Everything these days has a sponsor. Everywhere you look a logo is plastered somewhere or an event is now called the XYZ Open presented by ABC. Perhaps this year the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament should be sponsored by Big Brothers Big Sisters. There are a plethora of sibling storylines coming out of the second week of the tournament.
The most high profile of these storylines is on the sidelines with brothers Sean and Archie Miller as they take their teams into the Sweet 16. Sean leads #1 Arizona into Anaheim for a matchup with #4 San Diego State and younger brother Archie heads a somewhat surprising #11 Dayton team into a matchup of double-digit seeds when they face #10 Stanford in Memphis tomorrow. The elder Miller began his career as a point guard at the University of Pittsburgh in the late 1980s. He then paid his coaching dues at Wisconsin, Miami (OH), N.C. State as well as his alma mater before moving onto Xavier. At Xavier he served as an assistant under Thad Matta for three seasons before taking over when Matta left for Ohio State. Miller was then promoted to head coach where he guided the Musketeers for five years leading them to four NCAA Tournaments and an Elite Eight appearance in 2008. He then took his current job at Arizona taking over for the legendary Lute Olson. Now in his 5th year at Arizona Miller has the Wildcats positioned as a national title contender.
Younger brother Archie played collegiately at N.C. State and served as an assistant there as well as at Western Kentucky, Arizona State, Ohio State and under his brother at Arizona before becoming the head man at Dayton in 2011. In his first season Dayton made the NIT and now Miller has the Flyers in the Sweet 16 since 1983-84 when they made the Elite Eight.
On the floor there are a pair of twin brothers that have found their way to the Sweet 16. First at UCLA, senior forwards Travis and David Wear will help the Bruins take on #1 Florida in Memphis tomorrow and freshmen Aaron and Andrew Harrison and #8 Kentucky, after defeating previously unbeaten Wichita State will do battle with in-state rival #4 Louisville in Indianapolis on Friday.
The Wear brothers, California natives began their college careers at North Carolina in 2009 before transferring to UCLA after one season. In their final season the Wears, who are averaging a combined 13.5 points and seven rebounds have finally been able to experience victory in the NCAA Tournament after losing their first game last season.
Aaron Harrison along with twin brother Andrew were considered top recruits coming out of high school and both ended up at Kentucky in a star-studded recruiting class. With such a young team the Wildcats struggled at times to live up to the hype. They certainly did however in a 78-76 win over #1 Wichita State in one of the best NCAA Tournament games in recent memory. The Harrison brothers combined for 39 points in the win. The Pecan Grove, Texas natives have stepped up their play averaging a combined 32 points in the tournament.
The final storyline comes from a player on the court, Dayton’s Devin Oliver and a fan in the stands, his sister Miya. Miya, who has down syndrome has been Oliver’s biggest fan and he hers. She can be seen at nearly all Flyer games cheering as loud as she can for her brother. She says that Devin, who is averaging 11.5 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Flyers, has taught her how to play basketball, a sport she competes in for the Special Olympics and Devin says Miya’s passion is so wonderful because it is so genuine. So as Dayton prepares to take on Stanford in Memphis tomorrow you can bet the UD cheering section will be led by Oliver’s biggest fan.
The bond between siblings will be very prevalent as the Sweet 16 kicks off tomorrow. Who knows if any of them will make it to Dallas and the Final Four but someone should get Big Brothers Big Sisters on the phone, this has marketing genius written all over it.