BSB Tournament Pick ‘Em: Sunday Elite Eight Preview (The Race for 2nd)

First off, congrats to Jason on basically dominating this competition.  He took the lead on Friday of Round 1 and never gave it up, and definitely clinched the victory earlier than anyone ever has in this pool before.  Unfortunately though, the drama is already gone.  So, in order to cling to something, we’ll focus on the race for 2nd place (there is a bit of cash in this for 2nd as well).  Thanks to West Virginia, Bry moved into 2nd after yesterday’s games.  He has three competitors left in the fight for 2nd: Ryan, Maureen, and Walsh.

Sunday’s Elite Eight Games:

#6 Tennessee vs. #5 Michigan State:  Two mastermind coaches matching wits minus their best players.  I like the Spartans to win, but I’ve thought Tennessee was going to lose pretty much every game they’ve played in this tournament, so what do I know?  Maureen is the only one that can win this game, as she has Tennessee in what would be one of the more impressive Final Four picks I can remember in this pool.  She’ll need the Vols to win to stay in contention for 2nd.

#3 Baylor vs. #1 Duke:  This should be a great game.  I fully expect this to be close all the way.  Coach K may find a way to outsmart Scott Drew at the end, but my money is on the best scorer on the floor, LaceDarius Dunn, dropping in a game-winning bucket to send the Bears to Indy.  Jason, Bry, Maureen, Walsh, Talia, and Jon have the Dukies.  Ryan, Doogan, and Waters have Baylor.  Ryan will need Baylor to win to stay in contention for 2nd, Maureen and Walsh will need Duke to advance.

BSB Tournament Pick ‘Em: Standings and Saturday Elite Eight Preview

It’s been an odd (and awesome) tournament, and that’s made for an odd bracket competition.  Usually, heading into the Final Four there are about 3 competitors that still have a chance to win.  But, this year, before the Elite Eight gets underway, we are already down to just 3 with a chance at the title, with everyone else just playing for pride.  The 3 still alive are Jason (who continues to extend his lead), Ryan Doc, and Talia.

Standings through Sweet 16 (*-eliminated from contention):

1. Jason- 85.5

2. Ryan- 70.5

3. Talia- 68

4. Bry- 66*

5. Greg- 63*

6. Doogan- 62.5*

7. Maureen- 60.5*

8. Jared- 59.5*

9. Waters- 52*

10. Jon- 50.5*

11. Walsh- 49*

12. Ben- 46*

13. Weirauch- 43.5*

Saturday’s Elite Eight Games:

#5 Butler vs. #2 Kansas State:  Two rock solid teams will go at it here, and here’s hoping Butler can get to the Final Four in their hometown of Indianapolis.  The Hoosiers references alone would be worth it.  Talia will really be rooting for them, as both Jason and Ryan have K-State winning here (as does Greg).  Though Talia would still be alive even with a K-State win in this one.  The other 10 players (besides Jason, Ryan, Greg) have already lost this game.

#2 West Virginia vs. #1 Kentucky:  The only 1-2 Regional Final this year.  Kentucky’s been playing great and I really expect them to overpower the Mountaineers here and move on to Indy.  West Virginia will have to zone them and hope Kentucky fails to knock down shots and turns the ball over enough.  There are major implications for the bracket in this one, as Jason could put a very early end to this competition with a West Virginia win.  Bry, Waters, and Weirauch also have the Mountaineers here.  8 of the other 9 players (including Ryan and Talia) have Kentucky.

Live Blog: 2010 Sweet Sixteen, Day Two

7:04:  Not sure that it can get better than last night, but a man can hope, can’t he?

7:05:  Looks like the first game is between the team I dubbed the “new favorite” after the first two rounds against a coach whom I may add to the Izzo and Krzyzewski level of college coaches after this season.  You have to like Ohio St., but then again, I liked San Diego St. to beat Tennessee in “not an upset.”  I’m starting to think that Bruce Pearl can do anything, so who knows what is going to happen.  They key, obviously, for Tennessee is to control Evan Turner.  I actually think they can do that, so the key for OSU is to get someone else to step up.  Either Diebler or Lighty or Buford will have to play a strong second fiddle tonight.  I think at least one of them will (I’m guessing Buford), and I think Ohio St. moves on.

7:09:  Interesting to hear Sports Guy’s podcast the other day with Chris Titus (the 12th man on Ohio St., who is flat-out hysterical) that Evan Turner was a complete hot-head his freshman year.  I would never have guessed it because he seems relatively calm for a superstar of his caliber.  Just thought it was interesting.

7:11:  Exactly what I was saying last night…when there is a bad shot–out of the rhythm of the offense–you generally struggle in transition defense.  That just happened to OSU after a bad shot by Buford.  It happens way more than I ever realized.

7:14:  Steven Pearl is another Saul Smith, isn’t he?  He’s not very good, but he’s the coach’s son, so nobody says anything.

7:31:  Well, we have the other game underway (boy, can LaceDarius Dunn shoot, huh?).  I like Baylor a lot in this game because I think that, unlike Richmond or Villanova, they have a lot of size that they can run at Omar Samhan.  You know my love for the little guy, so I’ll be rooting for St. Mary’s, but I think that if both teams play their A-games, Baylor wins.  But, the talent differential is not that large.  If both teams play the way they played the first two rounds, St. Mary’s should win big.  St. Mary’s was one of the more impressive teams through two rounds, and Baylor struggled in two games that they should have won easily.  I think the key for St. Mary’s does not (surprisingly) have anything to do with Samhan.  It’s about guys like Mickey McConnell and Matthew Delovadova hitting shots.  If they hit outside shots, then Baylor will have to come out and then, in the second half, Samhan can make them pay.

7:42:  If Baylor shoots like they are right now, playing in Houston, they are a legit contender for the whole thing.  What a job by Scott Drew.  That program was absolutely done after the whole murder-coverup fiasco.  Now, they are on the doorstep of the Final Four.

7:52:  This does not look like the same St. Mary’s team that looked so incredible in the first two rounds.  They are in serious jeopardy of getting blown out of the gym right now.

7:53:  Meanwhile, how good does Tennessee look?  Ya, Doogan, Turner has been rather turnover-prone all year.  There is no way he plays the point at the next level, so I’m not sure it’s a huge issue, but still something that could hold him back.  Then again, Wall is a bit turnover-prone, as well, and they’re the consensus top two picks.

7:58:  Just saw a graphic that there have been 11 wins by double-digits seeds this year, after 9 last year.  Doesn’t it seem like there have been a TON more upsets this year?  I mean I guess I get it, in that last year, we got the “Cinderella” of Arizona to win twice, and this year’s biggest upset (UNI over Kansas) wouldn’t be counted in that stat, but still.  It surprises me that there have only been two more wins by double-digit seeds this year than last.

8:02:  Can you say “the moment is too big?”  That is what is happening in Houston right now.  I guess this is why CBS still refuses to break up the Sweet Sixteen.  They don’t want to chance having this as the only game on a Friday night.

8:21:  I know there are still 17 minutes left and the OSU lead is only 6, but this might be a big spot in the game for Tennessee.  They have to stay within striking distance to keep themselves from having to expend so much energy just to get back in the game at the end.

8:41:  Is it really 50-17 Baylor?

8:43:  I remember a time when Wayne Chism was just an athlete.  He has really become a skilled, complete basketball player.

8:44:  Just as I say that, he hits another long J.

8:51:  J.P. Prince is a big-money player.  I remember his freshman year when he just took over the tournament, after sitting out most of the season with a crazy tooth infection.  I love guys who step up in big spots, but where does he go at other times?  How does this guy average less than 8 points per game?

9:03:  You nailed it, Doogan, these are two great coaches engaged in a great chess match right now.

9:07:  Another HUGE shot by Turner, but a couple more JUST-AS-HUGE turnovers.  Wow…another great game.  What a tournament.

9:10:  That may have been the worst last possession I’ve seen since, well, Murray St. last week.

9:11:  So, let’s think about this for a minute now.  The Region that some “experts” called the most stacked region in tournament history will be represented in the Final Four by either the champion of the Missouri Valley, the 3rd place team in the Big Ten minus its best player, or the 3rd place team in the SEC Eastern Division minus its best player.

9:14:  As good as Turner is/was tonight, I think he may have tried to do too much in this game.

9:32:  I love how Seth Davis says “if they call it tight, it will be to Duke’s advantage.”  Doesn’t that just kind of sum up the last 15 years of “officiating” Duke games?

