With the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four games being played on Saturday night in Atlanta, we decided to take one more trip down memory lane after last month’s successful piece on former and current players reliving their fondest NCAA Tournament moments.
For this edition, we called on Tasmin Mitchell, who reached the Final Four seven years ago with the young LSU Tigers:
“My favorite NCAA moment was my 2005-2006 year, which was my freshman year in college at LSU. I was only 18 starting on a team with my best friends who are now in the NBA (Tyrus Thomas, Glenn “Big Baby” Davis, Garrett Temple, and Darrel Mitchell who is now playing professional basketball in Ukraine.
We were given a four seed in the tournament. The road we had to take to stay in the tournament was tough. We played Iona,Texas A&M, Texas, and Duke. All the games were good and we won them all. The most memorable game was when we faced off with Duke to advance to Final Four which they were a one seed.
The media counted us out to lose that game because Duke was real good that year, in which that was J.J. Reddick’s senior season. We ended that. We went out and played like there was no tomorrow because there was no tomorrow promised to us. We went and dominated the game and won and advanced to the Final Four.
The moment of a lifetime was after the game I ran in the stands and hugged my mom and told her thank you for pushing me to get here. That team was special because we all knew one another very well and played AAU ball together on same team and we also played against each other and also we are from the same area. But yes my most memorable time in the NCAA tournament was knocking off Duke to advance to Final Four.”
The state of Michigan- To pound VCU into submission like it did, it takes a supreme effort. And that’s what Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Michigan did to advance to the Sweet 16. Michigan State easily thwarted a very athletic Memphis team in extremely impressive fashion.
Florida Gulf Coast- The incredible, historic Dunk City run continued with a double-digit win over San Diego State. The 15th seed has become the darling of the nation, and deservedly so.
Aaron Craft- The Ohio State PG nailed a three with 0.5 seconds left to give OSU a last second win over Iowa State. He’s done it all for the Buckeyes all season.
Wichita State- A big run late sparked the Shockers’ victory over top seeded Gonzaga, and a matchup against LaSalle could propel Wichita into the Elite Eight.
Oregon Coach Dana Altman- Sure, he got Phil Knight’s money to help him out but getting into the Sweet 16 with a win over Saint Louis is certainly impressive.
Gonzaga- All season long, people questioned whether Gonzaga was legit or not and Saturday’s result against Wichita State confirmed that they were not.
Roy Williams- For all the talk about him being a great coach, he’s certainly very good, losing to old school Kansas for a third time does not make him look very good.
Saint Louis- The Billikens could have given Louisville a run in the Sweet 16, but falling to 12th seeded Oregon is sorely disappointing.
Allen Crabbe- He had a nightmarish performance for Cal against a Syracuse zone, which turned into a winnable game when the Orange couldn’t hit its free throws. Just an average game, and the Golden Bears would have advanced.
UCLA & Minnesota- Ben Howland went to three Final Fours with the Bruins, but that couldn’t save his job. And Minnesota BEAT UCLA and still fired its head coach, Tubby Smith.
The VCU Rams- Sure there were illnesses and suspensions, but we all saw the full potential of Shaka Smart’s Havoc defense and the fast paced transition offense that can come from it. It’ll be really interesting to see what a guard-heavy team like Michigan does against the press.
The Atlantic 10- In addition to VCU, Butler and Saint Louis looked very impressive in its opening day wins. The Bulldogs shut down Bucknell star Mike Muscala, and the Billikens had no trouble with New Mexico State.
The Pac 12- The selection committee gave Oregon and Cal 12 seeds (though it practically gave the Golden Bears a home game against UNLV in San Jose), and the two west coast clubs both earned wins. The Ducks convincingly handled Marcus Smart, LeBryan Nash and Oklahoma State while Cal surprisingly dispatched a really talented and athletic Runnin’ Rebels team.
Louisville’s press- Not every top seed dominates, just look at Gonzaga on Thursday and Syracuse last season. But the Cardinals’ defense overwhelmed and overmatched North Carolina A&T and it could help Louisville dictate pace against an underrated Colorado State squad.
