NCAA First Weekend Thoughts
Don't fret. I know that your bracket, like mine, is probably completely ruined after 48 games from Thursday-Sunday, that saw two No. 12 seeds and a 10 seed advance to the Regional Semifinals (I'm trying not call it Sweet 16, just to give the round a little masculinity. Final Four and Elite 8 both sound manly, but Sweet 16 just sounds "happy.").
The first shock came when BELMONT gave Duke a serious run for their money but, in the last 12 seconds of the game, remembered it was Belmont and forgot to stop ball. Seriously, isn't that the FIRST thing you learn in defensive drills in pee wee basketball at age 7 from your coach Mr. Smith,your best friend's dad?
Besides that the first day of games were terrible. All chalk.
Friday saw some great games, including Stephen Curry's 40 points as the "mid-major who is becoming a high-major" torch was passed from Gonzaga to Davidson. Western Kentucky beat Drake on, the play of the tournament thus far. The Torreros of San Diego (not San Diego St., where Marshall Faulk played) ruined my life by eliminating UConn, my final four pick from the West. Yes, I do realize how stupid that pick was now.
On Saturday, an overrated yet overachieving Duke team shot 3,000 three's against West Virginia, making only six of them and didn't make the Sweet 16 for the second straight year. This is not a one-time thing, it's a trend. Duke has relied on amazing talent for a while, but post-2001 they ALWAYS wear down towards the end of the regular season, because Coach K wants to beat Central Arkansas Connecticut State University of Iowa by 45. This game could mark the paradigm shift where UCLA and UNC reassert themselves as the dominant figures in the College Basketball landscape.
Speaking of the Bruins, without any conspiratorial leanings, they GREATLY benefited from officiating down the stretch of their 53-49, check that, 51-49 win over Texas A&M. A foul should have been called on the Aggies' final possession. Don't believe me -- look at this picture.
Even before that, the Bruin's Darren Collison's game-winner with 9.2 seconds left was setup by a clear moving screen from Kevin Love.
I love black coaches and all, but Trent Johnson of Stanford, you HAVE to be smarter than that. Whether or not the ejection was warranted, the fact that it came to that was unacceptable. Thanks to the Lopez without the crazy hair, The Cardinal (with no S) beat Marquette in a good game.
Sunday was the best overall day of games I thought, with Davidson, Memphis, Tennessee and Western Kentucky winning close games.
Did UNC break a sweat this weekend? All I saw was them scoring 212 points in two NCAA tournament games. That's just not supposed to happen.
Overall observations from the weekend:
2) UCLA is either going to be given the "team of destiny" label for all their close wins the last month or they will lose to Western Kentucky in the a huge upset on Thursday.
3) Dell Curry is pretty good at life. His offspring is the biggest sports story in the country and he gets to sleep with his gorgeous wife every night. The group I was watching with was begging for more of Mrs. Curry during both Davidson games. Props to Dell.
4) Seeing upsets is cool during the first round, but it really makes some of the second-round games unwatchable. Siena-Villanova? Western Kentucky-San Diego? Ugh...
5) The ACC was definitely down this year, while the PAC-10 somewhat justified the "best conference in the country" rhetoric by placing three teams in the round of 16.
6) If this North Carolina team shows up for four games, I think only Kansas has a shot at beating them.
7)Elite 8 predictions: UCLA vs Xavier, Stanford-Memphis, North Carolina-Louisville and Kansas-Davidson.