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The Kickoff

March 21, 2006|By DAVID STEELE

Here are a few final observations from the weekend in College Park and Philadelphia: Connecticut should be booking its flight to Indianapolis, because it's almost impossible to imagine losing to Washington, George Mason or Wichita State. Of course, Illinois, North Carolina and Tennessee probably couldn't imagine it either, but Connecticut simply should not lose to any of the teams coming to D.C.

Then again, Connecticut shouldn't have had to sweat out Albany and a Kentucky team that didn't exactly bring back memories of the Goose Givens days, or even Jeff Sheppard. I'm pretty sure the guys who played for the Kentucky team depicted in Glory Road could handle their counterparts today, in their 60s. But UConn needed a huge finish by Marcus Williams, an insane three straight offensive rebounds of missed free throws by Hilton Armstrong, and one very questionable out-of-bounds call down the stretch to hold onto what was a 13-point second-half lead.

Patrick Sparks went crazy for Kentucky: 28 points, 19 in the second half. Of course, someone in the post-game news conference prefaced a question about him by saying, "He's not the most athletic player out there ..." Three guesses what color Sparks is. Please don't get me started.

Jim Calhoun eventually pointed out to the questioner he's probably more athletic than you.

Villlanova-Boston College and Gonzaga-UCLA (in that order) are far and away the most appealing matchups in the next round, although it would make a lot of people happy if Duke-LSU were at least close.

Bonus for the growing legion of disgruntled Terps fans: Villanova's Shane Clark, 17 minutes, two points, four fouls. ...

So, you ask, how's the bracket? Eight of the final 16, that's how. I wrapped yellow police tape around the D.C. side of it.

david.steele@baltsun.com

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