USA TODAY US Edition
-Lopresti: How sweet it is,
NEWORLEANS— Ah, the Sweet 16. Consider the possibilities. Let’s start here, with BYU in town to play Florida in today’s Southeast Regional, close enough to the French Quarter to smell the sin. What’s going to happen, for example, when the visiting Mormons meet Bourbon Street? Several planks of the honor code could be in peril.
Then again, the Cougars played in the Mountain West Conference tournament in Las Vegas, so their fans are used to resisting temptation.
Hey there, Jimmer Fredette. Your pals been hitting the town? He looked as horrified as if Florida was triple-teaming him with armed prison guards: “Maybe my friends from NewYork. But not from here (BYU).
Definitely not here.” About the basketball. Here are eight potential turns of events that would do the drama lovers of March particularly proud. Never mind the bruises some might put on your brackets.
-No. 1: Duke wins the West and North Carolina wins the East. Guess who’d be sharing the same semifinal airspace the following week in Houston? About time, too. The Boston Red Sox and NewYork Yankees have rolled in the same postseason dirt. But the Blue Devils and Tar Heels have never met in the NCAA tournament. -No. 2: Butler does it. Again. As remarkable as the Bulldogs’ trip to the Final Four was last year, a return — after losing an NBA draft lottery pick in Gordon Hayward and dropping nine games this season — would be off-thecharts inexplicable. They lose to Youngstown State but win when it counts against Pittsburgh? “It’s not a bad thing to the underdog,” coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday.
-No. 3: The former New York high schooler who left the state to become a college shooter with no fear or range limits doesn’t get the job done. The guy with the first name that suggests you should find him in a treehouse, not New Orleans Arena, loses.
We’re speaking, of course, about the coach at Florida, Billy Donovan, who shot Providence into the 1987 Final Four.
Fredette? Oh yeah. Sounds a lot like him, too. And if Donovan’s defense can’t stop him, BYU might roll right on to Houston.
“I was probably somebody that loved the game just like he loves the game,” Donovan said Wednesday. “Problem for mewas, I just wasn’t as good as he was.”
The last player to lead the nation in scoring and show up in the Final Four, by the way, was Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson, 51 years ago.
-No. 4: Kansas, Florida, Duke and North Carolina all win their regionals.
The Final Four would have blood so blue, it’d look like the Pacific Ocean. The winners of the past six national championships would be gathering in Houston.
-No. 5: Virginia Commonwealth and Richmond play for the Southwest Regional title.
ANo. 11 seed playing a 12 for the right to go to the Final Four? Unprecedented. Two schools from nearly the same ZIP code? Priceless.
-No. 6: Duke and Connecticut play for the West Regional title.
Classics when they meet. One of the early editions from the Christian Laettner Duke buzzerbeater collection defeated Connecticut 79-78 in the 1990 East final. The Huskies got revenge, and then some, upsetting the Blue Devils 77-74 in the 1999 national championship game and edging them 79-78 in the 2004 Final Four.
-No. 7: Kentucky meets North Carolina for the East title.
Strange, they have bumped into each other only twice in March. -No. 8: San Diego State wins the West. Who goes to the Final Four the same season it gets its first tournament victory ever? Two words: George Mason. Nobody else in 23 years.
But this week is all about sights never seen before. Wait till the Mormons get back from Bourbon Street.