Posted on: March 21, 2010 3:37 pm
Syracuse 87, Gonzaga 65
Gonzaga was trying to become the second West Coast Conference team to upset a Big East opponent in two days. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that didn't happen. And it wasn't even close. Syracuse completely dominated the entire game at both ends of the floor. Like fellow one seed Kentucky, the Orange are peeking at the right time as they work their way towards the championship game.
All of the talk coming into this game was how Syracuse would fare without its big man Arinze Onuaku. Without the senior center, 'Cuse uses a six man rotation with a big hole down low. Syracuse's lack of depth and a post presence without Onuaku was exposed in the second half of their loss to Georgetown, but not today. No Onuaku? No problem.
Wes Johnson is a stud
Johnson is back to playing like the superstar he was in the beginning of the season. He scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against the Bulldogs. When he plays like he did today, Syracuse is nearly impossible to defeat.
Orange Firing On All Cylinders
Wes Johnson's 31 points was a game high but he wasn't the only one lighting it up on Gonzaga's defense. Andy Rautins went 5-9 from deep and scored 24 points, while freshman Brandon Triche scored 13 to spark the Orange. On the opposite end, Syracuse's treacherous zone defense held Matt Bouldin to 8 points and forced Gonzaga into shooting three pointers. The 'Zags never really found a rhythm and shot a dismal 3-21 from the behind the arc.
Leo Rautins is always on TV
I really thought we could see an upset in this one. Boy, was I wrong. The Bulldogs return home to the west coast where they'll be unheard of until next March when we all question how far they are capable of going in the 2011 NCAA tournament. See you then, Zags.
Posted on: March 21, 2010 12:30 am
Edited on: March 21, 2010 12:36 am
On any night, beating a top-20 team and keeping one of the nation's most prolific scorers relatively in check is cause for celebration. When it's in the NCAA tournament, it's becomes an even bigger deal. When it comes just a couple of hours after the consensus #1 team in the country, who just happens to be a rival and a squad that beat you three times this season, is knocked out at the hands of a no-name team from Cedar Falls, Iowa, it's the type of day the Kansas State Wildcats will likely never forget.
With BYU guard Jimmer Fredette and his rapping brother emerging as the sexy Saturday story and with Kansas and Villanova going down in the afternoon, Kansas State again appeared to be a secondary team of interest. Much as they were on a Thursday full of upsets, Frank Martin's team was again anonymous for the most part in the eyes of the nation.
Thanks to Jacobham Pullen, his beard and a career-high 34 points, Kansas State sent a nationally televised message to the nation (they're for real) and their fellow Kansans (they run the state - for now) Saturday night. Throughout this season, the Wildcats' success has a pretty consistent trend to go as Pullen's shooting does. When he's off, they struggle. And when he's on like he was against the Cougars (7-12 on threes, 11-11 from the line), they're nearly impossible to beat. And Jacobham knows it.
"Sometimes people forget how good we are," Pullen said in a fake interview. "We think we can beat any team on any night, but we like to let our play do the talking for us. So far that has worked for us. Maybe we might have gotten more attention if I would have called out John Wall in the preseason like Sherron (Collins) did, but that's not my style. Plus, that's incredibly stupid."
In Oklahoma City Saturday night, the game of Pullen and his teammates spoke loudly as they beat BYU in every single statistical category, finding a potent offensive attack to match their stoutly physical defense. Denis Clemente, the fastest player in the tournament not playing in New Orleans Saturday night, put in 19 while Wally Judge added 8 points, 8 rebounds and dished out two testicle tattoos on the foreheads of BYU players.
Frank Martin and company will now move on to play the winner of third-seeded Pitt and sixth-seeded Xavier next weekend in Salt Lake City, where you could assume they won't receive a warm welcome. It probably won't bother the Wildcats too much, though. After all, they're already the kings of Kansas.
Posted on: March 20, 2010 9:41 pm
It has been a long time since I found myself jumping up and down in my house at a sporting event. Unlike my time as a child, where every sporting event seemed like life or death, in recent years I have enjoyed the games for their entertainment, but not lost control of my emotions in the process. That changed Saturday. For the last ten minutes of Northern Iowa's win over Kansas, I was pulling for the boys from corn country like we were related. With every big shots, silly turnover or made free throw, I would clap, yell or simply pace. I wanted to see the upset and I channeled my inner child to make it happen.
