No sports, and if I want to lighten the tide, I’m relegated to following where Dontari Poe lands in free agency.
To show how bad I’m in a fix, I was full-in on MLB Network’s replay of Mark Fidrych Monday Night Baseball 1976 game vs. the Yankees for a couple of innings…It is what it is. I can watch highlights and docs to feed the beasts within, but I need my games. I have to see the pivot points, fundamentals, the facial reactions, the substitutions, and even a good analyst’s insights on the game. (Just make sure it’s Hubie Brown over Doris Burke or Jeff ‘The Contrarian’ Van Gundy.)
A saving grace is that CBS is feeding the beast with 9 replays of college basketball classics on Saturday and Sunday: (All of these games have been a run a ton on ESPNClassic and other replays, but you don’t look a gift horse in the eye.) Here’s the line-up:
Saturday, 3/21: UNC vs. Georgetown 1982, North Carolina State vs. Houston 1983, Duke vs. Kentucky, 1992.
Sunday, 3/22: Kansas vs. Memphis 2008, UNC vs. Villanova, 2016, Arizona/Kentucky 1997.
Sunday, 3/29: Villanova vs. Georgetown, 1985, Virginia vs. Texas Tech 2019, Duke vs. Butler 2010.
When they’re showing all of the classics, you forget to realize how lucky CBS and College Basketball was with the incredible finals of ’82, ’83, ’85 – Arguably the three best games of all time. Those were followed by ’87, ’88, ’89, ’91, ’93. In terms of classics, all are easily rank among the best in terms of intensity and could fit any all-timer tastes. To have a 10-11 year stretch of incredible games to occur when the sport needed them the most, is beyond eerie luck…Shamrocks growing out of your ears lucky.
How CBS can not place the Michigan/Seton Hall ’89 game in this line-up is beyond comprehension. Even if you don’t have any stake in the Big 10 or Big East, you can’t deny how strong of a game that was…Wake up. But you take what you can get. I hate ‘listicles’ these days, and I think rankings are really hard to create when comparing different eras, style, and players. Yet, the grouping of these games allows for it.
Here’s the order that I’m recording:
UNC/Georgetown 1982 – ‘Bird vs. Magic’ was the Alan Shepard game for college basketball. It may have launched modern day basketball on TV, but UNC/Georgetown is the ‘Chuck Yeager.’ The ’82 National Championship broke the sound barrier. Pull out the special chips for multiple viewings.
But don’t fill-up on Jordan’s final shot. Put that Tar Heel Jumpman throwback away. Look deep into Dean Smith and John Thompson’s adjustments. John Thompson’s Pac-Man strategy of telling Patrick Ewing to block any ball near the rim to intimidate and to establish authority. First four field goals as goaltends. Jimmy Black’s masterpiece of running point. And all said and done, James Worthy, with an epic performance; boards, off-the-glass, baby hooks, the steal. Worthy was a monster in this game.
Ed. Note: The Ewing goaltending strategy is the wildest thing to watch. Those first two blocks bring the tone. Major kudos for that move.)
Villanova/Georgetown 1985 – Pound for pound – May be the greatest game David vs. Goliath game ever. Slip past the Cinderella match-up, and you get some of the best in-game coaching strategies performed. The best part is that you have momentum on both sides with huge intensity. I’ve seen this game too many times, but it’s going down again. Hoya Paranoia with Patrick Ewing, Reggie Williams, David Wingate and soldiers such as Michael Jackson and Horace Broadnax going up against Ed Pinckney, Dwayne McClain, and Gary McLain.
Go for the HBO documentary, but you may miss how important those shots from Harold Jensen really were.
NC State/Houston 1983 – ‘Survive and Advance’ – So much has been said about the path, but each and every time you watch the game, you can’t turn away. It’s nothing less than amazing. What can never be understated is how incredible of a coaching job Jim Valvano really executed with fouling and his match-ups. Sidney Lowe and Derek Whittenburg are salt and Nutella…Simple perfection. Houston put way too much peanut butter on the sandwich. What’s best to watch and replay again, and again. It’s right there.
Duke/Kentucky 1992 – ‘The Laettner Shot’ – I fully get the drama of the shot. I get the magic from Kentucky’s rebirth under Rick Pitino…Sort of.
