DUKE GOES HOME: Again, the #1 team in the final AP poll goes home without a National Championship. For the 21st time in the last 24 years, the top team in the final poll won't win the ring. I wanna direct my next comment to SETH DAVIS. On a SBL episode, Jamie Mottram read a statement by me slamming JJ Redick for his failures in the NCAA tournament [Redick Is Coming to SBL...scroll all the way down for my comment]. Seth Davis went on the air after Jamie read that comment and, basically, called me an idiot for thinking that way. Something like, "a lot smarter than that blogger....JJ Redick is one of the biggest clutch players in the nation." [Listen to it here.... Podcast.net Player]. So, Duke.....#1 team in the nation.....goes home after JJ Redick's 3-for-18 night in Atlanta and couldn't hit a shot down the stretch. Oh, Seth did say "until someone knocks them off their pedastal....you're gonna have to deal with it." They've been knocked off. And I'm dealing with it fine!
I said it before. JJ Redick was 10 for 38 shooting [27%] during last year's NCAA Tournament. He was 18 for 64 shooting [29%] during his last 5 NCAA Tournament games. He was a darn good 17-of-34 heading into this game....by ended with a 3-of-18 game that put him at a 2006 tourney average of 39%. Thank God he got all those Duke and ACC scoring records since he won't end it with a National Championship.
But, I gotta pay respect to LSU. They played physical with Sheldon Williams and JJ Redick...a tough task to do. The best defense [err...only defense] on Redick is to get a quick long guy to chase him aroundand bother him [UNC's Jackie Manuel made a Carolina career out of just that]. But, it was "the other guys" that were the difference. LSU's Big Baby Davis didn't have a great game either...but his guys stepped up with big games. Duke's Sheldon Williams had a great night, Josh McRoberts did okay [9 pts and 10 boards ain't bad] but no one else did squat. Duke got just 7 points from Paulus and Dockery and a combined 4 pts from the bench. Congrats to LSU! And c-ya to Duke! I know, strong talk from a fan of a team that didn't even get to this weekend...but my Heels finished the deal last year in their "expected" season.
UCLA PULLS OFF STUNNER: Man, what a game. UCLA was getting smashed early in the game....and were down by 9 pts with 3:26 left. But UCLA scored the final 11 pts of the game....and Gonzaga CHOKED. Sorry, it was a choke job. How do you get caught up in the backcourt when the other team has to foul you once you get past halfcourt...then get the ball stolen from you for a layup. Then you run down the court to turn it over. Again, Gonzaga fails to get it done. UCLA moves on for the only #1 vs #2 matchup in the Elite 8.
WIth Morrison done, this still means that the leading scorer has not reached the Final Four since Oscar Robertson did it in the early 1960s.
HOOK 'EM HORNS!: Okay, you wanna talk about the game winning shot....I'll talk about what really won this game for Texas.........rebounding. Texas outrebounded West Virginia 43-15. OUCH! Texas had more offensive rebounds  than West Virginia had total boards. And it was very noticeable while watching the game. WVU couldn't grab a board if their life depended on it. The Mountaineers stayed in the game with their 15 three-pointers. But, after Pittsnogle [my wife dubbed him "Pig-snot-ul"] hit a huge three, which I yelled HE HIT IT...Paulino hit a game winner at the buzzer, which I yelled HE HIT IT! Texas is on it's way.
MEMPHIS IS BORING: C'mon Tigers!! You are boring! Stop blowing out teams....cuz no one is gonna watch if you can't letyour opponent keep close. I will say this: Memphis could be the next UNLV...and in a good way. John Calipari can coach...and he can recruit...and he has NBA ties. I mean, imagine what he could have had in Memphis had not the NBA stolen many of his prospects. And with the Conference USA a league that can be dominated by them....this could be laying up nicely for them. They get UCLA next, which isn't Oral Roberts, Bucknell or Bradley....so this will be their biggest test.
THERE IS NO CRYING IN BASKETBALL: For some reason, basketball is full of tears. In baseball, when a team loses and has it's season end, they just stand on the steps of the dugout and give that glassy stare at their opponent celebrating on the field. In football, guys either walk off the field with the head down and helmets in their hands [or they go to the middle of the field and pray]. In hockey, you gotta do the ol' Little League "good game" line. They do that in college hoops to, but the other thing is breaking down and crying. Sprawled out on the floor. Face buried in a towel or your jersey. Sure, these are kids....but they rarely do that in the other sports...just hoops, it seems.
Well, Adam Morrison took it up a notch, looking like BULL SHANNON on "Night Court". Dude, I would've sworn he would've found a gun nearby and lit the place up ala Above The Rim. The look on his face as the final seconds were counting down looked like a guy that could snap any moment. Sure, others were sad and faces were turning red with sadness....but dude looked like he couldn't deal with it. We all hate to lose, but (a) you are Gonzaga, (b) you were wearing your dark jerseys which meant the other team was supposedly better and (c) of the 333+ teams in Division I only one gets to finish with the NCAA title. Deal.
COMING ON SATURDAY: This all means that Memphis will face UCLA for a Final Four berth. Memphis is trying to become the 3rd Conference USA team in the last 4 years to reach the Final Four. UCLA is looking for it's first Final Four appearance since their title season of 1995. In the A-T-L, Texas and LSU square off for the right to go to Indy.
ON TAP TODAY: The Minneapolis and Washington Regions get underway. The "best team left", UConn, takes on Washington in what could be a track meet. Later at the Phone Booth, Wichita State faces George Mason to place one mid-major at large team in the Elite 8 and a step away from the Final Four. In Minnesota, yah, Villanova and Boston College lock horns to play the winner of Florida-Georgetown.
CINCINNATI CONNECTION: Alright, follow me roll stroll....... Former Cincinnati head coach Bob Huggins takes the head job at Kansas State. Andy Kennedy, the guy who replaced Huggins on an interim basis will be the new head coach at Ole Miss. Mick Cronin, Murray State's head coach, will take over for Kennedy as the head guy at Cincinnati. All this happened on the same day that Cincinnati was eliminated in the NIT quarterfinals by South Carolina. Oh, and James White and Jihad Muhammad were suspended for academic reasons before that game. Oh, and all that happened on the same day that Cincinnati high school phenom, OJ Mayo, was suspended from his North College Hill team for undislosed reasons [but we thinks it is truancy].