Good job by CBS showing Amanda Marcum, coach Andy Enfield's wife. They did a short feature on her early in the game and when the game got tense at the end, just as I predicted they showed her incessantly. She's still very attractive but not model hot anymore. But she is over 40 with three kids.
Georgetown almost made the incredible comeback. They hit a few threes and FGCU turned it over, missed some free throws, it was 72-68 with 52 seconds left. And Georgetown fouled. I think that was too early. They should have backed off. Tried to force a turnover. Or get the ball back with 15 or 20 down 4, you have a chance. This way Georgetown had to keep hitting 3s and FGCU had to keep missing free throws, which didn't happen.
In the first 25 years of the 64-team format there were 4 15 over 2 upsets (Richmond over Syracuse, Santa Clara over Arizona, Coppin State over South Carolina and Hampton over Iowa State). This is the third in the past two years (Lehigh over Duke, Norfolk State over Missouri).
Ohio State and Florida looked good in their opening round games and their biggest impediments to teh Elite 8 were already eliminated, New Mexico and Georgetown.
Oklahoma is the 5th team Lon Kruger has taken to the tournament (Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV), the only coach to do that. And he won games with all of them too.
San Diego State is a pretty good team. We saw them against Syracuse on the aircraft carrier but that was a weird game. They salvaged a little something for their conference here. Mountain West goes 2-3 losing a huge team in New Mexico, but San Diego State has a pretty good chance to make it to the Sweet 16.
Jamaal Franklin did a risky move at the end of the game, tried a reverse dunk and it bounced out, then went in anyway. I didn't like that play at all.
Notre Dame and their ugly uniforms (which they did not wait) bounced from the tournament in humiliating fashion, finishing up another bad first round for the Big East (3-5 including that nailbiter for Marquette).
Late in the Kansas-WKU game Kansas got a layup but the TV score graphic accidentally credited it to WKU, So I look up and see 53-49
and think really? A few seconds after that it changed to 55-47 but they freaked me out for a few seconds.
Minnesota's mild upset of UCLA ends a very exciting first round. Obviously Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown and Harvard over New Mexico were the big upsets, but if you look at the others, Oregon, Cal, Ole Miss and Minnesota are all big conference teams, that may have been underrated.
I did nail a 12-5 and 11-6 upset, but I lost two Final Four teams.
I love having four games on 4 channels simultaneously. Does anyone else remember when we were all watching CBS and all the games were ending at the same time and there would be two close ones and we'd be begging them to switch? Thank God we don't have to worry about that anymore.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Friday, March 22, 2013
You knew Duke wasn't going out as a 2 seed to a 15 two years in a row. It just wasn't going to happen. But Albany did hang in there with them for a while. What a horrible shooting game by Wisconsin (15-59). It can go either way with them. Either they harass you into an off night or they have one themselves. Marshall Henderson is a little bit exciting, a little bit annoying, but he's a pretty good player and made shots down the stretch when Wisconsin couldn't. Only VCU kept it from being a clean sleep by the 12 seeds. I'd love to go back and look but I would say that if you bet on the 12 seeds either with the money line or with the spreads, over the years you probably made a lot of money. Valiant comeback by NC State but they dug themselves too big of a hole. They almost came all the way back, down 65-62 they ran a great pick and roll and kicked it out to Lorenzo Brown for a wide open 3, but he missed it. They also had another chance, looked like a clean block on a breakaway which would have given them a chance to cut to 2, or even 1, but the refs called it a foul. Dominant performance by Miami. They are a good team, and probably a serious contender to win this thing. This elbow rule is out of control and it almost cost Creighton the game. 60-54 McDermott gets the rebound and is sure to be fouled, he swings his arms, hits the guy in the face with an elbow and its 2 shots and the ball. Cincinnati missed both free throws but hit a 3, which could have taken a 6 point lead to 1. Wouldn't have been a great way to end that game. Yes the player should swing his elbows lower, learn to do that so if you strike an opponent you do it in the chest, but it's being enforced too tightly. I'm beginning to think teams in automatic fouling situations should feign the foul and try to force a mistake. It worked for Marquette and it almost worked in this game too. The guy who receives the ball should just wait to be fouled instead of trying to make a crazy pass. Valiant comeback by Kansas State thanks to the huge size advantage by Jordan Henriquez. But some poor decisions down the stretch really hurt them. They didn't even get a serious shot off on their last posession. The Atlantic-10 is now 6-0, with two wins for LaSalle. That will help salve some of the mid-major sting of the Mountain West's poor showing. The West is the upset regional with the the 12, 13 and 14 (Ole Miss, LaSalle and Harvard) all advancing and at least one of them is going to the Sweet 16. And now we have to hear about how LaSalle had an advantage by playing an extra game. This is the 6th straight year a 13 has beaten a 4. You knew a team with Oladipo and Zeller wasn't going to play a close game with a 16 seed like James Madison. Illinois-Colorado started simply enough, 17-16 Colorado to start the game. Illinois went on a 23-6 run. Colorado scored the next 21 points, then Illinois scored 9 in a row. There was also a stretch when neither team scored for 4 minutes. But Illinois did hold on to end the afternoon session and knock out the first Pac-12 team.
