Posted on: March 26, 2010 4:37 pm

Gus Johnson Gets His Freak On


To get you ready for tonight's action, how about some memories of last night's Xavier-Kansas State finish from the mouth of the great Gus Johnson:

Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
Posted on: March 26, 2010 2:34 pm
Edited on: March 26, 2010 2:40 pm

Looking back at 1964...

Thomas Beisner

Thanks to a third-consecutive game of sharp-shooting from Denis Clemente and powerful scoring pops from Curtis Kelly and Denis Clemente, Kansas State inched themselves closer to their first Final Four trip since 1964.  Back then, the Wildcats were led by Phil Jackson BFF Tex Winter and lost in the national semifinals to UCLA, who would eventually win their first (yes, first) NCAA title.  So, as you might suspect, things are quite different now than they were back then.  So, for all of you Kansas State fans who have been in a coma or trapped somewhere without the internet or television (I believe there are those places somwhere in Kansas) since 1964, here is what you need to know to makea smooth transition into this weekend's game with Butler:

What it was like then: United States Surgeon General Luther Leonidas Terry reports that smoking may be hazardous to one's health.
What it’s like now: DeMarcus Cousins is going to murder someone if they tackle him one more time.

 What it was like then: The United States was officially hit with “Beatlemania”.
What it’s like now: College basketball enjoyed the Jacob Pullen beard, the John Wall dance, Lucas O’Rear’s O’Reariness and the sensual appeal of The Samhan.

What it was like then: Muhammad Ali beat Sonny Liston for his first title.
What it’s like now: Ali Farokhmanesh beat the world.

What it was like then: Philadelphia was the site of a massive race riot.
What it’s like now: Syracuse hosted UK and Cornell.

What it was like then: Mary Poppins made its world premiere in Los Angeles.
What it’s like now: Kansas played like a bunch of British nannies in Oklahoma City.

What it was like then: Thieves stole the head of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen.
What it’s like now: Ali Farokhmanesh ripped out the hearts of UNLV and Kansas fans.

What it was like then: Martin Luther King became the youngest winner of the Nobel Prize.
What it’s like now: Brad Stevens became the only coach to beat a #1 seed before puberty.

What it was like then: Australia won two out of seven basketball games at the Olympics.
What it’s like now: Australia won two of two NCAA tournament games under their new alias, St. Mary’s.

What it was like then: President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, abolishing racial segregation.
What it’s like now: Coach K still recruits like it’s July 1, 1964.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
Posted on: March 26, 2010 2:23 pm
Edited on: March 26, 2010 2:25 pm

Who's Coming Out of the South?

Welcome to Houston, everyone -- also known as "Space City" -- for two great matchups from the Southern Region of the bracket tonight. I can tell you're not from here, because your car doesn't have giant cattle horns attached to the grill, so let me break down the head-to-heads going down at Reliant Stadium this very evening:


Jim Nantz, with his matinee idol good looks, and Clark Kellogg, with his interesting pronunciations of everyday words, will be on-hand tonight for the games in Houston, opening up with surprise Saint Mary's taking on the number three-seeded Baylor Bears. From a logistical standpoint, this should be a Baylor lean -- but the Gaels have astounded everyone in this tournament (for my money, they've been the most consistently strong cinderella in a wacky, wacky season), and I'm not sure that Saint Mary's isn't in some circles a bit of a favorite here. The Bears are good, but the Gaels are constantly proving that they're better than you thought they were. 

So is there anything we should know? Yes, actually.

Watch out for Tweety Carter, running the show from behind the scenes. He's not going to be a leading scorer. He's not going to blow you away with assists or rebounds. In fact, if you look at the box scores you may not even know he's a major factor But watch any amount of Baylor playing basketball and you'll see that Carter is the engine that makes this team run. He's a huge leader on this team as far as setting the pace and keeping his teammates pumped, and that means a lot for a team. He's quiet and consistent and his teammates look to him often. If he's taken off the court, it's a step in the right direction for the Gaels to diffuse the Baylor bomb.

Omar Samhan isn't going to be the biggest man out there. The Saint Mary's center is going to have his hands full with a tall Baylor team tonight, including 6'10 Ekpe Udoh, 6'10" Anthony Jones and 7-foot Josh Lomers. We've seen how Samhan can run roughshod on a shorter team, but tonight we'll see how he goes head-to-head with some other big men, which should be fun. 

