Posted on: March 21, 2011 12:11 am

March Madness - first weekend recap

Every year March Madness is filled with wild games, close finishes, and crazy upsets.  Here's how the first weekend of the tourney of 2011 went down:
  • In the first round the 1's, 2's, and 3's had absolutely no trouble (except maybe BYU, the only team to win by a single digit, 8)
  • Other than the 1,2,3's 16 of the remaining 20 were decided by less than 10
  • 11 of those remaining 20 were decided by 5 pts or less, a combined 30 points, or an average of 2.7 points
  • The Southwest regional saw the 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 seeds all win
  • Tennessee lost by 30 to #8 Michigan after being down only 4 at half.  Bruce "Cheater" Pearl's leading scorer had 19, none of them in the 2nd half
  • I didn't even know there was a station called TruTV, and I got it in HD!  Southern Fried Stings looks pretty good too...

  • Saturday and Sunday blowouts included #12 Richmond by 17, #11 VCU over #3 Purdue by 18, BYU over Gonzaga by 22, and OSU by 32 (only one making any sense)
  • The big dogs started struggling: Notre Dame lost by 14 to #10 Florida State, Pitt lost by a point in a game they shoulda won, Duke survived by only 2, UNC won by only 3, and San Diego State needed 2 overtimes
  • #1 Pitt's loss was to last year's national runner up Butler, who lost it's best player and struggled despite returning the rest of last year's squad, taking an at-large 8 seed into the tournament
  • The three 4vs5 matchups were all VERY close (8, 5, and 1 point games)
  • 6 more games were decided by 5 points or less (including #11 Marquette's upset of #3 Syracuse)
  • The so-called "amazing" Big East has only 2 teams left, lowest seed Marquette and Kemba Walker UConn (see my last article; I also loved all 11 teams)
Soapbox: It seems to me that this year had the usual number of upsets but far more really close games and fewer blowouts.  It also seems to me that there were a lot of dumb plays and dumb decisions by seemingly dumb players (ex's: the Pitt-Butler and UNC-Washington foul-filled finishes).  Is that because NCAA basketball has far fewer upperclassmen and just a bunch of raw talented freshmen and sophomores who bolt for the NBA after only a year or two?  I think yes, and I hope this year's Final 4 are all senior-led teams just to prove the points that A) experience matters and B) graduating from college matters.
  • Oh and one more bullet: my bracket sucks.  I knew I should have gone with my heart and picked homers Wisconsin and Marquette to play in the national championship!
Posted on: March 12, 2011 11:24 am

Big Ten = UGLY Basketball

Growing up in the midwest I'm a Big Ten fan of everything.  But that aside, the Big Ten really is good football and really is good basketball.  On the court, it's fundamental, unselfish, defensive, and when the moment calls for it these players can show they truly are good athletes.  Consider just two games this year between Wisconsin and OSU.  Both teams have dominant big men in freshman Jared Sullinger of Ohio State and Jon Leuer of Wisconsin.  But in their two meetings, the star players were guards.  Jordan Taylor erupted at home for the Badgers to clinch the second half comeback and Jon Diebler was "throwing it in the ocean" in his own words to go 17 of 20 from beyond the arc during a 2 game stretch that included a 93-65 win at home to those same Badgers.  The "slow and boring" Big Ten's best just scored better than most ACC teams.


I went to a bar to watch the Big Ten Tourney last night with my friend Zach, a Penn State grad.  Their DirectTV didn't have the BTN so we checked the scores on our phones and bottom lines all night.  Honestly, I'm glad I didn't watch it.  Ten minutes in the score was 18-2 PSU.  WHAT?!  2 points in ten minutes?  But wait it get worse.  The score at half was 20-16, which mean's PSU did just the same thing, scoring a total of 2 points in ten minutes.  Final score: 36-33. Penn State needed only 16 in the second half to win and hold off Wisconsin's "furious comeback".

I can only imagine this must have been the ugliest basketball game of the year in all of college basketball.  Like a 6th grade matchup, like a HS girls freshmen game.  Penn State's leading scorer was their star player Taylor Battle, who's been known to score in the mid-30's.  But tonight he had 9 in a game when the Nittany Lions "spread it around."  Wisconsin's two best?  Jordan Taylor had 16 but on a 7-21 and 1-7 from 3 shooting performance.  Jon Leuer had 10pts on 5-16 and 0-6 from beyond.  The rest of the Badgers?  7 points split amongst 3 players!

During the ugly Big Ten matchup in Indianapolis, Kemba Walker of UConn scored 33 to equal the Badgers.  Jimmer Fredette of BYU had 52, nearly ecplipsing the game total by himself.  Ugh.  Ew.

The Badgers were shooting for a 2 seed with a tournament championship, would have still likely been a 3 or 4 despite their waxing by OSU.  Now I bet they fall to a 5 seed and get bounced in the first round by a bubble team riding high from just getting in.  The Nittany Lions shouldn't make the tournament, but if they beat Michigan State today they may have an arguement to make it over the Spartans, another bubble team.  But honestly, in my book, the Big Ten doesn't deserve the 6 or so teams everyone thinks they'll get.  The top three who've been ranked all year (OSU, Purdue, and UW) deserve to be in and that's it.  Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan State have all been epic failures this year.  Michigan and PSU are "bubble teams" but compared to what?  

Put the entire Big East in the tournament and I'll send every one of them to the Sweet 16 this year.  
Posted on: February 26, 2011 4:40 pm

BYU-SDSU "I respectfully disagree."

The game just ended and it was a fun one to watch! Glad I got to see with my own eyes how aggressive and skilled Jimmer really is, and the two teams impressed me overall. But late in the game Steve Kerr and Clark Kellogg agreed that both teams are very well coached. I have to respectfully disagree.


Neither team was able to control the ball, having most of their 11 and 12 turnovers a piece down the stretch and MANY more bad passes and risky dribbling that should have resulted in TOs. Jimmer's had 96 turnovers this year, already eclipsing last year's total in 6 fewer games. And though San Diego was right at their avg of 11 TOs/game, they looked sloppy and took bad shots. Would that kind of play fly for a Mike Krzyzewski team? A Bill Self coached team? Or any other coach that A) plays better teams day in and day out and B) requires good ball control, shot selection, and point guard play? I KNOW it wouldn't for a Bo Ryan coached team -- Wisconsin has the fewest TO's per game in the nation and point guard with best TO/assist ratio in Jordan Taylor.


Both teams are good and have great shooters, but come tournament time I get the feeling they wont be able to handle the pressure and the higher quality defenses. If you can't hold on to the ball long enough to get it to those guys that can knock 3's down so well, what does it matter?

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