In a battle that was fittingly close, TeddyD defeats Sfrye4585 to become the 2009 Member Mayhem winner! Congratulations Teddy! The prize will be on its way shortly.
Both competitors put together solid entries. Sfrye loaded up on stats, and broke down the best games from the 2009 NCAA Tournament, scoring a perfect 25 points on the knowledge portion. Teddy, meanwhile, was awarded the maximum for the passion he envoked with his portrait of Detroit, and the impact the Final Four and Michigan State team have had on it's struggling citizens. In the end, Teddy's essay was good enough to earn him a 87-85 victory.
I just want to send one final message to everyone involved... Thanks to all of you who competed in this year's contest. It was a lot of fun, as usual, and it was great to see all the different thoughts and opinions. If you're reading this after the fact, take a look back at some of the great submissions your fellow Community members have put forth in the last few weeks. If you're a college basketball fan, I guarantee it will be worth your while.
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Good evening and welcome to another edition of “The Deep Fryer.” I'm your host, Sfrye4585. Tonight, we want to take a look back at the 2009 NCAA Basketball Tournament. We have had 64 games so far with only the championship game remaining. Let's now take a look at the top ten games from this year's tournament.
10) Midwest Region—Sweet Sixteen #2 Michigan St. vs. #3 Kansas Last year's champions started out the game strong, taking an eight-point lead into the locker room. However, the Jayhawks could not hold it as Michigan St. quickly erased the deficit. The second half went back and forth with the depth of the Spartans eventually getting the better of Kansas. Goran Suton had 20 points and Kalin Lucas added 18 as the Spartans won the game in the end with free throws, 67-62.
9) South Region—First Round #5 Illinois vs. #12 Western Kentucky The Hilltoppers led almost the entire game. With six minutes to go, their lead was 17 points. The Illini then started to chip away with the help of Trent Meacham's 24 points. It closed to a one-possession game with under a minute to go, but that was all they would get. Western Kentucky gets the upset, 76-72.
8) East Region—First Round #6 UCLA vs. #11 Virginia Commonwealth Eric Maynor almost did it again. The man that hit the buzzer-beater against Duke two years ago had the chance for another one against UCLA. The Bruins led almost the entire game, but VCU never let it get too far away from them. The Rams closed in the final minutes and Maynor had the ball with a few seconds left. When the shot fell short, the trendy upset pick was foiled and UCLA advanced, 65-64.
7) West Region—Sweet Sixteen #2 Memphis vs. #3 Missouri This was a phenomenal match-up with Memphis' high-powered offense against Missouri's full-court press. In the end, neither of them was better; it was Missouri's offense that stole the show. Mizzou led by as many as 24 and never looked back. This was the first time that John Calipari's Tigers had allowed 100 points. The Tigers (Missouri) beat the Tigers (Memphis), 102-91.
6) East Region—Second Round #2 Duke vs. #7 Texas Gerald Henderson took the Blue Devils on his back and carried them. He scored 24 points and had three clutch free throws in the final minute. The Longhorns managed to tie the game at 69-69 with 1:07 left on the clock. But that was as close as they would get. By making most of their final free throws and shooting 50% from behind the arc, Duke squeaked by Texas, 74-69.
5) Final Four #1 Connecticut vs. #2 Michigan St. This much-anticipated match-up was closely contested from the opening tip-off. But, in the end, Michigan St. once again used their depth to control the tempo and put the Huskies on the ropes. The Spartans had 33 points from their bench, including 11 from Korie Lucious and 10 from Durrell Summers. Michigan St. advanced to the title game with an 82-73 victory over Connecticut.
4) East Region—First Round #8 Oklahoma St. vs. #9 Tennessee This game was back and forth for forty minutes; Oklahoma St. led by as many as 8 and Tennessee led by as many as 7. All totaled, there were 18 lead changes through the entire game. With 7.2 seconds on the clock and the Volunteers leading by one, Byron Eaton found a hole and scored a lay-up and a foul. When Tyler Smith bricked a three-pointer at the buzzer, the Cowboys walked away with the win, 77-75.
3) South Region—Second Round #4 Gonzaga vs. #12 Western Kentucky Orlando Mendez-Valdez did all that he could for the Hilltoppers; he had 25 points and 7 assists. Gonzaga led by 9 until giving up 9 straight points for a tie game with 7.2 seconds left on the clock. Demetri Goodson then went the length of the court for the Bulldogs and nailed a runner with 0.9 seconds left. Gonzaga moves on with the win over Western Kentucky, 83-81.