Mickey McConnell is shooting 52% from three-point land right now. Yes, I hate the phrase "three-point land," too. But Samhan has a great supporting cast, including point guard Mickey McConnell, who has been a great backup to Samhan thus far. The two make a great tandem that brings a lot of firepower to the battle, and Baylor needs to double-tier their game plan to effectively cover whoever's "on" tonight. Because one of them, if not both of them, will be. Bet on that.

Baylor has the best names in the Tournament this year. You have to love a team that not only has a Tweety, a Quincy Acy, a LaceDarius and a Dragan, but at the same time has a Fred, a Nolan and an Oscar. That beats Saint Mary's Bens, Matthews and Tims any day.

Scott Drew is a good coach, if widely unliked. Baylor's coach has been slammed by Rick Barnes for negative recruiting tactics and rumors abound that he's not even incredibly liked by his own staff. Drew himself even has said that he'd do things differently as far as his approach to staff and colleagues if he had it to do over again. The Dallas Morning News even compared him to Eddie Haskell. That said, he's done very well for Baylor and if the Bears do well in this tourney, Drew could get some offers elsewhere. Although we know what happened the last time a semi-unliked coach from Texas had a great stint and took a major league job. How'd that work out, Kentucky?

The Bottom Line: If Baylor thinks this is in the bag, they're wrong. The Gaels are cruising on adrenaline big-time and Omar Samhan's tweets from this week not only hit on Taylor Swift and referenced GTL-ing, they also gave a glimpse into a team that knows they have to work hard but doesn't see why they shouldn't make the final four. Could be a bare-knuckler in Houston tonight between these two if Saint Mary's trademark scrappiness shows up again.

DUKE vs. PURDUE (9:57 PM)

On one hand, Duke's not exactly a surprise to be where they are right now. On the other, I don't know that anyone expected Purdue to really have handled the absence of gamechanger Robbie Hummel this well. So what happens when the Boilermakers and the Blue Devils go at it tonight?

Purdue's number could be up. Let's be honest, the Boilermakers have more than exceeded expectations in this tournament after losing Hummel (they're an impressive 5-2 since they lost him in February), especially since one of the major storylines coming into this tournament was the oft-echoed -- and as it turns out, ultimately wrong -- "Purdue's no good without Robbie Hummel." JaJuan Johnson and Chris Kramer in patricular are really stepping up. That said, they're really going to have to scale the wall to beat a Duke team that seems to have that trademark Duke NCAA Tourney luck and magic this season. Purdue shouldn't be counted out, but this may be the first game this tournament where they're gonna wish they had Hummel. How they cope with that is up to them.

Duke's stats stack the chips in their favor. Statistically, Duke is 17-1 at neutral sites over the last two seasons, and in NCAA Tourney play they're 10-4 against the Big Ten. Coach K always has his boys ready to play in the postseason, and this team was already rollin' ("stroking" as Billy Raftery might creepily say) coming in to this tournament. They're going to be a handful for the Boilermakers tonight, but this Purdue team is constantly finding ways to keep themselves on top.

This will be a classic offense vs. defense game. Just as some baseball games are hyped as "pitchers vs. hitters," so this game sits in a very black and white place. Purdue's playing great defense right now, a sense heightened by necessity after losing Hummel. But Duke's offense is a complete blitzkrieg right now. The victor of this game could come down to as simple as whichever team's doing its thing better. If Purdue's defense cracks or Duke's offense slips up, this game could change at a moment's notice.

Luke Wilson and the Ivan Brothers will, once again, wear you out. Yes, we get it. The fictional Ivan Brothers are really good -- but so unconvential! And yes, we also get that Luke Wilson's phone must not be ringing a lot these days (even with his amazing at&t plan). Every year there's something at every commercial break that you just start tuning out, and this year it's these guys.

The Bottom Line: Duke has the edge, but Purdue for some reason seems to have a lot to prove, and that's a big motivator for them right now. If their gas doesn't run out, they could give the Blue Devils a scare -- but they're going to need to be at the top of their game. 

Either way, Houston's going to be a good time tonight. Join me, won't you?
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 26, 2010 1:54 pm

Duke vs. Purdue - Five Random Thoughts


Before they tipoff tonight at 9:57ish, I'd like to share with you my five random thoughts on the Duke-Purdue game.

Duke is getting no love.  Every year the talk is Duke, Duke, Duke, and Duke.  However this year, no one is talking about the Blue Devils and it's arguably one of their best seasons this decade.  So where's the love?  Hell, I almost forgot they were still in the tournament.  Even Garry Parrish wants to know what's up.

