The Madness moves onward in this March of the mid-majors

It wasn’t enough to see Ohio — not Ohio State, but Ohio U. – trash Georgetown. Nor was it enough to watch Cornell dispatch precise opponents in Temple and Wisconsin. Or even enough to stand back in wonder as Ali Farokhmanesh of Northern Iowa raised up against Kansas and scored the most brazen three points of any NCAA tournament ever.

Even as we seek to process the wonders wrought in Week 1 of the Big Dance, we must ponder what could be. A Final Four of …

Butler, Cornell, Northern Iowa and Saint Mary’s?

You know you’ve got a tournament when there are as many No. 12 seeds remaining as Nos. 3 or 4. You know you’ve got a tournament when the odds-on favorite goes belly-up in Round 2. As the Sweet Sixteen commences, we must ask ourselves: Has the madness subsided, or has it just begun?

The most intriguing matchup of the millennium: Cornell versus Kentucky (East Regional, Thursday 9:57 p.m.) It’s the Big Red against the Big Blue, and the two would seem to have nothing in common. Yet Mark Coury, who once started at Kentucky, is now a Cornell sub. And even as you’re saying, “No way the Ivy League can stay with Kentucky,” please note that Wisconsin hadn’t lost a game by more than 16 points — until it played Cornell.

The next massive upset: Northern Iowa versus Michigan State (Midwest Regional, Friday 9:37 p.m.) Spartans point guard Kalin Lucas tore his Achilles in Round 2, but State wouldn’t have been a lock to beat the Panthers with everyone healthy. Northern Iowa trailed mighty Kansas for a total of 47 seconds. Don’t look now, but of the teams remaining only Kentucky and Duke, which have 10 NCAA titles between them, have won more games this season than UNI.

The major-league Cinderella’s next test: Purdue versus Duke (South Regional, Friday 9:57 p.m.) The Boilermakers lost their best player, forward Robbie Hummel, to a late-season knee injury, but they hobbled past Siena and Texas A&M — top defender Chris Kramer made the winning basket in overtime against the Aggies — to reach Round 3. You’d think the run would end against the Devils, but know this: Duke hasn’t advanced to a regional final since 2004.

The stealth game in what has become a stealth tournament: Xavier versus Kansas State (West Regional, Thursday 9:37 p.m.) Xavier has a new coach in Chris Mack, who succeeded Sean Miller, and a new star in Jordan Crawford, who transferred from Indiana, but the Musketeers look as polished as ever. Kansas State has lost seven games, but three of those were to Kansas, which is no longer in the field. The West focus will be on Syracuse’s meeting with Butler, but don’t sleep on this game.

The unobtrusive team wearing bright orange: Tennessee versus Ohio State (Midwest Regional, Friday 7:07 p.m.) A lot of folks had the Vols going out in Round 1 against San Diego State, but they won. They’re now expected to be undone by the Buckeyes, whose regional this is to lose. Be warned, though: Tennessee induces an average of 16.5 turnovers per game, and Ohio State turned it over 18 times against Georgia Tech, with half of those by star Evan Turner.

The game for unknown big men: Saint Mary’s versus Baylor (South Regional, Friday 7:27 p.m.) No, it’s not Sampson against Ewing, but it is Omar Samhan against Ekpe Udoh and Josh Lomers. The Gaels’ Samhan, who’s 6-foot-11, averaged 30.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in upsets of Richmond and Villanova. The Bears’ Udoh, who’s 6-10, had 16 points and 13 rebounds against Sam Houston in Round 1, and 7-foot teammate Lomers had 14 and eight against Old Dominion in Round 2.

The game missing a big man: Syracuse versus Butler (West Regional, Thursday 7:07 p.m.) There’s no guarantee Orange center Arinze Onuaka, who hurt his quadriceps in the Big East tournament, will play again this season. His absence hasn’t troubled the ‘Cuse to date — it beat Gonzaga by 22 points in Round 2 — but it could prove problematic against the Bulldogs, who don’t really have a big man but who have enough shooters to trouble the Syracuse zone.

