It’s finally here. Games tipped off about an hour and a half ago. I’m in a greyhound terminal in Oklahoma City, only miles away from Chesapeake Energy Arena where the Oklahoma Thunder play. I’ve been on the road for a week; catching up with old friend and family and my internet access has been spotty at best.
I had planned on writing a post-conference tournament wrap up column earlier in the week. Had things gone according to plan, I could have bestowed a congratulations to Deandre Kane (man I hope the Thunder, Pacers, Warriors or Spurs draft him) and the rest of the Iowa State Cyclones for winning the the toughest conference I have seen in years. Coach K disagrees with me I’m sure, but I think Duke would be a double digit loss team had they played in the Big 12 this year.
Iowa State was due to finally beat Kansas. They had been so close to winning against them the last couple of years (the hard fought games reminded me of those epic Duke-Maryland battles from 2000-2002). You could tell that the Ames faithful, Fred Hoiberg, and company wanted that W badly. I thought the first half of the KU-ISU game was one of the best halves of basketball I’d seen all year, and incredibly hard fought. I was wondering how they would have anything in the tank for the second half. It was a physical game and a poorly officiated one as well. Refs need to learn how to let the boys play and worry more about traveling and palming violations than calling fouls.
It sucked to see KU lose the way they did. Iowa State was too big to play small ball against them. The ball movement in the 2nd half was damn near non-existent. Besides Perry Ellis, no one on the team played well enough for the Jayhawks to win. Wiggins had scored 71 points the last 2 games, so it was unrealistic to expect an otherworldly performance against the Cyclones without Embiid to take focus away from him. I cringe every time Jamari Traylor puts the ball on the floor. Things just get ugly. He was trying to do too much(maybe he been watching too many Morris Chestnut movies?)–someone should tell him to chill on the hero ball–there’s no need for it.
Selection Sunday has come and gone. I’m sure you’ve heard all the analysis by now and I don’t need to to go back into why I think Kansas will lose to Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen. All I am going to say is that if i’m a Wichita State player I’m licking my chops at the challenge that is awaiting them. This is their “prove it” moment. They get to face the best in the toughest bracket to ever be set up for an undefeated team. They can silence the critics just by making it to the Final Four. Anyway, enough talk, I’m going to let my bracket do the talking for me. The madness is already upon us.