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Monday, March 31, 2008

Elite 8: The Storybook Closes

Davidson, 2008's Cinderella story, needed to hit one more shot to advance to the Final Four but could not get a clean look for Stephen Curry at the game's climax. Instead, four #1 seeds will battle in the Final Four for the first time.

But the Wildcats proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were one of the top ten teams in the country this season. Likewise, Kansas proved that it has the defensively capabilities to get an important stop in crunch time, which could be the difference in slowing down the Carolina machine.

What a phenomenal display of team defense by the Jayhawks on that final play. I think everyone was shocked that Curry didn't choose to just force the last shot up himself, as it took a lot to force the ball out of Curry's hands. Although Brandon Rush struggled offensively, he recovered nicely after stumbling to the ground and stuck with Curry. After he jumped in the air, anticipating a shot, it was Sherron Collins who slid in with an air raised high in Curry's face that ultimately forced the pass. Well done.

The UNC-Louisville game was the one I was most anticipating this weekend, though, and it nearly lived up to the hype. However, Louisville's carelessness with the ball denied them another win.

Wauwatosa native Jerry Smith provided the early spark for the Cards and finished with a team-high 17 points. His shot was looking very good from deep range, but he was held scoreless for the final 11 minutes of the contest. It's not worth comparing Smith to Hughes or J-Bo at this point, but I like Smith's energy in the Louisville's pressing scheme and his shooting has really improved. Obviously, he could have helped the Badgers much more than J.P. Gavinski has thus far.

Round 4 data
How the #3 seeds fared: 0-2 (10-4 overall)
(1)North Carolina 83, (3)Louisville 73 [box]
(1)UCLA 76, (3)Xavier 57 [box]

My picks: 37/60 (61.6%) overall | Round 4: 3/4 (75%)

: : :

Washington State's Tony Bennett has turned down the offer to coach the Indiana Hoosiers. According to Hoosier Scoop, Indiana will spare no expense to get Xavier's Sean Miller to fill the vacancy. Former Stanford coach Mike Montgomery will also be a top candidate.

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The future Badgers from the Land of 10,000 Lakes went one for two in capturing state championships this weekend. Benilde-St. Margaret's won the Class 3A, 58-52, over last year's champs, Senior point guard Jordan Taylor made a strong case for Minnesota's Mr. Basketball all week long. Taylor capped off a great all-around tournament with 20 pts, 10 rebs & 6 assts on Saturday night. At State, he averaged 27 pts, 7 rebs, 5.6 assts, 2.6 stls, with over a 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. I'd say Taylor's ready for college.

Mike Bruesewitz's Henry Sibley team ran out to a big lead on favored Minnetonka in the Class 4A final, but faltered under pressure, losing 68-59. The junior commit had another nice all-around game, but struggled from the free throw line in the second half. Bruesewitz finished with 39 rebounds in three games at the state tournament.

Now that Royce White has transferred to Hopkins, both the champs and Sibley will be chasing Minnetonka's rival next year.


  1. It's quite clear to me that the refs prevented the Louisville-UNC game from being close. Namely, they allowed UNC, and Hansbrough especially, to relentlessly foul. On one specific play, it was clear he hit Padgett in the face. No call. He ended up with four fouls, but he should have fouled out. Then he wouldn't have been on the floor to make the lead expanding jumpers in the last couple minutes, and the game stays legitimately close. I'm not saying the fix was in, but I'm certain the refs were influenced by the crowd in Charlotte.

  2. I tend to agree. After Hansbrough was called for traveling, there were several egregious non-calls in his favor. I believe the one you referred to was even replayed on the way out to commercial, which NEVER happens. That was wrong.

    But beyond that, the two traveling calls on Earl Clark were straight up suspicious. That sequence shifted momentum and then the 'Ville got sloppy.


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