Chris Kramer can't guard everyone.  Kramer is Purdue's top defender so whoever he is matched up with is in for a long night.  But, who will that be?  Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith are all capable of a scoring a lot of points and Kramer can't guard all three of them.

Where are you Jon Scheyer?  Scheyer scored only seven points on 1 for 11 shooting in Duke's last game against California.  He had a rather quiet 13 points in the first round blowout against Arkansas Pine-Bluff.  If Duke wants to keep cruising through the tournament, they'll need to find the Jon Scheyer that scored 18 points per game in the regular season.

Purdue won't go away.  A lot of people (myself included) wrote Purdue off as soon as Robbie Hummel went down with the season ending knee injury.  But here we are, in the second weekend of the tournament, and the Boilermakers are still in it.  This team is winning games with hustle and intensity, and that's a dangerous combination for opponents.

I miss Gene Keady.  Random, I know.  Kudos to Matt Painter for the job he is doing in West Lafayette but Keady's hair was awesome.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 26, 2010 2:03 am

Cats Defense Crushes the Cornell Dream


Well that dream is now shattered.  All week long every lazy columnist in America wrote the same article.  Cornell, the loveable Ivy upstarts would be playing bad 'ol Kentucky and their future NBA talents.  Wouldnt it be great if they won and got a victory for the little guy and all that is good?  As played out as the storyline was, it got the attention of Kentucky and they came out and exerted their will on Cornell, dominating the Big Red 62-45.

Cornell came out early and took a 10-2 lead, but soon thereafter, the Big Blue put on a defensive performance that is likely the best we have seen in college basketball this season.  John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and the rest of the Cats closed out on every shooter and made it impossible for Cornell to get open looks.  And when an Ivy team isnt able to take open shots and has to beat you off the dribble...well that is an Ivy team that will not last long.  The Cats held Cornell to 6 points over the last 15 minutes of the second half, took a 16 point lead to the locker room and coasted on to a rather comfortable victory.

After the game, the Kentucky players noted that the media hype of the loveable underdogs motivated them.  John Wall said, "we knew everyone wanted us to lose and I was ok with that.  If people dont like you, there isnt anything you can do except go and prove them wrong."  And prove them wrong they did.  Kentucky was clearly the superior team on the court during the entire game, laying waste to those (like PTI's Mike Wilbon) who called the game a "pick em."

It is however a great season for Cornell, as their 8 seniors leave a great legacy and an amazing Tournament run.  Kentucky gets West Virginia next.  Its Huggy Bear vs Calipari, two of the three or four most disliked coaches nationally going for the Final Four. Defense will rule and you can guarantee the winner will be tough as nails.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: East
Posted on: March 26, 2010 1:08 am
Edited on: March 26, 2010 10:06 am

The only losers from KSU - Xavier game: IU fans

Thomas Beisner

It took two overtimes, just under 750 lead changes and more shots than 50 Cent, but, when the final buzzer sounded, Kansas State held the lead and earned the right to play Horizon League power Butler on Saturday for a trip to the Final Four.  What took place in the late game in Salt Lake City turned out to be one of the most exciting games in tournament history and had people from coast-to-coast rooting for it to keep going.

Except Indiana basketball fans.

Assuming they can remember what the post-season is, Hoosier fans were already suffering enough after watching in-staters Butler advance with an upset victory over top-seeded Syracuse when former Hoosier Jordan Crawford and former Hoosier commit Terrell Holloway put on a clutch scoring display not seen in Bloomington since Jared Fogle was running an on-campus business.  The duo combined for 58 points for the Musketeers,  coming up when their team needed them most by putting up 26 of their team's final 27 points.

Holloway, who signed a letter of intent with IU before getting released after Kelvin Sampson was forcefully removed, made the most highlight-worthy play of the night when he pulled for a three with six seconds remaining in regulation, knowing Kansas State was going to foul while up three points.  Holloway drew the foul and then stepped to the line, knocking down all three and sending the game to overtime.  Then, in the extra period, Holloway got all cold-blooded again, hitting a three to cut the lead to 78-77, a layup to put his team within one again at 80-79 and then hitting another triple to tie the game at 84 with 50 seconds left.  And that's when Crawford stepped in.

The sophomore from Detroit, who averaged just under 10 ppg for the Hoosiers in Sampson's final year, nailed a three from about eight feet behind the line with seven seconds left, forcing the second overtime.  In the second extra period, Crawford scored six points right out of the gate to put the Musketeers ahead before Jacob Pullen hit a pair of back-to-back threes and putting the Wildcats ahead for good.

