completely busted

Today, with losses by both Michigan State and Arizona, my bracket is completely busted.  I had those two in the final with the Spartans taking it all.  I don’t love any of the final four teams.  Kentucky wears that garish shade of blue, plays dirty ball, and relies to hard on the one and done players- blah, no thank you.  Billy Donovan and his Gators lost it for me with his piss poor coaching against UConn in their loss to the Huskies.  UConn has been a perennial “no thank you” but with their new coach, the time they have spent in “no post-season” purgatory, and the on-court leadership from Shabazz Napier this season they may be the best of a lack luster choice. (I also saw Napier’s mom saying “good job” to the MSU players as they walked into the locker room today- good sportsmanship is learned early and that was nice to see).  I own two dachshunds and it is just hard to root for the Badgers.

On a better note, the Lady Heels won against that other “Carolina” and will be meeting Stanford in the elite eight.  If they get another win, Coach Haskell will be meeting the ladies in Nashville.  Go Carolina!

As Arizona is out, we no longer get to see Rondae Hollis-Jefferson do this:


Oh Happy Day

UNC survives the last 10 minutes against Providence to play another round!  That is not a luxury afforded to the Blue Devils and that makes this a pretty perfect basketball day!

Pretty much everyone’s bracket is broken, but I’ll take a broken bracket and the dookies cooling their heels back in Durham!


THIS is what it’s all about

Mercer upset Duke 78-71. THIS is what March Madness is ALL about!

Only 3.3% of brackets predicted this upset! Go Bears!


Bracket Broken?

Is your bracket broken yet?  I’m sure that it is…this has been a day of upsets.  It has also been a day of OT play.  Last year there was only one game that went into overtime.  This year there has already been four.  This is what we live for.  This is March Madness!

The North Dakota State Bison beat Oklahoma in overtime.  Looking at stats, the Bison did not match up well with the Sooners, but their defense held them in check, making jump shots harder to make.  The surprise star of the night was first year player, Carlin Dupree.  He did not play in regulation, but got put into the game in OT because of a reach-in foul by Taylor Braun.  After less than a minute on the floor, Dupree was calmly sinking foul shots like a pro (they win and loose games, people) leading NDSU to the win.

NC State blew a 16 point lead to loose in OT to St. Louis.  A win seem assured for the Pack with five minutes left in regulation, but St. Louis (what they heck is their mascot, anyway) steadily, play-by-play, tied the game and took the game into overtime.  During the regular season, St. Louis was 2-0 in OT and State split their OT 1-1.  Derrick did assure me that State was not going to loose this game by text as they set up for the extra minutes, but alas poor foul shooting was the undoing of this game.  TJ Warren, ACC player of the year, alone was around 30% from the line and the Pack overall left 17 points on the floor (20-37).  Missing foul shots makes your season much shorter.  Coach G should rest assured, the pack is young and he has TJ Warren and 4 freshmen in rotation.  They will do nothing but get better.

For the first time since 2009, Ohio State is going home after one tournament game.  PJ had them in the Final Four on his bracket, but the Dayton Flyers had other ideas.  With the OSU senior, Aaron Craft, missing his last second shot the 11 seed won the game by one point.  Throughout the year, the Buckeyes had played with strokes of brilliance, but tonight they did not play to any potential.  The game was not a disaster, but Ohio State could have played every part of this game better.

Texas held off Arizona State with a last minute buzzer beater to win.  I had ASU beating Texas, so while this is not an upset I was a little surprised that the Longhorns pulled this one off.  After a missed three pointer center Cameron Ridley scooped up the offensive rebound for a quick put-back.  The officials had to review the play.  He got it off before the buzzer, so the Longhorns survive to play another round.

I could not watch the Louisville- Manhattan match up.  The game started with the commentators recounting fact that Manhattan head coach, Steve Masiello, has ball boyed for, played for, and coach with Rick Pitino.  Manhattan runs the same style as Louisville and Masiello’s coaching style is most similar to anyone else in Pitino’s coaching tree. (It was fun that reporters heard him calling out Louisville’s plays during the game)  Pitino is on record saying he cared less about the #4 seed (one I think he deserved) than that the NCAA made him coach against is protege.  That sounds like whining at its finest.  You should coach against those in your coaching tree.  It is something to be proud of not something to whine about.  Louisville won the game, but just barely.  It took 8 straight points by Luke Hancock to lift the Cards to a 71-64 win.  Last year’s champs weather this game, but I’m not going to loose any sleep when St. Louis sends them home in the next round.

In a night of upsets and close calls, perhaps the most surprising (except to my Mom who had Harvard winning on her bracket) was Harvard’s win over the #5 Bearcats.  Last year, Harvard was a surprise winner, but this year they shouldn’t have been.  Harvard has steadily been recruiting well and playing basketball at a higher caliber.  Even Pres. Obama picked this upset, though he does not have the Crimson beating the Spartans in the next round.  For tonight, the Ivy League champs have their upset and go into the next game with experience and momentum on their side.  (Though, I do agree with the president and have MSU winning it all- they are looking health and playing at the level the need to be playing right now).

As foul shots can make or break a win (I’m looking at you NC State), I have to mention Michigan State’s Adreine Payne.  He went 17-0 from the free throw line tonight in the Spartan’s win over the Delaware Blue Hens.  Payne was on fire in all aspects of his game tonight (though his conditioning could be a bit better), but going 100% from the line is impressive.  That is how you win games during the Big Dance.  Harvard can’t match them for size and I think they have the best chance for playing through their region and winning the whole thing (beating Arizona).

