Posted on: March 18, 2010 5:30 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2010 11:42 pm
We have our first buzzer beater of the 2010 NCAA tournament.
Murray State's Danero Thomas drilled a 15-footer as the buzzer sounded to beat Vanderbilt 66-65.
For the second time in a row, a four seeded Vanderbilt team was sent home early from the big dance. #13 Siena knocked off Vanderbilt in 2008 and today the Racers of Murray State pulled off the first-round upset. At least Obama is getting something right .
Here are a few thoughts from the game:
A.J. Ogilvy, leave the highlights to "One Shining Moment" A.J. Ogilvy's blonde highlights might work back in Australia, but this is America. And in America, basketball players put highlights on Sportscenter - not on their head. And what was up with that mustache?
SEC Coach of the Year? Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings won the SEC Coach of the Year over Kentucky's John Calipari this season in a WTF decision. I demand to see his ACT scores. COYs don't lose in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The kid crying in Murray's band will be the image of the tournament. No matter what happens between now and the trophy presentation, that kid will be the face of the 2010 NCAA tournament. I hope you saw him.
Was it really an upset? On paper, a 13 seed over a 4 seed is an upset. However, no one should be surprised that Murray State won. This team is legit.
Danero was money. "Dinero" is Spanish for "money." "Danero" is basketball for "which Racer girl should I sleep with?" Congrats on the big shot, Mr. Thomas. It's one you'll never forget.
Posted on: March 18, 2010 5:19 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2010 2:02 pm
Without question, this is the best first afternoon of the NCAA Tournament in its history. However the South Region (otherwise known as the "We Love you Coach K and its been awhile, so please thank us latter) Region is an utter joke and has been exposed as such over the course of three games. Notre Dame was defeated, Villanova should have been defeated and today, Baylor survived a scare from Sam Houston State 68-59.
If you watched the game, then you were probably mesmerized by Gilberto Clavell's 1980-edition Rec Specs and you missed the impressive performance by Baylor big man Ekpe Udoh, who is firmly cementing his status as a potential future NBA star. The Michigan transfer had 20 points, 13 rebounds and was able to play a modicum of defense on Clavell in the second half, thus forcing Sam Houston State to jack up outside shots. When Sam Houston State went cold in the last four minutes, Baylor took a late 8-0 run, and the upset was averted.
It was a great performance by Sam Houston, but it also showcases what could be a continuing theme throughout this bracket. When it comes to Xs and Os, Scott Drew can look like a lost puppy in big games. Sam Houston came out in a "Triangle and two" defense, a rarely used gimmick, that is rarely used because it is so easy to break. The defense puts two individuals on the other teams' best players, and then sends the other three players to guard the rest of the court. One step of penetration or changing of alignment (sticking your guards on the baseline) and the defense can be rendered ineffective. However Drew didnt even make the simplest changes, suggesting that he (a) likely did not know how to beat the defense and (b) the Sam Houston coach suspected as much and designed it with that in mind.
Drew is a great recruiter, but when it comes to coaching big games, one wonders if he is up to the task. He will get his chance to show again in two days, as ODU coach Blaine Taylor has a great basketball mind and players that can match up to Baylor's athleticism.
The Bears move on and the rec specs are retired. Life sometimes is not fair.
Posted on: March 18, 2010 4:14 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2010 6:12 pm
All you needed to see was the visual of 5'9 Karon Abraham doling out post-game handshakes to the towering behemoths of Villanova to really get a good feel for how hard Robert Morris University had to work today in their unfortunate (but close) 73-70 overtime loss to the Wildcats. The game was a barnburner from beginning to end, with most of the regulation play spent with about a 2-4 point difference between teams and a plucky, determined Colonials team hanging on to their lead with everything they had. You also got to see Robert Morris head coach Mike Rice mouthing some pretty horrendous profanity and hear Bill Raftery use the phrase "stroking" approximately 7,000 times in a multitude of contexts, all of them uncomfortable and slightly creepy.
Here's the strange thing, however. The life of Robert Morris University's Constitutional Conventioneer namesake and Robert Morris' performance today share several strikingly similar qualities. It's almost eerie. See for yourself:
ROBERT MORRIS: Was colonial.
ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY: Are the Colonials.
ROBERT MORRIS: Attended many conferences in the Northeast.
ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY: Contends in the Northeast Conference.
ROBERT MORRIS: Assisted local merchants in protesting the Stamp Act.
ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY: Had 8 assists on the day.
ROBERT MORRIS: Liked rice
ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY: Mike Rice
ROBERT MORRIS: Dumped on by John Hancock.
ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY: Dunked on by Mouphtaou Yarou.
All in all, the third of three great games to kick off the tournament today. Plus, did it hint that Villanova's not exactly what they're cracked up to be? We shall see. Onward and upward.
Posted on: March 18, 2010 3:01 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2010 11:40 pm
I apologize for the inconvenience, folks, but my power went out today, leaving me unable to watch any NCAA basketball. Instead of just leaving you guys hanging, I called my best friend, who happens to be a Florida graduate student, and asked him to cover my post-game recap. Here is what he wrote:
GAINESVILLE - It seemed like things were finally back to normal at the University of Florida on Thursday as head coach Urban Meyer, just 24 hours removed from his subtle return from a much ballyhooed leave of absence, took to the field and instructed his next edition of SEC terrors in the Gators’ first spring practice.
Though still pulling an oxygen cart and being followed by an entourage of doctors, pharmacists and two children carrying the wires connected to his heart monitor, Meyer looked just as focused as he did during the Gator championship season, taking notes and chatting with assistants. His players, visibly excited, spoke openly of their giddiness over their coach being back and finally getting focused on what happens between the hashes. Meyer also spoke of what was most important.
“How about Timmy, yesterday,” Meyer said of former Gator Tim Tebow’s pro day workout. “The kid is just a flat-out football player, huh? The thing people don’t understand is that, sure, we could have fixed his throwing motion in the four years he was here. But what would that say about him? He’s a competitor and wanted to play through it because he is that tough. He’s a competitor. Flat out.”
Meyer continued talking about Tebow for another half an hour or so before finally being interrupted by Clinton Sullivan of the Apopka Daily Planet, who questioned the coach on how Tebow’s successor, John Brantley, stacked up to the former Heisman winner.
“Well, right off the bat, I’d have to say he’s more mobile than people give him credit for, though he won’t barrel through the line like Timmy,” Meyer explained. “Other than that, his arm is exceptionally strong and he’s picking up his playbook, but his butt’s not quite as toned and firm as Tim’s was. He has his teammates respect already, but he’s not as good of a kisser. It’s a bit of a mixed bag at this point.”
Despite his trepidation regarding Brantley’s progress, Meyer’s exuberance could be felt across the entire facility. His high-fives were on point and his pullover was wrinkle-free. It was the patented Meyer smirk, though, that provided the biggest sign that Florida’s head man is as relaxed and driven as he’s ever been.
When a reporter asked how Meyer convinced his kids to give up part of their Spring Break to carry around his heart wires, Meyer turned to the kids, looked back at the reporter and smiled like Lane Kiffin just got busted shirtless in a middle school.
“Those are my kids?” Meyer asked.
When the reporter nodded his head, Meyer just stared at them with amazement and a huge grin before chuckling to himself and muttering, “No s--- ” and heading back out to the field to get the Gators ready for another title run.
Yep, things are back to normal in Gainesville. SEC East, consider yourself warned.
*It was also rumored around the Florida campus that the Gators lost to BYU in the first round of the NCAA tournament, 99-92, in an exciting double-overtime affair. However, not a single soul in Gainesville could confirm this to me.
Posted on: March 18, 2010 2:41 pm
Now that my friend is how you start an NCAA Tournament! Three games, three down-to-the-wire finishes and upsets galore. It all began in New Orleans, where Luke Harangody did not score his first point until the last 17 seconds of the game, and Old Dominion upset Notre Dame 51-50. Well "upset" is probably not the correct word as Old Dominion was the more athletic team and played more consistently all season. The long, athletic big men for Old Dominion flummoxed the inside game for Notre Dame and ODU rode some late big plays to get the big win.
The win is huge not just for ODU and the Colonial Conference, but for Blaine Taylor and his moustache. When the "One Blogging Moment" crew went on its road trip earlier this year, we saw Old Dominion play in person and Drew Franklin got an exclusive interview with his moustache. Little did we know at the time, that the moustache would lead the excitement of the first round.
The reality is that the game stunk and scoring 101 total points between the two teams is hideous (especially when the over/under line was 120 and a certain blogger took the over). But it was Madness, came down to a Notre Dame three that rattle out in the end and ended with the finest facial hair in the NCAA Tournament moving on to the next round. What more can you ask?
