NCAA Tournament Notes

The following item is NOT an April Fool’s joke.  In the Elite Eight round of the women’s NCAA Tournament, Texas and NC State played each other in Portland, OR.  The 3-point line on the court was improperly painted on one end of the court.  Looking at pictures, it appears that the distances were different and the “circle” at one end was slightly off-center as well.  Rather than incur long delays to “repaint” the court, both coaches agreed to play the game under the improper court markings without protest.

The Twitterverse is predictably unhinged over all this with some pundits suggesting this as “proof” that the women’s tournament is “rigged” and with other pundits calling out the NCAA for this blunder.  No one is going to mistake me for an NCAA apologist or lackey, but unless someone can show me that it was an NCAA official who painted the court improperly, the NCAA as an institution gets a pass from me on this one.  However, the event organizers in Portland who are staging this event should not be getting any regional basketball action from the women or the men any time soon; it is the folks in charge of staging these regional finals who should be accountable.

Over in the men’s brackets, I made these Final Four predictions before the tournament began:

  • UConn – – made the Final Four
  • Tennessee – – made the Elite Eight and lost yesterday.
  • Duke – – made the Elite Eight and lost yesterday.
  • Auburn – – lost in the round of 64 to Yale.

My predictions were probably better than throwing four random darts at the brackets; but still, they were hardly praiseworthy.  Here are three notes I made watching games this weekend – – for what they are worth:

“Purdue just too big for Gonzaga”:  Indeed, Purdue pounded the ball inside and got lots of shots inside 6 feet from the basket; the Boilermakers shot 57% from inside the arc for the game.

“Houston looks like Uva; lots of defenders and no shooters”:   The Cougars shot a combined 22 of 57 (39%) from the floor.

“Zach Edy plays full time against Tennessee with only 1 foul?”  Wow!

The most impressive thing I saw over the weekend was the first 8 minutes or so of the second half of the UConn/Illinois game.  Every college and high school basketball coach needs to get the tape of those 8 minutes or so and to show it to their teams as an instructional tool.  Illinois is a good basketball team; they were dominated to the point of embarrassment for those 8 minutes or so.  Consider:

  • UConn led 28-23 at the half; the Huskies appeared to be the better team, but Illinois was still “in the game”.
  • At the start of the second half, UConn put on a 30-0 run.  It was both an offensive and a defensive clinic.  The best player for Illinois this year has been Terrence Shannon; UConn held him to 8 points on 2-12 shooting from the field.
  • That performance – – along with the rest of the second half – – called to mind the 1973 NCAA Championship Game where UCLA, led by Bill Walton, beat Memphis State by 21 points after the game had been tied at halftime.

Moving on …  Here are two more observations about the Tournament:

  1. Prior to the start of the Tournament, the American Gaming Association estimated that the handle for betting on March Madness nationwide would be $2.7B.  Several reports over the last week said that “action” on the Elite Eight games was even heavier than expected – – so maybe the handle will be even higher?
  2. College basketball teams play defense – – some play tenacious defense.  In fact, you will probably see more defensive energy expended in one half of a March Madness game than you will see in a week’s worth of NBA regular season games.

Switching gears ,,,  The Jacksonville Jaguars have not been spectacular on the field for much of their time in the NFL and it seems as if their mediocrity on Sundays carries over into their management of the team off the field.  Recall that a mid-level finance guy was recently sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for embezzling a mere $22M over a three-year period.  It took a while to notice a $22M “discrepancy”.  Now, another Jags’ employee, Samuel Arthur Thompson, has run afoul of the law:

A federal judge sentenced Thompson to “220 years in federal prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release” for a series of child pornography offenses, for failure to register as a sex offender and for hacking the Jags’ stadium jumbotron.

[Aside:  Thompson is 53 years old; if he were to serve out his sentence, he would be released at the age of 273 years.  I suspect that a “lifetime of supervised release” would not be a big deal.]

The DoJ referred to Thompson as a “prolific child molester” in this press release which is an English phrase I am sure I have never heard or read before.

Finally, I’ll close today with an anecdote involving Groucho Marx:

  • A guest on Groucho’s You Bet Your Life TV show was a woman who had given birth to 22 children.  “I love my husband,” the woman explained sheepishly.
  • “I love my cigar too,” Groucho said, “but I take it out once in a while.”

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