Posted on: March 22, 2010 4:35 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2010 4:37 pm

Top 10 highlights of the first weekend


The first weekend of the 2010 NCAA Tournament is in the books and it was a memorable one.  We saw buzzer beaters, upsets, overtime, more buzzer beaters, more upsets, and even more overtime.  Let's take a look back at the top ten highlights of the most exciting first two rounds in tournament history.

(10) The Eric Bledshow - Eric Bledsoe reminded America that there are more pieces to Kentucky's incredible freshman class than John Wall and Demarcus Cousins.  In the Cats' first round game against ETSU, Bledsoe shot 8/9 from behind the arc, breaking assistant coach Tony Delk's previous record of seven three-pointers made in a tournament game.

(9) Everything is bigger overrated in Texas - Before the tournament began, Texas' Damion James said, "I don't think there is a team in the country that wants to play Texas."  Rick Barnes added, "We are dangerous; we've proven to be dangerous."  No Rick, you've proven to be overrated.  Texas continued to disappoint with a first-round loss to Wake Forest, inspiring a new t-shirt slogan for the Longhorns - "From number one, to one and done."

(8) America, meet Jimmer Fredette - BYU's Jimmer Fredette is no secret to the Mountain West Conference, but to much of the nation, he is just that one mormon guy that's good at basketball.  That is, until now.  Fredette dropped 37 points on the Florida Gators in the first game of the tournament.  The double overtime victory for the Cougars not only introduced America to Fredette, but let everyone know that the NCAA tournament has arrived and it's not waiting to bring the madness.

(7) "Hold tight a little longer, longer with Big Red" - Cornell's victory over Temple in the first-round wasn't exactly a shocking upset.  But the 18-point shellacking of Wisconsin in the second round was just that.  Now, the Big Red move on to the Sweet 16 and you better believe they're bringing their "Revenge of the Nerds" and "Big Red Lasts Longer" headlines with them, too.

(6) Lucious for the win! - A faux hawk-less Grievis Vasquez hit a floater with 7 seconds left to give the Terps the lead after trailing by nine points to the Spartans with 2 minutes left in the game.  Draymond Green rushed the ball back up court for Michigan State and kicked it to Korie Lucious - who was filling in for the injured Kalin Lucas - for a game winning three-pointer at the buzzer.  THIS! IS! SPARTA!

(5) Murray at the buzzer/Adam Decker - Danero Thomas hit the first buzzer beater of the NCAA Tournament to send 13-seed Murray State to the next round over Vanderbilt.  Immediately after the shot, CBS cameras caught Adam Decker, a Murray State band member, crying tears of joy and sealing his spot in the "One Shining Moment" montage.  That's what March Madness is all about.

(4) Robert Morris won't go out without a fight - Two seeded Villanova barely escaped upset on the first day of the tournament against Robert Morris.  Villanova coach Jay Wright didn't start Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher as a "minor teaching point" that almost led to disaster.  The Wildcats needed overtime to barely eek past Robert Morris and his Colonials.

(3) O-H-I-O! - In what could be the biggest shocker of the tournament, the Bobcats of Ohio upset three-seeded Georgetown.  Unlike most big tournament upsets, this game didn't come down to the wire.  Ohio completely manhandled the Hoyas throughout the 97-83 victory.  The 97 points scored were the most given up by Georgetown in a tournament game in the school's history.  So much for the Hoyas rolling after beating Syracuse in the Big East tournament.

(2) Omar Samhan's man-boobs are in the Sweet 16 - St. Mary's took out seventh seeded Richmond in the first round and then destroyed a lot of brackets by upsetting Villanova to advance to the Sweet 16.  Gaels guard Mickey McConnell banked in a 3-pointer with 1:16 to play to break the tie and take down the Wildcats.

(1) Ali Farokhmanesh has balls of steel. - If he misses, it goes down as the worst shot in the history of basketball.  Instead, Ali Farokhmanesh hits nothing but net on a three-pointer with 30 seconds left to extend Northern Iowa's lead to four and put away #1 Kansas.  The Jayhawks have two big twins in the Morris Brothers, but no twins compare to Ali Farokhmanesh's.  Go Panthers.  Rock-Chalk-Choke-Job.   
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 22, 2010 2:41 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2010 4:07 pm

Future Guarantees: NCAA Tournament

Thomas Beisner

Like most of you, I sat at home this weekend, amazed at the high level of college basketball on display and thought one thing to myself.  How can I be so clueless when it comes to this game that I love and watch so much?  The 2010 edition of the Big Dance has given us more upsets and buzzer beaters than we could have imagined and no one (besides my wife who has 14 teams remaining), could have seen this coming.  This March has been truly mad.

