Posted on: March 21, 2010 7:40 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2010 7:42 pm

Cornell's Coury finally gets a shot at UK

Thomas Beisner

It’s been widely publicized that Kentucky coach John Calipari made some cuts of the Kentucky roster when he set up residence in Lexington this past summer. Overall, Kentucky’s roster has gotten a more impressive makeover than Kate Gosselin, adding six new highly touted players in exchange for two handfuls of role players and mid-major bench warmers. But, Coach Cal will be the first to tell you that his team is not perfect and, like anyone who has played the field and settled down, there’s always that one that got away.

For Calipari, that elusive babe is Cornell forward Mark Coury and, thanks to Cornell’s 87-69 beatdown of Wisconsin, Cal now has to go face-to-face with the Big Red Machine and his 2.4 ppg Thursday.

Though Coury, a former walk-on starter at Kentucky, left the Wildcats on Billy Gillispie’s watch and long before Coach Cal left Memphis, he factored heavily in his decision to do so.

“Yeah, that was a goof-up that no one really knows about,” Cal admitted in an exclusive interview. “Granted, the money was great and it’s the best job in college basketball without a doubt, but it was Mark Coury that sealed that deal for me. I loved Napoleon Dynamite.”

After telling me several times that his lips were really chapped, Calipari confessed that he spent many nights on the phone with William Wesley discussing the disappointment of finding out Kentucky was a Coury-less program and looking for clarity from basketball‘s most powerful man.

“You know, people always ask me what Wes does for me. For some reason, people don’t understand why we’re so close,” Cal explained. “The truth is, Wes is a licensed therapist and just a great listener. He helped me realize that it wasn’t Napoleon Dynamite that I liked. It was the dancing at the end. It turns out all I had to do was teach John Wall a little dance move and it was like Mark Coury never existed.”

Calipari admitted that he’s gotten past his Coury infatuation, but still looks forward to bumping into the big man again in Syracuse. Coury’s former front court mate Patrick Patterson, though, had different sentiments.

I called Patterson and asked if he was looking forward to playing against the guy he used to share the starting front court with.

“Who?” Patterson asked me.

“I’m Thomas Beisner with CBSSports.com,” I explained.

Patterson interrupted me. “I know who you are. Who the hell is Mark Coury?”

I tried to explain to Patterson for several minutes, describing Coury as white, goofy looking, lacking in talent and a little awkward. He just kept responding with the same thing.

“I know who you are. Who the hell is Mark Coury?”

Despite Patterson’s indifference to the showdown with Cornell’s tenth-leading scorer, the feeling from the opposite side is as passionate and fiery as could be. After scoring four points in the upset of the Badgers, Mark Coury knew what was up next and he went where every student athlete would. Facebook.

As of 6:15 pm, Coury’s status read “Temple ain’t s--t and Wisconsin ain’t s--t. Cornell keep it poppin’ and Kentucky bout 2 get upset like we bangin’ they moms.”

John Calipari and the one that got away are going to finally go dancing with each other Thursday in Syracuse. If Coury’s Facebook status is any indication, the Cats better be ready.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: East
Posted on: March 19, 2010 6:18 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2010 6:25 pm

Mizzou sends Oliver Purnell and his jacket home


If you're going to succeed in March, it's all about what you bring to the tournament.

On one end, Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell packed his bright orange jacket for the big dance.

On the other end, Missouri packed its defense.  And we all know that's all the Tigers really need.

The tenth seeded Missouri Tigers used its stifling defense to defeat the seventh seeded Clemson Tigers 86-78 in a not-so surprising upset.  Missouri forced Clemson into 20 turnovers, including 15 steals, and contained Clemson's star player Trevor Booker for 35 minutes.  Booker scored just 11 points in the loss.

Kim English and Keith Ramsey each scored 20 points to lead Mizzou.  Lawrence Bowers added 15 points of his own to back them up.  

