Posted on: March 23, 2010 3:30 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2010 10:47 pm

West Region: Your Human Interest Heroes

Thomas Beisner

This is the time of the year when things get serious. Sure, there will be plenty of competition on the court, but the real battle will be on the media front as all the big guys compete for all the human interest stories that they can find. If your emotions aren’t jerked around like Tiger Woods in a Perkins, then what good is March Madness? 

So, rather than read another Mark Coury/Kentucky story today, here are a couple of feel-good stories you can brace yourself for in the coming days:

Gerry McNamara (Syracuse): Carmelo Anthony will always get a hero’s welcome in Syracuse after a miraculous run to the title in 2003. It’s another member of that storied recruiting class, though, that has the hearts of Orange fans everywhere – and he’s back in town. After a career that started with a title and ended with his coach defending him against those who called him overrated, Gerry McNamara’s basketball career continued to be up-and-down after leaving Syracuse as he bounced from Europe to the NBDL to NBA summer league to even being the top pick in the USBL Draft. He was even a passenger on the USAirways flight that crashed in the Hudson River . So, no one could blame him if he wanted a little stability in his life.

So, in the fall of 2009, McNamara decided it was time to return to where everyone knows his name and signed back up with the Cuse and Coach Jim Boeheim – this time as a graduate assistant. And he brought magic with him. How else would you explain what happened in the Carrier Dome this year? This team lost three star players, lost to LeMoyne and then tore through the regular season. Coaching? Player development? Please. It’s that old McNamara Magic.

1-7 FA (Kansas State): Sports are often compared to war (see: Winslow, Kellen), though no one in their right mind would ever classify them as such. But, if you were pressed to pick out a school that best represents a tough military mindset, it would be Kansas State.  And, with good reason. 

Frank Martin's team formed a partnership with the Field Artillery Battalion of nearby Fort Riley Military Base in 2008 when he took his young team to the base for a team-building day of full-on military training sessions, including firing guns and cruising around in Humvees. A few weeks later, the 1-7 FA returned the favor and sent troops to go through a Frank Martin workout and a bond was formed. When the unit was deployed to Iraq, players sent care packages and started wearing a patch on their jerseys every game honoring the soldiers .  They also started forcefully taking over rival Big 12 cities with a tough brand of basketball that was a little Frank Martin and a little Fort Riley. 

Bobby Plump (Butler): Though his name might make you assume that he’s using an assistant coach’s tickets to sit front-row at a Kansas game, Bobby Plump is actually possibly the only true Mr. Basketball. He is as pure of an American basketball story that exists and I guarantee you know who he is. Even if you don’t. Plump is a 6’1”, 150-pound 73-year Indianapolis restaurant owner who is probably known to those outside of the Hoosier State by another name. Jimmy Chitwood.

In his younger years, Plump was the sharp-shooting hero of 1954 Indiana high school basketball state tournament champion Milan High School, which inspired the greatest film of all-time and made every nobody think they had a shot to be the hero long before Freddie Prinze Jr. was around. And, after he and Milan beat Oscar Robertson in the playoffs and he a state-championship winning buzzer beater at Hinkle Field House, Plump decided to just play his entire college career there as a Butler Bulldog. After winning team MVP honors in 1957 and 1958, Plump settled into the real world. But, if you’re lucky, you can still catch the Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer at his restaurant, “Plump’s Last Shot”.

Sister Rose Ann Fleming (Xavier): Frequently in sports (and life in general), the only time you look to a cleric, it’s because you’re in a little too deep and you need some spiritual guidance and some prayers to be answered. At Xavier, Sister Rose Ann Fleming makes sure it never reaches that point.

As the Musketeers’ Academic Advising Coordinator, Fleming has avoided losses as deftly as Xavier’s football team, which, as the school proudly boasts in its cafeteria, is undefeated since 1973. Under her watch, every senior basketball player of the last 22 years has earned a college diploma and, in 1998, Xavier had a graduation rate of 100%. She’s already starting to get a little media attention this week, making her an early favorite to be the subject of Sister Act III and put on a basketball clinic slightly more impressive than when Seth Davis practiced with Michigan State.  But, rest assured, that's not what it's all about with Sister Rose Ann Fleming.  Although, she looks like she can dance.  And I know she can beat Seth Davis in basketball.

So, make sure when you saddle up for some college basketball this weekend, you grab the tissues too.  It's going to an emotional and likely repetitive ride. 

Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
Posted on: March 21, 2010 12:30 am
Edited on: March 21, 2010 12:36 am

K-State knocks off BYU, named King of Kansas

Thomas Beisner

On any night, beating a top-20 team and keeping one of the nation's most prolific scorers relatively in check is cause for celebration.  When it's in the NCAA tournament, it's becomes an even bigger deal.  When it comes just a couple of hours after the consensus #1 team in the country, who just happens to be a rival and a squad that beat you three times this season, is knocked out at the hands of a no-name team from Cedar Falls, Iowa, it's the type of day the Kansas State Wildcats will likely never forget.

With BYU guard Jimmer Fredette and his rapping brother emerging as the sexy Saturday story and with Kansas and Villanova going down in the afternoon, Kansas State again appeared to be a secondary team of interest.  Much as they were on a Thursday full of upsets, Frank Martin's team was again anonymous for the most part in the eyes of the nation.

Not anymore.

Thanks to Jacobham Pullen, his beard and a career-high 34 points, Kansas State sent a nationally televised message to the nation (they're for real) and their fellow Kansans (they run the state - for now) Saturday night.  Throughout this season, the Wildcats' success has a pretty consistent trend to go as Pullen's shooting does.  When he's off, they struggle.  And when he's on like he was against the Cougars (7-12 on threes, 11-11 from the line), they're nearly impossible to beat.  And Jacobham knows it.

"Sometimes people forget how good we are," Pullen said in a fake interview.  "We think we can beat any team on any night, but we like to let our play do the talking for us.  So far that has worked for us.  Maybe we might have gotten more attention if I would have called out John Wall in the preseason like Sherron (Collins) did, but that's not my style.  Plus, that's incredibly stupid."

In Oklahoma City Saturday night, the game of Pullen and his teammates spoke loudly as they beat BYU in every single statistical category, finding a potent offensive attack to match their stoutly physical defense.  Denis Clemente, the fastest player in the tournament not playing in New Orleans Saturday night, put in 19 while Wally Judge added 8 points, 8 rebounds and dished out two testicle tattoos on the foreheads of BYU players.

Frank Martin and company will now move on to play the winner of third-seeded Pitt and sixth-seeded Xavier next weekend in Salt Lake City, where you could assume they won't receive a warm welcome.  It probably won't bother the Wildcats too much, though.  After all, they're already the kings of Kansas. 
Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
Posted on: March 20, 2010 12:33 am
Edited on: March 20, 2010 12:50 am

Michigan State upsets Marvin Menzies

Thomas Beisner

After fifth-seeded Michigan State entered the half up 12 against the twelfth seeded New Mexico State Aggies, it appeared that the Spartans were ready to coast and save their legs for the winner of Maryland-Houston.

New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies wasn't having any of that, though.

After trying to inspire his team late in the first half by drawing a technical, Menzies went back to what has worked for him throughout his entire career, which has included stops as an assistant for Rick Pitino, Lon Kruger and Henry Bibby. 

He told his team that he was Elvin from the Cosby Show.

Given his distinct resemblence, Menzies has been able to pull of the trick throughout the years, sometimes using the "I went to Princeton so I'm smart" aspect of the character and sometimes using the hardcore chauvinistic personality that Elvin used so ineffectively in early episodes.  Tonight, though, he tried something different.  He used motivation and name-dropping.

"When I decided I was going to open that shop in Brooklyn and stop going to medical school," Menzies told his team, "Dr. Huxtabull told me that it wasn't about money or making anyone happy but myself.  He told me to look inside.  I urge you to do the same, gentlemen."

And, with that, the Aggies took to the court in the second half and unleashed a new inside-out attack, feeding the ball to Hamidu Rahman and Troy Gillenwater.  All of a sudden, that 12-point lead became only two at the 15:00 mark.  Then, five minutes later, the Aggies had a one-point lead and the back-and-forth tussle between the two teams would begin.

It was basketball in it's most exciting form.  Two teams with their post-season lives on the line, dueling each other with baskets and pushing their teammates for defensive stops.  We were destined for a great finish capped by a basketball play and not an officiating call, right?  Right?

With Michigan State seemingly in control, up four, with only 24 seconds remaining, New Mexico State grabbed an offensive board and kicked it out to Gillenwater, who drained a three.  The lead was now 1 with 24 seconds to play.

On the ensuing Spartan possession, Gillenwater fouled Raymar Morgan, a 65% free throw shooter.  Morgan stepped up to the line and rattled home the first before missing the second, giving the Aggies one last shot, down two with six seconds left. 

Or so they thought.

New Mexico State was called for a lane violation, which may or may not have actually happened, and Morgan got another shot.  In typical fashion, he knocked it down.  Down three with six seconds left, the Aggies missed two more attempts from downtown and Michigan State enjoyed a sigh of relief as they advanced to the round of 32.

