While I haven’t had time to post, this has been a great week of college ball.
Louisville came to the Dean Dome and the Heart Attack Heels topped the Cards by one point (72-71) with Marcus Paige’s shot in the last seconds.
On top of that, for the last two Duke games, I had the privilege of seeing red while visiting diddukewin.com. Their first loss was at the hands of the unranked Wolfpack at the PNC Arena. It was at PNC, in March, when the Mercer Bears handed Duke their last loss. I was jumping and yelling as NC State pulled off that victory!
Last night, the Miami Hurricanes blew into Cameron and upset the Devils at home. This is Duke’s first loss at home since 2012 and Miami’s third win over ranked opponents this season!
Tonight, is the Battle for the Wes Miller Bobblehead- every time UNC meets NCSU the outcome of the game decides if our bobblehead will reside at the Colonna or the Newkirk house. Wes has come home with me for the last two Tar Heel victories and D feels with the Duke win the Pack is poised for greatness tonight. The Red-Blue game is at the same time that UNCG meets VMI at home, so it is double basketball for us tonight!
Go Heels! Go Spartans!
Tonight is the 2014 ESPY awards and, to be completely honest, I had forgotten about them. Wednesday nights in the summer are for “So You Think You Can Dance” (because I can’t). However, I received an happy little present as I was going up to bed- happy enough that I needed to to a quick blog post for you all.
The ESPY for the Best Upset was Mercer’s defeat of Duke in the NCAA tournament. You know I am jonseing for for basketball in the middle of the summer…it’s a long time until October, but this was a happy little surprise. Let’s Celebrate!
Let’s recount that night. The Mercer Bears were in Duke home territory playing at the PNC arena in Raleigh. And as the seconds wound down Coach K had to steel himself for losing to a #14 seed and getting knocked out of the round of 64 AGAIN (let’s also savor the 2012 win by Lehigh in Greensboro). The Bears won that game 78-71 on their strength and experience. They started five seniors, shut down Duke’s scorers from the field, and played all 40 minutes of basketball. This ESPY is a bit of basketball goodness in the middle of the summer!
Let’s Celebrate that again!!
Only 3.3% of brackets predicted this upset! Go Bears!
I have some work I need to do for school, but it is hard to get anything done when today is the day the Big Dance brackets are set and my favorite app opens for the post season! There’s about 45 minutes until the ACC championship tip-off, Go Cavs, beat dook!- but there are so many good basketball stories swirling in the air right now. Who’s gonna get that fourth #1 seed (maybe Virginia if they knock off the devils)? Is Wichita State gonna go perfect for the season (unlikely unless you are the Lady Huskies)? Is this the year that a #16 beast a #1? It’s never happened, but one of these years….
As we wait for the ACC to start so that they can finish, there were some good stories from conference championships around the country. Perhaps as not a surprise, but worth commenting on nonetheless Louisville beat UConn in fairly spectacular fashion. I have no love lost for Rick Pitino (and the particular shade of blue that the Cardinals play in hurts my eyes), but their run through the AAC tournament (does AAC tournament sound made up to anyone else?) has been thorough. They beat Rutgers by 61 points and the 10 points they beat the Huskies by belies a much harder game that was played. This was the fifth meeting in a row where the Cardinals beat the Huskies in double digits.
I was rather surprised that UCLA routed #4 Arizona, though I guess I shouldn’t have been. They are both strong teams and the rivalry growing between them leads to passionate play on both sides. Arizona’s defense was just ineffective against the Bruin’s quick offense. I am going to ignore the Wear twins in all future discussions of UCLA, for obvious reasons, but they were effective from mid-court for this game. UCLA won this game by 4 points, play was fast and fun, but the Wildcats did miss 6 free throws in the game. Those points left on the court could make all the difference between going to the Big Dance and going to the Big Dance as a #1 seed.
The shocker of the day was Providence’s 65-58 win over Creighton. I thought Creighton had that one, no problem. The Blue Jays have been hot and Buckets McDermott (click on this link you will not be disappointed) is an offensive machine. This game was a study in how a steady game wins the race. A good mantra to mediate on as we enter the live or die moments of the post season- you have to show up to the game and play a full 40 minutes (I’m looking at you Carolina) to win the title.
