Friday, March 10, 2006

Some You See Coming, Some You Don't

I saw NC State's early exit coming. They came into the ACC tournament with a three-game losing streak and injuries. One of the wounded, Cam Bennerman, came back today and scored 23 points in the Wolfpack's semifinal loss to Wake Forest. Ilian Evtimov, however, is still hobbled with a tendon problem in his foot, scored only six. Compounding State's problems was the 40-21 edge the Demon Deacons enjoyed off the boards. State rallied from a 17-point hafltime deficit to make a game out of it, but they stagger into the NCAA tournament with more questions than answers right now.

I did not see Wake Forest's resurgence coming. The Deacons had lost 10 of 12 before their win over NC State to close the regular season. Oddly enough, it was Wake that kept their poise in the second half of their first round win over Florida State while the favored Seminoles fell apart. The Deacons then took it to the Wolfpack today, getting some unlikely contributions along the way. Center Kyle Visser, buried deep on the bench most of the season, pulled down 10 rebounds and Justin Gray dished out 10 assists, a season high. Perhaps the seniors like Gray, Eric Williams, and Chris Ellis decided to make one last stand. This surge will extend their season into at least the NIT, a tournament they just might win.

I saw Tennessee's early exit from the SEC tournament coming, although not at the hands of South Carolina. Like NC State, the Volunteers peaked a few weeks ago and will head into the NCAA's having lost three of their last four.

I did not see a Big East tournament final matching Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The 'Cuse are on an emotional roll, winning all three games in the tournament in the final moments. It's likely to be an ugly championship game tomorrow night, but it will be intense and, if the Orange are playing, it should go down to the last minute.

Saturday is my favorite day of basketball of the entire season. The tournaments are down to the power teams with a few upstarts. We should see some compelling hoops.


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