USA Today

Sweet 16 Reaction

One highlight reel play after another.

March 29, 2019 - 9:23 am

I told you yesterday that it was a stacked day. MLB Opening Day and the first four games of the Sweet Sixteen. I mean, how do you describe that? As a certain Toledo news team said, it was time to SLAY ALL DAY.

How do you get your mind and your body right for a day like that? Three things: “Stay woke, be on fleek and get that Gucci breakfast.”

I’m starting with basketball and I’m starting with the West Region, the Region of Van Smack. Florida State v. Gonzaga in the opener. Texas Tech v. Michigan in the nightcap. And the Rome family in the house. 

There was a “hundo p chance” of a great pair of games. And it lived up to the hype. Florida State and Gonzaga was an absolute battle. Two teams that are talented as hell and tough as hell. And they can throw down. There was one dunk after another. One highlight reel play after another.

FSU’s Trent Forrest with the rejection.

FSU’s Terence Mann with the strip and dunk

FSU with the alley oop on the break


Brandon Clarke with some put back nastiness.

Oh, and those were the only highlights. Because who came by my seat but one John Stockton. The OG himself. Incredible. And even more incredible, Janet brought him over to say hello to me and the boys. 

About as incredible as Gonzaga is. But before I give them their much deserved love, FSU gets some too. Leonard Hamilton’s crew has an absolute ton of heart. They were banged up. They didn’t have their whole team and they just battled. Every timed it looked like Gonzaga was going to end it, FSU came right back and made it a game. Much respect to Coach Ham and his crew.

And much respect to Mark Few and his guys. He’s going to his third Elite Eight in the last five years. Gonzaga. Three Elite Eights in five years. Absolutely amazing. They are tough. They are deep. And they’ve been tested.

And they will be tested again tomorrow night because they are going to face Chris Beard and Texas Tech.

Texas Tech 63
Michigan 44

Tech put an absolute beating on the Wolverines. That arena last night was loaded with fired up Michigan fans before the game and the freeways were loaded with depressed Michigan fans after the game. Because Tech just flat out dominated them. 

That was as nasty a defense as I’ve seen in a while. They held Michigan to 16 points in the first half. And didn’t let them get to 20 until after the 24thminute. That is insane defense. They weren’t just holding the Wolverines without points, they were going long stretches without even getting up a shot. 

And if you didn’t appreciate Chris Beard before, maybe you will now. Forget the Lucky Charms and the Whataburger and all the things that make him a great interview and a great presence on this show, the guy can flat out coach his ass off. 

Nobody locks up a John Beilein team like that. Nobody. Beilein is going to the Hall of Fame and Beard just put his crew in a straightjacket. Because that’s what Chris Beard does. Round of 32 with Little Rock. And now back-to-back Elite Eights at Texas Tech. 

In the words of a certain Toledo weatherman, that’s OKKKKUURRRRRR

And those two games, as good as they were, weren’t even the best of the night. Because there was Tennessee-Purdue. That was unreal. The Boilermakers were smashing the Volunteers by 18 in the second half, and somehow, Tennessee got back into the game. They didn’t just get back into it, they took it over.

Admiral Schofield if you need him.

But Ryan Cline wasn’t letting Purdue fall apart. He put on a clinic. This shot was sweet

And then this with less than 40 seconds left was insane.

He looked like he had no idea where he was going, but he knew what was happening the entire time. Absolutely drained it. 

But Tennessee still had a two-point lead with under three seconds left and Purdue in-bounding. Get the stop, get the win, and move on. Roll it. 

Carsen Edwards fouled in the act of shooting a three. Brutal moment for Tennessee. You have the chance to end the game right there and you commit a foul. 

But then Edwards, who had a monster game, steps to the line for Purdue and misses the first free throw. Brutal moment for Purdue. You have the chance to end the game right there and it slips out of your hands. 

Then Edwards shows serious steel, goes make, make, and we’ve got overtime. And Purdue ran away with it in overtime. The Vols just ran out of gas and Purdue advances 99-94 in the game of the tournament so far. 

And tonight we’ve got LSU-Michigan State, Auburn-North Carolina, Virginia Tech-Duke, and Houston-Kentucky. Think that will be any good? I think so.