We were watching the West-Virginia-Louisville game, and just primed for an
upset of epic proportions. But on the other hand, is there any coach
better at a ferociously improbable comeback than Rick Pitino? This is as opposed
to the cerebral comebacks of Dean Smith or the ok-sonnyboy-we're-through-playing-around
comebacks of Mike Krzyzewski.
We're not necessarily big Pitino fans - as a matter of fact, we were
anticipating the press conference, because when Pitino gets defensive, he tends
to lash out at his players. Remember the Celtics press conference, where
he said "Larry Bird is not coming through that door." And there
was one at, we're pretty sure Kentucky, where he ripped his players for not
doing what they were supposed to do to win.
We didn't get to see that, obviously, as the Louisville kids pulled off a
very impressive comeback.
But they were absolutely trumped by Illinois, who cut the heart out of an
entire city and a good bit of a state with their stunning comeback against
Our theory going in was that Illinois had peaked and was a prime candidate
for losing in their regional - and that came very close to happening.
But while we still think they peaked earlier, this team is so far beyond most
that it won the regional after being down 15 with 4:04 left.
What can you say? Arizona is a really good team, with solid guard
play. They're very well coached. They had a 15 point lead.
They lost a 15 point lead.
It's not impossible, of course. Jason Williams took a 10 point lead away from
Maryland with less than a minute to go, a feat which is much more impressive,
really. But doing it on the stage where Illinois did it...again,
wow. Just amazing.
In Sunday's games, UNC gets a game against Wisconsin, and Kentucky and
Michigan State will grind it out defensively.
So, while the ACC was pitched to have three teams in the Final Four, as it
turns out, it may be the Big Ten.
We're intrigued by the UK-MSU matchup. These are two cohesive teams
with tremendous resilience and tough, tough defense. It won't be as flashy
as Saturday's classics, but if you appreciate defense, this one will be intense.
We don't know enough about Wisconsin to really get a feel for the UNC-Wisconsin
game, but they were certainly solid against State. It's a safe bet that they're
not going to try to run with UNC, and no doubt they'll break down the Villanova
But no matter what happens Sunday, it's going to be hard to top a classic
Saturday in what has become one of the better NCAA tournaments of recent years.