I'll just mention it quickly and then move on, but USF is in the Sweet 16. We were at the Keeter Gym for the last few minutes of their upset of No. 3 Cedarville, which stands as the biggest upset of the day. USF matched up well with Cedarville, and made enough plays at the end to hold off the heavy favorites. We just got back to the hotel after the Parade of Champions and the first half of the Ozarks-Aquinas game. The winner of that one will play USF Friday, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but I won't be surprised if the Cougars streak continues. March Madness indeed.
Speaking of March Madness, I wanted to share a quote I overheard from a reporter in the green room tonight: "They call the NCAA Tournament March Madness, but if basketball people really want to experience March Madness, they should spend the week at this tournament. This is truly March Madness. The other one is Money Madness." Interesting take. It certainly is a crazy scene on the Ozarks campus, but the two tournaments obviously have very different setups. Imagine if the NCAA's field of 65 was at one site with just two off-days. It's the nature of the beast.
Speaking of the green room and comparisons to the NCAA tournament, here's one I feel confident making: the NAIA DII hospitality room blows the Final Four's out of the water. I was lucky enough to get a press pass to the 2001 Final Four at the Metrodome when I was a sophomore journalism student at Minnesota, but that spread doesn't hold a candle to what they offer in Point Lookout. They have two tvs with live feeds of the games going on, couches, tables, chairs, etc., and an unbelievable spread of food and snacks. In fact, I might be getting up for Morningside's 8:30 a.m. tip just to take advantage of the breakfast there.
Click here to read the preview I wrote for tomorrow's game vs. Grand View. Here are a few thoughts of my own that I couldn't put in the preview after seeing a little of the Vikings on tape in the last game - the MCC title game vs. Iowa Wesleyan, which they lost by a point.
-Their point guard Grant Burns is a real playmaker and they have two excellent outside shooters in Aussie native Rohan Greaves and Greg Schulz. On the tape I saw both those guys not only hit threes with ease, they hit them from really deep. Burns is a terror in the open court too, and if he can get into the lane and either create and score or kick to those shooters, they seem to be at their best.
-I didn't see much from their inside game, although Iowa Wesleyan had a very good inside player which could have been a big part of it. Cory Viet averages 17 and 7, but I'd guess Brady Wiebe and Ike Muoneke and even Mike Long could have big days inside.
-Grand View only gives up 62 on defense, but its hard to tell from the tape we saw how much of that is chalked up to style of play and competition. They seemed to pressure the ball OK, but they occasionally lost shooters and cutters, so if we get our offense moving and everyone works themselves into the flow, there could be decent scoring opportunities for us in the half court.
-The officiating down here is weird, to put it nicely. They seem to let a lot of contact go uncalled under the hoop, but guys get whistled for a lot of touch fouls away from the basket. Whichever team adjusts quickest to the way the game is being called could be at a huge advantage. Hopefully that's where our Branson experience pays off.
That's all for now. I'll be back with another round of photos tomorrow at some point, along with any other thoughts leading up to the tip. Remember, there are a lot of ways you can follow the game, all the links are on our special tournament page. Also, there will be a viewing on the DWU campus in the Sherman Center, so feel free to go there to root the Tigers on with other fans.
Tomorrow's going to be a long day.