THE Sports & Swag Report

March Madness 2014: 13 Hours of pure Madness… Just the way we like it…

March Madness in full effect…..

So many times, we have a day in the NCAA Tournament that turns out so exciting and action packed, we couldn’t possibly want to forget it. Ever. Thursday, was one of those days. The thing about it is; as I was filling out my bracket and looking at the list of games we had in store, I thought this may be a good day of action, but nothing really special. That, my friends is the charm of March Madness. You never know where the ‘Madness’ may occur. On this, the first day of the tourney, it occurred almost everywhere. A day of ‘Madness’ so good, that it had to spill over into the next day. From 11:15am central to 12:45am central Friday. 13 hours of Madness. Well, actually about 13 and a half hours. Here is a little timeline of how it all took place…..

11:15am Central: Tip-off in Buffalo, NY – Dayton Flyers vs Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State senior point guard, Aaron Craft led his Buckeye teammates against cross-state rival Dayton in the first game of the day. I say rival, but truth is; the Buckeyes and Flyers had only met 6 times prior to Thursday’s meeting. So, the thought before the game was Dayton would play with a chip on their shoulder. That line of thinking proved to be correct.

12:40pm Central: Tip-off in Spokane, WA – Harvard Crimson vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

Ah, the dreaded 5 vs 12 matchup. This 5 vs 12 matchup was one that most people who filled out a bracket thought would be an upset. Understandable. The Crimson, coached by Tommy Amaker, pulled off a huge upset in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tourney. Things looked good for Harvard early on, as they enjoyed nice lead early in the first half. But, it was early….

Meanwhile, back in Buffalo. Approx. 12:50pm Central…

In a game, that went back and forth all day, Dayton looked like they had control of the game midway through the second half. Up by eight points, and with Ohio State’s suspect offense, it appeared the Flyers were in good shape. But, the Buckeyes wouldn’t back down. Thanks, in large part to junior forward, Sam Thompson (18pts, 4rebs), Ohio State turned a 43-35 deficit into a 45-43 lead with 10 minutes to play. After that, the game went back and forth until the end. Aaron Craft, tried to put the Buckeyes on his back, but former Buckeye Jordan Sibert and Dyshawn Pierre kept Dayton close. In fact, it was Pierre’s three free throws with 26 seconds left that, briefly put the Flyers on top 58-57.

After a timeout, Craft took things into his own hands and literally went length of the court for a pretty reverse layup to give the Buckeyes the lead. Dayton, calls timeout to setup Vee Sanford’s running jumper with 3.8 seconds left to seal the deal 60-59. Craft, had one more look but missed. What a huge win for Dayton. Not only to move on to the third round, but for bragging rights it now has over THE Ohio State University…

Dayton celebrates… The Kings of Ohio

Approx. 2:50pm Central – Back in Spokane

The Cincinnati Bearcats are probably the team second in line behind Ohio State, in terms of popularity and basketball tradition in the state of Ohio. So, since the Buckeyes were already out, then naturally the Bearcats would carry the torch for the state. Right? Wrong. Junior guard, Wesley Saunders, and his Harvard teammates held off Cincinnati to claim a 61-57 win. Saunders, led the Crimson with 12 points, who now go on to meet Michigan State, Saturday. Jeremy Lin would be pleased…Meanwhile, the state of Ohio is down to one team left dancing….. Dayton.

6:00pm Central: back in Buffalo, NY – St. Joseph’s vs. UCONN tip-off….

This is one game that I think was overlooked by a lot of the experts, and probably some of the fans as they filled out their brackets. St. Joe’s played extremely well late in the season, in what was a very competitive Atlantic 10 conference. So, it should have been no surprise that the Hawks would give UCONN all they wanted.

6:10pm Central: in Orlando, FL – NC State vs St. Louis tip-off…..

The Wolfpack, fresh off of their win over Xavier (the other Ohio team in the tourney) and their trip from Dayton Ohio, got off to a fast start against the Billikens. Forward, T.J. Warren and company looked to be in good shape, but it was early….

6:40pm Central: in back in Spokane – North Dakota State vs Oklahoma tip-off……

In another dreaded 5 vs 12 matchup, the Bison of North Dakota State were a popular pick to beat Oklahoma. Apparently, the Bison play more than football in North Dakota. The 3-time defending FCS national champs have become quite popular. So popular, that ESPN’s Gameday took a trip there this past football season. However, today was all about Taylor Braun and the Bison hoops team.