Wichita State- The Shockers play like a Big East team, and they got the best of an actual Big East team in Pittsburgh on Thursday. I picked this team to upset Gonzaga in the second right, and there’s certainly a decent chance of that taking place.
Mountain West powers- With the exception of Colorado State, the conference took a huge nose-dive. New Mexico fell hard against 14th seeded Harvard, and UNLV was outclassed by Cal in San Jose. Very poor showing.
Marcus Smart & Oklahoma State- The Cowboys had far more talent than Oregon, but totally laid an egg against the Ducks on Thursday. Smart was viewed as a top NBA draft prospect, but is that still the case now after going 5-13 from the field and 4-8 from the line?
Gonzaga- Were the Bulldogs simply sleeping through their game against Southern, shooting poorly and turning the ball over, or is this a bad omen for the Zags the rest of the tournament. Wichita State is a team Mark Few’s squad is going to have to take seriously.
Muscala & Wolters- The stars from Bucknell and South Dakota State could have given their teams a chance if they had even come close to their respective season averages. Mike Muscala shot 4-17 from the field in Bucknell’s loss to Butler, and Nate Wolters shot 3-14 against the menacing Michigan backcourt.
As we celebrate 75 years of the NCAA Tournament this year with the round of 64 beginning Thursday, I decided it would be especially cool if some former and current college hoops players relived some of their most memorable March Madness moments with SprungOnSports. Even if you’re not a fan of the following eight teams,
Matt Dickey- PG, UNC Ashville, 2011-2012
The First Moment- “In my junior year, we’re playing Arkansas Little-Rock in the First Four. We were down most of the game, but then we charged back. We were down three late, and my teammate J.P. [Primm] hit me in the corner for a three to tie it. We won in overtime.”
The Second Moment- “The Syracuse game until about five minutes to go. Then Syracuse said ‘hold on, we’re about to be beaten by a 16 seed’ so they got in line. The game was in Pittsburgh. There were 20,000 fans in the stands and 18,000 were rooting for us. Before the game, I said don’t be surprised if we were ahead by halftime. They were kinda shocked, but we had four seniors and one junior. We had played the teams like Duke, North Carolina and Ohio State and we knew we had a shot to do it.”
LaceDarius Dunn- G, Baylor, 2011
The Moment- “By far, the biggest thrill for me was when my Baylor team got to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament.”
Marcus Fizer- F, Iowa State, 2000
The Moment- “Beating UCLA in Detroit in front of my family, friends and ISU fans… ISU was 0 and whatever against them before that win. Before leaving the tunnel, I heard someone exclaim, ‘they’ve never beaten us, let’s keep the tradition up’ I said, time for a new tradition, it’s ISU’s time now…and we ran out and rocked them hard!”
Lazeric Jones- PG, UCLA, 2011
The Moment- “My best memory of the tournament was my junior season having a private plan to Florida and and being followed around by cameras and just the energy you felt from the crowd when you walk on the court and the lights are so bright it’s a ball player’s dream.”
Momo Jones- PG, Arizona/Iona, 2011
The Moment- “My favorite game was the Texas game to go to the Sweet 16. I couldn’t score at all. I think I may have had zero points that night [he's correct], but I was able to run my team, get guys open shots, be a leader and lead my team to victory. My favorite moment was going into the stands and hugging one of my best friends after beating Duke.”
Derwin Kitchen- PG, Florida State, 2010
The Moment- “I think my favorite NCAA tournament moment was making it to the Sweet 16 my senior year at FSU. We were picked to get blown out by a #3 seed Notre Dame team, but we dominated the entire game and advanced to the Sweet 16. We eventually lose at the end on a lay up to VCU to go the Elite 8 but that has to be my favorite moment making it to the Sweet 16.”
Gani Lawal- F, Georgia Tech, 2009
The Moment- “Simply put just being in the tournament was my favorite. Just knowing that anybody watching college basketball in March is watching you. That you are playing on the grand stage in Collegiate basketball. That was a phenomenal feeling. Truly was special to be apart of the madness, and advance in the tourney and be on the seat of excitement chasing a national Championship.”
Willie Warren- PG, Oklahoma, 2009
The Moment- “My favorite moment was when we beat Syracuse to go on to the Elite 8 to play North Carolina my freshmen year.”