The reason why I was so excited? Because earlier this year as part of my College Basketball Road Trip, the boys and I went to Cedar Falls, Iowa and watched Northern Iowa play. It was a long trip, way off the beaten path, hours from civilization and deep in the midst of a strong snowstorm. After it was over, we met for interviews with the players and coaches and to a person, they were thankful for the press and couldn't have been more polite. And I quickly found my favorite player in mid-major college basketball, Ali Farokhmanesh. Ali agreed to talk with me for 20 minutes after the game, but said he had to "take care of some business first." That business was signing an autograph for every fan who had waited after the game to get his signature. I stood patiently and watched him sign 100 sheets of paper, take pictures and shake hands like a local politician. It was a great sight.
When it came my turn, he apologized but said, "they have waited a long time." I talked to Ali about his game, how clutch he can be from the three point line (he hit five in the game we watched), his background (his father was a member of the 1980 Iranian Olympic volleyball team) and his team as a whole. Before I left, I asked him about the NCAA Tournament. He commented on the loss the year before to Purdue in the Big Dance, a game in which UNI never looked completely comfortable. "This time it will be different," he said. "This time we are ready."
I told him that we had come a long way to see UNI play and that in order to make the trip worthwhile, I joked that we needed to see some big plays in March. He smiled and said, "I promise there will be a big play in March from me. I have thought about it all year and I know its coming. I can just feel it." As I watched Ali hit the three point bomb that took more cajones than I can imagine, I thought of Ali and that smile on the snowy February night in Cedar Falls. He made do on his promise and in one crazy March afternoon, made Northern Iowa not only the favorite team of the One Blogging Moment crew, but also the nation.
Posted on: March 20, 2010 9:01 pm
Edited on: March 20, 2010 11:54 pm
Did you see this coming? Of course not. After all, everyone told us Kansas was invincible. They were supposedly the most complete team in the nation. They were supposedly the deepest and most talented team in the nation. They were the team with the experience to survive and advance in March. They were the school who had a famous alumni nearby who was an expert on not choking.
So much for that.
Northern Iowa used a steady and efficient offense and a relentless defense to overpower Kansas on Saturday in Oklahoma City. For the Jayhawks, the nearly complete disappearance of Sherron Collins, who never looked comfortable with the pace of the game, coupled with the man-handling of Cole Aldrich throughout by a guy with mutton chop sideburns and a guy with man boobs and male pattern baldness, made this game more than heartbreaking. It was a complete and utter embarrassment of epic proportions.
But, if Kansas fans thought they were going to sneak off into the sunset after their team choked away in the city that gave birth to the twist tie (coincidence?) and just resurface next year, things got even worse.
Just minutes after the final buzzer sounded and about 25 minutes before Mario Little stopped crying on the sideline, American rock legends Kansas released a 2010 version of their famous song, Dust in the Wind, dedicated to the Jayhawks.
Here are they lyrics:
I close my eyes
Have nightmares of Ali Farokhmanesh
A tough loss,
Another Morningstar DUI arrest?
Dust in the wind
Coach Bill Self,
Dust in the wind
But, don't get too discouraged, Jayhawk fans. After all, they say that when you're the most in need of help, you truly find out who your friends are. A quick trip over to Kansas fan site The Shiver should make you feel better. From a kind soul named "UKfan4life" comes these words of condolence to those of you suffering:
Northern Iowa will head to St. Louis and look for their next upset against the winner of the Michigan State - Maryland game.
Posted on: March 20, 2010 6:29 pm
Going into Saturday's second-round games in Providence, there was really one headscratcher. How the Bobcats, who already had denizens of the MAC tournament reeling, dropped 97 points on a very tough Georgetown team was one of the greatest mysteries of Thursday's play (and let's face it, Thursday itself was one of the most mystical days of NCAA Tourney play in history).
