J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison cried on national TV last week.
They had good reason to.
In another stunning turn of events in the NCAA tournament, #1 seed Duke was defeated by #4 seed LSU. LSU was able to shut down Duke’s top scorer, J.J. Redick, with their relentless perimeter defense. Duke’s big man, Sheldon Williams had an impressive game but was just not enough to advance Duke to the Elite Eight.
After being down by 17 at one point, #2 seedUCLA came back to beat #3 seedGonzaga. The game would not be classified as a huge upset; however, after numerous missed free throws and a few airballs from UCLA’s top scorers, fans thought Gonzaga would easily make their way into the Elite Eight.
Chris Poucher, a UCLA fan since birth, was shocked by the outcome of the Gonzaga game.
“After watching the poor play of Farmar and Afflalo in the first half of the game, I was sure UCLA was done for,” Poucher said. “The final few minutes of the game was the most amazing finish I have ever seen-I yelled until I lost my voice.”
Even more surprising, and somewhat gratifying to most, than watching two grown men cry, was the game which took place between the #11 seed George Mason and #1 seed UConn. George Mason, the Cinderella team of this year’s tournament, stunned everybody after beating last year’s champions, #3 seed UNC and then going on to beat the heavily favored UConn Huskies. George Mason outrebounded the much larger and more agile Huskies, and all of Patriots starters scored in double figures.
Though fans are seeing three unexpected teams in the Final Four this year, there is some common ground for the remaining competitors: defense. Defense has gotten Florida, UCLA, LSU and George Mason to where they are today. LSU’s backcourt defense shut down Texas and Duke, UCLA held Memphis to their lowest point total of the year, and George Mason has an aggressive, hands-on defense that has them in the top 10 in both scoring defense and defensive field goal percentage. Florida may have the weakest overall defense, but with Joakim Noah in the key, no player is safe from a block.
Sports analysts and fans alike are stunned by the unpredictable tournament.
“This is the first time in sixteen years that I have just completely thrown out my bracket,” Martin Malloy, an avid college basketball fan said. “I don’t even care about the money-the tournament is just too good.”
UCLA has not been in the Final Four in 11 years, LSU in 20 and George Mason has never been there period. That should be enough to make everyone sit in front of the T.V. for a few hours this Saturday.