The two greatest days in sports starts today. Is there anything more exciting than watching David knock off Goliath? Or watching as nearly every game comes down to the final few minutes? Is there anything more fun than watching game after game, until you go into a basketball coma? Nah, there really isn’t. So sit back, enjoy and bring on the games!
In college, the first two days of the tournament were a holiday. My buddy Scottie and I would take off work, skip class and just hold up in our apartment with as many friends as we could gather. The day would start with Bloody Mary’s for the early games, beer for most of the day, and finish off with shots and lunch boxes. We’d have 2 TVs going, and friends would come and go. The only rules? Watch the game, and no matter when you got there you had to fill in a bracket…and it was a shot for every loss.
Many late arrivers were forced to pick a bracket on arrival, and make up for missed shots. You’d think, “hey, no worries, the games were already played”. Um, yeah…the record was a girl that arrived late, picked a bracket and then had to do 9 shots to catch up with everyone. Not a good start to the day.
Those days are over. My daughter just can’t handle shots, and my wife hates Bloody Marys. Plus, there’s the whole thing of having to work. Damn it life, cut me some slack! It’s the tournament!!
Before the games start, let’s touch on 2 points…
First, what’s with all the expert analysis putting all or most of the #1 seeds into the Final Four? On the CBS Bracket show, Clark Kellog’s expert opinion was that the Final Four would consist of all 4 #1. Um, yeah, Clark…listen…that’s just flat out stupid. Since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there has never been a season where all 4 #1 seeds advanced to the Final Four. And yet, almost every bracket that an “expert” has put out there has at least 3 #1 seeds in it. You know what that means? Get ready for some fun!
When all conventional wisdom points to the boring happening, that’s when all hell breaks loose. So with all the experts predicting a “boring” outcome, get ready for some epic upsets. And remember, there has only been 1 season (1993) when 3 #1 seeds, and a #2 seed made the final four. So don’t listen to the experts, and just have fun picking some games!
The second issue to hit on is the sudden call for expansion of the tournament. Bobby Knight and crew were just going on and on at length about how the tourney should expand. They kept citing the absence of Arizona State from the tourney as a reason to expand…to 128 teams! Okay, let’s get a couple things straight here…
Bubble teams can gripe all they want, but the fact of the matter is, they weren’t going to win the tourney. The lowest seed to win it all was an 8 seed…and a bubble team that misses the tourney is not going to be higher seeded than that. So in the end we’re griping and complaining about a team that would be out of the tournament in the first or second round.
There are 64 teams that get the chance to play for the championship. It’s a perfect number. There is no reason to expand, since we get a true champion. All expanding does is line the pockets of the media and the NCAA, and the game doesn’t gain anything, and the tourney loses some mystic. Yes, the tourney has expanded several times, and these same arguments has been made each time…but look around, there are a little over 300 programs that are eligible for the tourney. If 128 are allowed in, that’s moving close to 50% of the teams out there. That sort of mentality is exactly what has ruined the NBA and NHL playoffs. More is not always better.
Leave the tournament as it is, and let’s play some fricking basketball!!
------------ Waiting for Tip-off Thoughts -----------
Here's one of the reasons I miss the West Coast. Roll out of bed and the tournament is on. A 12:20pm ET start time makes for a 9:20am PT start time. Being able to wake up to the tourney is a great thing. Man, I miss Seattle right now...
Next order of business. Why is it that CBS always insists on showing the #1 seed games? In the first round, there is nothing more boring than the top seed beating the snot out of the 16 seed. Yes, if you live in North Carolina, you probably should see your Tar Heels, but for the rest of us? Please, spare us. We really don't want to see it.
If the miracle starts to develop, and the #16 seed is hanging tough...by all means, switch over. But come on, watching a little under manned school getting bludgeoned to death by the All Mighty Big Money U is not fun.
Getting back to my first point about the difference between watching the games on the East vs. West Coast...thanks to the beauty of FanNation, we have fans from all time zones on here...so here's a couple thoughts to mull over and share your thoughts on...
The best part of watching the games in your region of the country?
The best food to eat while watching the games?
Finally, the thing I hate most about network coverage of the game?
Is it tip-off yet?
How about now?
------------ Still waiting for Tip-off Thoughts -----------
While we wait for the games to kickoff...er...tip-off...let's cover a few points that have already been addressed in the comments...
There is only 1 lower seed that is favored in the first round. Excluding 8-9 seeds...as that isn't really a lower seed. That would be Davidson. They are a 10 seed favored over the 7 seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs.
