Around the Hardwoods with Wild Bill

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by Bill Turner

NCAA March madness moved to the sweet sixteen as two Virginia teams continued to amaze. VCU, considered by many to not be worthy of an at-large selection, promptly dispatched Southern Cal, Georgetown and Purdue in a five day span. The Rams play ACC member Florida State tonight (Friday) in San Antonio.

Not to be outdone, the University of Richmond, knocked off Vanderbilt and Morehead State to book its trip to San Antonio where Kansas awaits the upstart Spiders in another Friday night matchup.

Roanoke native, and former Hidden Valley standout, Luke Hancock, put George Mason on his shoulders in a one-man highlight reel down the stretch last Friday as the Patriots eliminated Villanova. Hancock had a clutch assist, step-back 3-pointer and long pass off a loose-ball scramble to lead Mason to the comeback victory. Hancock finished with a game-high 18 points.

George Mason head coach Jim Larranaga had the line of the tournament when asked how the Patriots won the game. “I have NO idea,” he said with a big laugh. It’s only been five years since Larranaga and George Mason captured the attention of the nation by advancing to the Final-Four.

However, the bubble burst on the Patriots Sunday when Ohio State dismantled GM with Hancock being unable to play because of an illness.

Now, and you knew it was coming, a final knell on the Nobody’s Interested Tournament. You’ve got to give Va. Tech and its team credit. They hung tough and admirably battled to the end against all odds. Finally, the legs gave out and they began to run out of players before falling in OT to Wichita State Sunday morning in the collection plate tip-off. Who in the world schedules a game at 11:00 a.m. on a Sunday?

With the arrival of spring this week, we thankfully can move to the saner realms of baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, golf and tennis. Major League baseball opens the end of this month and our Salem Red Sox follow suit at Salem Memorial Stadium on Friday, April 8th.

PGA golf returns to the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs after an extremely popular inaugural showcase last summer. Those planning to attend can support First Tee Roanoke Valley by buying their tournament badges from First Tee. The weekly package includes entry to the tournament each day, parking, and concerts by Tim McGraw and Keith Urban. Up to 45% of all ticket sales made by April 30th are returned to First Tee Roanoke. For more information contact First Tee at 540-563-1835. The Greenbrier Classic runs from July 25th through the 31st.