Friday, March 19, 2010
Cinderella Teams Defines Crazy Madness
Is it just me, or are most of our brackets busted after the craziness that happened in the early dog days of March Madness?
This is a month when we’re obsessed with the varieties of terminology, such as brackets, underdogs and upsets. This is a month when teams experience crestfallen defeats or blissful wins, expected to draw much attention or regards, simply for ignoring the chances of an underdog busting brackets in the early stages of the NCAA Tournament. By now, we should be used to the agony and euphoria that materializes in March, a month all basketball lords’ falls in love with embracing a tournament that creates a riddle.
Regardless of the miserable track records or light schedules during the regular-season, a team’s mentality proves different in March, and their momentum magnifies at a higher level.
Getting accustomed to the unthinkable and surprising upsets only intensifies the liveliness and loveliness within a mysterious sporting tournament. It doesn’t get any better than college hoops, a sporting postseason that takes in more regards.
For all the dramatic finishes, emerging underdogs and extraordinary finishes, we tend to cherish the uncertainty and magical sequences. Mind you, a few years ago, a small school no one ever really heard of broke out, wearing the glass slipper into the Final Four.
Is it worth taking a guess anyone? I’m speaking of George Mason.
Then two years ago, a little school from a little town in North Carolina emerged in the big dance. I’m talking about Davidson. Also, it’s worth mentioning that Western Kentucky drove deep in an appealing race, but unfortunately fell short of reaching the Final Four. As competition is expected to become more intense and fierce, my bracket is busted after a disappointing first-round.
I’ve never seen multiple at-large bids lose in the first-round, nor seen multiple underdogs excel. For now, the powerhouse of the most exciting tournament happens to be Murray State. Wait, Murray who? Yes, Murray State has emerged as a critical menace within a crazy postseason.
With the early-round winners, stunning the world and staining brackets, Cinderella arrived a bit early. Thursday night’s drama illustrated much about this year’s madness. Ohio University, a 14-seed defeated Georgetown by pulling off one of the biggest stunners on the night.
The final score was 97-83, a boring contest that forced many to blink their eyes in disbelief. More thrilling, perhaps were the Racers, earning a 13 seed in San Jose to take on a good Vanderbilt team. That doesn’t matter when a No. 4 seed is sent home after an unexpected team heaves the first buzzer-beater of the NCAA tournament.
With 4.2 seconds remaining in a nail-bitter, coach Billy Kennedy designed a play that magically worked in their favor. It was perfect timing for a team at one point in the season that was struggling mightily, a team that couldn’t find its balance and suffered shooting droughts during the regular-season. But now, the Racers are back in the win column, if you will. All due to a last-second play that was executed brilliantly.
Isaac Miles, a reliable star player, was expected to produce the unimaginable. Instead of taking the final shot however, he was unselfish and had confidence in Danero Thomas, who drained a 15-footer with a second remaining. All the players on Murray State’s bench danced and celebrated a meaningful win, overjoyed of pulling off the miraculous stunner as Vanderbilt stared in shock and despair.
The Hoyas glanced from the bench hopeless also, in a loss that will be remembered as the worst in the history of Georgetown basketball. When you really think about it, this wasn’t the most impressive first-round for a lacking Big East conference. The Hoyas were pummeled, Norte Dame faltered in a close, heartbreaking loss against Old Dominion that busted my damn bracket, and six-seeded Marquette was just as bad, losing to Washington, a program representing the undermined Pac-10 conference.
Although Villanova barely survived, more props go to the Wildcats after withstanding a scare and finishing off a duel on strong note, following a resemblance of a slow start a year ago. If there’s one powerhouse in the Big East, it must be Syracuse.
“No matter what happened before, when you get on the court, you have to play,” said Georgetown’s Greg Monroe. “And I think as far as our game, they were better today. We didn’t do the things we needed to win the game.”
Keep in mind, Monroe is still a top nominee for National Player of the Year. But there’s nothing like winning a tournament in a field of 64 teams. Any team prefers winning a national title over accepting individual accolades. Remember, the Hoyas weren’t supposed to fall early and were expected to last at least until the Sweet 16. Even though it’s surprising to see Georgetown depart after a shaky first-round, it’s not surprising to see why they suffered an early ouster.
The Hoyas failed to dominate at will, like during the regular-season beating No. 3 Syracuse and Duke. Sure, some may wonder if this was just a bad outing, meaning if they were to do it over, they probably would win. It’s funny how teams survived during the season, but stumble in a substantial contest.
Let’s believe in the Cinderella teams. There’s some optimism that Murray State, Old Dominion and Ohio can all advance to the Sweet 16. Each team is bracket killers, leaving a riddle behind in this year’s tournament. But at this point, solving a NCAA riddle is very complex among stiff competitiveness.