By Brady Stiff
I figured the first weekend of the tournament would give me plenty of ammunition, and it sure did.
1. Michigan State
Why Michigan State? They won both their games over the weekend, right? Well, yes, they did. But they also took a huge hit during the first half of yesterday’s win over Maryland. Kalin Lucas went down with what’s believed to be a torn achilles tendon.
Lucas came up lame after play in the first half. The achilles tendon injury isn’t the easiest to spot, and to the eye it just looked like he might be cramping. That would be unusual for an elite athlete in the first half of a game.
Lucas was the Spartans’ unquestioned leader on the floor. He was averaging 14.8 points per game, four assists, and he shot 35% from distance. It’s going to be hard for Tom Izzo to replace the production, let alone the intangibles that Lucas brings. It doesn’t help that they now have to go up against Cinderella. Northern Iowa comes in after having just knocked off….
I thought Kentucky would be the first number one seed to go down, but they’ve looked maybe the best of all so far. But it was the Jayhawks of Kansas who proved me wrong. They let Lehigh hang around on Thursday, and UNI beat them on Saturday.
Number one seeds aren’t supposed to go out in the second round. Especially not the number one overall seed. A ton of people also had Kansas advancing to at least the Final Four (myself included), if not winning the whole thing.
Just another reminder why they call it March Madness.
3. Minnesota Twins
Sure the Twins open a new ballpark this year and many people are picking them to win the AL Central this season. Sure they just signed Joe Mauer to a huge contract.
But their season’s hopes just took a hit when it was announced that closer Joe Nathan will have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He decided it was the right course of action after playing catch with the Twins’ pitching coach. Nathan had to come out of a Spring Training game early on March 6th.
Nathan has the most saves in the majors since 2004, with 246. How in the world will the Twins replace him?
Jon Rauch has 26 big league saves, and appears the most ready to take on the closer’s role. Whoever does take the ball in the ninth, the Twins certainly won’t be the same team.
4. Georgetown Hoyas
Unfortunately for Georgetown, they were the victims of the first-round upset, as Ohio (not Ohio State) University took them out by 14. Armon Bassett played 40 minutes and dropped 32 points on 9-17 shooting, 5-10 from behind the arc, and 9 out of 10 from the free throw line.
I thought Georgetown was a sleeper for the Final Four, as I think Greg Monroe might be the best big man in America. He’s the most complete big man, that’s for sure.
Ohio State is certainly thankful for their in-state rivals. Now that Georgetown is out, and if they can get past Tennessee, they’ll face either a banged up Michigan State team, or Cinderella Northern Iowa.