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Posted on: March 18, 2010 11:55 pm
 

Fifteen For Friday: Guarantees For Day Two

MATT JONES



Wow, what a day of action!  Day One of the NCAA Tournament was without question, the most exciting first day of the NCAA Tournament in history.  You had the shocking beatdown of Georgetown by the 9th best team in the MAC.  There was the buzzer beater from the plucky upstarts of Murray State.  The mid-major showed their stuff, with solid wins by Old Dominion and Northern Iowa.  You nearly had the extremely rare 2-15 upset, as Villanova hung on by the hair of their chinny chin chin to beat Robert Morris in Overtime.  And thats not even counting the two games that were the best pure basketball games of the day, Florida-BYU and Marquette-Washington.  It was a day to remember.

But that day is behind us, its time to move on.  Friday is upon us and we need to know what will happen.  Here are my fifteen guarantees for Friday that you can take to the proverbial bank (dont take them to the real bank, my account is overdrawn).

1. The Big East Will Keep Stinking it Up:  How about Day One from the supposed monster conference, The Big East?  1-3 and lucky to even be that good, as Villanova should have lost to old man Bob Morris.  The carnage will continue on Friday.  Only Louisville will lose (late to California), but the top seeds will struggle.  Morgan State will stay with West Virginia for a while and Oakland will give Pittsburgh all it can handle.  Syracuse will roll over the Catamounts of Vermont, but not before the Big Least walks into the second round with its tail between its legs.

2.  You Will Talk Yourself into Thinking Repo Men Might Be Worth Watching:  Every year one movie is publicized throughout the NCAA Tournament with such frequency that no matter what it is, you can say to yourself, "it might be worth watching."  This happened to some of you during Championship Week with "Hot Tub Time Machine" (which has to be just awful) and is coming with "Repo Men."  I heard mutliple conversations at the bar where I watched the games, in which people seriously debated the premise of the movie (repo men go to get kidneys back from someone who hasnt fully paid for their loan) and its ramifications if it truly occurred in society.  This might happen to you as well.

3.  Everyone Will Say Gus Johnson is His or Her Favorite Announcer:  Gus is like Dick Vitale without the schtick and his popularity grows each March.  He always seems to get the good games and the excitement in his voice is contagious.  You will talk with someone today who will hear a Johnson-called game and will comment on how much he loves Gus.  You will agree and share a touching moment of companionship over your shared love of a television announcer.  It is sweet just thinking about it.

4.  Temple and Purdue Will Burst the National Bubble Assumptions:  This is one guarantee that I hope does not come true, because on a personal level, I am pulling for both Cornell and Siena to win.  But every two-bit announcer in America has claimed that both of these underdogs will win in their first game.  There comes a point then where a surprise is so expected that it can no longer be a surprise.  Cornell as a sleeper jumped the shark the day that Jay Bilas picked them to the Final Eight and Siena made it to the Sweet 16 last year, thus taking away all underdog credibility it can have.  Its like calling a movie made by Miramax an "Independent" movie.  Look folks, once you get so big, you lose your street cred.  Deadspin is mainstream media, "The Colbert Report" is mainstream television and that indy band you like playing at Bonaroo will sign with a major record label.  Just deal with it.

5.  You Will Be Baffled by the Size of Tim Brando's Head:  Look I know I am writing this for CBS and I am more than willing to concede that I have sold out and can be a company guy.  But I cannot simply sit here and not comment on the size of Tim Brando's head.  He must have been Bucky the Buckeye in a past life.  It is the size of a hot-air balloon and is only magnified by the reddest cheeks this side of a Kennedy family reunion.  I have seen it in person twice now and it still haunts me to this day.  Brando's head is as big literally as John Calipari's metaphorically and at some point today, it will engulf you too in its mesmerizing aura.

6.  Oliver Purnell Will NOT Smile:  It has never happened and it will not start today.  Purnell has spent ten years at Clemson and has made a career of (a) starting 18-0 and then losing 9 of his last 11 and (b) standing with a glum look on his face, hunched over in a suit two sizes too big.  This year he changed (a) by simply being mediocre all year, but I refuse to believe he can change (b).  He has a look of a man permanently forced to watch The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on repeat and today will be no exception.

