Thursday, February 10, 2011

Things Fall Apart

Shout out to my high school freshman year Honors English class in today's title. A little Chinua Achebe references for the literature buffs. Daily Onions wants to show its more than just basketball. I'd say its 99.9% basketball, and 0.1% of random mentions.

So, what exactly fell apart last night in the college hoops world? Where to start? North Carolina, Villanova, Syracuse?

Let's begin close to our heart. Syracuse and Georgetown. One of the classic rivalries in college basketball. After a back and forth first half, in which Cuse took a two point lead into the locker room, there was more of the same in half number two. Coming down the stretch though, it seemed like the Orange were taking control of the game. The surprise was that they were doing this with Rick Jackson on the bench in foul trouble. Daily Onions favorite CJ Fair did what he does, 12 points and 5 rebounds, while Baye Mousa Keita patrolled the middle of the lane (4 points, 4 rebounds, 5 blocks) with Jackson out. With about five minutes left, "I'm Sorry" came back into the game with Cuse holding a slim lead. From that point on, it was all Hoyas. G-town ends the game on a 14-3 run (two touchdowns to one field goal), and that's that. It seemed like the game just evaporated before the Orange's eyes. And with the loss, they've dropped three straight at the Carrier Dome.

Less than an hour later, off the NJ Turnpike, the Rutgers-Villanova game was coming to end. With 4:28 left in the game, Nova's Corey Fisher drained a 3 pointer to give the Cats a 67-54 lead. Time to head for the exits right? Not so fast, my friend (Corso, Lee). Four minutes later, James Bell drained a 3 pointer to give the Cats a 75-70 lead with 17 seconds left. Let's leave now, beat the traffic, all Nova has to do is make some free throws. Nope. A three by Rutgers made it 75-73 with 11 seconds left. They foul Corey Fisher with 9 seconds left. Fisher, a NJ native and a 79% FT shooter, could seal the game with two makes. He makes one. As a Villanova fan, you have to think, "That's ok, we are still up three with 9 seconds left, there is no way we should lose this game in regulation. At worse, we go to OT." Hmm, not quite. Rutgers makes a three with 0.8 seconds left.....and gets FOULED! Now, when you watch the replay the call is definitely questionable. It looks like there was some contact on the elbow, but that play probably doesn't get called just as much as it does. Jonathan Mitchell makes his free throw, and the Rut pulls off their biggest win of the Mike Rice Era.

Right around that time, down in Durham, North Carolina, arguably the best rivalry in sports was underway, Duke vs. North Carolina. Blue Devils were the preseason favorite, but with an injury to their top player, they've shown they are beatable. UNC has started to turn things around recently, winning 7 of their first 8 conference games.  But this game was at Cameron Indoor, so most experts were picking Duke to win this one. Three minutes into the game, the score was 10-2. North Carolina. At the half, UNC led 43-29. Just like everyone expected. Dukies, have no fear because you got two guys by the names of Nolan Smith and Seth Curry. Smith went for 34, and Curry went for 22, as they combined for 21 made buckets. The comeback, granted it was at home, shows that Duke's still got it (even with out Kyrie), and is one of the top 2 or 3 teams in the country.

So what team had the bigger collapse last night? Congratulations, Villanova. No reason you should give up a 13 point lead to Rutgers in the final four minutes, and no reason you should even be close enough to someone shooting a three with two seconds left that the official could mistakenly think you fouled him. I'm sure Jay Wright already has this game in their rear view though. They have Pitt coming to town on Saturday night. Should be a real dog....I mean cat fight.

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