As a basketball fan–I needed what the NCAA Tournament’s two Elite 8 games turned out to be in what were two epic college basketball games. After covering the piece of indifferent junk which goes by the name of the Oklahoma City Thunder for 76 games … I needed to be reminded why I love playoff basketball and hockey in the manner in which I do.
Yesterday was one of the best days of college basketball I can remember in a while. Let me tell you this…it would not shock me if Texas Tech wins the whole thing even after knowing they lost in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament to West Virginia. They have a superstar in Jarrett Culver. They have role players who play their roles to perfection. But most of all they have a coach they believe in and listen to. You watch this team and you get the impression if Chris Beard tells them to go thru a wall… they’ll look at him and say, “Which wall, coach?” What a quaint notion for those of us who cover the NBA on blogs.
Seriously, after watching 76 games of Russell Westbrook ignoring his coach it was genuinely refreshing to see a team in every way take on the persona of their coach. Maybe this just doesn’t translate to the NBA given the floundering we’ve witnessed this season from NBA teams coached by Fred Hoiberg, Billy Donovan and Brad Stevens…but yesterday was a needed doubleheader of basketball where four teams played their hearts out and played with their hearts on their sleeves.
Another thing…Carson Edwards from Purdue last night reminded me so much of Steph Curry back at Davidson when we really didn’t have an idea of what Steph Curry would become. In watching Carson Edwards play in his three games in this NCAA Tournament…I can only say I wish his team had advanced just so I could keep seeing him play on the biggest stage in college hoops.
So…today we have Duke vs. Michigan State with Coach K vs. Tommy Izzo. I love both coaches. I truly do. Duke in reality—should have already lost twice in this tournament with tentative performances against UCF and VA Tech. But if they get Zion going and get going on a roll they could still be something to behold. This should be a great game.
And then of course..my wife’s alma mater–the Auburn Tigers without star big Chuma Okeke take out John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats in an all SEC Elite 8 final. If Okeke was healthy I’d clearly like Auburn, but without him… I don’t know if they can keep Kentucky off the glass. Bruce Pearl is a piece of work and one of my favorite college coaches just because he has so much fun out there and his players feed off of him. So my head says Kentucky while heart screams… ‘War Eagle!’
What a day of hoops we could be in store in for if these two games measure up to what we saw yesterday from Texas Tech, Gonzaga, Virginia and Purdue.
Survive, win and advance.
March Madness is truly upon us and it has reminded me of what college basketball used to be and still is in the month of March.