By Brian Wilmer, Senior Staff Writer
2005 NCAA Nashville Regionals Recap
I hear all the time how hockey is a "spectator sport", and how all it takes is one time seeing it in person to make one a lifetime fan. The new meaning of "spectator sport" for hockey aside, the real spectator sport for me is NCAA basketball. In order to further feed my addiction, I attended the 2005 NCAA Regionals here in Nashville, featuring teams from the Albuquerque and Syracuse brackets.
No, this is not a piece on every NCAA game, and how my brackets are wrecked. This is merely my recap of the games for which I was in attendance.
#13 Ohio vs. #4 Florida
Game time: 11:25am
- This game started the trend of the cheerleaders running onto the floor before both teams carrying flags spelling out the letters of the school. I guess this is in case you're too stupid to read the scoreboard or were under a rock or something.
- Florida's Matt Walsh reminds me of that guy at the YMCA who is the weekend warrior. You've seen him before... the guy with the floppy haircut, the knee brace, and the one who looks goofy and unathletic, but knocks down everything he takes. That's him.
- Ohio's uniforms looked almost identical to the Celtics. For a while there, they played almost like them, too.
- Ohio's fan section was nuts much more so than Florida's. They brought a BUNCH of people, and they were rocking the face paint, colored wigs, etc. They were loud, and were into it throughout. This made me happy to see.
- Ohio's band was also pretty solid, if I do say so myself. It's not easy to hold note while jumping up and down and leaning back and forth, but they did it. Props to them. I also kinda liked their fight song.
- Florida got most of the calls throughout, and thus, controlled the game, leading by 20 at one point (55-35) before Ohio went on an incredible run to tie it at 60 with just under 2 minutes. Of course, after that, Ohio pretty much went in the tank. I found myself rooting for Ohio, though... great showing by them.
Final: Florida 67 Ohio 62
#12 New Mexico vs. #5 Villanova
Game time: 2:05pm
- This game started late, and throughout much of it, I was wishing it hadn't started at all. New Mexico managed a strong 6 point effort through the first 13 minutes of the half, and was down 34-11 at halftime. Way to represent, Mountain West.
- Villanova's band had personalized basketball jerseys. Yes, I'm serious. So I got to see Beernut, Bubba, Gravity, Giggles, Meow, Camera Shy, and the entire bunch play their tunes. Pathetic.
- New Mexico made a slight comeback at the end, but it wasn't enough. New Mexico gets to make the return trek to Albuquerque a little sooner than hoped.
Final: Villanova 55 New Mexico 47
Duration: 52 minutes
- It was BEAUTIFUL outside during the break. I stopped to take a few extra pictures of the BellSouth tower and Country Music Hall of Fame on my way back from the car (by the way, $10 for parking three blocks away... ouch).
- I got back to see a mob of Louisville fans waiting outside, and it didn't take long for the first of 1827 "C!A!R!D!S! CARDS!" chants to break out. Most of them had just left a pep rally for the team, and they were (unfortunately) still in full voice. I grew to hate this chant and, by proxy, the Louisville fans by the end of the weekend.
#13 Louisiana vs. #4 Louisville
Game time: 6:10pm
- The Louisville bunch was LOUD. Holy smokes. As of the time I write this (Monday morning), I still don't fully have my hearing back.
- Louisiana's band was decked out in weird hats, Mardi Gras beads, and various other garb. Let the good times roll, I guess.
- Louisiana shocked a lot of people (my dad included) with their athleticism, as they stayed right with Louisville for the majority of this contest.
- The officiating was, as in the other games, pretty horrific in this game. Francisco Garcia should heed the rumors of his turning pro after this year, because he's already got the pushing off before taking a shot, taking a dive if someone is anywhere remotely near him, and the palming and travelling parts pretty well down.
- The one thing I noticed at the end was Louisiana's Tiras Wade apparently choosing not to foul someone to stop the clock because he had four fouls, and letting someone else take the foul (said someone else also had four fouls). I'm not sure whether he was told not to foul, or whether he just made the choice himself. Either way, it looked pretty questionable.
