If you haven’t already heard about it everywhere else, the NCAA announced an unbelievable online feature yesterday called the Vault, which allows you to watch every game from the Sweet-16 and in starting in 2000. Be prepared to waste a number of hours sifting through some incredible games, provided you’re a fan of a team that’s actually made a few tourney runs. If you’re a masochistic UNC fan who hasn’t gotten enough pain out of this year’s team, there’s always the collapses against Georgetown and Kansas to revisit (I make cameos in each of those as a baseline photographer with the expression on his face like my first pet just got run over by a semi), or if you’re the type of person who embraces schadenfreude, then just check out any of Duke’s performances since 2001! A few quick observations off the cuff before I hunker down and immerse myself in further tourney memories:
- While I commend the NCAA (or maybe it’s CBS who actually made this happen) for making these games available, they couldn’t have allowed embedding for the videos? Is that too much to ask?
- I really might just continuously leave some games on in the background so that I can have more Bill Raftery and Gus Johnson in my everyday life. Gotta switch it off once Billy Packer starts weaseling his way in, though.
- It’s kind of surprising the lack of truly memorable NCAA tournament games and moments that happen from the Sweet 16 and beyond: for as much as the big boys and their fan bases power the college basketball landscape, it just reiterates to me that it’s smaller teams like Western Kentucky, Valparaisio, et al that make the tourney special. The first two days of NCAA action are some of my favorite days of the year.
- Did UNC really not make a Sweet 16 appearance from 2001-2005? Wow. They made the tourney in ‘04, of course, but kind of flies in the face of a bit of conventional wisdom with the ‘05 title team never having made a previous deep tourney run but turning it on big-time that year.
- Sometimes I forget just how bad UNC got debacled in San Antonio because UNC fans like to remember that the Heels stormed back to pull within 5 of Kansas at one point, but it really was 40-12 at one point. The timeout complaint that fans have with Roy is very, very legitimate - just as much as Duke’s fans complain about Coach K tiring out his team with a short rotation (we’ll get to that in a second).
- Carolina March features some nice observations from the 2000 UNC-Tulsa matchup, including similarities (and dissimilarities) to this year’s team.
- As Tar Heel Fan also points out, Bill Raftery reiterates multiple times after the famed Villanova walking call in 2005 that the call was correct. ONIONS!
- Much has been made of UNC’s memorable tourney collapses in recent years, but just looking at the summaries you forget how heartbreaking several of Duke’s tourney losses were as they were comeback wins for the other team. Duke led by double digits against UConn in the second half in ‘04 and by 17 at the half against Indiana in ‘02, and just struggled from the start against a number of teams that they probably should have beaten, including LSU in ‘06 and MSU in ‘05.
- Speaking of that Michigan State game, the biggest memory I had was the thunderous dunk Maurice Ager threw down on JJ Redick, but totally forgot that the guy who torched the Devils was Paul Davis, last seen on Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker. Davis went for 20 and 12 against Shelden Williams, paving the way for Shelden’s transition into another draft-day mistake for the Atlanta Hawks.
- To their credit, Duke did have some amazingly good games in them with that 2001 tourney run, where they came back from 11 down at the half against Maryland in the Final Four and then beat out perhaps the only other team in the country that could match them talen-wise in the title game, Arizona. This was the last year I cheered for Duke - coincidence?
So yes, feast your eyes on the Vault and enjoy. Any games/performances that jump out to anyone else?