The First Day Of The Tournament

Today is not a great day to be a PAC-12 basketball fan.  The conference sent three teams to the NCAA Tournament and all three of them lost their first game:

  1. UCLA lost one of the play-in games to St. Bonaventure earlier this week.  The Bonnies then lost badly to Florida in the opening round games yesterday.
  2. Arizona St. also lost a play-in game earlier this week.  The winner of that game was Syracuse who faces TCU today.
  3. Arizona was seeded 4th in the field and lost badly to Buffalo yesterday.  See the commentary below…

PAC-12 fans may point to the fact that the Selection Committee did not put USC in the field despite USC finishing second in the conference and in the conference tournament.  If that is the rhetorical refuge for PAC-12 fans, that only confirms that this is not a great day to be a PAC-12 basketball fan.

Here are transcriptions – with some editing to clean up some of the language and lots of the grammar – of notes I made while watching yesterday’s games.  Yes, I am bleary-eyed this morning and I may indeed need to change the batteries on my TV remote before today is over.

  • OU/Rhode Island:  Trae Young has lots of skill/potential; he can create shots for himself and others.  The rest of the OU team is mediocre.  The first game of the day went to OT; hope that is a good omen.
  • Kansas/Penn:  Game is in Wichita making it almost a home-game for Kansas – as if they needed an advantage.  Penn committed 3 turnovers in its first 4 possessions and clanked a lot of 3-point shots early.  Cannot stay with Kansas doing that.  Devonte Graham had 19 of Kansas’ 33 points at halftime.

[Aside:  As a Penn alum from MANY moons ago, I have followed Ivy League basketball for a long time.  This Penn team has lots of very good Ivy League players; nonetheless, the fundamental difference in speed and athletic ability as compared to Kansas was huge.]

  • Tennessee/Wright St.:  No doubt about this outcome about 8 minutes into the game.
  • Gonzaga/UNC-Greensboro:  Gonzaga leads by 9 at the half but the game is closer than that.  UNC-G went 0 for 12 on 3-point shots in the first half.  The game was tied with 30-seconds to play and a truly dumb offensive foul by UNC-G lost the game.
  • Duke/Iona:  Duke dominated early and then seemed to coast going into halftime.  Then they hit the gas again in the second half and won comfortably.
  • Loyola-Chicago/Miami:  The game was tied at the half and that is a fair representation of how the play went for the first 20 minutes.  Miami is obviously the bigger team, but Loyola is relentless on the boards.  In the second half, both teams played tough defense; every shot was contested.  Loyola pulled the first upset of the tournament with a buzzer-beater that left 0.3 seconds on the clock.
  • Ohio St./South Dakota St.  Ohio St is bigger and quicker, and they hit six 3-point shots in the first half.  Nonetheless, the game was tied at halftime.
  • Seton Hall/NC St.:  Seton Hall won by 11 but these teams are more evenly matched than that.  If this were the NBA, these teams would go to seven games to decide the one that moves on in the playoffs.
  • Villanova/Radford:  This was a mismatch from the start.
  • Kentucky/Davidson:  Kentucky is way more athletic, but the game was tied at 54 with 7 minutes to play.  Kentucky fans may not like to hear this, but the officiating was very much in Kentucky’s favor for most of the second half.
  • Texas Tech/Stephen F. Austin:  SFA led by 3 at the half and both teams played good defense in the first half.  Texas Tech guard, Keenan Evans, scored 19 points in the second half to lead Tech to its win.
  • Houston/San Diego St.:  San Diego St. has 4 players who look as if they can scratch their ankles without bending at the waist; they are long and skinny.  The game was decided when a buzzer-beater did not drop, and Houston moves on…

[Aside:  Players wearing “man buns” seem out of place.  It makes them look more like team managers than it does players.  When I see it, I wonder if they have done their hair that way as an homage to their mother.  But that’s just me…]

[Another Aside:  Houston has 4 players on the roster whose name ends in “Jr.”  I looked at the official roster and learned that of the 4, only Galen Robinson, Jr. is actually a junior at Houston.]

  • Alabama/Va.Tech:  This would have been far more interesting as a football game than as a basketball game.  The game was close so there was some reason to watch.  Neither team played effective defense.  Alabama played much better in the final 5 minutes of the game and that decided it.
  • Buffalo/Arizona:  Buffalo was the better team for the first 10 minutes and the Bulls led by 2 at the half.  The Buffalo quickness produced a 13-point lead with 9 minutes to play in the game and soon after that, it sure looked to me as if Arizona just quit.  Arizona was bigger and stronger, and it made no difference.  Arizona under Sean Miller has underachieved in the NCAA tournament in recent years, but this performance was nothing short of embarrassing.
  • Michigan/Montana:  The first 5 minutes of this game produced a week’s worth of bad shots by both teams – or so I thought.  In the second half, Montana went 10 minutes and 7 seconds without scoring a point and some of the shot selections in that period might be considered felonies in some jurisdictions.  Michigan “survived and advanced” which is what they need to do in a single elimination tournament, but they sure did not look good doing it.
  • Florida/St. Bonaventure:  The first half produced a lot of running and frenetic motion on the floor but not a lot of points.  The game was really no contest in the second half; the Bonnies just ran out of gas and Florida won handily.

It is hard to say which teams looked the best yesterday because some of the really good teams had no meaningful opposition.  Rhode Island, Loyola, Buffalo and Alabama all played hard for the full game yesterday.  Kansas and Kentucky are scary in terms of athleticism.  Villanova and Duke were surgically efficient.

However, it is easy to point to Arizona as the team that looked the worst yesterday.  Deandre Ayton is clearly their best player – and may indeed be the overall #1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft – and somehow the team found ways to keep him from getting the ball on offense.  I said above that it looked to me as if the team quit in the second half; in addition to that, they played dumb basketball while they were still trying.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this comment recently in the Seattle Times about a new degree program offered at a university in Switzerland.  College coaches and athletic directors have taken notice…

“Switzerland’s Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts will offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in yodeling, starting in the 2018-19 academic year.

“So what’s next, a Lit minor in ‘Old Yeller’?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



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