Posted on: March 17, 2010 8:36 pm
What Spokane, Washington lacks in the sexiness of the other opening round sites (Jacksonville and Oklahoma City are hot!) they make up for in confusing pronounciation and an extremely easy set of mascots. There are four Division 1 schools with an Aggie as their mascot and three of them are playing in Spokane. What this means to you, I'm not sure. It does, however, mean that your wife is going to have trouble when picking her bracket purely based off of mascots. Ladies and gentlemen, get acquainted with the Spokane games...
(4) Purdue vs. (13) Siena Friday 2:30 pm
Overview: Spokane’s first game pits two teams experiencing two opposite ends of the hype machine as the whole world rushes to pick Siena to upset Matt Painter‘s Hummel-less squad. The fourth-seeded Boilermakers remain the 11th-ranked team in the nation and the favored seed. But, after shooting 28% and getting thumped by the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Big 10 semifinals, America seems to be jumping off the bandwagon. And, since they’re facing a Siena team that has won 21 of 23 games and pushed #1 overall seed Louisville to the brink in last year’s tournament, Siena is becoming America’s darling. A potentially wacky set of Spokane games could get started with an upset on Friday. Or not.
Why Siena can win: Because Purdue lost to Northwestern, who lost to Penn State, who lost to Tulane, who lost to LaSalle, who lost to Binghamton, who lost to Rider, who lost to….drumroll please….Siena!!! Plus, we know C.M. Tomlin is wrong about everything, right Siena fans? Who’s with me?
(5) Texas A&M vs. (12) Utah State Friday 4:45
Overview: Texas A&M, your #23 team in the country, enters the NCAA tournament as a mostly unknown team. But, it’s not because they haven’t been trying to make a name for themselves on the national stage. The Aggies (TAMU) played 15 of their 32 games this season against tournament teams, garnering a 7-8 record behind the steady hand of senior guard Donald Sloan (18 ppg). The Utah State Aggies, meanwhile, have found themselves as a popular conversation piece recently, thanks to their at-large berth, given after falling in the WAC title game to New Mexico State. But, the Aggies aren’t a one-year wonder. They’ve gone dancing six times in the last ten years and have more wins in that time period than anyone in the ation besides Duke, Gonzaga and Kansas.
Why Utah State can win: Texas A&M lost to New Mexico, who lost to Oral Roberts, who lost to North Dakota State, who lost to Idaho, who lost to…drumroll please….Utah State! Also, the Aggies (Utah version) shoot the lights out from downtown (four guys over 40%), meaning they could have the right March magic.
(5) Michigan State vs. (12) New Mexico State Friday 7:20
Overview: Spokane’s third set of Aggies, New Mexico State, will face last year’s national runner-up, the Michigan State Spartans. Not surprisingly, Michigan State was known as the Aggies until 1925, which means there is some sort of joke taking place that I can’t quite explain. After looking hit-or-miss for the first third of the season, the Spartans rattled off 10 straight wins before falling at Wisconsin and limping to a 5-5 finish to their season. If Tom Izzo was looking for an easy win to get their tournament legs under them, he didn’t get the right draw. NMSU’s high-scoring duo of Jahmar Young (21 ppg) and Jonathon Gibson (18 ppg) will attack the Spartans for 40 minutes, with Gibson bombing from downtown and Young, the WAC tourney MVP, taking it to the rack. Every tournament offers great 5-12 games. This will likely be one.
Why New Mexico State can win: Michigan State lost to Texas, who lost to Missouri, who lost to Oral Roberts, who lost to Sam Houston State, who lost to Texas State, who lost to who lost to SMU, who lost to UTEP, who lost to….drumroll please….New Mexico State!
(4) Maryland vs. (13) Houston Friday 9:40
Overview: In Greivis Vasquez and Aubrey Coleman, Spokane’s last Friday game offers two of the best, if not the best, point guards in the nation. Coleman led the nation in scoring (on the court, Pitino) and Vasquez led it in flair, fan threats and man crushes. Both guys are the centerpiece of what their teams will look to do and the chances of a late-night highlight fest are quite high. This is a game you don’t want to miss.
Why Houston will win: They won’t. Maryland has Greivis Vasquez! Besides, the Cougars already saved Tom Penders' job. What else do they need?
Posted on: March 17, 2010 5:10 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2010 5:15 pm
Welcome to lovely Jacksonville, Florida -- home of Mediterranean Revival architecture and crippling humidity. It's also, for the weekend at least, home of a pod of first-round matchups for the NCAA Tourney. And there may be some decent battles in the mix there as well, in case you want to check 'em out at Jacksonville's Veterans Memorial Arena. It's either that or catch a show at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre or visit the Tree Hill Nature Center. And I'm assuming that you, like me, have no idea what those things are. So ballgames it is!
