Tournament Notes – – Day One

Yesterday, I spent a little over 12 hours in front of the TV set.  Other than answers to the call of Nature, brief excursions to refill a coffee cup or a wine glass and a moment or two to chow down dinner, I was watching the first-round tournament games.  That is precisely what I am going to do again today and on Saturday and on Sunday.  I had my note pad within easy reach and today’s rant will simply be a compilation of those notes – – at least the ones I can decipher.


  • This game might have matched Richard Pitino coaching against his father Rick Pitino had not the “Adidas Bribery Scandal” intervened.
  • This game is like old-time basketball; the teams send the ball inside on most trips down the court; the reason for that is that neither team shots very well from outside.
  • Lots of frenetic action here but with only a few positive results.
  • First tournament game outcome was an “upset” (10-Seed over a 7-Seed).  Omen?

[Aside:  Orange Vanilla Coke?  Are you serious?  I would not drink that with your mouth…]


  • Glad to know that Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel are back together as a broadcast team.  For me, they are the best college basketball announcing team.  Period.
  • Stands looked empty at tip-off.  This was a “late-arriving crowd”.
  • LSU starts off with a 9-0 run; Yale looks out-manned.  LSU is bigger, faster and better shooters than Yale.  That is a nice trifecta to start with.
  • Yale tried to rally in the early part of the 2nd half but this game was never seriously in doubt.
  • Yale shot 8 for 37 from 3-point range.  That is hardly a good day, but they were worse than it looks.  At one point, Yale was 4 for 30 from beyond the arc; they shot 4 for seven from there in the final couple of minutes.

[Aside:  I have seen this script with Ivy League Champions in the tournament before.  When their best player has an off-day, as did Miye Oni yesterday, they do not have sufficient supporting players to keep up with a major college team.  I have seen this happen to Harvard, Penn and Princeton over the years.]

New Mexico St./Auburn:

  • Both teams are long and lean.
  • Looks like a possible upset early on.  Then Auburn makes a big run late in the 1st half.
  • Auburn had game in hand until the final 4 minutes where they were “undisciplined” to be very kind.
  • They made “bad decisions” on offense and on defense. Dumbest one was fouling a 3-point shooter with 2 seconds to play and leading by 2 points.
  • Aggies missed two of the three fouls shots but got the ball back anyway and missed the last-second shot.  Auburn won in spite of itself.

Florida St./Vermont:

  • Vermont leads early.  My note says “not sustainable
  • In the first 17 minutes, Vermont scored 25 points and 21 of them came on 3-point shots.  That is about one every two-and-a-half minutes.  If that is your offense, that is not enough.
  • Anthony Lamb is smaller and slower than everyone in the Fla St. frontcourt but he out-works all of them.  Problem is there are 4 big guys for Fla St. and only 1 Anthony Lamb.

[Aside:  Glad to see Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson and Charles Barkley back in ads for Capital One.  These are always some of the best ads of the year and I love the “Chucksedo”.  Another great line: “The Final Four is the prom of basketball.”]

Bradley/Michigan St.:

  • Michigan St. outweighs Bradley by 20 pounds per man – – at least.
  • Bradley keeping it close because Michigan St. is missing a ton of shots inside 5 feet.
  • Michigan St. shot 25 for 26 from the foul line today.  A 9-0 run late in the game won it for Michigan St.


  • There is “no juice” in this game even though Belmont as an 11-seed led for the entire first half.
  • Maryland offense is much more disciplined in 2nd half; this is a 5-point game with 12 minutes to play.  Now the game has some “juice”.
  • The game was tied with 3:38 to go.  Maryland wins – – better description is Maryland survives.


  • With 15:42 left in the 1st half, this was my note: “Northeastern will have to shoot lights out from 3-point range to keep this game close.  Kansas is bigger, stronger, faster and more skilled at every position.”
  • Dedric Lawson (Kansas) blocked a shot with both of his feet solidly on the floor…

Murray St./Marquette:

  • Must see this game to watch Ja Morant.  Anyone who watches SportsCenter has seen his highlights this year.  If Zion Williamson were a year older and playing in the NBA, Morant would be the face of college basketball.

[Aside:  I only saw Morant play one full game this year; it was the final game of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.  Morant scored about 35 points and led Murray St. to a win over Belmont in that game.]

  • Morant got a triple double here.  Dominated the game by setting the pace and distributing the ball – not hogging it and scoring a ton of points.
  • Check this note: “Morant is what Lonzo Ball was supposed to be; great passer and set up guy PLUS he can score.”
  • Press guide lists Morant as 6’3” and 175 lbs.  He may or may not be 6’3”, but it looks to me that if he weighs 175 lbs, he has a bowling ball in each hand…
  • He WILL be an early lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
  • Another “upset” here as 12-seed Murray St. eliminates 5-seed Marquette.

