Posted: 12:59 a.m. Saturday, March 23, 2013
What a day/night for the NCAA tournament. The headliner of course was Florida Gulf Coast just having their way with Georgetown, highlighted by a never to be forgotten, celebratory alley-oop.
#16 Western Kentucky came close to surpassing it as the Hilltoppers nearly knocked off Kansas in the nightcap. They couldn’t quite manage it, but they weren’t that far away from history.
Marshall Henderson didn’t have a great day but Ole Miss did take out #5 Wisconsin and to keep entertainment as high as possible (or possibly just high), Henderson got into a Twitter war with a fake Ryan Harrow account with something like 23,000 followers.
IU had no problem with JMU, winning by 21. Big Ten stablemate Illinois got past Colorado.
Ohio State just dismantled Iona, winning by 25 and it wasn’t that close. Northwest State kept the game with Florida close for 20 minutes but the second half belonged to the Gators and they won by 32.
Iowa State had no real trouble with the Irish, running the bizarrely clad Notre Dame lads out of the gym, 76-58.
And Steve Fisher’s scholars surpassed the Academicians of the Plains from Norman, 70-55. Lost in the rumble is that BC star Joe Rahan’s brother, James, plays for the Aztecs and scored 17 off the bench.
Locally, the ACC was 3-4, with Team Stupid unable to play defense in the first half against Temple. That they improved in the second was nice but irrelevant because it was too late.
State gave the game away early and Mark Gottfried knew why: a lack of defense and maturity.
Before everyone gets too bent out of shape, let’s remember that the man has been there for less than 24 months. He’s still relying on El Sid’s players and only Richard Howell and Lorenzo Brown have been fully reliable. Scott Wood is a nice player and a dangerous shooter but he’s a marginal talent otherwise. CJ Leslie pops in and out.
The guy we saw in Cameron last year could play with anyone. You could put that player on the Heat and he’d get minutes. He was great. In general though, he’s not that player very often.
Now he has to make a decision because he has no real case for being drafted. He’s just not reliable enough.
State will now rebuild around some pretty nice pieces – TJ Warren, Rodney Purvis, unrefined but supremely talented, Tyler Lewis, Cat Barber, Kyle Washington, BeeJay Anya – all talented, all still young.
Give Gottfried full credit – not many guys could have done better in his situation and he has changed the expectations of the fan base. There may be a detour ahead, but State basketball has a pulse, and hope.
State really needs some more bodies though. There aren’t enough guys lined up for next year as of now. State’s cut it close since Gottfried arrived; we’re sure he’d like some depth.
UNC sprinted out to a 20 point lead over Villanova before the Mildcats got wild and came back, but UNC, doing something they never could have done before January, showed enough resolve to push them back and take control of the game.
This of course sets up yet another game with Kansas. The NCAA always says they don’t do this sort of thing on purpose, but they do seem to stuff UNC and Kansas in a regional and Duke and Kentucky too, whenever possible.
The game is in Kansas City, which makes UNC’s task quite difficult: not only will Kansas fans be longing to stick it to Ol’ Roy again, they get the chance to do it in their own backyard. That should be a really good matchup in a lot of ways, but Kansas has some advantages: first, Jeff Withey. An excellent shotblocker, he allows the perimeter defenders to overplay. Second, Ben McLemore. Not many people would argue that UNC has a more talented and skilled player. UNC’s smallball has worked unless they’ve run into a team with a higher level of athleticism. We don’t know for sure, but Kansas may have just that.
Miami rolled over Pacific so thoroughly that the coach said he was glad it wasn’t a best-of-seven. Usually you get some competitive comments even if they’re half-hearted: not this time.
Miami faces Illinois next, and while a 7/2 match normally goes to the 2, Illinois has a new coach and attitude. You may remember John Groce’s Ohio team last year; it was extraordinarily tough minded. We still expect Miami to win, but it won’t be as easy as it was Friday.
Creighton survived Cincinnati and so will play Duke on Sunday. We’ll deal with that more later.