Monday, March 28, 2011

Cindy will be in attendance on Monday

National Championship Game Chat Room - Chat live with fans from both schools

For the first time since they started seeding the teams in 1979 two double digit seeds are in the Final Four and to add to the irony they’re on the same side of the bracket meaning the championship game will have ten plus seed for the first time. So now it’s not a question of if Cindy will attend the prom but what will she be wearing, Black and Gold or Blue and White? It begs the question if either of these two schools were to win the whole thing does the NCAA Tournament really crown the best team in the country or the best team under the circumstances? For both Butler and VCU a victory on Monday would represent their longest winning streaks of the season as opposed to several other schools whom have done it on multiple occasions during the year, but of course all of those schools are back in class and watching the Final Four on TV like the rest of us. However, after all of the confetti is cleaned up early Tuesday morning and regardless of the color it is, who is going to be remembered in 2011? The school that is crowned the National Champion and that’s all that matters. Just reading the blog entries and listening to talk radio it seems people are still making a case for being a better team than the four that are still playing, but let me quash that argument right now all of them including Ohio State and Kansas that lost only 2 games apiece (a combined total that is less than any of the those four teams that remain), by stating the fact that they are STILL PLAYING makes them a better team. If this was a 4/7 then that would be different and one would assume that every year all top seeds would be in Houston or the equivalent but that opens up Pandora’s Box to all kinds of conjecture and criticism on every playoff system (except the BCS which no intelligent person believes crowns a true champion), even the Super Bowl would have to file a brief as the Patriots had soundly beaten all of the remaining final four teams that remained in last season’s championship games. What makes the NCAA Tournament the greatest event in sports is the very fact that a ten or an eleven has the opportunity to hoist the trophy and raise a banner in their gym, and unfortunately that means that sometimes the best school on paper is not the one doing it, ask Phi Slamma Jamma, The Fab Five, the undefeated UNLV Rebels, the 84’ Hoya Paranoia Georgetown club, or even the FIVE NBA PLAYERS from last season’s Kentucky team, but those are also the most talked about games in the last fifty years and that’s what makes it great.

NCAA Final Four Tournament Individual Game Chat Rooms

(11)VCU vs. (8)Butler

(4)Kentucky vs. (3)UCONN

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Bitterness of Sweet 16

The Dream ends for Steve Fisher and San Diego as ‘Nova moves on. Despite a partisan crowd that was less than an hour drive time away Villanova upended the Cinderella season for the Aztecs who simply fell apart after coming back from double digits to cut it 1 but missed on two consecutive possessions and then gave up O-Glass that resulted in a 3-pointer and a four point deficit and that was it. A very sad ending for a #2 seed that won its first tournament game in the school’s history and had a good shot at advancing to the final eight but even more amazing has been the Wildcats run that started with five consecutive wins in the Big East Tourney arguably the toughest tournament outside of the Big Dance, and are still yet to lose this year in tournament play. Next up, the Duke/ Zona winner.
In the spirit of dreams ending, BYU also had their longest tournament run since 1981 cut short as the Cougs simply ran out of gas in overtime and the 2nd seeded Gators have moved on to the round of 8. Jimmer had a slow first half but got it together in the 2nd half and ended up with 32 points. The only problem was that it took him 29 shots and he was the only BYU player in double figures. One could make the argument that it took them out of their offense but that’s the way they’ve rolled the entire season. One could also argue that with the addition of Brandon Davies they would be playing on Saturday as Florida’s advantage in front court scoring was the difference.
Ouch, did anyone really see this coming? Ok, we took Arizona on the site but just because they were getting a huge amount of lumber (9 points) in a sweet sixteen game, but c’mon if someone would have told you this game was going to end up with a 16-point margin how many people out there (even Cats fans) would have laid the house and the farm on boys from Cameron Indoor? I’ll tell ya, everyone’s talking about how well Arizona shot the ball, and they did shoot well, but at the end of the day they simply had better athletes, and not like Duke wasn’t hustlin’ they were simply overmatched athletically. True, this was Arizona’s best game of the year, but if they’re peaking at the right time then the other 7 schools had better take warning, including OSU, but if they shot their wod getting up for the Devils then surely show up against ‘Nova on Saturday.
How on earth did Wisconsin crash the sweet 16 party?? Did they know someone at the door? Friends of the caterer? Got to the party at 7:30 and just waited for the party to start? In any case just because you’re here doesn’t mean you belong and they were dismissed by Butler who has now proven that there was more to them than just Gordon Hayward as they are right back where they started, in the elite 8 and I can imagine where they would be if he would have stayed around for another year. Ok, let’s see what happens throughout the weekend and who will be left standing come Monday, in the meantime let us know your thoughts in any of the chat rooms and blogs.

Elite Eight Chat Rooms
VCU vs. Kansas

(4) Kentucky vs. (2) North Carolina

(8)Butler vs. (2) Florida

(5)Arizona vs. (3) UCONN

Individual Sweet 16 Chat Rooms

UCONN vs. San Diego State
(1)Duke vs. (5)Arizona
(3)BYU vs.(2) Florida
(8) Butler vs. (4) Wisconsin

(11) Marquette vs. (2) North Carolina
(12) Richmond vs. (1) Kansas
(4)Kentucky vs. (1) Ohio State
(11)VCU vs. (10)Florida State

View the complete Tournament Brackets Here.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Opening stanza sets a high bar for the rest of the dance

As always the one event in sports that you can count on to never disappoint is the NCAA Tournament and opening weekend had more that its share of close games, tears, buzzer beaters and upsets. It would be hard to chose one game that was the game of the weekend but here’s what we went with:

Biggest upset: Morehead State over Louisville. A Big East favorite and ubiquitous bracket buster Rick Patino’s group looked like it had its table set with just Morehead, and Vandy standing in their way before a showdown with Kansas, that many had as their upset special. Not sure if they got caught looking ahead but Rick didn’t take much time mourning as he was on the CBS set the next day providing his analysis on what OTHER teams should do.

