Saturday, March 25, 2006

Sweet 16 dreaming; some of it literal

I've barely the time to make this post before the commencement of the Elite 8 games, and since I plan to make a few predicitions, I better get to it.

I made the effort to get through the Sweet 16, but sleep had its way. I watched the Duke/LSU game with friends at East Coast Wings. There were some distractions, so I didn't stayed glued to the game, but Duke's painful struggle couldn't be ignored. LSU reduced the game to an ugly slugfest, which exposed Duke's lack of depth. It's been the Devils' downfall since winning the title in '01.

Back home, I intended to watch the Texas/West Virginia game. I didn't make it too far into the second half. I awoke with about 15 seconds left in the game. Texas failed to nail it down on the foul line and Pittsnogle nailed an awesome fade away three to tie it only to have Paulino win the game for the Horns with a cold-blooded shot at the buzzer. I'm not a big Texas fan, but that's what winners do when it's all on the line. CBS made the switch to UCLA/Gonzaga and I attempted to finish out. The last thing I remember is a UCLA bucket and timeout with the Zags leading 69-62. The next thing I see is Adam Morrsion collapsing on the floor pulling his jersey over his face.

I made it through the BC/Villanova game and it was about the best game I've watched the entire tourney. It was classic Big East hoops. I thought BC got hosed on a couple of calls, but Nova deserves credit for an impressive comeback that turned the tide of the game into their favor. Losing a game on a goal-tending call is a heartbreaker. Nonetheless, if the toughness of this BC team continues through the years, they'll be a great addition to the ACC. I also had the George Mason/Wichita State game pulled up on the computer. Mason controlled it throughout. I made the effort to watch UConn/Washington. The last I remember Washington looked good to go, but then I had these in and out visions of the game in overtime. UConn marches on.

What happens next? I'll go mystical with my UCLA/Memphis pick. I believe the Wizard of Westwood must still have some zap in the magic wand and the Bruins make it to another Final Four. Texas/LSU is a hard pick. When they get it running, Texas looks as good as anybody. However, LSU seems to know how to disrupt the rhythm of the ballet turning it into heavyweight boxing match where both fighters hold on to each other more than they punch each other. I'll go with the Horns to survive a slugfest.

Moving to Sunday, it's hard to doubt UConn. They have the mark of an elite team. They've been in trouble all three tourney games so far, but they've been very strong at the end each time. On the other hand, I've been convincing myself that George Mason is another version of the '77 UNCC team. They don't have a Cornbread Maxwell, but they have a solid team, good coach and green and gold uniforms. They may very well run out of gas against UConn, but I think it's time for another Texas Western/UNCC type Final Four breakthrough. I'll go with my heart and take Mason. I'll go with Villanova over Florida. It's hard to beat the type of guard play Nova gets, especially at tourney time.


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