I wasn't planning on watching the game this Saturday. Since Gonzaga lost in the Round of 32, I had largely avoided any and all college hoops. I absolutely wasn't planning on watching Wichita State, who took down the Zags a few games earlier, attempt to become the latest mid-major to break through and make the Final Four. It just happened to be on when I walked in to a relative's house on Saturday night and, oddly enough, it was therapeutic.
I'm not a big believer in the thought process that Wichita State's win over Ohio State in the Elite Eight vindicates the Zags or makes their loss look any better. Trot the Zags and Shockers out there for a best-of-three scenario and I'm confident that we are all rooting for the winning team. That isn't the way it works, however, and the Bulldogs were upset in a game they could have and should have won.
I went through hundreds of emotional highs and lows during the game. I was pumped for Wichita State when they were up 20 in the second half, freaked out when they nearly choked it away, and then got a bit depressed when the Shockers began celebrating their trip to Atlanta. The obvious thought is "that should have been Gonzaga".
It is always a little hard to hear folks talk about how so many mid-majors have broken through into the Final Four and the Zags have consistently fell short even though they are one of the few teams from a mid-major conference to break through on a national level. Call me a completely delusional fan, but I have no doubt that it will happen at some point and in the not-too-distant future. I was just hoping it would be this year on a team that featured seniors Elias Harris and Mike Hart
The Final Four Is Set
The horrendous injury to Lousiville's Kevin Ware stole most of the headlines yesterday - and for good reason. Ware's broken leg was without a doubt the worst injury I have ever seen in sports. I was texting with Max during the game and he said it perfectly: "I'm trying to unsee it". Ware reportedly underwent successful surgery on the leg but I can't imagine how arduous that healing process will be.
Ware's teammates from Louisville somehow were able to put together an incredible second half to dominate Duke and claim their spot in the Final Four. They will take on the Shockers and, to be honest, it is hard to imagine WSU's run lasting much longer than this coming Saturday as the Cardinals were already the clear favorite to win it all and Ware's injury gives them that much more of an emotional lift.
On the other side, it will be Michigan taking on Syracuse in a very intriguing matchup. Both were picks by many to be upset in early rounds and have strung together four outstanding games. Michigan wiped the floor with Florida while Syracuse clamped down on Marquette on their way to a 16 point win.
If I had to guess, I think the Big East in its final year as currently established is going to sweep the title game with Syracuse and Louisville advancing. In the end, it just seems like the Cardinals are on another level and they'll cut down the nets in Atlanta.
Wiltjer Rumor Is...An Incorrect Rumor
No surprise here as no legitimate source ever reported anything of note but Kyle Wiltjer is indeed staying at Kentucky per his Twitter account:
I just want everyone to know I AM NOT TRANSFERRING. The thought never crossed my mind. I love Coach Cal and the staff, UK, and the BBN..— Kyle Wiltjer (@kwiltj) April 1, 2013
Hard to fault Wiltjer for staying as Kentucky is going to be back in a big way next year as they are on their way towards securing what will likely go down as the best recruiting class on paper in history. Whether or not they can put it together for a championship next year remains to be seen but it could be scary down in Lexington with all the talent heading there.
-- In case you missed it, we did an interview with 2014 prospect Grayson Allen from Florida. The talented four-star guard lists the Zags as one of the schools recruiting him the hardest..
-- It will be interesting to see how Steve Alford's decision to go to UCLA impacts Josh Perkins' recruitment. UCLA has never been a major player for Perkins - although they did reach out when Howland was there. With Alford heading to Westwood, it might sway Josh to consider them as he was strongly considering New Mexico. My gut tells me that this will still come down to Kansas, Gonzaga, and possibly Colorado but we shall see.
-- We'll have much more on Donaven Dorsey tomorrow but Dawgman.com did a Q&A with the Lacey, WA forward which included this:
Is anyone on that list seem to be making you a priority more than the others? - "I would say the top-3 who are recruiting me the hardest are Oregon State, Gonzaga, and the University of Washington."
-- A name that we have brought up a few times - but possibly not enough is Iziahiah Sweeney. In a recent interview with Scout, he listed the Zags as one of his favorites:
I asked Sweeney if any schools stand out for him at this time.
"I like San Diego and Gonzaga right now," said Sweeney.
When asked if he has a feel for which school is recruiting him the hardest, Sweeney replied, "Gonzaga. I talk with Coach Daniels a lot."