1. I’m a big Big Ten guy, but I obviously need more self-esteem when it comes to my conference. I thought that we were coming into the tournament looking pretty unimpressive and were on the road to embarrassment. Instead, we have two teams in very good shape. Michigan State put together a solid, impressive win over a Pitt team that was supposed to upset Memphis in the eyes of many. Wisconsin came out and really elevated their chances in my eyes today with a big win over Kansas State. They totally smothered an impressive offense and controlled every aspect of the game. I have lots of excuses for the conference in my back pocket, but they may just get to stay there for a while.
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I’ll be here again for the first eight games of the day. Times are still mountain time, so adjust accordingly.
10:17 – We are just underway with Tennessee and American. The Eagles are out to a 4-2 lead. Watch out world, here comes American!
Midwest- Round One
Clemson Tigers (5) Vs. Villanova Wildcats (12)
Friday, March 21 @ 9:50 pm
The #22 Clemson Tigers (10- 6 ACC, 24- 9) finished third in the ACC and went to the finals of the conference tourney where they lost to UNC 86- 81. The Clemson squad is deep. Five players average 10 or more point per game and three have six or more rebounds per game. On defense, they average 9.9 SPG and 5.5 BPG.
We are just a couple minutes away from the first tip-off. I’ll check in periodically throughout the day with thoughts and such. All times will be mountain time, so add two hours for eastern, subtract one for pacific and so on:
When I was a little kid I was never able to sleep on Christmas Eve. I could hardly even stand to close my eyes. I would just lie there thinking of what was about to come the next day – the presents, the food, the people, the excitement. It was excruciating and torturous, and every second seemed like an hour. Now that I am older, that Christmas eve experience takes place on a Wednesday in the middle of March. The tournament starts tomorrow, and I absolutely cannot wait. Ever since the college football season ended my primary focus has been on college basketball, and it all leads to the three weeks of insanity that get underway tomorrow. I have played every game over in my mind a million times, and I have a hundred different theories about how it might all work out, but until it starts we can’t be sure which, if any, are correct. As I sit here willing the hours to pass until the first tip-off, here are the ten things that I am most looking forward to about the first two rounds:
UCLA is a very popular choice to win it all, and they are very likely to find themselves going very deep in most of my brackets. It only makes sense – they have been to the Final Four twice in a row, and this team is just as good as the last two teams. Kevin Love is probably the best player who has played for the team during this run. It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. Two of the starters are hurting. Love has a sore back that has limited his participation in recent days. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute sprained his ankle for the second time this season, and that kept him out of the Pac-10 championship game against Stanford. So, the question is this – should we panic? Will these injuries damage an otherwise promising run? Here’s a look:
If you have a pulse then you have probably already fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket, and you probably will fill out several more before Thursday. I’m not pretending that I have all the answers, but I’m also not that moron in every pool who makes the painfully stupid picks, either. I don’t win every pool by any means, but I’m usually fairly competitive. I’m not suggesting for a second that I am a genius or a guru. I just follow a few rules to avoid making dumbs mistakes. Here are 10 tips for a winning March Madness bracket. It’s not my fault if you win, but you can send me a cut of the winnings if you do.
The bracket has just been announced, and I am sure my opinions will change the more I look at it, but here is what jumps out at me as my initial reactions:
Most generous seeding – Washington State. I thought they would be a six or a seven, not a four. I don’t like their chances against Notre Dame, though.
It’s been an exciting couple of days in the world of college hoops. There have been a million things worth paying attention to. Here are 20 to start:
1. The Georgia Dome is obviously cursed. I blame Bobby Petrino.
2. Either the Georgia or Kentucky players are going to sleep well tonight. I wonder when the last time they played twice in a day was.
3. Seeing those two teams play in an empty arena is creepy.
4. Purdue should be ashamed of themselves.
5. So should Indiana. That was a crazy last second shot by Minnesota, though.
6. Minnesota vs. Illinois?!? Didn’t see that one coming.
7. I’m embarrassed to be a Michigan fan right now. That game against Wisconsin was disgusting. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I could have shot as well as they did. And I can’t really shoot.
8. Memphis would have got more out of a scrimmage than they did by playing Tulsa.
9. UCLA vs. USC was a classic. Both teams are poised to do some damage. I am incredibly impressed by how O.J. Mayo has played down the stretch.
10. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute left the game in the first half with an injury. He’ll reportedly be fine, but he’ll miss the game today. That’s a bit scary.
11. The Jayhawks played as badly as a team can play in the first half against Nebraska. They woke up and crushed them in the second half, but the no-show makes me a bit uneasy.
12. Either West Virginia isn’t as good as they have looked recently or Georgetown is playing great.
13. Michael Beasley is truly incredible. I wish we could have seen what he could have done on a team with some depth. He’d make it more fun to be a Miami Heat ticket holder in a hurry.
14. The hatchets are falling already – Providence and Rice have axed their coaches.
15. Xavier lost. I like the team a lot, but I am far from thrilled with their play down the stretch.
16. I find it hard to believe that there are still teams out there that have never played in the tournament, but there are at least three first-timers this year. It’s always fun to see how excited those teams and their fans are for the first five minutes of the game before they are down by 15.
17. Only three more days until the play-in game. Can you feel the excitement? No concept is more ridiculous or in need of a merciful death than that stupid game.
18. Tennessee did not play like a number one against SC. It is impressive how Lofton puts that team on his back when they are in trouble, though.
19. Vanderbilt is a bad joke. I will be very hard pressed not to bet against them in the first round.
20. Spectacular game by Wayne Ellington against Florida State. The Tar Heels are in form.
Some of the things that caught my eye on Thursday during the conference tournaments:
- I hate to admit it because I really don’t like them, but Georgetown impressed me. They beat up on Villanova by shooting the lights out and by absolutely smothering Villanova’s offense, and that did it despite not getting a single point out of Roy Hibbert. They are now the top team in the Big East in my mind based on how they have played their last two big games, and on how lousy Louisville looked in their overtime loss to Pittsburgh. On the other hand, UCLA went into the tournament last year just like Louisville will this year – with two straight losses – and it turned out pretty well for the Bruins.