We’ve been anxiously awaiting the next thirty days for the last eleven months. You have too. In fact, if this isn’t your favorite time of year by a healthy margin then you should probably click away from this site for a while. Because we plan on waterboarding you with March Madness coverage. Seriously, you’re going to feel like Dick Cheney himself is holding a Spalding-logoed towel over your face. Your intake will be so voluminous that you’ll be drooling Gus Johnson and bracket residue in your sleep. Or Seth Davis, if that’s more your style. The point is that we’re all locked in and ready to go. Are you? To help us all get into the mood, we like to click around a fancy little website called YouTube for a daily dose of notable events, happenings, finishes, ups and downs relating to the next month. We’re going to try to make this video compilation a little smarter, a little edgier, a little historical-er. Or whatever. Sure, you’ll see some old favorites that never lose their luster, but you’ll also see some that maybe you’ve forgotten or never knew to begin with. That’s the hope, at least. We’ll be matching the videos by the appropriate week, so for the next three days, we’ll be re-visiting some of the timeless moments from Championship Week. Enjoy.
Dateline: 2005 Conference USA Championship Game – Memphis vs. Louisville
Context: The scene was the CUSA championship game in Memphis. Freshman point guard Darius Washington, Jr., stood at the line with 0:00 left on the clock, and it was supposed to be the crowning moment of the uber-hyped young point guard’s basketball life. Instead, it quickly became a nightmare. At 19-14 (9-7 CUSA), Memphis came into the game squarely on the bubble. A solid performance against the nation’s #6 Louisville Cardinals probably wasn’t going to be enough — the Tigers needed to win the game. When the Cards went to the line up two with 6.7 seconds remaining, there seemed to be little hope left. But when Brad Gianiny missed the front end, Washington pushed the ball upcourt. After splitting two UL defenders, he pulled up near the three-point line and drew contact as the buzzer sounded. The shot missed badly, but he was headed to the line with a chance to win the game, and more importantly, give his team an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. You probably know the rest, but here it is anyway. The first shot was all net to put Memphis down one. The second shot… slightly short, bouncing off to the right. The third seemed to hang in the air forever but it was much the same shot, a little bit short and bouncing off to the right. Utter devastation. Washington crumpled to the ground fully prostrate, and the CBS announcer (Ian Eagle (?)) said “Somebody needs to go help that kid up.” It was easily one of the most pressurized yet deflating moments that one can imagine a young player will ever face — the chance to send your team to the NCAAs from the line with all zeros on the clock — and the memory of it is etched into March history.