As mentioned above, the experts seems to be very heavy on the #1 seeds. Many are picking 3 and even 4 to advance. And while it's already been covered that all 4 #1 seeds have NEVER made it to the Final Four...the real question is which #1 losees first? The consensus here is Memphis.
Along the Memphis lines...the last team to enter the tourney with only 1 loss, and win it all? North Carolina State in 1974. Since then 7 have tried, and all have failed.
In my bracket, filled out according to my nutty rules....I have two, yes 2, #2 seeds losing in the first round. The two seeds have lost 4 total first round games in the history of the tournament...and I have them losing 2 in this one tourney. Not liking the odds...but if it works out...man, will I look like a genius!
Okay, can these games start now? I can't eat another brat....
------------ Tip-off Thoughts -----------
Looks like we get to watch the Xavier-Georgia here. And Georgia looks like they are already out of gas.
In the office we are doing the following for our office challenge pool...
Randomly pick 1 team in each region.
If you're team wins AND covers the spread, you move on.
If they lose, but the other team failed to cover the spread, you take over that team.
Winner is last man standing.
My teams? San Diego, Temple, Portland St. and Mt. St. Mary's!! Woohoo!!
------------ First halfThoughts -----------
Some early observations....
Neither Temple or MSU are shooting well. They've been horribly missing the mark...clanking off the side of the rim, and, well...basically looking like me playing hoops. Which is not good. Slow, white, can't jump and can't shoot is no way to go through life...
One of the things about basketball for me, you can miss the whole first half...even most of the second, and still enjoy the hell out of the game. That last 5 minutes of a tournament game are some of the most exciting moments in basketball. And the thing is, unless the score is like completely out of control (Portland St fans, I'm talking to you) there is always a chance for a comback or at least a nail biting close. That's what I love about the tourney...every game comes down to that last few seconds.
So far, looks like we have 2 great games brewing...the never say die Bulldogs of Georgia and the Temple Owls look like they have upset on their minds. Meanwhile...the #1 seed is beating the snot out of a little school that is just happy to be here. Don't like to say I told you so....but....
I told you so.
------------ More First halfThoughts -----------
Is there anything worse than a food commercial when you're really hungry? It doesn't even matter if it's something you wouldn't normally eat, if it is on the screen looking all delicious, and you're starving...man, all you want is that. Yes, I'm starving, and I just saw a Taco Bell commercial. I never crave Taco Bell...but now I have this urge to head for the border. Of course, the problem is, that the nearest Taco Bell is like a 45 minutes drive away from here...
That brings me to an idea...and yes, sorry, this isn't on topic with the tourney, but hey, life goes on...if advertisers could tell when a person is hungry, and then be able to show you the ad for their product, wouldn't take be worth a ton of money? Trust me, this day is coming at some point...
Back to the tourney...
It's too early in these games to get totally excited or bummed...but MSU finally decided to actually start playing. The game was tied, I look away...and then...bam...MSU is up by 10.
But there is always the great equalizer in College basketball...the Three.
------------ First Games, 2nd half Thoughts -----------
Georgia in the lead...and then suddenly, without warning...Xavier drains a couple of 3s, and suddenly the Musketeers are out in front again. That's the beauty of the three point shot in college basketball, it changes the game so quickly.
Ouch, poor Portland State, just getting beat up by the Jayhawks. But hey guys, look at the bright side, at least you got in the game. Arizona State is playing in the NIT wishing they could be you.
The biggest spread in the first round? UCLA by 32.
The biggest spread for a #2? Tenn and Duke are both favored by 20
The biggest spread for a #3? Stanford by 14.5
The biggest spread for a #4? UConn by 11
Well, it looks like the Dawgs are running out of gas. Their run to this point has been amazing...but now it looks like they've hit the wall. The Musketeers are just locking down on D, and the Dawgs don't have mcuh energy on the Defensive side themselves. But free throws will be big in this one....
But when you can hit a shot as the shot clock expires like that...well...everything is going your way...
------------ First Games, End Game Thoughts -----------
Great run by Georgia. They come out of no where in the SEC tournament, and then push Xavier till the very end. Well done Dawgs.
Temple, you wore the black! That was the problem. Green trumps Black! Man, and even if it's a tie, a Spartan would tear an Owl a new one. Damn, that shouldn't of gone down like that. Ah well.
Kansas, great hard fought game, you really hung in there and stuck it to that highly favored Portland St. team. Good job!
Now a new note...
