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Hello, all. In last week’s edition of Footenotes, we touched on LeBron James’ shut down for the remainder of the NBA season, the Royals’ then-hot start (that has now turned into a bullpen dumpster fire) and a few other things. It’s our second-consecutive week without a strong mailbag, so we’re going to keep things short and sweet. In honor of the NCAA Division-I National Championship tonight and the 2019 NBA Playoffs this weekend, let’s talk some hoops?
Auburn vs. Virginia
The Texas Tech vs. Michigan State matchup was a relatively drama-free nightcap in comparison to a game we’ll hear about for years to come. Rallying back late to take the lead — and nearly a trip to the national championship game — the Auburn Tigers were victims of circumstance. Whether you want to call it bad luck, a blown call, unfortunate, or whatever: it’ll be a topic of discussion for a while.
Attempting to bring the ball up the court, Virginia guard Ty Jerome dribbled the ball behind his back and ended up hitting the back of his right shoe in the process. Picking up his dribble again and continuing up the court, he was shortly fouled with under two seconds left in the game.
Had the double dribble been whistled by an official, the ball would’ve gone back to Auburn and the Tigers would be playing in tonight’s game. Virginia’s Kyle Guy was subsequently fouled on a three-point attempt (yes, it was certainly a foul) and made all three free throws to ultimately win the game. Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl had this to say on the missed call:
The biggest point I want to make, and I’m sincere in this, I’m not just saying this because it’s politically the right thing to say. There is human error involved in the game. Kids make mistakes, coaches make mistakes. Yes, officials will make mistakes. That’s part of the game. Get over it.Per ESPN’s “GetUp”
Pearl hit the nail on the head with this one. Yes, a missed foul call that potentially cost your team a trip to the granddaddy of them all is going to hurt. With that, I pose a question: If the coach whose team lost the game can get over it, why can’t we?
Side note: Kyle Guy deserves a ton of respect for what he did. Stepping up to the line with 0.6 seconds left on the clock and knocking down all three free throws as a college kid is unbelievably difficult. Forget the tens of thousands of eyes watching in-person and the countless others doing so at home. That was one of the better displays of the clutch gene in recent memory.
Tonight at 8:20 p.m. CST, the aforementioned Virginia Cavaliers will square off with the Red Raiders of Texas Tech in Minneapolis, MN. While Virginia is favored by a point, its last three games have each been decided by five or fewer points. The highlight matchup in this game will be between two team-leading scorers since the tournament began: Virginia’s Ty Jerome (16.6 PPG) and TTU’s Jarrett Culver (19.2 PPG).
Chris Beard’s Texas Tech squad is scoring just under 70 points per contest thus far in the tourney, and allowing about 56. Virginia’s points scored/allowed averages through five games are 66 and ~59. To be completely honest, this one could go either way.
I’m going to go with the Red Raiders in what should be a low-scoring game. By that, I mean don’t expect numbers in the 70s or 80s for either team. Now that I said that, that’s probably exactly how the game’s going to go. Anyway, for the sake of all things Patrick Mahomes, I’ll say Texas Tech 64, Virginia 56.
NBA Playoff Preview
This week is the final slate of regular season NBA action we’ll see until the 2019-20 season commences. All but one seed has been clinched in the entire NBA ahead of Tuesday night’s action. That pesky 8 seed in the Eastern Conference always seems to be left up for grabs until the very end of the year. Both 4/5 matchups intrigue me:
Boston vs. Indiana – The Boston Celtics have underachieved by almost every measurable way possible this season. Instead of running away with a top-two spot in the conference like many predicted, Boston is locked into a 4/5 matchup with the Victor Oladipo-less Pacers. With that said, this is still one of the best teams in the East. A team led by Kyrie Irving and supported by young talents such as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown makes for a tough out against nearly anyone. We’ll see how far that gets them – it’s Eastern Conference Finals or bust for this year’s Celtics team.
Indiana may be without their best player but don’t get things twisted, there are still good players on this team. Bogdan Bogdanovich is one of the more underrated players in the NBA and Myles Turner is likely going to be a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate. A balanced and gritty team, Nate McMillan’s bunch could give Brad Stevens’ a run for its money.
Portland vs. Utah – Terry Stotts and Damian Lillard have made the playoffs for the sixth-consecutive season. The end results of those runs: lost second round, lost first round, lost second round, lost first round, lost first round, TBD. Not the most encouraging sign if you’re a Blazers fan. Something may have to give if Portland loses in rounds 1 or 2 again this year, which very well could happen.
On Utah’s side, the Jazz have brushed aside a shaky start to surge up the standings and into a 4/5 matchup with Portland. Donovan Mitchell has been on fire since the turn of the calendar from 2018 to 2019 and Rudy Gobert has been playing the best basketball of his career. Utah is going to be a tough out for any team not named Golden State. Oh yeah, the winner of this series will move on to face… Golden State.
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