NCAA Upsets Not Done Yet

By Sean Gormley Hoya Staff Writer

Madness is here, and this year more than any other, when it rains, it pours.

Just about everybody’s final four picks have been sent packing, with the exception of powerhouses Duke and Michigan State, while three teams I picked to lose in the first round – Purdue, Wisconsin and Gonzaga – remain. The Big East is a perfect example of what has gone awry, as defending NCAA champion Connecticut and Big East champion St. John’s fell in the second round, while Seton Hall and iami upset higher seeds to join Syracuse as Big East representatives in the Sweet 16.

The Georgetown Hoyas have been a beneficiary of the madness, still alive in that “other” tournament after a miraculous victory, while the two teams that topped the polls all season long, Stanford and Cincinnati, will next don their uniforms for Midnight Madness next October 15 after being upset in the second round.

North Carolina, a No. 8 seed and a team that many felt should have been left out of the tournament, upset Stanford to win a ticket to the Sweet 16, while the team many felt should have been dancing instead of them, Virginia, was eliminated by our beloved Hoyas. The highly regarded ACC team that did not live to see the Sweet 16, Maryland, was utterly humiliated by UCLA in a game that saw Bruin point guard Earl Watson dish out a school-record 16 assists as the Bruins connected on six alley-oops and 14 treys in what was seemingly the only game I correctly predicted in the second round.

Of the teams that bowed out on the first weekend of tournament action, a pair of squads stick out as the teams I am happiest to see gone. One is Indiana, victim of the biggest first round upset, to No. 11 seed Pepperdine, and home to the most boorish coach in all the land: chair-throwing, player-assaulting, ref-cursing and writer-degrading Bobby Knight. The other team I am psyched to see gone is Connecticut, home of doughboy Khalid El-Amin who fought valiantly in the second round despite an injured ankle. Suiting up for the last time for UConn was everyone’s favorite pretty boy Jake Voskuhl, an oaf who will never again hang from the rims of MCI Center for five seconds without having a technical foul called on him.

Since all of these painfully ridiculous upsets have absolutely destroyed everyone’s brackets, I will give you my Sweet 16 brackets, in case you decide to burn more money and enter a Sweet 16 pool.

West: I will start with the left coast bracket, one of two regions in which each of the three top-seeded teams lost. At the top of the bracket, LSU will take down Wisconsin, 67-63, a game in which Wisconsin will finally remember that it is simply not a very good team. Sophomore LSU superstar Stromile Swift, who has carried the Tigers on his shoulders all season long, will record a triple double: 30 points, 10 rebounds and 20 agents stalking him through New Mexico hotel lobbies.

In the other matchup out West, Gonzaga will take down Purdue by a score of 77-72, giving the Big 10 an 0-fer in the West region. Purdue, much like Wisconsin, will realize that it is just not very good at Dr. Naismith’s game and collapse like a stack of cards. Just get this through your head if you take nothing else from this column: Gonzaga is not a Cinderella. They are a legit top-25 team that is going to be in the Elite 8 for the second consecutive year.

In the regional final out West, the Bulldogs of Gonzaga will vanquish LSU after an overzealous agent jumps onto the shoulders of Swift, dislodging a disk in his back and causing him to be not-so-swift on the court. Final Score: Gonzaga 87, LSU 84, Swift 20 (million dollar NBA contract).

Midwest: This is the only semi-logical bracket left (this is the only region where I do not have to apologize for my early picks as I sport a perfect 12 for 12 record in the bracket) that you don’t want to be in right now if you are a basketball team. In the first matchup, Michigan State versus Syracuse, the Spartans will take down the Orangemen, 67-66, after Syracuse center Etan Thomas is assessed a technical foul for calling a timeout the ‘Cuse did not possess, á la Chris Webber, costing the Orangemen the game despite blocking 15 shots.

On the other side, UCLA will blow out the Cyclones of Iowa State, 86-69, despite being held to only five alley-oops and 13 three-pointers. Junior All-American Marcus Fizer will break down in tears on the court after the game, saying he’ll be back next year for a final four run. The next morning he will declare himself eligible for the NBA draft.

In the Midwest final, Michigan State will defeat UCLA, the Bruins’ first loss this season in which occasionally eligible forward JaRon Rush was cleared to play. Final Score: Michigan State 76, UCLA 73, Rush 15 (thousand dollars given to him by his AAU coach prior to enrollment at U of CLA that will never get paid back, as the NCAA has demanded).