At the end of the game, I know the whole foul thing is a big strategy thing. And it makes sense. But there are 2 things that annoy the crap out of me...
First, it slows the end of a game to a crawl. Would rather see a nice fast paced, frantic finish. Instead of...foul...free throws...inbounds...foul....repeat.
Second, when there are 2 seconds left, and you're down by more than 5...don't foul. It's just delaying the inevitable. It's not strategy at that point, it's just sore losing. Just take the loss like a man, and move on.
Two things about the coverage so far...where is the split screen? And man, keeping the volume low really helps the enjoyment factor by limiting the idiot broadcaster factor.
------------ 2nd Games Thoughts -----------
The stands at the Kentuck-Marquette game are just pathetic. The place is empty, even now as the game starts the 2nd half...come on people, it's the tourney, get you're lazy California rears out to the game! If not, just send me your tickets and I'll go. Jeez...that's just pathetic.
Pudue is just blowing up on Baylor. Which will of course arm all the whiners out there that thought one of the bubble teams should of been in instead of Baylor. Guess what though, the choice was made, and it's over. Just stop now, and don't start crying about some passed decision.
Oral Roberts is fallen to their knees against Pitt...it's not a pretty sight seeing a team getting beaten like this...the good news? Some jerk has Pitt in the Final Four.
Still waiting on the first upset of the day...come on people, all we ask for is an upset. Something to get the juices flowing...the loins burning...the heart racing...the joint jumping...
So the folks in Cali, looks like you're missing a good game too. If the basketball gods know justice, 2 things will happen...
1. the UK-MU game will come down to a last second shot.
2. Stanford will be upset by Cornell.
Not sure how spiteful the basketball gods are...but the football gods would never stand for this!
Finally, everytime I type "basketball", I start typing "baseketball" before I have to correct myself...where are Matt and Trey when you need them?
------------ Still more 2nd Games Thoughts -----------
So here we are half way through the first day...and not a single upset. What a boring tourney so far. We haven't even had any really close games. The Xavier-Georgia game so far has been the best game of the day...and that wasn't even that close.
The thing that the NCAA should be worried about, isn't getting more teams into the tourney, but they should figure out a way to make sure they get more close games. Games that come down to the wire are what make the tourney great...not more games.
As we approach the later games, here are some of my picks to upset...
Cornell over Stanford - Didn't pick this one, but if the basketball gods have their way...this one will be all Cardinal.
Arizona over West Virginia - The Wildcats are almost never underdogs...so look out WV.
George Mason over Notre Dame - The great Cinderella has enough to beat up on ND.
Kansas St over USC - Two great freshman squaring off...this could be a great game.
Miind you, didn't pick any of those...just saying those are the games that MIGHT bring us our first upset.
I'll be going offline for a few, while I head home to catch the rest of the action at home...I'll be back on before the start of the 7pm games.
------------ Just before the Later Game Thoughts -----------
Well, the Cardinal would not be held up by the basketball gods...I guess the football gods are far more spiteful and vindictive. It's a shame really, you'd think the basketball gods would of learned something from their football brethren. Maybe they didn't get along well at the sporting god summer camp. Too bad, they have a lot to learn.
Now, can we get an upset? Seriously, what is up?
What is a Tournament without an upset? There are few moments in sports like seeing a small, over-matched school taking it to a big, bloated, overrated school. It's Hoosiers in real life, and normally we get to see it several times during the tournament. But this year...nothing...
There is one good thing that comes from this...the second round promises to be a blast as so many higher seeds are still alive...always makes for great games.
We have tip in the Duke game, let's get to the games, I'll post more when there is more to talk about.
And my daughter just said something that would make many proud..."Let's watch football daddy, not basketball."
------------ Later Game Half-time Thoughts ----------
Well, it appears the later games are giving us a little excitement.
K-State is sticking it to USC so far. The trojans can't grab a rebound to save their lives. Walker is playing great for K-State...and Beasley hasn't even done much due to foul trouble. K-State leads by 10 at the half, this is looking like our first upset of the tourney.
Meanwhile, Belmont is hanging tough with Duke. There are only down by 5 at half...but the key will be what happens coming out of the half. Coach K is not one to let his team under perform...so expect Duke to hit the floor with a little bit better game plan. For Belmont to pull this off, they'll need to wait for the open shot, no quick 3s, and continue to keep Duke to 1 shot. I have a feeling Duke will pull this out.
