Patriots prove March is quite mad

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bracket looking quite busted?

George Mason's upset over No. 1 seed Connecticut sent office NCCA tourney pools spiraling out-of-control. If they weren't that way before. The Patriots had already upset Michigan State, North Carolina and seventh-seed Wichita State on their march into NCAA tournament history.

Fans have taken to calling the green and gold clad Patriots the &#8220Kryptonite Kids,” referencing their uncanny ability to slay the giants of college basketball.

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Conventional wisdom says that run has to end. Either this weekend against Florida, or surely, the championship game against either UCLA or LSU. However, this hasn't been a conventional tournament.

Can the Patriots pull off the most improbable national championship in college basketball history?

Who knows.

But is has certainly been enjoyable to watch them spoil everyone else's fun.

Especially college basketball's upper echelon.

Against Florida, the Patriots will be facing a different kind of animal, led by star sophomore forward Joakim Noah, he of the shaggy, Rastafarian hairdo. At 6-foot-11, Noah is a playmaker. Billy Donovan's club was supposed to have a down year this season but cashed in on their first trip to the NCAA Final Four since 2000.

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On the other side of the bracket, it's all about the baby.

Glen &#8220Big Baby” Davis, LSU's massive, 6-foot-9, 300-pound center is the consummate bully beneath the basket. And unlike most big men, he can move, just as quick to finesse the ball into the net as power it home with a slamdunk.

&uot;The two of them are winners,&uot; Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said of Davis and Tyrus Thomas, Davis' 6-foot-9, lanky frontcourt teammate since childhood. &uot;Thomas feeds off of Big Baby’s attention so much. Thomas gets all the junk, cleans everything up.”

Both the Gators and Bengal Tigers are considered a young team by experts, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the SEC next year. Or the next.

UCLA is looking for its 12th national championship in basketball. Hard to believe in this age of parity (see George Mason), but the Bruins were once the California basketball equivalent of the Beatles, winning eight straight championships in the 60s and 70s. UCLA won its last basketball title in 1995

Florida will take on George Mason on Saturday at 5 p.m., with UCLA tangling with LSU at 7:45 p.m.

The championship game will be played on Monday night at 8 p.m.