There was still one Sweet 16 matchup to be played, but since it was the 2/15 tilt, I decided to simulate it.
The double overtime victory over West Virginia in the '07 Big East Tournament quarterfinals was actually putting up a decent fight before Trent Guy housed a punt return and the '06 West Virginia blackout game turned it into a route. The victory was capped off by Malik Jackson returning a fumble for a TD and then decapitating Mike Gansey.
So we move on to the round of eight.
Here's your first matchup:
4. THE 2005 CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (3/12/05)
HOW IT GOT HERE: Defeated No. 13- 2009 Big East Championship Game (67%-32%)
Let's skip the details and go straight into the reasons why this may have been the most fulfilling victory of the decade,
1. It was against Memphis.
2. We hate Memphis
3. The game was played in Memphis in front of a crowd of mostly Tiger fans.
4. It was the last Conference USA game we would ever play
5. It was the league title game.
6. The only chance Memphis had to make the NCAA Tournament was to win that game.
7. Darius Washington had spent the entire game pounding his chest and sticking out his tongue.
8. Washington looked over to Calipari and mouthed "it's over" after he was fouled by Garcia.
9. There is absolutely no worse way to lose a game than by missing two out of three free throws with your team down two and no time on the clock.
I've said it before and I'll say it again right now: if I died today and god told me "yeah, Heaven's awesome but the only catch is you're only allowed five minutes of television for eternity so choose wisely," I would pick the last five minutes of this game to be played continuously.
The horror I felt when Garcia was whistled and I realized that it was Washington who would be shooting three being replaced with the sheer joy I felt watching our beloved Cardinals celebrate as he feel to the floor may have been the biggest shift of emotion I've ever had in a five-minute period. Anyone who felt sorry for Washington was either a Memphis fan or didn't watch the game.
Ellis Myles summed it up perfectly afterward: "It's kinda hard to feel sorry for a dude when he spends the whole game thumping his chest and sticking out his tongue."
The victory set the tone for the best Cardinal postseason of the decade.
5. LOUISVILLE STUNS NO. 4 FLORIDA STATE (9/26/02)
HOW IT GOT HERE: Defeated No. 12- Jerry Smith's buzzer-beater beats Marquette (72%-27%)
The Louisville football program's first "signature win" had come more than a decade earlier via a thrashing of Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl, but this was the monumental victory that set the tone for U of L's rise to prominence over the next few years.
In a torrential downpour, the Cardinals - who had already dropped games to Kentucky and Colorado State after entering the year with their highest preseason ranking in history - forced the fourth-ranked and unbeaten Seminoles into overtime.
On the first play of overtime, FSU quarterback Chris Rix had his pass intercepted by U of L free safety Anthony Floyd. One play later, Louisville running back Henry Miller burst through the middle and waltzed into the endzone, inspiring the soldout crowd at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium to storm onto the field and tear down the goal posts.
"They were better than we were," said Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden. "Before the season, I was very concerned about this game because they were playing as good as anybody last season. We simply did not stop them."
Bowden also praised Cardinal quarterback Dave Ragone, who he said was "as good as any quarterback in the country."
"We fed off an unbelievable crowd in a torrential downpour," Ragone said afterward. "They started ripping down the goal posts, ripping off my helmet, ripping off everything."
The first spot in the Final Four is yours to decide.
Vote or Santa will do unspeakably obscene things to you while you sleep.