INSIDE THE MADNESS: SDSU takes on stomach bug; curtain back
Notes and tidbits from around the NCAA Tournament on Sunday:
SAN DIEGO STATE BATTLES STOMACH BUG, NOT JUST DUKE
San Diego State’s battling a lot more than just Duke and star freshman Jahlil Okafor.
Team spokesman Mike May said several players and coaches are battling a stomach bug, including head coach Steve Fisher.
The trouble began when senior guard Aqeel Quinn came down with what the team thought was a case of food poisoning after eating a turkey sandwich on Thursday. He soon started vomiting and needed an IV, and was limited in Friday’s win against St. John’s, but said Saturday he was ”pretty solid now.”
But May said several members of the Aztecs traveling party began feeling off by Saturday evening and into Sunday. The list included: junior Angelo Chol, and freshmen Kevin Zabo and Malik Pope; as well as assistants Brian Dutcher and David Velasquez, and director of basketball operations Matt Soria.
For the record, San Diego State started 4-for-19 from the field and fell behind quickly against a top-seeded Blue Devils team that came out sharp and didn’t let up in beating the Aztecs to reach the Sweet 16.
– Aaron Beard
WICHITA STATE-KANSAS A TOUGH TICKET
Four men were standing on the corner outside the main entrance to CenturyLink Arena, hopefully asking everyone who walked by the same two-word question.
The answer typically took one word: ”Nope.”
With Kansas and Wichita State set to play for the first time since 1993 for a spot in the Sweet 16, it is hardly surprising that scalpers were having a tough time drumming up business. The Shockers’ campus is only about 5 hours away, and the Jayhawks’ campus about 3 hours away, and both fan bases have traveled to Omaha en masse.
Throw in a horde of red-clad Wisconsin fans that made the pilgrimage to see the top-seeded Badgers play No. 8 seed Oregon, and the few tickets that were available in the upper reaches of the arena were going for more than $300 apiece Sunday morning.
Want something in the lower bowl? Get ready to peel off about 10 Benjamins.
The NCAA Tournament tries to keep higher seeds to home to help keep costs down for team travel, but also to ensure that there are plenty of fans in the stands. That hasn’t always worked, and often there are oceans of empty seats the opening weekend. But at least in Omaha, the NCAA’s plan appears to have worked out perfectly.
– Dave Skretta
THE CURTAIN IS OPEN
Arizona State’s Curtain of Distraction is open for the NCAA Tournament.
Arizona State officials were concerned that the NCAA would not allow the quirky free-throw distraction gag during the women’s NCAA Tournament, but it was in full force when the Sun Devils faced Ohio on Saturday.
The Curtain of Distraction has become a national sensation as ASU students pop out from behind the curtain during men’s games at Wells Fargo Arena in various costumes, including Elvis and Village People impersonators, rubber animal masks and a man-baby swinging a wrecking ball.
The full Curtain wasn’t allowed a the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, so the students improvised and created a smaller, handheld version.
Arizona State was granted approval to open the Curtain at the NCAA Tournament and the students took advantage by trying to distract Ohio’s free-throw shooters with a variety of, uh, interesting scenes, including a pair of kissing unicorns.
The Curtain of Distraction is expected to be up and running again Monday night, when the Sun Devils face Arkansas-Little Rock in the NCAA’s Round of 32.
And, yes, the opposing Trojans are aware of it.
”Every time they open it, it’s a different character abd we’re like, `how did they do that?”’ UALR’s Ka’Nesheia Cobbins said. ”The commentators were saying that they think that’s something good. It’s cool, I guess, but we’re just going to have to block it out and don’t let it be a distraction to us.”
– John Marshall
Michigan State and Travis Trice are headed to the Sweet 16. You may want to cover your ears.
His mother has a high-pitched, scale-shattering squeal she’s been using since Trice’s high school days, according to the Lansing State Journal (http://on.lsj.com/18RzJwm ). You could hear it every time Virginia went to the free throw line. There’s really nothing quite like it, so just go ahead and listen: https://vine.co/v/OYT6ZJEDLJh
The Sporting News’ Ryan Fagan says Julie Trice warned media members before letting lose (http://bit.ly/1xcpPR3 ). What does she do when the Spartans are shooting free throws? She whispers: ”Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.”
CORPORATE LIFE FOR KAMINSKY? PROBABLY NOT
If this basketball thing doesn’t work out for Wisconsin 7-footer Frank Kaminsky, it’s doubtful he’ll go looking for work as a stockbroker.
Last summer, Kaminsky had an internship at Merrill Lynch. Let’s just say the 9-to-5 thing was a grind.
”There was this one boss. He was pretty mean,” Kaminsky said. ”He was always telling me what I was doing wrong and calling me and telling me to go home. I was such a terrible worker.”
– Eric Olson
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME A REGION’S TOP TWO MISSED THE SWEET 16?
Losses in the round of 32 by top-seeded Villanova and No. 2 Virginia was the eighth time – and first since 2004 – that the top two seeds from the same region failed to advance to the Sweet 16.
Villanova lost to eighth-seeded North Carolina State on Saturday and Virginia lost to seventh-seeded on Sunday leaving the East Region empty at the top.
It happened twice in 2000.
The NCAA began seeding teams in 1979. From 1979-1984, the No. 1 seeds had first-round byes. No No. 1 seed has ever lost in the first round.
The other times the top two seeds (and the team that beat them) from a region failed to reach the Sweet 16 were:
2004 – No. 1 Kentucky (UAB); No. 2 Gonzaga (Nevada)
2000 – No. 1 Stanford (North Carolina); No. 2 Cincinnati (Tulsa) and No. 1 Arizona (Wisconsin); No. 2 St. John’s (Gonzaga)
1992 – No. 1 Kansas (UTEP); No. 2 Southern California (Georgia Tech)
1990 – No. 1 Oklahoma (North Carolina); No. 2 Purdue (Texas)
1981 – No. 1 DePaul (Saint Joseph’s); No. 2 Kentucky (UAB)
1980 – No. 1 DePaul (UCLA); No. 2 Oregon State (Lamar)
– Jim O’Connell
Follow all the ins and outs behind the scenes of the NCAA Tournament brought to you by Associated Press journalists on Inside the Madness: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/blog/ap-now-inside-madness