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!
There have been three games since I have posted so let me catch you up:
1- The New Year’s Eve afternoon game against Mars Hill College was a blow out with the Spartans defeating the Lions 92-48. This game was played in Fleming gym and basketball is a great way to spend a holiday afternoon! Nick Paulos hit a long three at the halftime buzzer to get the crowd to their feet. This game was also where first year player, #1 Marvin Smith, got some significant playing time– 21 minutes. I’m excited to watch him mature into a great ball player.
2- On January 3, Mercer, a newcomer to the SoCon, traveled to Greensboro. They are a tough, team that plays well together, a formidable opponent for anyone. If you will remember, Duke learned that the hard way when the Bears knocked the Blue Devils out of the tournament. In honor of that moment and to congratulate the Bears for their ESPY I did what I do best- glitter up a poster
UNCG fell 55-76 after trailing for 40 minutes only tying the score once. It was hard, but the Spartans had a hard time connecting from beyond the arc (28%) and their free throw percentage was a paltry 45% (5-11).
3- Tonight, at the game by myself, the Spartans took the Bulldogs to overtime before losing by two 83-85. UNCG got off to a strong 5-0 start and the lead was bantered back and forth. There was a lot of sweat left on the court tonight! The Citadel beat us on the free throw line 85% to our 71%. They only put three of our player on the charity stripe (Locke going 10 times), but those points could have made the difference!
And just for fun:
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!!
UNC survives the last 10 minutes against Providence to play another round! That is not a luxury afforded to the Blue Devils and that makes this a pretty perfect basketball day!
Pretty much everyone’s bracket is broken, but I’ll take a broken bracket and the dookies cooling their heels back in Durham!
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!