An enormous mistake helps Furman obtain true March Madness upset
It was barely midday Thursday, West Coast time, on the primary day of the NCAA basketball match that may kidnap our consideration for the remainder of March and the primary few days of April, after we obtained the last word reminder of why they name this March Madness.
What is, in any case, psychotic and quirky a couple of bunch of faculty basketball video games? Sure, there might be some thrilling video games, some upsets, some loopy stuff within the midst of all of the hooping and hollering. But insanity?
But there it was, Virginia enjoying Furman. Virginia was nationally ranked all 12 months, even getting as excessive as No. 2. Furman hadn’t been to an NCAA match since Jimmy Carter was president. Virginia was seeded No. 4 in its 16-team regional, Furman No. 13. Virginia performs within the prestigious and battle-tested ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference), Furman within the little recognized and usually disregarded Southern Conference.
So, when Virginia obtained the ball inbounds with about 10 seconds left and merely needed to run out a while to guard its two-point victory, this could be a narrative of David virtually slaying Goliath. Nothing extra. Pats on the again for the Furman workforce. Deep exhaling for the Virginia workforce, which may shortly get to the scouting report of its subsequent opponent.
That was much more of a positive factor when the ball got here inbounds to Kihei Clark, Virginia’s veteran level guard. Clark, a 5-foot-10 veteran from Woodland Hills, had been there and performed this so many occasions earlier than. Because of the additional 12 months of eligibility allowed by the COVID-19 wipeout 12 months of sports activities, Clark was a fifth-year senior. He held ACC information in minutes performed, video games performed and assists. When Virginia gained the NCAA title in 2019, Clark saved the day in a regional remaining in opposition to Purdue by dashing to trace down a missed free throw that bounded into the backcourt, scurrying again towards the basket and discovering teammate Mamadi Diakite 10 toes from the basket. His move obtained there simply in time, Diakite’s shot went by means of with a fraction of a second left to tie the sport, Virginia went on to win the sport in time beyond regulation and carried on to the NCAA title. Around the campus in Charlottesville, it is named “The Play.”
This time, Clark didn’t must make any heroic play. He was surrounded by three frantic Furman gamers who in all probability would have fouled him. He additionally had a timeout left. With these choices, he selected a 3rd. He flung the ball excessive and as far down the court docket as he may, assuming apparently that the ball would keep within the air lengthy sufficient for the clock to expire.
It didn’t. His fling was intercepted by a Furman participant, who simply had sufficient time to dribble again just a few steps and move to a teammate on the three-point line. The shot went up, the ball went by means of, and Furman gained. It was a monumental mistake, made by the participant least anticipated to ever make one.
It was Madness. Pure madness. With doubtless extra to return.