Friday, March 18, 2011

March Madness: Field of 64 thoughts and analysis - Day 1, Part 1

This year, I bothered to play in a Bracket for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and I can understand the thrill and electric atmosphere of the Tournament season: you never know what will happen once the games get going. A top seeded-team can see its hopes of going deep die on a final shot, and a underdog can become the talk of the NCAA Men's Basketball world.

Morehead stuns Louisville - By far, the biggest upset in day one in 2nd round play, and the team which busted my - and i'm sure the majority of people's - brackets across the country. Everyone will talk about Demonte Harper's 3-point shot with 0.6 seconds left, but its the stats of the game that are really surprising: Morehead had 33 total rebounds, compared to Louisville's 27. Offensive rebounds, the Eagles had 11 to the Cardinals' 5. And Morehead was 11-18 at the line, compared to Louisville going 7-16. The killer was the 3's: Eagles went 9-19 on the line. Cards went 10-25.

Kentucky survives Princeton: Give credit to Princeton: they came to play vs. the Wildcats, when I expected them to dominate thought the game. Douglas Davis and Dan Mavriades had huge games, combining for 27 points, but the team in total went 3-14 from 3-point range and gave the ball away too man times (9 TO's for the Tigers, compared to the Wildcats' 6).

First win's a good one for the Aztecs: At some point, it looks like San Diego St. was facing the worst of both worlds in the 15th seed Northern Colorado: a Jimmer Freddette clone in Devon Beitzel(he went 8-17 in field goals and scored 25 points), and zone plays that gave Steve Fisher's group fits most of the game. Despite blowing a 10-point lead near halftime, the Aztecs dominated down the stretch at let their physical and athleticism rule the day as SDSU wins its first Tournament game in school history, winning 68-50. Kawhi Leonard was great, going 9-14 in field goals, and 3-5 from in 3-point range for 21 points and 10 rebounds. Chase Tapley had a solid outing, hitting 5-11 for 14 points, Billy White hit 5-13 for 12 points and had 10 rebounds in the game, and James Rahon went 2-3 from the 3's and had 12 points total.

I'll have more thoughts from yesterday's action tomorrow, when i'm not up so late and feeling tired, and the Count is more than welcome to add his input if he so wishes.

Edit From The Count: * I am sure this is loaded with typos but it's 3:30 and I am tired. sue me.

The first proper day of the 2011 edition of March Madness is in the books though I notice they are now calling this round 2. Tells me the 96 team tournament is not far off in our future and unlike most who see this as the coming of the 3rd Anti-Christ I personally am quite benevolent about the prospect. 96 teams, 68 teams, 64 whatever. I don't think the security of the Republic will be lost one way or the other.

Anyway I would think this was a maddening day, no pun intended, for the TV folks. Because almost all of the down to the wire games, and we had a whole slew of them, were over before most people got home from work. True today we have computers and we can watch the games from our office but I would bet the CBS folks would just as soon seen the evening games be the ones to make for good TV.

And the fact that all of the really popcorn finishes but one happened early and pretty much all at the same time made this somehow an unsatisfying day over all for the viewer all though there were some great games. Butler beat Old Dominion at the buzzer. Morehead State beat Louisville in the last seconds. As a Boston Celtic fan I enjoy seeing bad things come to rick Petino. And BTW If I were a dirty-minded sloth I would point out how unintentionally funny the let's go Morehead chant from the crowd was. But I am not and I won't. Besides maybe the game attracted a crowd of dirty-minded sloths and the chant was all to intentional.

After the Morehead-Louisville game then Temple beat Penn State at the buzzer and both the Kentucky-Princeton (man what happened to Cornell? I miss all of Ranger Bob's lies about his years in college there) and Richmond-Vanderbilt games went to the wire. It was a great afternoon of Basketball and it seemed we were on our way to one of the best first days of the tournament ever...then Oprah was on.

Thanks to the brand new 4 TV channels covering every game deal that started this year we no longer had to break for Oprah giving us a reason to say high to the fam and eat dinner before going off to watch more basketball. We could all watch Florida-UCSB on True TV instead. However that game quickly got out of hand as did the UCONN-Bucknell and Pitt-Asheville game. In fact all of the third stage games ranged from routs to games that were close for awhile only to see the better team pull away. This was the case in The San Diego State-Northern Colorado game, the BYU-Wofford game and the Wisconsin-Belmont games. On the whole the third stage games the" I'm home now I can watch some Basketball and only get yelled at by the wife" games were as bad as many of the early games were good. Though I imagine even though his team didn't play their best game and maybe took a little longer than he would have liked to pull away Jonathan was thrilled SDSU not only won their game but did so convincingly. Were Nebraska to ever actually win a March Madness game I would be so gleeful I would shit Buttermilk Biscuits.

The Fourth stage or late games were only marginally better than their immediate predecessors. And that was thanks mainly to UCLA completely puckering up down the stretch and nearly blowing a 20+ point lead. Their game with Michigan State which at no point seemed competitive was somehow just a 3 point game with 40 seconds left. Thankfully for Bruin fans the clock ran out before UCLA could complete stealing defeat from the jaws of victory and they escaped with a 2 point lead. Missouri started fast and looked pretty good against Cincinnati until they remembered they weren't playing in Missouri and then folded as Cincy systematically ran away with the game. Gonzaga, who is always much better when they are the lower seed beat St. Johns from start to finish and finally Utah State played just well enough to hang somewhat close to Kansas State but Kansas State was never it seems in any real danger of losing.

So overall? Probably give the day a B. There were probably more cliffhanger finishes than normal but the again the problem was they came one right after the other and they were almost all early. I liked the new 4 channel coverage of every game. It beats have to look at a small computer screen and they don't interrupt games with break in coverage anymore.

Finally about the games Wednesday. I missed most of them watching Nebraska get skullfucked by Wichita State however I saw some of the USC game and as Jonathan mentioned on another thread...brutal. For all of the questions about UAB (deserved) and VCU(we still don't know) how about USC? How did they get in? 19-14 from an average basketball conference and they blew a 22 point lead to Nebraska earlier this year. Not surprised they didn't last very long.

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