Zion Williamson is returning to the court for the Duke Blue Devils in advance of the ACC Tournament, and it could not come at a better time for NCAA Tournament fans.
The freshman phenom and ACC Player of the Year has been out of action since injuring his knee in the opening moments of Duke's 88-72 loss to North Carolina on Feb. 20. With Williamson sidelined for the final five games of the regular season, the Blue Devils finished 3-2, and dropped to the No. 3 seed in the 2019 ACC Tournament.
Williamson will be back on the floor when Duke takes on No. 7 seed Syracuse in quarterfinal action Thursday night in Charlotte, N.C., the program announced earlier in the day.
But his return isn't just great news for Duke, one of the few legitimate National Championship contenders. It's great news for anyone who loves March Madness.
The 2018-19 college basketball season has not been that great. Blue bloods like UCLA, Indiana, and Kansas are down, and the fringe blue blood teams that typically step up in the absence of other elite programs, teams like Arizona and Louisville, are down as well.
What that means is the fate of March Madness rests on the behemoth shoulders of Zion Williamson. That's not to say that the NCAA Tournament won't be incredible. The success of the first weekend is dictated by upsets, cinderellas and March miracles. But as the field is whittled down, and our brackets are busted, we care less about the underdogs and more about the star potential.
Up until Thursday morning, few had any information about whether or not Williamson would return to the court at all. During his five-game absence, fans and pundits alike argued over whether or not he should sit out and begin focusing on the NBA Draft. If he were to have done that, the NCAA Tournament would still be entertaining, because it always is. But without Zion in the tournament, Duke's chances of making a deep run would take a hit, as would the casual fan's desire to watch the second and third weekends of tournament coverage.
There is no one in the country with more star potential than Zion Williamson. He's college basketball's only superstar, and in a very down year for the sport, he is the only hope for a full month of front page college basketball news.
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