USF-UConn hoops: Where does it rank?
I've been asked several times in the last few days where I'd rank Saturday's USF-Connecticut overtime thriller in terms of the most exciting basketball games I've covered. I've only been on the USF beat four years, but I think it has to be at the top of the Bulls list right now. It's right there with football's best games in the last year or two, though I think of those as being bigger because of the ramifications on the line with any college football loss. Every bit as exciting, though.
It's hard to remember a game so tight for the entire length of the game -- USF led by seven early, but neither team led by more than five in the second half, so it's a prizefight in a phonebooth, no room for anybody to take a step back and catch their breath. Then the finish -- so many back-and-forth punches late, then Jesus Verdejo's huge high-rising 3-pointer to force overtime.
Connecticut had two strange turnovers under its own basket at the end -- the first gave USF a chance to win in regulation. To see two lead changes in the final six seconds is phenomenal, and Craig Austrie's runner from the free-throw line with 0.2 seconds -- while heartbreaking for Bulls fans -- was a great example of a player being keenly aware of the clock and himself amid chaos. I also liked the general lack of any controversy -- no real raw calls, just a great game on both ends.
I'm reading Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback on SI.com, and even PK chimes in on USF-UConn: "I'm not a big college basketball guy, but the UConn-South Florida game Saturday was about as good a cliffhanger in the last 10 minutes as you'll ever see."