NCAAs Day 1: Walking Commentary
Off we go with the greatest weekend in sports!
Relive last year's First Round:
And the 2011 First and Second Rounds:
12:30 - HAAAAAAAAAHHHHVAAAAHHHHHD!!!! How bout them Crimson! Lots of talk about New Mexico, but clearly, the Mountain West is overrated. Just kidding. See my comments at 5:25 about drawing conclusions about conferences from tourney records. Meanwhile, the Orange have all but killed the Grizzlies. It's ugly. Always nice to have the blowout of the day as a 4-seed! Good times. Good night! See you tomorrow.
11:30 - Montana? More like Mon-GRANDMA!!! 38-15 at the half! Go Orange! Kill all Grizzlies!
11:28 - Awesome steal by MCW. He's just devastating on the perimeter. You can critique his offense all you want, with much justification, but defense is half the game and he is fantastic there.
11:27 - OK...I'll admit it...I felt a little sorry for Montana after that Rak block from behind blew up their fast break. Just for a second.
11:24 - Text from Cousin Mark: "Tinkle and Einhorn... Tinkle and Einhorn... Einhorn's a man??" Brilliant reference.
11:20 - Triche used to get away with pushing off as he started his drive. The Big East refs were on to him by the end. But...ah, he caught him with his elbow there. Flagrant 1. That is probably a justifiable use of that rule in that case. Really caught him solid.
11:14 - I shout strange things when we're playing a small team. I was just chanting, "Kill...kill...kill..." Then when Grant went up for the rebound I shouted, "C'mon, Eat it!" I want to win by 50.
11:05 - MCW had his first jump pass for a turnover at the 12:00 mark. I think that's pretty late for him! Should be a good night!
11:00 - On the NCAA investigation... It's embarrassing. It sucks to have the team you root for under the microscope. But after the Bernie Fine debacle, it's understandable. Chances are this is going to get worse before it gets better. Chances are the NCAA will find something. All that said,
10:58 - Hey hey HEY! (Krusty voice) I'm back. Just had an indoor soccer game if you can believe it. Back in time to catch the Orange. I love the coaching name matchup. Coach Tinkle versus Coach Boeheim. Sounds like a 5th grader made up the rudest names he could conceive. But you already know that because you follow me on twitter.
7:04 - Finally, our first upset! Oregon gets it done. A good rule of thumb that I have no statistics to back up; beware the lower-seeded major conference team that enters the tournament playing well.
6:58 - Hey Coach Few...the phrase you're looking for is, "Survive and advance."
5:47 - Ahhhh, too bad. Marquette advances on a sweet Vander Blue drive after a rough Davidson scoring drought. We're close, though... Upset watch in San Jose with 12-seed Oregon up on OK State by 11 at the half, and Gonzaga only leading by three at the half. As much as I'd love to see a 1-seed fall, and as much as I think it will happen any year now, I'd hate for the first one to topple to be mid-major Gonzaga. I'd rather it be a true big time program rather than a small, perennial overachieving team.
5:25 - Marquette on the brink! Pittsburgh already lost! Does this mean the Big East is overrated? I'm always skeptical of using conference records in the tournament to come to an apparently conclusive opinion about conference strength. In this crazy, single-elimination tournament, the results are just too varied to be of much analytical help. Last year, for example, Notre Dame lost in the first round as a 7-seed, and 3-seed Georgetown lost in the second round to an 11-seed. But Cincinnati made the Elite Eight as a 6-seed and Louisville made the Final Four as a 4-seed. Syracuse didn't quite play to their 1-seed, losing to eventual national runners-up, Ohio State, in the Elite Eight. Marquette made the Sweet Sixteen as a 3-seed, but lost to a 7-seed. South Florida won a game as a 12-seed. What conclusions could you possibly draw about the quality of the Big East in 2012 from those results? Some teams string together good games. Other teams play one bad game against an inferior opponent and head home. It's March. It's not science. It's Madness.
5:00 - Dellavadova... not quite good enough today. Missed the would-be winner, 3 for 12 from the field, and a devastating 3 for 5 from the free throw line. St. Mary's dug too big a hole in the first half.
3:35 - Wow. Pitt is getting dominated by the Shockers. I definitely forgot my love of the MVC and failed to ignore SU's tough record against recent Pittsburgh teams. Wichita St. can play! Take heed, Gonzaga...
Right now, though, it's Davidson-Marquette on my TV. C'mon Wildcats! Do it for my Davidson alumni friends! For Galdo, Mrs. Galdo, and Baby Galdo! For Davs! For The Natural Disaster! For my birthday-mate, Brendan! For General Taft! For Hydro, who I once knew! Go 'Cats!
