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 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, 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.

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19 Responses to Live Blog: 2010 Sweet Sixteen, Day One

  1. Doogan says:

    Getting Cuse-Butler here in NYC. Syracuse is probably further from here than Morgantown is from Baltimore, but it is in-state.

  2. bry says:

    Interesting. We are actually less than an hour from the West Virginia border, but I still don’t think anyone would consider WVU a “home team” by any stretch. Interesting.

  3. Doogan says:

    Butler looks great. A bunch of awesome defensive possessions. The little guy won’t die! All those empty seats at the WVU game look awful. And Bry, Sweet 16 and HD recruiting all in one night. College hoops nirvana.

  4. Doogan says:

    Lowest scoring 1st half of the season for Cuse. Pretty amazing.

  5. bry says:

    ya, doogan, i think right now just proves my theory that we can’t have too much college hoops…real or fake

  6. Doogan says:

    Oh yeah, we’re headed for double madness!

  7. Doogan says:

    Romar is solid. Gus Johnson has to be licking his chops, getting ready to go crazy these last five minutes.

  8. Doogan says:

    Kind of weird that the ball was constantly in Jardine’s hands down the stretch there. Why not get the ball to Johnson?

  9. bry says:

    i have no idea. i can’t remember johnson doing anything in the last 6-7 minutes. definitely strange

  10. Doogan says:

    Here’s a question: The basic excuse for the weird seedings from the committee was that the first 4 seeds are protected by location. I get that they mean in the first weekend, but why should Kentucky have to play Cornell an hour from their campus. And why should 1-seeded Duke be set up to potentially play Texas A&M and Baylor in Houston?

  11. Doogan says:

    Guess it’s easier to say this after K-State coughs up a lead, but I agree with your post the other day and think OSU is the favorite right now.

  12. bry says:

    great question. i guess you can give them a pass (sort of) on the cornell thing because they’re a 12 (then again, why not just switch them and New Mexico St.?) and you can’t predict that they will be there. but, you’re absolutely right with duke and A&M/baylor. it’s not crazy to think that the 5 will make the Sweet Sixteen and/or the 3 will make the Elite Eight. and houston is a BIG advantage for those two teams

  13. Doogan says:

    Cousins was really impressive at the start of the season, but he’s gotten so much better throughout the season. Him and Wall are both rare talents, for lack of a better phrase.

  14. bry says:

    ya, cousins is an absolute monster. this team is really good

  15. Doogan says:

    Xavier-K-State has gotten really good now. A couple tough calls against K-State there. I’ll take it. Let’s go X!

  16. Doogan says:

    Ah, so awesome. You’re proven right yet again on your not fouling in those spots. And especially when the guy shoots 85% from the line!

  17. Doogan says:

    Un-be-lievable. K-State outplayed Xavier SO BAD in that OT, but X just keeps hitting the 3 at the exact times they need it. They better start playing some defense though if they want to pull this out. What a game.

  18. Doogan says:

    Meanwhile, this Kentucky-Cornell game that we were looking forward to so much has turned into an ugly game that has been drawn out with countless free throws.

  19. Doogan says:

    K-State deserved it. I don’t think Xavier had a solid defensive stop in the last 15 minutes of the game. Butler will bring better defense, but they won’t match that offensive performance. Should be another good one!

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