So, knowing good and well that I know nothing about basketball and my opinions are terrible (see, I read your comments), I decided that maybe it was time to just be ambiguous with my picks and give vague answers.  Then I remembered that I'm not a coward.  So, with that in mind, here are your locks:


 1. You will get all Farokhmanesh’d out: Let’s face it, we all love a good underdog story. It’s as American as apple pie and national healthcare. But, at some point, we all tire of the headlines and the feel-good stories on our front page and we turn on the one we once loved. It usually happens somewhere between the 14th and 22nd profile on the subject telling you that you should love them. It happened to Hootie and the Blowfish and it’s going to happen to UNI. It might be before they knock off a Kalin Lucas-less Michigan State squad or it might be after. But, rest assured, it will happen.

2. Wayne Chism will make you smile: As if the whole big guy shooting threes with a headband barely attached to his head didn’t give it away, Wayne Chism is one of the most engaging and quotable players in college basketball. When he isn’t telling reporters that "Every second I'm with you is another second I'm not at Waffle House” (another line I use on my wife) or exaggerating injuries to get girls (JP Prince’s words), he’s talking trash to anyone who will listen. And, at some point, he will make you smile doing so.

3. A Kansas fan will visit and say something stupid: Have you noticed? The Kansas fans spit that hot fire in the comments section. Not even a loss slowed them down. Rest assured that, at some point, a Jayhawk fan will again rise from the ashes of their choke job against UNI and talk some trash to you about your favorite team.  Just try to ignore them.

Final Four pick: Ohio State


1. Chris Kramer will kill someone: I’ve never stared into the eyes of a cold-blooded killer, but I’d imagine it would have to be fairly similar to the murdersome glare Chris Kramer sports on a regular basis. He’s as cutthroat of a basketball player I’ve ever seen (appearance at least) and he is not afraid to battle down on the blocks. At 6’3”, he’s more than willing to try to make up for the loss of Robbie Hummel’s size.

2. Omar Samhan will roll an ankle: Though I’ve been guaranteeing it since the WCC tourney and I’m still not sure Samhan can jump high enough to do so, I still feel confident that a sprained ankle is in his future. The St. Mary’s big man still wears low-top tennis shoes, which I thought people stopped doing around the age of 11. Unlike the kid on your Little League team that wore jeans to practice though, Samhan is loved by his teammates and doesn’t smell like Marlboro Reds.

3. Duke will fail: It’s as American as apple pie and national health care. On the bright side, it means that you won't have to figure out which one is Scheyer and which one is Singler.  And you won't have to watch Zoubek oaf around or Lance Thomas pick up 2 fouls in the first 45 seconds of the game.  Plus, maybe an early exit will give the NCAA time to go back and look at that whole Corey Maggette situation.

Final Four pick: Baylor


1. Someone will try to bait DeMarcus Cousins: The man that people call “Boogie” back in Lexington has established himself as both the most fan-friendly player on the team and, arguably, the best big man in the nation. He’s also the meanest dude in the history of the world on the basketball court. Amazingly, this hasn’t stopped opponents from trying to bait him with elbows to the groin and slaps across the face. In the next two games, you can bet some other poor soul will do the same in the name of being a team player. Just hope that Cousins doesn’t finally let loose on them. The tournament would have to be delayed until they could pick up all the body parts.

2. You will fall in love with Quincy Pondexter: Washington’s senior forward is a 6’6” tweener that does everything he can to win. Most of the time it’s scoring (his 19.7 ppg were second in the PAC-10), but he is one of those pure college players who makes his teammates better by coaching them up during games and getting them involved. Dog the Pac-10 all you want, but you’ll appreciate the Huskie forward with the librarian name.

3. West Virginia’s point guards will let them down: All you need to know about Truck Bryant and Joe Mazzulla is that they combined for seven points on 3-8 shooting and had 3 assists and 3 turnovers against Missouri in the second round – and were treated as heroes by the West Virginia press. The Mountaineers are talented at every position except point guard, which is where the lights of March glare the brightest. It might be against Washington, or it might be against Kentucky, but you can count on the point guard situation at WVU costing them a trip to the Final Four.

Final Four pick: Kentucky


1. Jordan Crawford will need Tommy John surgery: If you like offense, you’ll love Jordan Crawford. Much like how Tiger Woods has never met a cocktail waitress he didn’t feel entitled to, Jordan Crawford has never met a shot that he didn’t think he owned. When he’s on, he’s on. When he’s off, he has no idea.

2. You will fall in love with Butler: The mid-major that’s too big to get any love as an underdog and too small to get any hype as a major title threat is playing great basketball right now, which seems to be a yearly thing. When you watch them battle Syracuse, you’ll love the Freije-like game of Gordon Hayward and the do-everything mentality of Shelvin Mack. And then, after they lose to the Cuse, you’ll forget about them until next year, when they might just be big enough to be considered a threat for the Final Four in the pre-season.

