“But it’s not about me and my monkeys and my dogs and cats. It’s about them.” – Gonzaga Coach Mark Few
The Chaos Continues
Having just completed a week of golf in Florida with friends, I walked off my 162nd hole, grabbed my phone, and tuned in as best I could on the way to dinner. To demonstrate just how nuts I am both about the tournament and this contest, here I am typing this commentary even though I will be heading to the airport in three hours to catch my flight home. You’re welcome.
- The Magic Carpet Ride Ends – The Michigan Wolverines’ magical ride through March came one point short of lasting another weekend as the first game of the night provided plenty of pulse-pounding excitement. The Oregon Ducks advance to the round of eight for the second year in a row and hope to take down mighty Kansas for a trip to the Final Four. Speaking of Kansas…
- Purdon’t Go Breakin’ My Heart – No doubt Purdue fans are disappointed at the 30+ point drubbing they took at the hands of top seed Kansas, but after two consecutive, uninspiring first round exits from the tournament the last two years, this was certainly an improvement. Purdue actually led in the first half, and Swanigan had a respectable game and is well on his way to NBA millions. I have to say, though, if Kansas coach Bill Self can stay out of his team’s way (and that’s not a given, believe me), they should be unstoppable the rest of the way.
- No More Monkey Business – Gonzaga coach Mark Few provided the quote of the night when asked about getting the proverbial primate off his back and making his first trip to the Final Four in 18 consecutive tournament appearances. In typical Coach Few class, he directed attention away from himself and toward his players, which is one of the many reasons I am a Gonzaga fan. And being a Gonzaga fan, I don’t mind offering up my completely one-sided assessment of their game with West Virginia. First, I cannot endure Bob Huggins brand of basketball. I didn’t like it at Cincinnati, and I don’t like it any better at West Virginia. I heard Ernie Johnson say this game lasted over two-and-a-half hours and had 51 fouls. There should have been 101 fouls, because West Virginia fouled on every…single…play. Go back and watch a replay of the game. Watch them on the press. Yes, they make some good defensive plays, but what is fawned over by Chris Webber as outstanding, harassing defense is really just non-stop harassment. Playing West Virginia is like playing those kids on the playground who foul you every time you touch the ball, and if you dare complain, they call you names and tell you to get off the court if you can’t play with the big boys. I guess they figure the refs will say to themselves, “Well, we can’t foul out the whole team, can we?” It’s an effective strategy. But tonight they ran into something they’ve probably never seen before, a team that fields just as stifling a defense as they do. I must say it was extremely satisfying to watch Gonzaga win this game by denying West Virginia anything that even remotely looked like a good shot in the closing seconds. With one team of destiny (Michigan) already out, I’m looking for Gonzaga to take on that role and advance to the Final Four. But first, they will have to get past another team of destiny and unexpected foe…
- X Marks The Spot AGAIN – The much anticipated rematch between Gonzaga and a fully healthy Arizona for a trip to the Final Four was torpedoed tonight by a comeback victory from a surprisingly scrappy Xavier squad. Xavier finished the game on a 9-0 run to stun the Wildcats and become the tournament’s undisputed Cinderella as the only double-digit seed remaining. If they were to do the unthinkable and upend Gonzaga, they would become just the fourth 11 seed ever to make the Final Four, joining LSU (1986 with Shaq), George Mason (2006), and VCU, who did it as a First Four team, by the way, in 2011.
I only have a few awards tonight, because I need a power nap before heading out to catch the aforementioned plane.
- The Cheer Up, You Cracked The Top 50 award goes to my good friend and typically surly denizen of the lower portions of the standings Brad Schafer, who thanks to astute picks of both Gonzaga and Xavier with original picks, is now in 44th.
- The Using The Rules To Your Advantage award goes to 6th place minion Chesapeake Fairchild, who got all four games correct tonight thanks to a couple of good repicks.
- The I Don’t Need No Stinking Repicks award goes to 47th place minion Jefferson McDaniel, the only contestant who picked all four of tonight’s games correctly with original picks.
- And finally, the I’m In First Place Even Though I Obviously Quit Paying Attention To The Contest award goes to Brad Walters who didn’t make a single repick, has Purdue and Villanova in the Final Four, and yet somehow is still our contest leader…for now. Given the fact that Brad either missed or skipped or the repicks, I have my doubts about him staying at the top of the leaderboard.
And with that, I’m done until I land back in Indy to enjoy Friday night’s games. Until then, enjoy the sleep I’m not getting.
The Wizard of Whiteland