Saying "do you know the way to San Jose" is not clever or original Orange fans. James Southerland dribbled more than 2 times without turning it over. Well, he almost turned it over but Christmas just happened to be there. Christmas is looking like a monster in this game. Which means Montana is severely undermanned inside. Everyone keeps talking about how great a 3-pointer shooter CJ Fair is because of his high percentage on few attempts. And they say he should shoot more often. Maybe his percentage his high because he only shoots when he has a good chance of making it. He's very judicious. I think in his case selection is as much a part of his excellence as his shooting skill. Wayne Tinkle is a pretty funny name for a coach. Brian Anderson seems to be having fun saying it. But he keeps using his full name because it sounds silly to call a grown man Tinkle. I would say they mentioned Tinkle about 20 times as often as they said Boeheim. Boeheim was positively glowing in his halftime interview. I guess with a 23 point lead you have to crack a smile, even if you are an old curmudgeon. Nice to see DaJuan Coleman getting some playing time. And all the walkons too. Matt Lyde-Cajuste and 5 foot 10, 150 pound Nolan Hart (no relation to Jason) even got to chuck up a 3. I actually felt badly for Montana by the end of this. They worked hard, dreamed of this their entire lives and they played their worst game at the worst time. I know Syracuse was a better, bigger, faster team, but shooting 20% from the field is just a poor performance. Great win for SU. It will have no carryover to the next game, which will start at 0-0 again. But if confidence was a factor, winning by 47 certainly helps boost that. SU may have gotten a break by getting the weaker opponent in the next round but Cal is certainly good enough to win if SU plays at less than their best. So Seth Davis wore an orange wig on TV to pay up for picking Montana to beat Syracuse. This is one of the dumbest things ever. The guy gets paid to give his opinion and make predictions. It doesn't mean he hates Syracuse or has no "respect" he just made a knee-jerk guess that Syracuse was going to lose. This is a total non-story and he shouldn't have dignified it with anything more than an acknowledgement of how off his prediction was.
