Sunday, March 29, 2009

Elite 8 Ecstasy

In a miraculous final second play, Villanova shocked the basketball world and toppled number one seed and conference foe Pitt last night. With 10 seconds remaining in the game Nova had the ball and the lead 76-74. In an attempt to break the full court press, the Wildcats threw a full court pass that was heading out of bounds. A Villanova player saved the ball right into the hands of a Pittsburgh Panther who advanced the ball to Levance Fields who was fouled. With ice in his veins, Fields sank both shots from the charity stripe to knot the game at 76.
What happened next was simply "March Madness". Villanova borrowed the 1998 Valparaiso play and finished one of the best games of the 2009 tournament in dramatic fashion. Reggie Redding threw in the ball to Dante Cunningham out past the three point line who dished it to Scottie Reynolds. In the final 5.5 seconds, the junior guard weaved his way through traffic and took the ball to the rack. With a Pitt defender in his face he hit a hanging floater to advance the Wildcats to the Final Four.
What a game, what a finish. There were 15 lead changes with six of them coming in the final six minutes of play. The rest of us might be shocked by the upset, but Nova certainly is not. Since seeding began in 1979, they have won an NCAA record 15 games in the tourney as the underdog. Pitt had an amazing year and it was tough that someone had to lose. But this is what college basketball is supposed to be about and what keeps the fans coming back each year. Any team can win on any night. You gotta love this game.

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