Wow. Just wow. What a day of basketball. What a weekend of basketball. Friday was just okay, but the other three days were all but perfect.
I have to start with Cornell. I have had several hours to think about what I saw in that game, and I’m still not sure that I believe it. Cornell was up against a Wisconsin team that was among the most efficient in the country with and without the ball. They don’t mess up often, they score when they have the ball, and they perform very well on defense. Cornell never freaking trailed in the game! They jumped out of the gate like they knew they were going to win, and by halftime they had made a mockery of the thing. There have been many, many impressive performances this weekend, but there wasn’t one better than that. Cornell just knew that they were going to win, and it really wasn’t in doubt. Truly awe inspiring. If that team can carry that game on to next weekend then there is no limit to what they can do. Unfortunately, their next matchup is as bad as it can be. The two teams they have beaten have been thrown onto their heels early and never recovered. Kentucky is dramatically more skilled and explosive than either of those teams, though, so it should be much harder for Cornell to impose their will and stay on top. I have Kentucky in the finals in my bracket, and I still feel pretty good about that, but my heart will be cheering for the Big Red. How can you not love what they are doing?
Continue reading “Sweet, Sweet Sunday!”
There is still one more day of games to play this weekend, so there is a chance that this can change. As of right now, though, the image that is going to stick in my mind for years to come when I think about the first weekend of this tournament is the late three pointer by Northern Iowa’s Ali Farokhmanesh. You know exactly the one I’m talking about. Kansas was looking like they were going to pull off a win that they really didn’t deserve when Farokhmanesh found himself oddly uncovered during a break. You could see the moment of thought crossing his eyes – he knew that he should dribble off some time, or pass the ball away because he was ice cold in the second half, but he was so wide open that he just pulled up and sank a dagger into the hearts of every Kansas fan on the planet. It was ruthlessly brilliant and totally unforgettable.
Continue reading “Saturday, What a Day!”
Thoughts and opinions added throughout Friday’s first round action:
– I love Xavier. This is a program that deserves more credit than they have received. This is their ninth tournament berth in the last 10 years, and in the last six years they made the Sweet Sixteen twice and the Elite Eight once. No matter what changes – personnel, coaches and so on – the team just keeps pluggiing along and doing their business. Their second half against Minnesota today has been incredibly impressive. Jordan Crawford has been a killer, and they have played with confidence and effectiveness. I can’t say enough good things about this team. Look out Pittsburgh.
Continue reading “Friday’s Tournament Action”
Through the day I’ll add what I see and like:
-Every time I see Jimmer Fredette’s name I assume it’s a misprint. That’s one awkward name.
– Villanova is a mess. They are down by six at the half to Robert Morris. I assume that they’ll win this one, but they are not long for this world. Reynolds is supposed to be the savior, but he has been terrible in the half.
Continue reading “Thursday’s Tournament Action”
This region comes down to precisely one thing – do you buy into the hype about John Wall and Demarcus Cousins? Kentucky comes into this region as the best team, and they are in a good position to make the Final Four and beyond, but only if their fab freshmen are as good as people say they are. Personally, I buy the hype. We’ve seen some impressive accomplishments from freshmen in the tournament in recent years – especially one frosh point guard from Memphis – and Wall is in the same ballpark as those that have risen to the occasion before him. Wall also has the benefit of a coach who is very used to hitting the tournament with a freshman running the point, and he has a fairly easy pod to star the tournament and get his feet wet. The first round will be a joke, and the second round will put the Wildcats up against one of two chronically flawed, horrifically underachieving teams. There’s no drama en route to the Sweet Sixteen.
Continue reading “NCAA Tournament Preview – East and South”
The more I think about this region, the more interesting I find it. I still believe two things that are central to this region – that Kansas is the best team in this region, and one of the two best teams in this tournament. The challenges that Kansas faces in this tough group, though, significantly reduce their margin for error. This is probably the toughest bracket that any No. 1 team faces. In fact, it definitely is. The first round is obviously not a concern, but every game after that has a potential pitfall or two in it. UNLV is a decent team with wins over squads like Louisville, BYU (twice), and New Mexico. They could be dangerous. They may not even get out of the first round, though – Northern Iowa is an incredibly tough defensive team who controls the pace very effectively. Kansas will be challenged by either of those teams, though they should be able to win. After that, Kansas would face either probably the best No. 4 seed in the tournament in Maryland, who has the stone cold Greivis Vasquez leading the way, or the best No. 5 in the tourney, Michigan State, which has one of the very best coaches on the planet. Either of those teams will have five days to get ready for Kansas, and they will be ready for the challenge.
Continue reading “NCAA Tournament Preview – West and Midwest”
Tomorrow and Wednesday we’ll be taking a closer look at the brackets region-by-region, and one Thursday and Friday we’ll check in throughout the day with observations from the games. Today, though, we’ll just hit a few notes from around the sporting world before we forget that all other sports exist for a couple of days:
Continue reading “Monday Notes”
1. Somebody out there loves Duke. It’s certainly not me – I hate them. They have probably the easiest path to the Final Four. Their number two, Villanova, forgot how to win down the stretch and is probably seeded too high. Baylor is fun to watch, but probably in over their head as a three seed. I love Purdue, but without Robbie Hummel they are one player away from being a matchup challenge. Their biggest road bump potentially comes in the second round if Louisville gets past Cal in round one. There isn’t a team in the bracket that can keep up with Duke in their current form if the Blue Devils play their game.
Continue reading “The Bracket – First Thoughts”
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but if I were I would be looking at the Mountain West conference as prime territory of interest after yesterday. Going into the conference tournament there were two teams n the conference – New Mexico and BYU – that were stone cold locks to make the NCAA tournament. UNLV and San Diego State were both in pretty decent shape as well, but both could have used one more win to solidify their case and take away any nervousness on Sunday. Given their conference and accomplishments, the seeding for New Mexico and BYU is probably relatively secure regardless of what they did in the conference tournament. It just seems a little too perfect, then, that in conference tournament action on Friday UNLV beat BYU and San Diego State beat New Mexico. The two winners got the wins they needed, and the two higher seeds get an extra day or two of rest before unleashing what could be long tournament runs. The administrators of all four schools couldn’t have set up a more perfect scenario if they tried.
Continue reading “Conspiracies, Pain, and a Moron”
I don’t know about you, but all I can think about now is the bracket. I’m just counting the seconds until the bracket comes out – two days and counting. It’s hard to make any real predictions about what will happen until we see where teams are seeded and who they play, but I just don’t want to wait. Here’s a look at four likely lower seeds that I like a lot:
Continue reading “Potential Cinderellas?”