|One upset, then another, and another, and another ... It's Tampa Turmoil, NCAA style|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 21 March 2008 20:33|
Seeing all those upset victories left him, well, upset.
``You're like, 'There's no way it can happen in all four,''' Wright said.
Oh, but it can. And it did.
For the first time, four NCAA tournament first-round games at the same site on the same day all wound up being classified as upsets - surely sending brackets everywhere into a tailspin and leading to some highly unusual second-round pairings.
Take a bow, No. 12 seeds Western Kentucky and Villanova, and No. 13s San Diego and Siena.
You were the underdogs in Tampa on Friday. You'll still be standing on Sunday. And two of you are heading to the round of 16 next week, two wins away from maybe the most improbable Final Four appearance ever.
``I'm sure this is going to be talked about. They're going to have some name for this, like it's got to be the 'Tampa Turmoil' or something,'' Wright said. ``It's incredible what happened here today.''
Well, not if you're Drake or Connecticut or Vanderbilt or Clemson.
Those four schools were high seeds and all ventured into the tournament with plans to make big runs. And they all got bounced, one giant getting slain after another. After another. After another.
``You better believe it,'' Siena forward Josh Duell said. ``We knew what we were coming here for.''
Since the NCAA tournament field was expanded to 16 seeds per region in 1985, there's only been five other matchups of No. 12 seeds facing a No. 13 in the second round, most recently in 2001 when No. 12 Gonzaga got into the round of 16.
That's five out of a possible 92 times in a 23-year span. It's rare.
And it's going to happen twice on Sunday, when No. 12 Villanova plays No. 13 Siena in the Midwest Region, and No. 12 Western Kentucky faces No. 13 San Diego in the West Region.
``To be honest with you, it's undescribable,'' said Western Kentucky's Ty Rogers, who hit a 26-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer of the first game, lifting his team over Drake 101-99. ``It feels wonderful as you can imagine.''
That game was the most wild of a wild Friday, with the teams combining for two NCAA 3-point records - 30 makes and 70 attempts, the last of which will be one that either Rogers or the Hilltoppers will never forget.
``It was wild,'' Western Kentucky coach Darrin Horn said.
It was just the start.
Like Western Kentucky, San Diego needed overtime in the second game to oust Connecticut 70-69. The Huskies - a Final Four team on more than a few brackets - lost in the first round for the first time since 1979.
``My opening statement is rather simple: You simply saw it, San Diego outplayed us,'' UConn coach Jim Calhoun said.
Siena was the exception to the Tampa upset rule on Friday.
The Saints didn't win in a nailbiter. They blew Vanderbilt out, 83-62. Kenny Hasbrouck scored 30 points, Tay Fisher added 19, and the Metro Atlantic champions rolled into a second-round matchup with Villanova, sending some fans scrambling to cancel Easter plans in New York's capital region.
``When people say Cinderella, it really doesn't come to my mind,'' said Fisher, who went 6-for-6 from 3-point range. ``Because I knew we could hang with anybody.''
But the upset bug seemed to be in jeopardy in the nightcap, when Villanova fell behind 36-18 with 5 minutes to go in the first half and Clemson looked poised to roll to an easy win.
``I thought if anything, what happened earlier today got our guys ready to go,'' Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said.
Ah, but the Tigers eventually forgot Rule No. 1 in Tampa - fear the underdog.
Of course Villanova would rally, and with Rollie Massimino - who coached the Wildcats to the 1985 NCAA title over powerful Georgetown in maybe the greatest tournament upset ever - among those cheering them on, Wright's club used a huge second-half effort to prevail 75-69.
``We're going to have some wild games Sunday,'' Wright said. ``Think about it. I think it's going to be something historical.''
It already is.