Print Edition: March 28, 2012
For the past few weeks the NCAA March Madness tournament has been going on – did you even know? (by the way it’s in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania – spot that on a map for me) The sports headlines are buzzing, but not about number 15 Lehigh upsetting number two Duke. Headlines instead are focused on Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby’s one-point performance in his first game after his second recovery of neck issues. Headlines have also focused on Peyton Manning, who signed a five-year, $95 million deal last Monday to play in Denver. And it wasn’t the last we heard of the Bronco’s – Tebow will be “Tebowing” as the New York Jet’s fullback come September. That is not even the sports headliner – that spot is saved for the New Orleans Saints. Head coach Sean Payton and former defensive coordinator Greg Williams supposedly had bounties for the Saints defence, whose main targets were Cam Newton, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Kurt Warner. Knockouts were worth $1500, and $1000 for cart-offs, with the value doubled in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the NCAA tournament has its highest television ratings in 18 years, but it isn’t seen, read or listened to an awful lot in the sports world. It is understandable that the New Orleans Saints will be ruling the sports debate table for weeks and months to come, but aren’t you getting sick and tired of listening to constant Canuck news? The same issues of Roberto Luongo playing horribly, the lack of scoring, who’s in Alain Vigneault’s dog house, and Duncan Keith’s elbow are talked about constantly on the morning, afternoon and evening shows in this province – can’t there be a little room for a tournament that is having some of it’s best games in years? Sorry Canucks fans, but it is time to stop talking about Roberto Luongo for the three millionth time, and notice the heart pounding drama that is thrilling the basketball world.
No such thing as a sure thing
BOSTON – The game went down to the last minute, the majority Syracuse crowd held their collective breath until the buzzer went. Wisconsin was heavily armed with their three-point shooter brigade, lead by Jordan Taylor who had 17 points and eight assists. Their wing exchange was superb and they continuously moved the ball. The Badgers were seconds away from winning a thriller at TD Garden and making it to the Elite Eight. However, it wasn’t enough to beat the Orange who won 64-63. The Orange was led by big man C.J. Fair who had 15 points and Scoop Jardine who tallied 14 points and four assists.
The stats don’t lie – it was a close game. Wisconsin and Syracuse were neck-and-neck in all categories. Wisconsin had a total of 25 rebounds compared to Syracuse’s 26, they matched equally in turnovers with six, and there was a four-point differential in bench points (Badgers with 13, Syracuse with 17). Though the score and the stats were close, Wisconsin couldn’t match Syracuse’s intensity in the first 12 minutes of the opening quarter. They seemed lethargic and couldn’t get anything going. At the seven-minute mark of the first, the Orange went on a seven-point run. Wisconsin never seemed to catch up; though their three-pointers were the reason why the Badger’s stayed close, they only went 14 for 27 – something that has been their greatest weapon or greatest demon. When the Badger’s three-point game is on they are invincible, but when it’s not, the team quickly falls – most notably during the season sweep by Iowa.
It also didn’t help that guard Jared Berggren was fouled out of the first quarter, who tallied 10 points in the first 12 minutes. Syracuse kept the Badgers on their heals in the last several minutes, extending the zone and putting pressure on the Badger’s shaky three-point game. Jordan Taylor couldn’t get in his long contested jumper to secure the win and Josh Gasser’s putback attempt was off target. Unfortunately this will be the last game for senior Jordan Taylor, but he will be remembered for much more than Thursday’s effort. Taylor grew mentally and physically stronger each year, and single-handedly won games for the Badgers. His steady play at point guard elevated Wisconsin from a 1-3 start in the Big Ten to lead them into another NCAA tournament. Taylor deserves a lot of credit for leading a relatively young team, putting them in the position to get to the Sweet Sixteen and almost upsetting the first-ranked Orange.