Big League Clu reviews the first couple of rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
So how many of you have brackets that are offically busted? With the first weekend of the tournament officially in the books, I have decided to go through what I felt were some of the truly memorable moments (so far), some of very big surprises, and of course also talk about the teams who just decided to lay an egg. Thankfully we have a LOT of great (and terrible) stories to talk about! So lets get right to it…
How the West Was Won: Cinderellas Punch their Tickets to the Sweet 16!
Unlike last year, we actually have some bracket busters in 2013. The West region was certainly turned upside down by these Cinderellas. #13 La Salle, (which had to beat Boise State in one of the first four play in games) knocked off #4 Kansas State and #12 Ole Miss to reach the sweet 16. They, in turn, will face the #9 Shockers of Wichita State who also pulled of some impressive wins, beating #8 Pitt and then #1 seeded Gonzaga. Both were at large teams out of their respected conferences (A-10 and Missouri Valley Conference), so it should lead to a really good sweet 16 matchup and a potential mid-major school vying for a spot in the final four.
The other team who crashed the party was #6 seeded Arizona out of the Pac-12. They were essentially written off, as they were “predicted” to lose to New Mexico in the third round. However, we all know that didnt happen because #14 Harvard upset the #3 seed Lobos instead. The Wildcats certainly have a tough matchup on their hands as they will square off against the #2 seed Buckeyes in the sweet 16, but in all honesty, they can beat Ohio State. The Wildcats do have somewhat of a home field advantage, since they will be playing in Los Angeles. They were also at the top of the Pac-12, which is not a pushover conference by any means. They even boast some some solid playmakers in Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill.
The Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast, Everyone!
No that is not a typo, or a joke for either. The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles pulled off the historic feat Sunday, becoming the first #15 seed in NCAA tournament history to make it to the sweet 16. The University, which is still in its infancy compared to some of the schools that they played against (FGCU was established in 1991!) has become an overnight sensation. Seriously, just google them and see how many hits come up.
The Eagles took the road less traveled in order to get to Arlington, upsetting #2 Georgetown and then #7 San Diego State. Also what was more impressive to me, was that these wins were not on any last second hail mary buzzer beaters, or questionable calls in the last few minutes of the game. They simply played good defense, team ball and got some clutch shots from their star player Sherwood Brown. Also, they are the self proclaimed kings of “dunk city” (check out some of the absurd dunks on youtube when you get a moment). They must now prepare to face yet another formidable team, this time their bigger in-state counterpart, the #3 seeded Florida Gators for a chance to move onto the Elite 8. Will they be able to pull off yet another historic win? I am skeptical, but if you go onto the NCAA official tournament site, everyone is picking them to win! So, the Eagles obviously have everyone believing. Lets see what will happen…
Oregon Ducks Getting No Love
This one is more of my opinion than anything else, especially since I felt that the Oregon Ducks (who won the Pac-12 tournament) got snubbed a little bit by the NCAA selection committee. Sure, they dont have the best overall record, 28-8 (12-6) but they did fight to win that tournament fair and square. C’mon give them a little bit of credit, someone! For them to be given a 12 seed was a bit ridiculous. Clearly, someone from the committee went to USC or Oregon State for that matter. But, with the bad comes the good, as I believe this snub has helped fuel the Ducks a little bit. They are now playing with something to prove. Ok so I am now done ranting! But, I will say that they must prove themselves once again as they get set to face off against the #1 seed Louisville Cardinals in the sweet 16 this Friday. They have the tools to pull off an upset, since they have three players who average just about 11 points and 5 rebounds per game. Also, keep your eye on Azarlan Kazemi, who averages about 9ppg and 9rpg too. We will see if they have enough to stop Louisville’s Russ Smith, who has been dominating the tournament so far, and the rest of Rick Pitinos Cards.
So much for Gonzaga!
I would like to end this post by thanking the Gonzaga Bulldogs, out of the West Coast Conference who decided to lay an egg this past sunday in their 3rd round loss to #9 Wichita State. Everyone knows the ‘Zags as always being that underdog team that always is a thorn in the side of some formidable powerhouses. Unfortunately, this time, the Bulldogs bit off far more than they could chew. They were ranked #1 in the nation for some time, because of how well they were playing, even for being out of the WCC. They also managed to get themselves a #1 seed in the tournament, they boasted two big men who will be destined to play in the NBA, things were looking good for Gonzaga fans, but their outside shooting was worrisome as it was streaky and they had not faced the likes of a major conference powerhouse in some time.
Anywho, a lot of analysts felt that the Bulldogs were destined for the sweet 16, maybe the elite 8 if they played well enough…..mayyyyyybeeee the final 4? However, they didnt even get to that point, as they narrowly escaped being the first #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed when they squeaked past against Southern University in the 2nd round, thanks to some late three pointers. But then there dream season came crashing down as they failed to stop the Shockers of Wichita State as I have mentioned earlier in the post. So thank you Gonzaga, thanks for becoming the first #1 seed in this years tournament to fall and ruining many peoples brackets, but lets be fair, the west region was destroyed long before the ‘Zags lost.
Featured image courtesy of: Rob Carr/Getty Images
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