Because we can't have nice things in Providence, Bruce Pearl's Volunteers had to come along and disrupt the wackiness tonight by bouncing the San Diego State Aztecs 59-62 in a down-to-the-wire battle that came down to pivotal free throws by Wayne Chism, who continues to wear the most ineffective headband in NCAA basketball history. Seriously. He might as well wear that thing around his knee.
Don't take anything away from the gang in orange tonight -- make no mistake about it, they played hard and they really did earn this win from an SDSU that refused to lie down. You also can tell who's the toast of a game by whose parents get shown the most, and tonight those honors went to guard J.P. Prince, who led the Vols with 15 points and 6 rebounds. Pearl's crew never led by much, but it was enough to send the Aztecs back to their ziggurats (impressed?) and Tennessee moves on to play Georgetown-slayer Ohio on Saturday, where we can only assume that like most things, sweaty Bruce Pearl will ruin the Bobcat's happiness. But this is Providence, and we've learned it's a little crazy up here. So who knows?
I should also probably admit that it's an absolute treat getting to listen to classics Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery together all day in the Providence pod. Even though Raftery tends to gush a little over the things he likes, and Verne sometimes seems to get a little lost (today's Saint Mary's game saw him pronouncing Omar Samhan as "Samham" once every three minutes or so), the two do a great job of being impartial judges and are like charming, funny grandfathers calling the game. Anything they do together should be sponsored by Werther's -- they're that special.
And that's the day in Providence. Tomorrow it's about a thousand miles south to sunny Jacksonville, Florida. Wear your tank top. I know I will.