Friday, March 18, 2011

The irregularly updated basketball time blog Day 2

- Oakland vs Texas - Marv Albert! Craig Sager! Another introduction of the TNT NBA crew on an unsuspecting America. Texas was obviously a better team, in my opinion, but Oakland, despite the lack of talent was not nervous, owing to a difficult schedule this season. It's another of the strong mid-majors that got hosed on seeding, however, with Belmont and Utah State being the others. I really think the at large play ins are going to screw a few good conference champions out of deserved high seeds and unfairly eliminate them early.

- Tennessee vs Michigan - If you asked me to pick a game that would be an enormous 8-9 blow out, it would not have been this game. Bruce Pearl isn't even sweating through his jacket because this game is so out of hand. Speaking of Pearl, it was generally indicated that he would not be back next season, regardless of outcome, which makes this game incredibly awkward for him and his team. Fortunately, that unpleasant feeling is just about over.

- Akron vs Notre Dame - I am unabashedly cheering for Akron, who is only down by 4. They have a lot of players on the team that have been in the dance before, a lot of veteran talent and are seemingly comfortable, as they are somewhat surprisingly within 4 at the half. Of course, Notre Dame always comes into the dance with both hands around their throat, so I guess this isn't a huge surprise to anyone. Go Zips!
Akron hung with the Irish in this game, much to everyone's surprise and my delight, but  they never really went on a run. It was a game with a lot of baskets being swapped, and in the end it became clear that Notre Dame was struggling because their open looks just weren't going down.

- Villanova vs George Mason - FINALLY a Big East team starts hot, and it's one of the teams that was universally panned coming into the tournament. George Mason was a trendy pick to do well in the tournament until they got an 8 seed opposite Ohio State. But Villanova is well rested after not doing a thing for about two months.
GUS FREAKING JOHNSON! The best part is that this game is going down to the wire, so we will see Gus at this Gussiest in the end. Villanova came out fast as I mentioned, but George Mason brought it to within one, and the Wildcats have to be doubting themselves at this point.
George Mason did it! HUGE win, made even huger by the fact that Gus Johnson was able to properly lose it mid game. The Big East is now 5-3 in the first round, with three games against joke conferences, leaving them 2-3 against real competition, which means that they are... average.

- Memphis vs Arizona - Barkley has been trumpeting Arizona the entire day, and they came out extraordinarily flat. I suspected the Pac 10 might be surprisingly well represented again this year, but then I had Arizona losing in the next round and UCLA losing in round one, so I guess I don't know what I was thinking. Arizona came storming back after the Memphis Tigers got out to a hot start and even have a three point lead at the half.
Memphis came storming back again to retake the lead. It just dawned on me that this would be Calipari vs Memphis if the Tigers hang on. Very cagey, selection committee (erp, Arizona gets Texas, not Kentucky... Been a long week). Now, about that whole Big East-Big East second round thing.... But really, this has been one of the better games of the tournament, as both teams are athletic, and neither has been out of it at any point.
Charles Barkley again echoed the same sentiment, saying that these were two of the most athletic teams in the tournament, and it's hard to argue with that. It came down to the end of the game and one of those athletic plays from Derrick Williams. I haven't seen him play before today, but I am impressed.

- Hampton vs Duke - Another team that looks like they should from the beginning. Hampton looks scared, Duke looks confident and this is going very quickly, which is definitely good for the Pirates. Let's just hope it's only feelings that get hurt.
Hampton has 6 points in the second half. Poor, poor Hampton.
In describing this adventure, Kenny Smith said it was good for Kyrie Irving to see the court in a "game-like" atmosphere. Not in a game. Game-like. That's all you need to know.

- Florida State vs Texas A&M - This started exactly the way I thought it would. FSU's defense prevented A&M from scoring for the first 6 minutes. The problem was that the Seminoles weren't scoring themselves. Oops. This game is still tied, somehow.
 For the first time in about 13 years, the Seminoles got the win in the first round. I like the way they played defensively and they just seem long. Even if they don't beat Notre Dame on Sunday, It's going to be a pretty incredible game.

- Texas San Antonio vs Ohio State - Ohio State at this point is up 70-34. UTSA isn't even making that many mistakes, it's just total domination by Ohio State. It's pretty tough for a team to get up for this opening round game, but Thad Matta got OSU going. This kind of coaching and focus can't be good for the rest of their half of the bracket.

