Sunday, March 19, 2006

Worth Every Second

In the last 4 days, I'd estimate that I spent roughly 30 hours watching college basketball. Sadly, this is no exaggeration. Most would consider this a colossal waste of time. Me? Let's just say that if I could do it all over again... I would in a heartbeat.

What a great first couple of rounds of the NCAA Tournament! We saw a double OT game on the first day, another OT game after an 18-point comeback, lots of close games and upsets, and even some game-winners. You know there were some great games when you can have lists like this:

Top Game-Winning Shots
1. Jermaine Wallace (Northwestern St.) - The fadeaway 3 from the corner over Adam Haluska with 0.5 seconds at 14 seeded NW St. upset the 3rd seeded Hawkeyes is the defining moment of the Tourney so far, and one that's gonna be replayed a lot of times for a lot of years.
2. Darrel Mitchell - LSU - It looked like the Aggies had pulled off another win. Up two with time winding down, Mitchell had the ball in his hands. With 3.9 seconds left, and Mitchell standing about five feet behind the line, Mitchell launches one. And it swishes through, sending LSU into a matchup with Duke. Huge shot for the senior, especially even just having the guts to take it. Down 2, they got the ball with plenty of time. They stalled around for a while before Mitchell's man got switched off of him. No one came out enough on Mitchell. The rest, as they say, is history.
3. Chris Lofton (Tennessee) - Another fadeaway from the corner, this time to help 2 seed Tennessee be only the 5th 2 seed ever to lose to a 15 seed. Great shot, but it's third only because if he misses, Tennessee still gets to go to OT. If Wallace misses, the Demons of Northwestern St. are done for the year. If Mitchell misses, LSU is going home. Still a fantastic shot.
4. Robert Vaden (Indiana) - Time winding down. Ball passed to Vaden. Ball tipped in air. Vaden gets ball. Vaden shoots ball. Ball goes in. Vaden breaks my heart. I picked the Aztecs to win that game, but I have to give it up for Vaden. Way to keep your cool, hit the shot, and send your team onto round 2.
5. Cameron Bennerman (NC State) - With the score tied at 52, Bennerman drained a three from the wing with about 30 seconds left. California never scored again in the game, and the Wolfpack advanced like they always seem to do in round 1.

Some other interesting factoids thoughts from the first two round:
- Sweet 16 bids for the MVC: 2.
- Sweet 16 bids for the CAA: 1.
- Sweet 16 bids for the Big 12: 1.
- Sweet 16 bids for the Big Ten: 0.
- Billy Packer's silence on the issue: Priceless.

- On the subject of the MVC, I knew Wichita St. and Bradley were good teams. I even predicted the Shockers to the Sweet 16. But they are playing great basketball, better than I could have predicted. The reason for their success starts with their defense. Both are very good and capable defensive teams. On offense, they make good decisions and have good balance with the inside and outside game. Bradley's stars are C Patrick O'Bryant (only a sophomore) and Wing player Marcus Sommerville (18 and 6 against Pittsburgh). Wichita St. has the MVC Player of the Year in Paul Miller down low, but they also have balance, as they hit 9/15 from downtown against the Vols. These are not your father's Mid-Majors.

- How disappointing was the Big 10? The conference was ranked #1 in the RPI coming in. They have 0 Sweet 16 teams. Let's look at their teams' seeds and the seeds' of who they lost to:
#2 Ohio St. - lost to #7 Georgetown
#3 Iowa - lost to #14 Northwestern St.
#4 Illinois - lost to #5 Washington
#6 Indiana - lost to #3 Gonzaga
#6 Michigan St. - lost to #11 George Mason
#9 Wisconsin - lost to #8 Arizona

Yep, that's a grand total of 2 out of 6 teams that lost to teams that had higher seeds. They didn't win a game that they weren't favored to win. Yikes.

- Georgetown might have the best 1-2 punch in the nation next year in Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green, both sophomores this year. Today, Hibbert had 20 and 14, while Green had 19 points, 8 rebounds, and even 6 assists. Only 4 players scored for the Hoyas, and they won by 18 points. Looks like everyone on the Buckeyes except Terence Dials forgot to show up.

- Connecticut really needs to stop playing down to the level of their opponents. They are a more talented and deeper team than Washington, but if they play like they did in these first 2 rounds, Washington is more than capable of beating them.

- UCLA/Gonzaga should be a heck of a matchup. The Zags are great offensively, which they showed they can be even if Morrison has an off night. The Bruins are very tough defensively. The key to this game is that UCLA has to play better if Gonzaga plays zone than they did against the Tide.

- I still think Villanova vs. Boston College is the game of the round. Classic inside vs. outside matchup. This one will be decided by whoever plays better: Villanova's big men or Boston College's guards. Ray and Foye will get theirs for Nova, and Dudley & Smith will get theirs for BC. I still favor Villanova because Lowry is a tenacious defender, and Sheridan is playing better, but if Tyrese Rice starts hitting 3s like he did in the 2nd half against Montana, it could be a long afternoon for the Wildcats.

That's all I got for now. Much more to come in the following days, as we wait for the Sweet 16 to start up Thursday. Have a good week!

6 comments:

The Armchair Quarterback said...

I agree Nova and B.C. should be a good one. I'm also looking forward to seeing the Florida Georgetown game. Florida has looked very good and I'm interested to see how good Hibbert is.

twins15 said...

Yeah I'm also looking forward to that game. Both teams are solid all-around, especially in the frontcourt. I've watched Hibbert some and I'm impressed. I wasn't able to watch the Ohio St. game, but against Northern Iowa he seemed to be getting great position down low, and finishing at the basket. Jeff Green is also a very nice all-around player. Should be a great matchup, and go Hoyas! (because I picked them!)

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