Before moving on to the Round of 32, let’s take a quick look at how some of the NCAA teams dealt with their opening round nightmares. With ten double-digit seeds making it into the next round, there are probably more than a couple of coaches dealing with post-game nightmares! But even when we prepare to handle nightmares the right way, the outcome may still not be what we want. Georgetown, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Kansas State, and the rest of the opening round disappointments have an early start on dealing with the nightmares they experienced, but then again, that’s college basketball. Every year, every day, and every team is new. The successful programs learn how to deal with it and get better.
BASKETBALL – Did Creighton, Ole Miss, and UCLA handle their match-ups?
On-paper, Creighton was going to have to handle Cincinnati’s athletic, pressure and ability to disrupt the Blue Jays’ star, Doug McDermott. While the Bearcats forced 16 turnovers and held Creighton to 30% shooting in the second half. McDermott kept his teammates involved and most importantly, made UC pay for their aggressiveness by shooting 88% from the FT line. McDermott converted a perfect 11 for 11 and the team made 22 free throws to UC’s 4. Creighton dealt with the nightmare by mastering the basic fundamental of converting on the line!
Ole Miss had to deal with the nightmare of Wisconsin’s slow down half-court approach and Marshall Henderson’s gunslinger mentality could have played into the Badgers’ hands, but once again Coach Andy Kennedy was able to exert just enough control over his star to pull out the win. Unfortunately for the Badgers, while they focused on chasing Henderson, they forget to address their nightmares on offense. It doesn’t matter how much you can slow down the game if you shoot only 24%!
Going into UCLA‘s game with Minnesota, rebounding looked to be a major problem. While the Bruins dealt effectively with that match-up by out-rebounding the Gophers, 42-36, they gave up 34 points in the point and couldn’t defend the Gopher guards. While they handled the nightmare of rebounding, UCLA had too many other problems to address and now Coach Howland may have to deal with his own nightmare of holding on to a job.
March Madness is all about these types of match-ups. Now in the Round of 32, we’ll see who best deals with nightmares through a quick turnaround! And, we’ll also see a bunch of new nightmares as the women open up play.
LIFE – How are you doing with your match-ups?
As you deal with your own match-ups in life, consider again bad habits that you would like to change. Replacing those habits is never easy, but the act of finding healthy substitutes is a great place to start. The insightful author of Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller, echos that thought in his post, How To Change A Habit. Whether it’s a seemingly simple habit like eating cookies before bed or something deeper like gossip, lying, drinking, or struggling with purity, we each can make progress by having a game plan for replacing that behavior.
FAITH – What about the match-up with sin?
Too often I fall into the trap of thinking I can simply change my nightmare match-up of sin by changing the things I do. Sin, after all, is when we miss the mark of expectations that God has set for us, but really it’s a lot more. The bad things we do, the mistakes we struggle with, or the good things we forget to do are really the symptoms of a condition we are stuck with – we’re sinful! Sin is not just a laundry list of mistakes and it’s not when we fail to meet the expectation of the world around us. Sin is a condition, but it’s not how God created us to be. Through Jesus paying for our sin on the Cross, God has created a new condition for us (Romans 8:17):
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
I am NOT my sin and that’s not what God created me to be. I am an heir of God. That’s what I’m created for and with His help, I can deal with my match-up with sin and so can you! (2 Cor. 5:21) Enjoy the next round and we’ll see you in church!