9:44:  Just when I thought Ali Farokhmanesh was the greatest name to come from this tournament, we are introduced to his dad, Marsollah Farokhmanesh.

9:59:  Well, cbs.com just crashed on me, so I’m stuck watching “America’s Team” on the television network.  Forget my bracket, let’s go Purdue!

10:07:  Big foul there on Johnson.  They weren’t that deep of a team with Hummel, but now they really need Johnson and Moore on the floor as often as possible.  But, two on Johnson could be real important.

10:09:  Singler is such a unique player.  Of all the basketball I’ve seen, I can’t think of anyone that I would compare him to.

10:38:  Chris Kramer is like “that guy” that we all played pickup with.  You never walk away saying “wow, that guy is good,” but when you show up to the court the next day, you really want him on your team, and you don’t totally know why.

10:41:  What an ugly, ugly half of basketball.  The defenses have been pretty good, but the offenses have been really bad.

10:51:  I just want to retract/correct something I said earlier on the blog.  I said that Egelseder was just kind of a big body.  And, I have seen a decent number of UNI games this year, so I’m not sure why I thought that.  He has shown a variety of skills in this tournament.  He’s definitely better than just a guy at 7’0″, 285.  He’s a legit big man, which, in a conference like The Valley, makes him incredibly valuable.

11:02:  As if we needed another reason to hate Duke, but the UNI-MSU game is just getting good and we have to watch a brutal game just because Duke is in it.

11:13:  How great of a coaching performance has this tournament been for Matt Painter?

11:20:  Two tight games in the second half, we could be heading for double MADNESS here.

11:40:  How about Korie Luscious coming up HUGE again?

11:41:  And, how ridiculous is it that CBS is still playing the Duke game?!?

11:44:  Pretty ironic that the Cinderella of the tournament might go down because of missed free throws.  That’s a shame.  Great run, UNI, great run.

11:48:  I’m sure that Mr. Izzo has enough motivation, but in case he needs more, I’m going to say that if Sparty wins on Sunday, I will officially consider Tom Izzo as the best coach in college basketball.  Currently, I begrudgingly give that title to Coach K, but if Izzo wins tomorrow (probably even if he loses), I will officially change that opinion.  What a performance!  And, I think if Bruce Pearl wins, I will officially put him into my top 3 with Izzo and K.

11:50:  I always thought Nolan Smith was just okay, but he has simply dominated this game.

11:52:  It’s a real shame that we didn’t get to see what this Purdue team could have accomplished with a healthy Hummel.  They probably would have been my pick to win the title, and whether or not I was right about that, it would have been great to see what they could do.  Fortunately, it looks like they’ll get the big three (Hummel, Moore, and Johnson) back next year, so they should be able to make another run.

11:55:  Well, it looks like our Elite Eight is set.  Half of them were expected to be there, by their seedings (#1s Duke and Kentucky, #2s W. Virginia and K-State) and another one is no surprise (#3 Baylor).  Then, you have the elite-coached surprises in the Midwest (#5 Michigan St. and #6 Tennessee), and the one “little guy” still carrying the torch (#5 Butler).  If it’s one-tenth as good as the first three rounds have been, then we are in for a hell of a weekend.  Have a good night, friends…

BSB Tournament Pick ‘Em: Friday Sweet 16 Preview

Tough to imagine tonight living up to last nights’ games, but here’s hoping.  Jason now has a pretty commanding 13 point lead over 2nd-place Talia, largely thanks to being the only one to hit on Butler last night.  But there are still a lot of points to be had.  The big movers last night were Bry, who moved from 8th to 5th, and Doogan, who dropped from 4th to 7th. 

#6 Tennessee vs. #2 Ohio State:  Two of the better coaches in the country that have both done a great job this season.  Bruce Pearl has his team back in the Sweet 16 despite having to kick his best player off the team earlier in the season.  Thad Matta had to deal with the injury to Evan Turner, and then drastically shortened his rotation down the stretch to have his team playing its best ball at the right time.  Just three players (Talia, Doogan, and Walsh) have Ohio State winning here.  Maureen has Tennessee, in what would be an impressive Elite 8 hit if it comes through, and everybody else had Georgetown. 

#10 Saint Mary’s vs. #3 Baylor:  Two up-and-coming programs that might have a hard time holding on to their dellavedovacoaches this off-season.  Unlike Villanova, Baylor features some big men, like Ekpe Udoh and Quincy Acy, that might be able to slow down Omar Samhan.  Plus, Baylor has two elite guards that will be an interesting match-up against the very skilled St. Mary’s perimeter players.  Probably the best game of the night.  Five players (Jason, Ryan, Bry, Doogan, and Waters) have Baylor here and nobody has St. Mary’s.  Most others had Nova.

#9 Northern Iowa vs. #5 Michigan State:  The second-most intriguing game to me tonight.  The absence of Kalin Lucas takes away from it to some extent but, at the same time, it provides the opportunity to watch Tom Izzo trying to work his coaching magic and get this win.  Meanwhile, Northern Iowa is obviously clicking on all cylinders, and I think they have to be considered the favorites here, but not by much.  Ben has Michigan State here and everybody else had Kansas.

#4 Purdue vs. #1 Duke: It’s tough to imagine Purdue winning here, but it was tough to imagine them reaching the Sweet 16 coming into this tournament.  My guess is that Coach K and his staff have spent a lot of time studying the new-look Boilermakers and how they’ve been able to win games without Hummel.  At the same time, I’m weary of counting out Purdue at this point.  11 of our 13 competitors have Duke in this game.  Weirauch has Purdue and Ben had Siena.

Live Blog: 2010 Sweet Sixteen, Day One

7:04:  Well, here we go.  The Sweet Sixteen is simply awesome.  In the first double-header we have Syracuse-Butler and West Virginia-Washington.  Should be two good ones, obviously.  It should be very interesting to see how Butler deals with the Syracuse 2-3 zone.  I don’t think they’ll be too intimidated by the situation because these Butler guys have been through a lot of big games together.  It seems like Matt Howard has been there forever.

7:09:  One big thing to watch is Syracuse’s bigs against Howard and the bigs on Butler.  Howard is pretty foul-prone, but without Onuaku, it should be interesting to see if Jackson and company can be effective enough on offense to get Howard in trouble.

7:14:  I’m about to load up cbssports.com to watch the West Virginia game as well.  I would say that thing to watch there is who is going to guard Isiah Thomas.  I don’t think the Truck Bryant injury for West Virginia is as bad as it may seem on the offensive end because Mizzoula is just as effective as a floor leader, but defensively, it would be nice to have the athleticism of Truck to match Isiah Thomas of the Huskies.

7:18:  A couple of quick picks for tonight, I like Syracuse to take care of Butler.  I like West Virginia to find a way to harrass and frustrate UW.  Then later, I think K-State is going to handle an underrated, but overmatched Xavier team.  And, then in the nightcap, I have no idea.  This Kentucky-Cornell game might be, from a basketball standpoint, the most interesting matchup I can remember.  All freshmen versus all seniors.  One-and-done kids versus Ivy Leaguers.  The meteoric rise of Calipari to the slow-and-steady apprentice-laden rise of Steve Donohue.  Personally, I can’t wait.

7:21:  Pretty amazing how efficient Butler has been offensively so far and how incredibly inefficient Syracuse has been.  The Orange better be careful.  This is not a team that will be scared of the moment and not a team that you want to fall behind too much because of their ability to take care of the basketball and knock down free throws.  Obviously, you can’t lose a game with 34 minutes left, but they might want to be a bit careful here.

7:27:  Wow, pretty curious move by CBS here.  Unless Baltimore is considered “West Virginia country,” it looks like the national game is the West Virginia-Washington game.  I am very surprised by that because I would think that Syracuse would be the biggest draw of the early games, but oh well.  At least we have cbssports.com, so it no longer matters.  Just curious.

7:29:  So the Carrier Dome looks empty tonight for the Sweet Sixteen.  I wonder why.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that Syracuse just happens to be playing right now.  Haha, that’s kind of funny actually.

7:34:  Well, I could be totally wrong about the offensive problems of WV without Bryant because they do not look good against the pressure early.  They can’t turn the ball over or take quick shots because Washington can fly.  I don’t think this would be a huge upset for the Huskies–they have Sweet Sixteen/Elite Eight talent.

7:40:  This Syracuse game is just going to keep reminding me how dumb I am when in our tourament player pool, I dropped Shelvin Mack after the draft was over to pick up Brandon Triche.  I deserve this.

