Those of you who’ve been reading my drivel for any length of time know that I absolutely loathe blaming losses on officiating. It’s typically the last refuge of the delusional homer. But there are times that even I must make an exception, such as the timing error that gave Duke an undeserved home win over Clemson a few years back (sorry, know I blogged about it but can’t find the link). And yesterday, the zebras blatantly saved Villanova from a humiliating loss to some guy named Bob Morris. The Wildcats couldn’t score from the field, so the refs decided to blow the whistle on virtually every shot attempt during the last 4 minutes. Even when Bob’s defenders stood motionless, arms in the air…blocking foul. In a tie game, Bob’s coach ditched his jacket and ran halfway down the tunnel he was so pissed. And the zebras must have known he was right, since they didn’t T him up. Shameful.
Every year, I submit two brackets in my office pool. The second is very upset-heavy. In my “craziness” bracket, I put BYU in the Final Four. Despite needing 2OT to dispatch the pesky Florida Gators yesterday, I feel very good about my Stormin’ Mormon dark horse pick. That Jimmer Fredette guy is even better than advertised (probably the best player I’ve seen all year). They also got great play from a second guard, and something one doesn’t imagine when one thinks of BYU – a black guy with a semi-mohawk. Gotta love that. And if BYU gets past a K State team I have no faith in, they play the regionals in freaking Salt Lake City – where the best teams they could possibly face are Syracuse, Pitt, and Butler. Ka-ching.
NC State would no doubt be better with Chris Wright, but his Hoyas imploded last year and lost in embarrassing fashion to a 7-9 MAC team (Ohio Bobcats) last night. And that’s with a handful of NBA players in his supporting cast. A panacea he is not.
Murray State beat Vandy with a great last-second shot, in a match-up between two teams Pack fans remember for very painful NCAAT daggers. Thank God the announcers can stop referencing the fact that the Racers had only won one NCAAT game in their history (against the Shackleford “led” Wolfpack in 1988 – the only NC State NCAAT game that I’ve attended live). It did come up about 15-20 times in the last minute of the Vandy game, though.
Wake Forest beat Texas last night in perhaps the most exciting terrible game I’ve ever seen. Both teams tried to give the game away with impunity, and the Longhorns finally succeeded. It’s been a very odd year, with three of the very best coaches in the game (Barnes, Calhoun, and of course, Roy) turning in perhaps the worst coaching performance of their careers. Wake’s reward is getting pounded like a veal by Kentucky on Saturday. Bring the K-Y tomorrow, Dino.
Speaking of Kentucky, I am watching their tourney run as if they are the “Shadow Pack.” Yes, I know that Cal 99% likely would have left State for UK anyway. But he was my dream coach during the last search, and State recruited Wall and Cousins heavily. So, there’s still enough of a nexus for me to dream. I’m sure we would have at least had one team like this during Cal’s imagined tenure on Tobacco Road, and we would at least have some memories of glory that aren’t old enough to vote.
Don’t forget that Time Warner Cable and WRAL are showing HD feeds of EVERY GAME on channels 1051-1054. They deserve all the free publicity they can get for this very vital community service. That means us locals don’t have to watch Duke-Pine Bluff tonight. Thank God.
Speaking of Duke – is it just me, or is everyone having a hard time hating Duke this year? None of their players have that quintesential Duke smariness/whininess, and they even play actual defense instead of just falling down all game. Coach K is reminding us of how well he is capable of actual coaching (and not just bitching about everything). If they bring home the hardware, I will be able to be happy for my Duke friends. And that makes me more than a bit nauseous.
Put in a larger context, Caulton Tudor has a great column this morning, explaining why the 5 non-Duke ACC teams are doomed. Duke’s the only game in town for the ACC, as has been apparent since late January.
For a little more focus and conversation regarding the performance of individual conferences in the post season then you should click here. Enjoy the games, everyone!