Monday, March 24, 2008

Top Ten Occurrences, Surprises and “Things” of the first two rounds

At this point in my life I should become less shocked to see teams lose in the NCAA tournament who are not supposed to lose. It should come standard to a sports fan that there is going to be anywhere between five and ten games early on that just make you shake your head and say “Well my bracket is screwed.” So as Ty Rogers from Western Kentucky decided to drain a 35-footer for the win on Friday, and in doing so ruining my life-long pursuit at a perfect bracket, I got to thinking; What else could happen? But that was just the start of the madness. Below are ten more points that have made this year’s tournament live up to the hype.

10. The Boss Button

While I do not need to worry about my boss catching me watching the games online, there are millions of employees around the world who are not as fortunate. But those people have some genius at to thank Once the "The Boss Button," which is under every gamecast is clicked, the game is immediately taken off the screen and is replaced with a very professional looking graph, sure to fool any CEO. Honestly, I laughed for a good five minutes when I saw this.

9. Lack of first round upsets

While the Western Kentucky-Drake game was explained in the intro, there were not as many surprises in first-round action, especially Thursday. Kansas State topped USC pretty convincingly, and Texas A&M defeated BYU in the meaningless 9-8 game. And that was it for day one. Friday saw both four seeds and both five seeds hit the pavement and #10 Davidson defeat #7 Gonzaga, which actually was an upset only on paper because according to Vegas scoring lines, Davidson was the favorite. If the two buzzer-beaters on Friday rim out, there is not much to talk about upset wise. Much more on the topic to come.

8. The Whiskey War

The Louisville-Tennessee Sweet 16 affair is the one that I am looking forward to the most, and may also be the consensus “game-to-watch” next round. Louisville has played very solid down the stretch, and they may be peaking at the correct time. Tennessee on the other hand, has played well all year, but a conference tournament loss to Arkansas and a narrow overtime victory over Butler may have brought out the flaws in Bruce Pearl’s style. Tennessee will have the narrow edge on the perimeter but the battles down low between the Vol’s Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism and the Louisville's David Pagett, Terrance Williams and Juan Palacios could make this game one for the ages.

7. 2-seed scares

All four number-2’s played in dogfights this weekend, two of them were bumped early. (More on Duke and Georgetown later.) But Texas elected not to score in the second half, which allowed Miami to creep closer and closer to an upset of their own. It was not until Rick Barnes decided to push his own boss button, which told him that he may want to get his players scoring, which they decided to do with four minutes to go and push past the Hurricanes. As stated earlier, it took an overtime for Tennessee to finish up Butler. I realize that both Miami and Butler are not bad teams, and Davidson and West Virginia were the better teams this weekend, but these 2seeds wondered why they were not given a #1. There should be some sort of penalty, or something, for higher seeds who get knocked out early.

6. 1-seed scares

As if it was not embarrassing enough with the #2’s, two #1 seeds had trouble this weekend. Memphis’ free throw shooting, their Achilles heel all season long, was evident as they escaped Mississippi State. John Calipari has openly stated that he will never look at a recruits free throw percentage, but it’s something he may want to put into consideration next time because the Tigers went 6/12 the last minute, allowing Miss. State the opportunity the chance to force OT. I do not even know what happened to UCLA, who was trailing Texas A&M the entire game, until the last ten seconds. A wise man named Gordon Bombay once said, “The only word that comes to my mind when I think about this... pathetic. You guys are running around like a bunch of chickens with your heads cut off.” I could not have said it better myself.

5. 12’s and 13’s

Alright, enough with the negativity for now. Congrats to Western Kentucky, San Diego, Siena and Villanova. These four defeated solid teams, and did so in interesting fashion. I spoke about the 30-footer for the win during the W/K game. San Diego buzzer-beated their way past UConn when De’Jon Jackson hit a mid-range jumper as the horn blew. Siena destroyed the best team not in the round-of-32, Vanderbilt, and people were questioning Villanova’s really deserving of a dance invitation. These wins will also keep me from winning my pool.

4. ‘Nova was the last team in?

People were very skeptical of the Wildcats’ getting into the tournament, and many experts considered them “The last team in.” While I am not so sure people are still believing that as Villanova took down a good Clemson squad in the first round, then followed it up by a win against Siena, who was riding high coming into it. While I am not calling an upset here, Bill Self and Kansas do have a tendency to choke down the stretch, do not be surprised if this turns out to be a barn burner.

3. “David”-son slingshots Goliath known as Georgetown

Georgetown became the first real title contender to fall this weekend as Stephen Curry dropped 30 on the Hoyas. According to brackets, this was a huge upset, however according to polls, Davidson is ranked in the AP and is by no means a pushover. But with that said, Georgetown’s depth at most positions, plus a dominant center in Roy Hibbert should have been able to take down this inexperienced squad. Curry’s offensive explosiveness combined with Wisconsin’s stifling defense could make for a unique Sweet 16 match up.

2. Duke’s awful tournament

I am no Cameron-Hater, but the Blue Devil’s performance in this tournament was simply horrid. They almost let Belmont, BELMONT take them down in round one. And followed that up by West Virginia, a team that was no guarantee to even make the tourney. Coach K is lucky he is a legend, because if it was nearly anybody else, he would be jobless.

1. Only one ACC team remains

I realize that the ACC had a down year, only having four teams enter the tournament, and it does not look like anybody is going to stop UNC anytime soon, but in what way can ESPN spin this and make the ACC the most difficult conference in basketball, while the PAC-10 and Big East still have three teams left. Not to mention the Big 12’s and Big Ten’s two representatives in the Sweet 16. What are Bilas and Vitale going to do if Hansboro gets D-ed up by a Washington State big man, and Lawson goes cold. Dickie V might have to change his diaper…dandee.