Thursday, March 15, 2012

Must See Madness

The 2012 version of March Madness opens up with a chance for everyone to see if all the hype surrounding The Murray State Racers was for real! The Racers were you could say the darlings of the college hoop season, going undefeated before falling February 9th in Ohio Valley Conference play. Murray State finished 30-1 overall but that probably won’t mean much to Colorado State. The Rams are making their first trip to the dance since 2003 and haven’t made it past that initial game in 22 years. But the odds will be against them as the West Regional game has the showdown taking place in Louisville, Kentucky… which will make it a virtual home game for the Racers. 6th seeded Murray State sports one of the country’s most exciting back-courts in Donte Poole and Isaiah Canaan, who averages 20 points per game. The Racers average 74 a game, but the Rams put up 71 a contest so this one should be full of scoring and possibly a close finish.

In the afternoon, Portland’s Rose Garden is the place for what will be an up and down, shoot the lights out affair between 12th seed Long Beach State and 5th seeded New Mexico in the West Region. The 49ers, who finished up 25-8, are battle tested! Leader Casper Ware and company played road games this year at Pitt, Louisville, Kansas and North Carolina. They beat the Panthers and hung late in all the other match-ups. The Lobos roll into March Madness red-hot! They’ve won 12 of 14 including the Mountain West Tournament last week. Long Beach State could be at a disadvantage as guard Larry Anderson has still not recovered from a knee injury and might not play for Coach Dan Monson. Steve Alford’s team is hungry! The Lobos haven’t advanced past the first weekend of the tourney since 1974. Many like New Mexico to reach the Sweet Sixteen!

Starting a half hour later is the unique battle of smart guys, who happen to be able to ball a little bit as well! Vanderbilt…. The Harvard of the South takes on the real Harvard! The Commodores and Crimson meet at the Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s one of those five versus twelve match-ups that can give you bragging rights on the first day of your office pool.
Vandy rolls into this first round match-up full of emotion. Kevin Stallings club is coming off the signature win of his tenure; the 71-64 win over Kentucky in the S-E-C Tournament final. The tournament championship was the first ever for the school and ended Kentucky’s 24-game win streak. The Commodores have all the pieces to make a deep run into March and they are due. This same group led by shooting sensation John Jenkins and swing-man Jeffery Taylor has been eliminated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons. Harvard has been gaining notice since the beginning of the year. Tommy Amaker’s team finished 26-4 winning the Ivy League title while averaging 65 points a night. On paper this has Vandy written all over it. But throw in their win over Kentucky and the always dangerous seeding match-up and you just never know. The Commodores only being a five point favorite says volumes about the competitive nature this one should have.

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