Sunday, March 30, 2014

Elite 8

Hoop junkies, After a wild Friday night of basketball, the elite 8 is officially set, Michigan, UConn, Michigan State, and Kentucky joined Florida, Dayton, Arizona, and Wisconsin in the elitist of groups within just 1 victory of a final four berth. The night was definitely not for the faint of heart. We saw Michigan and UConn advance in the early games over Tennessee and Iowa State respectively. UConn continued its surprise run by handling a depleted Iowa State squad playing for the second game without star center Georges Niang. The huskies, behind a virtual lock for 1st team all-tourney, Shabazz Napier, continually bullied the oversized Cyclones. While Iowa State made a late rally, they were unable to hit free throws down the stretch and the 7 seed from the east advanced to the regional final. Props to Rebecca and Greg T for being the only ones to have the Huskies dancing to the elite 8. In the other early game, Michigan squeaked by 11 seed Tennessee by the narrowest of margins, 73-71, leaving big blue fans on the edge of their seats to the bitter end. The Wolverines enjoyed as much as a 15 point lead well into the second half, before the Vols made a furious rally to cut the lead down to a single possession late. However, it must have been the stroke of midnight because the orange glass slipper shattered as Tennessee left the floor wondering what could have been. Michigan advanced to its second straight elite 8 appearance and was poised for the prospective rematch of last years title game with Louisville. Only thing standing in the way of that destiny were the upstart 8 seed Kentucky wildcats… The dream matchup between bitter interstate rivals Kentucky and Louisville was realized almost out of fate. It’s as if the basketball Gods willed this epic rivalry into being when the stakes were highest. The hype didn’t disappoint. The first half was solid, as both teams exchanged blow for blow, with the defending champs taking a 3 point lead to the locker room. But the second half, my friends, left little to be desired, it simply had it all, pressure threes, tenacious dunks, gutty steals, it was a battle for the ages, true gladiator stuff. For those who were lucky enough to stay awake into the wee hours (Ed…. cough), it was a treat to say the least. With Louisville seemingly in control of the game, up 7 points with just over 4 minutes left, it was gut check time for Caliparis blue grass squad, and the wildcats delivered, in impressive fashion. Kentucky ended the game on a 15-3 run, squashing all dreams of a repeat for the Cardinals of Louisville, who lead the game for all but 65 seconds, wow. And so the 8 seed from the Midwest dances on to face 2 seed Michigan on Sunday for a shot at the final four. Congrats to Mike Z, Rodell #2, and Justin for accurately selecting the cats to the elite 8. For most though, the Louisville loss dealt a crushing blow especially, current 3rd placer Will and battling for the basement Abby who had the cards winning it all. The final game pitted final four favorite Michigan State against 1 seed Virginia in the east bracket. This game, just like Kentucky / Louisville did not disappoint. The Spartans controlled the game for most of the first half, leading by 4 at the break. Virginia came out strong in the second half and pushed the Spartans blow for blow down the stretch. However, in this game, the victory was clinched, not blown, from the free throw line. If you’re going to win a championship, you must make the easiest shot on the court. Michigan State did just that down the stretch and was able to squeak by a crafty UVA squad, who most definitely overachieved this season. And so we move on to regional finals today and tomorrow, with the final four to be set Sunday night at the conclusion of the Kentucky / Michigan game, tip 5:05 EST. See below for updated standings. Brian has taken the lead with 8 points last night, however he had Louisville in the championship game, so it’s still anyones game. The 5 of you highlighted below are the elite few who have your final four still intact, specific teams adjacent, incredible job. That means, these 5 have the most points still available. Those of you in red…. Well, that’s it. For Lindsay and Deborah, they have officially exhausted all resources, their brackets are done, RIP, funeral services to be scheduled, no further points to be had. For Deborah, she’s clinched at least a share for last place, impressive none the less. Bob may just owe her lunch, for saving his sports practice leadership, he still needs either Florida or Michigan State to win to alleviate himself of a tie for last. Curl that mustache for good luck Bob. Florida and Dayton tip tonight at 6:09 EST, just 4 hours from now. Good luck to everyone still in the running. We’ll have a clearer view of whos legitimately in the running coming Monday morning. Here’s to continuing the madness! Savor every last second, it’s gone all too soon… 1. Brian W (75 pts) 2. John F (71 pts) 3. Will D (71 pts) 4. Erik M (69 pts) 5. Chad B (68 pts) 6. Beth R (68 pts) 7. Mike Z (67 pts) Florida, Arizona, Michigan State, Kentucky 8. Molly B (66 pts) 9. Jennifer B (64 pts) 10. Rodell P #2 (64 pts) 11. Scott D (64 pts) 12. Ashley D (62 pts) Florida, Arizona, Michigan State, Michigan 13. Brent A (62 pts) Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan 14. Andrew B (62 pts) 15. Josh W (61 pts) 16. Greg T (61 pts) 17. Matt T (61 pts) 18. Kelly M (60 pts) Florida, Arizona, Michigan State, Michigan 19. Rebecca F (60 pts) 20. Rodell P #1 (60 pts) 21. Preston T (60 pts) 22. Kristal E (60 pts) 23. Barbara A (59 pts) Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan 24. Carrie P (59 pts) 25. Scott T (59 pts) 26. Peter M (57 pts) 27. Justin T (57 pts) 28. Chris H (56 pts) 29. Greg K (56 pts) 30. Lindsay M (55 pts) 31. Ryan M (52 pts) 32. Katie T (52 pts) 33. Ed A (50 pts) 34. David P (48 pts) 35. Bob F (45 pts) 36. Abby M (45 pts) 37. Deborah M (45 pts)

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