Not that the Bobcats didn't deserve to be here. They did. A team that struggled during in-conference MAC play, John Groce's boys found a way to string together four games and win the MAC title and buy a bid into the proceedings. And while we're at it, let's call it like it was: they beat Georgetown legitimately.
Did Ohio have a shot running up against six-seeded Tennessee today? One thing was sure -- they'd get a chance to prove whether their defeat of the Hoyas was a fluke or not. After all, Tennessee this season isn't as good as the Hoyas probably were going into this tournament. As it turns out, though, the Vols were too much for the Bobcats as Tennessee sends Ohio packing with an 83-68 victory. And it's a good thing Tennessee didn't have to break too much of a sweat, because Wayne Chism's headband wasn't pulled down nearly far enough to handle that kind of action.
A back-and-forth game early with Tennessee pulling away late in the game and running off with the prize, J.P. Prince turned in 18 points -- with Brian Williams and Chism netting 12 rebounds apiece -- and the Ohio fairy tale was over in Providence. The Volunteers will head on to St. Louis, where Bruce Pearl can presumably sweat all over the St. Louis Arch, and play the winner of Sunday's Ohio State-Georgia Tech game, whom it is a given he will also sweat upon. As for Ohio, they'll go home with their hats in their hands -- but it was fun while it lasted, right guys?
Posted on: March 20, 2010 6:06 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2010 2:36 pm
When Murray State upset 4 seeded Vanderbilt in the first round, the camera panned to a teary-eyed Murray State band member celebrating the Racers' one shining moment. That student was Adam Decker - and his face is exactly what March is all about. Decker's 3 seconds of face time is a lock for the "One Shining Moment" montage and inspired a new Facebook fan page, "Adam Decker Crying on National Television."
Saturday, Decker brought his headband and box of victory tissues to the second round of the big dance, but his Racers came up just short of living the dream for another round. Murray State fell to Butler 54-52 in a heartbreaker.
Decker's Racers staged a late comeback to tie the game before Butler's Ronald Nored converted a tiebreaking three-point play with 25 seconds left. A Murray State basket and Butler free throw later, the Racers had the ball in hand with a chance to tie or win the game with a three. Freshman Isaiah Canaan controlled the ball, looking for his opportunity to win the game, but threw the ball away as time expired.
As the game ended, the CBS camera panned over to Adam Decker and the Racer band, just as it had done the game before. But this time, Murray State's superfan shed a different kind of tear. His team had a second upset and Cinderella story in their grasp, but came up just short in the end.
Meanwhile, Butler advances to the Sweet 16 looking for its own Cinderella story. The Bulldogs will play the winner of the Syracuse-Gonzaga game.
Go Bulldogs. And Go Racers.
Posted on: March 20, 2010 3:43 pm
Edited on: March 20, 2010 4:51 pm
You have to love Omar Samhan. The belles of the Providence ball Saint Mary's were led by the giant center to a 75-68 victory over Villanova today with 32 points after Samhan stated Wednesday to press that "God is a Gael."
Maybe there's something to that. After all, Saint Mary's offed Richmond Thursday in Providence's first round play in a move no one really expected, prompting even Samhan's mother to reportedly text him that he and his teammates ruined her bracket. He asked her if she was coming to Providence's second round and she told him she was buying a ticket directly to Houston for the Gael's third-round matchup instead.
How can you not be a fan a team that not only lives and dies by a beast like Samhan but also boasts five Australians? Not one random Australian. Not a couple. Five Australians. You couldn't find five Australians in a Barcelona youth hostel. Their locker room must look like a FOX sitcom.
That makes, if you're counting, a team that features three Aussies starting, a center who's also the high point man and a sharpshooter from Arizona in cool-headed Mickey McConnell, who backed up Samhan with a clutch 15 points today. And from a big-picture standpoint, Saint Mary's is quickly becoming not only one of the most likeable and plucky cinderellas in the Tourney thus far but a valid threat as well. These kids are fun to watch.
Other points from Providence's second-round opener:
-If we're being honest, Villanova was on the clock anyway. The Wildcats just squeaked past Robert Morris, and prior to that had lost five of their last seven games. They were clearly coasting on fumes. But you can't take anything away from the Gaels today, who capitalized on that to lead them almost the entire way, despite a late second half surge that threatened to kill Saint Mary's buzz. Call it a perfect storm situation for Saint Mary's to progress yet another round.
