From an ACC point of view: what a bizarre day. State leaves ecstatic, Florida State shattered and UNC mad as hell.
First, we couldn't possibly be happier for State. Not too long ago, they looked ready to collapse.Â Now? They are playing very, very well. You can almost see them gathering confidence with each successful play.
Richard Howell has begun to channel his inner Buck Williams. CJ Leslie, who has always been a superb athlete, is becoming an excellent basketball player as well. Scott Wood has his mojo back. And Lorenzo Brown has become a pretty good point guard.
They could have collapsed against Georgetown - the old State surely would have. They didn't, and more importantly, the win required poise and discipline, things we haven't seen in Raleigh for a really long time. So congrats to the Pack and their long-suffering fans. And welcome back! We'll be pulling for you.
They'll have a tough opponent in Kansas, but if they do beat them, they'll likely see UNC in the regional finals - and that would be an old-fashioned barn burner, even more so if Kendall Marshall sits.
Which he may: if you somehow haven't heard, Marshall broke his wrist against Creighton, leading to charges of dirty play. And there was a lot of tension in this game, and at least one dirty play: Gregory Enchique (a Duke target once upon a time) turned around and just leveled Tyler Zeller on a fast break.
Somehow he wasn't called for it, but we're assuming that if you put your forearms into someone's chest and knock them down, it should be a foul.
Earlier, usually genial John Henson got hot and bothered when a Creighton player smacked his sore wrist.Â Henson got into his face and curiously, tucked the ball into his right hand, leaving his sore left one to defend the rest of the splendid spindle that is his body. He was quickly given a T.
After Marshall hurt his wrist, he continued to play, but if you watch the game over, you'll notice that the only thing he did with his right hand was to help his left hand catch a pass. At one point, Marshall was forced to expose the ball to the defender because he couldn't use his right hand. Amazingly, he pulled that off.
For some reason, though coach Roy Williams knew he had been injured, he left him in when the game was pretty much in the bag. It's really hard to understand, but then again, we're on the outside looking in.
Late Sunday, Marshall's dad, Dennis, was quoted as saying that surgery would performed Monday and a pin would be put in, and then it would be up to how Kendall felt Friday.
On the other hand, there's this: Marshall is an extraordinary talent. Whether in the NBA or elsewhere, he has a future in this game. If there's the slightest chance of aggravation or new injury, his coach should advise him to sit.
And in the nightcap: poor Florida State. But most of all, poor, poor Luke Loucks.
The guy had really come on. He had become a solid point guard, a linchpin for his team. Then, in less than 45 seconds, it was all swept away. Worse, it was his own fault and no one else's.
First, with just 1:33 left and FSU tied with Cincinnati 50-50, Loucks made a horrendous turnover while bringing the ball upcourt, resulting in an emphatic dunk by Dion Dixon.
Then, after Cashmere Wright made a jumper to give Cincy a four-point lead, Loucks was pressured along the baseline. If we saw it correctly, Loucks felt that he had been fouled and stepped to the referee to protest - before the foul was actually called.
He picked up a traveling call instead, and for all intents and purposes, the game was over, though the Seminoles fought valiantly the rest of the way.
Realistically, though, that was the game. And no one was more responsible than Loucks.
UNC will play Ohio, which should be winnable without Marshall, but won't be easy. Ohio is a pretty good team, certainly better than most people anticipated.
State will play Kansas and if they survive, they'll get UNC in the regional final. Assuming UNC advances, no matter who they play, they're going to try to rip their heads off. KU hates UNC about as much as State does since Ol' Roy went home.
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