Missouri advances to play West Virginia in a very winnable game for the Tigers.  As long as they bring the defensive pressure, Missouri is a dangerous team.

For Clemson, it's the end of the road, obviously.  Oliver Purnell and his boys will return to South Carolina until next season.

As for the sport coat, it goes back into the NCAA's "Coaching Attire Closet of Fame."  That's right, the NCAA has an actual closet that houses college basketball's most distinct outfits.  Purnell's sport coat will join the likes of Bruce Pearl's orange jacket, Sidney Lowe's red sport coat, Pat Knight's sweater vest, and Mike Bray's t-shirt.

Bob Huggins mock turtleneck could be joining them very soon.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 19, 2010 6:07 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2010 7:22 pm

Potential Cinderella Killed by Badgers


Unfortunately for the Wofford Terriers, it seems that tournament magic was first come, first serve. And Thursday there was a run on upsets. 

And so it was in Jacksonville this afternoon that good old-fashioned experience won out over fresh-faced excitement and Bo Ryan's seasoned Badgers dispatched the Wofford Terriers 53-49. The Wofford crew was in the tournament for the first time ever -- and although the first half looked rough for the newcomers, coach Mike Young must have really fired them up at halftime as Jamar Diggs led with 13 points and it looked like an entirely different Terriers team in the second half.

I'll cop to being enamored with the Wofford storyline going into this game, but I thought some seeming cockiness from the Terriers' Cameron Rundles (playing to the crowd, gesturing the number one sign and generally looking like he was trying to put together his celebratory Sportscenter reel) kinda soured the event. The more the clock ticked down and the more Wofford closed in on Wisconsin, eventually making it a one-point back-and-forther, the more I felt like Wofford was believing their own upset hype. If they'd been here before, they might realize that you just can't expect the magic to show up, especially against a Wisconsin team that, every year, just quietly puts their heads down and trudges forward until they get stopped or win. As a result, the Badgers' stellar Jon Leuer and Trevon Hughes, netting 20 and 19 points respectively, looked as if to say "Look guys, this was cute, but if you're gonna get snarky about it we're just gonna shut this thing down." A careless Wofford turnover with 4 seconds left sealed the deal, and Bo Ryan and company head on to face the Big Red of Cornell (or is it the Cornell "Hugging Bears," as their logo would suggest?) on Sunday.

Sure would have been trippy to see a Cornell/Wofford matchup, but it would have also felt like we were all living in Bizarro world. And I think we're all too tired and drunk on beer and basketball to be prepared for that kind of mindtrick right now. Thanks, Wisconsin, from bringing this thing back to the real world a bit. 

Tonight's game brings more opportunity for some surprises. Let's see if there's any pixie dust left in this tourney. I'm willing to bet there is.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 19, 2010 3:31 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2010 3:44 pm

Cornell Beats Temple, Solves Math Problems


Fully utilizing the principles set forth by Heisenberg and Planck, the Cornell Big Red somehow today put together a easy-looking win against Fran Dunphy's Temple Owls (78-65) to become the first Ivy League win since a 1998 Princeton victory. And the truth is that Temple never really seemed to even stand a chance, with Cornell's lead at a whopping nineteen at one point in the second half. The Big Red then stuck around for a little while after the final buzzer to help Temple with some chemistry homework. 

I think we can safely say no one really expected this today. Some of the take-aways from the game include:

-This Cornell team is so generically white that I kept wondering which one of them was going to turn into Teen Wolf. Remember every basketball team in any movie in the 1980's? Cornell looks just like every one of those teams. They're all very regular-looking, there aren't a lot of tattoos or headbands. My guess is that the "bad boy" on this team is the guy who leaves two buttons at the top of shirt open.

