"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Are you as upset as some of the teams and
schools that have become spectators instead of participants this past week? A
sweet sixteen party is always enjoyable, if it is your kid that has just
entered that phase of life or, as a spectator, being there allows you to think
back and smile at what was but will not be again, except through the smiles
and bright eyes of those at the party.
The March Madness soiree is slated to continue for another couple of weeks or
so, depending upon when you are reading this piece.
I cannot recall juggling so many games that went down to the wire at one and
the same time. CBS producers, directors and techs were last seen babbling
incoherently and suffering from exhaustion. For us, the fans, it was party
time and excitement at its zenith. Finally, the worn out cliche' of any team
on any given day was looking credible.
Rick Pitino's Louisville club struggled on Sunday vs. Siena, but now takes on Arizona in the Sweet 16.
I am not sure how "sweet" this next week is going to be for 12 of the 16
survivors, but Louisville is lucky to have escaped with a victory over Siena,
a school that most of the Cardinals, if not all, had never really heard of
until this month. Rick Pitino has been around the block more than a few
times, has victories to prove his mettle and scars for the disappointments.
All in all, he is smart. Judging by the way they nearly mishandled this past
Sunday's game, that is more than can be said for his team. For starters,
Pitino should have his team spending their idle hours taking foul shots until
they actually locate the rim.
There are no foul shots in the schoolyards, just a change of possession, but
street hoops do not apply at the Big Dance. Pitino has to teach that to his
Can they handle Arizona? The Wildcats are not accustomed to this sort of game
so it might turn into hand-to-hand combat, with the edge to Louisville.
Besting Utah was a nice step forward; taking care of Cleveland State was not
exactly awe-inspiring. Louisville should continue to the Elite Eight but how
elite they are is still open for discussion.
Kansas and Michigan State. Time for votes. Anyone got a coin? Looking for
another game down to the wire? Watch this one. Foul shots to win in the
final minutes sounds like the right script here. The Jayhawks can surprise,
but the Spartans think that "S" on their shirts stands for something more than
State. Maybe. This one is proof that you can actually sit back and enjoy a
game without an investment or concern for the potential victor, unless you are
an alum of either, check the channels to see what else is on until the final
few minutes. I kind of like Kansas. What does that mean? Nothing more than
what I said.
Go west, young man, go west, as Horace Greeley said, and that means off to
Glendale where Connecticut takes on Purdue. UConn is that good and should not
a have a problem here. The Huskies are smart, talented, deliberate and
confident. Purdue is Big Ten battle-weary but the boys from the east coast
are focused on the Final Four and, in my opinion, headed to the Championship
game. Losses by them to the Boilermakers and/or Louisville to Arizona will
eliminate more people than the Bubonic Plague of the fourteenth to seventeenth
centuries in Europe and the Mediterranean. Brackets will be shredded to
prepare confetti for a parade that is not happening in most neighborhoods.
The battle of the Tigers takes place when Missouri meets Memphis, and they
will do so without the aid and assistance of Siegfried and Roy. There are
games where seed placements are meaningful, or so we think, and others where
they are not. This one is in the "not" department, with a two playing a
three. Memphis gets the edge here on the basis of their win over Maryland.
The Terrapins defeated three Top 10 teams earlier this season, and were still
handled by Memphis. On the other side of the scorer's table, Mizzou did not
impress with a win over Marquette. Fighting for the right to take on
Connecticut is a heck of a prize for the winner. Bags should be packed since
another encounter in Glendale is not likely for these Tigers. Which Tigers?
The ones I just mentioned. There are two. I know that. OK, which ones stay
on the reserve and which go? Memphis stays, Missouri goes.
The bullies from Pittsburgh will come out of the locker room for the start of
their game with Xavier, and this physical bunch has been asked by the NCAA to
leave all bars and brass knuckles back there. The Panthers are on the prowl
and Xavier can only hang with them for the first half. Then the Musketeers
will look around but not be able to find, or call upon, Athos, Porthos and
Aramis. As long as the zebras keep their whistles in check, Pittsburgh moves
And waiting for them will be the winner of the Villanova/Duke encounter,
possibly the best, if not one of the best games, of the weekend. The Wildcats
believe they can win and the Blue Devils know that they can. A subtle
difference. But, is it enough to move Duke to the next plateau? It will be
the methodical versus run 'n gun. Position for a rebound against everyone to
the hoop and keep your dialing finger on 911. Foul shots in the final few
minutes are not likely to determine this one, nor will a possible double-digit
lead at any time prior to the 10-12 minute mark left in the game and a blowout
by either is not in the stars or crystal ball anywhere. Lots of folks have
Villanova moving on to the Final Four. My bracket has Duke and either one of
them can take Pittsburgh. Watch this one. It will be a beaut!!
Duke's Mike Krzyzewski returns to the Sweet 16 for the first time in two years.
With all due respect to the Bulldogs of Gonzaga, North Carolina at this
juncture of March Madness is on a mission. The Tar Heels have all the weapons
and play at a magna cum laude level at the sixteen, eight and four stops along
the way to the last stop in Detroit on April 6th. Anyone that does not have
them advancing did not like them when Dean Smith was coaching and the
resentment, for whatever reason(s), has stayed. It is similar to liking Notre
Dame or hating them. There is no in-between.
If Syracuse brings its "A" game to this one against Oklahoma, they will stay
in Memphis and be spectators for the sole reason of having watched their next
opponent in action, to evaluate their every move. If they do not, if they
relax, if they become helter skelter and confused, as they are capable of
doing, of causing Jim Boeheim to lose a few more hairs, then they have serious
problems. Less one on one and more team play and celebratory mint juleps,
watered down, will be on tap. It is really a matter of choreographing the
approach against the Sooners of Oklahoma, east against west, and this is not
the gridiron. The edge to the Orangemen who might be ahead by a dozen with
five minutes to play. Game, set and match. Yes, of course I know that is a
tennis term (gotchya!) but it is appropriate so I borrowed it. Billie Jean
King said it was okay to do.
There you have it and now you know who was selected on my bracket. Have I
spent the money yet? You gotta be kidding!