As a #13 seed, the North Texas Mean Green pulled off a stunning overtime upset 78-69 over #4 Purdue in the opening round of March Madness, thanks to heroics by senior guard Javion Hamlet. On Sunday, North Texas battles #5 Villanova in the second round with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16.
Without starting point guard Collin Gillespie (torn MCL), many so-called talking heads did not give Villanova much of a chance in the first round against #12 Winthrop. As a #5 seed, Villanova was a popular pick as one of the teams that fell to a #12 seed. However, Villanova prevailed and they’re one win away from a trip to the Sweet 16.
|#13 North Texas (18-9) vs #5 Villanova (17-6)|
- Tip-off: 5:45pm
- Point Spread: NOVA -6.5
- Total: 127 o/u
- Money Line: NTU +220 / NOVA -255
Villanova opened as a -7 favorite over North Texas. By Saturday morning, the line moved a half-point to -6.5 to reflect a steady flow of North Texas backers.
The Mean Green play some mean defense, ranked #10 in the nation. North Texas averages only 70 ppg this season, but their stifling defense allows only 60.4 ppg this season.
The Mean Green are 11-0 when they score 74-plus points. If someone else can provide a scoring boost aside from Hamlet, North Texas can continue their Cinderella run.
North Texas Faith
Hamlet never backed down against one of the toughest defensive teams in the Big Ten, and he led the Mean Green to an inspiring victory over Purdue. The sporting world watched in disbelief, but we tipped you off about North Texas earlier in the week when we mentioned the Mean Green as our potential Cinderella teams.
Texas North head coach Grant McCasland never questioned his faith in Hamlet. He knew that the Mean Green could pick off the Boilermakers.
“If I told you that we didn’t plan to do this, I’d be lying,” said McCasland. “Those guys in that locker room came here for this reason. You never know what happens when you get out there and scrap. But those guys believe we’re going to win. They really do.”
Hamlet led the Mean Green with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists. He also shot a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe, including clutch free throws down the stretch.
“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity my whole life man, to show the world who Javion Hamlet is,” said Hamlet. “When the lights get big, I love that.”
Mean Green Eggs and Javion Hamlet
Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Danish prince drowning in self-doubt, had problems making tough decisions. The Mean Green’s Hamlet is the complete opposite. He’s overflowing with self-confidence, which his North Texas teammates tap into.
“Don’t ever doubt me,” Hamlet said. “That’s what I told the Purdue fans. That’s what I’m telling the whole world. Don’t ever doubt Javion Hamlet.”
Every head coach and recruiter in the country passed on Hamlet as a high school senior out of Memphis. He did not want to give up his dream on playing college basketball, but his journey began at Motlow State, a tiny community college in Tennessee. After a season at Motlow State, he headed to Buffalo in the MAC. However, things did not work out and he left school before even joining the team.
After sitting out that season, he spent the 2018-19 season Northwest Florida State in Niceville. He averaged 17.8 ppg for the NWFS Raiders and North Texas took notice.
Head coach Grant McCasland gave Hamlet a shot in 2019, which paid off dividends two years later.
“That’s the part that you love about sports,” said McCasland. No one out here is any better or any different when it comes down to the work you put in and what you control.”
In his first season with the Mean Green, Hamlet averaged 14.6 ppg and sot 42% from 3-point range. This season, Hamlet averaged a team-high 15.3 ppg. He won Conference USA Player of the Year honors, which is a huge deal considering he was playing JUCO ball in the middle of nowhere two years ago.
We have an Upset! 13 seed North Texas beats 4 seed Purdue in a 78-69 win to move to the round of 32! This is their first tournament win in school history! More big upsets to come! Who will be next?!
SPIRE Player of The Game:
G Javion Hamlet (UNT)- 24 pts, 12 reb, 5 ast pic.twitter.com/9vpjb4watE
— S.P.I.R.E Media Group (@SPIREpdcast) March 20, 2021
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