The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.
It featured what appeared on paper to be David vs. Goliath. UCLA came into the tournament seeded 11th, but they still had to play Michigan State in the “play-in” game just to get into the top 64 in the bracketing. They had lost their last four games of the regular season. No one had high expectations for the Bruins. They beat Michigan State in overtime.
On to #2 seed Alabama and another upset and overtime win 88-78. The Bruins scored 23 points in a five-minute overtime period.
In the Regional final, they would face the #1 seed, Michigan. They won that one too – 51-49 to get to the national semifinal. David didn’t prevail over Goliath once; UCLA did it three times!
The next Goliath, I mean Gonzaga, took a totally different route to the semis. They won easily by an average of 24 points! Going into the semis they had won 30 straight games this season (34 in a row); been ranked #1 in the country the entire year and won every game but one by double digits. They appeared to be invincible and, in fact, had been all season.
However, in sports, nothing is guaranteed. As the cliché goes, “That’s why you play the game”. And play they did! UCLA vs. Gonzaga was a game no true fan who saw it will forget it.
It was basketball at its best. The pace was almost incomprehensible. It appeared no one got tired. The skill level of both individuals and the teams as a unit was breathtaking. The game was close throughout and that’s an understatement – there were 19 lead changes! UCLA had led by as many as six and Gonzaga by as many as seven. Yet it still could not be decided in the 40 minutes of allotted time. Justifiably, it had to go overtime.
And that led to the shot! With 3.3 seconds on the clock and the game tied at 90-90, Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs dribbled past mid-court, shot the ball from 55 feet away, banked it off the glass as the buzzer sounded and the ball raced into the net, never touching the rim. 93-90 Gonzaga over UCLA. It was the perfect finish (except for UCLA) to what was a perfect game. It was college basketball at its very, very best.
And, yet, there is still the championship game to be played, which, in itself, is a perfect ending to an imperfect season – #1 Gonzaga vs. #2 Baylor. It is the first time since 2005 the two top teams in the 68-team tournament face each other for the national championship.
It will be hard to top the semifinal, but this one could be equally as good.
So don’t bother me on Monday night. I will be in front of the TV watching basketball, hopefully, again at its very best!
ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
- Finishing up with March Madness, let’s not forget the Patriot League’s Colgate Raiders, seeded #14 in the tournament, led Arkansas for quite awhile in the first half. It was a good showing and the last game for League MVP Jordan Burns. Other PL teams will not miss him.
- Notre Dame wrestler Brett Ungar (143-5) competed this past weekend at the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic. The 120-pounder took on the #1 ranked wrestler in the country, Richard Figuero (123-2). Ungar won 5-2. Ungar had recently won the PIAA 2A title. He now can claim to be the best 120-pound wrestler in the country.
- Are you aware that the 76ers are 20-4 at home going into Sunday’s game? They lead the Eastern Conference and have played 11 games without their star, Joel Embiid. Doc Rivers looks like the Coach of the Year to this point, but there is a long way to go.
- I do not want to get too excited, but the Phillies look like a much better team than last year. The most observable difference is their bullpen which was awful in 2020. So far, there has been excellent starting pitching, timely hitting, and outstanding relief pitching. That is a true formula for success.
- Lafayette finally gets to host Lehigh this weekend as the two teams will play for the 156th time in college football’s most played rivalry. The game was postponed from this past weekend due to Covid protocols on the Lafayette team. Both Lafayette and Lehigh will complete their shortened season having played three of the four games scheduled. Watch the game LIVE on RCN-TV this Saturday, April 10, starting at 12:30pm.