-The student becomes the master. Cornell Coach Steve Donahue was an apprentice for Dunphy for ten years at Penn. Looks like he may have been taking some notes. Donahue came into the dojo today like the final reel of a Bruce Lee movie, ready to take out his former mentor at all costs. And once again I eat crow -- delicious, delicious crow -- for stating yesterday that there's no way this was happening today. I guess I, like many of you, underestimated this team. Still, it blows my mind to think that there's a possibility of a Wofford/Cornell matchup in the second round. I'm sure the Cornell players, however, can tell you those odds and probability if you hand them pencil and paper.

-If you didn't watch this game, believe it or not Temple actually played very well. This Cornell team just beat them fair and square. If Wisconsin drops to the Wofford Terriers, get ready for a super-stylized, over-produced television piece about the two teams before the game on Sunday. And then get ready to watch the most unlikely NCAA game you'll ever see. 

For today, the Big Red basks in the glory of a first round win, even if their celebration will be cut short by a 4:00 Latin study group. Congrats, Cornell. You earned it.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Cornell, East, Temple
Posted on: March 19, 2010 1:17 am

Grading My Day One Predictions


You know how before every big event writers make predictions as to what is going to happen?  Then you read them, know they are wrong, but after the event is over, they say nothing about their mistakes?  Not here.  I made 25 bold predictions about Thursday's NCAA Tournament games and now it is time to Grade my 25 Predictions:

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.

VerdictIt made us all happy.  Not only was it great to get started, but the game itself was terrific, going into Double Overtime.  CORRECT

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.

Verdict:  He was awful throughout the game and dropped some big rebounds in both overtimes.  CORRECT

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.

Verdict:  Jay Bilas nearly got through the entire game without doing it to us, but then at the end he mentioned that SHS would be "doing it or Davy Crockett."  Thats all it takes.  CORRECT

4.  You Will be Angry About Which Game You are Getting Assigned at Some Point During the Day:  One of the great parts of the first round of the NCAA Tournament is the fact that there are four games going on at any given moment.  However what is assured is that the game you will want to see wont be on wherever you happen to live.  There is really nothing you can do about this except (a) go watch at a bar, (b) watch the Mega March Madness feature on CBSSports.com or (c) hope that Greg Gumbel will interrupt the game you are watching with updates.  What wont work is throwing your remote at the screen at cursing at Seth Davis.  Trust me, I have tried.

Verdict:  This happened to me all day, but as explicitly awful when my local feed cut away from the Marquette-Washington final to show the tip of Tennessee-San Diego State.  I was fit to be tied.  CORRECT

5.   David Koresh's Name Will Come Up in your Bar:  At some point during the telecast, they will mention that Baylor is in Waco, Texas.  Then someone in your group will say, "how do I know Waco?"  Then Branch Dividians are brought up and David Koresh will be mentioned.  Just go ahead and do it early and then you will look like the smart one of the group.

Verdict:  It got brought up at my table three times, and we argued about cults and who ends up joining them.  Easy score.  CORRECT

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.

Verdict:  It stated with Ekpe Udoh and it never stopped afterwards.  We love Verne and his lack of ability with names is a tradition unlike any other.  CORRECT

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.

Verdict:  Kind of a gimme.  CORRECT

8.  Murray State Will Beat Vanderbilt:  This is a given. Everyone has it in their bracket.  Just mark it down.

Verdict:  There was no doubt.  Play this game ten times and Murray wins five.  They are just as good, but in a differenct conference.  That is two straight losses as a #4 seed by Vanderbilt if you are scoring at home.  CORRECT

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.

Verdict:  EVERYONE said this to me today, including one national sports writer from another site.  I hung up on him.  CORRECT

10.  Frank Martin Will Scare Your Children:  Kansas State coach Frank Martin is clinically insane.  Just watch him.  He is an exact twin of the gym teacher on "Beavis and Butthead" and he looks at any point like the vein that is piercing through his skin will simply burst and cause his head to explode, thus forcing Teddy Valentine to give him a technical foul.  It is strange to remember, but he coached Michael Beasley.  How in the world did they not kill each other?

Verdict:  Not only did he scare children, he scared the North Texas players into mediocrity.  CORRECT

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.

