College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 12, 2011
Saturday saw loads of teams admitted to the Big Dance - too many to mention, in fact - but the most impressive performance of the day came from freshman Harrison Barnes, whose 40 points was the most by a freshman since Tyler Hansbrough did it in 2006 and led the North Carolina Tar Heels back from a huge deficit to force overtime and eventually beat Clemson, setting up a Sunday ACC Tournament final between Duke and North Carolina.
Barnes was simply unconscious, hitting 12 of 17 shots from the floor, including 6 of 8 three-pointers. He also went 10-for-11 from the foul line and snatched away 8 rebounds as the Tar Heels turned away the Tigers, 92-87, outscoring Clemson in OT, 19-14. Barnes' 40 was also a record for scoring by a freshman in the ACC tournament.
The North Carolina rise from the ashes has been extraordinary, to say the least. After losing to Texas and dropping to 7-4 in December, the Tar Heels have gone 19-2 since, including 12-2 in the ACC, winning the conference regular season by beating Duke in their final game, and are currently on a 9-game winning streak at just the right time. A win over the Blue Devils could actually land them a #1 seed in the NCAAs, though a #2 seems the most likely scenario, with the four #1 seeds going to Notre Dame, Pitt, Ohio State and Kansas, though, with Notre Dame losing to Louisville in the Big East semi-final, nothing's for certain.
Later today, the NCAA will release the full field of 68, after the finals of the remaining tournaments - SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Atlantic 10. CBD will be up late putting together our exclusive tourney cheat sheet to make your bracket busting fun and maybe even profitable.