Temple (5) vs. Cornell (12), 12:30 PM
I'm going to go ahead and say this, so you'll hear it from me first before you hear it approximately 7,000 times on Friday: Cornell got within five points of beating Kansas in early January. They didn't beat them. They just came close. I say this because you're going to hear this a lot as the reason behind someone saying Cornell is a lot better than you think. That's not to say Cornell's terrible -- seven-foot Foote was the Ivy League defensive player of the year and the Big Red is currently the best three-point shooting team in the country at 43% -- but Temple's riding a nice streak coming into this tournament and the Owls have traditionally had themselves a ball in tournament play. This is the age-old case of a team that's sparking huge right now (Cornell) against a team that's just rollin' (Temple). Plus -- and you're going to hear this a lot too -- Cornell coach Steve Donahue was an assistant coach under Temple Coach Fran Dunphy for ten years at Penn, so he learned everything he knows from his opponent. Unfortunately, this probably ain't the day Luke beats Yoda, so Andy Bernard's boys have an uphill struggle if they want to get out of the first round alive.
Wisconsin (4) vs. Wofford (13), 2:50 PM
Despite the fact that Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan is looking more and more like mascot Bucky Badger every day, he is a great coach and this is a good team. Add in the fact that any one true senior on Ryan's team has, singlehandedly, four times more experience playing in the NCAA tournament than any one player for the Wofford Terriers (this is their first trip) and you have the makings of a.) a dream-crushing or b.) a giant-slaying. Senior wondertwin guards Trevon Huges and Jason Bohannon are tough to beat, but the Terriers have done their homework this year while losing to (and learning from?) strong teams like Pitt, Michigan State and Illinois. They also beat South Carolina. It's easy to make out Wofford to be the "cute, lovable puppies" of this year's tourney, but these puppies can bite. While Wisconsin will grind it out against them as they do with everyone, and stand a strong chance of progressing, it's really tough to deny the feel-good vibe coming to Jacksonville from Wofford. I refuse to be that cynical, and am going to pull for Wofford on this one. No offense, Badger fans.
Duke (1) vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (16), 7:25 PM
So Coach K gets to play Arkansas-Pine Bluff instead of play-in loser Winthrop, but my guess is that he's not worried. The Golden Lions offed the Winthrop Eagles 61-44 last night, and the Blue Devils are doing the right thing by putting Nolan Smith in front of cameras to say that his team's not underestimating a hungry 16-seed, but let's call it like it is -- it's going to take of magic from Arkansas-Pine Bluff a lot for Duke to drop this game. I'll be pulling for A-PB for this game, but just so I don't look like a complete Duke detractor, I'll say it's because Los Angeles-Anaheim Angels' star outfielder Torii Hunter's sister-in-law dates Arkansas-Pine Bluff guard Allen Smith, and Torii Hunter is one of my favorite all-time baseball players. Do it for Torii Hunter, Golden Lions!
Cal (8) vs. Louisville (9), 9:45 PM
A lot of people are already taking sides in a Louisville-Duke second round matchup, but those people clearly are underestimating a Cal team that was denied their rightful Pac-10 Tournament championship and is seeking for someone to pay for that. Although Cal lost the tourney finals to Washington, they were far and away the clear champs of the conference this season and are a lot stronger than you might think. They're coming into this thing with guns blazing. On the other hand, Rick Pitino is a near-expert NCAA Tourney coach and a Syracuse defeat in the past month gained the Cards some nice momentum (not to mention nice word-of-mouth). If the Cards can shut off Cal's all-time leading scorer Jerome Randle and turn up the offense on the Golden Bears, this thing could be a real barn-burner. I'm calling this as one of the best matchups of the first round, and I'll be really surprised if either teams runs away with it.
And that's how things are looking in Jacksonville for Friday. Until then, enjoy eating oranges and sweating through your shirt.
Posted on: March 17, 2010 2:54 pm
1. BYU vs Florida Will Make You Very Happy: It doesnt matter what game is actually the first action of the NCAA Tournament, I look forward to it with eager anticipation. This year it happens to be BYU vs Florida, which means that I will watch the opening tap, comment on how BYU looks "better than I would have thought" and place a "friendly" wager on two teams who if they played during the regular season, I would choose working out on a gazelle over watching. That is just what March does.
2. Florida's Dan Werner Will Have You Shaking Your Head: It is not often that a player is so consistenly awful that you wonder how he not only plays, but is able to function in society. Dan Werner is that player. Dont say you have not been warned.