7.  Wofford Will Get You Off Your Feet:  This is the first time Wofford has ever been to the NCAA Tournament and they have the look of a team like Ohio today.  While everyone is off picking their trendy upsets (see Siena and Cornell), the ones that come as a true shock occur when very few see it coming.  We picked Murray State to take out Vanderbilt on this very page yesterday and we also said watch out for Ali Farokmanesh to make a big three to help Northern Iowa win.  Murrray hit a buzzer beater to knock out the Commodores and Ali hit the game winner for UNI.  Today the team is Wofford.  They will play Wisconsin to the wire and dont be surprised if they hit a late shot to take down the Badgers.

8.  Gonzaga Will be Just as Soft as You Remembered:  There is no bigger fraud in the NCAA Tournament year after year than Gonzaga.  They are the basketball equivalent of movies with Cameron Diaz.  Just because you were once vastly overrated because of one tournament run (or decent movie, in Diaz's case "There's Something About Mary), doesnt mean we are going to take you seriously in the Tournament this year or find you hot (I dont get Diaz's appeal in that regard.  Is there any more overrated actress that is considered beautiful in America...not including Sarah Jessica Parker of course, who owns this category in perpetuity).  Gonzaga is the softest team in America and always loses before they are supposed to in the Tournament.  They are playing another perpetual underachiever today, Florida State, in the most underwhelming game of the first round.

9.  You Will Discover Derrick Favors:  If you are watching Georgia Tech for the first time today (and chances are that you are, because the sight of Paul Hewitt underachieving scares small children), you will talk yourself into Derrick Favors being the best big man in America. His footwork, ability to score underneath and size will make you say, "wow who is this guy?"  Dont worry, that is normal.  Rest assured that he still doesnt give 100% effort, disappears from most games and is a step slow.  Your eyes are deceiving you.

10.  Obama's Bracket Will be Mentioned Way Too Often:  Look, I am an unabashed fan of our current President.  And I love that he loves college basketball.  But do we have to talk about his bracket after every game?  When a team he has picked to do well loses, do I have to know that he is disappointed?  When a team that he picked to lose wins, do they have to say that it will ruin the President's bracket? Look Barack is just a man, same as you or I, except he is cooler, will be saved if there is a nuclear war and smokes alot.  We dont need daily updates on his bracket.

11.  Duke Will Drive You Crazy:  I hate Duke. So do you.  That much has been established.  And I know that sometimes we can get a little overzealous with our dislike and find conspiracies where none exist that we believe help the Dukies.  But not this year.  There hasnt been a process so rigged as the one that gave Duke the South Region since Ruben beat Clay on "American Idol."  Villanova and Baylor are the #2 and #3 seeds and BOTH could have lost on Thursday.  You will see Duke on Friday night and they will kill Arkansas-Pine Bluff and the announcers will make you projective vomit while they tell you that Duke plays "the right way."  Just try to maintain your composure.  Life isnt fair, but one day Coach K will get his.  And when he does, I am sure American Express will do a commercial about it.

12.  Someone Will Tell You Their Bracket is Great/Terrible:  Tell them you dont care.  Because you dont.  Here is a hint America...no one cares about your brackets.  No one.  They care about their own.  If someone asks you about your bracket, tell them.  Otherwise keep it to yourself.  I dont care who you picked in Clemson vs Missouri and neither does anyone else.  So please dont tell me...oh and I dont want to know what you shot in golf the other day or the hand you could have won on during poker either.

13.  Greivis Vasquez Will Raise Every Emotion in Your Body:  I have been through it all with Greivis.  I have despised him from afar with his Gary Parrish-esque faux hawk, constant swagger and tendency to talk trash on the court.  But then you watch him play in person, see the huge shots he hits and the way he plays with reckless abandon, and he wins you back over.  I have never seen a player who elicits more contradictory emotions in fans in one game that Greivis and I find him utterly fascinating.  He can be the star of the Tournament if he makes it into the second weekend. 

14.  Your Girlfriend Will Say She Finds Seth Davis Cute:  That happened to me once and it was a relationship killer.  Seth Davis is easy to hate and while I know him a bit now and find him to be a nice guy, he has that quality that makes you want to throw the remote at the television while he is talking.  If your girlfriend sees him, she will see his perfectly coifed hair and awkward smile and might say, "who is that, he is kind of cute?"  You physically wont be able to handle this.  Dont let it happen and just flip the channel if he comes on.  Trust me, you will be better for it,

15.  Louisville-California Will Be the Game of the Day:  Two erratic teams, both of which are capable of laying an egg or playing at the top of their game, meet up at the end of the best two-day stretch in sports.  You are going to be tired, cranky and may think its time to either go out on the town or get some sleep.  Dont give up.  Teams that dont play well can still be entertaining and any game involving Edgar Sosa is bound to provide highlights, either good or bad.  Turn it on and end the session on a bang.

