Oh what a great day Friday was for college basketball! March Madness proved once again it is the greatest thing on Earth and always will be (as long as the NCAA doesn’t jack up the tourney). I would love to fill out a perfect bracket one day, it will never happen but man that would be awesome, especially if it was online so I could prove it (and win money). I wouldn’t trade the excitement the NCAA Tournament provided me today even if I could have that perfect bracket this year. It’s way too much fun watching my North Carolina Tar Heels win without John Henson one of their best players. Most days, actually, pretty much all days, a Carolina victory is more than enough. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Coming into today only four times in history has a #15 seed ever defeated a #2 seed in the tournament. Hell must’ve frozen over today as it happened not once, but twice, in a matter of hours. First, Norfolk State knocked off Missouri in a flat out awesome game with an even better finish. And in the nightcap, Duke was stunned by Lehigh. Keeping It Heel’s Monica Biddix often wonders which she enjoys more a Carolina win or a Duke loss. For me it’s always been a UNC win, while I love to hate, I enjoy tasting victory a little more. At least that’s what I thought. I was way more excited to watch Lehigh beat Duke and possibly just as excited watching Duke struggle with their stupid strategy of launching a million threes and hoping they make enough to win every game.
Immediately after I published my game review of UNCs win over Vermont, it was onto the Missouri game. What a game by Norfolk State, that team should be extremely proud of not only the fact that they won the game but the heart they displayed on the court. It was amazing watching a team I felt like had zero chance of winning today play like they belonged on the same court as Missouri. They displayed every characteristic of a champion. With multiple lead changes they showed the fortitude to stay together, execute and play smart basketball when they were trailing. And they didn’t get ahead of themselves or start playing outside of their system. Most importantly, after pushing their lead over Missouri to double digits, they did not break after a quick comeback tied the game with less than a minute to go.
Instead they came out on top after a dizzying series of events. Norfolk State took the lead for good with 34.9 seconds to go after an ugly air ball was rebounded by Kyle O’Quinn who converted the basket and the three point play for a 84-81 lead. After a bad three pointer was missed early in the shot clock by Missouri, O’Quinn found himself at the line once again, he made 1-2 from the line and with a four point lead and just 16 seconds left the upset looked like a reality. But a quick three pointer by Missouri’s Phil Pressey with 10 seconds left cut the lead to just one. Rodney McCauley kept Missouri alive after converting 1-2 from the FT line on the ensuring possession. Down to just one possession and the full length of the floor to run and Pressey’s prayer was not answered. Basically as good of a basketball game as you could possibly imagine.
The funnest game of the day was definitely the Norfolk State vs Missouri game. But to most Dook haters around the world, watching the Blue Scum and their rat coach lose in the first round was even better. Especially given the fact that the loss came in the first round, in a year Duke was a #2 seed to a team called the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. That’s got to sting, imagine being a player on that team and you walk around campus with your chest puffed out every single day. Girls are all over you, everybody wants you to sit next to them in class, I mean you play on the only team relevant at Duke, they are the the only rock stars at that pathetic University. You left to a bunch of cheering students, fans and a heaping of girls screaming your name “Win us the title Mason!” “We love you Austin!” Now they have to go back and walk around that same campus after losing to a team nobody’s heard of. Before today’s game at least 50% of the Duke students said to one another, “Who are we playing again?” “Lehigh Mountain Hawks, we’re going to crush them man!” I hope all the Dook players, students and fans got a chance to watch UNC win without the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in the lineup today before they got beat by a team calling themselves the Mountain Hawks.
Duke’s style caught up to them in this one and they honestly beat themselves which makes it even better for me. Missing 20 of their 26 attempts from three point range killed Duke’s offense. With a lack of athletes on their team, it’s not like Coach Rat could even consider abandoning his approach when it was obvious Dook couldn’t hit the Ocean today. Dook simply has no athletes that can consistently create for themselves or teammates. They are a pretty good shooting team, and a good pick and roll team. And they can pass that ball around in the half court okay I guess. They simply lack someone that can take the ball wherever they receive it and make something happen. And when they can’t hit their three point shots, they get beat most of the time. Lehigh didn’t really do anything that special, it’s not like they shot an amazing percentage from the field or hit a whole lot of threes or anything. They simply were aggressive on both ends of the floor which resulted in 37 free throw attempts, 11 more than Duke and they converted enough to beat an overrated Duke team.
What a great day, a Tar Heel win, a Duke loss and two #15 seeds beating the odds and knocking off #2 seeds. I never want March Madness to end.