Las Vegas - Still SHAKING after Jalen Suggs hit that bank shot from WAY downtown to beat UCLA. Put that in the books as an instant classic and maybe the best finish since Grant Hill threw a laser to Christian Laettner to beat Kentucky 104-103 at the buzzer. Gonna make Duke 1 and Gonzaga 1A.
Now tonight. Mixed feelings. Will the Zags be able to come back down to earth after the OTHER-WORLDY win? Will the pressure of the first team to pull off a perfect season since Indiana in 1976 be too much?
If you're wondering about the last team to enter the national title game with a PERFECTO, it was when Larry Legend led Indiana State against Magic Johnson and Michigan State in 1979. Magic caged Bird and the rest of the Sycamores with a 75-64 victory. There were two other teams that came to the Dance with perfectos in the last 30 years. In 1991, Jerry Tarkanian's UNLV Runnin' Rebels lost to Duke, 79-77, and John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats were on the short end of a 71-64 score against Wisky in 2015.
And for all my Philly fans, most of you probably were not alive, but Penn came into the 1971 tournament with a spotless 26-0 record. The Quakers squeezed past Duquesne, then blasted South Carolina in the Sweet 16. They met 'Nova in the regional final, and were barely able to crawl back to the Palestra after getting SMUSHED, 90-47.
Just like heading into a fight against Mike Tyson, Gonzaga at 31-0 is VERY intimidating. Or can be. You think the Bears are intimidated? Nah. Listen to what Baylor's Jared Butler said. "I think we match up pretty well," Butler said. "They've got pros, we've got pros. They win a lot of games, we win a lot of games. I think we match up well."
From the stat desk, the 'Zags are 31-0 straight up but just 16-13-2 against the spread (4-1 at the Big Dance). The Bears are 27-2 straight up and a very healthy 19-10 against the spread (4-1 at the Big Dance).
As for the best name in the tournament, and maybe ALL of college basketball, say hello to, Cha Cha, Tchamwa Tchatchoua from Cameroon. Not sure how to pronounce his name, but Jonathan, his actual first name, or 'Everyday Jon,' will be asked to handle Drew Timme along with Matthew Mayer. Cha Cha is 6'8" and 245 pounds, while Double M is 6'9" and tips the scale at 225. Each kid played 20 minutes and they combined for 23 points and 10 boards. There's also Flo Thamba who is the biggest big at 6'10" and 245 lbs. If these guys can body/wrestle Timme and hold him under his points per game average (19.2), it'll be a YUGE plus for Baylor. Just praying for a game that is half as good as the Gonzaga/UCLA classic. So, we're gonna buy the hook to +5 and tickle the Bears from Waco.