There was a headline in one of the Kansas newpapers that read: ‘A Little Rhode block for Kansas.’ That little ‘Rhode block’ proved to be a cavernous pothole that swallowed up the Jayhawks.
In an NCAA Tournament full of eye-opening upsets, the University of Rhode Island pulled off the biggest shocker when Jim Harrick’s eighth-seeded Rams ousted top-seeded Kansas 80-75.
Kansas is going home, Toto, while the entire Harrick family is headed to St. Louis for the Sweet 16 after the completion of Sunday’s stunning Midwest Regional second round action here at the Myriad Convention Center.
The Rams will now face Valparaiso in their Sweet 16 game Friday night at the Kiel Center in St. Louis after Valparaiso pulled off its second upset of the tournament, beating Florida State 83-77 in overtime in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader.
What made that victory so exciting for Harrick was his son, Jim Jr., is the assistant coach at Valparaiso, so there will be a huge Harrick family gathering in St. Louis. However, exactly which team the other family members will be rooting for will be the toughest question for any of them to answer during the week.
In fact, after URI’s win Jim Jr. jokingly asked his dad on national television if he could get him a tape of the Rams.
Kansas coach Roy Williams credited URI with playing exceptionally well. “Their quickness in the backcourt was something I was concerned about and it bothered us.”
Stanford 83, Western Michigan 65
Twenty minutes after torching 11th-seeded Western Michigan for 24 points on Sunday, Arthur Lee was asked to cite similarities between himself and his mentor, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Brevin Knight.
“Aggressiveness, at times,” the Stanford point guard said. No one argued. “Maybe,” Lee added, “a little stubborn.”
Coach Mike Montgomery nodded, everyone laughed - but still, not a word of disagreement. Not even from Mr. Mentor himself, who warned Lee not to try to emulate him.
“You need to have that (attitude); you need to be able to just get after it,” Knight said.
And he has, leading Stanford (28-4) to the Sweet 16, where the Cardinal will play Purdue Friday.
Purdue 80, Detroit 65
This NCAA Tournament can humble those who stumble. Detroit found that out in painful fashion.
The Titans, hoping to continue their upset march, found themselves pushing a rock up a steep hill. And the rock was the basketball. During a disastrous drought in the first half, Detroit’s shots turned to bricks.
Second-seeded Purdue (28-7) took advantage. The Boilermakers’ defense turned the Titans (25-6) into midgets in their NCAA Midwest Regional victory.