South Dakota State was a trendy upset pick but I didn't see it. Michigan wasn't playing great down the stretch but they have a lot of good players. It's a shame that Nate Wolters had such a bad game. He's better than what he showed in this game. Louisville's domination of #16 North Carolina A&T is more typical of what we see of 1-16 games. Every once in a while you see a game like Southern versus Gonzaga. But this result is much more typical of what we see with 1-16 matchups. But don't conflate these results to have any grander meaning. Don't assume Louisville is unbeatable or Gonzaga is vulnerable based only on what we saw today. I misjudged the Belmont-Arizona game. I thought Arizona would be lazy on defense and Belmont would be able to run and gun on them. But early on it was Arizona nailing 3s and Belmont couldn't make it close. Maybe we all underestimated the Pac-12. They started off 3-0. The most impressive of which was Cal over UNLV. UNLV has a lot of big, strong athletic guys, but the couldn't make a shot. Moser and Bennett were all over the place, but couldn't put the ball in the basket. It wasn't just the poor shooting, UNLV made some stupid mistakes and got lazy on defense. They deserved to lose this game. Good strategy by Cal to foul with ten seconds left and again with 6. It's so easy to make a 3, so hard to rebound a purposeful miss. I think UNLV screwed up by making the free throws. And being unable to foul right away. Cal's victory had nothing to do with playing an hour from campus. There were a lot of fans there, but UNLV had people too. It had zero impact on the outcome. Missouri has Alex Oriakhi formerly of Uconn. He was one of the big thugs who rebounded and blocked shots while Kemba Walker shot the ball 20 times a game. He won a national title, but elected to transfer, citing UConn's ineligibility from postseason play. His diminished playing time may have also been a factor. But he ended up at Missouri and didn't even have to sit out a year. Nice to see Larry Eustachy has recovered, but he will never live down these pictures. It's just a shame they cost him his marriage to Stacy Eustachy. But at least he's got a ticket to the second round. Good luck against Louisville. What VCU did to Akron was ugly. It's just one of those things that snowballs. VCU was staying in an aggressive press for a long time. I know that's the only way they know how to play but when you're up 40, maybe you want to give it a rest. With 15:32 left in the second half Chauncey Gilliam hit a layup to make it 65-34. Akron didn't score for the next 7 minutes, and VCU added 12 more points for a 43-point lead, which ended up as a 46-point victory. I will like to see how that press does against Michigan. Now, on to the big upset of the first round so far, the show stopper, the Cinderella, Harvard over New Mexico. But first, a couple non-game observations. Doug Gottlieb said "things were Breaking Bad for New Mexico." Inside reference, but totally unnecessary. Glad to know he is a fan of the show. Makes me hold him in slightly higher esteem. Why do they have to say "AT&T at the half is presented by AT&T?" Don't they think we could have figured that out. New Mexico didn't choke, or even play badly, they just got beat by a better team that night. I think there is something to this Ivy League thing. We saw Princeton beat UCLA, take Georgetown to the wire as a 16 seed. Cornell made the Sweet 16, in 2010. I know there were also a lot of years when the Ivy champ got bounced in the first round, but it sure seems as if Ivy players keep their heads and execute the game plan even under pressure. New Mexico just couldn't get any consistent offense going. Bad day for the Mountain West, 3 teams out so far. Good day for the Pac-12, 3 teams advancing so far. If Harvard can hit some threes and slow down the tempo they can pull off the upset of Arizona that Belmont failed to do. And personally, my bracket is shot to shit because I had New Mexico in the final game. Yikes! But that's March Madness for you.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Valpo held in pretty well against Michigan State for 10 minutes, it was only 13-10. The next 15 minutes after that MSU outscored them 36-12. And that was that. Bucknell scored only 14 points in the first half. Yikes. But Butler only had 21. One touchdown and Bucknell could get back in it. And then blamo!, Bucknell gets hot, 9 minutes into the second half they scored 150% as many points as the entire first half. And they have a 35-31 lead, still a football score. A lot of people talk about parity in the tournament, and it is true. But the bigger reason we have so many upsets and so much uncertainty is because of the 3-point shot. One team is hot, the other is cold, and everything changes. It can overcome a wide talent disparity. Bucknell led Butler 37-33, and to that point Butler was 0-13 from downtown. Butler hit its next two 3-point attempts. And that minirun was enough to lead them to the victory. They showed New Mexico State's mascot, Pistol Pete, on a bump shot going out to break on TruTV and when one of commentators (can't keep track of who) said his mustache was askew, which it was. Another said it looked like Elmer Fudd's. I really wish I had the name of the idiot who confused Elmer