Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tournament Thoughts: First Round Friday

I am never disappointed with the NCAA tournament but this was the most underwhelming first round I can remember in years. No upsets of a top 4 seed, and only 1 12 seed won, and they were actually favored.

And the big teams that won for the most part weren't even challenged. North Carolina won by 39, Kansas by 38, Duke by 22. And the two teams that were "challenged" were UCLA and Kentucky and they still won by 17 & 9. And Kentucky's win wasn't even that close.

Hopefully, the better teams advancing means more good games in the later rounds.

And it wasn't just the top seeds, the close matchups, didn't yield any super-exciting games, none went to overtime. For the second straight day, one of the most exciting finishes was marred by bad play.

Seton Hall had so many unfortunate things happen in the final 40 seconds, the culmination of which was a questionable call, but they lost more because of their own mistakes than those of the officials.

Here's why: they led by 8 with 6 minutes left, they led by 8 with 9 minutes left. They had the lead and the ball with 80 seconds left. Then they turned it over, and allowed the go-ahead layup. They had the ball again, and turned it over on a travel. So that's two turnovers in 1 minute with the game on the line, before the officials got involved.

And then, the call happened. Seton Hall had to give a foul, trailing by 1 with the shot clock off. Desi Rodriguez tried to foul but instead he put two hands on the back of Barford and their feet got tangled simultaneously. By the letter of the law, this should have been ruled a flagrant, a clear push with no attempt to play the ball. By the spirit, no foul, it's late in the game, teams need to foul, contact wasn't excessive.

Look at it from the other side. Imagine you're Arkansas. A guy does exactly what is written in the rule book as a flagrant foul, but they give him leeway based on discretion, and you somehow lose. Wouldn't Arkansas have a much bigger case to freak out? You can't tailor the rules to the situation.

And for Seton Hall, the most likely case is ball back, down 3, 20 seconds. Not great odds. Which is why Seton Hall blew this game before the referee's call was made.

If Marquette's Andrew Rousey went on Jim Rome's show, would he call him "Ronda?"

Every time the announcers talked about Cincinnati's Troy Caupain, it sounded like they were saying cocaine.

Similarly I thought Kevin Harlan had a Freudian slip when excitedly referring to Baylor's Manu Lecomte. "Look at le cunt!"

On to round 2, hoping for some better games!

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