3. You will hear about Memphis’ NCAA appeal being rejected: What? Not related to Memphis or Kentucky? That’s ok. Expect it to still be brought up in every game you watch this weekend. After taking nearly a year to review, the NCAA decided the best time to talk about violations is when the organization’s biggest event is taking place and the coach involved is still playing. Does the NCAA not have a public relations department? Did they not advise against this?

Final Four pick: Syracuse

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Midwest, South
Posted on: March 21, 2010 8:35 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2010 8:37 pm

Robbie Who? (Part II)

Thomas Beisner

Another game, another outstanding performance by a Purdue team that appears to be hitting on all cylinders right now without injured star Robbie Hummel.  With center JaJuan Johnson, who went for 23 and 15 in the first round, struggling, the Boilermakers needed someone to step up and compliment leading scorer E'Twaun Moore (15 points) against Texas A&M.

Enter Purdue fan favorite Chris "Don't Call Me Biff Tannen" Kramer - a guy known more for his defense than his scoring.

Purdue's all-time leader in steals and the 2008 Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year went for double digits in the scoring column for only the eighth time this season, pouring in a team-high 17 points to go with his 7 rebounds.  It wasn't the quantity of his buckets that made the difference, though.  It was the timing.  The senior scored six of the eight Purdue points in overtime including what would be the game-winner, an end-to-end layup with six seconds left on the clock.

If you're Purdue coach Matt Painter, you have to be happy with the way your team beat the Aggies Sunday night.  It's not often that a team can start four guards, get out-rebounded by 10, have fewer assists and take a third of the free throws your opponent does and still walk away with a win.  But, when they do, you get the feeling that your team might just have that little something extra that makes it special.

On Sunday, that little something extra was a senior guard from Huntington, Indiana.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Midwest
Posted on: March 21, 2010 7:47 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2010 7:49 pm

No Jason Kidd Magic in this one.


Duke 68, California 53

California upset Duke to advance to the 1993 NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen game against Kansas.  However, there were no ghosts of Jason Kidd and Bobby Hurley in this one.  Duke avoided an upset against the Golden Bears with a 68-53 win.

Jon Scheyer was cold.

Duke's star player scored only 7 points on 1-11 shooting from the field.  Nolan Smith led the way for the Blue Devils with 20 points and Kyle Singler scored 17.  Brian Zoubek recorded his sixth career double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Jamal Boykin's career ends against Coach K.

California's senior forward Jamal Boykin wanted to play for Coach K his entire life.  His dream was fulfilled when he signed with Duke out of high school.  But, a lack of playing time in Durham forced Boykin to transfer to Cal where he became an integral starter for the Bears.  How fitting that his career ends at the hands of Coach K and his former school.  Boykin led Cal with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Christian Laettner, I still don't like you.

I just thought you should know.

Bring on the Boilermakers!

Duke advances to play Purdue in the Sweet Sixteen on Friday.  The Boilermakers just defeated Texas A&M 63-61 in a thrilling overtime victory.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: South Region
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,” 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 21, 2010 6:06 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2010 6:52 pm

Lucious pins basketball's biggest heel

Thomas Beisner

It’s not something that I openly admit or that I can recall ever using to attract a member of the opposite sex. But, it is a part of me.

My name is Thomas Beisner and I used to watch a lot of wrestling when I was a kid.

I like to think that it had more to do with high-flying violence and larger-than-life role models than the sweaty man groping, but it was a true passion.  I absolutely loved wrestling.  And that is why I think I'm so crushed by the results of one of today’s second round matchups.

When the buzzer sounded in Spokane, a three-point shot by Korie Lucious - a name Vince McMahon would love, by the way - still hung in the air, holding the fate of college basketball’s biggest "heel", Greivis “El Tacón” Vasquez in the balance.

After scoring 10 points in the final two minutes and bringing his team from down seven to up one, it seemed like El Tacón had again broken hearts in a dramatic fashion fitting of a pay-per-view main event. It was another notch in the belt and another heart on the spear. 

But, that’s not how it happened.

Lucious’ shot swished home, sending Michigan State into a frenzy and off to a date with Northern Iowa. A guy who scored only three points in the Spartans’ opening round win over New Mexico State ended the career of college basketball’s greatest “heel” in dramatic and shocking fashion. It might not have been Hogan slamming Andre the Giant, but it was every bit as surprising as The 123 Kid pinning Razor Ramon.

And I hated it.

Nothing against Tom Izzo and Michigan State, who are more than deserving of their trip to the Sweet 16, and no offense to Korie Lucious, who deserves major props for his shot, but this tournament needed more Greivis Vasquez as much as Greivis Vasquez needed more college basketball.

He was a custom built villainous gift from the basketball gods who would have set the world (and television ratings) on fire had his team kept advancing. I was already looking forward to him showing up on CBS next week and talking trash to America’s sweetheart, Ali Farokhmanesh, and getting that text from my mom about how he has no class. But, as we all know, Lucious happened.

