Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bruins Feast on Home Cooking

After narrowly escaping losses in two crucial weekend games, the UCLA Bruins find themselves poised with an opportunity to be one of the nation’s top tournament seeds. There were three big assists over the weekend that helped Houdini escape losses to Stanford and Cal, and they didn’t come from Darren Collison or any other player on the floor. The Bruins were assisted by some good home cooking, with officials making calls, well---like momma used to make.

With 2 second remaining in Thursday’s game against Stanford, and the Bruins trailing by 2, Collinson drove the lane and the Cardinal appeared to get a clean block of a shot attempt. Every replay shows all hand on the ball, with minimal body contact, but as momma would say, “my boy was fouled”, and the officials agreed. Collinson’s 2 free throws sent the game into overtime, where UCLA prevailed.

On Saturday, you could still smell the food in the kitchen, as UCLA again found themselves down and desperate against Cal, with less than 30 seconds to play. After a double clutch 3 point shot from Kevin Love brings the Bruins to within one, the call from the bench is to foul and stop the clock. Cal inbounds, a Bruin hacks and strips, and the Bruins are awarded the ball out of bounds. To the home viewers, and Cal bench, it was an obvious foul. But screaming from the kitchen, momma says, “that’s just good defense, and clumsiness on that other boy’s part”, and the officials agreed.

And finally, for dessert, momma cooks up a game winning circus shot that travels over the backboard and through the hoop. Shh! Don’t tell anyone that a shot traveling over the board is a violation and should not count. Obviously the cuisine is quite different in Pauley Pavilion.

But in all, let’s remember, only Duke gets all the calls in college hoops.

Championship or Bust

There was still a glimmer of hope for the defending champion Gators to go dancing, until they went into Lexington and dropped a must needed game. In a battle of two bubble teams, Kentucky helped their cause with a victory. The Gators now look to be in a position where they would need to win the SEC conference tournament to get in.

Florida has lost 5 of its last 7, has a poor out of conference schedule that featured losses to Florida State and Ohio State, and they’re 8-8 (6th) in the SEC. In other words, the Gators have nothing to offer the NCAA tournament committee. A couple of big wins over Vandy and Tennessee won’t do it. They’ll most likely have to win out to have a chance to defend their title, because it’s doubtful that anything less will do it.

And what about Kentucky, are they in? Gillispsie’s boys fought back in what began as a disastrous season. The Cats went 11-3 for the second half of the season, with a victory against Tennessee along the way. Their early season losses came against some big names, like Louisville, UNC, and Indiana. The loss against litte USD doesn’t appear so bad now, as they proved to be a legit challenger to Gonzaga and St. Mary’s in the WCC. And don’t forget the biggest thing they have going for them, the program history and name. Kentucky basketball is synonymous with the NCAA tournament. If you’re eyeing a group in a bubble, UK will always stand out.

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