One of the nice things about The Basketball Tournament is that it enables us, as fans, to keep right on hating certain programs. Yeah, we get to hate them in the fall during football season and through the winter during basketball season. But the summer is, sadly, a period in which we don’t have any specific reason to hate our enemies other than the general, “because they suck, of course.”
And that’s why it’s so nice that The Basketball Tournament affords us the opportunity to jeer and taunt and openly root against players from the Pittsburgh Panthers tomorrow night as Boeheim’s Army takes on the Untouchables.
There are a lot of familiar names on the Untouchables roster, which is comprised almost entirely of former Pitt players. In fact, only three players who made it into the box score for that team’s second round game come from programs other than Pitt. Cameron Clark played at Oklahoma, Ricky Harris went to UMass, and Davon Usher is a Delaware alum.
Other than that, you’ve got guys like Brad Wanamaker. Gary McGhee. Levance Fields. Gilbert Brown. Antonio Graves. Jermaine Dixon.
You know…guys we’ve openly rooted against before, and will be all too happy to root against one more time tomorrow night. The game is scheduled to tip off at 7:00 p.m. EST on ESPN2, and that schedule should hold since the preceding game tips off three hours earlier. So you’re pretty safe to settle in right as the clock strikes seven.
The Untouchables got to the Sweet 16 of the tournament by beating Sideline Cancer in the first round, and the PA Roadwarriors in the second round. That’s right: Pitt opened the tournament by beating the team whose very name is about beating cancer. If there was a team called Save the Puppies, I’m sure Pitt would seek them out and try to eliminate them from the tournament, too. And then they’d go and kick actual puppies. Translation: Pitt is evil. But we already knew that.
In the second round, the Untouchables needed overtime to beat the Roadwarriors, a team comprised of Bucknell alumni who just managed to slip past a Villanova alumni squad that was forced to play most of the second half with only four players. Tough road so far, Untouchables. We’d expect nothing less than cupcake city from guys who went to Pitt.
But in all seriousness, the Untouchables will certainly present a challenge on Thursday night. The 6-foot-4 Wanamaker had 23 points and 11 rebounds in the second round, 90-88 victory over the Roadwarriors, and Fields had 15 points. Cam Clark – who led Oklahoma in scoring his senior year in college and, coincidentally, is from the same small town in Texas that I live in, making this personal (or something) – added 12 points.
In that second round game, the Untouchables hit just 7-of-29 three pointers. It’s always nice to see Pitt players continuing to throw up clank after clank, though it should be noted they were 12-of-26 in the first round win over Sideline Cancer. In that game, Gilbert Brown and Levance Fields each scored 18, and Wanamaker had 17. Gary McGhee, the 6-foot-11 center you probably forgot about but now that you remember you’re no doubt thinking, “Oh right, that guy…I hated that guy!” scored 13 points and had nine boards.
Boeheim’s Army, meanwhile, looked a little sloppy in its second round victory, getting a scare from Khalif Wyatt’s North Broad Street Bullies before pulling out an 86-82 win behind Eric Devendorf’s 19 points and 13 points from CJ Fair. The good news is that Boeheim’s Army gets to add a “ringer” for the next round, though they’re remaining hush hush on who it could be.
The smart money is on someone like James Southerland or, since the game is being played in Philly, maybe Scoop Jardine. It probably won’t be Elvir Ovcina, though.
Make sure you tune in at 7:00 p.m. to watch the game on ESPN2 on Thursday night, when we’ll find out who the ringer is (Johnny Knoxville?) and, hopefully, watch a bunch of guys lose.