The so-called "madness" that comes along with the NCAA men's basketball tournament is into its second phase, reconvening this evening at the Honda Center in Anaheim. The Sweet 16. Sounds exciting, doesn't it? (Not really.)
Beyond Duke, the sports media has been quick to dismiss the remaining three programs in the West region as serious title contenders. But this is March, and like the name implies, madness ensues. The so-called experts are regularly wrong. The little guy sometimes wins. Buzzer-beaters come with the territory. Which makes the tournament great--and means Arizona, Connecticut and San Diego State have a fighter's chance.
Even if you aren't a die-hard fan and didn't fill out a bracket (mine is garbage--seriously, who expected Butler to beat Pittsburgh?!), we've put together a list of five items of interest to those who care . . . or it can be used as a cheat sheet for those who don't give a damn but might stumble into a conversation about the tournament.
5. College Basketball Royalty . . . and San Diego State
Mike Krzyzewski. Lute Olson. Jim Calhoun. Grant Hill. Ray Allen. Christian Laettner. Richard "Rip" Hamilton. Gilbert Arenas. Mike Bibby. ACC. PAC-10. Big East. Seven NCAA men's Division I championships. There has quite a bit of college-basketball history represented in the West region, practically a Who's Who of former coaches and players. Arizona has only won it all once (1997) but regularly runs deep into the tournament and has produced a number of NBA-ready guards, leading to the nickname "Point Guard U." Connecticut (UConn) has two titles (1999, 2004) but may be better known for its winning women's program. Duke is Duke. With its four titles (1991, 1992, 2004 and 2010), it's among the most storied programs in the country. And then there's San Diego State, which, before this year, had never won a game in the NCAA tournament. Under head coach Steve Fisher (see No. 3), the team had all sorts of firsts this season and is aiming to continue its unlikely run to the Final Four.
|Now that's representin'!|
4. Orange County Representation
OC has produced a couple solid college and pro players. This year, that's not quite the case. There are three players who'll be suited up who once lived and competed in Orange County. Unfortunately, of the three, the likelihood is that we'll probably only see one have any sort of impact--or even make an appearance. Kyle Fogg is a junior with the Arizona Wildcats and is part of the starting five. He averages 8 points per game and leads the team in assists. The 6-foot-6 guard once played and starred at Brea Olinda High. Also on the Arizona roster is junior Alex Jacobson, a 7-foot center who played at Mater Dei. To prove size doesn't always matter, Jacobson has been mostly a non-factor for the Wildcats. The third and final player is San Diego State's sophomore forward, Alex Williams, who was a standout at JSerra High in San Juan Capistrano. Williams has spent most of the season on the bench.