March Madness Begins …

Everyone who reads these rants knows where I was and what I was doing from about noon yesterday until a little past midnight.  And, I will be in the same place doing the same thing today between noon and midnight.  Naturally, I took notes about the sixteen games that were on my TV as I went bouncing around to see part of them all.  And those notes/comments will form the basis of today’s rant.

  • Maryland 67  W. Virginia 65: Both teams played “sloppy” for the first half and the officials in this game seem to have decided not to call traveling violations as part of their Lenten fasting.
  • Furman 68  Virginia 67:  I understand that Virginia emphasizes defense and ball control, but can’t they find and recruit just one player who can hit an open jump shot more than about 25% of the time and still play defense?
  • Missouri 76  Utah St. 55:  The Aggies got here on the strength of their 3-point shooting and then proceeded to miss their first fourteen 3-point shots in the game.
  • Kansas 96  Howard 68:  Howard plays a run-and-gun style; so does Kansas.  But Kansas is so much more talented.  Also, Kansas runs back on defense much better than Howard gets back on defense.
  • Alabama 96  Texas A&M Corpus-Christi 75:  It was clear in the first five minutes or so who would win this game but it was marginally interesting to see the terrible shot selections by Corpus-Christi.
  • San Diego St. 63  Charleston 57:  Like Virginia, San Diego St. lives by its defense; once again, can’t they find at least one solid offensive player – – specifically a ball-handler/distributor – – who can also play defense?  These teams combined to go 9 for 40 on 3-point attempts.
  • Princeton 59  Arizona 55:  Arizona clearly has the better athletes; Princeton is clearly better skilled/coached in fundamental basketball and at controlling the pace of play in a game.

[Aside:  Earlier this week, I said that if Princeton and Missouri both advanced, we would have a Tigers vs Tigers match in Round 2.  That will happen on Saturday.]

  • Arkansas 73  Illinois 63:  I just could not get excited/involved in this game; neither team was interesting.  My comment for the game was merely, “Meh!”
  • Auburn 83  Iowa 75:  Another mediocre game with another middling SEC team  beating a middling Big-10 team.  Ho-hum…
  • Duke 74  Oral Roberts 51:  Made this note with 11:20 to play in the 1st half:
      • “This is not your 12/5 upset game for this year.”
  • This game points out the importance of strength of schedule – – in all sports not just college basketball.  Oral Roberts was undefeated in conference; it lost 5 games all year and 4 of the 5 losses were to teams in the NCAA tournament; they averaged 84 points per game.  And when faced with an ACC team they were outclassed.
  • Northwestern 75  Boise St. 67:  Northwestern is another defensive-focused team but they also have a couple of players who can score a bit at the offensive end of the court.  Such players do exist…
  • Texas 81  Colgate 61:  Colgate very obviously suffered from a serious deficit in athleticism.
  • Tennessee 58  Louisiana-Lafayette 55:  The early parts of the game were uninteresting but fortunately, I noticed on the scoreboard at the top of the screen that Louisiana was closing a gap toward the end and I went back to see the end of a game that became interesting.
  • Houston 63  N. Kentucky 52:  This game was a lot closer that one should expect from a #1-seed versus a #-16 seed.  Houston kept the game close by turning the ball over 17 times to a team that was not nearly as athletic as the Cougars.
  • UCLA 86  UNC-Asheville 53:  This game was a complete mismatch from start to finish.
  • Penn St. 76  Texas A&M 59:  Penn St. is not the most physically gifted team in the tournament but they play a style of basketball that can keep them in a game against almost anyone.  The Aggies never figured out the Penn St. offense and the fact that Andrew Funk shot 8 for 10 from 3-point range sealed the deal.

[Aside:  I know its cheesy but since this was an upset I did make a note that Penn St. guard, Jalen Pickett, “led the charge” for the Nittany Lions.]

[Another Aside:  Earlier this week, I said that if Utah St. and Texas A&M were to meet in the Final Game this year, that would be Aggies versus Aggies action.  Both versions of the Aggies lost yesterday.  Hi ho!]

Finally the good folks at Coca Cola have paid the TV networks to have the play-by-play guys do a live-read in every game about Coke Zero Sugar asking if it the best Coke ever.  So, let me close today with this entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Coca-Cola:  A soft drink whose makers are apparently morally obligated to dream up a new version of the same sugar, water and caffeine they have always sold every eight weeks until the end of time.”

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