Saturday, March 19, 2005

Day Two Recap

Vermont delivers the goods
It look a day and a half, but the tournament finally got crazy. Vermont gritted out a huge win over Syracuse and Bucknell (Bucknell!) won a thriller with Kansas. Meanwhile, a pair of #5 seeds won very good games to finish out the night and my Final Four pick from the West, Louisville, survived a horrifying matchup with the Ragin' Cajun. Great night of hoops.

Some highlights and thoughts from the second day of March Madness:

- My Dad nailed the Vermont pick. When we spoke on the phone last night that was the one Friday game that he pointed to as an upset waiting to happen. Nice work, buddy.

- Bucknell's Charles Lee has to be the happiest guy in the world right now. After dropping an easy pass and then committing a questionable intentional foul, he single-handedly propelled Kansas to a 63-62 lead. I was chatting up my brother, Drew, on the phone and we both agreed that it was over. Nope. You have to love March Madness!

- I just want to point out that Bucknell is from the Patriot League. In case you weren't aware of this, it is one of only two leagues (along with the Ivy League) that does not alter its admission standards for athletes. In addition, they have very few scholarships to dole out.

From Brenn Jones (in a book review of John Feinstein's "The Last Amateurs"): "Year after year, the winner of the Patriot League tournament is granted a 15th-seed slot in the NCAA tournament to play what amounts to one last "guarantee game." By refusing to lower academic standards for basketball talent, the Patriot League has ensured that it will always be quickly swept aside by a big-conference bouncer at the Big Dance. In keeping basketball honest, though, the Patriot League has shown that a big loss at the Big Dance is a very small loss indeed."

The Bucknell players are to be commended.

- The SEC got some redemption today. Florida held off a tough Ohio team and Mississippi State FINALLY came to play and as a result, crushed an overmatched Stanford team.

- Conference USA was one Charlotte collapse from going 4-0. The 49ers meltdown was the biggest gag that no one is talking about.

- Looking at the 5-12 showdown, we got our required upset in the first game of the tournament. Beyond that, Villanova kept the Big East's terrific record in such games intact, and New Mexico helped extend the Mountain West Conference's futility as they are now 0-5 as the #12 seed in this decade.

- The analysts are calling the Oklahoma-Utah matchup the best game on tomorrow's slate, but I have to disagree. I think UW-Pacific (scary game for the top seeded Huskies), UAB-Arizona (could we finally see two teams in the 80's?), and Texas Tech-Gonzaga will all be better games.

- Looking ahead to Sunday, Duke has to be absolutely bitter right now. Mississippi State has the talent of a #3 seed and now that they are finally playing well, they present all kinds of problems for the Coach K U. This could be similar to the 1997 Tournament when the second seeded Blue Devils ran into a suddenly unstoppable Providence (seeded 10th) in the second round. Keep on eye out for that one.

- Digger Phelps has lost it. He used the phrase "Got it done" at least 74 times in three minutes while chatting up Joe Namath's girlfriend on SportsCenter. First the matching tie and highlighter shtick, now delusional ramblings. I can't even watch the Game Day team of Chris Fowler, Dickie V/Majerus, Digger, and Steve Lavin (who is by far the best they have going right now, which tells you everything). Someone get Bilas off the sideline and back into the studio, stat!

- By the way, Old Dominion's coach (name escapes me, but Tom H-to-the-Izzo loved him) stole "worst stache" away from Bobby Lutz. Rough day for the Niners' coach.

That's it for tonight and for the first round. The second stanza doesn't get the pub of opening day, but it's always been my favorite. Let's hope the scoring and the late-game dramatics continues to pick up during round two.

1 comment:

Adam Hoff said...

One other thing ... a big thank you to Syracuse for living up to the "Biggest Sucker Pick" lable I slapped them with. At least I'm going to get one thing right this year!