Matt’s Minute

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March is not exactly the most exciting month on the sports calendar.  Baseball is just ending its offseason, while football is just beginning its offseason. Basketball and hockey are in the stretch runs of their seasons, which can either lead to exciting playoff races if teams are neck and neck in the standings or lackluster play if teams choose to rest for the postseason. The only surefire, exciting sporting event that March provides is the NCAA Tournament, and it definitely has not disappointed this year.

As the field has dwindled to four teams, there has been plenty of excitement and many upsets along the way.  Nobody (not even the parents of the players, I imagine) picked Florida Gulf Coast to beat Georgetown, never mind make it to the Sweet Sixteen. Even though the Gators were one of my Final Four teams, I never hesitated to root for Florida Gulf Coast to advance to the Elite Eight because that is what March Madness is all about: the mid-major Cinderella teams who finally have a chance to promote their program and defy the odds by beating the top-tier teams in the country.

Though the Eagles’ remarkable run came to an end against Florida, there is still an underdog quietly lurking among the four teams left: the Wichita State Shockers (no pun intended I presume). Not quite a full-blown Cinderella, the ninth-seed Shockers have advanced to the Final Four without much fanfare amidst the more glamorous Florida Gulf Coast storyline. They pulled off what is probably one of the quietest upsets in tournament history when they beat one-seed Gonzaga in the second round.  Despite their success in the tournament, most people have unanimously written them off against Louisville this upcoming Saturday.  Of course, this is what makes March Madness so fun: rooting for teams that have been completely written off by the so-called “experts.”

Despite my typical desire for the underdog to win, I must admit that a Louisville-Syracuse championship game would be much more entertaining to watch than Michigan-Wichita State. First of all, it is a rematch of the Big East Championship, in which Louisville dominated the second half to cruise to victory after starting slowly.  You can bet that this loss is still fresh in the minds of James Southerland, Brandon Triche and company, who probably want to exact revenge.  This game would also contribute more intrigue in the wake of Kevin Ware’s horrific injury against Duke this past Sunday.

If you have not seen it, consider yourself lucky. The Louisville players are determined to win the title for Ware, whose long-term health fortunately appears to be fine. Thirdly, a Louisville-Syracuse matchup would be fun since I predicted it. Yes, a few weeks ago I picked Syracuse to beat Louisville in the title game, much to the surprise of everyone in my ESPN bracket pool. Although they laughed then, they are definitely not laughing now as I begin the process of planning what to do with my winnings.

 

Matt McCormack