In a previous life, I worked with a woman – – not even remotely a sports fan – – who said she could always tell when her husband was watching a basketball game because of the “squeaking sneakers” she could hear from as far away as another room. I was reminded of her “observation” over the weekend when I spent tens of hours in front of a TV set listening to “squeaking sneakers” – – and mostly enjoying the Tournament games. Let me spend today transcribing – – and editing – – some of the notes I took as I watched various games.
- Texas Southern/Mount St. Mary: Texas Southern plays at a frenetic pace; lots of motion but little comes from all that motion. If this were a regular season game between these two teams, I would change the channel quickly.
- Drake/Wichita St: Ho hum …
Great to see that Capital One will bring us a new set of ads featuring Charles Barkley, Samuel L. Jackson and Spike Lee. They have added Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Jim Nantz – – so far – – to the ads. These ads are an entertaining addition to the games.
- Va Tech/Florida: Excellent game; hotly contested start to finish.
- Colgate/Arkansas: Colgate is surprisingly good; expected them to shrivel up against better athletes. Game is still close after 30 minutes. Brendan Haywood is doing color here and his praise for the players and the game goes beyond effusive and enters “verbal orgasm territory”. Cut back on the caffeine, man…
- Ohio St./Oral Roberts: Ohio St. is a top team in the Big 10? The conference should be ashamed.
- Georgia Tech/Loyola-Chicago: Two evenly matched teams that put on a very entertaining game.
- Oregon St./Tennessee: Oregon St. dominated the first half and won the game on cruise control.
- Illinois/Drexel & Baylor/Hartford: Gigantic mismatches. Clear from the start these were not meaningful games.
- Oklahoma St./Liberty: in the first half, Liberty was the better team on the floor, but OSU took over in the 2nd half. Cade Cunning ham does a lot of traveling…
- UNC/Wisconsin: Wisconsin dominated the game. I cannot ever recall so much 1-on-1 offense from a Wisconsin team.
- Purdue/N. Texas: Purdue looked sluggish for the first half and for the first 8 minutes of the second half. They woke up enough to force OT but lost in the extra period.
- Villanova/Winthrop: The first half was close and exciting; not so much in the second half. If Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (a freshman) stays at Villanova for four years, the Wildcats are going to be very good in 2024.
- Rutgers/Clemson: The first half was as ugly a game as I can recall in the Tournament. The final 6 minutes were interesting if not exciting.
- Georgetown/Colorado: Patrick Ewing was a great player; Patrick Ewing is a mediocre in-game coach. Hoyas were dominated in the first half and no adjustments to offer. Georgetown cannot shoot and all they did was 1-on-1 offensive basketball. This was a train-wreck.
- Fla St./UNC-Greensboro: Quickly saw that Fla St. was bigger AND faster than UNCG so I figured there was no need to watch this game – – but every time I checked in the score was close.
- Kansas/E. Washington: Both teams play in overdrive. Score at half time was 46-38; the scoreboard operator was likely in shock.
- Michigan/Texas Southern: Stat at the beginning of the game said that Tex. So. is the worst team in the country in 3-point shooting percentage. That means they have NO chance against an opponent with superior talent. Indeed…
- Alabama/Iona: Rick Pitino made the game slow and ugly and ‘Bama only led by one point at the half. Superior talent prevailed in the second half…
- UCSB/Creighton: This game was close from start to finish. How was this a game between a #5 seed and a #12 seed?
- USC/Drake: Drake was competitive in the first half – – but the game has two halves…
- Iowa/Grand Canyon: No drama or mystery here…
- Maryland/UConn: The Terps were clearly the better team on the floor.
- Ohio/UVa: Cavs have recently lost to a #16 seed in the Tournament and won the National Championship and now have lost to a mediocre team from Ohio U. Who writes these scripts?
- Gonzaga/Norfolk St.: Never in doubt …
- Abilene Christian/Texas: Frenetic defense by Abilene Christian and dismal shooting and discipline by Texas created this massive upset.
We had a coronavirus “intervention” when VCU had to forfeit its game against Oregon based on the COVID-19 protocols in place. I seriously hope that is the only time the virus will get any sort of billing in this Tournament…
Then came the Sunday games to winnow the field down to the Sweet 16. [Aside: If anyone here says they had a perfect bracket after the Round of 64, I want to see a notarized copy of that bracket dated prior to the Tournament tipoff.]
- Illinois/Loyola-Chicago: Officials certainly “let ‘em play” in the first half and Loyola led 33-24 at the half. There were a few “ticky-tack calls” in the second half, but Loyola was the better team in that half as well. Illinois was outplayed and outcoached.
- Wisconsin/Baylor: This game pitted a team that wins with fundamentals against a team that wins with its athleticism. The disparity in athleticism was most evident comparing the 2 defenses.
The announcing teams do this in almost all the games but somehow it seemed to be a running narrative in this one. There is no great insight in telling viewers that the team trailing in the game “has to get some stops” if they are going to be successful in catching up in the score. That is self-evident and announcers have made it a cliché,
- Syracuse/West Virginia: Syracuse led by 6 at the half even though Buddy Boeheim only had 3 points. Bad omen for the Mountaineers…
- Arkansas/Texas Tech: Two evenly matched teams. Arkansas has better athletes and Texas Tech uses a swarming defense to disrupt opponents. This game has more contact than a football game.
- Rutgers/Houston: Houston is the master of the unforced error; how did that team get a #2 seeding from the Selection Committee?
Here is another announcing trope that needs to be retired. When a team is trailing, it is vacuous to say that its star player “needs to get involved”. Of course he does; any dimwit knows that; tell us what he needs to do differently so that his “involvement” is more productive.
- Oral Roberts/Florida: Florida has the better players and more of them – – but Florida committed a ton of turnovers [turns out it was 20 turnovers] and managed to lose the game. Oral Roberts never gives up…
- Villanova/North Texas: N/ Texas led 21-13 and then the ceiling fell in on them; it wound up 47-27 in favor of Villanova at the half.
- Oregon St./Oklahoma St.: Two schools referred to as ‘OSU” meet here. Oregon St. went on a tear in the first half and led by 14 at the half. Beavers won comfortably. After seeing Cade Cunningham twice this weekend I wonder if he has been over-hyped just a bit.
The Tournament this year has had more upsets than usual and some of the traditionally strong conferences have come up short. The Big-10 has not been covered in glory with the way Ohio St. and Illinois were sent home. As of this morning, the only ACC team in the Sweet 16 is Syracuse – – hardly a team with a long history of representing that conference. Sunday was a bad day for the Big-12 even though Baylor won and will represent the conference in the Sweet 16; Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma St. all lost on Sunday.
As things stand now, there could be a Final Four game between Oral Roberts and Loyola-Chicago. How is that a step on the way to “normalcy”?
Finally, Dwight Perry had this item in the Seattle Times last weekend:
“The NCAA is challenging a group of Virginia urologists for using the term “Vasectomy Mayhem,” claiming it might “result in confusion” with the college organization’s March Madness nickname.
“To which we say, if you don’t recognize the vas deferens — er, difference — you probably don’t have any business buying basketball tickets.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………