SOC – Miami March 23, 2013
I can’t shake the feeling. I’ve had it all day. It’s probably just the tournament talkin’ – every fan of every team believes they can win at this point. Everyone probably has a good feeling.
But all day I’ve been stuck with this feeling of “I think we have one more in us”. One more Maui. One more Gonzaga. One more Ohio State. One more Indiana.
In Maui, it was hot shooting. We made 34 threes in three games. 34! And Tyler Griffey was 7-10 from deep over those three games. What if we get a game like that from Tyler? He goes off, Danny-Miller-in-2003 style. If that happens, we can with this game, right?
Or what if we get a Joe game? You know, “it’s your world, Joe”? A sudden burst like the Missouri game in 2011 (or so I’m told) or the Georgia Tech game this year. What if Super Joe shows up in Austin tomorrow?
Or how about Auburn Tracy? What if we get one of those Tracy games where it’s close with 4:00 to go and we actually want the ball in Tracy’s hands? It’s been a while since Tracy had a game like that – he’s due, isn’t he?
Nebraska DJ. What if we get at-Nebraska DJ Richardson? Or even last-four-minutes-of-the-Indiana-game DJ. He’s a senior, and he’s not going down without a fight. So what if he has a Nebraska game again where everything is falling. That’s enough to take down Miami, right?
Most importantly, what if we get BP43? What if there’s one more Ohio State or Gonzaga in Brandon Paul? Remember that feeling in the Gonzaga game when Brandon went out for a bit and Gonzaga made a run, and when he went back in, for the next eight minutes, he absolutely could not miss? Remember that? What if that Brandon shows up?
Again, probably every fan does this at this point. We won one tournament game? HOW ABOUT FIVE MORE TOURNAMENT GAMES? And then you realize that Miami has experienced seniors too, and there’s some Miami blogger somewhere saying things like “there is absolutely zero chance Shane Larkin lets us lose this game. Illinois is nothing – watch what he does to Marquette and Indiana.”
I get all of that. But I still have this feeling. Mostly centered around Brandon Paul.
Remember Paul’s first two games in an Illini uniform? It was just before the Vegas tournament where we lost to Utah and Bradley. Against SIUE, in his first ever game, he scored 22. And then he came back against NIU and scored 20. And all of us dreamed of huge games from Brandon in the future.
Well, this is it. This could be his last game. The biggest game of his career – against one of the five best teams in the country with the Sweet 16 on the line – awaits. He’s done it before. Does he have one more in him?
I just can’t help feeling like he does. I know Miami’s really good. If they blow us out by 18, I really won’t be surprised. The few times I’ve watched them this year, they’ve looked incredible. Like, watch out Indiana in the Elite Eight because Miami might be better than you incredible. Even their head-scratcher loss – to Florida Gulf Coast – looks 97% less head-scratchy now. They’re awesome.
But if Brandon goes off, and if we’re hot from deep, well, we’ve shown that we can beat just about anybody. Two of the one-seeds and a two-seed, to be exact. If we’ve already taken out three of the top eight teams (in the committee’s eyes), what’s one more? It’s certainly in the realm of possibility.
So I’m picking the upset. I can’t not. We get two of the scenarios I mentioned above – I’m going with BP going off and Tyler hitting from deep – and we hit a few clutch free throws at the end to head to the Sweet 16.
One more, seniors. You’ve got one more in you.
Illinois 77, Miami 74