Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Friday, March 17, 2006

A bonafide upset

Northwestern State over Iowa was the first classic March Madness upset of the tournament. The double-digit seeds that won yesterday included a 10-seed (Alabama), a team that had won two games in the tournament last year (UW-Milwaukee), a team that finished fourth in a power conference (Texas A&M) and a team that was facing its former conference rival (Montana).

The Demons upset of the Hawkeyes was one for the ages. Coming into the tournament, no one knew much about Northwestern State. We knew they were a 14 seed, and we could maybe surmise that they were located in a state and likely in the northwestern portion of it. But after their victory Friday we were all searching for their Web site to find out where they are: Natchitoches, Louisiana.

And we recognize that the Demons are pretty good, and extremely resilient. Down 17 in the second half, they fought back against the Hawkeyes and began hitting 3-pointers. The last came with .5 left on the clock, when Jermaine Wallace drilled a shot from the corner as he was falling backward. This shot was even better than the one Chris Lofton hit for Tennessee yesterday, and that's saying something.

Wallace had a man in his face and landed on his butt out of bounds. The whole team was so surprised it went in that they actually let Iowa get off a decent shot at the horn.

SI.com's Luke Winn is calling it the second-best, first-round buzzer beater since 1990, behind only Bryce Drew's "Pacer" play for Valpo to beat Ole Miss in 1998 (and it will take a lot to knock that one out of the top spot).

Congratulations to the Demons for their upset and for reminding us once again why we love this so much.

In other games, the Big East is back, winning three times (West Virginia in impressive fashion, Villanova sluggishly, and Georgetown with a second-half rally). And the Missouri Valley was the loser in two of those. Bradley will try to salvage a split for the conference tonight against Kansas.

And some sad news from the sport. Ray Meyer, the former DePaul coach, passed away at age 92. Meyer led DePaul teams to the Final Four 36 years apart, in 1943 and 1979 and was head coach there for 42 years.

Late in his career, DePaul became one of those teams that seemed snake-bitten in the NCAA tournament. Seven straight 20-win seasons between 1978 and 1984 yielded just the one Final Four trip, and some shocking early-round upsets to UCLA, St. Joe's and Boston College in consecutive years.

Meyer never won an NCAA championship, but he was a winner (724-354 lifetime), and a great man. May he rest in peace.



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