Wednesday, March 18, 2009


This is one of few years in recent history that I'm not in Mexico City during the opening weekend of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament (a.k.a. - March Madness). Therefore, I'm hoping to soak up as many games as possible. I've already posted my picks. But here are two of my favorite Madness moments...

(1) Ohio State vs. (9) Xavier - 2007

I loved Gus Johnson's call as much as OSU's comeback. (The call only slightly tainted by the toolish guy doing color commentary.) I watch this video 2-3 times a week. Seriously. The best sequence is as follows:

Gus – Amy Miller, Sean’s wife, takes a deep breath.

Tool – Ohio State still has tiiiime. They’ve got their four best 3-point shooters in the game...

Gus – And he missed it!

Tool – Gotta hurry

Gus – Conley…5 to go…Lewis, who’s been awesome, lets it goooooo…BANGS IT HOME! He ties it at 62! Two seconds to go. Lavender…three-quarter court…and we’re goin’ to overtime…iiiinn LEXINGTON…ha-HAAAA. College basketball. CBS sports. This…is March MADNESS!

(By the way...I wrote that from memory. Honestly. It plays in my head like an old victrola. You can find the exchange at the 3:20 mark on the video.)

(3) Missouri vs. (14) University of Northern Iowa - 1990

I was in 5th grade living in Cedar Falls. At about 1:30pm, Hansen Elementary School turned into a madhouse. During the lunch / recess hour, teachers and students were flocking to televisions like Lutherans to a potluck. Eventually, each grade was given one TV, which meant there were 3-4 classes of students packed into one classroom. UNI kept hanging around a much higher-qualified Missouri team (which had been ranked #1 for several weeks earlier in the year).

The Panthers had the ball with 2 seconds left. Eldon Miller called time-out. He inexplicably inserted sharpshooter Maurice Newby, who had been on the bench for the final 10+ minutes of the game. On the in-bounds play, they run a back screen for Newby, he caught it 25 feet from the hoop. He turned and fired.

Nothing but net.

Hansen Elementary school erupted. Kids were running through the hallways. The principal had to get on the intercom to implore people to return to their classes. Nobody heard him. Mo Newby had put the city of Cedar Falls on the basketball map...and we couldn't have been happier.

* * * coda ***

The best part of the UNI / Missouri story was told to me later that afternoon by my sister, who was in the afternoon Kindergarten class watching the game. The person sitting next to her was Matt Bowlsby, son of then UNI athletic director Bob Bowlsby. She told me that during the timeout, young Matt kept saying "get it to Newby for three...get it to Newby for three". She didn't know what that meant, so I informed her that he basically called the freaking game-winning play.

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