Monday, March 07, 2005

March Madness

The NCAA Tournament is still 10 days away, and the major conference tournaments don't even start until later in the week. But the madness of March came early, complete with nail-biting finishes and huge upsets. Yesterday, the #1, #3 and #7 teams all fell to unranked opponents. And, oh yeah, there was one other game on the slate. The #2 ranked Tarheels of North Carolina hosted the #6 ranked Duke Blue Devils.

In the early game of the day, top-ranked and undefeated Illinois traveled to Columbus to take on Ohio State. Ohio State is on self-imposed probation and is therefore ineligible for the NCAA tournament. So, this was basically the last hurrah for the Buckeyes. And what a hurrah it was! Matt Sylvester his a 3-pointer with 5.1 seconds remaining to give Ohio State a 1-point victory.

(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

But, that was just the start of the day's action. The #3 Kentucky Wildcats had already wrapped up the regular season SEC title, but they still had a date reamaining with the Florida Gators -- their chief conference rival. Though Florida has a respectable program, the Gator seniors had never beated the Wildcats. Until today, that is. Anthony Roberson hit two free throws with twelve seconds remaining to give the Gators a 53-52 lead. Florida's defense then preserved the victory.

Meanwhile, #7 Kansas was finishing up their regular season by taking on their arch rival, the Missouri Tigers. Missouri has had a dissapointing season and came into this day with a losing record. But, today they were 4 points better than the mighty Jayhawks.

And then there was Duke-Carolina. North Carolina came in ranked #3, and Duke was ranked #6. North Carolina was playing for the regular season ACC title, but they had lost their first match-up against Duke earlier in the year. But, that game was played at Cameron. This game was in Chapel Hill. Carolina held a slim lead for most of the game despite the fact that Rashad McCants was out with an illness. But Duke pulled out to a 9-point lead with only 3:07 remaining. Then Carolina's defense came alive. Duke didn't score again. The Tarheels ended the game on a 9-0 run and won the game by a score of 75-73. I'm not a Carolina fan or a Duke fan, but the end of this game actually gave me chills.

(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)