- Boston University vs Kansas - Hilarious that the game is so close. Sure, I've said all tournament that Boston got jobbed, being made a 16 seed, but still, Kansas SHOULD be annihilating them. That's why it's not right, because Boston should be getting embarrassed, undeservedly. But they aren't, so good for them.
Perhaps I spoke too soon. The Jayhawks turned it on in the second half and didn't look back. Definitely a situation of abundant talent overwhelming a less well conditioned team in Boston. Kansas moves on and will likely have something to talk about in practice tomorrow.

- Long Island vs North Carolina - North Carolina is simply too athletic. The Northeast Conference doesn't have that many good athletes, and probably got a reputation of a team that does, simply because their champion last year, Robert Morris, competed so well against Villanova in the tournament. Of course, North Carolina is already up, so this may also be a testament to the ACC, who has done well so far this year.
After I wrote this, LIU went on a run and kept it close at the half, but North Carolina then went out and took over in the second half. The first and perhaps last game of the tourney to put a team over 100, this was a demonstration in high powered offenses. Even Long Island scored over 70, but, you know, lost by 30. Seemed like every shot went down for both teams, though.

- St. Peter's vs Purdue - Purdue so far is dominant on defense, but they look like they are trying to force it. They know they are better, they know they haven't played well of late, and they are trying to make up for it. They need to stay within their game, and this will be a blowout instead of a mere victory
This game went pretty much exactly as hoped. Purdue was any sort of superlative when compared to St. Peter's but the one s that stood out were more athletic, bigger, longer and more cohesive. It's really kind of hard to say if Purdue is in a rhythm, because St. Peter's was really, really bad.  The defense looks to be there, however, so there are some good indications going forward.

- Marquette vs Xavier - For the first time, I have a compliment for a Big East team: Marquette looked GOOD. They definitely played like they were the favorite, and were helped by the fact that Xavier came out a little flat. They would be a tough team to face next round were they not facing Syracuse (assuredly) who will have a good book on them already.

- UNLV vs Illinois - I had UNLV winning this one, because I thought the Mountain West would represent themselves well. Illinois is blowing the Rebels out of the building. This and the Michigan game are huge for the Big Ten's reputation. It's almost as if the Big Ten was a tough conference that led to not many teams having great records. Penn State and Michigan State are the only two to lose, and both took it down to the wire so far.
The Rebels never really came back into it. I missed the end of this game though, because a police chase appears to have ended just outside my front door. There were dogs, and about 6 squad cars and an ambulance and it was crazy. I thought it was more entertaining the games, frankly. I want to know what happened.

- Georgia vs Washington - If conference strength continues to go to form, this will be a good win for Washington. I am so far impressed by Isaiah Thomas.
Georgia kept this game a lot closer than anyone expected. Or rather, than I expected. The SEC ended up going 1-3 on day one, while the Pac 10 is 3-0 (USC doesn't count because they didn't even get to the 64). Watch out for the Pac 10. Maybe Colorado will have a better shot next year out of the Pac 12.

- VCU vs Georgetown - Chris Wright is back and clearly healthy. This game is up and down and will be extremely entertaining down to the wire, if early indications are accurate. I don't think VCU will get gassed at this pace, because nobody seems tired in any games this season. This is a fun game too, because its the second CAA-Big East match.
Well, I was wrong. Georgetown was dominated by VCU down the stretch. The Big East looks really good now, don't they?! I like this result for Purdue, because it meant that they don't get a Georgetown team in rhythm and they DO get a team playing it's third game in 5 days. The game won't be easy, but it's a better match.

- Indiana State vs Syracuse - Hasn't really started yet, but the thing I have learned is that Indiana State has some ugly ass cheerleaders. Sorry ladies.
Syracuse let the Sycarmores hang around a little too long, but they ended up running away in the end. Indiana State wasn't a very good team, and one of the few teams (BYU the other) that didn't have a proliferation of tattoos. Interesting. Syracuse rebounds well, which is a good  sign for their future success. The Big East was 7-4 in the first round, and when you subtract the 1-3 seeds, they went 3-4, which ,as mentioned, is average. Two of those teams will lose this weekend, and the Big East will be left with at most 5 of their teams next weekend. What I'm saying though, is that Syracuse probably projects the best.

And that's it for the IUBTB! Not a chance this is happening tomorrow, but the Twitter will be alive and well

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