There were so many upsets on Sunday, from Stanford halting Kansas and (gasp!) Kentucky hanging with Wichita State to end their NCAA record 35 game winning streak in St. Louis. Cleanthony Early definitely is among that group to be an NBA draft pick, at least in my book after scoring 31 points against John Calipari’s tough and gritty defense.
And an even bigger shocker was in San Antonio, where Baylor completely shut down Creighton unlike any team had done before–by a score of 85-55. The Associated Press article led off with these six words: “Too big. Too strong. Too fast.”
Doug McDermott was held to only 15 points and finished his stellar 4 year college career in fifth place on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list with 3,150 points. Baylor had 5 players in double figures, led by Brady Heslip and Isaiah Austin each scoring 17 points a piece. Baylor also shot a sizzling 64 percent, while Creighton closed out a truly special season in Omaha, Nebraska by only shooting 40 percent as a team.
Also in San Antonio, a very bizarre if not controversial ending took place. Shortly after Iowa State grabbed the lead on a layup, North Carolina ran the ball frantically up court and towards the time out line that you see in front of the coaches’ box. Problem was, the timeout had occurred shortly after the buzzer sounded and the ACC was left with only one school remaining–the Virginia Cavaliers.
Well, it is with great sadness that we will not be able to see a lot of the great seniors play in college again. Without a doubt, sometime this century–these names will definitely be enshrined in the College Hall of Fame. If I had a vote, I would let them in at the Final Four–that’s how great they were in thrilling us at every game in each available opportunity.
In the 2006 book How March Became Madness by former Chicago White Sox President Eddie Einhorn with Ron Rapoport, CBS play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz talked about why college basketball, “is a transient sport–by that I mean the players move on after four years–so the losses are more hurtful or devastating than anything else I’ve seen in team sports…There’s more pain in the loss than anything else…There will always be a bond (between coach and player), but he’ll never be on the floor playing for that man again.”
Gonzaga, David Stockton–son of Basketball Hall of Famer John Stockton
Kansas, Justin Wesley and Niko Roberts
North Carolina, Denzel Robinson and Wade Moody
Mercer, Jakob Gollon and Langston Hall. Five other seniors will be graduating as well.
Duke, Andre Dawkins and Josh Hairston
Memphis, Chris Crawford, Trey Draper, and Michael Dixon, Jr. Four other seniors will be graduating as well.
Creighton, besides Doug McDermott, Ethan Wragge, and Grant Gibbs. Even the YouTube video of Doug’s father speaking after the loss is so truly heartfelt, it is definitely worth watching as long as YouTube is around.
Finally, for Wichita State–what a run it was for Cleanthony Early, Kadeem Colby, Chadrack Luflie, and Nick Wiggins. Albeit over 70 percent of their scoring is back for 2014-2015, I just don’t know if the Shockers will be going as deep as they did in 2013.
Well, we can call it the way either the draw was initially set up or the fact that other teams had great scouting reports and everyone was mostly caught off guard.
Bottom line, that is why we watch the games. People make plays, and whichever team scores more points in a forty minute period (or more) deserves to move on and advance. One and done is so harsh, I know. It was just fun and thrilling to watch one of the best seasons in college basketball and yet, there are still 15 more games to go.
Onto the Sweet Sixteen.