Just about every sports conversation I initiated, joined or just happened to overhear for three straight days began with the same question: “Do you think the Jayhawks can win it? How do you like their chances?”
That’s not exactly shocking, considering I did not set foot outside of the Sunflower State during the last seven days. But the degree to which everybody was equivocating took me a little bit by surprise.
Almost without exception, every college basketball conversation that I came within 50 yards of ended with a comment like “it’s a tough field, and I think you can make a case for every single team….”
Is it possible that nobody had even considered the possibility that UCLA and UNC would get so outclassed on Saturday?
I sure didn’t see it coming. I had a Bruins/Heels final.
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Speaking of things I didn’t see, Monday night’s championship game is right at the top of the list. Hence the column about Saturday’s game.
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I should probably just go ahead and assume that everyone who might possibly read this watched the KU game on Saturday.
The first half was utterly spectacular. But in case you missed it, I can probably hit all the high points with a recap of a text message conversation that took place (mostly) during the TV timeouts….
Me (8:09 p.m.): Rock chalk…. Jayhawks look real good so far.
Jenna (halftime): Making me nervous near the end there…
Me (9:03): No kidding…. I guess I’ll watch the second half after all…. A pity—Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is on ABC.
Jenna (9:05): Yes, that is quite a predicament!
Anyway, you get the point. It was a game that everyone expected to be close that nearly turned into an afterthought that ended up being an excruciatingly entertaining contest. Right down to the nubs of my fingernails.
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Right out of the gate, North Carolina went from down five (13-8) to down 28 (40-12) and here’s what the magical, mythical Tyler Hansbrough did during that run: he stole the ball from Cole Aldrich, missed a turnaround jump shot, fouled Cole Aldrich, missed a layup, grabbed an offensive rebound and made two free throws. Then Billy Packer uttered the words “game over.”
And maybe that’s all that Hansbrough could have been expected to do in the face of KU’s relentless defense and high-flying offense.
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Right around 9:31 p.m. Saturday, Hansbrough had a rebound and putback and went to the line with a chance to cut it to five at the end of a 21-10 stretch during the first eight minutes of the second half.
But he missed the free throw. He deserves every trophy he’s got, but he’s no Mario Chalmers.