Incredible night of basketball, folks! I was ready print a mea culpa and admit that Gonzaga was for real after they were steamrolling over UCLA for most of last night’s game, but the Bulldogs’ terrible defense finally reared its ugly head by allowing the Bruins to score the last 11 points in the game and secure a thrilling 73-71 victory. Gonzaga was yet another case of the general public getting swept up in offensive firepower while forgetting about what really matters – defensive intensity. The Bulldogs, Dallas Mavericks, and Indianapolis Colts might be fun to watch in the regular season, but none of those teams are going to win the whole thing in their respective sports unless they get real on defense.
If it wasn’t for the stunning UCLA comeback, the Texas – West Virginia game would have been the top instant classic from this year’s tournament. With the Longhorns as my pick for the national championship, I thought Kevin Pittsnogle’s three-pointer to tie the game with 5 seconds left was going to be the death-knell for my bracket (granted, it’s already on life-sustaining equipment). There’s no way that Texas could pick itself up in overtime, right? Well, Kenton Paulino flipped the prospect of overtime the bird and nailed his own improbable three-pointer at the buzzer to clinch an Elite Eight appearance for Texas.
The evening was already going really well for me after witnessing LSU pummel Duke and J.J. Redick. Not only do I have LSU in the Final Four in one of my brackets, but it came at the expense of the most evil team in the all of sports (college or pro). If you don’t believe Coach K and his minions are the Team of the Antichrist, check out this proof that Minneapolis Red Sox sent me.
Those three thrillers more than made up for the Memphis – Bradley yawner. I didn’t put much faith in Memphis before the tournament not because of their talent – I’ve known that the Tigers’ athletes are as good as any in college basketball this year – but because of their weak conference. The lesson here once again is that I’m an idiot. I’ve got to give Memphis props for playing a hellacious non-conference schedule to compensate for the subpar Conference USA games (UCLA, Duke, Gonzaga, Tennessee, Texas, Cincinnati, plus 4 other BCS schools and UW-Milwaukee, to boot). Compare that to UConn’s line of preseason cupcakes. Remember this if they end up meeting in the championship game.
Quick predictions for tonight’s games: Boston College over Villanova (power usually beats speed in the tournament), Georgetown over Florida (just a gut feeling), George Mason over Wichita State (homecourt advantage for George Mason in DC), UConn over Washington (55% chance of a blowout by UConn or a 45% chance of a close stunning upset by Washington – there won’t be anything in between).
Enjoy the games and your weekend!