7:43:  Say what you will about Bobby Huggins, the guy can flat-out coach.  Look at Cincinnati before he came and then after he left.  And, now look what he’s done for his alma mater, West Virginia.  I’d be surprised if they aren’t a perennial Big East title contender for as long as he wants to coach.  There is a lot to say about Huggins from a lot of different perspectives, but on-the-court is not one of them.

7:52:  Though West Virginia doesn’t look good right now, the pace is just what they want.  UW wants a game in the 80’s, while the M’neers are comfortable in the 50’s.  On the other side, Syracuse just can’t find any rhythm whatsoever.  I don’t know if it’s great Butler D or just a bad half for the ‘Cuse, but there’s something wrong with the Orange’s O right now.

7:55:  Now, I love the little guy (as you probably know if you’ve read anything on this blog from me about college hoops), but even I am rather surprised how good Butler looked in that first half.  This team can flat-out play, but Syracuse’s length and athleticism should be enough to keep Butler at arm’s length, but it’s just not happening.  Is it possible that even the biggest fan of the “little guy” (me) has them a bit underrated?  This game makes me think that we might actually get one or more of Butler, St. Mary’s, Cornell, or N. Iowa in Indianapolis.

7:59:  So, now Isiah Thomas has a broken hand?  Can anyone remember a tournament that has had so many important injuries before and during the tournament?  I keep thinking about Kenyon Martin, but that was only one guy–probably only slightly more important than the Hummel injury.  Now, we have Bryant and Kalin Lucas and Onuaku.  Crazy.

8:17:  Now, I don’t like Syracuse, and I’m not necessarily an Andy Rautins fan, but how great is it to watch him shoot the ball?  It’s the same feeling I had watching JJ Reddick shoot.  I’m not saying he’s as good as Reddick was, but watching these guys shoot is just awesome because it’s so pure.

8:27:  Syracuse make a huge run and takes the lead.  I think Butler coach Brad Stevens took too long to call that TO.  It’s too late now.  Watching the second half of the Michigan St.-Maryland game last week really showed me how good coaches can control the game with timeouts and substitutions.  Gary Williams put on an absolute clinic of exactly how to use timeouts to affect the game.  Stevens waited about two possessions too long there to stem the tide.  Now, the huddle is down and possibly frightened.  This is a big spot in this game right now.  We’ll see how the veteran Butler team responds.

8:38:  Man, it sucks right now to have both of these games going on at the same time.  They are both getting VERY good right now.

8:45:  Ya know, I never really thought this until now (in fact, if you had asked me, I’d probably have said the opposite), but Lorenzo Romar is probably a pretty good coach, huh?  I mean it’s not like he’s sitting on a ton of history or sitting in a powerhouse high school basketball city, yet he still always seems to have decent talent that does well.  Should we start thinking of Romar as one of the better coaches around the country, even though it seems like he’s not that good, for some reason?

8:51:  It’s amazing how many times bad shots lead to easy baskets on the other end.  When you take a shot out of the flow of the offense, no one is ready for what is to come, and therefore, you’re a step late either getting to the board or getting back on D.  That bad shot by Hahn led to a fastbreak basket, and now Butler looks to be the one in a lot of trouble here.

8:54:  If you’re Butler right now, you have to go after either Jackson or Rautins on D.  They both have four fouls and the ‘Cuse is so shallow right now, that one more foul by either of those two could be a game-changer.

8:55:  Back east, West Virginia is just keeping this game exactly how they want it.  It’s been a defensive struggle and they look very comfortable with this style.  Washington has been out of rhythm all game–mostly a credit to the solid WVU defense.  I see a 61-54 win for the ‘Neers.

8:57:  Oh yeah, Doogan, Gus is definitely warming up right now.

9:01:  WOW!  In these last 90 seconds, one team has looked like the team grizzled with a tough conference season that is used to playing in front of 20,000+ and one team has looked like the team for which the moment was just too big.  I’ll give you a hint, the latter wasn’t Butler.

9:13:  I hate to keep signing the exact same tune, but these little guys can f’ing play, folks.  Butler just flat-out beat the vaunted Big East’s best team.  I hope the Committee is watching.  Now…let’s go Cornell!

9:37:  Nice workmanlike win for West Virginia, as they move on to the Elite Eight on Saturday.  The KState-Xavier game is about to start.  This is an interesting matchup where I think Kansas St. just has a lot more depth of talent.  The key for Xavier is two-fold–(1) they have to get a lot from Jordan Crawford, but they won’t win it with just him, so they need to (2) get some solid minutes from the bigs (Freese and Love) on the offensive end and guys like Holloway have to really get in the shorts of the K-State guards.  On the other end, the Wildcats are just stacked this year.  Their guards are great, but they also have some pretty solid forwards like Kelly and Samuels.  But, they win with Pullen and Clemente.

9:52:  So, yeah, this K-State team is pretty solid, eh?  The only thing they don’t have is a certifiable big man in the pivot.  But, other than that, this team really has it all.  They are going to be the proverbial “tough out” in any round.  With Syracuse going down tonight and Kansas last week, this side of the bracket is wide open.  Might KSU be the overall favorite to win this thing all of a sudden?  I wrote yesterday that Ohio St. is the new favorite, but what about K-State?  I can see this being a national title team; I really can.

10:06:  Well, here we go.  The more I think about this game, the more I get excited about it.  I have idea what to think about it.  All I know is that it’s going to be unbelievably fascinating.  I guess it probably all depends on whether Cornell can keep it close enough to get the freshmen agitated and pressured.  Wow!  This is going to be good.

10:13:  Pretty much a picture-perfect start for the Big Red.  This just in…they’re good.

10:15:  Meanwhile, Xavier has climbed right back into this game with K-State.  Again, everyone forgets about how good of a program X is.  It is them and Michigan St. as the only two Sweet 16 teams that have been in the Sweet 16 for a third straight year.

10:20:  Phenomenal response by Kentucky to put a little dent in the confidence of the smart kids.

10:22:  As good as Jordan Crawford is, I hate his body language sometimes.  He mopes and pouts all over the court at times.  I heard some time that a team’s personality is one-half the personality of its head coach and one-half that of its best player.  I don’t like the half of Xavier that reflects its best player.

10:23:  There.  Just as I was writing that, Crawford glared at Dante Jackson, his teammate, for throwing a poor pass.  Come on, Jordan, it’s the Sweet Sixteen, be a leader.

10:29:  Kentucky is doing exactly what Temple and (I’m guessing) Wisconsin could not–they are getting out on every shooter.  Yes, Cornell was making very long jumpers against the Owls, but they were open.  These guys will make open shots anywhere.  But the Wildcats are getting on the shooters.

10:38:  Why is Jeff Foote, a 7’0″ two-time conference defensive player of the year, NOT guarding Kentucky’s best big man, DeMarcus Cousins?

10:44:  Let us just stop and think, for a minute, just how good this Kentucky team would be with Jodie Meeks.  The one knock on them is outside shooting.  Well, Meeks, a pure jump-shooter, dropped 50 in a game last year.  They might rival the best college team I’ve ever seen–1992 UNLV.

10:53:  So UK ends the half on a 30-6 run…wow!

11:15:  Louis Dale looks lost tonight for Cornell.

11:31:  Body language or not, Crawford is nasty.  And, Gus is warming himself back up for another thrilling finish here in Syracuse.

11:35:  Wow!  Clemente has just taken this game over.

11:42:  This game is incredible–just back and forth, back and forth.  UNREAL!

11:48:  And…here comes Cornell against Kentucky.  Wow, this is gonna be good.

11:52:  Pullen nails two clutch free throws.  FTs, like big putts in golf tournaments, always amaze me when guys just nail them.  I was a pretty good free-throw shooter in my day, but with the biggest game of my life on the line, I have no idea if I’d be able to make two pure shots.  It always impresses me.

11:53:  GODDAMMIT!!!  How many times do I have to rail on coaches for fouling in this situation?!?  It’s so f’ing stupid.

11:56:  I love Len Elmore–he’s probably my favorite color man–but he’s gotta stop with attacking the ref for that no-call on Holloway.  You can’t expect the ref to call the reach-in in that situation.  But, goddammit, how many games have to be lost by coaches not trusting their defense to stop a three-pointer?  STOP FOULING UP BY THREE!!!  PLEASE……………….

