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The Round Mound of Rebound. Sir Charles. Chuck. No matter the nickname you prefer, Charles Barkley’s basketball and television career has spawned dozens of great quotes, commentary, and hilarious moments. In honoring one of the greatest power forwards of all-time and in looking forward to his coverage of March Madness, we present this weekly installment, What Would Charles Say?
Let Me Tell You Something: The NCAA’s First Four has taken a lot of heat in its first two years for not being part of the “real” NCAA Tournament, but Tuesday night’s games between Western Kentucky-Mississippi Valley State and BYU-Iona were such compelling theater that it served as a reminder that March basketball is really fun no matter what you call it. In the opener between two No. 16 seeds, Western Kentucky, with its shiny new head coach Ray Harper, stormed back from 16 points down in the final five minutes of the game to win by a single point in front of President Barack Obama and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron. In the follow-up game, Iona ran out to a 25-point lead in the first half before the Cougars, behind the fantastic play of Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies, completed the biggest NCAA Tournament comeback in history to win by six points. It was an exhilarating set of games, and a bold reminder — March Madness is here!
Pulling Their Weight: For a group of men and women who are dragged through the mud every Selection Sunday for its selections to the NCAA Tournament, the caterwauling critics of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee were largely quiet this year. Some folks had a bit of an issue with a BYU’s inclusion, others didn’t like Drexel getting left at home. But by and large, the committee appeared to have gotten it right — or as right as possible given the subjective nature of picking 37 at-large teams and putting them into the field. And with the edge-of-our-seat matchups we got during Tuesday night’s First Round games, is that a harbinger of things to come throughout the rest of the month? We certainly hope so.
I Am Not A Role Model: A parent’s responsibility is to help his or her children deal with problems and develop them into stronger people. But one student-athlete actually played a reverse role in his family’s life, as Louisville star guard Peyton Siva once helped save his own father’s life when Mr. Siva was dealing with emotional problems and contemplated suicide. The young Peyton was only 13 years old when he went searching for his missing father and talked the elder Siva out of taking his own life. Last week, the Louisville captain was named Big East Tournament MVP after leading his team to the conference championship, with his father in attendance watching the game. The first thing Siva did after the game was run to his family and give his father a hug, a special moment that reminded us all that some young men in college have to deal with important issues in their lives that helps keep the game of basketball in perspective.
That’s Turrible: What in the world happened to Iona Tuesday night? In the first 16 minutes of its First Round game against BYU, the Gaels had a 55-31 lead and looked like they were going to outscore every NBA team that night. Fans were collectively thinking that this was the greatest No. 14 seed ever and could give Marquette a run for its money in the next round. Seemingly out of nowhere but in part because of BYU’s switch to a zone defense, the team fell completely apart and put forth an embarrassing effort after everyone had told his or her friends to put on the game. In the final 24 minutes of action, Iona was outscored 47-17. It was the biggest collapse in NCAA Tournament history and left us all wondering, what the heck happened? Coming from the small conference of the MAAC, Iona did not represent mid-major nation well by blowing this one.
I May Be Wrong, But I Doubt It: Ok, here are a few upset possibilities to watch for during the first weekend of NCAA action. You can flog us with a wet noodle if we’re wrong. Some teams we like to make a run at the Sweet Sixteen are Long Beach State, VCU and San Diego State. Some teams we like to win a game as the underdog are Harvard, West Virginia, California, Virginia, Davidson, and New Mexico State. Remember kids, bracket selections are a heavy responsibility and yours and yours alone. Good luck to everyone in their bracket pools this weekend!
Check back next Wednesday for another edition of Rush the Court’s What Would Charles Say?