 Verdict:  Harangody didnt score until there were 20 seconds left. No one could have been impressed.  WRONG

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.

Verdict:  It is still sultry and amazing.  His moustache was the talk of the bar and it moves onto the next round.  Slam dunk.  CORRECT

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.

Verdict:  The announcers in the game avoided it...but then Rece Davis said it during ESPN highlights.  So close, but yet so far.  CORRECT

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.

Verdict:  Not really a prediction, but I really liked Spero.  He was a revelation to me today and I thought he did a great job.  CORRECT

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.

Verdict:  Emblematic of his career...12 points in the first half and then UTEP dominated in the second half.  CORRECT

16.  You Will Hate Whatever Commercials Are Playing:  If you are a true fan, and I know you are or you would not be reading this article, then you will watch every moment of the First and Second Round.  If you do, you will hate whatever commercials are on the air by the end of the weekend.  I still remember the Enterprise Rent-a-Car one where the woman asks if she should take "red or black" lingerie on their trip and her husband gets a goofy smile and says "both."  The first time I saw it, I had a crush on the woman...by the 500th, I wanted her to take the lingerie and strangle her husband, while the Enterprise Rent-a-Car SUV ran over them both. 

Verdict:  "Repo Men" and the Miller Lite commercials are already bad, but none as bad as the Southwest Airlines "shirts off" commercial.  Pull it now.  CORRECT

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."

Verdict:  My prediction of the day.  I said he would hit a big shot and he hits the game winner with 2 seconds left  I met Ali in Cedar Falls earlier this year and he said to me "I will hit one big one in the NCAA this March."  He did it.  CORRECT

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.

Verdict:  They showed Tark in the second half.  Bam  CORRECT

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." 

Verdict:  It took less than fifteen minutes before Jay Bilas brought it up.  CORRECT

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.

Verdict:  Biggest clunker for me.  Ended up being a great game that came down to the end.  I hope you watched it.  WRONG

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.

Verdict:  By lock, I meant "it could happen."  WRONG

22.  A Shot of John Thompson Will Come on the Screen:  I dont mean JT III, who coaches Georgetown now, but the elder Thompson.  And I will continue to be amazed at how large that man is.  6'8" (at least), probably 325 pounds and a towering figure like none other.  The thought of him even scares me right now.

Verdict:  Never happened...color me shocked.  WRONG

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.

Verdict:  I found out after I wrote this that the Morris Twins actually have the SAME tattoos as well.  Slam dunk...had no idea which was which.  CORRECT

24. Rick Barnes Is Not Coaching:  Rick Barnes has not coached a game in the last two months of this season.  Actually let me strike that...Rick Barnes has not coached a game WELL in the last two months of this season.  On Thursday night versus Wake Forest, he will be on the sideline talking, but rest assured what he is doing can't be quantified as "coaching."  His players aren't listening, no plays are being executed and chaos is reigning.  But be calm, this is normal.

Verdict:  Some things are meant to be.  Barnes coached poorly, had the wrong guys with the ball and choked it away late. So predictable it wasnt even fair.  CORRECT

25.  The Night Will End with the Biggest Upset of the Day:  San Diego State is going to beat Tennessee.  The Fighting Headbands from Knoxville will fall on a late three by Steve Fisher's bunch and Bruce Pearl will walk into the locker room dejected, ending the year with yet another disappointing postseason. 

Verdict: Close, but no cigar.  Vols hold on late and get the win for Brucie.  WRONG

20 of 25...not too bad.  I hate missing Marquette, but the Ali prediction makes up for it.  Great first day of action and I hope you saw every minute. 

Category: NCAAB
Tags: East, Midwest, South, West
Posted on: March 18, 2010 11:55 pm

Fifteen For Friday: Guarantees For Day Two


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 10:42 pm

Cats Roll 100-71 over East Tennessee State


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 17, 2010 5:10 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2010 5:15 pm

Previewing Jacksonville: Friday's Games


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.

Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com