Luke Nadkarni wrote a piece addressing Wolfpack fans and telling them to grow up. He wrote, “And for State fans to be throwing debris on the court at the end of the game is simply unacceptable. For as much as we brag about being great fans, we sure don’t act like it…Good fans don’t act like kindergartners when their team loses.” Owning that is not what State fans wanted to hear, but as someone who love great basketball perhaps what needed to be said.
One the other hand, that does not take Tar Heel fans off of the hook. I agree that the behavior and the feelings of being less than need to stop. It must be hard to struggle to make the top 25 when you have such a great history of basketball. But discounting NC State, beyond the usual back and forth that comes from sport and competition because I do love some trash talking, is a disservice done on our part. Fans have called out the victory as less than citing an empty Franklin Street after the win (compared to the flooded street last week in the win over Duke). Even ESPN was brought into the social media fray as people linked to the their listing of the UNC-NCSU rivalry as the #2 overall most one sided rivalry in the 21st century. That is true, the 21 century has not been kind to NC State basketball, but great basketball traditions are built over decades, not years. Tar Heel fans would do good to remember that!
Part of what I love about college basketball is the fast pace. The ups and downs of the court can be mirrored by emotions on a night when plenty of ball is being played.
UNCG lost a heartbreaker to the Pirates of ECU. After starting the game with a 10-0 lead and leading for most of the game, ECU pulled up close and on a foul won the game. UNCG was up by two in the final seconds of the game and Nick Paulos fouled a Pirate three pointer. The basket did not connect, but all three of the foul shots did. ECU topped the Spartans 85-84 in a tough loss for the Spartans. Kayel Locke looked strong under the basket. He fouled out of the game, but left it all on the floor when he did.
The player of the night, however, was Tevon Saddler. The first year player racked up 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. In my last post, I wondered if he was going to grow or be a ball hog? If this game is a suggestion, he is leaning toward growth. His play against HPU was sloppy, but last night he had tightened up his movements and was making good shooting as well as passing decisions. He was also a respectable 14-19 from the line (73%). Another first year player, Tyrone Outlaw, was 5-6 from the line as well. His foul shout has such a beautiful arc to it- he should be teaching lessons!
For the game, the Pirates shot 89% from the free throw line. UNCG connected 74% of the time- good, but those extra points matter in a close game. Overall, we would be good to remember that games can be won AND LOST on the foul line!
In other games from last night:
Michigan State topped Kentucky. MSU was the only team in the top five that I wanted to win last night! While I am always happy to report a L for Dook– Kansas is not my favorite team either. (My mom taught me to be suspicious of all teams that play basketball in the particular shade of blue favored by Dook/Kentucky/Kansas). Wiggins and the Jayhawks outplayed hometown boy Parker and the Blue Devils in the second half. But remember, the season is in its infancy, all of these teams are poised for a great year of basketball.
Does anyone else get distracted by Andrew Wiggins’ name? I really hope that his parents were big sci fi fans because every time I hear it I think of Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin from Orson Scott Card’s short story and novel Ender’s Game. As a character, Ender is chosen because he is “one the enemy would never expect.” With all of the hype around Wiggins, there are expectations, but will he grow into a leader like Ender?
Coach K meets lots of famous people. He was asked to speak about LeBron James and had his picture taken at that event with James and Jay-Z. He seemed pretty okay with that, he gets his picture taken with famous people all the time. But when he got to meet Beyonce, after his talk, he searched is brain hard for the great introduction, “Hi, I’m Coach K.” Then, when talking to dookies at the recent Dook basket ball campout- those must not be the smartest kids as they camp outside for basketball in the heat of the summer and the dead of winter (don’t your parents pay for a perfectly nice dorm room?)- Coach K totally geeked out over taking a picture with Queen B. I love a fanboy geekout as much as the next person, but the question is how to use this love to our advantage….a Beyonce medley as warmup music, Queen B impersonators in the audience, I mean this knowledge is golden! I am READY FOR ALL THE FUN OF BASKETBALL SEASON!!