After all, Princeton's defeat of UCLA was the first round's most entertaining game. Yet engineering the Bruins' death by a thousand cuts may not have been Carril's greatest achievement. For all of the Runyonesque coach's protestations about the insignificance of his 16th-seeded Tigers' one-point loss to top-seeded Georgetown in 1989—"Nobody in history has been congratulated more for a loss," he says dolefully—his greatest legacy to college basketball may be that near miss seven years ago. For without that stirring game, the big-timers who sit on the tournament committee might have indeed been able to confiscate the bids that now go to leagues like the Southern and the Ivy. And in so doing they might have denied the little guys the chance to dream.
Not that everyone's dreams last week were sweet. Michigan sophomore forward Maceo Baston lived what is becoming a recurring Wolverine nightmare. Just as Chris Webber did in the last seconds of the 1993 NCAA title game, Baston called a timeout his team didn't have, incurring a technical late in an 80-76 loss to Texas.
And the dreams of Syracuse forward John Wallace may have been altogether too sweet. He overslept and missed the Orangemen's flight to Albuquerque, though he caught up with his teammates in time to score 36 points in Syracuse's two wins last week.
Another would-be dream catcher, Western Carolina's Joel Fleming, muffed his chance in the final seconds against Purdue. If Fleming's potential game-winning three-pointer had fallen, the Catamounts would have likely become the first 16th seed to beat a No. 1. But Fleming's shot glanced cruelly off the rim.
Some 90 minutes later, with Georgia's game against Clemson under way, the P. A. system at The Pit in Albuquerque crackled to life. "Joel Fleming, would you please report to your bus. Please, get on your bus."
Dreams sometimes die hard.