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.