Comebacks attempted and completed: the Madness 2013 kept its word

A spot of ESPN America, appearing during┬ánearly all timeouts, recalls us all the meanings the word “madness” can have. Taking basketball into consideration, we can define with “madness” all those situations in which the ball simply seems to go into the basket because this is what must happen. The best expression of this “madness” lays in impossible (well, nearly) comebacks and in buzzer-beaters. The 2013 March Madness, in regard of its name, gave us a lot of moments like the one we have just mentioned.

Sometimes the comeback seems to take place, but it extinguishes at its best moment. It happened in one of the earliest game of the tournament, the one between Memphis and Saint Mary’s. The Tigers, which were the favourites, led the game from the beginning, but then they saw their 9-point lead vanish in the last three minutes. Petrulis scored a basket for a 2-point game and fate seemed definitely on Gaels’ side when Memphis turned the ball over on a throw-in. The final shot of Dellavedova, though, hit only the rim. Madness, in this case, left the building in the very moment when it was needed to make history.

Sometimes the comeback is successful because of will and fear. We had an example in the second round, when Davidson seemed to complete an incredible upset over Marquette. The #14 seed in the East, thanks to an outstanding performance by Jake Cohen (12 points in the second half) was about to win the game against the #3 seed. They had a 6-point lead with only one minute left to play. Then, Vander Blue and Jamil Wilson gave Marquette hope from downtown. The Wildcats were trembling with fear and they turned the ball over in a horrible way. The same Vander Blue scored the layup which gave the victory to Marquette. A comeback which was completed because of the will to go on in order to avoid entering history on its wrong side.

Sometimes an extraordinary lightness seems to push you to the feat. The most expressing team of this category, to tell the truth, was on the other side of the comeback in the third round. Ohio State had indeed wasted a double-digit lead over Iowa State, trailing with 2′ left to play. No problem: Craft tied the game at the line, then he buried the game-winning three at the buzzer. In the Sweet 16, Ohio State was in control again, then Arizona tied the game with an “and one” with 21” left. But the Buckeyes seemed to feel good at the buzzer: this time it was LaQuinton Ross who knocked down the game-winning three pointer.

Sometimes you manage to recover just in time, avoiding to fall. Ohio State is one more time the right team to explain this sentence, even if defeated, this time. Elite Eight, Buckeyes vs. Wichita State. The Shockers had a 13-point lead at halftime, which became a 20-point lead with 12′ to play. Then, the Buckeyes made their first break, one more time with Ross. Wichita State looked like unable even to shoot. Thanks to four consecutive turnovers by the Shockers, Ohio State went on to make it a 3-point game. But suddendly Tekele Cotton saved the day for Wichita State, with the long distance shot which stopped the Buckeyes’ comeback. He managed to stop the car just one inch before the fall. Wichita State came back to the Final Four after 48 years.

Sometimes, basketball itself help you to reach the top. This strange feature can affect games’ result in an unbelievable way and it had its most acknowledged role in the Sweet Sixteen game between Michigan and Kansas. Trey Burke had 0 points and he was shooting 0/4 from the field at halftime. No one could have imagined that, when the game ended, he would have been treated like a hero. Michigan was down by 10 with 2′ left in the game, but then the Wolverines came back with two baskets of Robinson and a three pointer by Burke. In the last possession of the game, Burke shot an incredible 30-footer with his defender all over him. Nothing but net. The Michigan point guard led his team to overtime and scored 5 quick points in that timespan. Then, McGary and Robinson made the rest. That is a match which will remain in Madness’ history. Waiting to see how much “Madness” will these Final Four give us.

Photo: nytimes.com.