Wazzu and Winthorp are showing us how NOT to score points...which is really exciting. Defensive battles are great in football...pitching duels are fantastic in baseball...but there is nothing more boring than a super low scoring basketball game. The poetry of basketball is the speed up and down the court...the swish of the ball through the net...the pin point passing on the run...when you slow it to a crawl, it looks like what you see at the YMCA gym on any Sunday...and that's NOT what we want to see.
Finally, the Aggies and up on BYU...but since it's a 8-9 game...this isn't an upset...and isn't an exciting game unless it comes down to the last shot. So we'll hold of on this one until then.
------------ Later Game End Game Thoughts ----------
Well, we have the first upset of the tourney...not a big one...but still, K-State takes down the higher seed in USC. The Mayo-Beasley battle goes to Beasley. Next stop for both? The NBA? Don't think Mayo helped his NBA resume at all. Didn't really make the players around him better in this one...
But that is besides the point...the first upset is in the books...K-State has it.
Belmont...wow...great play...great game. They had the game in their hands...they pushed Duke to the limit. Just a great ball game. These are the types of games you hope for everytime you turn on a tournament game.
But Belmont...if David is going to knock off Goliath, you can't hit yourself in the face with the sling. Throwing away the inbounds pass? That's hitting yourself in the head with the sling. Can't do that...when you're trying to beat the odds in the tourney, you have to play PERFECT...and that wasn't it.
Even then, Duke did it's own choking...trying to give the game back to Belmont by clanking the free throw. So close, but yet so far away. Well, at least my bracket is okay...great game Belmont, thanks.
Winthorp decided to completely fall apart...after a 29-29 half time score...Wazzu outscored them 42-11 in the second half...ouch. That's what you call a "Whoopin'".
Now it looks like with have a lively game in TAMU-BYU to bridge us to the late-late games...
------------ Late-Late Game Thoughts ----------
Good lord...we all knew UCLA was good...but they are just beating down poor Mississippi Valley St. There is a beat down, and then there is a old fashioned, tool shed, whoopin. UCLA has got MVSU behind the tool shed, and they're making them squeal like a pig.
George Mason was a team that everyone saw as a possible upset...and when I say everyone...I mean...me. But we forget, that once a Cinderella, does not always mean "Always a Cinderella". Notre Dame showing they are for real this year...at least in terms of getting to the second round.
The Badgers are in comfortable control of their game, after struggling early against Cal-Fullerton. The Big Ten is actually playing well so far this tourney. They are usually the conference that just falls flat, but they seem to be bringing their A games this year.
Arizona is giving commentators more ammo to complain about Arizona State not making the tourney. Which is now at the top of the "beat to death list" along with the Belmont game. Already every commentator has mentioned the Belmont game about 10 times...that's how sad this tourney has been so far...an almost win, is the most talked about game.
------------ Day 1 Closing Thoughts ----------
"Mississippi Valley State, congrats you made it to the tournament, you played hard and made your alums proud"...wow...I really hope that was a backhanded compliment...cause that's what it came off as.
Well, for the most part the first day of the tourney was a bit of a let down. Only 1 upset...and only a couple really close games. The favorites held the floor, and the games weren't all that close. Bummer.
But the beauty of the tournament? There's always more yogurt...and there are always more games tomorrow. So today didn't give us that signature game of the tourney, but there is always tomorrow.
As for Tomorrow, not sure there will be a live blog for tomorrow. Not totally writing it off...just not sure if I'm up for it tomorrow. This has been a blast, thanks to everyone that stopped by and joined in the fun.
------------ Day 2 Opening Thoughts ----------
Well, due to popular demand...and the fact that...well...what else am I gonig to do...let's make this a 2 day affair.
The updates won't be as often, and there is no promise the blog will get updated for the later games...as the wife was not to happy with me last night. Let's just say, I came home, informed her I would be watching games all night...after she had a really busy day, and my daughter hadn't gotten a nap...and well...that didn't sit well with her.
The name of the game today....upset. We need some. This isn't a tournament without upsets. And one upset is not going to get it done. There are two big upsets in my picks that need to happen...both #2 seeds need to lose today. Do it! Come on man...
With that, let's turn our attention to the games...what's you big upset pick for today? And let's get some odds here people...
------------ More Day 2 Thoughts ----------
Well, the start to the day is a little...and let me stress the little part...promising. American U is hanging tough on UT. Proving that orange is not a color you want on your uniforms.
Davidson is showing why lower seeds are not normally favored. The game is close, but Davidson hasn't looked all that great. And when you play a team that has a tournament tested coach, like Gonzaga, disrespecting the seeding is never a good idea.
