The real debate begins now. From thirty-two to eight, the field is trimmed down to the crème of the crop where only the No. 1 and 2 seeds remain. Similar to the Sweet 16, the Elite 8 is dominated by those Trail Blazers from the early part of the 90’s; a team that brought Rip City back to Portland. Of the seven players from that era who started the competition, five still remain: Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey, Terry Porter, Cliff Robinson, and Buck Williams. Carrying the banner for the 1977 championship team are the boys in the middle, Maurice Lucas and Bill Walton. Rounding out the group is none other than the “original Trail Blazer” himself, Geoff Petrie.
Surprisingly enough, there are no players left in the competition from Portland’s last great team in 2000. Rasheed Wallace was the lone hope for that squad but he was bounced quite easily by Buck Williams in a double-digit route. Whether it was the case of the 2000 Blazers having too many good players and not enough elite talent or their reputation off the court, clearly something was affecting their chances of advancing.
This second round also saw a lot of blowouts as the higher seeds really asserted their dominance and showed why they were the favorites heading into this competition. Unlike the first round where three upsets occurred, the Sweet 16 saw chalk move on the entire way. Each favorite won by an average margin of 16 votes. In fact, only two matchups were decided by less than double digits (Petrie v. Duckworth, Robinson v. Paxson).
Yet again Clyde Drexler proved why he is the heavy favorite to take home the crown, posting the highest number of votes (34) and margin of victory (32) and doing so against one of the all-time fan favorites in Arvydas Sabonis. The big question heading into this bracket was, “Could anyone possibly upset Drexler?” Right now, the question has to be, “Can anyone keep the vote within single digits?” The Glide certainly is living up the hype. But the other No. 1 seeds (Lucas, Porter, and Walton) along with Kersey and Williams haven’t had any trouble in their first two contests either. So it’s still anyone’s game.
Can a No. 2 seed sneak into the Final Four or will each top seed be resenting their respective regions? What No. 1 seed is most susceptible to the upset?
Which matchup has the potential to go down to the wire? Stay tuned for the first of four third round matchups to be hitting the message boards, blogs, and yes, Trailblazers.tv! Along with the usual suspects Aaron Grossman, Sarah Hecht, and Casey Holdahl, I’ve leaned on the video expertise of Justin Molter to help determine who will be called the Greatest Trail Blazer of All-Time.
Bracket:The Greatest Trail Blazer Of All-Time