Except for the first game when the Gators blew their opponents away (that also in the second half), the last two games have been epic struggles compared to the stroll-in-the-park kind of victories last year. But that shows the mettle of a champion: when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
So by the law of averages, I think the Gators is due for a huge, convincing victory. And in my reckoning, tomorrow is the night when the territorial Gators is up against the (mighty?) Duck of UO. This is a battle of the extremes, of sort, geographically. The southeast against the northwest of the contiguous US, spanning the largest physical distance possible across the US (let's treat both Washington and Oregon as comprising the US northwest region for now). [Both mascots below are taken from the respective university websites with thanks.]
Frankly, the Ducks has never featured in my grand scheme of things, the Bracket, at this late stage. I picked them to lose to the Badgers in the sweet 16 and that the Number 1 will meet the Number 2 in the Midwest Regional as in the other three regionals. However, this remains the only blemish in NCAA Tournament ranking, the Badgers got beat by the Running Rebels who in turn lost to the 3rd ranked Ducks. But the order will be restored in the matchups in the Elite 8, at least for the Midwest Regional as I pick UCLA to emerge from the West Regional. An inconsistency you would say? But I would really like to see the Gators manhandle the Bruins, again.
I’ve never watched the Ducks in action before. The only Pac10 team I pay attention to is the Bears, UCB being my other alma mater. But now I know of this freshman phenom called Tajuan Porter, who was shunned by most colleges because of his stature, or rather lack of one, according to what I read.
Well, Porter is 5 foot 6. That in basketball lingo, is a shortie in the land of giants. But wait a minute, don’t we had a Muggsy Bogues in the NBA not too long ago? Bogues at 5 foot 3 is reputed to be the shortest player in NBA history and yet is a big-time assist leader. I guess being short has its advantages too: able to weave in and out of traffic and swatting the ball away from those big men who dare to put the ball to the ground and dribble. Here Bogues is seen holding his ground agains Latrell Sprewell of the NY Knicks, courtesy of USA Today.
Add to that Porter is a veritable 3-point threat as attested to by yesterday's game against the Running Rebels. But I believe he would be smothered by the Gators relentless defense with the big frontline blocking the daylight out of Porter’s sight.
So the Gators will win big come Sunday, their attack and defense having been tweaked in the last two games to adjust to the tempo of a single knock out format of the NCAA tournament.
Sentiments aside, my D and son-in-law being UO alumni and I love Donald Duck, the Gators will be methodical this time and the Edward Jones Dome of St Louis will be turned into a swamp and all that matter are the CHOMP, CHOMP, CHOMP.
So Dan and Kitty, care for a little wager by the side?