Saturday, March 18, 2017
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.
Friday, March 17, 2017
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.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Sunday, March 12, 2017
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.