College basketball’s mad dash, more commonly known as March Madness, begins this week.
And while there will be loads of excitement ahead, let’s not forget what transpired this past weekend like Michigan State taking out Ohio State (27-7) in the Big Ten Tournament championship game, 68-64, behind guard Brandon Wood’s season-high 21 points, which overcame Buckeyes’ power forward Jared Sullinger’s 18 points with nine rebounds, and small forward Deshaun Thomas pouring in 11 points with six caroms, and in turn the Spartans (27-7) were given a top-seed in the West Regional.
Or Vanderbilt drilling Kentucky in the Southeast Conference tourney, 71-64, but the Wildcats (32-2) nonetheless were made the top-seed in the South Regional and overall No. 1 seed.
Or Syracuse (31-2) being thwarted by Cincinnati 71-68 on Friday in the Big East tournament, but were still handed a top-seed in the East Regional, while North Carolina (29-5) was stunned by Florida State 85-82 in the Atlantic Coast Conference title match, but still given top status in the Midwest Regional.
Only Colorado and UC Berkeley from the Pacific 12 made the field of 68 which wasn’t shocking given the conference was so weak.
Colorado’s 53-51 win over Arizona in the Pac-12 title game at Staples Center on Saturday had all the drama of a regional final because so much was riding on the outcome.
It wasn’t decided until the final seconds when guard Kyle Fogg (team-high 14 points) managed an off-balance jumper that fell about a foot short.
The signature play was a tomahawk dunk by guard Carlon Brown (13 points) with 48.6 seconds left that gave the Buffaloes a six-point lead.
Arizona made it a two-point affair, and had Fogg’s shot gone in would have forced overtime.
Colorado (23-11) was picked to finish toward the bottom of the Pac-12, but slowly developed into a beast, and may cause problems for future opponents because of its ability to rebound, defend, and find second-chance points.
Freshman small forward Andre Roberson is a star in the making and had 10 points with a game-high 11 rebounds, along with three assists, three steals and two blocks.
The Buffaloes (19 of 50 from the field for 38 percent) carved out a 10-5 lead with 14:42 left in the opening half, and led 19-14 with 8:23 showing before Arizona moved ahead 25-23 with 3:40 remaining.
But Colorado, which out-rebounded Arizona, 37-29, seized a 30-28 advantage at the intermission as shooting guard Spencer Dinwiddie (team-best 14 points with four rebounds) dropped in nine points.
Dinwiddie’s three-pointer with 11:44 left in the second half gave Colorado a 47-36 lead.
Arizona (18 of 49 for 36.7 percent) hit five of 19 from three-point range after making nine of 18 against Oregon State on Friday.
In one Big Ten semifinal on Saturday, Michigan State creamed Wisconsin 65-52 behind Draymond Green (14 points with 16 rebounds) and Austin Thornton (12 points), while in the other semifinal, Ohio State toyed with Michigan 77-55 as Sullinger finished with 24 points along with six rebounds, and Thomas added 22 points.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.