March 31, 2019
Quite a sports weekend. The NCAA Men’s basketball tournament is down to the Final 4. One of Michigan’s favorite sons nearly pulls an upset and attention focused on the biggest name in the world of golf.
Michigan State Spartans
Entering the weekend the MSU men’s basketball team, the 2nd seed in the East Regional of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, had advanced to the Sweet 16. They faced a tough test against the 3rd seeded LSU Tigers. An 80-63 victory moved the Spartans one step close to the Final 4. In their way, the #1 seed in the entire tournament, the Duke Blue Devils.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is tied with famed UCLA coach John Wooden, both having taken 12 teams to the Final 4. Coach K and the Blue Devils were favored by two points. The game was close throughout and tied with five minutes to play. MSU made a run, Duke responded. The Spartans opened a five-point lead, the Blue Devils fought back.
With 34 seconds to play and MSU trailing 66-65, Kenny Goins launched a 3-point attempt. After missing his first four shots from behind the arc, Goins fifth attempt touched nothing but net. MSU held on for a 68-67 victory and a trip to Minneapolis for the Finals.
The Spartans will face a tough Texas Tech team that eliminated #1 Western Regional seed Gonzaga to earn their ticket to the Big Dance.
The University of Michigan Wolverines
A great season for John Beilein’s Michigan Wolverines came to a sour conclusion against Texas Tech(3) in the Sweet 16. In an almost unbelievable display of poor shooting Michigan managed to only score 16 points in the first half. An NCAA record for scoring futility in the tournament. Tech coasted to a 63-44 win and then defeated Gonzaga to earn their place in the Final 4.
Virginia(1) defeated Purdue(3) 80-75 and Auburn(5) downed Kentucky(2) 77-71 to fill out the bracket for next weekends final.
Leading late in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Byron, Michigan native Erik Jones looked like he might score the 2nd NASCAR Cup series win of his career. Jones spun early in the day bringing out the first caution flag of the race. But, he fought back to take the lead late in the race when teammate Kyle Busch had difficulties.
Jones was forced to surrender the lead when he pitted with 30 laps to go. Another of his teammates, Denny Hamlin, executed a perfectly timed pit stop to secure the lead and take the win. Jones finished 4th.
The eyes of the golf world were on Austin, Texas for the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play event. Tiger Woods marched into the Round of 16 and promptly dispatched Rory McIlroy, the #4 ranked player in the world, 2 & 1. In the Quarterfinals, Tiger faced Lucas Bjerregaard (#50). After losing the 1st hole, Tiger squared the match on the 3rd with a birdie. Two more birdies and he was 2 up and looking to pull away. Bjerregaard birdied the 7th to draw within 1 hole. He birdied the 10 to go all square.
Tiger immediately went back to 1 up with a bogey on the par 3 11th hole. Bjerregaard carded a double bogey as his tee shot ended up in the water short of the green. The lead held until the 16th when both players made the green in 2 on the par 5 hole. Bjerregaard sank a long eagle putt which seemed to stun Tiger who settled for a birdie. All square.
17 and 18
Both players birdied the par 3, 17th. But is was Bjerregaard making the longer putt almost directly over Tiger’s line. On the 18th, a short 357-yard par 4, each hit booming drives short and to the left of the green. Tiger hitting first left his chip shot short and in the bunker, Bjerregaard cleared the bunker but was left with a long putt. Tiger played a wonderful bunker shot which settled about 4 feet from the pin. Bjerregaard 2-putted for par, Tiger only needed to make the sand save to send the match into overtime. He missed.
Bjerregaard could not sustain the magic in the semifinal, losing to Matt Kuchar 1 down. Kevin Kisner defeated Francesco Molinari 1up in the other match. Kisner defeated Kuchar in the final to take the tournament win.