So there you have it, a primer for the day.  Lets hope it is half the day that Thursday was and we will be in for a treat. 

Category: NCAAB
Tags: East, Midwest, South, West
 
Posted on: March 18, 2010 11:07 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2010 11:57 pm
 

Itís pronounced Fuh-ROAK-muh-nesh

Thomas Beisner

11:00 PM


In Northern Iowa, I’d assume that little boys often want to grow up and be in 4-H club and then settle down and have some kids before taking up their full-time job of complaining about Gary Parrish online. However, I cannot confirm this to be true. What I do know, though is that there are a lot of little boys braving the 49 degree weather and the darkness right now, running down this sequence in their heads.

Dribble right.

Toss the ball to yourself on the left side.

Heave up the three and whisper, “Farokhmanesh for the lead….”

“GOOOOOOOOOOD!”

In Cedar Falls, UNI senior Ali Farokhmanesh has gone from your average starting guard to superstar with just one shot. One clutch shot.  His game-winner against UNLV Thursday evening catapulted him straight into Panther history and the hearts of America. But, it raises one major problem.

How can kids pretend to be Ali Farokhmanesh when they can’t even pronounce his name?

I went to high school with a kid who used to imitate Bryce Drew after every practice, tossing a ball up, tipping it to himself and then heaving a shot toward the rim, making sure he was half-way into his fish-out-of-water celebration before the ball reached the basket. Each time, he’d scream “Bryce Drew!”. What if he had to yell “Farokhmanesh!”? How could he focus on properly flopping all over the floor with that type of concentration dedicated to pronouncing his fake name?

My neighbor’s son shoots baskets out front and always counts down from 5 before yelling “Chommers”, which I would assume to be “Chalmers”. It might not be perfect, but it gets the point home. What if wanted to re-enact Northern Iowa's big tourney moment?  He'd count down and yelled “Faro - Farok - Far - oh well, I’m going to play video games”.  Then my neighbor would have to look at his son’s hoop the way he looks at his ex-wife’s implants. Wasted money. Wasted on a dream that will never be yours.

I knew a kid when I was younger who always pretended to be Christian Laettner. He would line up at the free….you know what, I can’t do this. You know as well as I do that no one pretends to be Christian Laettner. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but I can’t do you like that. Let’s just keep moving.

Anyway, the moral of the story? Ali Farokhmanesh needs to change his name. Not for me and not for you. But for the kids. After all, we don’t want this fading away anytime soon.

I love you, Ali!

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Midwest
 
Posted on: March 18, 2010 10:55 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2010 10:58 pm
 

Isaiah Thomas and the Huskies get the win

DREW FRANKLIN
No, not that one.

Washington has a sophomore point guard named Isaiah Thomas.  He has a style similar to the Piston's Isiah Thomas but without the sexual harassment.  The story behind his name is pretty cool, too.  Would you like to hear it?  Thought so.

Isaiah Thomas' dad, James Thomas, grew up in Inglewood, CA and is a big Lakers fan.  He made a bet with a friend that the Lakers would beat the Pistons in the Western Conference Finals.  If the Pistons won, he would name his son after Detroit's starting point guard.  Well, the Pistons won and now the world has an Isaiah Thomas (intentionally misspelled).  Good story, right?  So, how bout that game?

Washington upset the 6 seeded Marquette Golden Eagles 80-78.  Isaiah Thomas scored a team high 19 points for the Huskies.  Quincy Pondexter backed him up with 18, including the game winner with 1.7 seconds left.

Marquette led most of the way and held a 15 point lead with just under 14 minutes to go.  Then, the curse of the Big East kicked in.  The Golden Eagles turned the ball over eight times in the second half and gave the game away despite shooting 12-19 from behind the arc.

Washington moves on to face the New Mexico-Montana winner.

Marquette is left wondering if its star forward Lazar Hayward will enter his name in the NBA Draft or return to school for a ninth season. 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 18, 2010 10:42 pm
 

Cats Roll 100-71 over East Tennessee State

MATT JONES



In the land of buzzer beaters and major upsets, there has to be at least one game that stays chalk and that (literally) puts people to sleep.  Kentucky crush ETSU 100-71, in a game that wasnt close after about the ten minute mark in the first half.  ETSU took a 10-9 lead early and Kentucky then rolled off a 33-6 run that left ETSU's spirits crushed and the Cats headed to the second round.

