(Long Island, NY) It happens every spring. We get ready for the NCAA Tournament by filling out our brackets and try to figure out the inevitable upsets. And we’re always shocked when they happen.
This past week even the most radical fans would have had to be going out on a limb to pick these ‘bracket busters.’ Thursday night we were treated with three games that made the following day’s water cooler and sports talk radio conversations a difficult decision. Should we get into the number 1 seeded Duke Blue Devils getting ousted, with only an 11-point night from J.J. Reddick? Or Texas and West Virginia trading 3’s until the buzzer? How about Gonzaga blowing a double-digit lead to UCLA?
The undersized Duke Blue Devils were banged around by the LSU Tigers. With their star being pressured all game long, they didn’t have a second option after Reddick.
Texas survived a gallant effort by the Mountaineers. The Longhorns saw their three point lead disappear with five seconds remaining. Instead of calling a time-out, they pushed the ball up the floor before hitting a three-pointer as time expired to avoid overtime.
The Gonzaga-UCLA game seemed to be more or less over when the Bulldogs had the big lead in the second half. CBS stayed with the Texas game until the exciting finish, keeping us up to date on the ‘Zag game with the score in the corner of the television screen. Anyone who thought that it was over and shut off their sets missed an incredible comeback by the Bruins.
Remember- they don’t call it March Madness for nothing. The network resumed the scheduled game and UCLA must have sensed it was time to turn it on. They chipped away and stole the ball in the closing seconds to convert a lay-up and take a one point lead. Gonzaga had one last chance but missed a good-look ‘3’ after a full-court inbound pass. Adam Morrison, the star Gonzaga forward, was overcome with emotion in defeat and was sobbing lying on the court after the horn sounded.
Had enough? Hardly. Sunday brought us the headliner. The big, bad number 1 seed UConn Huskies versus the mid-major, at-large bid 11th seeded George Mason Patriots. Never in a million years, right? Wrong! UConn may have survived an earlier overtime scare from Washington, but the little school that could, George Mason, would not allow them to play with matches twice and get away with it. Another overtime thriller that should not have even went that far. The Huskies were lucky to have a pulse when the clock expired in regulation. The Pats missed a few key free throws down the stretch to give UConn a chance, and they tied it with a lay-up at the buzzer. Credit to the coaching staff and players on George Mason. They held it together and outplayed the Huskies in the extra period. It still came down to a missed jump shot at the end of overtime before it was decided.
Then the later game had the Florida Gators at number 3 outplay and defeat the Villianova Wildcats, who were number 1. Another top seed going home early. It’s been the theme of this dance.
It’s been some tourney so far. As the field dwindles to the Final 4, the games get even tighter. Enjoy the madness.