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:
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.
Wichita State is 30-0 and not the #1 team in the nation. Florida, a team with 2 losses, holds that spot. Some say because the Shockers play in the Missouri Valley Conference and not a traditional powerhouse conference is the reason they are not in the top spot. We are reaching a time in college basketball where complete domination by major conferences is coming to an end. With the shuffling of teams in and out of conferences (and creating them like the AAC), what it means to be in a major conference, or a mid-major, is changing. The ranking of college basketball needs to reflect that.
This team is 30-0. The first Division I men’s team to ever reach this mark in the regular season (remember St. Joe’s went 27-0 in 2003-04). While #2 in the nation is nothing to scoff at, I find the strength of schedule argument hard to take at this point. Yes, strength of schedule is something to take into consideration, but if you are at the end of March and no one has been able to take you down- you deserve the #1 spot on the poll. Especially when the team above you has TWO losses. One of Florida’s losses, against UConn, was one of the worst pieces of college basketball coaching I have seen in a long time. UConn had no time outs and Billy Donovan called one allowing the Huskies to set up a shot and ultimately win the game. That piece of coaching should, in no way, be rewarded.
Wichita State, keep doing what you are doing. Good Luck as you finish up your season and roll into March Madness!
Today has been a lazy, post Christmas day. PJ and I took down the trees and have generally been super slothy. We slept in and have spent all afternoon and evening napping and watching basketball. What a life!
I am currently flipping between the Butler/Vandy game (I’m pretty sure that the Bulldogs have this one in the bag) and the battle of the Huskies. UConn just defeated Washington 61-53. Today has been an all around good day for Coach Ollie. He just inked a 5 year extension to his initial 7 month head coach contract. Not bad!
At Stanford, the #2 UConn women handed #1 Stanford a painful loss. I watched #3 Baylor spank Tennessee the other day. I was sure that the Lady Bears were the best women playing the game, but watching UConn I can’t be so sure. The state of women’s ball is HEALTHY!
The ACC was busy at home on Tobacco Road today. As we were taking down the tree, there was a moment of hope that Santa Clara would knock dook down a notch, but damn Plumlee, Kelley, and Curry. They are all hard to watch. NC State had a strong showing against Western Michigan. I am excited to see this team live on Monday versus UNCG. They are playing better and better with the leadership of the likes of Leslie and Wood.
At the Dean Dome, UNC hosted the UNLV Running Rebels. Last year when they met, in Las Vegas, #1 UNC lost. While many in the light blue uniforms did not play in that game last November, this was a revenge game. UNC really needed this win. They scored first and held the upper hand for most of the game. McAdoo was really quiet in the first half. That was ok because we got to see the work of some of UNC’s first year players. I am so excited for the potential and flashes of brilliance that I see in JP Tokoto, Brice Johnson, and Joel James. Particularly the team work of Johnson and James is fun to watch and will be a powerhouse in the next few years! This was all without the play of Reggie Bullock, who did not dress out due to a mild concussion.
Today was PJ Hairston’s first career start and he stepped up to the leadership role that entails with a solid 15 points. Dexter Strickland added 16 points. The Tarheels were able to capitalize off of turnovers and kept UNLV first year player Anthony Bennett, the NCAA leading freshman scorer, to only 15 points. Bennett did manage a double double with 13 rebounds. McAdoo woke up in the second half and was only one rebound short of his own double double. Watching this game, it seemed (maybe for the first time in a while) that the Heels were having fun. That is the point of basketball- after all- Well having fun and beating Duke- is the point of basketball. I think this win is a strong one and a win the Heels need to build on as conference play is about to start.