The big story of the game was the amazing shooting of Freshman Eric Bledsoe, the least heralded of Kentucky's "Three Amigos" trio, but the one setting records in March.  Bledsoe made 8 three pointers, setting a school record for most threes made in an NCAA Tournament game, shattering the mark of 7 set by Tony Delk in the 1996 NCAA Championship Game.  Bledsoe made his first seven attempts and dominated the game while rarely even taking a step inside the three point arc.  His shots, combined with Patrick Patterson's low post play and blocks galore, helped the Cats to sail onto the next round.

It is a sad statement for the game that the highlight may have been three camera shots of people in the crowd asleep,  The New Orleans arena was bizarrely empty, as the UK fan base did not make the trip to New Orleans in its regular numbers, leaving as many as 10,000 open seats.  Kentucky's play made the game a non-event early and then the masses decided to take a snooze, as if it were a marathon of Masterpiece Theater on PBS.  Those shots of fans asleep drew the loudest cheers in the bar in which I watched the game, and showcased that the three things that make people laugh the most continue to be (a) people sleeping, (b) odd people dancing and (c) people being hit in the crotch.

The Cats move on and hope to avoied crotch hits when they face the winner of Wake Forest and Texas.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: East
 
Posted on: March 18, 2010 9:37 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2010 9:41 pm
 

There's Something About Providence

C.M. TOMLIN


Listen closely. If you are a high seeded team, or even if you're the favored team to win in the first or second rounds of the NCAA Tournament, it is very important that you stay away from Providence. Run the other way. Promise me you will. Even if you're good at something, like, say, cooking or landscaping. You will find, suddenly, that your powers are nullified when you cross the Rhode Island state line. 

There's something strange afoot in Providence. Earlier today, Robert Morris led Villanova practically the entire game before the Wildcats rose back up to beat them in overtime. Directly afterward, the Saint Mary's Gaels took on the favored seven-seed Richmond Spiders and not only edged them off the table, but soundly beat them to progress to a matchup Saturday against Villanova. 


To put it in the most basic terms, your pre-determined reputation of basketball prowess is not recognized at Dunkin' Donuts Arena. Why else would even a floundering number two seed (it's still a number two seed, for crying out loud) have this much trouble with a 15 seed? How could a scrappy Saint Mary's team which, by all accounts, was not the favorite to be here at all, have taken a flat-out rolling Richmond down so handily?

Oh, you want more proof? In an evening session game that should have been an absolute massacre, a very strong Georgetown team faced the Ohio Bobcats, who tanked their conference season in the MAC only to put together an unbelievable run and clinch the conference championship. I myself, in a move I now freely admit I was wrong about, declared on this very blog that Ohio didn't stand a chance. But I should have remembered that this is Providence. And apparently, anything can happen in Providence.

I'm not even sure Bobcats head coach John Groce could understand what he was seeing. His boys played unbelievably coolly, with incredibly level heads and a seriousness that never allowed them to even crack a smile or believe what they were accomplishing. Guard Armon Bassett looked like an All-American with 32 points. And in the end, an Ohio University team that has has only seen one prior NCAA Tourney win in 45 years brought it home, a prior number nine seed in the Mid-America Conference,defeated a tough Georgetown team to advance. 

And why shouldn't they have? This is Providence. It's magical, topsy-turvy providence. Up is down. Down is up. Cats are dogs. Ohios are Georgetowns.

Tennessee, there's still time to run. 
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 18, 2010 7:51 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2010 7:55 pm
 

Mack leads Butler to victory

DREW FRANKLIN




Butler won?  So Gordon Hayward had a big game, right?

Nope.  Hayward went 2-8 from the field and 0-6 from downtown.

Oh. So Matt Howard dominated the paint?

Not quite.  Two words:  Shelvin. Mack.

Mack hit a career high seven three-pointers and scored 18 of his game high 25 points after the break.  Butler trailed by six at halftime but came out and dominated UTEP in the second half.  

Through my source, Mark Morrison, I was able to obtain a transcript from Mack's halftime speech that supposedly fired up the Bulldogs:

So, I'm back up in the game 
Running things like half my swing 
Lettin' all the people know 
That I'm back to run the show 
'Cause what you did you know was wrong 
And all the nasty things you've done 
So, baby, listen carefully 
While I sing my comeback song

... Now that is some powerful stuff.

On the other side, Derrick Caracter had the game he needed to give UTEP a chance but the Miners still couldn't get the win.  Caracter and his mohawk scored 20 points on 10-13 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds in the loss.

