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!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Tournament Thoughts: First Round Thursday

Sickening end to Vanderbilt vs. Northwestern. Matthew Fisher-Davis will not quite join Chris Webber, due to enormity of the situation, but certainly his blatant foul with 25 seconds left and his team LEADING by 1, will go down as one of the most boneheaded moves in tournament history.

No big upsets today. You can't really consider Middle Tennessee an upset since they were favored, and Xavier was only 2-point dogs, not exactly Cinderella stuff. All the 4 seeds won their opening round games. That's the third time that's happened in the past 4 years.

My biggest regret of the first round is that Albany lost their conference final to Vermont, and I don't get to put Dallas Ennema on my all-name team.

But at least we have Bacon.

The first member of Mrs. Poop's All-Hair team is Justin Tillman from VCU.

And his teammate Jonathan Williams would be there if Mrs. Poop liked beards.

For fundamentals no one beats Florida's Canyon Barry who shoots free throws underhand, as his father Rick used to do. Oh, and Barry set the Florida record for most consecutive free throws. For the record, Rick had sons Scooter, Brent & Jon with his first wife, Canyon is from wife #3, Rick must have been about 50 when Canyon was born.

Underhanded free throws are something Florida-Gulf Coast's Demetris Morant might want to consider.

Arizona looked good, Nevada looked fun and maybe Wisconsin can give Villanova some trouble. That's it for a very chalky day 1. Let's see if more upsets await on Day 2.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Song of the Week

"Something Like This" - The Chainsmokers & Coldplay

Sunday, March 12, 2017

No One To Blame But Themselves

The Syracuse Orange will be watching the NCAA Tournament for the second time in 3 years (not the way Jim Boeheim wanted to spend his latter years, but that's another post for another time).
The Orange were squarely on the bubble with an 18-14 record. Working against them, 4 horrible losses (St John's, Georgetown, UConn and Boston College), a poor road record (2-11) and a miserable RPI (80-something), which would have been the worst RPI to ever get an at-large berth, breaking the record they set last year.
But working in their favor, Syracuse finished 10-8 in the top conference, won 6 games against the RPI top 50 and was a completely different team that they were in November and December.
But when you lose 14 games, and blow several chances at a statement win, or even an easy clinching win, and don't get it, you really can't blame the committee.
Every team ahead of the Orange has pros and cons when rated head-to-head.
My only issue is with what seems to me to be some inconsistency in the criteria from year-to-year. It seems like last year SU was rewarded for big wins, this year those didn't matter as much. Perhaps the committee didn't want to keep stretching their criteria for the same team, and certainly it didn't seem like last year's Final Four run mattered at all.
But at least I have the Virginia game saved on my DVR.