Drake, playing for the street cred of the MVC, is laying a turd out on the court. They came in with a 5 seed, which is great to see for a MVC team...as a former Redbird will atest...and instead of showing the country how we roll in the MVC...they are losing to a team that is named after guys that live on a hill.
Meanwhile, The U, is getting beat by The Virgin Mother! Yeah, you can't hope to compete with that Miami. Trash talk U against the holy mother? Come on, there is hope and then there is false hope. The U only has false hope at this time...
Finally, watching one of the games online today...and during half...the halftime online crew...wow....it's like 3 dude's in their mom's basement. The host guy has a voice fit for silent film, and the analysts...well...I've seen cabbage with more life than them. Seriously, Sportsline couldn't of given Dan and I a call? We'd of done it in a heart beat. Stick us in there with Luc Longley, for a little basketball and the accent, and we would of had a fantastic online show! Well...I can dream....
------------ Still More Day 2 Thoughts ----------
Stephen Curry single handedly beats Gonzaga. Scoring 40 in the game, and 30 in the second half. Gonzaga managed a total of 35 in the 2nd half.
But isn't it fitting for this tournament so far, that a 10 beats a 7...but it's not an upset? Yep, Davidson was favored in the game by 4. That's right folks, we get an upset...but it really isn't one. Welcome to March Madness 2008! Crap, I need more beer...
Meanwhile, American U gave UT all it could handle for about 30 minutes. And then UT realized it was a #2 seed and pulled away. The bright side? It only took UT 30 minutes to realize that...took Duke 39 yesterday. Bad news? Still don't have a big upset.
The Gaels of St. Mary's got beat down by the U...proving for the 100th time, that colleges named after the Virgin Mother don't hold any extra sway in College athletics. Yes, this contradicts my previous point...but it's my blog...I can do that.
Drake meanwhile, heard the cries of needing to defend the MVC. They clawed all the way back to tie the game and send it to OT. We've got a good game folks...OT...that's more like it...I knew at some point the tourney would have to get better...
------------ Even More Day 2 Thoughts ----------
Now that, was a good game.
Overtime...5-12 upset (there's one every year)...and a great last second shot.
That is what the tournament is about. That's why we watch.
Drake, you made a great comeback...from 16 down, to take the game to OT, and then have the lead with 5.7 seconds left? That shows real grit. It's what we expect from our MVC teams.
Western Kentucky...great game. You can't tell me, that in a million years, that's the shot you would draw up with the game on the line. But you can't argue with the results. A fantastic finish to a great game.
------------ It's still Day 2? Thoughts ----------
After anther few halves of basketball...we have 3 boring games, and one that is showing some promise...
Texes is making Austin Peay, Peay all over itself. They are up 15 at half.
Georgetown is up 12 on UMBC at the half. Yawn.
So it looks like there won't be a 2 seed upset in the first round...bah!
Butler, is solidly smacking down South Alabama. Also not a huge surprise.
Finally, San Diego is giving UConn all they can handle! Come on San Diego! Let's get rid of those Huskies!!
-------Wake me when Day 2 is over Thoughts -------
Doesn't it figure, that Day 2 is the more upset heavy exciting day? Every lower seed in Tampa won...that's just nuts. Two 13 seeds and two 12 seeds advance on to the next round. Everyone's brackets are messed up.
The Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky managed to hold off Drake in OT, a great game that had all kinds of great back and forth.
San Diego held on to beat UConn...who else picked them? Huh? Come on now, who else knew that San Diego is German for upset? Okay, I'll raise my hand...if you remember, this came down to the hot cheerleader factor. Hot cheerleaders never lie....
Villanova beat Clemson, due to the simple power of Blue over Orange and Purple...not to mention the dreaded power of the 5-12 upset. If you're a high seed, wouldn't you sell your soul to NOT have the 5 seed? Coaches should be lobbying to drop to 6 or 7...just to avoid the power of the 12 seed.
Finally, Siena pulled the upset...soundly beating down Vandy. Unfortunately, this one went down to my daughter making the pick...and Shrek led her astray. Damn you Shrek!!
Ah well, we finally got our upsets, and a lot of them. This makes for a very interesting 2nd round...stay tuned...
This blog won't update during the second round, as it's Easter weekend, and there's eggs to color, baskets to fill, and stuff to hide for my daughter. Basically, this weekend is about my little girl. Enjoy the games, and see ya in the sweet sixteen!
-------End Live Blog -------