The game suddenly missing a guard: West Virginia versus Washington (East Regional, Thursday 7:27 p.m.) Mountaineer point guard Darryl “Truck” Bryant broke his foot in practice Tuesday and will miss the remainder of the season. This would be bad news headed into any game, but Washington guard Isaiah Thomas has averaged 17 points and 7.5 assists in the Huskies’ two tournament victories. Working for the Mountaineers is this: Reserve Joe Mazzulla, who has battled a shoulder injury this season, was a key figure in West Virginia’s Sweet Sixteen surge of 2008.

The best possible regional final: No. 1 Kentucky versus No. 2 West Virginia in the East.

The wildest possible regional final: No. 11 Washington versus No. 12 Cornell in the East.

The wildest possible finish: Ali Farokhmanesh, Final Four most outstanding player.

56 comments Add your comment

Fed Up With Wren (Again)

March 24th, 2010
10:26 am

Mark Bradley

March 24th, 2010
10:28 am

Fed Up has earned the coveted kudos.

And, Chipper (still)

March 24th, 2010
10:31 am

And, throw out Pendleton, please

March 24th, 2010
10:32 am

KJ

March 24th, 2010
10:32 am

Good night everybody

Jim Bob

March 24th, 2010
10:33 am

Good night everybody

Bring Me the Head of Francisco Cabrera

March 24th, 2010
10:33 am

Actually, Mark, I think you meant to say that Northern Iowa TRAILED mighty Kansas for a total of 47 seconds. By the way, can you BELIEVE that shovel pass Mack Brown called against Alabama?

Fed Up With Wren (Again)

March 24th, 2010
10:36 am

I’ve got NIU over Michigan State, but I don’t think Purdue is going to make it past the Dookies. I think WVU makes it past Washington, but no further.

Mark Bradley

March 24th, 2010
10:44 am

Thanks, Bring. I did mean to say that. And no, I can’t.

Tech Rules

March 24th, 2010
10:58 am

March Madness defined: GT might get a new basketball coach without having to fork over $7 mil to get rid of the old one. In fact according to the contract, GT will receive over $3 mil. Now that’s madness.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 24th, 2010
11:05 am

with my bracket officially in the toilet I will be pulling for most all of the underdogs . which by the way means that the higher seeds will probably win all the games from here on out.

Pi$$onaDAWG

March 24th, 2010
11:19 am

Anybody but Duke, Syracuse, or Kentucky and I am happy.

ChippersLoveChild

March 24th, 2010
11:24 am

Wisconsin also beat a #1 seed in Duke earlier this year, as well as three other teams still left in Ohio State, Michigan State, and Purdue… they were a very good team and Cornell dismantled them. I think Cornell has a very good chance against Kentucky… to remain close… but in the end , I like UK to win.

Pi$$onaDAWG

March 24th, 2010
11:27 am

Anybody but Duke, Kentucky, or Syracuse and I will be happy.

oldfart

March 24th, 2010
11:28 am

Cornell is reminding most of us that the game is most successful as a team game.

Jackets2010

March 24th, 2010
11:41 am

This is off topic a bit but I’m thinking the pro scouts wrecked Tech in the home FSU game (why was it pre-January?) and again vs Ohio State. What happened to the Favors of the ACC tourney?
Was he handicapped by refs or his own team?

Jackets2010

March 24th, 2010
11:45 am

If Bill Self is as great a coach as he is supposed to be, why didn’t he stop his guards from taking threes.
Seems like the same problem Hewitt has with Schupert.
I’m thinking Turner concentrated on other things in Ohio State’s first game like a good team player should when his shot isn’t falling.

Wren Hater

March 24th, 2010
11:46 am

FYI: Even when momentarily distracted by March Madness, I still hate Frank “Wrong Again” Wren.

