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Article:Madness in Irvine

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I have seen thousands of basketball games in my short and sweet life, but I think last night I saw the best one of them all that I have ever seen in person. As anticipation mounts for the NCAA basketball tournament, UC Irvine found themselves as the dark horse in their Big West conference tournament. Every year the top 8 teams of the 9 team conference have a tournament to determine who will earn the Big West's coveted slot in the big NCAA tournament. UC Irvine took care of Long Beach State in the first round, and took on the University of Pacific last night.

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The Irvine Anteaters (yes, I know) jumped off to a 17 point lead on the Pacific Tigers, igniting half of the Anaheim Convention Center into a huge yellow party. I found myself high fiving and bumping chests with people I have never seen before, while laughing at our witty hecklers and entertaining mascot. Of course, college players lack the versatility and discipline that we are used to seeing in the pros, and cannot adjust well to the opposition's adjustments and close out games, so a switch to press and zone defenses sent Irvine into disarray.
  • The second half was filled with close calls and back and forth action, culminating in a costly turnover when Irvine was up by 3. Pacific converted two free throws cutting the lead to 1 with 17 seconds left, and looked for a quick steal or intentional foul on the inbounds.
  • After a questionable no-call, Pacific ended up intercepting the pass. Pacific drew up a great play to get their sharp shooter a decent look at the three to win the game and advance.
  • The potential go ahead game winner missed, but Pacific got the offensive rebound only to have the last second putback blocked by Irvine's stud athlete Patrick Sanders at the horn. Pacific was understandably looking for a goal tending call while the Irvine fans exploded in celebration. Let us just say that the bus ride back was just as fun.
  • Irvine is two wins away from earning a spot in the big dance, and while it still remains a long shot, it is amazingly fun to even come close to thinking of capturing the magic of a small school having a Cinderella run into the NCAA tournament.
  • Madness? This isn't just madness, this is MARCH MADNESS!!!

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