Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thoughts following one of the great NCAA Championship Games ever.

1. This guy is correct to the Nth degree:
I think people have gone overboard in saying how big an upset this would have been.

As a 5 seed beating a 1 seed, that would have been huge. But if you had watched these teams play, they were practically mirror images of each other. Both very noticeably white (please -- that's not a bad thing, that's not a good thing but you can't pretend it doesn't stand out), both extremely good defensive teams. Gordon Hayward is pretty much a sophomore version of Duke's Jay Singler.

CBS playing up the Hoosiers angle for all it's worth made this more of an upset than it truly would have been. Butler already had beaten a No. 1 seed, Syracuse, which was viewed as a much stronger team than Duke when the tournament began.

Had Hayward's shot gone in, this would not have been Villanova beating Georgetown in '85. A colleague and somewhat of a basketball expert tried to convince me otherwise. It's simply not true.

You have to remember what Georgetown represented back in '85. As a freshman, Patrick Ewing had carried Georgetown to the national title game in 1982. If not for the Freddie Brown pass at the end, the Hoyas might have upset a North Carolina team that had Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Sam Perkins. Think about that collection of talent as it compares to the game today.

Georgetown went on to win the national title in '84, beating Kentucky with Sam Bowie and Mel Turpin in the semifinals and Houston in the championship. The Cougars were playing in their third straight Final Four with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

There was just a mind-blowing amount of Hall of Fame talent making it to Final Fours in that era. No one saw Ed Pinckney and Villanova as being in the Hoyas' league. Georgetown's only nemesis was a St. John's team with Chris Mullin and former Mav Bill Wendlandt (remember the towel-waver?) and the Hoyas had blown that team away on the Saturday afternoon in Lexington to set up the championship game against Villanova.

With today's rules and a shot clock, Villanova would not have stood a chance. But slowing down the game and shooting an improbable 78 percent, Villanova won.
That Georgetown team was a true Goliath. This Duke team was not.
2. Long forgotten about that magic year 1985 is that St. John's had Villanova's number all season and beat them handily twice. They were also the only team aside from the Hoyas to be ranked #1 during the entire season. It would probably have  taken a perfect game to beat them as well.

3. Just imagine how good Butler would be if they didn't have that five or six minute scoring drought every damned game.

4. It needs must be said: Duke is a heckuva team and plays basketball as the team game it's meant to be; if they were wearing any other uniforms, coached by a human being and not part of the awful ACC, I'd probably love them.

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