Now, he’ll likely grab some bench time at a small-market NBA arena where his personality will be kept under wraps and an 82-game season will beat down the colorful expression that “El Tacón” has made his trademark. Worst of all, college basketball fans outside of ACC country will never have a chance to hate Greivis Vasquez.

His swagger was a little bit Larry Bird and a little bit Mr. Perfect. His flair was a little bit Pete Maravich and a little bit of, well, Ric Flair. You won’t find a student section in the country that hosted Maryland and has a kind thing to say about him. He talked trash to you, your coach, your fans and your mascot. He danced and pranced and, like my wife, found a reason to celebrate anything and everything, all while rotating flamboyant hairstyles and facial hair combinations that would rival wrestling‘s finest. He was truly “El Tacón”.

But, just like The Million Dollar Man and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, you could never actually hate “El Tacón”. College basketball purists had to appreciate the way he carried a team of mistfits on his back, spending the first half of every game trying to get someone, anyone, to step up before cutting out the hearts of opposing fans in the second half with a blend of off-balance shots and circus dribbling. Vasquez’ game was a sensational and dramatic dish best fit to be served during the NCAA tournament.

And, now, it’s all for naught.

Make no mistake, a buzzer beater in March is nothing to get bummed out about. In fact, it's what it's all about.  But, you’ll have to give me a few before I can share in Michigan State’s excitement. “El Tacón” just lost his retirement match.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Midwest
Posted on: March 21, 2010 5:20 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2010 12:31 pm

West Virginia wins, sings Brian McKnight songs

West Virginia 68, Missouri 59

West Virginia fought off a late Missouri rally to advance to the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in school history.  Missouri's Zaire Taylor hit a three pointer with just over four minutes left to cut the Mountaineers' lead to three but that is as close as Mizzou would get.  West Virginia advances to play eleven seeded Washington on Thursday.

Da'Sean Butler led the way.

Da'Sean Butler scored 28 points including 19 of West Virginia's 30 first half points.  Butler also grabbed 8 boards in the win.  Kevin Jones added 13 points and 9 rebounds.

West Virginia fans didn't throw anything.

That's always good.

I miss Kevin Pittsnogle.

Remember him?  Of course you do.  I wonder where he is now.  Last I heard, he was waived from the Albuquerque Thunderbirds.  Now, he's probably draining three pointers from the top of the key in the Martinsburg YMCA.

There isn't a whole lot to do in Buffalo.

The Mountaineers did a lot of team building exercises in the hotel room during down time.  And by team building exercises, I mean recording videos that they probably didn't want to go viral.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: East Region
Posted on: March 21, 2010 5:07 pm

Evan Turner Gets it Done Once Again


There is a lot about this year’s NCAA Tournament that has been unexpected.  The Big East has had as few winners as the IMDB list of Dane Cook, the Cornell Big Red have been shooting like a group of Pete Maravich’s illegitimate children and Gus Johnson hasn’t even had one game in which he has been able to raise his voice modulation one octave.  However one thing has been strikingly consistent.  Evan Turner can still play.  Again on Sunday, Turner dominated the action, recording a near triple-double with 24 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists in the 75-66 victory over Georgia Tech.

When you watch Turner play, it is easy to forget about his greatness.  Maybe its because of the effortless way in which he takes the ball to the basket, his ability to score in transition without the spectacular dunk or his method of setting up his teammates for the big score.  Or maybe it is his general look, as we haven’t seen a player do this well with braces since Forrest Gump.  But whatever the reason, Turner’s brilliance doesn’t jump out at you like John Wall’s or even like Jimmer Fredette at BYU.  It is a quiet greatness that simply overpowers you and makes you submit in the end.

Georgia Tech has a number of its own problems.  Paul Hewitt goes through talent quicker than George Clooney, but more often than not has nothing to show for it.  Derrick Favors is likely headed off to the NBA, another high school uber-talent brought in by Hewitt, with very little to show for his time in Atlanta.  Hewitt is the type of coach that drives administrators crazy, because he does just enough to not justify letting him go, but seems to have no potential to truly improve the state of the program.  If Hewitt can’t win at the high level he recruits now, how will he ever improve when the talent level can only go down?  It is a question that makes all Tech fans shake their head.

As for Ohio State, they now move to the Midwest Regional in a bracket that has opened up quite nicely.  What once looked to be a Georgetown/Kansas twosome in St. Louis is now the much more doable, Tennessee-Michigan State (possibly without Lucas) combo.  The Buckeyes being a force in Indianapolis is not only realistic, it is the most likely scenario.  And if they get there, a braces-wearing, triple-double gathering machine will be credited as the superstar that he most certainly has become.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Midwest
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