12:04:  You just saw the difference between Crawford and Hollaway there.  Crawford puts his hands up and stares at the ref in disgust after a questionable foul call; Holloway calls to his teammates to rally them in this critical juncture in overtime.  You need both guys on your team–the super talent of Crawford and the emotional leader of Holloway.  You can’t win without both.

12:10:  There is only one word for all of this:  MADNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  This is an absolutely phenomenal game.  What a shot by Crawford.  Holy crap.

12:13:  And, the best part about this is that Gus Johnson was chosen to do these two games.

12:14:  How great has Curtis Kelly been?  Every time I watched K-State this year, I was blown away by Kelly, but he never seemed to get any pub, so I figured that he was just an athletic, inconsistent guy–which might still be true.  But, when I see him, he is an absolute STUD.

12:19:  Instant classic.

12:20:  And, why can’t Len Elmore get the fact that Kelly just got hit in the balls.  We’ve all been there–and wish we hadn’t.

12:22:  I hate that Buffalo Wild Wings commercial, but right now, I want that bartender to keep sending this game into more overtimes.  This is what makes the month of March so incredible.  Thank you, Madness, thank you.

12:27:  I always say that the best regular-season game I’ve ever seen was back in ’07 between Oklahoma St. and Texas.  Taking situation out of the equation and that was the most exciting, amazing basketball game I’ve ever seen.  Well, this one is just as good, if not better, and it is a Sweet Sixteen game.  Madness!

12:33:  All in all, a pretty successful season for the A-10…and it’s not yet over, as Dayton and Rhode Island are in opposite NIT semifinals Tuesday night.  I definitely had visions of the first A-10 Final Four since Marcus Camby, but it wasn’t meant to be.  The better team won tonight, but just barely.  What a night.  And, we get to come back in about 18 hours and do it all over again tomorrow night.  I’ll probably be back tomorrow for some bloggin’, but we’ll see.  Good night, friends.

CTC Final Recap: Everything Falls Right For Bry As He Wins His Third Straight Overall Title

So, with the whole conference tournament season basically taking over my life for two weeks (don’t worry, I’m not complaining at all), I had some work and life catch-up to do directly afterwards.  But, I wanted to publish the final standings and conference titles.  After the tournament, maybe I’ll do a full assessment of the three years of documented CTC history.  But, for now, let’s just recap the 2010 CTC.

Bry had a miracle comeback, as the final SIX conference tournament games all went his way to nip Teddy by 24 points.  The Ohio and West Virginia wins on Saturday night and then the second perfect day of the CTC (Lohse on Day One was the only other one) on the last day of the competition gave him his third consecutive overall title.  Teddy had a great debut, finishing second.  Another great performance by Ina allowed her to catch Stri for 3rd.  Doogan’s rough Day 12 put him out of contention, but still held off J for 5th.  Alexi was 7th.  Lil Lohse made a mad rush at the end to catch his big bro and finish 8th.  Lynch finished 10th.  KA had the lowest Day 12 score and then had zero points on Day 13.  Waters got 3 of the 4 games on the final day to catch her and finish 11th.

Bry’s Day 13 win was his CTC-leading 4th of the competition.  Doogan and J showed great consistency, finishing 5th and 6th, respectively, despite not winning a single day.  The top three finishers probably got their with their consistency, as well, as neither Bry, Ina, nor Teddy finished in last during any individual day.  Lohse also did a great job, managing to score enough points each day to keep from losing any one day.

Stri was utterly dominant in the conference title hunt, winning at least a share of a TEN conference titles.  This ties the all-time record for conference titles in one season, despite having nearly twice the number of competitors this year.  And, it’s not like Stri feasted on the minor conferences, as he won three of the seven 5x conferences.  Teddy took home a solid 8 conference titles.  Waters finished off a Big Ten title on the last day to ensure that everyone would finish with at least one crown.  Ina was incredibly consistent, as she didn’t finish even in a tie for last in any of the 31 conferences.  Bry and J tied for last in the MAC, for their only conference loss.  Lil Lohse only had one conference loss–the Mountain West.

Lil Lohse has a real knack at picking the last team standing, as he picked 19 of the 31 champions correctly–2 more than anyone else in the field.

DAY 13 SCORES (*perfect day):
*320 – Bry
240 – Ina
240 – Waters
160 – Alexi
160 – Doogan
160 – J
160 – Lil Lohse
160 – Lynch
160 – Stri
160 – Teddy
80 – Lohse
0 – KA

FINAL OVERALL STANDINGS:
2712 – Bry
2688 – Teddy
2621 – Ina
2593 – Stri
2508 – Doogan
2463 – J
2421 – Alexi
2380 – Lil Lohse
2283 – Lohse
2223 – Lynch
1764 – Waters
1630 – KA

MOST DAYS WON:
4 – Bry (3, 4, 7, 13*)
2 – Alexi (5, 9)
2 – Ina (7, 8 )
2 – Lil Lohse (6, 7)
2 – Lohse (1*, 2)
2 – Lynch (2, 12)
2 – Stri (7, 12)
1 – Teddy (10)
0 – Doogan
0 – J
0 – KA
0 – Waters

FEWEST DAYS LOST:
0 – Bry
0 – Ina
0 – Lohse
0 – Teddy
1 – Doogan (9)
1 – J (3)
1 – Lynch (8)
2 – Alexi (2,7)
2 – Lil Lohse (1,5)
2 – Stri (1,2)
4 – KA (5,6,12,13)
4 – Waters (1,3,10,11)

MOST CONFERENCES WON (with multiples):
10 – Stri (ACC-5, Big XII-5, Pac Ten-5, Missouri Valley-3, Great West*-1, America East-1, Big West-1, SoCon-1, Southland-1, Sun Belt-1)
8 – Teddy (Big East-5, Pac Ten-5, MAC-3, Horizon*-2, WAC-2, Patriot-1, Southland-1, SWAC-1)
6 – Bry (Atlantic Ten-5, Colonial-3, MAAC*-1, Atlantic Sun-1, MEAC-1, Summit-1)
4 – Alexi (SEC-5, Big South*-1, Southland-1, Summit-1)
3 – Doogan (Atlantic Ten-5, Horizon*-2, Great West*-1)
3 – Lynch (West Coast-2, America East-1, Southland-1)
3 – Ina (MEAC-1, SWAC-1, Summit-1)
3 – Lil Lohse (Big South*-1, NEC-1, Summit-1)
2 – J (Big XII-5, Ohio Valley-1)
2 – KA (Mountain West-4, Big South*-1)
2 – Lohse (Conf USA-3, Big Sky-1)
1 – Waters (Big Ten-5)

FEWEST CONFERENCES LOST:
0 – Ina
1 – Bry (MAC-3)
1 – J (MAC-3)
1 – Lil Lohse (Mountain West-4)
2 – Alexi (ACC-5, Patriot-1)
2 – Doogan (Big XII-5, SWAC-1)
2 – Lynch (SEC-5, MEAC-1)
3 – Lohse (Atlantic Ten-5, SEC-5, Southland-1)
4 – Teddy (Big Ten-5, Missouri Valley-3, Great West-1, Sun Belt-1)
5 – Stri (Big Ten-5, Mountain West-4, MEAC-1, SWAC-1, Summit-1)
11 – Waters (Big East-5, Pac Ten-5, Colonial-3, Conf USA-3, America East-1, Big South-1, Big West-1, MAAC-1, MEAC-1, NEC-1, SoCon-1)
13 – KA (Big East-5, Big Ten-5, Pac Ten-5, Horizon-2, WCC-2, WAC-2, America East-1, Atlantic Sun-1, Big Sky-1, Big West-1, Ohio Valley-1, Southland-1, Summit-1)

MOST CORRECT CHAMPION PICKS:
19 – Lil Lohse
17 – Bry
17 – Ina
15 – Stri
13 – J
12 – Doogan
12 – Lynch
11 – Lohse
11 – Teddy
10 – Alexi
8 – Waters
4 – KA

FINAL CONFERENCE RECAPS & SCORES:
ACC (5x):
Stri nailed all three opening round upsets to put him ahead.  He then got the N.C. State quarterfinal monster upset, which made it so he didn’t even need to get the champion right to cruise to victory here–he did, though. 

400 – Stri
300 – Lohse
290 – Doogan
250 – Teddy
240 – Ina
220 – Bry
150 – Lynch
140 – Lil Lohse
140 – Waters
90 – J
80 – KA
30 – Alexi

ATLANTIC TEN (5x):
Defending A-10 champ, Bry, and Doogan both hit three of four opening round games, including the big UMass upset, and then hit three of four semifinalists to edge J’s comeback attempt.  J was the only one to get both finalists and the champ, but Doogan and Bry’s early round success held up.

