Wednesday, March 08, 2006

UWM vs. Butler: Champions Again

When I was in high school, my friend Andy used to drive me and other friends around in his 1979 Mercury Monarch, a car that had been passed down from his grandmother. The car aside from being gigantic, hard to park, and unspeakably ugly, was severely lacking in power. I could never really mock the car, though, since I didn’t exactly have my own wheels, and Andy was willing to drive me around. Near the end of our senior year, though, Andy’s family decided that it was time to get rid of the Monarch. Before selling, they had the car checked out by a mechanic who found, to everyone’s surprise, that two of the four cylinders in the car had been disconnected. So for some undetermined amount of time, the Monarch had been working on just two cylinders.

My point in this convoluted story? Well much like the Monarch was doing after that trip to the mechanic for review and repair, it seems that UWM has come out of the Horizon Conference Tournament firing on all cylinders. Last night’s Horizon League championship game was one of the best games that I’ve seen the Panthers play all year (at the very least, the second half was the best half of basketball that they’ve played). I’m appreciative of this timing, since it officially means that the state of Wisconsin will have three teams in the NCAA tournament. And it didn’t hurt that the win allowed me to force in a paragraph worth of unrelated banter today in order to creatively build up to a cliche.

My thoughts on UWM going into the tourney? I’m not sure what to make of them. I’m assuming that their recent run of appearances should help them garner a decent seed, they’re still going to have to beat a team with a better seed. I never tend to think that a team is as good as its best game, but one can’t help but be sort of intrigued that UWM played one of its best games of the season in the final game before the NCAA tournament (particularly when the team’s star player spent a huge part of the night on the bench in foul trouble). So an upset isn’t out of the question. I don’t think this team is as good as last year’s, but hey, I didn’t think last year’s team was as good as it was, either. So I’ll wait to pass judgement after I see the draw.

In the meantime, kudos to new coach Rob Jeter for winning the conference championship and returning to the NCAA tourney. Taking over a mid-major team with tournament expectations and a returning cast, though seemingly and easy job, had to be difficult. There’s lots of chances to slip up when there’s high expectations for a team, and those chances to slip up multiply when you consider that the previous coach stands a good chance of taking home national coach of the year honors. Not screwing this team up may have been one of the tougher tasks that Jeter will ever have, so I see good things for him in the future.

No bullet points today on the game, since I relaxed last night and watched this one without care to what I would write about. Sometimes, you need to turn you brain off and just be a fan.

I may take the day off from updating tomorrow, but I’m far from certain that I’ll be able to. After all, the Big East tournament kicks off today, and that’s bound to produce something interesting to talk about. Yes, conference championship week grows on me every year.


At 10:41 AM, Blogger Nicole said...

The Bracketology guru over on ESPN (whose name I don't remember and I don't care enough to Google) says that UWM is at best a 12 seed. Seems a bit low, but he's only been wrong once.


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