Fighting Words: NCAA tournament
Phillipe Craig: Vikings do lame dances, pull off big upset
It’s officially dancing time and this year’s tournament is a lot like a high school prom.’
‘ For every team doing a nice two-step, there is always some team off in the corner doing the robot. That team looks like it does not belong, but it is actually having the most fun and providing the biggest surprise of the opening rounds.
This year’s kid doing the ‘Carlton shuffle’ is none other than the 14th-seeded Cleveland State Vikings, who put a beating on third-seeded Wake Forest.’ Others will cite teams like Dayton or Arizona, but I’m sticking with the Horizon League Champion Vikings.’
They were not content with just getting invited to the dance.’ With four seniors in their starting lineup, they clearly had experience and were not intimidated by the names on the front of their young, but talented, opponents’ jerseys. Some people picked Wake Forest to make the Final Four, but those people overlooked the Vikings.’
The Vikings came out swinging, punching Wake in the gut and never looked back.’ The game wasn’t as close as the 15-point final margin of victory indicates. It was a good old-fashioned whooping that almost no one saw coming, especially Wake Forest.
Keith Cordero Jr.: Cats claw their way into Sweet 16
First of all, Phillipe, you have to get your facts straight, Wake Forest was a No. 4 seed, not a No. 3, and Cleveland State was a No. 13 seed, not a No. 14 seed. Also, Phillipe, the question asks what is the biggest surprise of the first two rounds? Yeah, Cleveland State stunned an overrated Wake Forest team and it was a nice story for the first round of the NCAA Tourney. ‘ ‘ ‘
However, the most surprising result of the first two rounds of the NCAA Tourney is the play of the No. 12 Arizona Wildcats, seemingly the last team into the field of 65. Arizona had only a 19-13 record going in and had lost five of their last six games. All of a sudden, led by interim head coach Russ Pennell, the Wildcats ripped No. 5 Utah 84-71 and disposed of Cleveland State’s Cinderella run with a 71-57 win over the overwhelmed Vikings.’ ‘ ‘
The Wildcats are for real with three perennial pro players on their roster – Chase Budinger, Nic Wise and Jordan Hill. Look for them to give overall top seed Louisville a run for their money in the upcoming Sweet 16 match-up.
Matt Miller: James’ comeback turns heads everywhere
Both of you are not even close. A surprise does not have to be an upset, and if you are going to cite an upset at least get the seeding correct, Phillipe.
The most surprising result of the first two rounds was Marquette guard Dominic James coming back from what analysts called a career-ending foot injury, which he suffered in February.’
It takes a big pair of stones to battle back from a broken foot as quickly as James did. He cared that much about getting Marquette to the Sweet 16. Unfortunately, he was unable to offer much help, but he should receive a lot of credit for rehabbing and working hard to help his ballclub.
Cleveland State had too much experience and athleticism for Wake Forest, so that wasn’t a huge surprise. By Friday, several analysts and amateurs were picking CSU as their upset special.’
Keith, your response says exactly why Arizona is not a surprise. With players like Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger, there’s no reason why Arizona should not have been a better team this season. Arizona beat Gonzaga earlier this season and has a decent shot to knock off Louisville.
Judge Dredd: The University should not lose hope; private
Really Keith? Arizona? They are one of the few big name schools out there that still go and put together respectable non-conference schedules against the top schools in major conferences and the high-risk, low-reward schools on the rise.
Judge Dredd isn’t buying the Cleveland State Theory, either. The Vikings played a brutal non-conference schedule and entered the Tournament with a win over Syracuse and a Horizon League Championship game victory over No. 16 Butler under its belt. A good team is a good team. It shouldn’t matter if it plays in a so-called ‘mid-major’ conference.’
Judge Dredd’s pick for the biggest surprise of the first two rounds is Western Kentucky not making it to the next round. If the Hilltoppers would have played a little defense at the end of their thriller against Gonzaga, maybe Judge Dredd would be rambling about how overrated the Aggies are, or something. But a mental lapse and a terrific full-court drive and finish by Gonzaga’s Demetri Goodson left Judge Dredd feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. ‘
Judge Dredd couldn’t figure out why he loved the last-second heroics March Madness so much, so he punched himself in the stomach for having feelings. However, that didn’t work because Judge Dredd has abs of steel.’
Verdict: Judge Dredd awards himself the victory because he’s one bad A.
Judge Dredd’s laser eyes can cut through steel plates. They are also handy for starting gas stoves when the power goes out.’