“The secret of the fox
Somewhere deep in the woods
I know you’re hiding
What is your sound?” – The Fox by Ylvis
Three Beatings And A Buzzer Beater
Tonight’s games whittled the field down to eight with three convincing victories and this year’s tournament’s first overtime game and first buzzer beater. Tonight was also marked by some stellar individual performances.
- What Does This Fox Say? “Lonzo who?” – I’m not sure what it would be like for your dad to provide all of the billboard material for your opponent’s locker room, but I suppose for UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, it doesn’t matter now. He’s on his way to his NBA millions. Still, whether the rumors are true that Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox took all the Lonzo Ball hype personally is anyone’s guess, but what is undisputed is the historic nature of Fox’s performance. Fox’s 39 points were the most ever by a freshman in NCAA Tournament history, and the most ever by a player of any class since Tayshaun Prince scored 41 in 2002. Kentucky has now won 14 in a row, and UCLA’s defeat leaves the conference of champions with just one remaining representative, the Oregon Ducks, who will play Kansas for the Midwest regional championship tomorrow.
- Apparently, It’s Bear Season – It wasn’t a good night to be a Bear, as the Baylor Bears went the way of their Bruin brethren, going down in tonight’s most lopsided defeat. The normally high-powered Baylor offense managed only 50 points against South Carolina’s defense (which, by the way, I respect way more than West Virginia’s), and now the Gamecocks will play Florida in an extremely rare SEC showdown for a trip to the Final Four.
- Here’s A Clue: The Butler Didn’t Do It – The game between North Carolina and Butler wasn’t nearly as close as the final score implies. While I would have loved to have seen another David-beats-Goliath performance turned in by Indy’s scrappy hometown heroes, the Bulldogs were simply overrun by superior talent and size. North Carolina will now face Kentucky in this year’s sole #1 vs #2 match up in a regional final.
- Lightning Strikes Twice – I think it’s safe to label the running, leaning, three-point floater as a desperation shot with a high degree difficulty and a low probability of success. Seeing two such shots in the same game, both having significant impact on the outcome, is truly amazing, and if you managed to stay awake for the finish of the most exciting game of the night, that’s what you were treated to. First, Wisconsin’s Zak Showalter hits the aforementioned Steph-Curry-eat-your-heart-out shot with 2.1 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, this after trailing by 12 points with 4:15 to play. While Florida’s KeVaughn Allen had the night’s big number with 35 points, it was Chris Chiozza who earned his place in One Shining Moment. After two Nigel Hayes free throws seemed to secure victory for the Badgers, a seemingly discombobulated Wisconsin defense watched helplessly as Chiozza dribbled the length of the court in four seconds and hoisted up the second running three-pointer, which he shot nearly uncontested and drained at the buzzer for a stunning one-point victory.
- Conference Comparisons – I’ll admit I have never thought much of the SEC as a basketball conference. Nevertheless, after receiving only four bids to the tournament, three SEC teams are in the final eight, and at least one will be in the Final Four. Meanwhile, of the nine ACC teams that were invited to the dance, only North Carolina remains. The other half of the remaining eight is made up, one each, of representatives from the Big East, Big 12, Conference Of Champions, and Truck Stop League. I think everybody knows who I’m rooting for.
- Best Thing I Saw On TV Today – After the game, pretty much every player and coaching staff member from both Baylor and South Carolina gathered at center court, arms around one another’s shoulders, and bowed their heads for what certainly appeared to be a moment of prayer. Whether it was planned or spontaneous I do not know, but what a tremendous display of class and sportsmanship. Three cheers for these two teams demonstrating how to be good winners and losers.
- Scategoria – Those of you who have been on the South Carolina bandwagon from the beginning are enjoying some serious bonus points. The last two wins by the Gamecocks have earned you Scategories bonuses in addition to the upset bonus. There are still some Scategories bonuses to be had this weekend, and those can have significant impact on the standings, so stay tuned and check out the Possible Scategories Bonuses report.
And speaking of winners and losers, it’s time for a few awards.
Final Sweet Sixteen Awards
- The Six Pack award goes to three contestants who picked six of the final eight teams correctly with original picks: Gary Tucker, Bethany Davis, and Beth Gilles. Have a Coke and a smile and enjoy your success.
- The Crazy Eights award goes to 17th place minion Sammy Randazzo who, with the help of the repicks, managed to pick all eight of the Elite Eight correctly. Second time’s a charm, Sammy. Way to go!
- The Here Comes The Boom award goes to Josh Pearman for once being in 12th and now having dropped to 535th. Cue the POD tune.
- The Movin’ On Up award goes to Nicholas Kusiak for climbing from 777th to 63rd. Nicholas will receive a collector’s edition of the first season of The Jeffersons on DVD signed by Sherman Hemsley.
- The Fake News Award For Most Unbelievable Alias goes to Trevor “No Logic, No Strategy, All Coinflips” Norcross whose picks look a bit more loaded with basketball knowledge than one would expect from the coin flip approach. Trevor is currently in 5th.
- The Sharp Shooter award goes to Shawna “SHARPESHOOTER – or not” Sharpe for having a sharp name, sharply punny alias, and sharp picking skills. Shawna is 46-10 and sits in 32nd place. Only one other contestant has won 46 games, but he has received at least one award already.
- The Marco Polo award goes to the Michigan State loving, repick eschewing, South Carolina bandwagon riding, 3rd place minion Marco Randazzo. I’m not sure if anyone has ever won the contest without picking the national champion, but depending on how many more games South Carolina can win, Marco might have a chance of doing it.
- And finally, the I Can’t Believe I’m I Still In First With These Awful Picks award goes to Brad “Boilerbrad” Walters, who is still clinging to first place despite having just one team remaining in the tournament (Xavier). Even if Xavier wins two more games and Brad maximizes his potential points, I still have my doubts that he can win. So, enjoy it while it lasts, brother.
That’s all for now, minions. The regional finals are this weekend, which will give us the Final Four and hopefully some exciting games and rearranging in our standings. Until next time…
The Wizard of Whiteland