Yet, there are a few stronger plays with Duke. I’ll easily put the Duke/UNLV game which for conspiracists out there, ‘Will this game ever be shown again?’ Personally, Duke was a powerhouse in ’92, and they did not play a great game in that Elite 8 final against Kentucky. Also, the Sean Woods shot is a prayer. This game doesn’t give them justice. If you want to see Duke’s power, hit the second half of the Duke/Michigan ’92 final. It could provide at least some educational purposes to the clowns who think Michigan is the greatest team to ever not win and to provide a little truth to the myth of the ‘Fab Five.’
To satisfy Duke and college basketball fans, you probably would enjoy the Duke/Connecticut Elite 8 game from 1990.
From a purist’s standpoint, it was a much better game. The game was a nail-biter, and it went back-and-forth all the way until Christian Laettner’s last-second shot in OT. It’s the launch of Duke into the national psyche. You get to see Jim Calhoun and fledgling program to emerge from absolute ground zero. Duke scrapped the game out, but I understand an incredible floor game despite an 0 for 9 performance by Bobby Hurley and Alaa Abdelaby’s 27 points are not the dramatic points that people will want to watch again and again.
Virginia/Texas Tech 2019 – Let a couple more years to put a little more vintage and wear on the game. It should be considered pound-for-pound the best all-around game ever. The game has everything; high intensity, high-level talent and basketball IQ from both sides, DeAndre Hunter’s big shot, incredible defense, more big shots, great coaching moves, and most of all dramatic luck. I’ll definitely give another watch…again.
Kansas/Memphis 2008 – Great, great game, but you can’t fake the funk. Both of these teams don’t get through the second round in the 80s-90s. Sorry, but it’s true. For Kansas fans, the ’88 ‘Danny Manning One Man Gang’ win over Oklahoma game is the deal. It’s an incredibly underrated game. Danny Manning’s performance was scintillating.
Arizona/Kentucky 1997 – ZZZzzzzzzz – Really? I guess you have to show love for the West Coast for some viewings or to satisfy Kentucky fans. I’ll take the Michigan/Seton Hall game any day and at any time. Hell, throw the UNLV vs. Duke ’90 massacre to show how strong they really were. If you’re going for West Coast points, you’ll get a half of a rating point of edible chewers alone going ga-ga over the Runnin’ Rebels.
UNC/Villanova 2016 – ‘The Shot(s)’ – For dramatic purposes, incredible game. As a UNC alum, there is no way that I can stomach another replay. How did the Heels not attack Kris Jenkins with three fouls? How did they not trap on the last possession to force time? What was up with the stretch of UNC fouls in the late second half? Why?..Why?…Why? (For all ‘Nova fans, we’re even for the Allen Ray travel call. I don’t ever want to hear it again.) I don’t want to talk about it…
For those who love college basketball, or want to re-watch a classic game, you can’t go wrong with this one. It had everything plus luck. Thumbs-up choice.
Duke/Butler 2010 – ‘The Little Engine that Could’ – That story is what sells the drama. I don’t think I can watch the game with the knowledge that Gordon Hayward’s shot was down. It’s like watching a car crash.
I would be interested to rewatch Matt Howard’s third and fourth fouls in that game because those calls were crippling to Butler in that game. It’s too painful to watch…Brutal.
So, what choices am I going with? I’m going with a full DVR recording on the UNC/Georgetown and the Virginia/Texas Tech games. It’s been a year since a rewatch to see where the UVA/Texas Tech game stands.
P.S. And still…No love for ’93 UNC/Michigan. Once again, we’re left to believe that Michigan lost because of the Chris Webber TO and we have to watch sneaker and sneaker-heads go goo-goo over the Fab Five and swag. Donald Williams got hot, Dean Smith’s traps and match-ups, and the ‘Fab Five’ got their @ss beat down low. It’s fun to watch every time. Facts – Say what you want on the TO, Webber not only walked, but the trap was executed perfectly. Jalen didn’t come to the ball…Jalen didn’t come to the ball…Jalen didn’t come to the ball…
Always up for rewatches, March and hoops shall return!
Hoops du Jour,