260 – Bry
260 – Doogan
240 – J
200 – Alexi
190 – Ina
190 – Teddy
180 – KA
180 – Lil Lohse
170 – Lynch
150 – Waters
130 – Stri
120 – Lohse

BIG XII (5x):
With everyone except Doogan and KA nailing the champ here, this conference came down to the semifinals, where J and Stri both had K-State, leading them to victory.  Stri overcame an early deficit to J by hitting all four semifinalists.

250 – J
250 – Stri
240 – Alexi
230 – Ina
200 – Teddy
200 -Waters
190 – Bry
190 – Lohse
180 – Lil Lohse
180 – Lynch
160 – KA
100 – Doogan

BIG EAST (5x):
This might be the only time in CTC history where the only person to get the champ right did not end up winning the title.  Bry was the only one with West Virginia, but his early struggles, including an 0-for-4 opening round, cost him the title.  Teddy and J were the only two to get both the Cincinnati and Notre Dame upsets in the bottom half, but J’s pick of UConn over Marquette in the second round allowed Teddy to overcome a first round deficit and take the win.  Teddy becomes the first person not named Doogan to win a Big East CTC title.

240 – Teddy
235 – J
190 – Bry
175 – Lynch
165 – Alexi
130 – Doogan
130 – Lil Lohse
115 – Ina
115 – Lohse
115 – Stri
40 – KA
40 – Waters

BIG TEN (5x):
The very last conference to end gave Waters his only conference title.  He was one of only four that took the top-seeded Buckeyes to win this tournament.  But, he needed a big upset win by Illinois over Wisconsin to make up for an 0-for-3 opening round.  Bry, who finished just 10 points back, loses his dream of a Big Ten three-peat.

190 – Waters
180 – Alexi
180 – Bry
180 – Ina
110 – Lil Lohse
100 – Doogan
100 – J
100 – Lynch
60 – Lohse
50 – KA
50 – Stri
50 – Teddy

PAC-10 (5x):
Both Stri and Teddy dominated the Pac-10 beginning to end.  The only game they missed was the Stanford upset of Arizona St.

270 – Stri
270 – Teddy
240 – Lil Lohse
240 – Lohse
240 – Lynch
160 -Alexi
130 – Bry
130 – Doogan
130 – Ina
120 – J
30 – KA
30 – Waters

SEC (5x):
Alexi was a Vandy win over Miss St. in the semis away from the first ever perfect bracket in a 5x conference.  He did pick up his second consecutive SEC title in the process, though.  Stri wasn’t far back, as the only two he missed were the two Miss St. wins.

300 – Alexi
280 – Stri
270 – Bry
270 – Ina
270 – J
260 – Teddy
210 – Lil Lohse
170 – Doogan
160 – KA
130 – Waters
100 – Lohse
100 – Lynch

MOUNTAIN WEST (4x):
KA and Lynch were the only two that nailed the San Diego St. champion pick.  They also had the same finalists and semifinalists, as well.  The only difference between the two was that one opening round game, where KA had the upset pick of Air Force over Wyoming.  Lynch had Wyoming and, therefore, was unable to win back-to-back Mountain West titles.

208 – KA
192 – Lynch
160 – Doogan
104 – Alexi
104 – J
104 – Lohse
104 – Teddy
104 – Waters
80 – Bry
72 – Ina
48 – Lil Lohse
48 – Stri

COLONIAL (3x):
Bry, Ina, and Lil Lohse were the only three to get both finalists and the champ.  But, of the three, Bry was the only one to hit the big opening round James Madison upset of Drexel.  JMU was the difference, and Bry takes the 2010 CAA title.

192 – Bry
162 – Ina
138 – Lil Lohse
126 – Alexi
120 – Stri
114 – J
96 – KA
96 – Teddy
90 – Lohse
84 – Doogan
84 – Lynch
66 – Waters

CONFERENCE USA (3x):
No one hit the champ, and no one had both finalists, so this conference was won in the earlier rounds.  Lohse hit three of the four opening round games and then nailed both major upsets in the quarterfinals (S. Miss and Houston) to take the C-USA title with ease.

126 – Lohse
108 – J
102 – Doogan
96 – Lynch
84 – Bry
84 – Teddy
78 – Alexi
72 – Ina
72 – Lil Lohse
66 – Stri
54 – KA
24 – Waters

MAC (3x):
Much has been written about the incredible performance of Teddy in the MAC.  It was Ohio U. that led him to the most dominating conference title in CTC history, but it may have been Ohio U. that cost him the overall title.  If Akron had beaten Ohio, Teddy would have taken the overall title.  But, he just has to settle for a MAC performance so legendary that it will be talked about for generations.

258 – Teddy
120 – Doogan
114 – Ina
114 – Lil Lohse
102 – Alexi
78 – Lohse
78 – Waters
72 – Lynch
66 – KA
66 – Stri
60 – Bry
60 – J

MISSOURI VALLEY (3x):
Stri put together a solid first two rounds and then was the only one to nail both finalists and the champ en route to an easy Valley title.  This is the second consecutive Arch Madness title for Stri.

138 – Stri
120 – Bry
114 – KA
108 – Doogan
108 – Lil Lohse
102 – Ina
96 – J
96 – Waters
90 – Alexi
90 – Lynch
48 – Lohse
18 – Teddy

HORIZON LEAGUE (2x):
This was a pretty impressive perfect bracket because there were ten games and a couple upsets, but both Doogan and Teddy navigated the Horizon with perfection.  Alexi was one Cleveland St. quarterfinal pick away from perfection himself.  Lohse was perfect all the way to the semis, when he had Detroit over Weber St–his only miss.

*116 – Doogan
*116 – Teddy
108 – Alexi
100 – Lohse
84 – J
80 – Bry
80 – Ina
72 – Lil Lohse
64 – Waters
56 – Stri
28 – Lynch
24 – KA

WEST COAST (2x):
The cliche all the eggs in one basket was certainly apt in the WCC for Lynch this year, and he picked a good basket.  He went from worst to first with the brilliant pick of St. Mary’s over Gonzaga in the finals.

64 – Lynch
48 – Lohse
48 – Teddy
44 – Alexi
44 – Doogan
44 – Ina
44 – J
44 – Lil Lohse
44 – Stri
44 – Waters
40 – Bry
20 – KA

WAC (2x):
Teddy was the only one of the twelve to pick New Mexico St. to upset Nevada in the semis, and that gave him the 2010 WAC crown.

60 – Teddy
48 – Alexi
48 – Bry
48 – Doogan
48 – Ina
48 – J
48 – Lil Lohse
48 – Waters
40 – Lohse
24 – Lynch
16 – KA

AMERICA EAST (1x):
Lynch and Stri both got there via different routes, but both got there nonetheless, with the key being the champion pick of Vermont.  Lynch went 2-for-4 in the quarters, but nailed the BU finalist pick.  Stri missed the BU pick, but did his damage in the quarters, going 4-for-4, including a nice upset pick of New Hampshire.

48 – Lynch
48 – Stri
38 – Ina
38 – Lil Lohse
38 – Lohse
36 – Doogan
26 – J
18 – Bry
12 – Alexi
12 – Teddy
8 – KA
8 – Waters

ATLANTIC SUN (1x):
Another conference where no one had the champion and only a handful even had one finalist, this conference was won in the first round.  In fact, it was won on one of the very first games of the CTC.  Bry, Lohse, Lynch, and J all had #8 Kennessaw St. upsetting #1 Lipscomb in the quarters.  Bry and Lohse also had #6 Mercer upsetting #3 Belmont, but Bry separated himself with the pick of E. Tennessee St. over Campbell and then ETSU again to the finals.  That pick gave Bry the 2010 A-Sun trophy.  This is the first time an A-Sun title has been given to anyone other than J.

54 – Bry
44 – Lynch
32 – Lohse
26 – Ina
26 – Alexi
26 – Stri
26 – Teddy
26 – Waters
22 – J
10 – Doogan
10 – Lil Lohse
4 – KA

BIG SOUTH (1x):
Three entries were submitted perfectly here, as Lil Lohse, KA, and Alexi all nailed the Big South beginning to end.