3:15 - Remember the 2000 bracket? That year only three double-digit seeds advanced out of the first round. It was a pretty sluggish opening round. What happened after that? All hell broke loose in the Round of 32. 10 of 16 top four seeds lost in the second round. The South and the West regions completely imploded, with both 1-seeds, both 2-seeds, both 3-seeds, and both 5-seeds losing in the second round. When the dust settled, the Final Four consisted of two 8-seeds and a 5-seed. 1-seed Michigan State, one of the pre-tournament favorites, cut down the nets, but it was a wild ride.
Coming into the tournament this has felt like a wide open field. But that doesn't necessarily mean we'll see a bunch of opening round upsets. It could mean, as in 2000, those mid-level seeds spring plenty of upsets on Saturday and Sunday. We shall see.
2:42 - Relevant Seinfeld quote (from Seaons 8's "The Checks"):
GEORGE: (eager) So? What d'you think?
NAKAHAMA BROADCAST CORPORATION EXECUTIVE: We're bit confused. Why was this man Jerry's butler?
GEORGE: Ah. You see, the man who was the butler, uh, had gotten into a car accident with Jerry, and because he didn't have any insurance, the judge decreed that the man become Jerry's butler!
EXECUTIVE: Is this customary in your legal system?
JERRY: No. That's what makes it such a humorous situation.
EXECUTIVE 1 (speaks Japanese) SUBTITLE: Are you following any of this?
EXECUTIVE 2 (speaks Japanese) SUBTITLE: I'm still trying to figure out why they gave us a bag of oranges.
EXECUTIVE 1: (to Jerry and George) I'm sorry. I'm sure Mr Seinfeld is very funny to Americans, but I'm not sure this butler show would work in Japan.
GEORGE: Oh, I, uh, I disagree. You've, uh, you've been living in America too long. (indicates the bag of oranges) You've forgotten what it's like to have no oranges.
(Jerry nods, sagely, and picks up a cup of coffee.)
EXECUTIVE 1 (speaks Japanese) SUBTITLE: Again with the oranges
(There's a crash as Jerry's grip on the cup fails and he drops it.)
JERRY: (flexing his fingers) Sorry. My hand is numb.
GEORGE: (positive) Yes. From endorsing checks for the Super Terrific Happy Hour! Ha ha!
EXECUTIVE 1: You must go now.
2:36 - Butler pulling away, Gottlieb ranting annoyingly (correctly, but annoyingly) about the "non-excessive elbow contact" rule, nothing doing so far for New Mexico St. ... It's a sluggish start to Day 1 so far. Looking forward to St. Mary's-Memphis, as well as the Davidson-Marquette game that could be tight. C'mon! Gimme some madness!
2:17 - Ian Eagle, who I always imagine looks like this, is UP for this Bucknell-Butler game. We miss you, Gus Johnson, but there are plenty of great voices left in the field, Raftery and Kevin Harlan first among them.
2:13 - Butler just hit its first and second threes of the game to re-take the lead. Get down, Bucknell! Butler is, in fact, significantly better than you! Could be a great finish, though, if Bucknell hangs in...
2:10 - Wait, Doug Gottlieb is calling the games in Salt Lake City??!! No thank you!! I'd rather watch commercials of the Butler-Bucknell game!
1:37 - Hello! Happy March Madness! Happy NCAAs! May your brackets withstand breakage! Two games in progress right now, about to go to three with Wichita St-Pitt. Valpo can't make baskets against Michigan State, in part because the Spartans are just GUARDING them so darn TIGHT! Sheesh! How we going to get an upset if the top seeds all play such good defense?
Speaking of defense, that was a big focus for me as I filled out my brackets this year. After watching SU struggle so mightily against teams with great D, that became my necessary ingredient for a deep run down the lines of my bracket. The Spartans, at least against the Valporaiso Bryce Drews, have got it going.
So, too, do the Brad Stevens Bulldogs. Fourteen points by Bucknell at the half! What is this...an SU-Georgetown game?? Butler only notched 21 of their own, but a 7 point deficit against Butler feels like a 14 point deficit against most other teams. Brad Stevens is kinda like Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh in that way. Both those teams grind the grind out of the game. If you like high scores, I guess you can keep watching Michigan State. At least they've got Verne and Raft'. The one good thing about low scoring, ugly games (as horrifying as we SU fans find them) is that they are, by definition, close.
I think Butler pulls it out. I think they're more likely to get their offense going, too. I also think Pittsburgh is a little better than their 8-seed, but then again, I always love Missouri Valley Conference teams in the NCAAs. That's where Wichita St. is from. Still, give me Pitt. And my first upset pick of the day...St. Mary's over Memphis.