Pullen's outburst was a part of a vicious three-headed attack along with Denis Clemente and Curtis Kelly, who combined for 74 of their team's 101 points.  The effort of the Wildcat trio was just as powerful, but not quite as sensationally clutch as their counterparts from Cincinnati.  And that's all we care about here.  Sexiness.

In the end, the two teams combined for one of the most exciting, competitive games in recent tournament history.  If you tuned in, you were treated to an incredible game.

Unless, of course, you're a Hoosier.  This time of the year is never kind.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
Posted on: March 25, 2010 10:01 pm

Bob Huggins and His Track Suit to Elite 8


It doesn’t matter how big the game is, Bob Huggins will treat it just like any other.  His teams will play hard defense, hit the glass and he will dress like he is headed out to walk laps around the Morgantown Senior Citizens Center.   But there is a method to his madness and the coach that is so often considered to be the one most likely to underachieve now finds himself in the East Regional Final after West Virginia knocked off Washington SCORE.

Not surprisingly the game was brutal to watch.  Both teams spent the majority of their time hitting each other and then complaining to the officials about those hits.  Washington held a two-point lead 29-27 at halftime, but then slowly, methodically, West Virginia took control of the paint and the game, building a 8 point lead with ten minutes to go that they essentially kept for the entire game.

The game was played in the cavernous Carrier Dome that was rendered especially hollow by a significant majority of the fans following the Syracuse game on their Blackberry rather than the action on the court, and the rest sitting on their thumbs waiting to cheer on either Kentucky or Cornell in the nightcap.  But like with his wardrobe, Huggins doesn’t mind if you don’t pay attention or enjoy the product, so long as his team wins and moves on.

For his part, this is Bob Huggins’ first time in a Regional Final since 1993, a statistic that would probably shock most college basketball fans.  But this team may be different.  With its back against the wall after the loss to injury of its point guard, this West Virginia team moves to the final against either Kentucky or Cornell ready to give Huggins only the second Final Four of his career.  If they make it, don’t count on it being pretty or Huggins being dressed for the occasion.  But a win is a win, no matter how poor it may look.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: East
Posted on: March 25, 2010 9:33 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2010 9:39 pm

Butler upsets Syracuse: Cliffs Notes

Thomas Beisner

You idiot. It’s bad enough that you didn’t get your wife to sign off on finally getting that DVR before the tournament started, but it’s completely inexcusable that you decided that tonight was the night you went to see The Last Song with her. But, despite your poor judgment, your friends at “One Blogging Moment” are here to give you a couple of talking points for the office tomorrow. You’re still in the doghouse with us, though.

Here you go:

90% Heart, 10% Skill: There’s no denying that Syracuse probably isn’t sporting their most talented roster ever. But, they still had an advantage over a Butler team comprised of overlooked recruits (Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward) and guys whose athleticism makes Luke Harangody look like Dominique Wilkins (Matt Howard). What the Bulldogs didn’t have in height and strength, they made up for in heart and hustle. And YMCA moves in the post. Seriously, if you’re reading this Matt Howard, I want you on my church league team after you finish your eligibility next year.  We can't offer you much in terms of glory, but we'll play your pace and respect your post game.  Plus, we all wear t-shirts under our jersey's too (mostly to avoid showing side boob though).  You're a perfect fit for us.

Willie Veasley is headed to arbitration:
With Butler clinging to a one-point lead with just under two minutes remaining, the senior guard came in and shut it down like Mariano Rivera, knocking down a deep three and rising up for a tip sure to be shown all over TV the next three days. The five point burst from Veasley gave Butler a six-point lead with less than a minute to go and basically finished the Orange. We’ll pretend like he didn’t miss those two free throws, though. That’s how we treat all the great closers.

Lady Luck is a Bulldog: If you’re a Butler fan, you knew the Bulldogs had this locked up when the three from Ronald Nored rimmed out and then kissed high off the glass and fell through. If you’re a Syracuse fan, you started kicking your dog.

Win one for the Brad Stevens: Though this is not confirmed, I heard from a very reliable source that Butler star Gordon Hayward pulled his team together before the game and asked them to put their personal desires aside and win this one for coach Brad Stevens, who is trying to become the first coach to reach the Final Four before puberty. Hayward said this might be his final shot before nature comes calling and inspired his team to compete on another level.

Stop pinching yourself, Butler fans. You’ve got a very good team (who we won’t even call mid-major or Cinderella) and they’re just one-win away from coming back home for the Final Four. Celebrate lightly tonight. You’ve got a date with destiny on Saturday.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
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