If you were casting Match Madness, Little Rock would be perfect for the bracket darling. Watching them de-pants Purdue in Double OT – they flashed everything you want in a giant slayer. They’ve got the Luther Vandross look. The entire shining moment montage could have been clips from that barnburner.
A program you don’t really know, from a city you’ve probably never been to, with players you’ve never heard of… Making you jump off the couch and fist-pump even though you had Purdue in your office pool. From top-to-bottom – they’re perfect.
The Coach – a man who tutored under a legend in Bob Knight, then emerged out of D2 ball, and is out there breaking your bracket with a busted paw from giving the hands to a dry erase board.
Then you’ve got the team – this squad isn’t just scrapped together from leftover talent in SEC country. They’re from different ACTUAL countries, and according to SI, Beard brought in 10 new dudes when he took over the program just a year ago.
And of course- you’ve got the star. Senior guard Josh Hagins and his hair trigger. How the hell does Purdue blow a lead like that? Because Hagins blew a gasket. Because in the final 5 minutes over regulation and the two overtimes – he outscored Purdue 21-20. Because he turned into Damian Lillard and then got them to OT looking like Steph Curry.
That’s one of those moments where you scream – Oh what a terrible shot!!…. And then he splashes it and you scream BEST SHOT EVER!! It’s one round, and it’s one game.
But these guys are one win from taking over the trending topics and getting tweeted at by the President. Most of America doesn’t watch to see the UNC’s and Kentucky’s roll somebody. They watch for the Little Rocks to shock somebody. But they’ve got the coach, the gunner, the backstory, and they’re one more upset from blowing the roof off this thing. It’s one game. But I know the look when I see it. And if Little Rock does Iowa State- look the hell out.