3. Sam Houston State Will Make Announcers Make Stupid Puns: I probably like Jay Bilas more than any other announcer in America. But as my former assistant in Washington DC used to say about women who wore to much makeup, "he think he cute!" I can guarantee some pun about "remembering the Alamo" or "Sam Houston State wont go down like Sam Houston, etc. He has to do it. Just forgive him.
6. Verne Lundquist Will Mispronounce Names: This is a guarantee, but I dont look at it as a negative. In fact, if you play a drinking game for each name that Verne butchers, you are guaranteed fun and a raucous crowd by 3:30 pm. Just take "Verne" shots (something foreign and exotic) and sit back and smile. It will make Villanova vs Robert Morris much more entertaining.
7. Scottie Reynolds Is Still in School: You know how some guys just seem to be in school forever? Scottie Reynolds is that guy for me. I am fairly sure he played with Ed Pickney and Harold McClain after being recruited by old Rollie. Also on this list, Jon Scheyer, Greivis Vasquez and Luke Harangody.
9. Your Friend Will Tell You He Had Murray State Beating Vanderbilt: Tell him to just shut about it. We all had that game and we also had Siena beating Purdue. You aren't special. In fact, you would have been more special had you picked Vanderbilt, so seriously shut your mouth before I come over there and show you how little I care about your bracket.
11. An Old White Guy Will Tell You He Likes Luke Harangody: Every time I have watched a Notre Dame game, some person (usually old, white and cranky) tells me that Luke Harangody plays "the game the right way" and that he is his favorite player. Sometimes that person is a former Indiana coach and is paid by a national network to call the games. Either way it is sad.
12. You Will Be Fascinated by ODU Coach Blaine Taylor's Moustache: Seriously it is amazing. Black, bushy and extending over his lip. There hasnt been a better one since Magnum P.I. Watch the Old Dominion vs Notre Dame game just for the moustache. You wont be disappointed.
13. "The Butler Did It" Will Be Said by Someone: Every year that Butler plays, someone makes that reference. It is like clockwork. And there hasn't been a working butler in this country outside of the Hamptons and Hollywood in thirty years. This year it will be Spero Dedes. Book it.
14. By The Way, Who is Spero Dedes?: He is calling the games in San Jose. I have never heard of him and dont believe there has been a notable Spero since Vice President Agnew. This must be investigated.
15. UTEP's Derrick Caracter Will Dominate and Frustrate: He is big, he is chubby and he is talented. However Derrick Caracter has burned bridges everywhere he has been, most famously under Rick Pitino at Louisville. At one time he was known as the best high school player in America. He now finds himself at UTEP with a chance to redeem his reputation nationally in this Tournament. What will he do? Probably a bit of everything.
17. Northern Iowa's Ali Farokhmanesh Will Impress: Every year there is that one team that has a player who shoots from 25 feet and gets you out of your chair. This year it is Ali from Northern Iowa. He may be the best shooter in the Tournament and he is barely 6 feet tall. He will hit at least one bomb against UNLV that will make you jump up and say "Wow."
18. A Picture of Jerry Tarkanian Chewing a Towel Will Come on the Screen: You can't show a UNLV game on television without at least one shot of Tark and a towel. Its mandated by Congress.
19. Demarcus Cousins' Attitude Will Be Mentioned: During every Kentucky game played, there will be a skirmish for a loose ball, Demarcus Cousins will be involved and the announcer will say "he has a temper, he needs to calm down." It happens every game, quickly followed by the announcer saying, "if Kentucky is going to win in this Tournament, Cousins will have to keep his cool."
20. You Will Not Watch Marquette vs Washington: Its totally unwatchable basketball. Grind it out, punch each other in the face, game in the 50s. If this game were a movie, it would be anything starring Sandra Bullock, pre-"Blind Side." Avoid at all costs.
21. Having Said That, Marquette is the Lock of the Year: Washington has literally no chance of winning this game...NO CHANCE. Right now the line is a pick 'em...Vegas didnt watch Washington play and neither did you. They won the Pac 10 Tournament, but you, me, Spero Dedes, Dan Werner and Ali from Northern Iowa could have won the Pac 10 Tournament this year. Put it all on Marquette.
23. You Wont Be Able to Tell the Morris Twins Apart: Absolutely impossible to do. Their parents named them Marcus and Markieff, the oddest assortment of names for twins since my high school's Nathan and Nathaniel. Look at the two of them and try to figure out which is which. You know how they say that parents can tell twins apart based on slight physical differences? For the Morris Twins, the only differences are in the tattoos.