was in Blacksburg. You might have heard all of that. You might not know this: Buzz Williams is 3-3 against Duke, and Va. Tech won that game without its point guard, Justin Robinson. Williams will have a plan, and if Robinson can outplay Jones, the Hokies could roll into the Elite Eight for the first time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams.

LSU: If Tony Benford goes 6-2 as interim, will he get the full-time gig, too?

Benford is 3-1 since replacing Will Wade. Two more wins gets the Tigers to the Final Four. A 6th win would put them in the championship game. A 6-2 mark worked for Ed Orgeron. (Does LSU always hit a home run with interims?) Even if LSU loses Friday night to Michigan State, Benford deserves a lot of credit. We’ve seen plenty of teams crumble under such distractions.

Michigan State: Why is Tom Izzo so mean to his players?

I kid. Izzo is a March magician … with a sense of humor and timing, too. His reaction to the textbook millennial overreaction to his coaching style has been the tournament’s shining moment thus far.

West Region

Gonzaga: Can we bury the Cinderella moniker, already?

Gonzaga has won 14 games in the past 5 NCAA Tournaments (including this one). Here’s the complete list of programs that have won more in that span: UNC (16) and Villanova (15). The conference might still be mid-major in nature, but Mark Few and his program most assuredly are not.

Florida State: Will the real FSU please stand up?

For years, FSU has been one of the toughest teams to figure out. They’ve never won the ACC regular-season title but were ACC Tournament champs in 2012 and just got to the final this season after finishing fourth in the regular season. Can they beat Gonzaga? Sure. FSU beat Sweet 16 teams Virginia Tech and Virginia (by double digits) in the ACC Tournament and lost once to Duke by 2. But they also lost at Pitt and at Boston College, which went a combined 8-28 in the ACC this season.

Texas Tech: How good are the Red Raiders?

Honestly, I have no idea. Ending Kansas’ Big 12 reign is nice, but 4 of their 6 losses were by double digits, which creates doubt about a ceiling. Three of those were on the road and another was against Duke. This just in: NCAA Tournament games aren’t played at home, and Texas Tech could see Duke in the Final Four. The Red Raiders rolled through the first two rounds, but I’ll be shocked if they upset Michigan.

Michigan: Is Michigan still a football school?

I don’t think so. This is the Wolverines fifth trip to the Sweet 16 in the past 7 seasons under underrated coach John Beilein. Twice they’ve reached the national title game in that span. Know who else has been to 2 title games since 2012? Not Duke. Not Kentucky. Not Kansas. Not anybody except UNC and Villanova.

South Region

Virginia: Can Kyle Guy find his shooting touch?

Guy is 4-for-23 (1-for-15) through 2 games in the NCAA Tournament. Guy also is Virginia’s leading scorer. He’s a curl-catch-and-shooter and can be bothered by pressure. UVA can’t survive the weekend unless he again becomes the sharpshooter who has knocked down 107 3s this season — 40 more than any other Cav.

Oregon: Would the Ducks be here without the Pac-12 title?

The safe bet is: No. Their NET was 61 entering the Pac-12 Tournament. Conference tournaments are so 1970s, but sometimes, even in 2019, they matter.

Now? The Ducks might be the hottest team in the country, winners of 10 consecutive games, including the Pac-12 Tournament championship game and 2 double-digit victories in the NCAA Tournament.

Purdue: Do you remember when Purdue fans wanted to fire Matt Painter?

I do. I was at the Indianapolis Star when he was hired. He wasn’t the sexy pick. He was a gritty ex-Boiler who played for Gene Keady. He started hot, then cooled considerably. The Boilers missed back-to-back NCAA Tournaments during losing seasons. Butler had just gone to back-to-back NCAA championship games. Indiana was a preseason No. 1. Natives grew restless, thinking Painter had plateaued. They demanded change. Patience prevailed. And now Purdue is making its third consecutive Sweet 16 appearance … and IU just missed the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year.

Tennessee: How much does experience matter?

The Vols’ best players are upperclassmen. And we saw a great example of that veteran leadership Sunday, when usual star Admiral Schofield sat out the final possession of regulation and all of overtime … and smiled as if he had hit the game-winner during a postgame interview. You might beat the Vols, but it will be next to impossible to rattle them. There’s too much collective poise.

Midwest Region

UNC: Will Carolina guard the 3?

Depending on your loyalties, it’s sometimes comical/painful to watch how open 3-point shooters get against Roy Williams’ defense. UNC’s indifference to perimeter defense isn’t new. Historically, few teams, if any, could match UNC’s NBA talent. The way to attack the Tar Heels was simple math: 3-pointers beat dunks. Coach K perfected the art and created the stretch 4 in the process. Since then, everybody’s game plan generally is the same: Try to shoot them out of the gym. Many try. It’s no coincidence that 7th and 10th-most 3s attempted in an NCAA Tournament game came against UNC.

Auburn actually has the ability to hit 15 or more 3s.

Here’s the rub: UNC has the athletes and length to read and react. It’s almost always about the desire to do so.

Auburn: So, what’s the record for most 3-pointers in an NCAA Tournament game?

It’s 21. Loyola-Marymount set it against Michigan in the second round in 1990. Villanova hit 18 in the Final Four win over Kansas last year … after making 17 against Alabama in the second round.

Auburn led the country in made 3s this year with 381. The Tigers averaged 11.2 per game. They’ve increased that in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 12.5.

The barrage is coming.

In terms of styles, Auburn’s offensive strengths couldn’t be a more perfect match for UNC’s biggest defensive deficiency.

Houston: How much longer will Kelvin Sampson stay?

The guy can coach. Guard Corey Davis is really talented, but Kelvin Sampson is the reason I picked Houston to get to the Final Four. He has won 20+ games 18 times, at four schools. Yes, he made some mistakes at Oklahoma. And, at Indiana, he broke a rule so ridiculously stupid that even the NCAA later got rid of it. Of course, by then, the damage was done. IU fired Sampson, the program went on probation and Sampson was forced to resurrect his career and name in the NBA. He’s been back in the college game for 5 years. For Power 5 programs looking for that elusive top floor, Sampson is the guy who can get them there.

Kentucky: Can Tyler Herro become Tyler Hero?

That jumper is so pure. I just keep waiting on Kentucky to realize that this kid is their J.J. Redick, and it’s time to run more sets for him and through him. He actually leads the Cats is shots, by the slimmest of margins, but he needs to become more than a kickout option. Maybe it takes time. Redick didn’t become Redick until his junior year, but by the end of his freshman season, Redick was shooting more than anybody Duke had. I keep waiting on the same thing to happen with Herro. If he gets hot and P.J. Washington returns, the Cats become title contenders.