INDIANAPOLIS – Guards are what allow you to continue to dance in the NCAA tournament. Specifically, those with the ball in their hands.
Point guards are the key.
In fact, you can't win a championship without a big-time floor leader.
Well, this year dispels that theory.
You've got four teams with unorthodox point guard situations.
We'll start with Duke senior Jon Scheyer.
He's always been cerebral, but he arrived in Durham as the guy who would be the next J.J. Redick. A big-time shooter and scorer who could fill it up quickly. In fact, he once scored 21 points in the final 75 seconds back in high school.
"Some schools recruited me as a point guard, but I realized when I came to Duke that I probably wasn't going to play the point," Scheyer said. ``It wasn't what I anticipated."
But Scheyer got a chance when Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, towards the end of last season, wasn't satisfied with the play of Greg Paulus or Nolan Smith.
"We don't call him a point," Coach K added.
His counterpart on Saturday night will be West Virginia's Joe Mazzulla, whose career was supposed to be history after a major shoulder surgery in February 2009.
Mazzulla was thought to be a reach when ex-Mountaineers coach John Beilein recruited him a few years ago, anyway. In fact, his home-state Providence Friars didn't think he was good enough.
Mazzulla was barely able to lift his arm over his shoulder earlier this season, but he's progressed and was forced into his first start of the season against Kentucky in the Elite Eight due to the foot injury suffered by starting point guard Truck Bryant.
Mazzulla, known as a guy who flat-out can't shoot the ball from the perimeter, canned his first 3-pointer since Nov. 28, 2008 and was the key to the Mountaineers' upset over Kentucky with a career-high 17 points.
"Coach (Bob Huggins) stuck with me and showed confidence in me," Mazzulla said. "He could have given up on me."
Bryant, who injured his foot early in practice prior to the Kentucky game, wasn't the only starting floor leader to go down for one of the Final Four teams.
Kalin Lucas entered the season as one of the top point guards in the nation behind Kansas senior Sherron Collins and Kentucky freshman John Wall. Lucas had an up-and-down year for Tom Izzo and Michigan State, but he had a terrific start to the Big Dance with 25 points in a win against New Mexico State.
However, Lucas went down with a torn Achilles' late in the first half of the second-round victory over Maryland.
Enter Korie Lucious, the Spartans' sophomore who backed up Lucas this season. The 5-foot-11 Milwaukee native wasted little time making his presence known as he sank the game-winning 3-pointer as time expired to beat the Terps and advance to the Sweet 16.
Lucious isn't Lucas -- and that's been clear over the last two games as he's been erratic in wins against Northern Iowa and Tennessee.
But Lucious will be going up against a guy who holds an even lower-profile on Saturday night in Butler's Ronald Nored.
By now, most have heard all about the Bulldogs trio of Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard.
But Nored is better-known for becoming president of his class last year soon after his arrival on campus.
When I polled a handful of media members on Thursday, they were unaware that Nored was Butler's starting point guard.
"The last two weeks a lot of people have grown to know who he is," Howard said.
Such as Syracuse guard Andy Rautins and Kansas State's Jacob Pullen. Rautins was just 4-for-9 from the field as he was dogged by Nored, and Pullen finished 4-for-13.
"He's done a terrific job against those guys," Howard said. "That's the biggest thing he can do for our team, and he embraced it. Offensively, he's a distributor. Without him, we're not even in the Sweet 16. He carried us against Murray State."
Scheyer has made the conversion while Mazzulla has overcome the odds. Lucious is just trying to make people forget about Lucas, and Nored is, well, no longer anonymous.
"It is kind of strange," Nored said of the point guards who made it to Indy. "But all of us are leading our teams."
And dispelling the myth that you need a big-time point guard to win a national title.