The Next “Next Larry Bird” leads major March Madness upset; plus the college game of the season

By: 03.26.10  •  34 Comments

Butler's Gordon Hayward

All week long, it seemed the media was trying its hardest to will Cornell to an upset win over Kentucky. But by the end of the first night of Sweet Sixteen action, Butler was the underdog stealing the headlines. While Cornell had a good 3-4 minutes of magic in their pocket before John Wall and the Army of Blueness proceeded to trample them, Butler neutralized No. 1 seed Syracuse’s athletic advantage and picked apart the infamous 2-3 zone in a monumental upset … Isn’t Gordon Hayward (17 pts, 5 rebs, 2 stls) overdue for the “next Larry Bird” hype that guys like Keith Van Horn, Wally Szczerbiak and Adam Morrison typically get around this time? Hayward definitely fits the profile, and throw in the fact that he looks like an Eagle Scout in the face, it seems like a no-brainer. But maybe because we’ve been burned before — Michael Jordan drafting Morrison ahead of Brandon Roy may have been the last straw — nobody wants to jock Hayward like that prematurely … Now that they’re in the Elite Eight, where do you think Butler ranks on the list of all-time Big Dance Cinderella stories? … Butler/Syracuse, however, had nothing on the Kansas State vs. Xavier game. Double-overtime, instant classic. While Jordan Crawford (32 pts) and Terrell Holloway (26 pts, 6 asts) were dropping bombs for Xavier, the K-State backcourt of Jacob Pullen (28 pts, 6 threes) and Denis Clemente (25 pts, 5 asts) matched them bucket-for-bucket and pulled out the win. There were so many ballsy three-pointers and clutch pull-up J’s in this game, Sam Cassell would have been proud … West Virginia’s win over Washington wasn’t nearly as dramatic. It was simply the Mountaineers being bigger, better defensively, more active on the glass, and they had one more potentially crazy Turkish guy than UW had … Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez took private jets to Syracuse, N.Y., to watch their former high school teammate Quincy Pondexter (Washington) play. Assuming Brook is like the rest of us and gets in some video game time when he’s traveling, do you think he plays as the Nets on NBA 2K10 or NBA Live? Or does he trade himself to the Magic for Dwight Howard and dream of a better life? … Pretty sure Jordan Crawford is going pro now, and Wesley Johnson is probably weighing offers from agents as we speak. But what about some of the other guys whose teams were eliminated yesterday? Out of Syracuse’s Andy Rautins and Arinze Onuaku, UW’s Pondexter, and Cornell’s Louis Dale and Ryan Wittman, who has a future in the NBA? … Clippers/Rockets was the only NBA game to go down to the wire. Houston led by double-digits midway through the third quarter before Craig Smith (25 pts, 10 rebs) and Drew Gooden (17 pts, 14 rebs) started owning the paint and sparked the run that gave L.A. the lead. With about 30 seconds left, the Clips were up four with the ball and the Rockets needed a stop. Just like they would’ve done under Mike Dunleavy Sr., the Clips didn’t run a play; they just gave it to Baron Davis and let him do his thing. He measured Kyle Lowry and drilled a three in his eye for the dagger … The last time the Blazers played the Mavs, Andre Miller spontaneously combusted for 52 points. The time before that, Joel Przybilla‘s knee exploded. Nothing that interesting happened this time — ‘Dre Miller just played a solid game from start to finish and put up 19 points, 10 assists and 3 steals to lead the way in a Portland win … After Big Baby‘s run-in with that kid in Orlando last year, and the near-crushing of those three little girls in the front row in Portland last night, how long before the NBA starts banning little kids from courtside seats? Can you imagine the carnage if Jerome James had been the one diving into the crowd? (Yeah, like Jerome would ever expend that much energy on the court.) … After Jermaine O’Neal scored 18 of his 24 points in the first half of Miami’s destruction of Chicago, Kevin McHale put it best: “He’s found the Hot Tub Time Machine.” Is it just us or has J.O. not aged much since he came out of high school? We’re talking about his face, not his knees … We’re out like Rautins …

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