Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Sports Columns

March 27, 2014

Oh Good Greif: How sweet it is for Big Orange fans

CROSSVILLE — "March Madness" enters the "Sweet 16" this weekend with both the women's and men's tournaments getting under way. It is especially sweet for Tennessee fans, as both the Lady Vols and Vols will be playing.

All four number one seeds remain in the women's bracket — Tennesee, UConn, South Carolina and Notre Dame, while two No. 2 seeds (Stanford and Baylor) survived. All three No. 3 seeds advanced, as well as two No. four seeds, one No. 5, two No. 7s and  on No. 12.

Coach Holly Warlick's squad started out strong in their 67-51 win over St. Johns Monday night, but at one point in the second half, they had more turnovers than points; however, they rallied to earn their 32nd trip to the round of 16 in 33 years.

The Lady Vols will play Maryland, 69-64 conquerors of Texas, Sunday in the Louisville region, with the winner advancing to the championship game Tuesday night against the Louisville-L.S.U. winner.

In the Lincoln regional, it will be UConn vs. BYU and DePaul vs. Texas A&M. BYU upset Nebraska, while DePaul, who scored 104 points against Oklahama, eliminated Duke.

The big question — Can anyone beat UConn? It can happen. Louisville did it last year.

In the Notre Dame region, the match-ups are Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma State and Kentucky vs. Baylor. Kentucky beat Baylor in a four-overtime shootout at the beginning of the season.

The Stanford region match-ups feature South Carolina vs. North Carolina and Stanford vs. Penn State.

Three of the 16 teams — Stanford, Louisville and Notre Dame —l have home-court advantage, which is worth three points, give or take. Nebraska would have been the fourth, but the Corn Huskers were beaten in the round of 32.

It would be awesome if four of the five SEC teams made it to Nashville for the Final Four next weekend! Tennessee could play L.S.U. in the Louisville region title game. Both Tennessee and UConn are shooting for their ninth overall championship.

Thanks to some upsets in the first two rounds, Syracuse, Kansas, Wichita State, Duke, North Carolina and Memphis are not around for the Sweet 16. There are three No. 1 seeds left — Florida, Virginia and Arizona, two No. 2 seeds (Michigan and Wisconsin), one No. 3 (Iowa State) and four No. 4s (UCLA, Michigan State, San Diego State and Louisviille).

There are one six seed, one seven seed, one eighth seed, one 10th seed and two 11th seeds, including Tennessee. That proves there is a lot of parity in the tournament.

Double-digit seeds (10-16), like Harvard, Dayton, North Dakota State, BYU, Mercer and Tennessee, pulled off some of the upsets during the first two rounds.

Coach Cuonzo Martin's Vols will be playing Michigan Friday night in one of the Midwest Region games in Indianapolis, with the winner battling the Kentucky-Louisville winner Sunday.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino once coached at Kentucky, who could  play Tennessee  in an SEC showdown for the region title. How fitting would that be for Big Orange fans?

Martin was on the hot seat a few weeks ago and should be safe at Tennessee next year unless some other school comes a-calling. Those Martin nay-sayers are now coming around on his side.

Out west in Anaheim, CA, it will be Wisconsin vs. Baylor and San Diego State vs. Arizona. You remember last year, Florida Gulf Coast eliminated San Diego State en route to the Sweet 16.

The Midwest winner plays the West winner in the final four at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, next weekend.

In the East Region at Madison Square Garden, the match-ups are UConn vs. Iowa State and Michigan State vs. Virginia.

In the South Region at FedEx Forum in Memphis, it will be Dayton vs. Stanford and Florida vs. UCLA.

The East winner plays the South winner in Arlington, TX, in next week's Final Four.

••••

UTC men's coach Will Wade is one of 15 men nominated for the Hugh Durham Award given to the top mid-major coach and is also a finalist for the Joe B. Hall Award, which goes to the top first-year coach in Division I basketball.

The Mocs finished in the SoCon regular season, as well as earned a berth in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, losing at ETSU in the tourney opener. ETSU becomes a member of the SoCon next school year.

••••

In the CCHS basketball banquet story, Rebekah Teeple's rebound totals were wrong. Instead of 107, it should have been 209. She was the lone senior on the Lady Jets team this year, helping the Lady Jets win the District 6AAA Tournament and finish runner-up in the Region 3AAA Tournament.

••••

The annual Spring Sports Preview is inserted in today's edition. I want thank the coaches submitting information for the preview stories and want to thank the Junior Cross Country league coaches for submitting pictures of their varsity and junior varsity teams.

I appreciate the help from the high school annual sponsors, Art Sanderson (CCHS) and Jessica Tumberlin (SMHS) for arranging times for me to come over to take the spring sports photos.

Without your help, completing the section would be impossible.

••••

(Ed Greif is the Chronicle sports editoir and his column appears regularly.)

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