Ohhh, it’s March Madness….my favorite time of the year!


Sunday Funday

I have some work I need to do for school, but it is hard to get anything done when today is the day the Big Dance brackets are set and my favorite app opens for the post season!  There’s about 45 minutes until the ACC championship tip-off, Go Cavs, beat dook!- but there are so many good basketball  stories swirling in the air right now.  Who’s gonna get that fourth #1 seed (maybe Virginia if they knock off the devils)? Is Wichita State gonna go perfect for the season (unlikely unless you are the Lady Huskies)?  Is this the year that a #16 beast a #1?  It’s never happened, but one of these years….

As we wait for the ACC to start so that they can finish, there were some good stories from conference championships around the country.  Perhaps as not a surprise, but worth commenting on nonetheless Louisville beat UConn in fairly spectacular fashion.  I have no love lost for Rick Pitino (and the particular shade of blue that the Cardinals play in hurts my eyes), but their run through the AAC tournament (does AAC tournament sound made up to anyone else?) has been thorough.  They beat Rutgers by 61 points and the 10 points they beat the Huskies by belies a much harder game that was played.  This was the fifth meeting in a row where the Cardinals beat the Huskies in double digits.

I was rather surprised that UCLA routed #4 Arizona, though I guess I shouldn’t have been.  They are both strong teams and the rivalry growing between them  leads to passionate play on both sides.  Arizona’s defense was just ineffective against the Bruin’s quick offense.  I am going to ignore the Wear twins in all future discussions of UCLA, for obvious reasons, but they were effective from mid-court for this game.  UCLA won this game by 4 points, play was fast and fun, but the Wildcats did miss 6 free throws in the game.  Those points left on the court could make all the difference between going to the Big Dance and going to the Big Dance as a #1 seed.

The shocker of the day was Providence’s 65-58 win over Creighton.  I thought Creighton had that one, no problem.  The Blue Jays have been hot and Buckets McDermott (click on this link you will not be disappointed) is an offensive machine.  This game was a study in how a steady game wins the race.  A good mantra to mediate on as we enter the live or die moments of the post season- you have to show up to the game and play a full 40 minutes (I’m looking at you Carolina) to win the title.


Thoughts on NC State

Luke Nadkarni wrote a piece addressing Wolfpack fans and telling them to grow up.  He wrote, “And for State fans to be throwing debris on the court at the end of the game is simply unacceptable. For as much as we brag about being great fans, we sure don’t act like it…Good fans don’t act like kindergartners when their team loses.”  Owning that is not what State fans wanted to hear, but as someone who love great basketball perhaps what needed to be said.

One the other hand, that does not take Tar Heel fans off of the hook.  I agree that the behavior and the feelings of being less than need to stop.  It must be hard to struggle to make the top 25 when you have such a great history of basketball.  But discounting NC State, beyond the usual back and forth that comes from sport and competition because I do love some trash talking, is a disservice done on our part.  Fans have called out the victory as less than citing an empty Franklin Street after the win (compared to the flooded street last week in the win over Duke).  Even ESPN was brought into the social media fray as people linked to the their listing of the UNC-NCSU rivalry as the #2 overall most one sided rivalry in the 21st century.  That is true, the 21 century has not been kind to NC State basketball, but great basketball traditions are built over decades, not years.  Tar Heel fans would do good to remember that!

I think Tar Heels need to remember history and not dismiss NCSU so easily (maybe dismiss their immature fans  like the one who threw a dip can a Paige).  The hate for Duke represents all that is good in this world, but we were a rival to State before Duke came into the picture (The oldest rivalry (in basketball) in the state is actually Duke-Wake as they used to be located so close to one another.  Also, before intercollegiate athletics, sports were played among on-campus classes- freshmen vs sophomores, etc).
One thing that being “Tar Heel born and Tar Heel Bred” is that we know good basketball, we hate hard, and we love harder.  One of the biggest faults (and there are many) of the Crazies is that they are so often from out of state, don’t know their basketball, and jump on the dook bandwagon when they come to school down here. They may (misguidedly) love dook, but don’t know anything else about southern basketball.  Tar Heels should know their history.
To be a Tar Heel is to respect the fact that we have been playing State since the 1910s (they won twice to our none in that decade).  The Pack is going through a tough time now, but history shows they are in it for the long haul.  UNC and NCSU were charter members of the SoCon (1923)  and until the 1950s State took that conference 7 to our 3 championships.  dook did not join SoCon until 1929.  Yes, We have taken State in ACC championships 17-10 since 1953.  When the ACC became large enough for divisions- State became our cross division permanent partner.  In the Dixie Classic Tourney (1949-1961), State took 7  championships to our 3.  In the Big Four Tourney (1971-81) they took 3 to our 2 championships.  No, right now there is no parity between the light blue and the red. Yes, they are acting like children.  Maybe their fans don’t know their history, but Tar Heels should.  You should hate hard, but love even harder.  We are good right now.  It feels good to tell State to stop acting like the bratty little brother, but that brother has been around longer than anyone else.  Carolina basketball is fun because we are good, but it also comes from a good history of strong basketball.  To ignore that, to make light of that just because of current basketball conditions is disingenuous to the idea of basketball from North Carolina.
But of course, GTHD!