2) Midwest Region—First Round #8 Ohio St. vs. #9 Siena The Buckeyes led by as many as 11 in the second half, but the Saints overcame 22 turnovers to tie the game at 56-all with a few seconds left in regulation. Evan Turner missed what would have been the game-winner and the game went to overtime. Ohio St. led by three at the end of overtime until Ronald Moore hit a three-pointer with three seconds left to send the game to double-overtime. There, Ronald Moore hit another three to give Siena a two point lead. When Turner missed a shot that would have caused a third overtime, the Saints could celebrate their 74-72 victory.
1) East Region—Elite Eight #1 Pittsburgh vs. #3 Villanova What could be better than two overtimes? If you saw this game, then you know. This was a typically physical Big East game. Villanova led by ten early before the Panthers closed the gap. The two teams traded the lead 15 times, with six of them being in the final six minutes. Levance Fields made two clutch free throws with 5.5 seconds left and the game looked to be going to overtime. Reggie Redding then inbounded the ball for the Wildcats. He threw a half-court pass to Dante Cunningham, who quickly dished it to Scottie Reynolds (closely resembling the the old Valparaiso play). Reynolds dashed through the defense and scored the game-winner with 0.5 on the clock. Villanova wins the game 78-76.
Well, there you have it: the top ten games from this year's tournament. Michigan St. now must take on North Carolina with the title on the line. Who will achieve their “One Shining Moment”? We will find out Monday. Good night.
John Wooden. Adolf Rupp. Dean Smith. Bobby Knight. To establish yourself as one of the greatest coaches of all time, you have to something truly special. The “Wizard of Westwood” won 10 championships in 12 years at UCLA coaching two of the greatest college players of all time (Alcindor and Walton). His UCLA teams won 38 straight games in the NCAA Tournament and had four perfect 30-0 seasons. Adolf Rupp established a standard of excellence at Kentucky that turned horseracing fans into rabid hoops lovers. The “Baron of the Bluegrass” won four titles with an amazing 80% of his players coming from the sate of Kentucky. Rup oftentimes didn’t have the most talent, but his in-game coaching was unrivaled. Dean Smith coached at UNC for 36 years and retired as the winning-est coach in NCAA Division 1 history. He is known for his two championships, great players such as Jordan and Worthy, and his efforts towards desegregation and equal treatment of African Americans in the South. Bob Knight, the winning-est head man in NCAA Division 1 basketball history, coached the last undefeated NCAA men’s basketball team. “The General” won three national championships at Indiana with players such as Isaiah Thomas and Steve Alford.
Tom Izzo. This year, it feels like Tom Izzo is built more in the Rupp mold. He has his players and an entire state playing with desire and buzzing with hope like nothing I have witnessed. Izzo has led his Spartans to wins over USC, Kansas, Louisville, and Connecticut. You could put together 2 rock-solid NBA teams with the players he has beaten in the last several weeks (DeRozan, Gibson, Collins, Aldrich, Williams, Samuels, Price, and Thabeet). Based on talent alone, Michigan State should have arguably been shown the exit in the Round of 32. Yet, oftentimes talent only gets you so far. In sports, you oftentimes need a leader and a motivator to channel that talent into hustle, grit and determination. Michigan State has that leader. And now, if only for a weekend, Michigan as a State has found that leader.
When I pulled into Detroit on Friday night, things seemed bleak. Abandoned buildings were everywhere. Jobless claims were soaring week by week. Homelessness was becoming a very real possibility for many people like you and me. But every Detroit-native that I ran into seemed to be floating. Time after time, I heard people saying things like “How about Michigan State?” “Do you think Tom and those kids can do it?” and “Go Sparty!!!” One lady told me that she had never watched a basketball game in her life, but she was donning a Kalin Lucas jersey and face paint. During a time when people need hope, Tom Izzo has delivered. He has taken a group of kids who will listen and pushed them to play every game like it is their last. And Izzo knows what it means to fans. After the UConn game, he said “I hope we were a ray of sunshine, a distraction for them, a diversion, anything else we can be. We're not done yet, so hopefully we can continue to make them feel a little better.” Izzo understands that it’s bigger than him. He knows what a victory tonight will mean. He can see that people are depending on him. And, luckily for Michigan State fans, he thrives in these situations.
After the UConn game, Jim Calhoun told reporters that he “gave Izzo a great deal of credit.” And he should have. His team was out-hustled, out-motivated and out-coached by the best x’s and o’s coach the college game has seen this decade. Izzo was able to channel the fans into a legitimate 6th man wearing green on the court. And it all felt right…even if you weren’t a MSU fan. There have been a lot of fantastic moments in this year’s tournament. Scottie Reynolds’ runner in the Elite 8 will be replayed for years and years to come. Western Kentucky’s heroics were undoubtedly incredible. But at the end of the day, the job that Tom Izzo has done with this team and the hope he has restored to the community is unmatched. When I look back on the 2009 NCAA Tournament in 20 years, I will remember the Spartans, win or lose.