We’ve made it through opening weekend of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. At this time just one week ago 68 teams had a dream of cutting down the nets in Atlanta on April 8th. Now just 16 remain. In what admittedly hasn’t always been the most entertaining display of basketball, this tournament has provided a few storylines worth mentioning to the casual fan and reminding to even the most adamant of college basketball supporters.
You Always Remember Your First Time
Sure, it’s a cliché. But it’s true. For first time in their respective school’s history North Carolina A&T, Harvard, and Florida Gulf Coast University each won an NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament game over this March Madness’ opening weekend. North Carolina A&T opened their tournament with a First Four matchup with Liberty in Dayton on Tuesday. The Aggies defeated the Liberty Flames 73-72. Their reward? A date with the tournaments #1 overall seed Louisville (which ended as expected). For Harvard, their 68-62 win over #3 seed New Mexico was the darling of the opening Thursday slate, and one that head coach Tommy Amaker should proudly hang his hat on. Florida Gulf Coast has been the Cinderella of this ball so far, and with their opening round win over Georgetown and tonight’s victory over San Diego State, Coach Andy Enfield and his boys are headed to the Sweet Sixteen. Well deserved, all around.
Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
The FGCU Eagles really deserve their own headlines. They are the best story of this tournament and are the first #15 seed ever headed to the Sweet Sixteen. They will continue their historic run Friday matching up with the Florida Gators in the first showdown between two Florida schools in NCAA Tournament history. Just 591 short days ago the Gulf Coast Eagles were granted full NCAA Division I status, so tonight Coach Enfield should have plenty to be proud of. As my friend Sean Breslin attests you can believe in Andy Enfield, and honestly if you are not pulling for this team next round I don’t even know what to tell you.
Any other year the LaSalle Explorers may be the top story of the tournament. This year they are flying under the radar as a #13 seed headed to the Sweet Sixteen after wins over Kansas State and Ole Miss this weekend. This is a team that finished in fourth place in the Atlantic 10 regular season standings, so as you can see that conference can play a little ball. This is the first time that two teams seeded 12th or lower are in the Sweet Sixteen, so congratulations to LaSalle on an amazing season as they get prepared to play Wichita State on Thursday night.
Aaron Craft, junior guard for the Ohio State Buckeyes hit the shot of the tournament this afternoon. While this clip does not do the play or the game justice, Craft definitely had ice water in his veins as he did his best Michael Snaer impression to seal a hard fought victory. To make matters worse for Iowa State fans just moments before this dramatic ending Craft was on the receiving end of a very controversial offensive foul call that will raise debate over the restricted area below the rim. In the end Craft was the hero in the Buckeyes 78-75 win, and for a moment he reminded us all what March is all about.
Rule Need To Be Changed
If there is anything that the past four days has provided it’s that there are definitely a few rules that need to be changed in the game of college basketball. One rule in particular that has been shown to be fatally flawed is the topic of elbowing and contact above the shoulder. Currently under the rules a defender can get right up into the face of an offensive player and far too often a defensive player has been in the grill of a ball-handler so much that the man with the ball cannot get into a triple-threat position without making contact with the defender. When this contact occurs with an elbow to an opponent’s face (or above the shoulders) it has resulted in a flagrant foul being called on the offensive player, even when the contact is seemingly unavoidable. By the letter of the law the officials are making the correct calls on the floor, but this a rule that really takes away from the integrity and spirit of the game. There needs to be some give and take and a player with the ball needs to be granted some rights to real estate on the court, but right now that is not the case. Look for that rule to be changed as soon as possible.
There were plenty of other storylines over this past weekend and so much more to look forward to as the final rounds of this tournament play out, so please keep an eye out for my Sweet Sixteen preview later in the week.