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March Madness Is Finally Here; LeBron James & Miami’s Win Streak Reaches 22

A few interesting subplots went down in the NBA last night, headlined by Miami invading Jurassic Park and destroying the Raptors. But it all still took a backseat to March Madness … While many predicted the top four No. 1 seeds correctly (Louisville, Kansas, Gonzaga and Indiana), that still didn’t stop Jay Bilas and the rest of the fellas from questioning them. Indiana has had the most hype, Louisville spent the past few weeks killing everybody and Kansas has beaten more good teams than anyone else in the country. But is Gonzaga really worthy of a top seed over a team like Miami? It’s an argument, and one that resulted with Digger Phelps going old school on us and saying does it really matter whether a team gets a No. 1 or a No. 2? Um, yeah it does, dude. No. 1 seeds have never lost in the first round! … So which top seeds should be vexed today? Louisville is supposedly the “best” team, and yet their bracket has Duke, Michigan State AND Saint Louis (very underrated squad). That’s harsh. Any of those teams could easily make a run to the Final Four. But the toughest bracket – by far – is the South with Kansas, Georgetown, Florida, Michigan and VCU. As for the rest of the tournament, we’ll have coverage all week at DimeMag.com leading up to the tip-offs. Stay tuned … In conference championship action, Ole Miss shocked Florida to win the SEC Tournament, 66-63, getting 21 from Marshall Henderson and 23 points and 10 boards from Murphy Holloway. That game also produced the worst beef of the day between Henderson and Doug Gottlieb. Before Ole Miss won their conference tourney, Gottlieb called it a travesty if they got in with their weak schedule. So Henderson called him out on Twitter after beating Florida, and after that, Gottlieb got on the CBS halftime show of the following game, pulled out a cupcake and started stuffing his face while rambling on in some variation of Wookie language. It was just odd all around … Deshaun Thomas had 17 points in Ohio State’s 50-43 slugfest win over Wisconsin for the Big Ten chip, while Saint Louis took out VCU to win the A-10 title. But the best game came in the ACC final. Miami took UNC’s toughest shot on the chin, and still had enough in the tank to finish off the Tar Heels, 87-77. With 28 points and seven dimes, Shane Larkin was so good they ran out of cliches to describe him with … UNC might’ve lost, but no one is blaming P.J. Hairston. He had 28 points, and averaged around 17 since becoming a starter 10 games prior. He’s also probably the captain for the Greg Oden/Benjamin Button All-Stars … In the NBA, the Clippers played like they were hungover throughout the first half of their 93-80 beatdown of the Knicks, and it took four ferocious dunks from Blake Griffin (12 points, 12 rebounds) in the third quarter to wake them up … DeAndre Jordan had a ridiculous breakaway windmill in the first half. Who’d win in a dunk contest: DJ or Dwight Howard in his athletic prime? … Some world class flops went own in this one too. First there was Kurt Thomas defending BG in the post and fainting backwards like someone had just put a shotgun round through his chest. Then, Chauncey Billups pulled out a play from CP3‘s playbook, dribbling downcourt and getting in everyone else’s way, and then drew a foul on a jumper after completely cutting off Chris Copeland. Thankfully Jeff Van Gundy was there to call them out for that nonsense … Keep reading to hear about the only thing Miami did wrong in the second half of their blowout win over the Raptors …

The only thing Miami didn’t execute after halftime in a blowout win over Toronto was Chris Bosh‘s attempted photobomb of LeBron‘s postgame interview. CB came in a little too late, and then nearly head-butted ‘Bron. It was still all smiles, though, and most of the Heat’s big guns sat on the bench giggling and laughing throughout the fourth quarter. That’s because they had ended this one with a 28-4 run to turn what was a tie game into an absolute laugher. Before that, they had been getting eaten alive on the glass, and Rudy Gay (27 points, eight rebounds) had been going at LeBron (22 points, 12 rebounds, eight dimes) unlike anyone we’ve ever seen. He had 10 points to start the second half, and was canning shots all in the best player in the world’s grill. Then, he took him into the post, and bodied LeBron all the way underneath the rim … But eventually, the champs just got mad, and unleashed Jesus. Allen hit for 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, making all of the back-breaking shots during that epic run … Jeff Van Gundy said winning 33 straight games — the NBA record — is harder than winning a title. Magic Johnson countered with, yeah, he might be right but “I’d still rather have that diamond.” James’ shooting numbers (58 percent) during the streak might be more impressive than either of them. Fifty-eight percent. Think about that … New Orleans lost by two in Minnesota for a number of reasons, but none were as big as Eric Gordon‘s (seven points) late game missteps. Twice in the final minute, he got the rock, isolated at the top of the key. The first time, he got a wide open stepback jumper, and shot it way long. With a chance to redeem himself on the following possession, he went to the rack and got his shot smashed back in his face by AK-47. On the other side, Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic made the key plays, but it was Derrick Williams who led everyone with 28 points … In OKC’s 107-101 W in Dallas, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 66 points while Serge Ibaka threw up 18 points and 16 rebounds, but it was Thabo Sefolosha who made the biggest shot. He hit a spinning fade along the baseline — just his second bucket of the game — to put the Thunder up four with 12.5 seconds to go … In other storylines from yesterday, Milwaukee beat the Magic, 115-109, getting 39 points from a scorching hot Monta Ellis; Stephen Curry (29 points, 11 assists) and Golden State destroyed Houston by 30 points; without Kobe in the lineup, Antawn Jamison erupted for 27 points as the Lakers beat back Sacramento, 113-102; and Atlanta took care of business against the Nets, 105-93. Reggie Evans had 14 points and 22 rebounds … We’re out like Gordon’s clutch gene.

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