The Great Escape 2015…March Madness Style!

The greatest 3 weeks in all of sports took it up another notch last night when the Kentucky Wildcats ripped the hearts out of the Notre Dame faithful and finally prevailed, 68-66. We affectionately call this March Madness and what a day it was for college basketball last night. The evening tipped off with Wisconsin vs. Arizona in an Elite 8 re-match from last year in which Wisconsin won 64-63 in OT. Once again, Wisconsin took down the Wildcats 85-78. Dekker and Kaminsky were just too much for Coach Miller and the ‘Cats setting up their re-match in nest week’s Final Four with another bunch of Wildcats.

But what a night it was for college basketball! Kentucky, on the verge of hoops immortality, needed every ounce of energy they could muster to pull out this one. ND, undersized, out manned, challenged UK from the opening tip. They never waivered or backed down from Coach Brey’s game plan. Attack, shoot the 3, follow missed shots, and pressure the perimeter. After beating Duke and North Carolina to win the ACC Championship, this was a confident group from South Bend and they were not going to back down from anyone. With ‘Bron in the stands, DAVID went toe to toe with GOLIATH. Pat Connaughton, a 6’5″ wing player played like Larry Bird. Point Guard Jerian Grant looked like Magic Johnson out there. And forward Zach Auguste was the reincarnation of Patrick Ewing. How the hell does a 6’5″ wingman get 7 rebounds in the first half versus all of those trees? Guts, heart, and determination! That’s what the Irish played with all night but in the end, what woulda, coulda, shoulda happened, ended with an…6 ticks remaining on the clock…one last shot…were we in for another Duke-Kentucky finish?…5 ticks…Was this going to be another fairy book story like Duke over UNLV?…4 ticks, Villanova over Georgetown?…3 ticks, ND ending UCLA’s 88 game winning streak in ’74?…2 ticks, after 20 lead changes and 12 ties, 1 tick…AIR BALL!!! The 37-0 Wildcats improved to 38-0. They are seeking to become the first undefeated champion in 39 years. Not since Bobby Knights 1976 Indiana Hoosiers have we had an undefeated champion and Big Blue is now just 2 wins away from immortality.

Dickie V’s reaction after the game was priceless. Love ’em or hate ’em, I have never seen him so animated over a game. I thought his head was going to spontaneously combust! Some of you would have liked that! But he is right, it was a game for the ages, an ESPN Instant Classic. It’s that type of energy that makes the game so magical. College football could never have a format to that magnitude but it could, and should have a 8 team playoff. With our passion for college football, what would that drama be like? Oh well, I’m getting off topic now…that commentary will have to wait for another day.

Back to hoops hysteria. Today’s games between Louisville vs. Michigan State and Duke vs. Gonzaga will have to go a long way to match last nights wild ride. But, can you ever count out a Tom Izzo coached team? Can you ever count out a Rick Pitino coached squad? These 2 coaching legends and Final Fours go hand in hand. Neither team was supposed to be here. Both were almost on the outside looking in at one point or another earlier in the season. They don’t have rosters filled with McDonalds High School All Americans nor do they don’t have rosters filled with recognizable names. They do have brilliant coaches that know how to prepare teams, now how to scheme, and understand what it takes to win during this crazy time of the year. Should be a hard fought blood and guts type of game. The final game of the day pits Duke vs. Gonzaga. Is Duke on a collision course with Kentucky – that’s the game America wants to see right now. They better not look past the Zags! This is Coach Few’s best team ever and will present a HUGE challenge to the Dookies. They are big, athletic, fast, tough, and will play with the same intensity that the IRISH played with last night. We could be in for another heart pounding dramatic game tonight.

Like almost everyone else out there, I played 2 brackets. One has Kentucky versus Duke in the championship game (with Kentucky winning it all) and the other has Wisconsin playing Gonzaga for all of the marbles. A To Z is still alive and kicking!

This and That…With 2 Wildcats gone now (Villanova and Arizona), there is still one to slay (Kentucky). Is Sam Dekker of Wisconsin going to leave school early and become a lottery pick? Sure playing like one! After 17 years at the helm in Texas, Rick Barnes is out as Head Coach. First Mack Brown now Rick Barnes. Texas ain’t what it used to be now that A&M, Baylor, and TCU are stepping up their programs! Steve Lavin is out as the HC for St. Johns. I had a sneaky feeling that it wasn’t a perfect marriage – West coast guy in NYC??? Gregg Marshall (Wichita State) to Alabama? Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Kansas, the Jayhawks, need an in state rival and Marshall is the man to do that. Tough to win in Alabama with King Saban there and Kentucky owning the SEC in round ball. Here is another one…Buffalo Head Coach Bobby Hurley (the same Bobby Hurley of Duke fame) is rumored to go to St. John’s as is former star Chris Mullin. Both would be excellent choices!

So hopefully you enjoyed a good nights sleep and your stomach is ready for another day of madness. It just doesn’t get any better than this!

Posted By A To Z On Sports

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