Fudd with Yosemite Sam. And that was the highlight for New Mexico State. St. Louis is a good team, seeded properly, but underrated by the broader audience. Mrs. Poop is fascinated/amused that there is a team called the Shockers. And even happier that Wichita State fans and cheerleaders have adopted the hand gesture. Pittsburgh once again playing below expectations in the tournament. They never overachieve come March. I think their physical style hurts them on offense, they just can't fill it up when they get behind. Though the pace of this game, the low scores, the horrible shooting percentages, should have favored Pitt. The two teams combined to make 3 of 37 3-point attempts. Doug Gottlieb is not a good game analyst. He knows a lot of stuff, has interesting things to share, but tries to be too cute, too smart, and ends up talking too much. He's much better in a studio role, like the one he has with the smoking hot Allie LaForce, who by the way was doing sideline reporting for the games in Lexington. Funny thing about these new playoff games featuring bubble teams. When the winning team wins its next game everyone makes it out to be a huge advantage, playing that extra game, getting momentum. When they lose all you hear about is the travel demands and the unfairness. Nice win for Memphis but they were much better when John Calipari was arranging illicit payments for their recruits. They did almost blow that game. Same shitty free throw shooting that cost them in the Calipari era. 3 for 6 in the last minute as St. Mary's cut the lead to 2. St. Mary's did get a very lucky crazy banked-in 3, followed by a Memphis turnover to get one final shot with 1.9 seconds left. But Dellavadova who is awesome, just couldn't get a decent shot off. Davidson has a halftime lead on Marquette (Davidson started the game up 12-2, Marquette came back with an 11-3 run) and Buzz Williams took a long drink of water on the way to the locker room. Junior Cadougan is now a senior. Vander Blue is a junior. I will miss neither of them when Syracuse moves to the ACC next season. And Vander Blue took over the game. Hit a huge 3, then hit the game-winning layup. He was 3-13 before those two baskets in the final 30 seconds. Devastating breakdown, I won't call it a choke, by Davidson. They did make 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch. They made one big turnover. If Marquette does what most teams do they foul right away and probably lose. Instead they backed off, Davidson threw a reckless cross-court pass out of bounds and Marquette got the ball one final time. I don't even blame them for Vander Blue's seemingly easy game-winner. Marquette ran a good play and Blue is quicker than anyone on Davidson. But that one stings for the little guy. It was a little too close for a little too long, but eventually Gonzaga closed out Southern. They dominated with size, killing Southern on the offensive glass, and getting the ball to Kelly Olynyk who could not be stopped in the second half. But still did not look dominant the way a number one seed should. And Oregon closes out the afternoon with a big win over Oklahoma State. I nailed my 12 over 5 upset and started the day by getting all 8 games correct. Hopefully I can get the next 55 correct as well.
You're never as good as you think you are when things or going good, or as bad as you seem when things start to go bad. That's the story of Syracuse's season in 2012-13. They weren't as good as people thought when they started 18-1 and ascended to #3 in the country. Because they beefed up on a fairly easy schedule. But they are better than they seemed when they limped to a 4-5 finish. But please remember those 5 losses came in 5 games against top 15 teams, Georgetown twice, Marquette, and Louisville twice. So which team will show up in the NCAA Tournament? It really depends on James Southerland. When he is making shots as he did in the Big East Tournament, it changes everything. Teams must stick a man on him at all times, creating driving lanes for Carter-Williams and Triche. When he is missing shots, or not in the game (the second half against Louisville), Syracuse is much easier to defend. While part of me is worried about the first round match-up against Montana, I know Syracuse should win the game. But we have seen SU get upset many times, most notably, by Vermont in 2005 and Richmond in 1991. The second round against UNLV (assuming the beat Cal) will be a much tougher game. Anthony Bennett is a great player, only a freshman, but probably a one-and-done guy whole will go in the first round of the NBA Draft. If SU sneaks by UNLV, I just don't see any way they are going to contain Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller with the 2-3 zone. Of course every year you hope for the National Championship, and would be satisfied with a Final Four. But this year I would just like to see SU make the Sweet 16, and maybe pull off the biggest tournament upset in Jim Boeheim's career by knocking off Indiana.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
