Muslims in NCAA Sweet 16

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of,

File:  Baye Keita

A quartet of Muslim college basketball players remains as the 2013 NCAA Tournament hits the Sweet 16. And of those four, it has been a big man, and a man who plays big, that have stood out.

University of Louisville center Gorgui Dieng has been a rock in the middle of the Cardinals lineup. He started the tournament contributing 8 points and 7 rebounds, but was only needed for 20 minutes in a blow-out win against North Carolina A & T. He followed that up with 12 points in a win against Colorado State, on a perfect 6 for 6 shooting performance. In fact, Dieng has not missed a single shot in the tournament thus far, going 9 for 9 overall. The Senegalese-American Dieng stands at a lofty 6’11”, but a man who has been playing larger than his size has been 6’7” Iranian-American forward Arsalan Kazemi for the University of Oregon. Arsalan means lion, and he has been downright ferocious on the boards, ripping down 17 rebounds (to go with 11 points) in a first round upset of Oklahoma State. He then had 16 rebounds in a second round trouncing of fourth-seeded St. Louis University. Ironically, these two Muslim bangers, Dieng and Kazemi, will face each other in a Sweet 16 matchup.

Syracuse University center Baye Keita had 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots in only 8 minutes of play in their opening round drubbing of Montana State. However, Keita got 24 minutes of playing time in the second round and made the most of it, pouring in 11 points and 7 rebounds in a win over California. Syracuse will have a tall task in the round of 16, however, taking on number one overall seed Indiana University.

Duke University freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon had a lackluster first round game, with only 7 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist in a win over Albany. But he bounced back with 21 points, on a stellar 8 of 10 shooting, to lead the team in scoring in a second round win over Creighton. Sulaimon was 3 of 5 from behind the three point line, with 5 assists. Duke faces Michigan State in the round of 16 in what should be a very entertaining matchup.


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