It's Time for Madness!!!
The real March Madness begins in earnest tomorrow, and it's that time of the year when everyone in your office, domicile, collective or whatever fills out a bracket and pretends to be interested in men's college basketball.
Let's be real for a second. College basketball is nearly unwatchable. One can point to the 35-second shot clock, the stupid possession arrow in lieu of jump balls, the mercernary nature of players with the one-and-done rule, the Duke flopping, the over-controlling coaches that have strangled the fun out of the game, the incessant cheerleading from Dick Vitale, the snoozefest broadcasts from CBS. It's just unbearable really.
The only reason people tune in for the Tournament is for the upsets galore in the first weekend. It justifies the use of "Madness" in their trademarked title. We want to see the Northern Iowas of the world beat the blue bloods, the Dukes, the Kentuckys, the North Carolinas. It's the moment of schadenfreude that we all relish, like going to the buffet at Bellagio.
But in the Sweet Sixteen, college basketball rights itself and it returns to its boring self.
Now speaking of madness, let's talk about the Ducks 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Sure the luster was knocked off the Blackhawks when they finally lost in regulation to the Colorado Avalanche two weeks ago which they followed up with a home loss to the Edmonton Oilers two nights later. But a 8-1 win at the Dallas Stars on Saturday announced to the world that the Hawks weren't going to go away.
In the first four minutes, it was pure madness at the Honda Center. Peter Holland scored 84 seconds into the game to give the Ducks the quick 1-0 lead. But a couple of minutes later during the Ducks power play, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews saw an errant pass come his way. He powered his way past the sticks of two chasing Ducks players and blasted a shot past Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller to tie the game.
Nick Leddy gave the Hawks the 2-1 lead midway through the second period on a power play thanks to a screen in front by Viktor Stalberg which prevented Hiller from seeing the puck coming. From there the Blackhawks were dominating the play, and the Ducks forecheck seemed to disappear in the air.
But Ryan Getzlaf with under six minutes left in regulation either shot the puck or centered a pass to the crease. Regardless the puck bounced out to Bobby Ryan waiting right there in front of the paint to give the Ducks some hope.
That seemed to wake up the Ducks as they started pressuring Crawford and magically forechecking like mad. Chicago started making some mistakes, and Getzalf took advantage just outside the Chicago blue line getting the turnover and dishing the puck to the eternal Teemu Selanne. Crawford had no prayer.
The momentum was on the Ducks side, and there was no way they were going to lose. Sheldon Souray made it official with an empty netter in the final minute of the game.
With a shootout win and a regulation win, the Ducks have yet to lose to the Blackhawks this season.
Meanwhile after a disappointing 116-101 loss in Sacramento to the Kings, the Clippers rebounded at home against the Philadelphia 76ers 101-72. They're still not winning a title.
While we're on the topic of madness, here are two upsets I have for tomorrow:
12 Oregon over 5 Oklahoma State
12 California over 5 UNLV
It's mere coincidence that they're both Pac-12 teams, but let's face it. The Pac-12 was a bit hosed in the seeding by the NCAA selection committee.
So how many of you have Michigan State beating VCU in the final?