With the mess that is going on in the NFL right now March Madness couldn’t have come at a better time. If there is no football in September, we’ll worry about it then, but right now we can turn our attention to the best two weeks in sports – the NCAA college basketball tournament, aka March Madness.
The madness started this week with the numerous tournaments that were being played around the country. Duke beat North Carolina to win the ACC Tourney and although these two are a fierce rivalry, and one or the other seems to always to win the conference; it’s actually the first time the two had matched up in the tournament final in 10 years.
If you like the Pacific 10 Tournament then you would have loved reading Mid Valley Sports this past week. Big Tony Solorzano was reporting live from press row at Staples Center and brought us all the updates. Big Tony saw a little bit of everything and more – from UCLA’s surprising first round exit to USC Coach Kevin O’Neill’s suspension to Washington’s Isaiah Thomas’ game winning jumper to beat Arizona and give the Huskies the title for the second consecutive year.
Through text messages, Tony kept raving about what a terrific time he was having and said he had never before had the opportunity to cover such an exciting event. What was his highlight of the week? It was sitting next to former Washington star Eldridge Recasner during the PAC 10 Final. Recasner played for the Huskies from 1987- ’90 and went on to play several seasons in the CBA and NBA including a stint with the NBA Champion Houston Rockets in 194-’95.
Tony did a fantastic job at the tourney. All of his game stories from Wednesday through Saturday can be read on the website. He only biffed it once. He told me “I got the shot!” of Thomas’ game winner. Well when I pulled the picture off the e mail, he didn’t get the shot. The photo was blurry and Thomas could not even be seen in the picture. But we’ll give him a break on this one. He was writing, texting, and taking pictures all at the same time.
UCLA despite its early exit in the PAC 10 tournament got a number 7 seed and a first round matchup with Michigan State in the Southeast. Should the Bruins win that game they get Florida, the number two seed in the region. Considering what Coach Ben Howland was looking at when the season started, and coming off a season in which the Bruins missed the post season, he has to be pleased.
USC, a bubble team if there ever was one, got O’Neill back on Sunday and also got into the dance. The Trojans will be in the play-in game against Virginia Commonwealth on Wednesday.
The PAC 10 got four teams in altogether. Washington and Arizona are in the East and West respectively.
No surprises really with the four number one seeds – Ohio St. in the East, Duke in the West, Kansas in the Southwest, and Pittsburgh in the Southeast.
Duke might have dropped to two had it lost to North Carolina but after a big win there it was a no brainer.
What was a surprise was the Big East sending 11 teams to the tournament led by Pitt (one in the Southeast) and Connecticut (three in the West).
According to the “experts” Ohio State has the best shot at winning the whole thing. I’m leaning towards Wofford.
On the high school level, La Canada has created some March Madness of its own. After beating Price last week to win the CIF title, Tom Hofman’s crew has advanced to the State Regional Finals after Saturday night’s win over Inglewood.
The NFL has left a bad taste in our mouths. We hope they work it out. But for now we have March Madness and that’s not too shabby.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org