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Gardner-Webb no cupcake against UK

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

It has already been shock city in college basketball, baby!

Think about it, baby! How many kids from Gardner-Webb were recruited by a big-time school like Kentucky? Are you serious? Bulldogs coach Rick Scruggs and his staff came up with a great gameplan and there was no intimidation going into Rupp Arena. Gardner-Webb jumped out to a 14-0 lead and the Big Blue fans were totally stunned. The Wildcats never climbed over the mountain and the Bulldogs earned a trip to Madison Square Garden.

I give Gardner-Webb credit because every year, this program plays a rugged non-conference schedule in an effort to get exposure. Last season, the Bulldogs played North Carolina, Wisconsin, Texas Tech, Georgia, Wake Forest and NC State, all on the road. This season, the schedule includes trips to Clemson, Connecticut and Charlotte following the trip to Rupp.

It just goes to show in college basketball, so many kids get left behind and don't get the opportunity to play in the big-time environment but shine when given the chance. Gardner-Webb was so fundamentally sound, with great passing skills and outstanding shot selection.

Look at a couple of exhibition stunners involving Big Ten schools. Yes, my friends, it was an exhibition, but you can't tell that to Findlay or Grand Valley State. Ask them how many were recruited by big-time programs? It was only an exhibition, so you can't get too carried away, but that was a magical moment as Findlay beat Ohio State in Columbus while Grand Valley State won at Michigan State in the Izzone.

How many Grand Valley State kids were offered scholarships at the Division I level?

That is what makes sports special and unique. You can't always judge emotion and passion and when people dedicate themselves and have that burning desire, they can play at another level.

Take it to the bank, Findlay and Grand Valley State did not look at this as an exhibition. This was their Final Four, their national championship, their moment in the sun. It was special and something they will tell their children and grandchildren about in years to come.

Meanwhile Memphis avoided the upset bug by beating Tennessee-Martin and Richmond. The game against the Spiders was not a cakewalk as Memphis trailed in the second half before a 14-2 run changed things. I can't wait to go to New York and lay eyes on diaper dandy Derrick Rose in person. He totaled 38 points in those two wins.

I've said it before and I will say it again how did Illinois and DePaul let that kid get out of Chicago. Rose is terrific and his explosiveness, size and speed make him so special. It is great to see diaper dandies live up to his buildup. He is a legitimate, real-deal performer.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.