Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday Grab Bag: Championship Monday

The college basketball season will finally come to a close this evening.  The only downside is that, after Louisville and Michigan decide things in Atlanta, it'll be a long 206 day wait for November to arrive.  I guess I'll just have to bide my time watching the red-hot Rockies!

 In today's bag, I'm talking national title, Metro State, and those damn Rox.

Click below for the bag...

Louisville vs Michigan for the crown - 

A little late-game controversy notwithstanding, Louisville and Michigan survived Final Four Saturday, and will meet for the national championship this evening.

Louisville had to storm back multiple times against the Cinderella Wichita St Shockers, but was able to grind out a 72-68 win. With injured guard Kevin Ware looking on, the Cardinals were forced to turn to reserves Luke Hancock and Tim Henderson for an off-the-bench spark, and the pair rose to the occasion with 26 huge points.  A too-quickly-blown jump-ball with only six seconds left sealed the deal, erasing any hopes of a last-second Shockers miracle.
Hancock was key for the Cardinals.
In the late game, Michigan rode a blown charge/block call in the final minute to a 61-56 win.  Up to the point of the controversial call, it had been anyone's game, with the Orange enjoying possession down two with only 19 seconds to go.  Had the call been flipped, they might still be playing.  Still, Michigan deserves credit for being the first team in the postseason to figure out the 'Cuse's 2-3 matchup zone, scoring barely over a point per possession on 40% shooting in the win.
Mitch McGary has been a force of nature for the Wolverines.
This evening, I'm actually expecting Michigan to earn the title over the overall #1.  The Wolverines have the pieces in place to survive the Louisville press, and forward Mitch McGary has an obscene defensive rebounding rate in the Tournament.  It would be fitting for this chaotic season to end with a champion from the four-line.  Not since Arizona in '97 has someone outside of the top-three seed groups emerged victorious.

Metro State stunned by late collapse -  

While CU and CSU had made headlines with their second-consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament, local D-II school Metro State had, in a way, leapfrogged the larger programs by navigating the lower-division's tournament all the way to the national title game.  Unfortunately, despite leading Drury for almost the entire game, Metro couldn't seal the deal, as the Panthers from Springfield, MO roared past them in the final seconds for a 74-73 win.
Heartbreak.  From: the Post
There's really no other way to describe it. The Roadrunners, lead by former CU assistant coach Derrick Clark, choked down the stretch, going the final 3:50 seconds (seven possessions) without scoring a point.  They had held leads as large as 17 points, but tenacious Drury defense combined with a pair of missed 1-and-1 front ends to melt away the lead in the waning minutes.  When Drury guard Alex Hall hit a pair of freethrows to take the lead with 23 seconds to go, it just didn't feel like Metro had anything left to give.

The final possession was endemic of the offensive struggles, with multiple drives at the basket bearing no fruit.  Still, guard Brandon Jefferson had a chance to turn the slop into celebration, but looked past a quick-shot opportunity for a missed layup attempt that never had a chance to beat the buzzer.  A bitter pill to swallow after enjoying a terrific 32-3 season.

Said Clark, "This hurts, but these kids shouldn't feel down when they leave the locker room. That would take away from the mission, the journey. They got to play for a national championship."

Someone break up the Rockies - 

I don't mean to alarm everyone, but the Colorado Rockies are currently in a first place tie in the NL West.  Yes, those Rockies, that team that was expected to lose 90+ ballgames. 

Since losing in 10 innings on Opening Day, the Rox have won their last five in convincing fashion, including a 9-1 victory over the Padres yesterday afternoon to complete a three-game sweep.  Their 5-1 start is the best since 1995!

The big story has been the play of Dexter Fowler, who has 10 hits - only six of which have stayed in the ballpark - for the young season.  Buoyed by the center fielder's blazing pace, the Rox have scored the most runs in baseball.
Dexter did it again.  From: the Post.
Now, of course, it's very early, and I never actually care about the standings prior to Memorial Day, but at least they haven't spiked themselves... yet.  For all those people who were pleading for any signs of life from the team, you have your wish.  Now, let's see how long they can keep it up.

Happy Monday!

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