MESA, Ariz. – Monday morning in the Cubs clubhouse, barely 12 hours after South Carolina upset Duke to eliminate the men’s basketball bluebloods from the NCAA tournament, Carl Edwards Jr. was suddenly the most conspicuous Cub in the room.
“I heard Duke is going to win the tournament,” he said to no one in particular as he stood at his locker. “No, wait. My bad. Sorry about that, Duke.”
Edwards, the youngest pitcher in the Cubs’ bullpen – and maybe its best – grew up in tiny Prosperity, S.C., just 40 minutes up the road from the South Carolina campus.
“Hey, Grimm, you hear about the Gamecocks?” Edwards said when pitcher Justin Grimm walked into the clubhouse Monday.
“The what?” Grimm said.
“Hey, Montgomery!” Edwards called across the room as Mike Montgomery talked to reporters. “You hear about South Carolina?”
Now the skinny right-hander is talking again, as his seventh-seeded Gamecocks face third-seeded Baylor tonight in the Sweet 16 round.
“South Carolina by eight,” predicted Edwards, who was planning quick getaways to a TV in Las Vegas Friday night, because his big game conflicts with the Cubs’ flight to Vegas (for a two-game exhibition trip this weekend).
Edwards admits he is a little surprised his team has gone this far.
“yeah, but they’ve been playing good basketball all year. They are a team,” he said. “I’m not going to say they’re going to win the whole thing. But they’ll make a run at it. I’ve got them in the Final Four in my bracket.”
He had them losing eventually to Arizona, he said. But now that Arizona’s out?
“They get to the Final Four, we’re good,” he said.
South Carolina winning a national title in men’s basketball?
It can’t be any crazier than thinking the Cubs could win a World Series.
Today’s lineup against Cleveland (3:05 p.m., CT):
3B Tommy La Stella
CF Albert Almora Jr.
1B Anthony Rizzo
SS Addison Russell
C Miguel Montero
RF Jason Heyward
2B Munenori Kawasaki
RHP John Lackey
LF Jon Jay