Butler advances to face a dangerous Murray State team in the second round.  Will we see a return of the Mack?


Category: NCAAB
Tags: Butler
 
Posted on: March 18, 2010 6:41 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2010 6:42 pm
 

Richmond Struggles With Gael Force

C.M. TOMLIN

Tonight, the role of Luke Harangody will be played by Omar Samhan.

Hear that sweeping, romantic, Disney-esque music swelling and coming this way? It could very well be the sound of this year's Cinderella team the Saint Mary's Gaels approaching a sputtering Villanova. And I'll bet you never guessed it would be a hulking man-beast and five Australians.

If Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery hear "Mr. Sandman" one more time today they'll probably both head off down to the malt shop for a soda pop, as the Gaels took down the seven-seeded Richmond Spiders 80-71 in Providence this afternoon, shocking many who thought the magic team in this bracket may be, in fact, the Spiders themselves.

Giant behemoth Omar Samhan rustled home 29 points and 12 rebounds for Saint Mary's, with his backup cast of Aussies performing soundly, even if they do slightly resemble a group of teenage kids who formed a detective agency to solve mysteries. Junior Mickey McConnell ably supported Samhan by shooting 5-9 from the three-point line and netting in a total 23 points. 

So there you have it. The Saint Mary's Gaels. If you're not totally blown away by this tournament in the first five hours alone, you're crazy. It was always thought that the supersecret sleeper might come out of this game right here, but it was always expected to be the Spiders. Surprise! On another note, here's something to think about: when was the last time you saw five Australians together in the United States? It's as if Kylie Minogue is going to make a surprise appearance at Dunkin' Donuts arena. 

Are the Gaels (which, ironically means people from the Ireland/Scotland region) for real? Villanova had a lot of trouble with Robert Morris today, trailing almost the entire game. The Wildcats looked flat indeed.  

Samhan, yesterday, made the statement that "God is a Gael." If that's true, we're going to get a whole lot more impressed with these guys before this thing's over.


Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 18, 2010 6:31 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2010 6:58 pm
 

K-State beats North Texas, HBO celebrates

Thomas Beisner

6:30 PM


After Kansas State coasted to an 82-62 victory over the Sunbelt’s representative, North Texas, there really wasn’t much rejoicing for Wildcat fans in Manhattan or Oklahoma City, the site of the game. This was an expected win by Frank Martin’s club and anything less than a big victory would be viewed as a disappointment. For Jacob Pullen and Co., it’s just the first step of what they hope will be a run to the Final Four and was treated as just another game.

In New York City, however, emotions were high at HBO corporate headquarters after Kansas State’s balanced attack guaranteed themselves a matchup with BYU in the tournament’s second round. In an agreement made public after the first session ended in Oklahoma City, HBO executives announced that Saturday’s matchup will be billed as the “HBO Bowl” and stars from two of the network’s biggest shows will be on hand.

Playing off of the mafia look of Kansas State coach Frank Martin and in hopes of stirring up interest in another release of The Sopranos on DVD, James Gandolfini will reprise his role as Tony Soprano and sit on the Wildcat bench for the game. Gandolfini, who has tried to distance himself from the character since the final episode when he, umm, well we don’t know, said acknowledged that he’s been a closet Wildcat fan for years after mistakenly flying to Manhattan, Kansas instead of Manhattan, New York for a job interview. HBO also said that Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher, will sit at the end of the bench and knock over water bottles and screw things up.

BYU, meanwhile, will welcome in the creepy old guy from Big Love, who will settle in on the Cougar sideline and stare at people with wide, lifeless eyes. After initial concerns that Harry Dean Stanton, who played the Prophet Roman Grant, would be a distraction to the team and his general creepiness could hurt the Cougar’s concentration, HBO officials convinced the BYU coaching staff that Jimmer Fredette, who went off for 37 against Florida, might actually be a real-life prophet and cannot be knocked off his game.  They also gave them lots and lots of money in a last ditch effort to make Big Love half-way appealing to anyone on the planet.  Though he didn't declare outright fanhood for his team like Gandolfini did, Stanton did admit that he was intrigued when he saw that guy shooting a ball through a peach basket at the "Y" that day.

The big loser of the second Oklahoma City game (besides North Texas) was HBO rival Showtime, who hoped to send the cast of Weeds to cheer on The Mean Green in the second round.

It’s BYU and Kansas State in the HBO Bowl on Saturday.

 

Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
 
 
 
 
 
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