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March Madness: Charles Barkley Makes 1 Bold Claim and 1 Sorrowful Take

Published 03/23/2024, 11:38 PM EDT

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Charles Barkley had a lot to say on live television ahead of the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament. The Philadelphia 76ers legend has been actively analyzing the March Madness along with his TNT buddies, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson. In today’s episode, Barkley had two unique takes that have caught the attention of the internet. One was about the criticism of Purdue’s superstar Zach Edey. The other was his sorrowful take on Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans. 

Zach Edey, 2x NCAA Big Ten Player of the Year, has led the Purdue Boilermakers to the 2nd round. The 7’4 center is averaging 24.6 points (1st) and 12 rebounds (3rd) this year, which has helped him garner all the attention. However, there has been some heavy criticism for Purdue’s disappointing playoff exits in the last two seasons. The expectations on Edey have been over the roof, and when Purdue disappoints, the entire blame falls on him. The Chuckster does not entertain that. 

He said, I think Zach Edey gets a bad rap. I’ve heard people criticizing him…He ain’t the reason they’re losing. He’s the reason they’re the No. 1 seed.” That was a bold take from Charles Barkley, as there are not many at the moment who are siding with Edey. Following this big take, the 1993 MVP had a sorrowful claim on Michigan State Spartans, who faced a disappointing exit today. 

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The Spartans faced the North Carolina Tar Heels, and during halftime, Barkley shared, “You can see [the Tar Heels are] a better team, and I think it’s gonna end up getting out of hand.” As Barkley predicted, the Spartans lost 85-69 and are out of the NCAA. Barkley was rooting for the Spartans for two reasons. One, for his love toward the Coach, Tom Izzo, and two, he hates Kenny Smith, whose alma mater is North Carolina. Well, that’s two fair reasons!  

Now that the Spartans are out of the conversation, let’s come back to Barkley’s defense of Zach Edey. 

Amid Charles Barkley’s support, can Zach Edey change the narrative this season with at least an Elite Eight appearance? 

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Edey’s productivity on both the offensive and the defensive end has been insane. But fans want him to deliver when it matters the most. The last two NCAA appearances from the Boilermakers were very disappointing. In the 2021-22 season, the Purdue unit lost by 3 points in the Sweet Sixteen to Saint Peter’s Peacocks. Later, in 2022-23, they were first-round exits, despite clinching the first seed. It was one of the biggest upsets of NCAA history, as they lost to the 16th seed Fairleigh Dickinson.

USA Today via Reuters

The Boilermakers have made it past the first round this season with a 28-point win against Gramling Tigers. The next in line is the 8th-seed Utah State Aggies. Zach Edey dropped 30 points and 21 rebounds in the 1st round against Grambling. Hopefully, he can drop some dominant numbers like this in the 2nd round too.

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Do you think Zach Edey can prove Barkley right? 

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Written by:

Rohan Dharmalingam

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Rohan Dharmalingam is an NBA beat writer at EssentiallySports, who extensively covers the Lakers. Be it a multimillion dollar deal breaking or a classic throwback, Rohan has covered the many themes and formats. Most notably, his coverage received a shoutout from the Purple & Gold icon Shaquille O'Neal and the rap legend 50 Cent, on Instagram.
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Edited by:

Daniel D'Cruz