By the way, I really don’t care much for angry, self-rigteous racists like Cynthia Tucker, either.

Bristol Palin 2012

March 24th, 2010
11:47 am

Great and concise preview Mark, can’t wait, Go Gaels!

As I said before, never pick Pitt. This may be UT’s first Elite 8… ever. Wow.

And Northern Iowa’s panther mascot looks like the Simpsons’s cat Snowball.

Wren Hater

March 24th, 2010
11:49 am

CORRECTION:

FYI: Even when momentarily distracted by March Madness, I still hate Frank “Wrong Again” Wren.

By the way, I really don’t care much for angry, SELF-RIGHTEOUS racists like Cynthia Tucker, either.

Wren Hater

March 24th, 2010
11:51 am

Come to think of it, I’m not really all that fond of myself.

I am a bit sweet on Condoleezza Rice, Emmanuelle Vaugier and Sara Evans, though.

Woof.

Bristol Palin 2012

March 24th, 2010
11:54 am

Sorry for the botched contraction above, dang.

Fed Up With Wren (Again)

March 24th, 2010
12:04 pm

Never let yourself get distracted by anything when it comes to hatred of Frank Wren. The only cure for that is a good old fashioned firing.

DawginLex

March 24th, 2010
12:29 pm

Cornell is gonna get smashed by UK. The 3 games against tough opponents(KU,Syracuse and Seton Hall), they lost.

There are some serious Tubby to Tech rumors circulating

Cheese

March 24th, 2010
12:30 pm

Final Four: Cornell vs. Duke, Northern Iowa vs. Kansas St.
Final: Cornell vs. Northern Iowa
National Champ: Cornell

UGA Slobberknocker

March 24th, 2010
1:37 pm

This just in..most Bradley Fiasco entrants would have better results if they simply threw darts at the bracket, including me. I say this because II was feeling dumber than dirt for only hitting 9 of sweet 16 , plus 2 of my final four teams have crashed and burned. Yet, Im ranked 510 in the Fiasco scoreboard which puts me at the 90th percentile!!! I havent seen the 90th percentile since the 6th grade :)

Looks like a very low bar this year, Mark

Smyrna Jacket

March 24th, 2010
1:49 pm

Mark Bradley is struggling to be releveant. He does not even have the B@lls to talk to Paul Hewitt face to face.

EW

March 24th, 2010
1:51 pm

Most exciting tourney overall that I can remember…but I’m young

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John

March 24th, 2010
2:01 pm

Mark, I have to quibble with your characterization of the Northern Iowa-Michigan State game as potentially a “massive upset”. Northern Iowa is not a Cinderella – they are a legitimately very good basketball team. With Kalin Lucas out, Northern Iowa should be the favorite in that game, conference affiliations notwithstanding.

Bill

March 24th, 2010
2:03 pm

Enter your comments here

sam

March 24th, 2010
2:04 pm

NIU = Northern Illinois University
UNI = University of Northern Iowa

MELLER YELLER

March 24th, 2010
2:17 pm

no iowa is done and so are the rest of the small schools and underdogs the big boys will take over like they always do on the second weekend , GA TECH would be there if not for the officials .

UGA Slobberknocker

March 24th, 2010
2:22 pm

Im thinking Hewatt had a lot more to do with Tech losing than the officials. Theyve underachieved all year, has it been the officials fault all year.? Meller Yeller; I bet you and maybe even me ,could get more out of Tech’s players than Hewatt has. He reminds me of Ray Goff who managed to go 6-5 every yr some of the best recruits in the nation.

MELLER YELLER

March 24th, 2010
2:26 pm

hewitt sucks for sure i just think they could have overcome him in that one game if not for the officials , the rest of the year was all hewitt.just like the next loss in the sweet 16 would have been so it really doesn’t matter , but i was talking about only that one game , and Ray Goof did suck

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All I'm Saying Is...

