If you still have a clean bracket sheet this morning, one of two things will happen:
a. You will win your office bracket pool in a walk – or –
b. The basketball gods will get even with you today.
What follows here are contemporaneous notes from watching yesterday’s games while wearing out the buttons on my TV remote.
In the Notre Dame/Northeastern game, Brian Anderson did the play-by-play and color analyst, Steve Smith, kept calling him “B.A.”. It got to the point that I thought I was watching a rerun of The A-Team. Notre Dame seemed very sluggish; I noted that perhaps they were not used to playing a game at noon – or maybe even being awake at noon. Their defense – they do play tough defense – saved them because their shooting and shot selection was less than impressive for a team that had beaten Duke and UNC twice each. Notre Dame’s big men were in serious foul trouble in the first half and sat out at least 10 minutes; moreover, Zach Auguste then got his third foul on the first play of the second half. Northeastern did not exploit that advantage.
Iowa State was the first of three Big 12 teams to take the pipe yesterday. Here is my note from the end of the game:
“#3 seed goes out in the early afternoon. Today is the day of upsets?”
Every time I flipped over to that game, UAB was outplaying them but the score was always close. With about 6 minutes to go in the game the score was tied and I started to think that I was jinxing UAB by leaving that game to watch another one because from the times I was tuned in I would have figured them to have a double-digit lead. UAB won by 1 point and indeed there were more upsets to come.
Arizona cruised against Texas Southern, a team that cannot shoot from the outside and a team that plays mediocre defense. Arizona could have named the score; this game was no more of a challenge for them than a game scheduled in early December against a cupcake.
Then Baylor – another #3 seed from the Big 12 – stunk it out and lost to Georgia State a team that won their conference tournament to get to this game by a score of 38-36. They may not score a lot but they do play pressure defense for 40 minutes. Ga State went about 11:30 in the second half without a field goal and they still won by a point.
Texas completed a day of ignominy for the Big 12 losing to Butler who lost their best player to a leg injury for just about all of the 2nd half. Texas is another team that “just cannot shoot from outside.”
Ole Miss got here by winning a play-in game. My comment in the midst of the first half was:
“Why did they bother winning that last game? Don’t seem particularly interested in playing this one.”
Ohio State beat VCU in a slight upset; Ohio State was a #10 seed. Here is my note from early in the game: and fundamentally, it was the story of the game:
“Ohio State is bigger; VCU is faster. Winner will be the one that exploits its advantage better.”
SMU and UCLA put on an entertaining game all the way to the end when a controversial call determined the outcome. The officials called goaltending on a 3-point shot attempt by UCLA with the Bruins down 2 and about 10 seconds left in the game. That proved to be the game winner and UCLA advanced. My note – as someone who refereed basketball for 37 years:
“Only second time I ever saw that call. Glad I never had to make one.”
One other note from that game:
“[Bryce] Alford shooting 3’s like his dad; makes you realize Mendel was right.”
For the record, Bryce Alford scored 27 points in the game hitting 9 three-point shots.
Villanova/Lafayette was a mismatch from the opening tip. About 8 minutes into the game my note was:
“’Nova can name the score here. Not interesting.”
Cincy/Purdue was an 8-9 game and it seems as if the Selection Committee was right seeding these teams so close to one another. The game was decided by one point in OT. My note for the game says Purdue “gagged” because they had a 7-point lead with about 45 seconds to play and let the game go to OT. In retrospect, that is not a fair comment; Cincy earned that win with its play at the end of regulation time.
UNC dominated the first half against Harvard and had the game in hand early in the second half. In my mind, I relegated that game to a low status for checking in; it seemed to be decided at that point. Then I saw the score get closer and closer and then Harvard took the lead with about a minute to play. UNC was fortunate to win the game.
Stephen F. Austin came to their game with Utah averaging 80 points per game. Utah obviously played a lot more and a lot better defense than SFA’s opponents had played. Midway through the first half my note was:
“No way they get 80 tonite. May not get 50”
They got exactly 50 and lost by 7 points to a better team.
NC State/LSU was another eight/nine game; and just like the Cincy/Purdue game, it was a nail-biter at the end. LSU led by 14 at one point in the second half and my note says:
“State looks like they don’t care.”
Well, that was wrong because State put it in gear and closed that gap to win the game.
One other note from the second half said:
“Tigers missing loads of foul shots”
Indeed, they missed 10 free throws and lost by 1 point…
Arkansas/Wofford was a good game to watch because it was close from beginning to end. I am not going to expend the effort to check the running score of the game, but I cannot recall either team leading by more than 5 points. This was not an artistic game by any means, but I enjoyed it.
Kentucky/Hampton was not interesting because the game was never in doubt as was the case with Villanova/Lafayette. My first half note here read:
Georgetown has not played well against double-digit seeds over the past several years but they manhandled E. Washington yesterday. My note says:
“Hoyas playing angry. Every shot is contested and everyone is involved on offense.”
AT&T gave us a series of new ads where Shaq and Dr. J and Christian Laettner and another player I did not recognize make silly remarks about themselves and the NCAA tournament. The dumbest one has Shaq declaring his nickname in college was The Big Dance – nominally a clever play on words here but not really – and then dancing in front of a TV screen to show Christian Laettner that he earned that nickname. Question:
Can anyone tell me what in the name of Chubby Checker that has to do with improved 4G LTE signals?
Finally, a note from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:
“Pablo Sandoval isn’t overly rotund, Red Sox spinmeisters insist. He’s simply a roll model.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………