For What It's Worth
1:29 PM EDT, March 23, 2013
Steve Kerr, TNT analyst on the NCAA Tournament: “Everyone’s Beatable”.
Tear up the bracket---
I generally don’t win brackets, but I usually finish high—through the first two days I’m just 22-10. I’ve already lost two of my Final Four teams and am seriously considering revoking my ‘man card’. Having said that, how great has this tourney been so far? Harvard over New Mexico, Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown, LaSalle beats K-State—amazing.
How embarrassing is it to be called out as the most likely upset victim in the tournament and still not be able to do anything to stop it? UCLA was a 6 seed against number 11 Minnesota and yet everyone was picking against them—turns out everyone was right. The Bruins were ripped by twenty in a performance that’s making people wonder whether head coach Ben Howland’s job is safe.
There’s something to be said for these play in teams coming into the main bracket on a roll. VCU did it all the way to the Final 4 a couple of years ago and LaSalle was really good for most of the game yesterday against K-State. The Explorers played well in eliminating Boise State on Wednesday and kept on rolling right into Kansas City. LaSalle wins despite hitting just three shots in the second half---three, they didn’t score a field goal over the game’s last eight minutes. Kansas State came all the way back from 18 point down to take the lead, but simply couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch to hold it. Rodney McGruder played all forty minutes for the Wildcats, but had a tough night and that really hurt KSU. It was an unceremonious end to an otherwise great season, a season that ends with consecutive losses in Kansas City’s Sprint Center.
Survive and advance---
People will want to question the manner in which KU beat Western Kentucky, but the key is that they won and, in March, that’s all that matters. Yes, Kansas has holes in its game, but they defend at consistently high level and that may be enough to get them to April.
Zags are next---
Shocker Head Coach Gregg Marshall was great yesterday talking about Gonzaga which he has tremendous respect for. He readily admits that his program aspires to the consistency that the Zags have enjoyed. Gonzaga is playing in its 15th straight NCAA; they’re a fixture in the post season, even if they haven’t been a really productive one. Gonzaga reached the Elite Eight in 1999, since then they’ve reached five Sweet 16’s but have gone no further. It’s an envious record, but it’s one that Mark Few would like to improve on. Marshall quipped that maybe a win over Gonzaga would make them want to come to Wichita to face the Shockers, instead of K-State, as they’re scheduled to do next December at Intrust Bank Arena.
What’s the plan?
The Shockers want to attack the Zags with the same defensive zeal they did against Pittsburgh. The Shockers have earned their reputation as a bunch of bad dudes and I wonder if it’s not a little intimidating. Pittsburgh was matter of fact about being out-toughed by WSU and that’s all that Gonzaga could talk about today. Beyond that it would be nice if they could hit some shots. The Shocks scored 73 points on just 38 percent shooting against Pitt, imagine what it could do with a few jumpers going in. The Bulldogs big men are going to be a much bigger challenge that than Pitt’s who were disappointing. It’ll be interesting to see if Wichita State can seize the moment tomorrow, its already a program dancing around the fringes of national recognition, a win tomorrow gets them a seat at a very exclusive table and raises their profile considerably—both in the present and for the future.