Yep, I watched every game yesterday.
Thanks to the old DVR, I was able to wake up early, take my dog Bootzilla to the park and come back and settle in for 10 hours of march madness. Hey, it gets no better than the first two days of the tournament, and me and my dog were prepared. Yeah, she might have caught a nap or two during that time, but she hung in there and only had to take two or three trips to the bathroom, which is what she always does when I get to yelling at the TV or otherwise worked up while watching a sporting event.
Anyway, here’s a recap what I saw on day one, with the exception of the UNLV/Cal game, which was so goddamn something-or-other, I’m gonna have to write a separate post about it.
–Michigan State cruised by Valpo in a game that won’t tell us much about the Spartans other than they can beat an overmatched, very white team from rural Indiana. If the Big Ten really is that much better than the rest of the college conferences, we’re still gonna have to wait a week or two to know for sure.
-Louisville beat the piss out of NC A & T, which is what they are supposed to do. There’s usually no good news to be derived from a #1 seed winning their first round game, considering no #16 seed has beat a #1 in the history of the tournament. In this case, Louisville was supposed to slap the shit out of A & T and they did, thanks to a roster full of really good basketball players and a full court press that made the A & T kids looks like they were playing 5-on-7.
-Arizona beat Belmont by alot of points because they could basically score whenever they wanted to and Belmont had to kill themselves to get to 20 points by halftime. Game was over by then. Second half looked like a scrimmage, and the Arizona kids were kind of enough to let Belmont get 44 points in the second half so long as they promised not to try anything crazy like trying to win or whatever.
-Butler beat Bucknell 68-56 and really, shame on any of you who got that one wrong. Butler had every conceivable advantage. Brad Stevens is probably the best young coach in the sport, and his team is a real-life replica of “the Hoosiers” and shit, making it all the way to the Championship game two years in a row (which is just crazy when you think about it) on the strength of playing hard, tough and the right way. And their star player is a white guy named Rotnei. They couldn’t lose.
-Memphis tried like hell to give the game to St. Mary’s but couldn’t quite get there. Memphis has a young, hotshot coach and a team full of talented, albeit “free spirited” players. St. Mary’s has a very good australian point guard and a bunch of other dudes who are looking to said point guard to pretty much do everything for them. And fuck, did he nearly kill himself trying, so much so that they actually found themselves with a chance to win the game at the very end, also thanks in part to a dizzying array of misfortunes suffered (and mistakes made) by the Memphis kids. It really was a sight to behold. (watch the video from the 1:15 mark)
Oh, so close.
-Davidson pulled off one of the most prodigious choke jobs in recent tournament history. I mean, Vander Blue (best name in the tournament?) made the winning bucket and all that, but it might have been the easiest game winner you’ve ever seen. Trust me, I’ve seen alot of basketball in my life and I can scarcely think of any game where one team so thoroughly dominated and still lost. For the first thirty eight minutes of the game, Davidson splayed patiently on offense, knocked down their shots and generally frustrated the fuck out of a Marquette team that usually wins in workmanlike fashion but was getting their ass handed to them by a team that was not playing harder by any means, but smarter. Facing a double-digit lead and the reality that Marquette was in fact the worst three point shooting team in this years’ tournament, it seemed like the writing was on the wall. I mean, for the last few minutes of this game, all Davidson needed was one more basket and they would have had it sewn up.
A basket they’d never see.
Yep, they were up 7 with 90 seconds left. It took three straight 3 pointers from a Marquette team that had gone 1-12 prior to that point, an utterly panicked turnover when all they had to do was hold the ball and wait for a foul, and some matador defense in surrendering an unchallenged lay-up to Blue for them to lose, send me jumping off the couch and my poor dog scurrying for the bathroom.
Like I said, that was a choke job for the ages and if the past is any indication, that kind of Whoudini-esque escape might just propel Marquette to the Final Four.
-Gonzaga beat Southern, even though they had to sweat their balls off to do it. Hey, nobody told Southern they were a 16 seed, so they just ran and jumped and blocked shots and played all loosy goosy and whatnot. In the end, The Gonzaga guards made the big shots and the Southern guards didn’t but fuck, that was fun.
-Oregon whooped Oklahoma State like everyone knew they would, because Oregon got the worst seeding anyone has seen in years. For some reason, the Pac 12 got it in the end this year, seeding-wise, but so far, so good.
Oh, and Bill Walton, the greatest living basketball personality and eternal Pac 12 booster supreme, showed up to represent like only he can.
-Michigan (4) was just too second-generational for South Dakota State (13). Yeah, Trey Burke went something like 1 for 20 (and fell on his head
-Cal beat UNLV 64-61 in a game that was so wretched, I’m going to write a entire separate blog post about it and only it.
-Colorado State beat Missouri because Frank Haith is one of those horrible coaches who lets his kids take shots from wherever they want and defend never and Colorado State is exactly the kind of team that will eat your lunch for doing all that.
-VCU beat Akron by something like 256 points because, and you are going to love this, Akron lost their starting point guard to WEED TRAFFICKING CHARGE and three other players to the flu. Oh, and apparently the two coaches are best friends, which explains why Shaka Smart called the press off after taking a FORTY POINT LEAD, as opposed to leaving it on to the end.
That’s a real pal right there.
-Syracuse beat Montana by fifty seven points because Jim Boheim is a dickhead. That was some real “sweep the leg” shit they pulled there because, well I don’t know why. All I know is 81-34 shouldn’t happen in the NCAA tournament unless you lose your starting point guard to WEED TRAFFICKING and three other players to the flu.
-Wichita St. Beat Pitt badly, mostly because Pitt looked like the proverbial “team that doesn’t wanna be there”. There are at least 5 or 6 of those every year, and they are usually the middling teams from major conferences that had plenty of talent but never got their chemistry thing together. Teams like that are traditionally buzzard meat for the overachieving mid-majors like Wichita, and this one went according to script. The only thing anyone will remember from this game, sadly, is this.
-Harvard won it’s first tournament game EVER over heavily favored New Mexico because, and I wish somebody had told me this, they have finally relaxed their admissions policies enough to get some decent ballplayers in there. Really, they were explaining this during the game and i really wish I had known that before I picked New Mexico in my bracket.
Of course, Tommy Amaker is the harvard coach which means they’ll land on probation in oh, 45 minutes or so.