*54 – Alexi
*54 – KA
*54 – Lil Lohse
34 – Bry
34 – Doogan
34 – Lohse
30 – Stri
24 – Ina
24 – Teddy
16 – J
16 – Lynch
12 – Waters

BIG SKY (1x):
The only one with bigger cajones than Montana’s Anthony Johnson with his 42-point performance in the Big Sky finals was Lohse, who picked Montana to win this tournament.  One of the best picks in all of the CTC led Lohse to an absolute dominating Big Sky title.

50 – Lohse
22 – Bry
22 – Doogan
22 – Ina
22 – Lil Lohse
22 – Lynch
22 – Teddy
12 – Alexi
12 – J
12 – Stri
12 – Waters
0 – KA

BIG WEST (1x):
Stri’s 2-for-2 opening round performance was just enough to edge out Ina and Lynch for the Big West title, as all three of them went 1-for-2 in the quarters, 1-for-2 in the semis, and 1-for-1 in the finals.

32 – Stri
30 – Ina
30 – Lynch
28 – J
28 – Lil Lohse
24 – Doogan
18 – Alexi
16 – Bry
14 – Teddy
12 – Lohse
6 – KA
6 – Waters

GREAT WEST (1x):
Doogan and Stri both nailed both upsets in the quarters and rode the favorites to the title after that for the first ever Great West conference title.  Neither has ever missed a Great West game, so we’ll see if they can continue this next year.

*52 – Doogan
*52 – Stri
46 – Lil Lohse
46 – Lohse
40 – J
38 – Waters
36 – Bry
36 – Ina
34 – Alexi
34 – Lynch
18 – KA
10 – Teddy

MAAC (1x):
Bry defended his ’09 title with an impressive perfect bracket in the MAAC, which included three upsets along the way.

*62 – Bry
50 – Lohse
46 – KA
44 – Doogan
40 -Ina
40 – J
40 – Lil Lohse
36 – Teddy
34 – Alexi
34 – Stri
30 – Lynch
28 – Waters

MEAC (1x):
Ina only missed one game all MEAC tournament, while Bry missed three.  But, Bry’s were early and Ina’s was in the semis, so they will have to share the 2010 MEAC title.

50 – Bry
50 – Ina
48 – Alexi
44 – J
40 – Doogan
40 – KA
38 – Lohse
36 – Lil Lohse
20 – Teddy
14 – Lynch
14 – Stri
14 – Waters

NEC (1x):
Lil Lohse was the only one to correctly predict a Robert Morris NEC title (only to watch the Colonials almost take out his beloved ‘Cats in the first round of the NCAA tournament).  Lil Lohse also had an impressive bracket up until then, so he wins handily.  Stri is not the NEC champion for the first time in history.

46 – Lil Lohse
32 – Bry
32 – Doogan
32 – Stri
24 – Alexi
24 – Ina
24 – Lohse
24 – Teddy
20 – J
20 – KA
20 – Lynch
8 – Waters

OHIO VALLEY (1x):
Lohse lost his perfect bracket in the championship, and J snuck in for the 2010 OVC title, as he only missed one quarterfinal game the whole tournament.  Teddy also only missed one quarterfinal, but J’s correct pick was a nice upset pick of Tennessee Tech over Austin Peay to give him the title.

50 – J
44 – Teddy
42 – Lynch
40 – Alexi
40 – Bry
40 – Doogan
40 – Ina
40 – Waters
38 – Lohse
28 – Lil Lohse
24 – Stri
0 – KA

PATRIOT LEAGUE (1x):
Ina was the only one to hit both finalists and the champ.  Plus, she went 3-for-4 in the quarters.  But, the one game she missed was a big upset of Holy Cross over Bucknell, which Teddy hit, giving Teddy the Patriot League title.

50 – Teddy
46 – Ina
40 – Doogan
36 – Lil Lohse
36 – Lohse
32 – Bry
32 – Stri
32 – Waters
26 – J
22 – KA
20 – Lynch
8 – Alexi

SoCON (1x):
Stri was absolutely dominant throughout this tournament, only missing one game–Charleston in the semis–the whole time.  Ina was also pretty impressive, but her upset shot at The Citadel cost her a second SoCon title in three years.

62 – Stri
58 – Ina
54 – Bry
50 – Lil Lohse
44 – Doogan
42 – Teddy
38 – Lohse
32 – Lynch
26 – J
24 – KA
22 – Alexi
18 – Waters

SOUTHLAND (1x):
In a tournament of all chalk, no one actually picked all chalk (of which I’m proud).  Alexi, Lynch, Stri, and Teddy all went for one upset in the quarters and missed it.  Everyone else picked at least two upsets somewhere along the way.

44 – Alexi
44 – Lynch
44 – Stri
44 – Teddy
40 – Bry
40 – Doogan
40 – Ina
40 – Lil Lohse
32 – J
32 – Waters
12 – KA
12 – Lohse

SWAC (1x):
Ina and Teddy were two of only four that got Arkansas-Pine Bluff winning this tournament, and they both hit three of four quarterfinal games to give them the title.  This is the second consecutive SWAC championship for Ina.

40 – Ina
40 – Teddy
36 – J
30 – KA
30 – Lohse
22 – Bry
16 – Lynch
14 – Alexi
14 – Lil Lohse
14 – Waters
10 – Doogan
10 – Stri

SUMMIT LEAGUE (1x):
Not one person had both finalists and the champion right in this bracket, even though it was the #1 over the #2 in the finals.  But, Alexi, Bry, Ina, and Lil Lohse all had the champ and a perfect quarterfinal round, so all four will share the title.  Whatever it takes, as Ina becomes the only CTC contestant ever to win one conference in three consecutive years.

42 – Alexi
42 – Bry
42 – Ina
42 – Lil Lohse
36 – J
34 – Doogan
28 – Waters
26 – Lohse
26 – Lynch
26 – Teddy
12 – KA
12 – Stri

SUN BELT (1x):
Stri and Doogan were the only two to nail the champion pick, N. Texas, here in the Sun Belt.  Stri’s pick of #9 S. Alabama over #8 Florida-Atlantic in the opening round was the only difference between he and Doogan taking home this title.  Waters had a fantastic bracket, as he was the only one who hit both finalists, but he didn’t get the champ and, therefore, doesn’t get the crown.  J also had a great bracket, as he and Waters were the only two to hit all four semifinalists.

48 – Stri
46 – J
44 – Doogan
44 – Waters
36 – KA
20 – Lohse
20 – Lynch
16 – Ina
16 – Lil Lohse
14 – Alexi
14 – Bry
10 – Teddy

NCAA First Weekend Awards

On the eve of the Sweet Sixteen, let’s take a quick look back at how we got here.  Jam-packed into not even 90 hours, there were 1950 game minutes of hoops this weekend, most of which Doogan and I (with a lot of help from friends, booze, and modern technology) got to see.  They all blend together, but there are some things that stuck out to me during the weekend.

Most Impressive Team:  Cornell
With all due respect to N. Iowa, who beat Kansas, and Kentucky and Syracuse, who blew out both opponents, we are looking for a team that won two games impressively against two good teams.  With that criterion, it was narrowed down to St. Mary’s and Cornell.  We gave the edge to Cornell because they were never even threatened in either round.

Least Impressive Team:  Georgetown
That was absolutely embarrassing.  Yes, Vandy, Temple, and Notre Dame got hit with upsets, but they at least lost to some really good double-digit seeds.  Georgetown got absolutely hammered by the 9th place team in the MAC.

Least Impressive Surviving Team:  Baylor
This is most certainly a survive-and-advance tournament, so technically Baylor was just as impressive as Kentucky or Syracuse, who waltzed into the Sweet 16, but the Bears struggled in the first round against 14-seed Sam Houston St. and then barely survived 11-seed Old Dominion.  Granted SHSU can really score and ODU was under-seeded at 11, but still, with a shot to get to the Regionals in your home state, you would think that the Bears would win a little more comfortably.  Then again, they hadn’t won a tournament game since 1950, so any win is a good win.

Most Heartbreaking Loss (tie):  Maryland and Texas A&M
Both teams lost on last-second shots in the second round with more than just a Sweet 16 appearance on the line.  Maryland watched UNI knock off Kansas, which opened up a much easier route to the Elite Eight.  Then, they watched as Kalin Lucas went down with injury early in the second-half, but they eventually watched as Cory Luscious (Lucas’s replacement) hit a buzzer-beating three to beat them.  Texas A&M got the draw of a Hummel-less Purdue in the second round, but blew a late lead in regulation and then in OT to lose.  It was devastating to A&M because their regional is in Houston, where it would be basically a home game against Duke in the Sweet 16.  Oh, and I had $10 on A&M to make the Final Four at 18-to-1.  So, I know the pain.