Best last second finish: Without question Butler over Pittsburgh. If the game would have finished with the with the final Butler field goal it would have gone down as one of the greatest first weekend games played in recent years, but the final two seconds will live in infamy forever if for anything else for the dumbest foul in tournament history to be dethroned less than a second later by the “new” dumbest foul in history.

Biggest surprise appearance in the Sweet 16: Tie between Richmond and VCU. Five years from now when the tournament field increases to 96 or 206 there will be a trivia question on who was the only “first four” school to make it to the Sweet 16 and the answer will be VCU, the team that was the most scrutinized for even being in the dance. Meanwhile another school from Virginia has the opportunity to shock the hoops world as they move on to take on Kansas, one of the favs to win the whole thing.

Best Game of the weekend: As always, some amazing completion but anytime a number one goes down before they get a chance to change hotels that’s the top story and this year it’s Butler doing it again as only they can do. Honorable mention: how apropos with the ‘Fab 5’ documentary was the final rematch between Duke and Michigan, and then it came down to the final shot. Would have loved to see the runner drop just to see 5 more minutes of that intensity.

Who looked the best: Ohio State two blowouts, grant it as a number one that’s what you expect but everyone else seems to be working hard for the money but the Buckeyes look the most complete but they will be tested next week against a young Kentucky team.

Biggest Disappointment: The Big East. The most teams ever admitted from one conference and the most ever to be eliminated by the weekend as only 2 of the 11 Big Easy schools, and those two teams advanced to the sweets by beating OTHER big East teams. I realize one can make the argument, and we proposed the question here, that perhaps they beat up on themselves so much that there was nothing left in the tank for an after hours dance but if you’re supposed to be “all that and a bag of chips” then at least get to .500 over two games.

Which were your favorites of opening weekend? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Strike up the band

After plenty of speculation and surprises the 2011 NCAA tournament field has been announced and as always not without its share of controversy. Hey even Joe Lunardi got six schools wrong and a bunch brackets out of order. On top of that it has been no secret all year long that the parity in this year’s field is unprecedented and upsets will be the order of the next three weeks. Also common place are the schools that have a compelling argument to be an attendee at the dance but were not extended an invitation, some of the biggest we’ve listed below. However the even with the expansion to 68 schools the same criteria has always held true for those that do not come from a power conference; lose your conference tournament at your own peril, and for the second time in three years St. Mary’s missed their ride and despite going 25-8 and having a RPI of 48, will miss the big dance and will be heading for the NIT. Probably for the first and last time, Harvard students failed their entrance exam by losing a one-game playoff to Princeton and thus the streak of 50+ years without a tournament appearance continues, not a fortuitous end to their best season in years going 23-6 with the best RPI among non-invitees at 37. Lastly, not quite a from a “power” conference but UTEP at 25-9 could have an argument over some at-large qualifiers, and 11 entries from the Big East making up 16% of the entire field. It’s obvious the SEC doesn’t have quite the pull on the hardwood that it does on grass as Bama’ is left off the list with 21 wins and a 12-4 conference record. The strength of schedule of 136 had to be the crux of the issue here. Who do you think were the major snubs? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.
The biggest snubs based on RPI
RPI Team W-L
37 Harvard 23-6
41 Cleveland State 26-8
44 Missouri State 25-8
48 Saint Mary's 25-8
49 Colorado State 19-12
53 Marshall 22-11
56 UTEP 25-9
57 Boston College 20-12

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Please put down your pencils and hand your test forward

Most of the final papers have been submitted but there are still a few schools that have some last minute revisions to their finals, some of the changes will give them a passing grade and some will give the exact wrong result causing them to fail. In my opinion there are more than just four schools on the bubble and there will be about six that will be the last out as there have already been a couple of upsets in the mid-major tournaments taking away some at-large applicants. With that said there are a few that need to get a couple more questions right if they hope to get that passing grade. Among those are Virginia Tech, who had (A) signature win vs. Duke but that was at home and cross reference that with a bad loss to UNLV and getting blown out at Georgia Tech (their first round ACC opponent) and it adds up to about a 68, so they need a first round win to get to 20 wins and probably one more to ensure their ticket to Grand Ballroom. Next there are the Trojans from SoCal who will need to make it to the Pac-10 final to secure their place on dance floor because their second game will be against #16 Arizona in the second round which would provide their last statement win. Next, I simply don’t see how Michigan State gets in without doing some serious damage in the B-10 tourney as 5-8 their last 13 is hardly going into the dance with momentum. They need to let the air out of Iowa’s balloon coming off their win and then get their signature win in the tournament in the second round which I don’t think they’ll get, and will be hosting their next game, but in the NIT. Lastly, it’s too bad this isn’t football otherwise we’d be talking about Bama’ and Georgia in the sense of what BCS Bowl they’re going to, but in hoop it’s all about what you’ve done for me lately and not the name on the jerseys and both of these schools need to reach at least the semi-finals AND have the upsets come to an end in the mid-majors as they’re trying to scalp their way in as it is and the dance will soon be sold out. We’ll see how accurate I am in less than a week.