Great day of games this afternoon and evening, which showed that just about anything can happen in March. Every team that won today could just have easily lost…..which shows that college basketball is a whole different world nowadays. With the possible exception of the UNC game, every team that played today was one or two plays away from losing…..and some (I mean you Ohio State) should have lost. College basketball, like life, can be random….and today showed why.
Ohio State – Xavier
First game of the day was also the most exciting. You had Gus Johnson, you had Rupp Arena, you had Gus Johnson, you had Greg “Forty Year Old” Oden, you had Gus Johnson, you had Josh Duncan (remember him) and yes….you had Gus Johnson. Ohio State should have lost….partially because Xavier had two free throws to ice the game and simply choked…..but also partially because Oden threw a man out of bounds on his last foul and should have been called for an intentional. It is said that the last minutes of a game define what is a great and what is an average team. Ohio State pulled it out….in part because of a big shot, but in part because of a fortunate break. When you hear people praising Thad Matta, remember that he was one Justin Cage free throw from missing the Sweet 16 again, this time with the greatest Freshmen class in history.
Louisville – Texas A&M
Another great game in Rupp and another example of why college basketball is the greatest sport of all. You saw the difference in this game between what veteran players and freshmen do at the end of big games. Edgar Sosa played like a star for 39 minutes….virtually unstoppable and showing the toughness that made the NY kid a star. But then at the end, he misses two big free throws (after going 15-15 previously), takes a bad three at the end and watches as Senior Acie Law IV ices the game. Great road win for the Aggies and a good showing by the Cards (who will be great next year). But I had a hard time focusing….Rick Pitino’s hair is officially scoring off the chart on the “cant be real” scale. Somethings gotta give….
Butler – Maryland
I take very little from this game but this….in the end Gary Williams will often find a way to lose. Butler is a good, but not great, team who is now officially making Florida’s run to the Final Four even easier than it was last year. Maryland is a product of the overrated ACC and proof that idiots on ESPN who said they were the “nation’s hottest team” have no insight whatsoever on college hoops. Butler wins which is nice…..but Maryland stinks, which is normal.
VCU – Pitt
Gotta give both teams some props here. VCU has shown that Anthony Grant is the newest coaching star that is quickly about to take off. I expect him to get a serious look by the folks at Michigan (I am sad about Tommy Amaker who is a favorite of the KSR crew) and to be out of Richmond by April. But I am also impressed with Pitt……I have always said that you can never overestimate Pitt in the tourney, and this year they have proven me wrong. Strong first round win and a gritty victory today when they could have easily folded after letting VCU back in the game multiple times and missing winning free throws at the end. Big East shows up…..if only for a moment.
Georgetown – Boston College
Game I only saw moments of. I still dont believe in Georgetown. I am sorry…..Boston College gave them all they could handle, was up eight late in the game and they have no inside presence. I am this close to picking the Dores over Georgetown in the next round….but even if they lose, I expect a major beatdown by the Heels (or even the Longhorns) before the Final Four.
Vanderbilt – Washington State
The easiest upset of the day to pick occurred here where the athleticism of Vandy (who would have ever thought you would read those words) overwhelmed the creatures from the Northwest. No one believed in Washington State due to their terrible television contract, and Vandy showed that they shouldnt have, taking the team down in a very well-played game that went to two overtimes. The Dores have looked very strong in Sacramento and it may be the case that Kentucky isnt the only team who could lose multiple times to them in a season. (By the way, with the performances of UCLA, UNC, Vandy, Tenn, Fla, Miami (OH) and even Eastern….Kentucky’s schedule looks like a real dog, doesnt it?)_
UCLA – Indiana
I know this game was close, but anyone who watched it knew that Indiana had no shot. 13 points at halftime….that is simply embarrasing. But I have to say this, watch out for Indiana the next few years….Sampson may be sleazy, but he can coach. This program is back and will be a beast when the texted in recruits show up. And oh yeah, UCLA is good….makes me nervous about my Kansas national title pick
UNC- Michigan State
My favorite game of the day. The final tally was misleading as the Spartans gave the Heels everything they wanted before running out of gas in the end. I love the way Izzo teams play and for 33 minutes, the Spartans had the perfect game plan for UNC. They slowed down the guards, made the Heels hit outside shots and basically contained all the stars…..well except Tyler Hansborough. If the Spartans had one Randolph Morris (a big if), they win this game…..of course UK does not have one warrior like Drew Neitzel either….maybe we could merge the two teams?
Kentucky – Kansas comes today. We will have a preview here in the afternoon and a prediction soon to come (preview….hopefully it wont be as correct as mine for Nova). In the meantime, here is a link to a rap video about Duke….. sent to me by a reader Chris. Warning: it is very much a NSFW type thing and not for the easily offended. Go Cats!