March 24th, 2010
2:50 pm

The bell doth toll and midnight has arrived—all the Cinderella’s will get their walking papers in part two of March Madness with the favs winning out, which is not a bad thing.

Cornell is still the only school that epitomizes the term STUDENT-Athlete and The IVY League is the only conference that graduates its players year in and year out.
Go IVY League and way to justify that automatic bid that haters occasionally want to take away from us!

–Hahvahd Grad
(think about it…)

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All I'm Saying Is...

March 24th, 2010
2:57 pm

Methinks, the bell doth toll and midnight has arrived as all the Cinder-fellas will get their walking papers starting tomorrow night in March Madness Part II: Not So Sweet Sixteen (for eight teams anyway) with the favorites, in my opinion, winning out which is not a bad thing.

By the way, Cornell is still the only school left that truly exemplifies the term STUDENT-Athlete. And kudos to the Big Red for very well representing the IVY LEAGUE and proving the wisdom of the automatic bid for the league champ which some folks want to take away. The IVY League—the only league that graduates all of its STUDENT-Athletes!

–Respectfully submitted by a humble Hahvahd Grad

gmoney

March 24th, 2010
5:01 pm

It’s been a great tourney, however, put all your money on Kentucky as talent wins out at the end. They have 4 players that will go in the top 14 picks of the next NBA draft which includes #1 and #4 in Wall and Cousins…no one can touch this level of talent…even UNC from last year which destroyed Michigan St in the final.

WW

March 24th, 2010
5:24 pm

Duke needs to perform well, because the rest of the ACC is MIA.

crabapplejoe

March 24th, 2010
5:53 pm

Cornell is too athletic for Kentucky….they move on the the elite eight.

2hurt2play

March 24th, 2010
6:35 pm

I would welcome Tubby as coach at GT–this seems to be laid out for Duke–but strange things have been happening this tournament–nothing but excitement. Paul Hewitt needs to recruit 3 – 4 year players enough of these one and done players.

H

March 24th, 2010
7:59 pm

I like the Cornell story and all because they came out of nowhere and it’s been fun to watch, but just so people can contextualize what’s going on:

Cornell: 20,633 students, US News Ranking: 15th (that’s including the hotel school), endownment $3.97 billion.

Duke: 13,457 students, US News Ranking: 10th (that’s post-lacrosse scandal after which it dropped 6 spots), endowment $4.44 billion.

Which sounds like the more elite institution to you based on hard facts? I’m rooting for Cornell this March, but there are many strong academic institutions that play great basketball–it’s not impossible.

GT woman

March 24th, 2010
7:59 pm

Mark, can you give us an update of Hewitt talking to St. Johns? Also, do you think Tubby would come South again?
Would love to see Tubby come to Tech!

Blewitt Must Go

March 24th, 2010
8:09 pm

Too quite on the Tech front today which leads me to believe that negotiations are in the works and we will have a new coach soon.

I'm Delta. Fly me.

March 24th, 2010
8:20 pm

I had WVU in my Final NC game, but now I’ll have to cheer for Cornell as the smart-kid underdog. Looking forward to the Cornell-Kentucky game.

I'm Delta. Fly me.

March 24th, 2010
8:23 pm

Yeah, if you’ve heard ANYTHING about Hewitt, let us know, Mark. The NY, ATL, and national sources have said nothing since midday. I guess silence is better than rumors, but I’m bored. Think I’ll hop on a free flight to NYC and check things out for myself. Maybe see Hewitt in the terminal, or someone who looks remotely like him….then I can report it myself. The AJC and Post won’t buy it, but the NYTImes are getting desperate…they’ll print anything.

Mark Bradley

March 24th, 2010
8:25 pm

I’ll let you know, Delta. But it has been quiet today.

I'm Delta. Fly me.

March 24th, 2010
8:25 pm

If Hewitt returns to Tech after talking to SJU, he’d better bring a darn good point guard back with him. Has Kenny Anderson had any kids yet? (We all know Hewitt would never recruit Mark Price’s kids.)