Monday, March 21, 2011

Things I liked and Things I Didn't From The First Weekend

Unfortunately I am in the midst of a nightmare of a couple of weeks of work so I won't be able to blog as much as I would like during the tournament.  I have had a chance to see a decent amount of the action this week and while I don't have time to do an in depth breakdown here are some things I liked and some things I didn't from the first weekend of action.

Things I liked:
1) The ACC in March.  A common theme in the media this year was how weak the ACC was this year.  However, the conference that owns the past two national championships is again coming up big in March Madness.  Clemson had one of their classical meltdowns in the round of 64 against West Virginia, but UNC and Duke are on to the second weekend and Florida State took down second seeded Notre Dame last night.  Right now there are more ACC teams in the sweet sixteen (3) than there are Big East teams(2).

2) TV Coverage of the Tournament.  It makes so much sense to put the game on 4 different networks so that you can flip to any of the games.  Turner's rights to the broadcast have been a plus too with the addition of Charles Barkley, who just turned Rick Pitino bright red with a rant against the Big East, Kenny Smith, Steve Kerr, Marv Albert, and Craig Sager.  Gus Johnson has already had some signature moments announcing close games and he continues to be the most exciting announcer in the nation.

3) The Chip of VCU's Shoulder. The Rams caught the blunt end of a lot of experts' rants on Selection Sunday about them being less worthy than teams like Colorado and Virginia Tech which got left out.  All they have done since being selected is dominate big conference teams USC, Georgetown, and Purdue by a combined 49 points.  Their matchup with the defensive minded Seminoles should make for an interesting Sweet 16 game.

4) Games Decided in the Final Seconds.  I won't even attempt to recap all the games that have that have come down to the buzzer in the tournament, just today the Carolina-Washington, Duke-Michigan, and Texas Arizona games were one possession games with less than 10 seconds on the clock.  March Madness truly has no equal and a year that lacked juggernauts has made for an exciting tournament.

5) North Carolina's Sunday.  First the Tar Heels edged out a talented Washington team in Charlotte thanks to the fact that John Henson may be the best player in history at defending the inbound pass.  Then Marquette managed to upset Syracuse whose 2-3 zone would have given the Tar Heels nightmares.  Buzz Williams' squad is not to be overlooked, but if the higher seeds advance in the East, it would set up a fantastic showdown in the Elite Eight between Carolina and an Ohio State team that looked dominant today against George Mason.

Things I Hated
1) Decision Making in the last two seconds of Pittsburgh-Butler.  Shelvin Mack's foul with 1 second on the clock was boneheaded, but at least to his credit a lot of bumps with time expiring are ignored (see Kansas-UCLA earlier this year).  Gilbert Brown also deserves a share of the shame for missing the second free throw which would have iced the game for Pitt.  But he missed and what followed was inexcusable.  Nasir Robinson blatantly fouled Matt Howard on the rebound which allowed Howard to win the game for Butler at the line.  With one second on the clock Robinson had no business even aggressively trying to rebound.  If the opposing team makes a 7/8 court shot to win the game then it happens, but you don't foul.  I feel for Pittsburgh fans who have had their share of heartbreak (Scottie Reynolds comes to mind), and this loss may have taken the cake.

2) Texas in March.  Not much really needs be said other than that no one consistently gets less out of amazing talent in March than Rick Barnes.

3) My Bracket.  Five of my Elite Eight teams have been eliminated with only Connecticut, Kansas and Ohio State remaining.  Granted I could care less if it means the Tar Heels make a championship run, but for someone who feels like they know a lot about college basketball I have really stunk it up.

1 comment:

  1. Things you also should not like:
    - The refereeing:
    Yes, these guys got it right in Butler vs. Pittsburgh (as strange as it was) and in Arizona vs. Texas. However there were some big misses for the teams on good ole' tobacco road.

    Case 1:
    - John Henson inexplicably tips the ball out of bounds with 1.2 sec left on the last second attempt by Washington. The referees on the court and at the table never review the clock that had run down to 0.5sec taking away any chance Washington had to get a last second shot (this is standard procedure, it was done in the Pittsburgh Butler game and time was added, which gave Nasir Robinson time to have his impact on the game, had Pitt been granted the Carolina extra ticks of the clock, Robinson never has time to foul). Part 2: Henson goaltends the last second attempt by Isaiah Thomas but mysteriously no call is made (yes it turned out to be a two, but there is no reason that the goaltend should not have been called by the ref under the hoop or any of them for that matter. What if upon review it was determined Thomas did make it behind the three point line. Washington would have been screwed).

    Case 2: In the closing seconds of Duke vs. Michigan, Duke is at the foul line with a two point lead. They miss the foul shot and Kyle Singler does his best Nasir Robinson impression by fouling the Wolverine rebounder. Except in this case, the whistle is swallowed, no free trip to the line for Michigan and Duke escapes with a win.

    Now this all goes to point out that there is no reason to be too high on the ACC and low on the Big East or Big Ten or any conference based on the NCAA tournament. Had Pittsburgh, Louisville, and Syracuse gotten the friendly tobacco road whistle we may be talking about how strong the Big East is with 4 legit contenders left in the Sweet 16 (Then again, these schools may have more titles and final fours if they received the same treatment yearly). Had Carolina or Duke received the calls that any other teams did this weekend, we would be talking about how putrid the ACC is with its top teams both bowing out in the first weekend. Would VCU survive a season in the Big Ten, Big East, or ACC and get a bid to the big dance??? the answer is a resounding NO. Yet they are in the sweet 16, and nobody would say they are one of the 16 best teams in the country.

    So, let's ease the praise of the ACC for a second, it was one of the worst conferences in the country this year. And let's hold the Big Ten or Big East bashing, their teams deserved their seeds and had tremendous seasons. A teams body of work shows much more than a single-elimination tournament does. It doesn't matter anyways, when my Buckeyes smack around Carolina this weekend the truth will be exposed.