College Basketball

48 + 1 thoughts from the 2010 NCAA Tournament

After watching 98.6% of the NCAA basketball tournament over the last 4 days (hey, the NCAA wrestling finals are on too as I discovered when I inadvertently switched to ESPN), I’ve concluded this has to be the best opening week in tournament history — well, at least in my tournament watching history. (There should be a rule that people who weren’t alive at the time should not be allowed to try to argue some nonsense such as YA Tittle was somehow the most underrated QB in NFL history or wax philosophic about the heyday of John Wooden. If you did not exist, you should not be able to comment on a team or player of that era.)

After upsets galore on opening day, the tournament gave us a tremendous OT win by Purdue over Texas A&M to end the weekend. Oh, and there was that little matter of Northern Iowa beating Kansas in between.

So, in honor of opening weekend, here are 48 + 1 thoughts (do the math) on the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Some are good, some are mediocre, and some are clunkers — yep, just like the games.

The Underdogs

  1. Is there a better sound than when the arena collectively decides to root for the underdog as they near an upset?
  2. The most stinging loss has to be the one where the lower seeded smaller school comes oh so close. Especially if you’re a senior. For the rest of your life, you have to think but for that one critical play, you could have taken down mighty Goliath. (Robert Morris, Murray State, San Diego State) Paradoxically, when you get blown out by one of the top seeds, it was a fun experience and you can tell your kids about it. (Arkansas Pine Bluff, E. Tennessee, Morgan State, North Texas)
  3. Cornell should never have been a #12 seed. The only reason that happened was because Temple was a #5 and the selection committee decided it was more important to have a storyline of Fran Dunphy vs his former pupil than to seed either team correctly.
  4. Cornell is also killing my “pick the team with worst academics” theory. It’s good to see an Ivy League school in the sweet 16 though. Even if they have zero shot against Kentucky.
  5. I’m not sure if it’s a true cliche, a worn cliche, or it’s just a backhanded compliment to Ivy League teams but Cornell really is smart with the basketball. Watching them dismantle Temple and Wisconsin, I couldn’t help but marvel at how smart and crisp their offensive sets were.
  6. People are starting to talk about Omar Samham as a top lottery pick in the NBA draft. I can’t imagine the hype if Saint Mary’s advances another round.. or two.
  7. Headlines: Northern Iowa Shocks Kansas. St Mary’s Stuns Nova. Kansas was a 11.5 point favorite. Nova was a 4.5 point favorite. I guess the difference between shock and stun is 7 points.
  8. It wasn’t much of an upset but Wake Forest’s Ishmael Smith’s jumper with 1.3 seconds left provided one of many fantastic finishes on opening day.
  9. Why is Gonzaga’s bandwagon inexplicably full every March? The Bulldogs burst onto the scene in 1999 as a 10 seed and upset three higher ranking squads on their way to the Elite Eight. They then upset two more teams in 2000 as a 10 seed to cement themselves as perpetual Cinderella picks in everyone’s office pool. But it’s 10 years later and in the past decade, they’ve blown more games to lower seeds than they have actually pulled the upset against higher seeds (as a 9, they beat Cincinnati as an 8 in 2003.) People, it’s time to stop picking Gonzaga.
  10. Siena was a very chic pick to pull the upset. Following the “when everyone loves a team, go the other way rule” would have been the smart move. Siena didn’t really give Purdue much of a scare after halftime.
  11. I was hoping Cal could repeat their 1993 upset of Duke but unfortunately, there was no Jason Kidd to be found.
  12. Was Ali Farokhmanesh’s 3 against Kansas the hardest clutch shot in NCAA history? We all remember the buzzer beaters (Bryce Drew, Christian Laettner, Lorenzo Charles) but those are easier. You catch, (maybe) you dribble, you shoot. Farokhmanesh’s shot was harder because he didn’t have anyone in his face, time was not running out, and the prudent play was not to shoot. Yet he calmly nailed it.

The Favorites

  1. Say it with me: Rock, Choke, Jayhawk. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
  2. The SI regional cover didn’t jinx Villanova, just Scottie Reynolds.
  3. 49.3% of entries in the Yahoo Tourney Pick em took Kansas in the Finals. 40% took them in the ESPN pool. Even the President took em. I believe it was Robert Frost who said the key to winning your pool is to take the road less traveled. There was no percentage in taking Kansas.
  4. The Big East. The critics will say that the entire conference was overrated. The defenders will say that they beat each other up too much during the year. Either way, Nova, GU, and Marquette should never have bowed out that early.
  5. This has to be the worst tournament loss in Hoyas history (next to 1986 of course). Prior to losing to Ohio, the previous lowest seed they’ve ever lost to as a top 4 seed was Davidson as a 10 seed in 2008. This is not a good recent trend for GU.
  6. On the flip side, Syracuse is for real. Without Onuaku, Wes Johnson stepped up and nailed 12 3-pointers. Syracuse vs Kansas State is one of the games next weekend I’m most looking forward to. (Yes, I’m jumping the gun.)
  7. Never bet on Pittsburgh either. In this decade, they’ve lost to a lower seeded team 6 out of 9 times.
  8. Besides picking against them, I had to root against Purdue on principle alone because of their ridiculous two toned gold and black compression sleeves.
  9. When you’re up by 25 points with absolutely no hope of a comeback from the other team, shouldn’t the coach (I think you know who I’m talking about) tell his kids to back off? This isn’t the BCS, you don’t get extra points for blowouts.
  10. Tom Izzo might be the best coach in college basketball when March rolls around. His teams always show up to play in the tournament. (I wrote that when Michigan State was cruising. Sweated it out when Maryland took the lead. And breathed a sigh of relief when Korie Lucious nailed the three for the win.) If Izzo can coach MSU through another round with Lucas sidelined with a torn achille’s, that would cement my opinion.
  11. Why do we continue to listen to the pre-tourney predictions and breakdowns? If any “expert” picked Northern Iowa to beat Kansas, I’ll copy his bracket next year for my pool. Although Sports Illustrated almost called it with their feature story on the Jayhawks: Kansas coach Bill Self marvels at his team’s collective talent but rages at its inconsistent play. A look inside the unique challenge of coaching America’s best team. “They are awfully good. But—and these are the words that follow—Self knows that awfully good teams lose in March every year. And for Kansas fans hungry for the next miracle, an early exit would break a lot of hearts.
  12. Duke Sucks

