March Madness 2019: LSU are the bad boy heroes of the Sweet 16

LSU is going to the Sweet 16. The third-seeded Tigers outlasted No. 6 seed Maryland on Saturday, winning a 69-67 thriller in the round of the 32 to become the first team to advance to the second weekend of the 2019 NCAA tournament.

Sophomore point guard Tremont Waters was the hero for LSU, hitting a driving layup with one second remaining to break a tied score and win the game.

LSU advancing in the NCAA tournament with this team and in this year is sure to stir up consternation for the sport’s moral compass. The Tigers spit in the face of NCAA rules and the outdated concept of amateur athletics to build this squad. It sure feels like the program got its money’s worth.

If you hate the NCAA and think it’s ridiculous college athletes aren’t fairly compensated for their labor, LSU is the team for you. The Tigers are the bad boy heroes of this tournament.

LSU blatantly broke NCAA rules to build this team

Head coach Will Wade was not on the sideline when his team defeated Maryland to advance to the Sweet 16. He was suspended by the university earlier this month after reportedly being caught on an FBI wiretap discussing payments to at least one current player as well as a potential recruit.

Wade has been subpoenaed to federal court for an April trial where former agency runner Christian Dawkins will take the stand. Wade was reportedly caught on an FBI wiretap talking to Dawkins about an alleged payment to current Tigers freshman guard Javonte Smart.

Wade said he made a “strong-ass offer” and joked the player would be compensated more than the “rookie minimum” in the NBA.

This is against NCAA rules, of course, heaven forbid an athlete actually gets compensated for their work. LSU isn’t concerned with your rules.

Wade did some impressive recruiting to build this team

Wade raised eyebrows with his recruiting at LSU since taking over before last season. Look at some of these recruiting wins:

  • Waters, the No. 34 player in the class of 2017, signed with LSU late in the process after originally committing to Georgetown. He’s from Connecticut — not exactly LSU’s typical recruiting base.
  • Naz Reid, a five-star recruit and the No. 12 player in the class of 2018, committed to LSU out of New Jersey.
  • Emmitt Williams, five-star recruit and the No. 21 player in the class of 2018, committed to LSU out of Florida.
  • Javonte Smart, a four-star in 2018 from Louisiana, is the player allegedly at the center of the wiretap conversation.
  • Darius Days was the No. 53 recruit in 2018.

LSU isn’t typically a basketball powerhouse, but Wade turned them into one with his recruiting wins. Going into the East Coast to pull out coveted prospects in Waters and Reid helped make it happen.

Wade’s 2018 recruiting haul was ranked No. 4 overall in the country. Pretty impressive for a program that had only been to the NCAA tournament once in the last nine years before this season, huh?

LSU’s team is so fun to watch

Waters isn’t the biggest or fastest point guard, but he’s a maestro with the ball in his hands. As a high-IQ point guard with deep shooting range and impressive court vision, Waters feels like the perfect college point guard for March.

LSU is thriving because they put a team full of elite athletes around him.

Reid and Williams are major talents in the front court. Kavell Bigby-Williams, a 6’11 transfer from Oregon, was also a great get. Skylar Mays and Marlon Taylor join Smart on the perimeter to create a team full of players who can create their own offense and run in transition.

With Waters at the controls, this is a really impressive team. Wade is happy the checks (allegedly) cleared.

Think of this LSU basketball team like this

Perfect. LSU cheated and they’re thriving. Sorry, not sorry.

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