Abilene Christian/Kentucky:

  • This is first time in the tournament for Abilene Christian.  Based on the first 6 or 7 minutes, they are not going to enjoy the experience.
  • Kentucky totally dominant here.  This is a “boring game unless you went to Kentucky”.

Florida/Nevada: [Aside:  I had Nevada going deep in the tournament…]

  • Florida’s defense contests every shot.  Nevada averages 80 points per game; they have 28 at halftime here.
  • Nevada is trying too many “SportsCenter highlight plays” and is playing 1-on-1 basketball.  That obviously worked in the Mountain West Conference, but Florida is better than those guys.
  • Game got close after Florida started trying to “milk the clock” with about 12 minutes to play.  Way too early …  Allowed Nevada to get back in the game …  Florida having trouble getting started again.  Coaching error or player error???
  • Another “upset” here as Florida as a 10-seed beats a 7-seed…

St Mary’s/Villanova:

  • Early on, this game looks like it will go to the wire.  Nova’s big man, Eric Paschall cannot buy a basket for the first 10 minutes of the game.
  • This was the best combination of skill + smart play + close game so far in the tournament.  Villanova wins a close game that was in doubt until the final moments.

[Aside: Here is how close the game was.  Neither team led by more than 8 points from start to finish.]

Fairleigh Dickinson/Gonzaga:

  • The score was Gonzaga 20 and Fairleigh Dickinson 6 with 13:21 left in the 1st half.  Here is my note at that time “Thanks for playing; what lovely parting gifts do we have for Fairleigh Dickinson, Johnny?”

Seton Hall/Wofford:

  • If you like 3-point shots, this is your game.
  • Seton Hall played sloppily in the 1st half and will have to dig itself out of a deep hole.  Their pressure defense at the end of 1st half might give them confidence.
  • Seton Hall had the game tied with about 10 minutes left to play and took the lead with 7: 30 left in the game.
  • Wofford ran off a 17-0 run in the final 4 minutes to make the result look worse than it was.

[Aside:  I am beginning to like the AT&T ads with the clueless color commentator.  I like the look on his face when the play-by-play guy tells him that color commentary is not about commenting on colors…]


  • Michigan is clearly faster, and their defense is more tenacious than Montana.
  • I did not see as much of this game as I might have because the Seton Hall/Wofford game and the Syracuse/Baylor game were much more compelling.

Purdue/Old Dominion:

  • ODU is competitive for the first 10-12 minutes and then missed their last 11 shots in the 1st half.
  • ODU players never let up; that is a testament to their coaching and their commitment.  They cut a 20-point lead in half in the 2nd half but the problem is that they were fighting out of their weight class.


  • This was a back-and-forth game for 40 minutes.  Both teams played a lot of zone defense in the 1st half (Syracuse plays zone exclusively) and both teams were lighting it up from 3-point range.
  • Syracuse committed its first foul of the game with 8:03 to go in 1st half.  The ball was not going inside very much where fouls might happen.
  • Technically, this is an “upset” since Baylor prevailed as a 9-seed over an 8-seed.  Whatever…

[Aside:  Has the 3-second rule been rescinded?  Saw one sequence where I had a guy in the lane for 7 seconds with no call.  I thought someone had nailed his shoe to the floor…]

Finally, here is a comment from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times about one of the Nevada basketball players:

“Frustrated Nevada basketball star Jordan Caroline punched a fire-extinguisher case after his team’s upset loss at Utah State, shattering the pane.

“In Caroline’s defense, though, his coaches did tell him to attack the glass more.”

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



4 thoughts on “Tournament Notes – – Day One”

  1. Along with the 3-second call, when was the last time you saw a ref call palming?

    Technically, it it’s an upset, but a 9 or 10 seed winning is not that surprising. In Syracuse case, having Frank Howard’s absence was a killer. When I heard he was out of the lineup I changed all my bracket picks to Baylor.

    Northeastern and Wofford are very similar: If their 3-point shots are falling they are tough. Otherwise not so much.

    Ja Morant did not have a single Power-5 offer out of high school.

    Louisville has been bi-polar team all season. They lost to Indiana, Pitt, and Boston College during the season. They played well at times against the top tier ACC teams, but could not break through. I was not expecting them to lose to Minnesota, but it’s also not that surprising.

    I am surprised that St Mary’s was not better than they played last night. How did that team beat Gonzaga?

    1. Doug:

      I get the idea that St. Mary’s/Gonzaga is a lesser known version of a rivalry like Utah/BYU or Stanford/Cal…

  2. Saturday night:

    All four of the 9 seeds won and three of the four 10 seeds won.

    Taco Fall vs. Zion Williamson should be interesting.

    And, too, should go fast Oklahoma vs. go slow Virginia.

    I think Kentucky could have their hands full against Wofford.

    1. Doug:

      Zion versus Tacko was interesting. It would have been much more interesting if Tacko had anything resembling offensive competencies…

Comments are closed.