Small school from Mo Valley. Double figure seed. Won their opening rounder on a mid court miracle. A W Sunday would have meant the SEC woulda been ofer the Sweet 16, not that it would matter to the league schools’ fatcats (except in Lexington).
So, yeah, I was rooting for them in their Round of 32 tilt with the Texas Aggies, for whose supporters, hoops is truly a minor diversion until spring pigskin practice.
But, gimme a break, the Panthers meltdown — Correct descriptor: Choke Job — was EPIC. Unprecedented. The worst in NCAA history?
The worst ever in the history of the sport? (There are reports that it is indeed the biggest last minute comeback ever, though that’s hard to pin down, even in this age where everything that ever happened ever is chronicled on the www.)
Up 12, 69-57, with :44 to play. They lost. And actually tallied a deuce during the incomprehensible interlude.
Gave up a follow deuce. Up 10. Had the ball stolen, lay up. Up 8. Ball stolen again when a Panther tries to throw it off an Aggie along the endline, layup. Lead down to 6 at :21.7. Steal, Danuel House triple. Lead cut to 3. Then NI scores on a full court inbound. Lead back up to 5. Steal, open layup +1. Lead cut to a deuce with :11.8 to play. Another steal on another Panther attempt to knock the ball out of bounds off an Aggie. Wide open bunny.
Overtime. X 2.
Other than that play by play recitation, I haven’t words to describe how horrid was NI’s play and decision making, at a time when Aggie fans were leaving the arena, wondering who is going to emerge as QB, sure their team was going to be ignominiously upset.
The players gagged. The coaches gagged.
Throw it long, for heaven’s sake, make Texas A&M at least have to work for their game tying points.
I’d like to feel sorry, but simply cannot.
Kudos to Texas A&M. They made it happen. Converted the opportunities they fostered. Closed the deal.
* * * * *
A moment of silence also for the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, the #14 seed, whose nation’s longest winning streak ended on a tip in by a fellow named Rex Pfleuger. He’s the member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish basketball team, whose only basket of the day was a fortuitous last second tip in for the W.
Which means that six ACC teams have made it to the second weekend — Pitt and U of L are the outliers — and the Texans head home.
Which is a shame, because those guys who eliminated feisty West Virginia in the first round with dispatch, comprise a really good, Sweet Sixteen worthy team.
But, like their under the radar brethren from the Corn Belt, SAF also snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, unable to hold onto a five point lead late.
Head Lumberjack Thomas Walkup, the first round’s star of stars, jacked up a 3 early in the shot clock with that 5 point advantage. Then, in a loose ball situation, attempted to dribble the ball out of a scrum, instead of securing and letting the flurry subside.
ND netted the game’s final six points and moves on.
* * * * *
Best opening weekend ever?
Could be. Comebacks. Buzzer beaters. Dazzling performances by the known (Buddy Hield) and unknown (Thomas Walkup). Upsets. Upsets thwarted.
Most enjoyable indeed.
That said, all the #1 seeds remain.
Among them, Oregon’s Quack are the most popular pick to lose before Houston.
Not me. I remain a Duck devotee.
* * * * *
We love all the upsets, right?
But, just as much, we love righteous matchups come the Sweet 16.
Despite a sprinkling of double digit seeds still alive, the tourney got chalkier over the weekend.
Yet . . . yet . . . yet . . . we wonder if this is the year Gonzaga or Iowa State finally breaks through to the Final Four?
And, here in Louisville, we got it good. Far and away the best pair of regional semi-final matchups.
Miami vs. Villanova.
Kansas vs. Maryland.
It’s gonna be fun.
Though I’m grateful for a couple days off. I had an appointment with my eye doc this morning, and he advised, in the images he took, I’ve got basketballs bouncing around inside my eyeballs.
— Seedy K