Team that Almost Beat Kentucky Beats Team that Beat Gonzaga
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The Big Dance undercard is under way.
Yes, those big brand bastions of monolithic entitlement that are called upon to fill out the NCAA's hallowed bracket have already had their numbers reduced by one.
In a First Four pairing, of all places.
Fair to say that it was an entertaining game:
Credit to Rebs' coach Andy Kennedy. Impressively, he miraculously avoided an aneurysm. Is there something in the water on Cincinnati campuses? Dude will never be confused with John Wooden's bench demeanor, but few will anymore. More notably, and something of which the late Wizard of Westwood would've approved, his shift to a man-D and inside-O keyed the team's comeback from that 17-point halftime deficit.
Probably not, but rest assured that clues will be sought by anyone looking for an edge. To many, this is still the Wildcat Invitational, and the Zags are touted as valid challengers -- among others -- to crash that party. The only way they'd meet is by making it to the championship game.
However, what the Rebels did against the Wildcats had to be encouraging to Gonzaga. They got bopped by BYU because of hot marksmen around the arc; Kentucky only hits 35% from out there, and Gary Bell is a better defender than anyone Ole Miss has. Their bigs can match up -- and then some -- inside. As well, they have depth.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats can grind with wave after wave of sheer talent. It's what they do. And keep doing.