By Josh Kramer
Two and a half months later and “Throwback Saturdays” are still going strong. Welcome to edition ten of our weekly throwback day. What was happening on March 24, 2011? How about on March 24, 2010? I have a gut feeling that March Madness was discussed in some facet. Let’s take a look back and see what the major happenings were and how accurate I was with my analysis.
One year ago..
Sweet 16: Day 1 Predictions
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Connecticut vs San Diego State: Can you say Kemba? UConn has won 7 straight and are a perfect 10 and 0 in tournament play on the year heading into tomorrow’s showdown with a very talented and higher seeded San Diego Aztecs team. Now I realize that most of the national media has been grilling the Big East. I mean who wouldn’t. The conference began the tourney with 11 teams and only 2 still remain as we begin the Sweet 16. Let me state though, both of the teams still standing went 9 and 9 in conference play. Name me another team that is still standing in this bracket that went 500 in conference play. I will do one even better. Name me a team that did not finish in the top 4 of their conference that is still alive. But back to the topic at hand. San Diego State is also on a hot streak of their own having won 7 consecutive games. 43, 25, and 30 sums it up for me though when looking at this matchup (Jimmer’s point totals vs SDSU this year). Though the Aztecs play very solid defense and also have a very well-rounded scoring attack, they have failed to slow down teams with elite scorers all year. Good luck slowing down Kemba. At least one Big East team will find their way into the Elite Eight. And it will be the UConn Huskies as they gut out 3 point victory behind the Kemba Show.
BYU vs Florida: On paper, this game appears to favor the Cougars. They put up over 80 points a game. They have the edge on the boards. And I could go on. But not so fast. BYU has not been the same since the dismissal of starting center Brandon Davies for breaking University rules. Well this will be the first NCAA Tournament game where this vacancy in the paint really hurts. It will also be the first game in the tournament where BYU plays a team seeded higher than 11th. The Gators are very deep and talented, and will be the loan SEC team to nab a spot in the Elite Eight. The Jimmer Show has to end at some point. Plus Bobby Knight laid out how you stop Jimmer on SportsCenter. You better believe that Florida Coach Billy Donovan took notes on what the legend said. I am going to stick with my original pick in this one as well. Gators by 2 in a thriller (To finish reading this post, click this link).
Last year’s version of March Madness was absolutely insane. In the majority of bracket pools across the country, you could count the number of people who correctly guessed one of the Final Four teams correctly on one hand. And those who predicted two of the teams that traveled to the Final Four, well, they likely won the pool. I predicted four games on this post. I was correct in regards to two of the four. 50% accuracy was pretty impressive in regards to last year’s upset fest.
As I stated a year ago, Kemba would be too much for the Aztecs. I was right. This was arguably the best game Walker played during the championship run as he dropped 36 points. I was also pretty much on the money in regards to the Florida/BYU game. It was a thriller, resulting in a Florida 83 to 74 overtime victory. One of the reasons why Florida was able to win this game other than their very talented roster was rebounding. BYU really did miss the presence of Brandon Davies. The Gators dominated the Cougars in the paint, leading to victory. Now I was wrong in regards to the other two games played that day. Duke ended up getting blown out 93 to 77 by Derrick Williams and the upstart Arizona Wildcats. Also, the Badgers put up a fight, but were no match in the end for Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs.
Two years ago..
A Mountainous Hit to the Mountaineers
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Many have already heard today that West Virginia will go the rest of the tourney without their starting point guard Darryl Bryant. Many call the Mountaineer point guard Darryl “Truck” Bryant and this seems to be a fitting nickname for a player in West Virginia. Huggins said he will be missed but the team will go on with their business and prepare for the Sweet 16 like normal.
You have to feel for Hugs. Regardless if you are not a fan of the guy, he never catches a break in the tournament. Players consistently get injured in key situations for him during years where his team really has a shot to make a run. Many of you have to remember when Kenyon Martin went down in the 2000 Conference USA Tournament. Kenyon was the National Player of the year and the heart and soul of the number 1 ranked Bearcats. That team really had a great chance to make a trip to the Final Four and even capture a National Championship.
This is Huggin’s best team in his short stay in West Virginia. Everyone knows how crucial guard play is in the tournament and how it can make or break a team in the final couple of minutes of a hotly contested game. Well now the Mountaineer’s floor general is out. Backup Joe Mazzulla will do fine in Bryant’s place. But it will take away from the Mountaineer depth. And lets face it, going up against the Huskies of Washington with a matchup against the mighty Wildcats looming would have been tough even at full strength. Now West Virginia is forced to go up against perhaps the two most athletic teams in the tournament without their starting point guard.
Does West Virginia still have a chance to make it out of this weekend and into the Final Four? You better believe it (To finish reading this post, click this link).
I still thought West Virginia had a very good chance to make the Final Four despite the absence of starting point guard Darryl Bryant. And guess what, they made it. Their upset of Kentucky in the Regional Finals was one of the best coaching jobs of Bob Huggins career. He beat Calipari with a far less talented team, and put an end to the “John Wall Show” at the collegiate ranks. Joe Mazzulla thrived on the big stage. Despite averaging just 2.7 points per game on the year, Mazzulla put up 17 against the Wildcats, in arguably the best performance of his career. Darryl Bryant was the “Truck.” Mazzulla was the “Big-Gamer.” Huggins has not had the magic in the NCAA Tourney the past couple of years though. Suffering losses in the first weekend two consecutive years. It is a shame that Bob Huggins is not coaching any of the remaining teams in the tournament. Without Huggins on the sidelines, UK’s 8th championship seems inevitable.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.
Josh Kramer is the Founder and Editor-in-chief at the TheSportsKraze.com. Josh is a 5th Year Accounting student in the Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS Business Program at the University of Cincinnati. He has served as an intern for ESPN out of their New York City Office in the Mobile Department.
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