Best Coached Game:  Michigan St. vs. Maryland, second round
Anyone who reads anything I ever write about college basketball probably knows my irrational love affair with Tom Izzo’s coaching abilities.  You may also know how much I usually dislike Gary Williams.  But, watching this game, particularly in the second half, really shows you why these guys are so successful.  Izzo had injuries to Chris Allen and Kalin Lucas.  Plus, they had a hobbled Delvon Green.  Yet, Izzo was able to brilliantly use the bench and different matchups to win the game.  Williams, on the other bench, may have had the talent advantage, but his team was falling out of it time and time again.  Williams was ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT in his use of timeouts.  Usually, I don’t really think that timeouts do all that much to quell runs, but Williams nearly won this game by himself from merely his choice of timeouts and set plays.  It was a clinic.

Best Played Game:  Richmond vs. St. Mary’s, first round
This game made basketball into an art form.  Both teams are so well-coached and so prepared.  Both teams played solid, fundamental basketball.  The only difference was that St. Mary’s has a legit big man and they are well-coached and disciplined enough to take advantage of him.

Worst Played Game:  Texas vs. Wake Forest, first round
I have never been so uninterested in a 1-point overtime NCAA tournament game.  And, I even had money on it!  This game was a pretty pathetic display of two teams that have way too much talent to be this incredibly bad.  I don’t want to think about it ever again.

Worst Officiated Game:  Villanova vs. Robert Morris, first round
This was an absolute joke.  Yes, the officials were not the reason Robert Morris lost–it was more the fact that they just stopped playing offense with about 6 minutes left–but they certainly didn’t help.  These calls were absolutely ridiculous and made it basically impossible for the outmanned 15-seeded Colonials to pull off the big upset. 

Best Late-Game Possession:  Murray St. vs. Vanderbilt, first round
Murray St. coach Billy Kennedy called an gutsy inbounds play and watched as his unselfish seniors improvised around some good Vandy defense, got the ball to the play’s third option, Danero Thomas, who drained an 18-footer at the buzzer to beat the Commodores.

Worst Late-Game Possession:  Murray St. vs. Butler, second round
Not even 48 hours after a phenomenal buzzer-beater, Murray St. could not have looked any worse on a potentially game-winning possession against Butler.  Down 2 with the shot-clock off, the Racers never even got off a shot, as their season ended 2 points shy of the school’s first-ever Sweet 16 appearance.

Biggest Morons:  The Selection Committee
Again, I hate ripping the Committee, but they did such an abysmal job at seeding this year, that I have to bring it up again.  Notre Dame a 6-seed?  N. Iowa a 9?  Cornell a 12?  Now, yes, some of the underseeded teams played their way into the Sweet Sixteen anyway, but some did not.  BYU was a 7-seed, but got screwed by facing a tough K-State team in the second round and now they’re done.  If Temple had gotten the 3-seed it deserved, they probably would have won any of those 3/6 pods.  If Richmond and/or St. Mary’s had gotten the seeds they both deserved, they might be facing each other THIS Thursday instead of last Thursday.  Thanks, guys.

BSB Tournament Pick ‘Em: Thursday Sweet 16 Preview

For bracket competitions, the middle weekend of the NCAA tournament can be compared to the Saturday round, or “moving day”, of a golf tournament.  The stage is set by the first weekend, and the title is wrapped up during the Final Four, but the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 are when the true contenders are identified, and some people can come from far down the standings to jump into contention.

johnson#5 Butler vs. #1 Syracuse:  Especially after all the upsets we’ve seen already, don’t be surprised to see Butler take down the top-seeded Orange in this one.  Syracuse has a great team, but they have two weaknesses.  One is depth, a problem exacerbated by the absence of Arinze Onuaku, who will miss the game again.  The other is inexperience at point guard, even thought Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine have both had good seasons.  Can they keep playing at a high level with the pressure on?  Our current leader, Jason, is hoping they can’t, as he is the only one in the field that has Butler winning here, while everyone else has the ‘Cuse.  Maureen and Ben look to keep their champion alive.

#11 Washington vs. #2 West Virginia:  I’ve said all season that West Virginia won’t win it all because they don’t have good enough guard play.  Now, in the middle of the tournament, they lose their best guard, Darryl Bryant, with a broken foot.  Translation: they’re in a lot of trouble and might be a long shot to even reach the Final Four right now.  Washington looks to keep the Cinderella run going.  Just five people, Jason, Bry, Greg, Weirauch, and Waters, have 2-seed WVU winning here, and nobody has Washington.  Four of those five (Greg the exception) have WVU reaching the title game.

#6 Xavier vs. #2 Kansas St.:  K-State continues to impress, but they better find a way to contain Jordan Crawford if they want to advance.  This will be a great game to watch, with outstanding guard-play on both sides.  Jason, Ryan, Jared, Greg, Maureen, and Bry all have K-State, while Walsh is the only one with Xavier in the Elite 8.  Jason, Ryan, and Greg have K-State winning again on Saturday.

#12 Cornell vs. #1 Kentucky:  An intriguing game here, as these teams are polar opposites in a lot of ways, but are both really, really good, and both were very impressive on the first weekend.  Kentucky is chock full of NBA-caliber talent but very short on experience, and their biggest weakness is 3-point shooting.  Cornell has no NBA players but has a ton of seniors playing in their third NCAA tournament (though first Sweet 16), and their biggest strength is probably 3-point shooting.  It’s the Ivy League vs. the coach who’s had two Final Four appearances erased because of ineligible players that got special treatment because of their NBA potential.  They’re two programs taking the complete opposite routes to success in D-1 college basketball.  Nobody has Cornell in this game, and only Jason, Maureen, and Weirauch DO NOT have Kentucky winning here.  Talia and Jon look to keep their champ alive. 

So…Now Who?

Let’s be honest, if you didn’t pick Kansas in your bracket to win it all, it was for some reason aside from a belief that they were not the best team in the country.  There are plenty of respectable reasons (you were in a big pool and wanted to go the non-popular route, you thought that they had a tougher road, you just don’t like Bill Self, etc.), but if you know anything about college hoops and I gave you truth serum and said “who is the best team?” you would answer Kansas.  But, sixteen teams still have a shot at the 2010 national championship and KU is not one of them.  So, who’s the favorite now?

Instead of a Top Twelve, we’re going to do a Top Sixteen because, well, there are 16 teams left.  So, here it is–one man’s opinion of the order of the remaining teams by their chance to cut down the nets in two weeks.

16). Michigan St.  It is never, EVER a good idea to pick against Tom Izzo when talking about anything.  But, I did it in my bracket, and I’m going to do it again here.  The team was just a bit too dysfunctional even with their best player, Kalin Lucas.  But, even with a nice Sweet Sixteen draw (N. Iowa), without Lucas this team is not going to win the title.  Then again, I went against Izzo with New Mexico St., so don’t listen to me.

15). Xavier.  I love the A-10.  I think Xavier is very, very good.  I think they deserve to be here in the Sweet Sixteen.  (By the way, there are only two teams in this year’s Sweet Sixteen that are making their third straight trip to this round–and I ranked them as the two teams with the worst chances to win the title, Xavier and Michigan St.)  But, the Musketeers just aren’t that talented outside of Jordan Crawford–who is a complete stud.  And, they have a brutal road to just get out of their region, with K-State on Thursday night and maybe Syracuse on Saturday.  They really have a very long shot to win it all, but nonetheless, another great season for the X.

14). Washington.  Great job by the Huskies to beat two very solid teams and reach the Sweet Sixteen, giving the Pac-10 a little vindication after a historically poor season for the proud conference.  And, despite their 11-seed, they most certainly have the talent to be here.  However, their road through the East Regional is not going to be pretty, as they start with West Virginia and then maybe Kentucky.  I wouldn’t rule it out because of their talent, but it’ll be a big surprise if UW even makes the trip to Indianapolis, let alone wins two games while they’re there.

13). Northern Iowa.  The team that beat Kansas has a shot to ride that to being more than just a nice story.  No, I don’t think that the Panthers would beat KU in a 7-game series.  But, do I think it was a total shock that they beat the Jayhawks?  No.  They were grossly under-seeded (as I said before the first round started) and Sweet Sixteen good.  Did I think they’d get here when the brackets were announced?  Of course not, but they are this good.  And, they are good enough to win four more games–trust me.  However, the road isn’t going to be easy (despite drawing a beat-up MSU team in the Sweet Sixteen).  They still do rely heavily on the three-ball and do not have a dominant big man (I think Egelseder is a bit overrated), and they probably just won’t have the horses to cut down the nets in Indy.  But, it’s not crazy to think that they could.

