Well round one is in the books. Seems like a lot of other tournaments - one day of upsets and one day of chalk. (perhaps not so surprising that the day of chalk came second - I imagine a lot of favored teams were determined to buckle down after seeing so many high seeds fall the first day)
The most missed game, of course, was Georgetown. No one picked Ohio. And only 3 of 25 entries correctly picked Wake to have Texas hand them the game. Bart and I were musing about how much things like this get skewed in an ACC-related bracket group - ie no one who has seen a lot of ACC games was giving Wake much of a chance; and a team that pounded Duke is likely to get over-valued when tourney picking time comes for Duke fans. (though in this case G-town was a pretty big stunner no matter where you are from)
As detailed in the post below - we are using a slightly different scoring system for our Tournament Bracket Challenge.
Here is the page on ESPN. But this morning I did a quick tally from the first round and adjusted the standings to reflect the BvB scoring. You can check those out on this Google document.
No surprise that the Bracket that picked a lot of upsets had the biggest difference between standard scoring and our format - but those things tend to equal out a bit more over the long haul. We shall see. It will be nice to actually have a larger sample size to compare the merits of our system.
I personally will be pulling hard for St Marys and Georgia Tech - pretty sure I was the only person at all who picked St Mary’s over Nova, and one of only a couple with Tech in the Sweet 16. I will need at least one of those 2 to do well to overcome the other 2 sleeper picks that I was counting on. I really thought I could ride hot 3-pt shooting of UTEP and Utah St into the round of 16. Instead Utah got blitzed by A&M and UTEP couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn against Butler in the second half.
Best/Most Intriguing Stories thus far for me:
- BYU’s Jimmer Fredette was awesome to watch. I tweeted that he was like that old guy at your local YMCA who does nothing but stutter step and scoop shot his way around the key. He finishes with both hands and has a very old-school game. Kinda reminds me of playing 1 on 1 with my Dad.
- Mike Greenberg and Doug Gottlieb both went off on Friday morning’s Mike&Mike show about the way the Robert Morris was absolutely jobbed by the officials in their game against Nova. I watched almost all of that game and I have to say I agree. They got no 50/50 calls coming down the stretch and were the victim of several calls that were absolutely positively wrong/bad/missed in Nova’s favor. (The dual possession of 2 Nova players on a rebound that should have been a traveling call and the tie up at mid court that should have been a jump ball (to Morris’ possession arrow) are 2 that I remember clearly enough to articulate) I don’t know how any informed basketball fan could watch that game and not at best feel sorry for Robert Morris and at worst believe some bad juju was happening there. I don’t necessarily believe that ‘the fix’ was in to keep Nova in the tournament - but it was CLEARLY a systemic set of bad calls going against the underdog from one official in particular - who was being singled out by the RM coach. I really want to do some more reading up on this and try to watch the 2nd half of that game again.
- I watched the entire Temple/Cornell game and I have to say the Big Red are a very, very easy team to like. They have a great big man in Foote who can finish and is a terrific passer. They are absolutely a nightmare to guard as they buzz around the offensive end and could not miss an open shot to save Temple’s life.They are very unselfish but also are not guilty of over-passing. And they have a lightning-quick point guard in Louis Dale who can break anyone down off the dribble. I didn’t get to see Wisconsin plod their way to victory over Wofford, but I think Cornell will simply out score them in the Great Battle of the Reds. And Jay Bilas may have been right about them beating Kentucky - something that would not surprise me at all after seeing them play only one game.
- Let there never again be a debate about whether or not guard play can carry you in college basketball. Ohio U’s dominating performance against Georgetown has got to be one of the greatest tournament upsets of all time. And by that I mean not just by the fact that they won, but how they won. The Hoyas could not stop the bleeding and were never in the game - trailing by double digits virtually the entire second half. And Ohio was the 9th place finisher in their conference who had to win a play-in game to even qualify for their own tournament, which they had to win to make the field. The Hoyas have been up and down this year, but played great in their own conference tourney that they nearly won. I am actually shocked that 2.4% of people picked Ohio to win. I will not be surprised at all if they beat Tennessee today.
- So much is being made of the Big East’s performance in the tournament and the Pac 10 being 2-0. Please please. First of all lets finish the weekend before we start drawing any conclusions. And second of all we are only a couple of bounces away from those 2 records being quite different. Too much is made of tournament performance every year and it is totally unfair. If Duke were to fall to Cal on Sunday or a scary A&M team next weekend, I will be very disappointed and dreading the off-season Duke Hatorade Parade. But will that mean Duke had a disappointing season - not in my mind. Georgetown, Vanderbilt, and even Richmond will be looked at as having a disappointing seasons by many because of their first round losses, but that is just silly. And teams like Wake and Georgia Tech will have magically redeemed their seasons of mediocre crapitude if they can pull some upsets this weekend.The harsh reality that anything can happen in a one-game scenario is what makes this tournament so compelling. But one game should not define any team. There is very little hope of changing the American culture’s collective fixation on winning, but I would like to be one voice of perspective in that hive mind.