Well, I made it through the basketball orgy of last weekend without suffering butt-blisters from all of the time in my rocking chair in front of the TV set. Basketball fans get a couple of days to exhale, survey the sad state of their bracket picks, consume foodstuffs that have a modicum of nutritional value and reconnect with family and friends. To that end, I plan to join my long-suffering wife at the movies late this afternoon to see Mr. Peabody and Sherman after which we will go out to dinner and then return home to watch the Cosmos episode that we recorded last evening. Who knows, by tomorrow noon she may even remember who I am…
Meanwhile, here are some contemporaneous notes from my notepad during the games from Friday through Sunday. Last year, New Mexico lost in the tournament to Harvard in the first round; this year they lost to Stanford in the first round. Maybe next year, they should schedule Yale and Princeton as out-of-conference games to prep for the 2015 tournament?
After Nebraska lost to Baylor – running their record to 0-7 in tournament games – a friend who is addicted to trivia e-mailed me the following:
“With North Dakota State’s win over Oklahoma, it was the first time a team from North Dakota had ever won a March Madness game. That leaves only 4 states where a team in the state has never won a game. Name them.”
I got three of the states pretty quickly. Alaska was not a tough one. Neither was Delaware because during the telecast of the Michigan State/Delaware game, they said that Delaware had never won a tournament game and since the only other school in Delaware that I know of is Delaware State, I figured that was a good guess – and it was. The third one also came easy because I decided to take a mental tour of the US map state by state and started in the northeast. The first state on my list was Maine – and there are not a lot of Division 1 basketball programs of note in Maine so that was the third correct answer.
Then I was trapped by Nebraska and its 0-7 record. I did not think of any other basketball schools in Nebraska and guessed that was the fourth state. Yes, I should have remembered that Creighton is in Omaha but I did not. So, now that you know three of the four states that fit this criterion – Alaska, Delaware and Maine – what is the fourth one on the list? The answer is below…
Recognizing that the Selection Committee does not have a scientific basis for assigning teams to seeding positions, was UMass really good enough to be a 6-seed?
Look at a close-up of Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee) in their next game. He looks like Carmelo Anthony’s younger brother.
The foul by VCU – leading by 4 points with seconds to go – on a three point shot leading to a 4-point play to send the game to OT, has to be the most boneheaded play of the season.
Kentucky opened its game shooting technical fouls because a K-State player dunked the ball in warm-ups. That is the correct call; do not fault the officials. That is also one of the dumber rules in the book.
Speaking of dumb rules… In the final two minutes, the officials go to the scorer table to check the timing on just about every clock stoppage adjusting for tenths of seconds. However, for the first 38 minutes of the game, they do no checking and rely on the competence of the clock operator to get it right. However, in the final two minutes, they realize that the clock operator is almost never right to tenths of a second.
Ergo, while they take an eternity to “get it right” in the final two minutes to a tenth of a second, the cumulative error from the first 38 minutes could easily be 20-30 seconds. What’s the point…?
There is a fundamental difference in the way various teams run. Florida, North Carolina and Kansas run a lot and they are under control while they do it. Cincinnati, VCU and Memphis run out of control.
Florida/Pitt was a very good game. Do not be fooled by the 61-45 score; there was great defense in the game and it was not a blowout until late in the game. If you have it recorded and missed it, take a look.
St. Louis University was the season champion of the A-10 and Jordair Jett was the Player of the Year in the A-10. Not very impressive. If Jett hopes to play pro basketball, I hope he majored in a couple of foreign languages.
Syracuse/Dayton – probably the best game from start to finish. With 3 minutes to play, the biggest lead was 5 or 6 points with plenty of tie scores. It came down to one last shot.
Oregon/Wisconsin – probably the most entertaining game. Oregon scored 55 points in 23 minutes against a Bo Ryan team. Moreover, Oregon lost… Wow!
The hype before the season started was that NBA teams would be tanking in order to be able to draft either Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins with the top two picks in the draft. Neither one played well in the tournament this year.
Memo to Tanking NBA Teams:
1. Andrew Wiggins is 25 pounds of muscle and a killer-instinct short of being ready for the NBA next year.
2. Jabari Parker is big enough for NBA play but needs added strength. If you draft him to rejuvenate your franchise, you had better have him as one part of a five-year plan to do so. He will not be a star next year.
3. The most “NBA-ready” freshman I saw in the tournament was Julius Randle from Kentucky – and he too will need a year or so to become a major contributor.
I mentioned dumb rules above but here is a note that I took about a rule that was put in the book for a specific purpose:
Have they repealed the 3-second violation? Some guys are homesteading in the lane and I did not see a single 3-second violation called.
I promised you the answer to the fourth state without a school in the state ever winning a tournament game. The answer is South Dakota.
Finally, I did not pick this as my final game but a Florida/Wichita State game would have been interesting. Someone could have run one of those contests where people vote by texting their choice to see which coach – Gregg Marshall (Wichita State) or Billy Donovan (Florida) – is the unacknowledged love-child of Eddie Munster.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………