12). Butler.  The Butler Bulldogs had a nice win over UTEP and then knocked off a feisty Murray St. team to get here.  Now, the level of competition just took a huge step up.  They have Syracuse on Thursday and the K-State/Xavier winner on Saturday.  I think Butler is a nice team, and probably better than some of the teams above them on this list right now, but the West Region is pretty tough right now, and I don’t think they have what it takes to even get to Indy.  Then again, it wouldn’t surprise me that much–they have won 24 straight games.

11). Purdue.  My first thought was to put them dead-last on this list.  My next thought was “if they still had Hummel, they might be FIRST on this list.”  Then, I thought, “they beat Siena and a tough Texas A&M team to get here without Hummel, so maybe he’s not Michael Jordan.”  This is still a very talented team and now they’re playing with house money.  They are still battle-tested through a tough Big Ten schedule and can still beat just about anyone in the country.  Plus, they have a bit of a soft South Regional to get through.  I wouldn’t be shocked to see them frustrate Duke and then overwhelm Baylor to get to the Final Four.  But, then again, they are missing their best player.

10). St. Mary’s.  I was as impressed by St. Mary’s as I was by any team last weekend.  They manhandled two very good teams and did it their way.  They pounded the ball down low to their legit big man, Omar Samhan, and hit jumpers when teams sagged.  They also get to go through a relatively unimpressive South Regional right now, so anything can happen.  This is the first of the 16 teams mentioned that I really feel have a legit shot at winning this tournament right now.  The first six mentioned would be a bit of a surprise, but now we’re getting to the real contenders.

9). Cornell.  After watching them play Temple and Wisconsin, how do you beat them?  No, really.  Based on the first two rounds of this thing, the Big Red should probably be #1 on this list.  But, they are still an Ivy League team.  They still just do not have the athletes that schools that can offer scholarships have.  They are still a 12-seed whose best win before last week was road win at Harvard.  But, looking at team construction, they have the pieces.  They have a legit 7-footer with size and strength.  They have two wings who will play professionally somewhere after their college careers.  And, they have 8 seniors who have been preparing for this exact moment for almost one-fifth of the time they have been on this planet.  Maybe I’m a jaded Temple fan looking for justification of the Friday debacle, but I think the Big Red can win this thing.  The whole f’ing thing.

8). Tennessee.  Talent-wise this team might be the worst team left in the field.  But, somehow, some way, their coach has got them do all the right things (as usual), and with Kansas out of this region, they have a legitimate shot to get to Indy, where anything can happen.  One win over Ohio St. in the Sweet Sixteen will almost definitely make them a favorite in the Elite Eight (against Michigan St. or N. Iowa), so who knows?  Do I think they will beat the Buckeyes?  No.  But, after the job he’s done this year, I’m starting to think that Bruce Pearl can do anything.

7). Baylor.  If you had told me that this would be the Sweet Sixteen, I would tell you that Baylor might be the favorite to win it all.  But, I watching both Baylor games, and they were not impressive.  I also saw both St. Mary’s games and the Duke-Cal game and those two teams flat-out played better than the Bears.  Yes, they are in Houston, but they will need to bring a better version of themselves to Reliant Stadium if they want to go to Indy.  Then again, they had the talent to win it all when the tournament started and they survived the first weekend, so you have to think they are still a favorite.

6). West Virginia.   And, now we get to the elite contenders for this title.  Despite the clear fraudalence of the Big East, I still think West Virginia is a championship-caliber team.  They may not like their matchup with Kentucky in the Elite Eight, but their matchup with Washington is pretty good in the Sweet Sixteen, and it’s not crazy to think that they might get Cornell in the Elite Eight.  Oh, and they do have the best clutch-scorer in the country this year in Da’Sean Butler.

5). Kansas State.  K-State hammered N. Texas and then beat a really good BYU team that was Sweet Sixteen good with a legit seed.  This Wildcat team is for real.  As much as I love the A-10 and the “little guy,” I am kind of rooting against Xavier and Butler because I cannot wait to put my feet up on Saturday and watch Syracuse – K State.  There might not be a possible matchup to which I am more looking forward.  This team is a legit title contender.

4). Kentucky.  Yes, they won by 29 and 30.  They are supremely talented.  But, it’s not the blowout games against a completely inferior team (E. Tennessee St.) or a completely dysfunctional team (Wake Forest) that is going to remind us that these guys are all freshmen.  It’s the close games.  It’s the games that are tied with 6 minutes left.  It’s the games where the opposition slows the ball down and takes them out of what they know.  It’s the games against a team like…well…Cornell.  Or West Virginia.  It wasn’t the matchups in New Orleans that should worry UK fans.  And, honestly, it might not even be the matchups in Indy.  It’s probably these matchups in Syracuse that should worry Ashley Judd and company.  Cornell can frustrate them and annoy them and make them feel the pressure.  West Virginia could also.  That is why, despite their immense talent, I think that there are three teams with a better chance of taking home the hardware this year than Kentucky.  Well, that and the fact that I’m sure these wins will be vacated eventually anyway.  And, then Calipari will somehow be hired to succeed Coach K.

3). Syracuse.  I love this Syracuse team’s chances at the title.  I have from the beginning.  But, their road is still tough.  Kansas being cleared from their half is nice, but Butler is no picnic in the Sweet Sixteen and K-State is a HUGE potential roadblock in the Elite Eight.  Nevertheless, they have the talent to beat anyone at any time.  I was very, VERY close to having them as #1, but in the end, I was just too scared of them getting out of Salt Lake City.

2). Duke.  Now, let me set the record straight here.  I do not think that Duke is one of the two best teams left in the tournament.  I also do not think that they have a great team or are playing exceptionally well right now or anything.  Nor do I want to type this at all.  But…for sake of this list and my (unfortunate) opinion, I think that Duke is probably the second most likely team to win this title.  As someone I was with said this weekend, “this just feels like the kind of year that Duke would win it.”  I have to agree, unfortunately.  Look at their draw now.  Nova–the team that beat them last year–is gone.  Baylor has been shaky.  And, their Sweet Sixteen draw is Purdue without Hummel, who is probably just happy to be here.  They have three legit rebounders, three other legit scorers, a great coach, and, as always, a very solid defense.  Unfortunately, we might be looking at another Duke championship.  God, I hope I’m wrong.

1). Ohio St.  The one thing that is probably the most important factor overlooked with all these upsets in the first two rounds is that it took the best Region and turned it completely upside-down.  Everyone was talking about how crazy tough the Midwest was when the brackets came out, but look at the four remaining teams.  Missouri Valley team and 9-seed, N. Iowa.  And, two middling big-conference teams without their best players (Lucas due to injury, Tyler Smith due to suspension).  All of a sudden, the seas parted and they’re just inviting Ohio St. to walk to Indy.  And, once they get there, they will be as big of a favorite as anyone because they will always have the best player on the floor.  All told, the team that many people had going out in the Sweet Sixteen or, at the very latest, the Elite Eight, is now the odds-on favorite to win the whole thing, mostly thanks to Ohio University and the University of Northern Iowa.

BSB Tournament Pick ‘Em

Team Broad Street Believers is back to real life following a summit this weekend in Sea Isle City, and just like we did for the CTC, we will track our competition in the “Big Dance.”  It was, not all that surprisingly, a wild weekend in the tournament, and our 13 competitors have plenty of “X’s” on their brackets to show for it.  8 of the contestants lost their national champion pick when Northern Iowa downed Kansas on Saturday night.  Talia was the first-round leader, largely thanks to hitting upsets by Ohio (the only one to get that right), Murray St., Old Dominion, and Washington.  But Jason moved past her with a strong second-round performance, highlighted by being the only person to correctly put Washington into the Sweet 16.

Standings through Two Rounds:

1. Jason Cim- 63

2. Talia- 60

3. Ryan Doc- 54

4. Doogan- 50

5. Jared- 47.5

6. Greg Doc- 47

7. Maureen- 46.5

8. Bry- 45.5

9. Walsh- 41

10. Weirauch- 39.5

11. Jon- 38.5

12. Ben- 36

13. Waters- 35.5