Friday, March 16, 2007

NCAA Tournament Day 2: First Round Complete

Remind me next year that the solution to having good feelings about underdogs is to not pick them all in one bracket.

Another good day of hoops, if we don't allow the bitterness of the Kentucky win and the 3 other crappy blowouts from the late session to cloud our judgement.

I didn't get even a second of the Tennessee game, so I don't exactly know how they blew up Long Beach State, I just know that they did. Tennesseein' is Tennebelievin', apparently. All I know is that in a day in which 5 teams went over 80 points (including Long Beach State) and 3 teams went over 100 points, Tennessee did everyone one better, and scored 121 points. Jebus! I'd like to argue that Tennessee ran up the score, but not one of their starters had more than 30 minutes, and 4 of their bench players had more than 15 minutes. If you were looking for the recent history guaranteed 12 vs 5 upset, this was the wrong place. In fact, we didn't have a 12-5 upset this year. Weird. I bet Snoop Dogg is pissed!

But despite the late night blowouts, and Kansas' 100 point "effort" Niagara (and hey, these are #1 seeds against #16 seeds. They should be blowouts) we had some great, great games today.

We've got my boys, The Winthrop Eagles, upsetting Notre Dame in pretty demonstrative fashion 74-64. Though, really, it wasn't as easy as the score suggests--Winthrop blew a 20 point lead, and actually had to battle back, and then hit free throws (something they aren't great at) to win this game. Craig Bradshaw is probably getting noticed by NBA agents now. The New Zealander is a very mobile big man, with pretty good passing skills, and a toughness born from a father who thought basketball was for "girls" and that real men play Rugby.

Winthrop will be playing Oregon on Sunday. Oregon just barely escaped the mighty Miami of Ohio, who just barely qualified for this tournament. It took an off-balance, last-second, banked-in 3 pointer for Miami to win their conference tournament. I was actually pretty shocked when the brackets were announced and they got a seed as high as 14. And even though I'm linking to it, pay no attention to the tone of the AP article about this game. They make it sound like it was Oregon's plan to win by 2. I guarantee you that it wasn't!

Wisconsin was in a world of hurt in the first half of their game against the Islanders of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. In the second half, Kammron Taylor remembered that he isn't just a talented Chris Rock mimic, but a pretty good shooter, too. After not scoring any points, and going 0-8, he scored 18 points in the second half. T&M-CC look like they got a little fatigued in the second half, as well. Watch out for the Islanders in the future--they seem like a good team to upset someone in the next couple of years. Head coach with NCAA upset experience, and JuCo connections.

Two of the best games of the first round were played today.

I got precious little coverage of the Nevada/Creighton tilt, but I do know it went into overtime, and that Nick Fazekas fouled up early in the OT. Nate Funk for Creighton hit some big shots, but eventually, Nevada proved that they are more than 4 guys and Fazekas. They took control in the OT, even with Funk hitting his occasional 3 pointer, or crazy running lay-up. I think a lot of people had the winner of this game beating #2 Memphis on Sunday. Nevada looks more than capable of doing just that.

I did get a lot of coverage of the VA Tech Hokies vs. Illinois, I guess because I live in a Big 10 Market. And even though I'm a native Virginian, and had lots of friends who went to VA Tech, and had picked them, I thought they were dead and buried with about 6 minutes left to play. They were down 10 points, and out of desperation, they went to a full-court pressing defense that just befuddled Illinois. By "befuddled" I mean "Completely fucked them right in the noggin". Illinois didn't score once in the last 4 and half minutes, and VA Tech did. Not a lot, just enough to win the game. It was a sick comeback, and one that the returning Illini will have in their heads for awhile. Deron Washington of VA Tech hit some sick and lucky shots, which was God's way of making up for the completely bullshit technical that got called on him in the final minutes.

hell of a fucking game.

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