Marvin Menzies?  Well, let's just say he left that cool, collected Elvin character behind.  New Mexico State's coach screamed at the officials, stomped around and , after briefly shaking hands with Tom Izzo and his kids, started up again.  There weren't enough pudding pops in the world to calm down his emotion. 

But, after the game, Menzies was again calm and fluttering between reality and fiction.  When asked about why he was able to finally calm down, he danced around the answer for awhile before mentioning his wife and a "Claire", who he said taught him a good, wholesome lesson in his younger years.  After much prodding, the NMSU SID provided CBSSports.com with this video, apparently showcasing Menzies' lesson learned.

Michigan State will face the winner of the Houston - Maryland game on Sunday.  Marvin Menzies will resume to getting bossed around by Sonjia.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
Posted on: March 19, 2010 9:34 pm

Jamie Dixon Keeps Pittsburgh Rolling


When you are one of the top three seeds in a particular region, you hope or one thing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament...to be ignored.  For the top three seeds, the only way your game will be of interest to a national audience is if you are losing or taken to the wire by an underdog team.  Nationally, fans cared about Georgetown's game with Ohio and Villanova's nailbiter with Robert Morris. Those games mattered, whereas Kansas State, Kansas and Kentucky's games were probably never seen by you and you might even struggle to remember who they played.  But for those teams, that means job well done.

Today, Jamie Dixon and Pittsburgh were completely ignored.  I sat at a bar with the expressed goal of covering Pittsburgh's 89-66 win over Oakland for this site and somehow I found myself watching virtually none of the game.  But for Jamie Dixon, that means the game went exactly as planned and his team is playing well.  Pittsburgh went on a run midway through the first half, broke out a double-digit lead and never looked back, taking the fun out of the game for all but the diehard Pittsburgh fans.

However that has been what Dixon has done all season.  There is likely no team in the country that is consistently more undervalued than Pittsburgh, and if you were to ask most college basketball fans to name the best programs in the country, the Panthers would almost never cross anyone's lips.  But they came within a hair of the Final Four last year, lost virtually all their scoring and rebounding, and somehow came into the NCAA Tournament again as a #3 seed.  And while the #2 seeded Villanova and #3 seeded Georgetown of the Big East both threw up stinkers last night, Dixon bored America with a game that took Oakland's will early and would not give it back.

So Pittsburgh now moves onto play Xavier in what will be one of the best games of the second round.  As of yet, you may not have seen Pitt play at any point this season and unless you were forced, you didnt see them today.  But on Sunday, take a gander at Jamie Dixon's squad as they go for their fourth straight Sweet Sixteen.  My guess is that, unfortunately for Jamie Dixon, it will not be boring. 

Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
Posted on: March 19, 2010 3:03 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2010 3:09 pm

Jordan Crawford Drains the Tub


Well the early games haven't quite thrilled like those on Thursday, and have left us all a bit disappointed.  The first three games of the day were decided by a combined 245 points and none of them classified as anything except "turn the channel and look for a rerun of Law and Order " television.  But that doesnt mean that we here at One Blogging Moment didnt watch it to try and keep you folks informed. 

I am covering the Milwaukee regions, which meant watching the battle between Auburn Coach Tubby Smith and "we know they are good, but we don't watch them play," Xavier.  The game quickly turned into the Jordan Crawford Show , as the brother of former Tubby Smith player, Joe Crawford, torched the Gophers for 28 points. Crawford made five three-pointers and dominated on the offensive end of the floor.  Smith had no answer for Crawford and Xavier cruised in the second half, maintaining a 6-10 point lead throughout.

Now comes the fun stuff.  This morning, Dennis Dodd reported on this very site that Tubby Smith was close to becoming the Auburn head basketball coach , a move that would immediately shake the balance of power in the SEC West.  Smith has made no secret to those around him that he has been disappointed about the state of the Minnesota program and he feels that promises that were made to him about facilities and the like have not been met.  Auburn is opening a new arena next year and wants a big name to christen its arrival.  Smith would be that big name and could give Auburn the bump it needs to become relevant again.

As for Xavier, it moves on and becomes quite the load for any team it may face, especially if Crawford is playing the way he did today.  Joe Crawford had the hype during his time at Kentucky and besides one famous dunk over Lebron James, Joradan has often been overlooked.  That may change today, as Crawford joins our man Jimmer from BYU as the early star of the NCAA Tournament.

Oh yeah, Saul Smith is losing his hair...badly.  I feel that needs to be investigated.

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