Sweet 16 – Elite 8 – Final Four

I never did get an opportunity to do a bracket this year.  It’s the first time I can remember not completing a bracket since 1977.  I still remember a few of those games from way back when: Goose Givens vs. Duke in ’78 (Mike Gminksi had the shortest shorts ever…nasty); Dr. Dunkenstein and the Cardinals beating UCLA; Isiah running roughshod over Jimmy Black and company in 1981; and many others.   It’s time to look forward — and backward…

Cah-mee-oh!!

30 MAR 1981: Indiana guard Isiah Thomas (11) and North Carolina guard Jimmy Black (21) during the NCAA Men's National Basketball Final Four championship game held in Philadelphia, PA, at the Spectrum. Indiana defeated North Carolina 63-50 for the title. Isiah Thomas was named MVP for the tournament. Photo by Rich Clarkson/NCAA Photos.REVISED 2/17/00.SI CD 0022-40

Perhaps all is well with my not completing a bracket this year.  I would have picked Marquette to go farther than they have.  I would not have picked Dayton to beat West Virginia.  I would have picked Wake Forest to lose fairly quickly, but maybe not to Cleveland State (then again, maybe I would have).   I still don’t get Gonzaga.  I do get this, though…

31 MAR 1984: Patrick Ewing (33) of Georgetown goes up for the dunk during the Final Four Men's Basketball Semifinal held in Seattle, WA at the Kingdome. Georgetown defeated Kentucky 53-40 to advance to the championship game. .Photo Copyright Rich Clarkson.SI CD 0431-14 © ©Rich Clarkson/NCAA Photos

Throw it down, Patrick!! (Check out Michael Graham on the right…)

Mel Turpin and Kenny Walker and company went 13 minutes without a point in this classic.

Here’s the schedule (big up to TSF):

All times EST

East and West games played on March 26. Games start at 7:27 and 9:57 pm in East and staggered twenty minutes later in West.

Midwest and South games played on March 27. Games start at 7:07 and 9:37 pm in Midwest and staggered twenty minutes later in South.

East Region in Boston, Massachusetts

#1 seed Pittsburgh Panthers vs. #4 seed Xavier Musketeers, followed by # 2 seed Duke Blue Devils vs. #3 seed Villanova Wildcats.

West Region in Glendale, Arizona

#1 seed Connecticut Huskies vs. #5 seed Purdue Boilermakers followed by #2 seed Memphis Tigers vs. #3 seed Missouri Tigers.

Midwest Region in Indianapolis, Indiana

#1 seed (overall) Louisville Cardinals vs. # 12 seed Arizona Wildcats, followed by the #2 seed Michigan State Spartans vs # 3 seed Kansas Jayhawks (defending champs).

South Region in Memphis, Tennessee

#1 seed North Carolina Tarheels vs. #4 Gonzaga Bulldogs, followed by #2 seed Oklahoma Sooners vs. #3 seed Syracuse Orangemen.

.....4 APR 1994: Duke University center Cherokee Parks (44) falls to the floor as University of Arkansas forward Corliss Williamson (34) jumps for the basket during the NCAA National Basketball Championship game at the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, NC. Arkansas defeated Duke 76-72 to win the championship title. Rich Clarkson/NCAA Photos.. © ©Rich Clarkson/NCAA Photos

.....4 APR 1994: Duke University center Cherokee Parks (44) falls to the floor as University of Arkansas forward Corliss Williamson (34) jumps for the basket during the NCAA National Basketball Championship game at the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, NC. Arkansas defeated Duke 76-72 to win the championship title. Rich Clarkson/NCAA Photos.. © ©Rich Clarkson/NCAA Photos

Big Nasty Owns the Baseline

I’m getting a reprieve with the coming of the Sweet 16 games this evening.  My picks:

  1. Pittsburgh 66, Xavier 65.  Like most folks, I expect a close, tight physical game that goes down to the wire.  If LeVance Fields has the ball in his hands on the last possession, I like Pitt by a whisker.  I don’t love Pitt.  They have the personnel to run away and hide from most teams, but they tend to underperform under the brightest lights.  Xavier is about the last team that Pitt needs to see right now.
  2. Villanova 81, Duke 68.  Villanova has the savvy, experience and physical talent to win this game by a nice margin.  Duke is a perennial power, but this team is not as strong as the school’s reputation.  The only thing standing between Duke and a rout are early whistles against Villanova.  If Nova’s bigs are on the bench with 2 fouls at the 8 minute mark of the 1st half, we’ll have a game…otherwise, we’ll have Wildcats snatching pitch forks.
  3. Connecticut 59, Purdue 52.  For some reason, I think Purdue will be able to dictate tempo in this game and play a Big Ten style.  I think UConn, for all their success, is still missing something.  Thabeet should allow them to pull it out with interior defense, but I believe they will have to scratch and claw for the W.
  4. Memphis 91, Missouri 90.  This is the game that I definitely will not miss.  I think this could be the game of the tournament.  Missouri’s coach was down with Nolan Richardson and Corliss Williamson back in the day and will bring the heat.  Memphis should be ready.  If Antonio Anderson has another 10 assist, zero turnover ball handling gem, the Tigers should advance.  Tip by Dorsey at :00.
  5. Louisville 88, Arizona 80. This should be another high octane game.  Arizona has some very talented players, but I really like Earl Clark and Terrence Williams.  I like them more than any other duo I’ve seen on court this entire season.  They are versatile and they like big moments.
  6. Kansas 65, Michigan State 58. There is something about a defending champion that has been made over, like Kansas, that just works for me right now.  They’re young, but it’s been a long season.  After running, bumping and banging with the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas, it may just be that the Jayhawks will show their true colors and eclispe the Spartans.  I’ll take Sherrod Collins any day.
  7. North Carolina 94, Gonzaga 78.  Ty Lawson with a week’s rest.  That is all.
  8. Syracuse 101, Oklahoma 100 (8 OTs).  Jonny Flynn won’t die.  Boeheim’s 2-3 zone is the perfect poison to stiffen the Griffin.  Syracuse does not have a gaudy record, but they have a battle-tested tough team.  They’ve beaten teams with talented big men.  They’ve beaten teams with talented guards.  They’ve won at home and on the road.  They’ve excelled on neutral courts.  They’re making a run that goes right through the relatively shallow Sooners.  Caple made need to play more guys to win this one.  I like the Orange to do what they’ve been doing.

Let’s talk about the Elite 8 on Saturday.

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