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Norense Odiase: Most underrated player of the NCAA Tournament

His veteran presence helped the Red Raiders during their tournament run

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-National Championship-Virginia vs Texas Tech Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

This Red Raider senior gave his all during the 2019 NCAA Tournament, and man was it a great run. It may not show up on every stats sheet, but Norense Odiase has been a monster presence on the block during the tournament and has made it known that if you’re going to be matched up against him, you need to bring your very best.

Not only has he played through adversity, he has demonstrated in every way what it means to be a fearless champion. That’s why I have listed him as one of the most underrated players in this tournament. Now lets give this man the recognition he deserves.

He can bring it on offense:

Like I stated previously, what he does on the court isn't always reflected statistically. However, he has put up some stellar offensive performances in the tournament.

Lets look back at the Red Raiders second NCAA Tournament game against No. 15 Buffalo. Odiase came out of his shell and shot 100% from the floor going 4-4. In the end, he reached a double-double and compiled 14 points, just two fewer than Jarrett Culver’s 16 points, and 15 rebounds. He was also almost perfect from the free-throw line shooting 6-7, which can be a hard time for many forwards/centers.

He was also just shy of a double-double against No. 5 Michigan State with 9 points and 9 rebounds to help the Red Raiders defeat the Spartans, 61-51, to advance to the National Championship.

Even though Tech fell short to Virginia, Odiase was perfect from the floor and the free-throw line to post 5 points and 6 rebounds. He also stood his ground down low when Tariq Owens fouled out. He has definitely shown what a threat he posses to opponents.

He dominates defensively:

We all know this from watching his play during the tournament and the entire season. Odiase is known for his defensive presence down low and how he can force even the most skilled offensive players to miss what should be an easy shot.

After suffering from a few injuries during his former seasons, he stayed in the weight room and slimmed up to become even more agile against talented, quick athletes. From his sophomore season to his senior season, Odiase trimmed up and lost 5 pounds to be stand at 6’9 and weighing 250.

He’s shown how agile he can be by literally grabbing the ball out of Cassius Winstons’ hands, who was named Big 10 Player of the Year. Odiase is a grown man with a bulldog-like mentality that has shown he can force even the best of the best to turn the ball over.

He’s a leader:

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-National Championship-Virginia vs Texas Tech Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Overall, this is the best quality that Odiase has brought to the table during this tournament run. He’s been a staple for this team since he first arrived back in his freshman season. When he went down from an injury, we went down with him.

Just his presence on the court brings so much to the Tech team. He was the motivating force during the Red Raiders tournament appearances.

He has been there to guide young talents like Culver, Davide Moretti and Kyler Edwards. Even being a junior last season, Odiase showed how much of a leader he could be alongside Keenan Evans, Zach Smith, and many other former Red Raiders during Tech’s 2018 NCAA Tournament appearances.

Odiase embodies what it means to be a Red Raider, to be a leader, and a team player. He doesn't get the praise he so willingly deserves because what he does in the locker room, during practice and on the court just doesn't always pop up statistically.

He stepped up big time in the loss to Virginia, and his play wont be forgotten. Odiase made a name for himself and will forever be known as Red Raider royalty.