Monday, March 22, 2010

The Month That Is Full Of Madness

MADNESS. There is no other word to describe the NCAA Tournament. Buzzer beaters, big time plays and underdogs beating up on the big boys! The first two rounds have been nothing short of outstanding. There have been some great contests and some big upsets. It's been great having all the games on live down here in Australia. ESPN and ONEHD have really stepped up and provided basketball lovers with a chance to catch all the action.

Over the weekend, Kentucky and Syracuse were the two teams who really stood out. Kentucky breezed past both of their opponents, East Tennesse State and Wake Forest, as did Syracuse who put away Vermont and Gonzaga. Kentucky's front court are HUGE. Patterson is one of my favourite players, he is so strong around the rim and finishes with the thunder! On the other hand Syracuse have some incredible shooters and showed that today by hitting 12 threes on their way past Gonzaga. A 22 point victory without one of their star players, Arinze Onuaku, spells danger for the rest of the competition.

However, stranger things have happened, especially in this tournament. It was only a day ago that Northern Iowa upset number one seed Kansas. It was a great game to watch. I started to feel really sorry for the Panthers as they began to squander a large lead. However with 30 seconds remaining and with possession, Ali Farokhmanesh, stood at the three point line with no one near him. It was either burn some clock or become part of March Madness folklore. Ali liked the latter and buried a three to send the place bonkers.

There have been buzzer beaters a plenty in the tournament so far. A couple of early morning wake ups have allowed me to catch them live. Both times, my bracket was begging for the shots to miss. Neither did. Fellow Aussie, AJ Ogilvy's Vanderbilt, got stunned by a 15 foot Danero Thomas buzzer beater. It was Murray State's first victory in the NCAA tournament since a 78-75 win over North Carolina State in 1988."That shot was bigger than he could imagine," Murray State's B.J. Jenkins told "It wasn't just a game-winning shot. We'll remember this for the rest of our lives."

Maryland were the second team I caught going down to a buzzer beater. The Terps came fighting back with an 8-0 run in 34 seconds. They even gave themselves a one point lead with six seconds to go, on the back of senior point guard Greivis Vasquez's layup. However nobody slowed down the Spartans big man, allowing him to get to the three point line. After someone eventually picked up Green, he passed the ball across the key to an unmarked Korie Lucious. Lucious took one dribble and launched a prayer. It was answered alright, going straight through the bottom of the net. Maryland were left to ponder of what may have been now that Kansas were beaten. Michigan State had their own problems. How are they going to deal with the loss of Kalin Lucas?

One of my favourite plays of the tournament so far has to be young Australian, Matthew Dellavedova's And-One roll into a three pointer. With only four minutes to play, locked at 61 a piece, that shot was ridiculous. The Australian College basketball team known as the St Mary Gaels are on their way to the Sweet 16. They will face a strong Baylor team who boast some flat out scorers and a strong inside presence. If Omar Sanham keeps putting up numbers (29 & 32 points) then anything can happen. The Gaels will have to continue to hit their perimeter shots if they are going to win this one. The likes of Tweety Carter and Ekpe Udoh are sure to give the Gaels fits. Lets hope the Aussie contingent continues to dance into the Madness that is March.

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