You've watched enough NCAA Tournament games to know what happens when an underdog is in a close game with a top seed. They show shots of the small school's fans. They show the bench players cheering after a made basket. And they show the coach's wife looking nervous during tense moments. So let us hope Florida Gulf-Coast takes Georgetown to the wire so we can see as much of Amanda Marcum Enfield as possible. She is a model who once appeared on the cover of Maxim. Her husband is the coach of FGCU. They apparently met during the 2003 NCAA Tournament. She was a model from Oklahoma living in New York City back then. She wanted to go to Oklahoma State's second round game in Boston. She hitched a ride with Andy Enfield to watch OSU lose to eventual champion Syracuse, despite holding a big early lead. But despite the loss love bloomed and the smoking hot model married the dorky gap-toothed coach. A classic love story.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Let's start off with the number one seeds. The committee got three of them correct. Louisville is the best team, Gonzaga and Indiana also very deserving of their spots. I do quibble with Kansas over Duke though. They both had 5 losses. They both played murderous non-conference schedules but Duke's was a little tougher. They both played in good but weaker than normal conferences, but again Duke's was better. They both have a lot of good wins and a couple bad losses. But Duke lost to Virginia, Kansas lost to TCU. Other than "playing better lately" or "winning the conference tournament" I can't see any area where you compare these teams and say Kansas was more deserving. I think the committee gave the Pac-12 the lack of respect it deserves in regard to seeding but it still got 5 teams in. If any conference got underseeded it was the Mountain West. You do realize it was the second-toughest conference this season? Everyone of its teams should have been a line higher, including New Mexico, which even as a 3 seed is a serious Final Four threat. It drives me nuts that the committee would put the only non-power conference top 3 seeds in the same region, to avoid two of them getting to the Final Four. I hate conspiracy theories but there is so much evidence that the committee does that shit that it almost has to be true. For instance, pairing Boise State versus LaSalle in a play-in game. And Middle Tennessee State versus St. Mary's in the other. And why wasn't Cal in a play-in game? If they are one of the last teams in and got a 12, why do two 11s have to play against each other. Why not give MTS a game against Cal instead of SMC? And why not give Akron the chance to knock off Oklahoma State or Wisconsin? Why put them against VCU? I'm not one of these mid-major apologists. I like the big schools with the tradition and the fans and the best players. But don't stack the deck against the small schools. At least they let Middle Tennessee get in. I was sure they were going to be left out despite a fantastic record and a good RPI. I understand they didn't beat anyone except Ole Miss, but 3 of their 5 losses were to excellent teams (Belmont, Florida and Akron). If MTS didn't get in, you're basically telling the really small schools that they have to play a tough non-conference schedule, win a couple of those games and/or be perfect in their conference. Too tall an order especially when compared to 12-loss teams from the bigger conferences. Let's stick with Belmont for a second. They're going to beat Arizona in the first round. And they might not be the only 11 over 6. Minnesota has an excellent chance to beat UCLA. But I'm not going to bury the Pac-12. I'm going to give Oregon the coveted 5/12 upset slot. This is basically a vote against Oklahoma State because I like VCU, UNLV and Wisconsin to all advance. Now to find the 2 seed that will lose in the second round. I will say that I have an incredible record at this. I'd say I get it right 50% of the time. Unfortunately, I almost never get the right team doing it. I am confident about Ohio State and Georgetown so it's down to Miami and Duke. I loved Miami at the beginning of the year, hated them late and really am not sold on them. But I really don't like Duke and think the Creighton matchup is bad for them. So I will go with Duke missing the Sweet 16 as a 2 seed for the second straight year. The committee did do a good job of matching big conferences and mid-majors in the 8/9 and 7/10 games though. 5 games like that among those and I will guarantee the mid-majors win at least three of those. In order to see my Final Four picks and champion you need to join my Tournament Challenge group on espn.com. The group name is of course, The Poop. Two more notes: the stupidest thing in the world is people who complain about things like Syracuse going to California despite being part of the West region. A few years ago the committee changed their rules. The region names only refer to the site of the regional semis and finals. For the first weekend teams from any region can go anywhere with the preference to give the higher seeds close proximity to home. Like it or not those are the rules. Stop complaining about it. Stop making snarky remarks. Deal with it. The second stupidest thing is the branding attempt to call the the four play-in games the first round. They are play-in games. Call them such. The games that begin on Thursday will always be the first round to me, on this blog, until they expand the tournament to 96 teams like Jim Boeheim wants.
