Strange how things work.
Texas A&M spends $75 million on a football coach and becomes a basketball school.
A&M is the only school with both of its teams in the Sweet 16. Duke and Florida State can join them if Duke’s fifth-seeded women beat fourth-seeded Georgia and Florida State’s third-seeded women beat 11th-seeded Buffalo on Monday night. How about that? Other schools are chasing the Aggies in hoops.
The men’s victory over second-seeded and defending national champ North Carolina was amazing. The women were supposed to beat DePaul in what most thought was a tossup, but then when they fell behind by 17 points early in the second half, a loss seemed likely. Instead, the Aggies roared back for an 80-79 victory capped by Chennedy Carter’s 3-pointer, the women’s program version of Acie Law’s shot that sunk Texas.
Man, what a weekend. That kind of stuff happens only at basketball schools. What a fun week this should be, reliving those games.
A&M just didn’t beat the Tar Heels, the Aggies took them to the woodshed. A&M’s 86-65 victory was one of the weekend’s best performances.
Oh, UMBC victory over top-seeded Virginia tops the list this year and maybe every year to come. Having 11th-seeded Loyola Chicago in the Sweet 16 along with a pair of No. 9 seeds – Kansas State and Florida State – reach the second weekend for the first time are great accomplishments and compelling stories.
It’s just amazing the Aggies are in the conversation. It was easy to be critical of Texas A&M since falling so far from its 11-1 start. Even though A&M won enough games down the stretch in the regular season to be 9-9 in Southeastern Conference play, there were many ugly victories. If A&M had lost a couple more games or started 0-6 in SEC play, or maybe if that Ole Miss buzzer shot had fallen, the Aggies wouldn’t have even made the tournament.
Well, that’s ancient history. It also was easy this season to second-guess coach Billy Kennedy who has just been somewhat unlucky since his arrival. This year was frustrating with the suspensions, dismissal of point guard JJ Caldwell and losing senior point guard Duane Wilson to an injury coupled with all those ugly games.
Well, luck had nothing to do with A&M handing North Carolina coach Roy Williams his worst NCAA tournament loss. Lots of Aggies need to be sending Kennedy congratulatory emails. What an effort to beat North Carolina in Charlotte, the most defining moment of Kennedy’s tenure.
The Co-SEC championship with Kentucky two years ago was special, certainly right up there with the North Carolina victory. The North Carolina victory gets the nod because it’s what makes March Madness. That’s also why A&M reaching the Sweet 16 two years ago was a big deal, but Northern Iowa basically gave away that second-round victory. Yeah, A&M did a lot to earn it, but A&M did everything to win Sunday’s game over North Carolina.
It’s a nice debate to have.
That’s the same with the women. Coach Gary Blair has set a high bar, one the Aggies hadn’t reached the last three years. Well, the women are back in the Sweet 16 for the sixth time under Blair. The recent setbacks just made Sunday’s win that much more satisfying.
Then the men topped the day off by hitting it way out of the park.
I use the baseball analogy because I know an Aggie who has fun riding the roller-coaster of the school’s wins and losses per sport.
“Cessna, we’re a baseball school,” he’d say during one of the football team’s late-season swoons.
Or, “Cessna, we’re a track school,” after A&M lost in Super Regionals in baseball to TCU.
I can’t wait to see him this week.
“Cessna, we’re a basketball school.”
Who would have thought it?
Jimbo Fisher’s first spring training at A&M gets underway and the buzz will be hoops. But give Fisher credit for bringing the Aggies karma. His old school, Florida State, knocked off West top-seed Xavier, making A&M’s path to the Final Four easier.
Finally, did you buy any furniture from Ashley? You’re two victories away from collecting. Now, who would have thought that?