ed. — Last year’s daily preview post is now a daily wrap-up post as we look back on what made each crazy day special during this most wonderful and unexplainable sports time of the year.
Aww… don’t cry little clarinet (flute?)-playing girl who’s obviously has never been though anything in her life.
(Or maybe its the opposite…maybe she’s been through too much and the thought of the slightest disagreeable development, like her beloved Wildcats not being able to ensure her a trip to Greater Syracuse for the East Regional, could set her off. God, I hope she didn’t take out her sorrows on any of the other woodwinds…)
Transmission: Hawk. Echo. We have a No. 1 seed down. Repeat. We have a No 1 seed down. Echo. Hawk. Wu-Tang.
Villanova helped the NCAA Tournament open back up in a big way Saturday after its disappointingly by-the-numbers Friday. As a No. 1 seed the Wildcats, who already have a recent history of flaming out early in the tournament (remember, the last time they made it to the Final Four in 2009 they were actually a No. 3), seemed bound to disappoint their fan base of Philadelphians not bold enough to ride with Drexel and mid-90’s rappers who needed something to end their bars that started with some reference to “wild cats.”
But at least they got Jalen Brunson coming their way, the dynamic point guard wrapped up his Illinois high school career in grand fashion by winning the state 4A championship on Saturday (on that not, also got to shout out the Stevens Point Area Senior High of my old high school reporting stomping grounds for winning the top level of the Wisconsin boys tournament Saturday…and the UW-Stevens Point men for winning that school’s fourth D-III National Title in 11 years Saturday as well).
If you can’t tell now, I’m just basically throwing stuff out here to fulfill my own mandate of a column after each tournament day, something y’all probably don’t care about anyway. But there’s not much better to do at 2 am than to listen to this album and write anything, and I mean anything, onto a blank slate.
Anyway…the ACC is pretty good, huh?
It’s one of those things that’s hard to swallow because its so obvious year after year how superior the Atlantic Coast Conference is in college basketball as well as how stridently its scheduling both in and out of conference provides its best teams with the best preparation for the tournament.
To look out from other regions where you think they play ball well (Great Lakes, Mid-to-North Atlantic, Texas-Oklahoma-Kansas, LA due north to Seattle) you can’t help but throw a little shade — “hey, we got schools here that can play too!” — but there’s nothing to be said once the first 40 games of March Madness passes and you see one conference win nearly one fourth of those games with not a loss to its name.
And yes, that LA due north conference has done well too but mostly because they get to claim Arizona and Utah as well but it doesn’t hurt that UCLA is having its first Cinderella run in the tourney, the team no one wanted in the proceedings made good on its wide-open lane and pounded honest-to-goodness Cinderella UAB on Saturday.
Some would still say that the Bruins don’t “belong” in the tournament and certainly not in its upper showcase region (here’s one convincing argument) but there’s no arguing that they’ve made the most of their opportunities so far. Here’s a list of a few more opportunistic persons/places/things based on Saturday’s action:
1. Malik-Adbul Abu
— 13 points and, more importantly, 12 boards to lead N.C. State in the upset win over ‘Nova. Abu’s board work was part of the Wolfpack’s dominating 45-32 advantage in that category.
2. T.J. McConnell
— Compiled a hell of a line in Arizona’s 73-58 win over Ohio State: 19 points, six assists, six rebounds and five steals. Became only the sixth player in tournament history to record at least five in each of those stat categories, others include Marcus Smart, Tyshawn Taylor and Jason Kidd.
3. Creator of the crying Villanova girl meme.
— It got around pretty well.
4. Pat Connaughton
— Sure his name comes out on the “Notre Dame University President” name generator, but he routinely makes himself useful on the basketball court as well.
Connaughton’s game-saving late-game sequence came with the best block of the tourney but it was made complete when it became known that he was the first to console Zach Auguste, who damn-near cost the game for the Irish a play before by double dribbling.
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