I hit the wall, the hoops equivalent of the Boston Marathon’s Heartbreak Hill.
It appeared from the first half that Georgetown/ North Carolina State was going to be a good one. The Film Babe and I went to the movies anyway. (“21 Jump Street.” Gross. Very very funny.) And I went to get dinner without worrying whether the carry out fish joint had a TV.
I paid some attention to Michigan State/ St. Louis, since U of L will meet the winner. But gave only a passing look at Carolina/ Creighton, and surfed through Norfolk State’s beatdown by Florida — I told you they’d need Bobby Dandridge.
I am watching Ohio vs. South Florida. #12 and #13 seems to me destined for a buzzer beater. But if I get an ice cream jones, it’s not like I won’t get out of the recliner to go get some.
But I’ll be in it until I fall asleep. Just not locked in it.
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My friends give me loads of grief because my status here — such as it is — allows me to get media credentials to the U of L games and the NCAA tournament. “Working press,” I will retort with feigned disdain when the shit starts flying.
Truth is it is a labor of love. Other than New Orleans JazzFest, hanging in a media room at an NCAA site is probably my favorite thing to do.
Hanging with the nation’s sporting press, getting to chat about the guys I admire still turns me into a little kid.
Yesterday before the Murray State/ Marquette game was especially cool. I was sitting around a table, watching Ohio State/ Gonzaga. The conversation included Bob Ryan, soon retiring from the Boston Globe, Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy, New York Daily News’ Hoops Weis, ESPN.com’s Gene Wojciechowski, who wrote the recently published and acclaimed book on the UK/ Duke game and CBS Sports Lesley Visser.
The subject of that “Greatest Game Ever Played” came up. Nobody in the group thought another deserved the title.
The discussion turned to what was the second best. Weiss mentioned North Carolina’s triple OT title against Kansas in the mid 50s and Wilt Chamberlain. Ryan said it couldn’t be, “no offense.” On and on it went.
There’s no way to fully capture the moment. I was just neat to be able to experience it and take part. I turned into that Little Leaguer I became on the night years ago they dedicated the new Louisville Slugger Museum and I sat at the feet of Ted Williams and listened to him talk hitting with George Britt.
I couldn’t help but smile when Visser related to Weiss a conversation she had with Marquette’s Jae Crowder about how his hair is a lot longer than Murray State’s Ed Daniel. Weiss wears an absurd oranging toupee that looks like he bought it a Kresge’s.
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Murray State simply came up short against a slightly better Marquette team.
The Racers were up 46-41 at the second to last TV timeout. They seemed to panic a might, wasted several trips down the court while Buzz Williams’ guys proved more than ready. The Warriors scored 8 straight. Ball game.
31-2 is a seriously great season.
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As for UK, well, no only are they the best team — by far — but the bracket is opening up for them. IU hasn’t a shot at beating the Cats twice in a season. Baylor, Xavier and Lehigh don’t either.
On the other side of the bracket, Carolina, a legit contender, has fallen back into the pack, now that Kendall Marshall has a broken wrist.
It’s hard to see how UK doesn’t win the title.
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There’s already a lot of conjecture how U of L can “pay back” Michigan State for the L Sparty dealt the Cards a couple of years back in the Regional Finals. I don’t buy the revenge factor.
Totally different teams. Totally different circumstances. Tom Izzo won’t have Tom Crean in the film room, helping him develop a strategy.
Not that he’ll need it. The Spartans are an early 5 point favorite. That sounds about right. It’s not an impossible task for Louisville. But an improbable one.
The simple fact that U of L will be playing in the Round of 16 is proof enough of the grittiness of this undermanned squad. It’s all lagniappe (a little something extra) from here.
– Seedy K