Besides Saturday, pretty much a ho-hum weekend
Well, my bracket was officially done for at about 1:50 PST on Friday, when Winthrop did waht many expected them to do and beat Notre Dame. I had the Irish in the Elite 8, thinking that the good effort against Georgetown combined with the fact that not too many besides you-know-who on ESPN had them winning that game. I was wrong. Some other flame-outs from my bracket:
1. I had both Long Beach State and Oral Roberts in the Sweet 16. ORU went cold in the second half, allowing Washington State to go on a decisive 17-0 run. Long Beach State decided that since there's no "D" in their name, they didn't have to try to defend against Tennessee. The 121 scored by the now Sweet 16 bound Vols is a first round record.
2. I for some reason picked Arkansas to beat USC, thinking they'd do what Florida State did back in 1998 (6-10 ACC record, but they still got an at-large), when they got to the Sweet 16 with a masisve chip on their shoulder, looking to prove that they did belong in the dance. Well, USC ended that talk and then took Texas out behind the woodshed on Sunday. A "little-known" fact is that the Trojans led the Pac-10 in field goal percentage defense this year. If you're like me, you may have believed all the talk and figured that their cross-town rival UCLA was tops.
3. After years of faith in Kansas going by the wayside, I tried to protect myself by picking them to lose to Villanova in the second round. Yeah, the Jayhawks are only one of the hotter teams in the tournament right now, and Kentucky beat Villanova on Friday night. This brings a very interesting contrast in styles in San Jose when the Jayhawks take on four seed Southern Illinois, a team that can defend with the best of them.
4. I didn't trust myself enough to go through with UNLV knocking off Wisconsin. I made the statement Saturday night that the Rebels would win, but of course that's too late to matter in a pool. I did, however, feel that Vegas was underseeded in a big way...they just went out and took care of business instead of complaining about it.
With that being said, I am at or near the bottom in just about every pool that I've entered. My roommate told me that I may know too much about college basketball to be good at this bracket business, but judging from what I just typed, I may not know much at all.
However, my Final Four picks (Florida, UCLA, Georgetown, Memphis) are still alive. This weekend should provide some more close finishes, but hopefully there is no offensive ineptitude along the lines of that Indiana/UCLA slugfest Saturday night. It took Indiana nearly thirty GAME minutes to reach 20 points. Amazing.
As for the NIT, it's pretty much been a case of the teams that are actually excited to be playing somewhere that have moved on. Marist got a win at Oklahoma State, which isn't as shocking as many would think had they seen the body language on a few of the Cowboy players. Did Mario Boggan or David Monds even want to play? Seriously, if you're a team like Drexel or Syracuse (in my opinion) that had a legitimate beef as to not getting into the NCAA Tournament, a first-round letdown is understandable. Inexcusable, but understandable. OSU, due to their inability to win on the road, did themselves in. Why not get up for a chance to continue playing basketball period? If there weren't teams sitting at home that wanted and deserved to continue playing (ex.- Akron) then I probably wouldn't devote a paragraph to this. In the future, hopefully teams that don't want to play in the Mastercard NIT will have the sense to turn down the bid and allow a team that wants to be there the opportunity.
Lastly, I'd like to congratulate the Marist womens' basketball team for their two wins this past weekend, giving the Red Foxes their first ever trip to the Sweet 16. In Dayton next weekend they'll draw either Tennessee or Pittsburgh. Nice work, ladies.
And if you're in North Jersey, tune into WPSC 88.7 FM in Wayne, NJ tomorrow morning. I'll be on talking about the West Regional at 10:30 am, and CHN writer Joel Welser will be on at 11:30. Good night, and thanks for reading.