You've heard the testimonials all week, everyone who loves college basketball is saddened by the demise of the Big East. But instead of being sad, I decided to celebrate it. Billy and I made a vow to each other that we would not miss our last chance to see Syracuse play at Madison Square Garden in the Big East Tournament. Everything was going smoothly early in the season, it seemed like a lock that SU would earn a top 4 seed and a double bye, guaranteeing a Thursday game, but the late season slide messed all that up. But still we took our chances and once the seedings were finalized we bought our tickets to Thursday's afternoon session. We got the tickets on Vividseats.com which is just like stubhub, but it is the official secondary market ticket partner of the Big East Tournament. The tickets were $67, not bad considering the face value was $70, but once we paid the fees and shipping (FedEx), they were $87 each. We had to sweat out a Wednesday victory over Seton Hall, which earned Syracuse a game against Pittsburgh Wednesday at 2pm. Papa Poop arrived at the game on time but Billy and his dad were late while looking for NYC parking. The first game was a blowout by Georgetown of Cincinnati. Very unremarkable game. And then the SU-Pitt game started. Here's the vantage point from our seats: Not great, very high up, behind the basket, and in the reconfigured Garden there was a section or a suite above and in front of us so we had no view of the scoreboard. But we did have high-definition monitors right in front of us for score checks and replays. I decided to wear my Kirby Puckett jersey to honor him on what would have been his 53rd birthday. And the late great Puck brought us some luck. SU got our to an early lead thanks to some great shooting by James Southerland (a pattern), but gave it up in the second half (also a pattern), but managed to hold on for a victory. So I decided to do it again the next night. Master Bates got free tickets so he invited me and Nails and off we went. I left work a little early and parked my car on 38th and 8th at 6:47. The area was restricted parking until 7, so I hung around, check for parking police and took off at 6:52, taking my chances. I got away with it, luckily, and we arrived at our seats just in time for tip. Our seats were much better than the previous day. The Georgetown student section was right behind the basket and we were in the section facing them on the side. The game followed a similar pattern as the previous day, Syracuse built a big lead thanks to hot shooting by James Southerland (and even more surprisingly, Trevor Cooney) but blew the lead in the second half when Boeheim slowed the offense down and it went stagnant. Some dubious fouls helped Georgetown tie the game and force overtime, but Syracuse held on for the win. This game was amazing because James Southerland had 13, so did Baye Keita who made 7 of 7 free throws (I was there, and I watched the entire game again on DVR the next day, and I still went to espn.com to check that stat because it was so hard to believe) and Trevor Cooney had 10. Michael Carter-Williams and CJ Fair combined for 9 points on 4 of 23 shooting. But Fair did throw down this monster jam in the overtime to help seal it. This win was particularly satisfying because of the obnoxious Georgetown students in front of us. But also because of the sour taste in our mouths after the huge beatdown in the final regular season meeting. This one was a classic, on the biggest stage for the Big East, and it got a large measure of revenge in the rivalry, which is now officially closed. And I got to wear my "Your Mother's a Hoya" t-shirt one more time. Now I suppose I have to talked about the Big East Final, a game which I thankfully had the good sense not to attend. SU got off to another hot start and when James Southerland canned a 3 to make it 45-29 with 16 minutes to go, it seemed like SU would certainly blow the lead, but still be able to hold on. What happened next was a total collapse by Syracuse. James Southerland went out with his 4th foul, and the Orange went about 10 minutes without a field goal. Louisville went on a 44-10 run in that span, turning blowout loss into blowout win in record time. A few reasons I'm not that upset about the loss: 1) The tangible stakes were very low. SU was only playing for seeding. It got a 4, which is what the team deserved, and may not have gotten a 3 even with a win, though probably would have. 2) It had been a good run. I feel the team rebounded from it's late season slide, found its offense again and has renewed confidence going into the tournament that really matters, even though they got blown out in the second half. 3) Better to get an epic collapse out of the way, and hopefully learn something from it. Like take Southerland out when he had 2 fouls late in the second, and continue to be aggressive on offense even with a lead (more from the previous two games than the one against Louisville.) Two reasons I am upset about the loss: 1) It would have been nice to have the final Big East Tournament title. It would have been very memorable. 2) James Southerland didn't win Most Outstanding Player. He averaged 15.5 points and 5.5 rebounds but more importantly, he made 19 out of 33 3s. Taking nothing away from Peyton Siva, who had a fine tournament and had been in a good player in his 7 years at Louisville, but it is called the Most "Outstanding" Player. Not valuable, not best on winning time, outstanding. Will anyone remember what Siva did in this tournament? No. Are people going to remember the shooting clinic Southerland put on? Yes! 57% from behind the line, on 8 attempts per game. That will stand out in people's minds. Stand out, outstanding, get it?