-You can follow Samhan on Twitter here and read his blog here. His blog includes video entries from as late as last night, talking with his teammates about today's game. And he tweets up until, apparently, less than an hour before game time ("40 Minutes from the Sweet Sixteen!"). He also offers philisophical insights like "life is so PRICELESS" and "ICE BATH sooooo cold!!!!" He only has 108 followers. He deserves more.
-Matthew Dellavedova looks like the tallest seven year-old I've ever seen. The baby-faced Australian freshman doesn't look nearly old enough to be playing basketball for a university except for the fact that he's thirteen and a half feet tall. In Australia they call a kid like that a "great winky bonzer." (Or probably something ridiculously equivalent. Australians talk funny, that's what I'm saying.)
-The Villanova Wildcats are guilty of treason for disobeying the President. Barack Obama famously had the Wildcats in his Final Four -- something I'm not terribly sure I understand, but okay. It was decreed. Andy Katz was there, people. Villanova is in direct defiance of the Commander-in-Chief and justice should be dealt appropriately.
So there you have it. The Gaels move on to play the winner of Baylor-Old Dominion -- a game later today which Old Dominion and Blaine Taylor's awesome moustache actually stand a strong chance to win as well. Either way, the path is looking interesting for the Gaels, who cruise into a Sweet Sixteen game that, at this point, is winnable for the party crashers. Can this talented cast of characters keep it rolling?
If God is a Gael, that's probably a big yes.
Posted on: March 20, 2010 1:11 am
Edited on: March 20, 2010 1:26 am
This was going to be the year it happened. This was going to be the year a 16 seed upset a one seed. I could just feel it. But instead, all four 16 seeds lost in underdog fashion.
Vermont was the last of the little guys to be sent home from the 2010 NCAA tournament. History must wait for another year as the Catamounts fell to Syracuse 79-56. Wes Johnson scored 18 points to lead five Syracuse players in double figures and shatter the common fan's hopes of an upset.
Vermont joins Lehigh, East Tennessee State, and Arkansas Pine-Bluff on the "Hey, at least we made it" train heading home. But before they return to their respected campuses with stories of John Wall, Cole Aldrich, and Wojo fondling Coach K under a clipboard, we must first reward them for their efforts and outstanding achievements...
2010 NCAA TOURNAMENT ALL-SIXTEEN SEED AWARDS
First Team All-Sixteen Seed
C.J. McCollom, Lehigh - 26 points, 7 rebounds
Marqus Blakely, Vermont - 17 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals
Micah Williams, East Tennessee State - 19 points, 5 rebounds
Zahir Carrington, Lehigh - 17 points, 6 rebounds
Justin Tubbs, East Tennessee State - 15 points, 5 rebounds
Coach of the Tournament: George Ivory, Arkansas Pine-Bluff - George Ivory's Golden Lions had just a day and a half to prepare for their shot at upset against the Duke Blue Devils. Emotions were high from Arkansas Pine-Bluff's dominating win in the play-in game but Ivory got his team to Providence (from Pine-Bluff) and had 'em ready to play.
Tournament MVP: C.J. McCollom, Lehigh - McCollum scored 26 points and showed absolutely no fear against the #1 team in the country.
Beat The Spread Award: Lehigh - The Mountain Hawks only trailed by single digits in the second half before finally falling to Kansas 90-74. The line was 26.
Best Looking Cheerleaders: East Tennessee State - This was a tough call but after polling the committee (my roommates), ETSU was the consensus.
Best Representation of Brotherly Love: Maurice Joseph, Vermont - Vermont's Maurice Joseph could've tried to prevent his younger brother, Syracuse's Kris Joseph, from taking it the rim. Instead, Maurice calmly lowered his head and let his baby bro throw one down on top of him.
Mr. Irrelevant: Winthrop - The Winthrop Eagles never set foot on an NCAA tournament site floor but the 65th ranked team (a 16.25 seed?) still made the bid dance.
Congratulations to the 16 seeds on successful seasons.
The wait for the upset continues...