Before we get started, let's just put something to rest right now. Last night proved nothing about Buddy Hield. One game has never proven anything about anyone; one of the most absurd myths about sport is that one can pass judgement on a player or team based on one single performance. It's patterns that matter. One game, regardless of the spotlight, is nothing more than a single data point.
That said: woof.
Really, both games last night were essentially putrid, a complete waste of time for spectators both present and at home. Syracuse made things interesting for awhile against North Carolina, but a sudden burst midway through the first half suddenly found the Tar Heels cruising to a 22-point snoozer. As for Oklahoma-Villanova, maybe Sue Bird said it best:
Villanova up 40 in the semi final? Someone tell them to stop ruining the game— Sue Bird (@S10Bird) April 3, 2016
But I bet you Dan Shaughnessy watched every minute of that disaster last night.
Meanwhile, in scenic Vermillion, South Dakota, a pretty good basketball game happened, and a pretty good basketball team just couldn't overcome another one. The Eagles did manage to rein in Nicole Seekamp, who was nevertheless named WNIT MVP, but even at that "reining in" still meant 7 points, 9 boards, and 8 assists. Tia Hemiller stepped up to fill the void in a big way, and single-handedly sealed the win late with a three and a pair of free throws. FGCU's Whitney Knight recorded a ridiculous nine blocks, missing the WNIT record by one.
In the end, it was South Dakota's 10-2 run to start the second half that really made the difference, as that allowed them to defend the high ground, as it were. Later in the half, when FGCU was threatening to tie, a fourth foul on Knight let the Coyotes open things up again and recover their lead. After that, it was simply a matter of holding the Eagles at arm's length.
In November, South Dakota visited Manhattan and the Wildcats escaped with an overtime victory. Even before the regular season ended, it was clearly K-State's best non-conference win. Now? It may stand as K-State's best win of the entire season. South Dakota is that good, that talented. And the Coyotes closed down the DakotaDome -- not really closed, as it'll still be used for football, but yesterday was the final basketball game to be played in the cavernous facility -- in style, with a raucous crowd of nearly 7,500 and a great atmosphere. That was not a mid-major basketball game yesterday. (After all, if it had been Michigan vs Oregon, the arena would have been practically empty.)
|NCAA DIVISION I MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT|
|NATL SF||(S1) Villanova 95, (W1) Oklahoma 51||Josh Hart (VU), 23|
|NATL SF||(E1) North Carolina 83, (MW10) Syracuse 66||Trevor Cooney (SYR), 22|
|WOMEN'S NATIONAL INVITATION TOURNAMENT|
|CHAMPIONSHIP||South Dakota 71, Florida Gulf Coast 65||Tia Hemiller (USD), 22|
We're down to six college basketball games left this season. Two of them are tonight as the women's Final Four commences in Indianapolis. The early game is the marquee matchup, and is also probably the de facto national championship game, but it would be foolhardy to assume anything other than a Connecticut win. The second game, on the other hand, has the capacity to be interesting. We'll see, won't we?
But most importantly, after tonight every game will be the end. The four games remaining will be the men's and women's Division I title games, and the women's Division II and III championships. We're that close to the wire, kids.
|NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT|
|NATL SF||5:00pm||(2) Oregon State||(1) Connecticut||Indianapolis IN||ESPN|
|NATL SF||7:30pm||(7) Washington||(4) Syracuse|