Thursday, April 4, 2013
Behind The Scoreboard
Just four left
For the last 13 days they have come from the Midwest, the West, the South and the East. Some have been on fast tracks and fast trains. Others have traveled at a slower, and sometimes perilous pace. But on this last weekend eight teams had a centrist location as their destination – Atlanta.
None of these journeys have been easy and some have been heart-breaking hard. Some teams surprised a lot of fans and perhaps themselves. They showed the collegiate basketball world that the “cream of the crop” is not always on top.
The first high seed to fall was number one Gonzaga of the Midwest Region. The Wichita State University Shockers didn’t exactly come out of nowhere; they started as a number nine. Their shock factor kept rising when they took powerhouse number two Ohio State to the mat and out of the bracket. The Shockers haven’t been in this position (Final Four) since 1979 and the Elite Eight in 1965. The Shockers are straight out of a fairy tale, but not Cinderella, more appropriately “Jack and the Beanstalk.” And they have a couple more giants to kill.
Former Holly High Hawk Clevin Hannah was a star player for Wichita State a few years back.
The Indiana Hoosiers (my personal favorite overall) had a big bite taken out of their Indiana apple by the Big Orange of Syracuse. The Orangemen, not all that shabby at number four, also took out number three Marquette and will return to the Final Four versus Michigan. The Golden Eagles didn’t even break 40.
As shocking as the Shockers’ meteoric trek has been, it still took second billing to the fun trip which Florida Gulf Coast took to reach the field of 16. In the last few years, the basketball world has grown accustomed to Cinderella runs, like Butler, VCU, etc. This year we were fortunate to have had an SEC team (Florida) redeem us against the Florida Gulf Coast ogre. Too bad the Gators couldn’t last to the end.
Near to the end of the Elite Eight, the fan base waited patiently (?) for the rematch of Rick Pitino (Louisville) and Mike Krzyzewski (Duke). Two decades ago the two had met in the East Region and Pitino’s Wildcats (Kentucky) had been subdued by a last second shot by Christian Laettner. This time was no close call but the game proved costly for the Cardinals. Star guard Kevin Ware suffered an excruciating compound fracture during the game. The absolutely gruesome injury will keep Ware sidelined for a year.
Louisville was not a favorite of mine but there seems to be little choice about how this one will end.
Two years ago, the Cardinals were not on the horizon at this point. Oh my, how things change.
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