March Madness Indeed: Early NCAA Upsets

Originally published on March 20, 2011 1:41 pm
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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR news. I'm Scott Simon.

NCAA: NPR's Mike Pesca joins us in our studio. Good to be with you personally, right across from each other.

MIKE PESCA: Good to be with you.

SIMON: Thanks very much. Mike, Friday night, 11-seed Virginia Commonwealth beat Georgetown by 18 points? Another 11-seed, Marquette beat Xavier by 11. Of the six teams with double-digit seedings to make it through the second round, who do you see going furthest?

PESCA: Well, I think maybe another 11th-seed, Gonzaga, as the best chance. They play BYU in the next round today. And the BYU's problem is that they lost their center, Brandon Davies. He's the Hester Prynne of the 2011 NCAA tournament.


PESCA: And was kickoff...

SIMON: Yeah. They were - the red A. It wasn't A. it was...

PESCA: No, it was...

SIMON: Never mind.

PESCA: Well...

SIMON: I'm not to put an initial on that.

PESCA: ...according to the tenets of the faith actually I think it might be. But yes, he was engaged in something that...

SIMON: Against the honor code...

PESCA: And let me also say, Virginia Commonwealth, who beat Georgetown, there an 11th- seed. But in a way they're sort of a 22-seed because they had to play one of those don't call it a play in games. But that's what they are; they had to beat USC to even get to the Georgetown game. So for them to win, perhaps a vindication of the NCAA's policy of inviting more teams in, but letting some of them slug it out before they get to what they call now the second round.

SIMON: Syracuse looked totally confident, pushing around Indiana State. And they used like - they looked like they could use Larry Bird at the age of 65.

PESCA: For instance, today Pitt plays Butler. You remember Butler? Butler won on a last-second shot. And Pittsburgh has trouble foul shooting. Maybe Butler can pull a big upset today.

SIMON: Yeah. I want to talk about the buzz surrounding the Michigan-Duke rivalry, thanks to ESPN's "30-for-30" documentary. You have a member of the former Fab Five, Jalen Rose had this to say.


JALEN ROSE: For me, Duke was personal. I hated Duke and I hated everything I felt Duke stood for.


ROSE: Schools like Duke didn't recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms. I was jealous of Grant Hill. He came from a great black family. Congratulations, your mom went to college and was roommates with Hillary Clinton.

SIMON: Now, I don't like this kind of attack against Duke at all. I don't mind saying it. And I'm a Carolina fan. What makes Duke so unpopular?

PESCA: I mean, Duke has great players and they're a number one seed in the tournament. And they've got a great player named Kyrie Irving who hasn't really played all year, who's now an addition to the team. They could be, just basketball-wise, the favorite now in the tournament.

SIMON: Okay. NPR's Mike Pesca, thanks so much for being with us.

PESCA: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.