Final: Louisville 68 Louisiana 62
#12 George Washington vs. #5 Georgia Tech
Game time: 9:05pm
- The most exciting moment of the entire game happened before the game started, as Nick Lachey was spotted in the crowd. He was about five rows over from where I was sitting. From what I could tell, he seemed to be a really good guy, as he signed autographs and posed for pictures, never once looking annoyed.
- After seeing Luke Schenscher in person for the first time, I can say two things unequivocally: Yes, he really is that big, and yes, he really is that overrated. He looked uncoordinated and out of place on many occasions.
- GW's Pops Mensah-Bonsu is the real deal. He is only 6'9", but can jump out of the gym, and had several athletic dunks on breakaways. He is also very quick up and down the floor, and solid on defense. He just might be better than New Mexico's Danny Granger, who came in with much more hype.
- It became blatantly obvious to me about halfway through Friday's contest that Georgia Tech would not advance much further, and had no real business being a #5 seed. I'm not sure whether it's good that Tech managed to win so convincingly... or bad for GW that Tech managed to win so convincingly.
Final: Georgia Tech 80 George Washington 68
#5 Villanova vs. #4 Florida
Game time: 1:25pm (late)
- I got the idea watching Florida on Friday that they weren't long for this tournament, and that came to be in this game. Villanova outdefended them, "outquicked" them, and completely dominated the Gators in every facet of the game.
- David Lee should have been called for a technical once and an intentional foul another time, but neither came to pass. Lee dunked on a Villanova player and then taunted him, and fouled another Villanova player on a dunk attempt in a pretty harsh fashion. It was, admittedly, rather funny to see Florida complain about not getting calls when they got every call imaginable on Friday.
- Villanova's fan section was out in full force, and if they were this present and this loud 1200 miles away in Nashville, I can only imagine the response in Syracuse. This will be the one area in which Villanova has a true advantage.
- If Villanova's next matchup were against anyone but Carolina, I would give them a pretty strong shot to win. They've got a pretty solid team, but I just don't see them being a match for Carolina.
Final: Villanova 76 Florida 65
#5 Georgia Tech vs. #4 Louisville
Game time: 4:05pm (also late)
- C!A!R!D!S! CARDS! This started up about halfway through the Florida-'Nova game, and continued interminably. My desire to shoot myself to end the pain grew with the yell of every individual letter.
- A Louisville fan came down between games and spent the entire 27 minute period trying to get her sign on TV, even enlisting her boyfriend's help to yell at TV and print guys. Guess what the sign said. "Louisville Cards Right On Key In Music City". It's a good thing that wasn't like the other 3000 corny signs in the crowd, or anything.
- Said fan also yelled several times after baskets in a scream that can best be described as something that sounded akin to a mating ritual for a wild animal. I don't know if "impressed" is the right word... maybe "astonished" accurately describes the emotion I felt.
- Louisville jumped on Tech early and often, thanks to Garcia's aforementioned space-clearing techniques and Tech's inability to defend the perimeter, and they never really let up.
- For all the talk of Louisville being the "underdog", and being angry because of their seed, if they face an athletic team with good perimeter defense, they are beatable. Get ready, Albuquerque, because you get the annoying cheer next.
Final: Louisville 76 Georgia Tech 54
Overall impressions: This was, as in 2003, a fun two-day experience. There were no last-second buzzer-beaters, as with Drew Nicholas sinking UNC-Wilmington with a long three in that tournament, but the games were, on the whole, enjoyable.
Maybe the NCAA can figure out a way to make media timeouts shorter, the volume level on their Jumbotron announcements lower, and officiating better. Even still, I'm completely hooked. I'm trying to figure out a way to get to the 2006 regionals.
If one of these comes to your city (or anywhere close), check it out. It's money well-spent.
File last modified May 15, 2011