East: In the second-least-screwed-up region, Duke will lay the proverbial smack-down on its lesser and not as intelligent competition. The Dookies will take down Florida to start things off, defeating the Gators 75-70 after 6-foot-7, 260 pound Florida center Udonis Haslem finds an all-you-can-eat buffet in Syracuse and sits down for a five hour meal. The next day, Haslem is unable to stand up, and Duke leads Florida all the way, because freshman Carlos Boozer remembers the adage “liquor before beer,” and wakes up without a hangover.

In the other regional semifinal, Oklahoma State will defeat Seton Hall, 56-48, in front of a largely snoozing crowd at the Carrier Dome. The Pirates will be playing without point guard Shaheen Holloway, who was injured in Sunday’s overtime victory over Temple, and the rest of the Hall will be unable to score, as they won’t have anyone to pass them the ball – State by default in an ugly game.

The East finale has the potential to get ugly, as Duke will be taking on a shorter, less-talented Oklahoma State squad. The Cowboys do have seven seniors on their squad who will be looking to extend their college basketball careers for another weekend, but unless they pull a Tonya Harding and give Duke bigman Shane Battier a lead pipe to the kneecap, Duke will run away with it. The Devils will seal the second consecutive trip to the Final Four for Coach K (which everyone calls him because not even the Duke beat writers can spell his last name), with a final score of 84-68. Oh yeah, and Dookie boy-wonder Mike Dunleavy, Jr., will grow some facial hair and stop looking like he’s a 6-foot-9 12-year-old.

South: George W. Bush territory sports the most wide-open race for the Final Four. North Carolina and Tennessee battle it out in the first game, with the “Tah Hees,” as they say in Boston, taking down the Vols. On-again, off-again Carolina center Brendan Haywood will have back-to-back solid games for the first time in his life and lead the Heels to a 69-66 victory.

In the other matchup down South, Tulsa will beat Miami, because everybody knows that a Golden Hurricane can take down a plain ol’ Hurricane any day of the week. That’s all you need to know. Final Score: Tulsa 88, Miami 74.

The last school to buy plane tickets for Indianapolis will be Tulsa, as it will take down North Carolina, because it would take more than a miracle for Haywood to show up for three games in a row. The Golden Hurricanes have lost to only one team other than Fresno State this season (whom it lost to three times), and that loss was to Oral Roberts. Let me tell you, North Carolina is no Oral Roberts. UNC will remember that their bench only goes one player deep, and the high-flying Golden ‘Canes will tame the Heels, 87-73.

Final Four: Most people think that the No. 1 seeds will just roll through the national semifinals to a head-to-head showdown for the championship, but not so fast, my friend. On one side, Gonzaga and Michigan State will battle it out to qualify for the championship game. The Spartans are taller, deeper, more talented, playing closer to home, better looking, have a more original mascot than the Bulldogs, and they have Hutson to Cleave(s) the Bell. What more can you ask for? Final Score: Gonzaga 68, Michigan State 62. Bulldog Head Coach Mark “has a” Few “up his sleeve,” and there’s a reason Gonzaga guard Matt Santangelo has an angel in his name.

In the other national semifinal, Tulsa and Duke will battle it out to make it to the championship, with the vastly superior Blue Devils having the obvious leg up in the contest. In fact, after watching the ‘Dogs take down Michigan State, the Duke players will be rolling around on the floor of the locker room before their game, laughing at their luck in having such an easy trip to the trophy, but ACC player of the year Chris Carrawell will laugh so hard he pulls a stomach muscle and is unable to play. The Golden Hurricanes step it up a notch and eke one out against the Blue Devils, 68-67.

It’s April 3, and you sit down to watch the national championship game between a couple of powerhouses – but, in a shocker, you’re going to be watching the No. 7-seeded Golden Hurricanes of Tulsa take on the 10th-seeded Bulldogs of Gonzaga. The Bulldogs will become the lowest seed ever to win the national championship, as they take down the Golden Hurricanes in a scoring-fest, 89-85. When Head Coach Matt Few cuts down those nets, you’ll be able to tell your buddy sitting next to you “I told you so.”

So that’s it for March Madness. Gonzaga closes things out against Tulsa on April 3 for all the marbles, but there is one trophy that neither team is going to be able to take home. That’s right – the NIT trophy. That’s because that particular piece of hardware is going to be sitting in McDonough come March 30 – hey, its March Madness, and stranger things have happened.

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