The world lost two great entertainers over the weekend. Chuck Berry entertained us with his music; Jimmy Breslin entertained us – and informed us – with his prose. Both men lived full lives and because of their special talents, we are in a better state.
Rest in peace, Chuck Berry.
Rest in peace, Jimmy Breslin.
Prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament, there was a flood of money bet on Duke to win it all. A week before the tournament started, Duke was 9-1 to win it all; when the tournament tipped off last Thursday, Duke’s odds were down to 9-2. After the results of last night’s games, the sportsbooks can pocket that flood of money.
Right after Selection Sunday, I tried to explain why the Tournament Selection Committee was uniquely unqualified to pick the right teams for the brackets and to seed them in a way that reflected reality. Now that you have watched portions of the first 48 games of the tournament from Thursday through Sunday, ask yourself if the Selection Committee had done any in depth study of the following teams:
- Minnesota (a 5-seed) and Maryland (a 6-seed) as compared to other Big 10 teams such as Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan State all seeded well below them.
- Wichita St as a 10-seed? Seriously now …
- Xavier as an 11-seed? I saw Xavier play 3 and maybe 4 games this season. I do not know where they belonged in the seeding chart but I am positive that they are better than an 11-seed. Putting them there means the Committee thought 40 other teams were better.
Wichita St. gave us 2 really good games to watch – a win over Dayton and then a loss to Kentucky. There may not be a lot of household names on that team, but they are very good and they are fun to watch.
West Virginia put on another show of stifling defense against Notre Dame on Saturday. The thing that sets West Virginia apart from other teams that press all the time and play frenetic defense is that West Virginia can also score on offense. Too bad Arkansas lost; a West Virginia Arkansas game would have been interesting.
Arkansas advanced in the tournament with a win over Seton Hall. Here is the note I made late in that game:
“If Seton Hall could shoot from the outside …”
Speaking of interesting potential games, how about UNC/Kansas in a matchup? I like the OVER in that game…
As the UNC/Texas Southern game was unfolding in the early part of the first half, I made a note to myself that Texas Southern had “No hope!” in the game. That makes me wonder what Coach Mike Davis told his players before the game about what they needed to do to win. Their chance of winning that game were no more than my chances of winning the Nobel Peace Prize any time soon.
The officials clearly missed the goaltending call against Gonzaga late in the game against Northwestern; there can be no doubt about that. There is something else about which there can be no doubt:
- The fact that multiple folks from the Northwestern bench were on the court while the ball was still alive to protest the call is the reason that the technical foul was called. Moreover, that was the correct call and that behavior was so outrageous that an ejection or two may have been justified.
Speaking of officials, I saw two loose balls hit officials over the weekend and play continued in both cases. The rule is that the official is part of the floor; if his feet are both on the court and in-bounds, then the play continues because the ball is still in-bounds; if one or both feet are out of bounds then the ball is dead when it hits the official because it hit something out of bounds.
One final officiating observation; most of the officiating crews either do not know the rule(s) governing traveling or they just do not care to enforce them.
Lonzo Ball is an outstanding point guard and will surely go high in the NBA Draft this summer. I do want to point out however that he plays defense with the same intensity and the same interest as the NBA All Stars do in their exhibition game. On the bright side, his father – who is given to hyperbole more than infrequently – can claim that Lonzo is already prepared to be in the NBA All Star Game…
[Aside: Lonzo Ball’s father evidently claimed that he could have taken Michael Jordan “back in the day”. I did not hear him say it, but it was widely reported and Charles Barkley took exception on one of the halftime shows. Barkley pointed out that the elder Ball averaged 2 points per game in his college career – – and that was 2 points per game more than a dead man. You gotta love Sir Charles…]
Speaking of Charles Barkley, those ads that he and Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson do each year as they journey to the Final Four are excellent. My favorite one this year is the one where they are eating steaks on a plane…
If we ever have an Oregon/Baylor game, I must go to my TV settings and turn down the color intensity. Baylor alone is bad enough; match them against Oregon and it might be seizure inducing…
Finally, one of the venues for the weekend games was Salt Lake City. So, let me close with an observation by Brad Rock in the Deseret News from a while ago:
“Travel + Leisure magazine ranks Salt Lake City the second-most friendly city in America.
“Clearly the magazine didn’t visit on the week of the Utah-BYU game.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………