Friday’s Madness – From the Bird’s Nest
I don't know why, but the first Friday in March Madness has always been the day of surprises for me.
Sure, there was a surprise or two on Thursday. But yesterday there were a lot of games that just made me scratch my head.
Ole Miss 57, Wisconsin 46 -- Really? After holding the Rebels to 22 first half points, this game was going just like I figured it would. Wisconsin, with their stifling defense, would put an end to the Ole Miss season. But it was the Rebels who turned up the heat on defense in the second half and the Badgers wound up only shooting 25% for the game. I really didn't see that one coming.
Temple and LaSalle - Okay. We should not be surprised at anything a team from the Atlantic 10 has done. All five of their teams are now in the round of 32. In both of these games, the Owls and Explorers opened up huge leads and then hung on to get their wins. Temple's was really impressive because North Carolina State was considered a really dangerous team that might make Indiana miserable. LaSalle's win over Kansas State gives more creedence to how weird the Big 12 was this year. Oklahoma State gone. Oklahoma gone. Kansas State gone.
Florida Gulf Coast - How does this happen? I guess the same way Lehigh beats Duke. And, I was reminded after the game that FGC, a team so new to D-1 they weren't eligible for the tournament until last year, beat Miami earlier in the season. That, and the fact their coach is married to a super model (Amanda Marcum) should have been enough to convince me this could happen.
Iowa State and Minnesota - Iowa State from the schizophrenic Big 12 got an easy win over a Notre Dame team that played well in the Big East tournament. ISU was probably the last team from that league I expected to win. And, after Minnesota's near collapse toward the end in the Big 10, I certainly didn't think they'd handle UCLA the way they did.
Western Kentucky - Actually, this one didn't surprise me all that much. WKU was better than their record indicated after suffering through several injuries during the season. Being a 20 point underdog to a Kansas team that lost at TCU earlier this season. I'm a little surprised it came down to the final two minutes, but not surprised the Hilltoppers put up a fight.
Saturday could have plenty of drama. Will Gonzaga survive Wichita State? Can Saint Louis, VCU and Butler keep the Atlantic 10 rolling?
Time for the round of 32.