Hawthorne Wingo Hangs On
After an absolutely thrilling Sunday of basketball, we are right where we were at the end of Saturday - at least as far as the leader of the pool.
Hawthorne Wingo, who picked a perfect bracket on Saturday, held on to the top spot by picking 7 out of 8 games correctly on Sunday, and leads the pool with 57 points. Not to be outdone, we have a new second place entrant, who has a perfect Sweet 16, by the name of Dribble (56 points). Then it gets crowded, as eight players are tied for third at 54 points. They are Roger Dunkelberger, Rocket John, Cdr Bob, Blue Wave, David Turner, Amy C, Ashleythedog, and Net Prophet. Five players are at 53, and six players are at 52. Still lots of time for movement as the Sweet 16 games on Thursday and Friday are worth 3 points each.
Elsewhere on Sunday…
The Dookies Escape
So many story lines in the Dook vs. UCF game, which the boys from Durham won in a thriller by one point. First of all, Coach K was going against former Dookie Johnny Dawkins, coaching at UCF. Johny Dawkins’ son, Aubrey, plays for UCF, so he was going against his old man’s alma mater. Then of course you have the Zion Williamson show, arguably the most celebrated freshman in the history of college basketball. And finally, you had the 7-6 Tacko Fall of UCF (see below). Just an incredible finish to this one, but the Dookies survived a furious final minute and advanced. I haven’t cheered that hard for a team named the Knights since The Natural. This one was particularly jarring for your humble pool-master, as the underdog’s winning shot rimming out in the closing seconds was reminiscent of the Dookies’ escape at home against my Wake Forest Demon Deacons earlier this month. I still have nightmares.
The Ubiquitous Gene Steratore
The CBS games are featuring official Gene Steratore as part of the broadcast crew, chiming in on questionable/close calls to explain the rules. If that name seems familiar to you, it’s because he serves in the same capacity during the broadcast of NFL games on CBS. I used to be under the impression that referees “specialized” in particular sports, but clearly Steratore has a certain “gravitas” that can transfer to different sports (he’s also reffed NCAA basketball games for 25+ years). So I learned something today. For me, though, he will always be enshrined as the head referee of Super Bowl LII (that’s 52 for you non-Romans), when the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots. I only add that because, one year and two months later, I’m still celebrating. :-)
Breaking News: Tacko Fall is Tall
You probably saw the tournament’s tallest player, UCF’s 7-6 Tacko Fall (how could you miss him?) on Sunday vs. the Dookies. He’s like, really tall. This is my favorite picture of him, with Tracy Wolfson. But the best story about him is that UCF brought his mother in from Senegal for his final home game earlier this month, the first time she’d seen him in 7 years (he left Senegal at 16 to pursue basketball in the US). She had never even seen him play basketball. There is no truth to the rumor that he said, “Mom, please give me my space.”
You gotta let the peacock fly!
Coming back from a commercial break in the Iowa-Tennesse game, they mic’d up Frank Garza, father of Iowa’s Luke Garza, and among other things he said, “You gotta let the peacock fly.” Tremendous reference to a great film, The Other Guys, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. I’m usually not jealous of other people’s movie-reference game, but that one was just tremendous, and I’m planning on incorporating it into my vernacular. Well played, Mr. Garza, well played.
Speaking of that game, Tennessee was up 25 at one point — and 21 at the half — but the Hawkeyes stormed back in the second half and forced overtime. A very entertaining game, but the Vols took control in overtime and advanced for a date with Purdue in the Sweet 16.