The Commercials / Random

  1. After 1 day, I already hate the guy from the Coke Zero commercials. It’s 2010. Shouldn’t you get a haircut and a phrase (“I’m looking at you, scientists”) that didn’t expire in 2004?
  2. Is Southwest Airlines consciously trying to be the most ghetto national airline? You guys don’t need to try so hard, you earned that distinction years ago.
  3. If you’re rapping “I’m egging it” for McDonalds, are you happy to be a paid pitchman or are you sad because you probably should kill yourself? (I’ve always said that marketers are the most racist people, especially the ones that work for McDonalds. Now I know why:
  4. Is it wrong that I hope the girl in the Palm commercial absorbed in her smartphone as she walks down the street would get run over by a car?
  5. You can’t even eat their ground beef tacos without it leading to explosive diarrhea. You think I’m gonna trust shrimp shipped from the pacific at Taco Bell? (Especially when that shrimp most likely comes from a place like this rather than wild caught by the honest, simple, hard-working indigenous peoples of… wherever.)
  6. I watched the video of Obama picking the bracket. I gotta say, politics aside, it’s great to have a President that’s into sports. All the retards who are complaining that he needs to spend more time running the country obviously have never watched the NCAA tournament.
  7. I know it could turn out to be a monumental turd like The Goods but I’m actually interested in seeing Hot Tub Time Machine.
  8. Everyone hates Billy Packer and Dick Vitale but Bill Raftery is easily the most annoying announcer in NCAA basketball.
  9. I miss having UCLA in the tournament.
  10. Lucas O’Rear is the best name in the tourney. It reminds me of the joke “what’s Irish and sits on the back porch? — Paddy O’Furniture.”
  11. Why is it that the internet feed for the games can sometimes get choppy as hell but the streamed commercials are always clear as day?
  12. Dear CBS: when you switch away from a game, please have it at least transition in a side by side manner. There were numerous times when they switched away in the middle of a shot. I realize when a couple of games are coming down to the wire, it’s hard to figure out which game to show, especially when the second you switch to it, someone calls a timeout. But how hard is it to show both games overlapping for a couple seconds so that we don’t miss a thing. I’ve just solved your problem for free.

The Predictions (Updated)

  1. Michigan State over Northern Iowa
  2. Ohio State over Tennessee
  3. Syracuse over Butler
  4. Kansas State over Xavier
  5. Kentucky over Cornell
  6. Washington over West Virginia
  7. Duke over Purdue
  8. Baylor over St Mary’s
  9. Ohio State over Michigan State
  10. Syracuse over Kansas State (Only game I’m waffling on.)
  11. Kentucky over Washington
  12. Baylor over Duke

The plus one thought? It’s still Kentucky over Syracuse in the National Finals. And it’s still the best weekend in sports.

By Vin

Vin is a Philly boy who shouldn't be invited into your house because he'll judge you on your book and music collection. He owns Dawkins, Utley, Iverson, and Lindros jerseys, which is all you really need to know about him. He can be reached at [email protected]

2 replies on “48 + 1 thoughts from the 2010 NCAA Tournament”

I’ve read this three times that’s how awesome it is.

1. Yes, experiencing an entire arena get behind a dog (VCU a few years back) in person is awesome, except when your team (PITT)is the team they’re not behind, then it’s like being in the Spectrum wearing black and gold.

2. Have you ever had your brackets “come out on the other side?” That means that they’re horrible and you purposely spilled soda on them as a symbolic gesture, but things get so horrible for everyone else that you still have a chance. It’s like being 6-10 and still being a sixth seed where anything can happen. Go Baylor.

3. I think a good strategy is to actually look at some underdog teams you might be interested in and go through their schedule and see how they did in their non-conference games. Cornell should have jumped out at me how well they played elite teams early in the year. Either that or watch a crapload of ESPNU games, for which I just don’t have the attention span.

4. You know I can’t leave this out: Villanova didn’t stand a chance against St. Marys 5 on 5 like they did against RMU 8 on 5. Burn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *