WATERCOOLER CHAT: NUGGETS HOLD OWN, STANFORD & UCONN OUT IN WOMEN’S, UCONN VS BUTLER IN NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP MONDAY

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, the Lakers have been soaring lately and look in championship form.  That’s why a game hosting another red-hot team, the Denver Nuggets, was such an important match-up at this point in the season for the Lakeshow.  Plus, the Lakers were at full strength, so this was a key test from them.  And, the Lakers are still trying to nab that #1 spot in the West, and every game counts at this point.  The Lakers got off to a good start, and Kobe had a nice game with 28 points, but the Nuggets held their own with no problem.  In the end, with the Nuggets up 3, their Center, Nene, missed a crucial free throw, but Timofey Mozgov got the shot back to put the Nuggets up 5 and seal the deal.  Denver 95, LA Lakers 90.

And in the women’s final four, #1 seed Stanford was hoping to roll over Texas A&M to advance to the championship game.  But, Texas A&M came out completely unafraid.  It was a back and forth game, but in the end, Sydney Colson found Tyra White for a layup with just 3 seconds to go.  That’s all they needed to nab the game.  For Stanford, unfortunately, that’s four straight Final Four appearances without a championship.  You have to imagine their students are quite fatigued at this point.

So, surely, the heavily favored UConn Women’s team would advance against Notre Dame.  After all, they have the best player in the country in Maya Moore.  But, just like Texas A&M in Game 1, Notre Dame came out fierce.  They weren’t threatened in the slightest by UConn, and found themselves up 9 points with just 30 seconds left.  The Huskies simply couldn’t do anything about it, and seemed to have a blurred vision out there, completely stifled by the competitive play of the Fighting Irish. So that gives us a Final between two determined underdogs:  Texas A&M and Notre Dame.

Finally, Monday night  is the game we’ve all been waiting for, the NCAA Basketball Championship Game.  Now, many people, prior to the tourney, definitely didn’t have #3 seed UConn vs. #8 seed Butler in the final game, but, looking back, that now seems to be the only match-up that makes sense.  Butler is well coached, big, and has an NBA caliber player up top (Shelvin Mack).  UConn has, arguably, the best player in the country in Kemba Walker, as well as a supporting cast that has come on strong this past month.  It will be two teams on a tear squaring up in Houston.  And either way, it will be an underdog victory.  In remarkable fashion, Butler made it back to the championship game after just one year.  That is extremely rare, especially for a team in a mid-major conference.  This shows that last year was no fluke, but to make it back again for another shot… that puts a whole new meaning to “We’ll get ’em next year”.  If UConn wins, sure they’re the Big East champs, but they weren’t even ranked at the beginning of the season.  Kemba Walker is a star now, but he wasn’t on anyone’s radar 5 months ago.  Both of these teams have won against the odds, and, unfortunately, one of them has to lose this game.

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