Meanwhile, back in Buffalo Approx. 8:15pm central….. UCONN and St. Joe’s begin a night of putting in Overtime…

After trailing by as many as 10 points, Shabazz Napier (24pts, 8 rebs, 6 assists) led a nice comeback by the Huskies to take it’s first lead since early in the first half at 57-55. The Hawks made another run of their own, and looked to have control of the game. But, with contributions from DeAndre Daniels and Amida Brimah, the Huskies came back to tie the game at 70 and send it to overtime. Who knew that would be the first of four overtime games on the night? The Huskies took control in overtime and sent St. Joe’s packing. What an effort by head coach, Phil Martelli’s Hawks!

8:30pm central: Back in Orlando – NC State letting it slip away…

Nothing seemed to be going right for the St. Louis Billikens, or was it? Down 14 with just 5 minutes to play things looked bleak, but it could have been a lot worse. NC State, repeatedly blew chance after chance to have an even bigger lead, and put the Billikens away, but they didn’t. Even though the Wolfpack aren’t necessarily a fast tempo team, they were caught playing the game St. Louis was very comfortable playing. In this, another 5 vs 12 matchup, the Billikens took full advantage of NC State’s carelessness. Seniors Rob Loe, and Jordair Jett refused to let their college careers end. Loe, led St. Louis with 22 points, and Jett added 18. NC State, still had a chance to win in regulation, but Tyler Lewis’ floater went down and came out at the buzzer. Even in OT, a missed free throw by T.J. Warren could have tied the game after he had cut the lead to one. He missed, however, and St. Louis was able to hang on and advance. I’m sure that will be a long trip back to Raleigh for the Wolfpack. The Billikens get a matchup with Louisville, Saturday.

8:55pm central: Back in Spokane – The year of the Bison…..

After leading for basically the entire game, NDSU was beginning to see their lead shrink away. Oklahoma, chipped away at the Bison 8 point lead until they finally took a 62-61 lead with 1:30 left. The Sooners then led by four and looked to be in control, but a missed free throw or two and a very untimely foul kept the Bison close. Then, with 11 seconds left, Lawrence Alexander buried a 3 pointer to tie the game and send it to overtime. The third overtime game of the evening. The teams went back and forth the first 3 minutes of OT, but behind freshman, Carlin Dupree, the Bison put the game away. Dupree, came into the game when star player, Taylor Braun fouled out. The Bison were very impressive in pulling the upset, but it’s even more impressive when you factor in Braun only scored 11 points. Yep. They definitely play more than football in North Dakota…

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, WI – Arizona State vs Texas tip-off……

In another game that kind of flew under the radar, the Sun Devils and Longhorns played one heckuva game. Texas was able to get off to a fast start and looked to be in complete control. The Longhorns led by as many as 14 points, but the Sun Devils weren’t going back home to Arizona that easily…..

Approx. 9:15pm Central – Manhattan vs Louisville tip-off….

This game was only supposed to be slightly interesting due to the storyline. Rick Pitino, criticized the selection committee for matching his team up with Manhattan, who is coached by his longtime assistant, Steve Masiello. We now, see why Pitino was so upset. His team was very nearly upset by an upstart Manhattan team. The Cardinals could never put the Jaspers away. In fact, when Manhattan took a 58-55 lead with less than 5 minutes to play. Louisville, would prevail however, in large part to Luke Hancock’s 8 points late in the game. So, the Cards were able to move on, but not without an incredible fight from Manhattan…

Approx. 9:30pm central: Back in Spokane – New Mexico State vs San Diego State tip-off…..

A 4 vs 13 matchup that really didn’t look to be very competitive at first glance. However, if you dug deep enough, you would have found that while the Aztecs play great defense, they have a lot of trouble scoring at times. That didn’t seem to be a problem early in the game, as San Diego State took control of the game. But, it was early….

Approx. 11:30pm central: Back in Milwaukee – Buzzer beating Longhorns…

After a furious comeback by Arizona State, sophomore center, Cameron Ridley, put back a missed 3 pointer from Jonathan Holmes to give Texas an 87-85 win at the buzzer! The Sun Devils were very impressive, even in the loss. However, the Horns move on to face Michigan on Saturday. What an incredible game!

Meanwhile, back in Spokane – Aztecs almost give it away….

As mentioned above, the Aztecs have trouble scoring. This game was played out nearly identical to the NC State/St. Louis game, but this time the team that dominated most of the game prevailed. The Aztecs did everything they could to give this game to New Mexico State, including a dropped inbound pass with 9 seconds left in regulation. The Aggies tied the game with a 3 by Kevin Aronis. In overtime, the Aztecs still could not put NMSU away, but finally after being able to make their free throws this time, the Aztecs prevailed. San Diego State gets ready to play another team looking to be Cinderella in North Dakota State on Saturday. That should be a very interesting game….

Finally, at about 12:30am central, Friday, the Madness ends…..

What a day of basketball! Can what has turned out to be the rest of Friday even come close to what we saw for 13+ hours yesterday. I can’t see how, when the calendar says March, you never know…..

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