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Dance Fever

As usual, there are plenty of memories from the last three weekends, with Noah and Florida breaking UCLA's serve to end the madness

April 04, 2006|Diane Pucin | Times Staff Writer

INDIANAPOLIS — There may have been fewer buzzer-beaters than usual and complaints about the basketball being boring (thanks, UCLA, for understanding how to play defense), but there have been plenty of chances over the last three weeks of this NCAA tournament to get on the phone and scream, "Did you just see that?" At least 10 of them.

10 When Lucious Jordan of the No. 16 Albany Great Danes made a layup with 8 1/2 seconds left in their first-round game against No. 1-seeded Connecticut, the fans in Philadelphia rose in unison and let loose a roar that caused the melted ooze at Pat's Cheesesteaks a few blocks up the road to move. Albany led, 50-38, and had the Huskies on the run. It seemed possible that a No. 1-seeded team was on the verge of losing in the first round of the tournament for the first time. But 20 seconds later Connecticut's Denham Brown made a three-pointer and the dysfunctional Huskies went on to win, 72-59.

9 Northwestern State was down by 17 with 8 1/2 minutes left against No. 3-seeded Iowa. No problem. The 14th-seeded Demons from Natchitoches, La., pressed and pressured the Hawkeyes into disarray and with less than a second left, Northwestern State's Jermaine Wallace stood deep in the left corner and launched a high, arching three-pointer. Wallace couldn't see the ball go through the net, but he could hear the swoosh. The final score was Northwestern State 64, Iowa 63, and it was the start of a terrible tournament for the Big Ten. All six entrants would be eliminated the first weekend.

8 Down 10 in the second half of their first-round game against San Diego State, the fourth-seeded Indiana Hoosiers weren't quite ready to end the career of lame-duck Coach Mike Davis. With Indiana still trailing, 83-82, with 40 seconds left, San Diego State's Brandon Heath dribbled near half court while closely guarded by Marshall Strickland. The ball trickled out of Heath's hands. It appeared Strickland might have touched it, but Heath didn't think so and as the ball went back over the half-court line, Heath thought if he touched it again it would be a backcourt violation. Heath waited for Strickland to go for the ball, and when he did, Heath attacked. A jump ball was called and Indiana got possession. After a timeout, the Hoosiers' Robert Vaden made a three-pointer in the face of the stunned Aztecs, who ended up losing, 87-83. "I didn't think I could touch the ball," Heath said later. But replays showed that he could have.

7 There was no single, dramatic moment when No. 13 Bradley upset No. 4 Kansas, 77-73, in the first round, the Jayhawks' second straight quick exit. Instead there were 11 three-pointers by the Braves, a sign that Bradley believed it belonged in the second round. And, it turns out, the third because the Braves also upset No. 5 Pittsburgh.

6 A tale of two goaltending calls. One that was made saved No. 1-seeded Villanova at least for a day. With less than three seconds left in overtime and Villanova trailing Boston College, 59-58, the Wildcats inbounded the ball under their basket. Villanova's Will Sheridan set a screen for inbounder Allan Ray. Eagle defender Sean Williams lost Sheridan, who found himself free under the basket and Williams could only try for the block. It was called goaltending. And this led to the second controversial goaltending, the one not called.

5 Washington was already feeling ill-treated by the officials in its Washington Regional semifinal against Connecticut. With 13:48 left in the second half, Washington senior Brandon Roy and Connecticut sophomore Rudy Gay got in each other's faces after Roy had been called for a personal foul. No body contact, no pushing or shoving, but an official called double technicals. Because a technical also counts as a personal foul, Roy was assessed his third and fourth fouls. While Roy sat on the bench for seven minutes, Washington's eight-point lead disappeared. The game went to overtime and with Connecticut leading, 88-87, Roy drove and launched a layup that was blocked by Hilton Armstrong. From all appearances the ball was on its way down into the basket but goaltending was not called. Connecticut got the rebound, Marcus Williams scored and Connecticut went on to win, 98-92.

4 When a layup by Connecticut's Denham Brown bounced three times on the rim before dropping in at the end of regulation to give the Huskies a 74-74 tie with Cinderella George Mason in the Washington Regional final, it seemed George Mason's sweet story was over. But five minutes later, the Patriots were in a sweaty, happy mass on the floor and schoolchildren everywhere were studying up on who, exactly, George Mason was and how did he win basketball games? The 11th-seeded Patriots had won, 86-84, becoming the first true mid-major since Pennsylvania and Indiana State in 1979 to go to the Final Four.

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