Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bracketology, Day Two

So, I think I'm definitely going to live to see a 16 beat a 1. The average scoring margin between the two seed was 14.5, which I think is the lowest ever. One of these days, one of these teams is going to stay hot down the stretch, make one or two more threes, get one or two more calls, and the favorite is going to make a couple ill-timed mistakes and it's going to happen. There's enormous parity in the NCAA right now. There were five or six game that were straight up blowouts, but most came down to the final moments. Last night, the spread was UConn-Albany, UNC-Murray State, Bradley-Kansas, and Penn-Texas, and all looked tight at halftime--all got down to the last few minutes.

I ended up 7-1 in the first round here, with all my Sweet 16 picks intact. And I'm totally happy to have lost the pick I lost because it was Northwestern State over Iowa. Deadspin said of Tennessee's last second game winning shot that it was the kind of shot that the underdog is supposed to win on. Well, NW State stole that shot back. Jermaine Wallace's J was one of the sickest things I've seen in a long time. Just beautiful.

Texas seemed to play the whole game at Penn's speed, which is why Penn was in it up until the end. The Salukis got killed as expected by West Virginia, and NC State made me look smart for beating the frankly overrated California. Cam Bennerman really stepped up and shot the lights out. Apparently some think Herb Sendek's job is in jeopardy. I think that's CRAZY. His team had a great year! They always play above their seed in the tournament, and this game was another example of how well coached his players are. They get down to those critical moments and make great decisions and maintain their composure.

Bill Self has got to feel like tha Basketball Gods have got a laser trained right on his scrotum. Last year, he got to watch his old school and they guy he replaced at Kansas battle in the Championship game while he handed the Patriot League it's first NCAA Tournament win. This year, he loses in the first round to Bradley--not just lose, but get largely dominated from pillar to post. Two first round exits in a row! Ouch. Billy Packer can officially go and suck it now, too, can't he? Between the MVC hating and his diss of St. Joe's in the recent past, is there any good reason to listen to Packer anymore? I think he's a fucking bonehead.

Not that I have room to talk. I picked Kansas to win. I also picked Bucknell to win, though. That pass at the end of the game from behind the ten-second line to an open man under the net was CRAZY, by the way. I think we may as well get used to the Patriot League not being the reliable pushovers they once were. I went 5-3 in this bracket (losing Kansas, Marquette and SDSU), but all four of my Sweet 16 picks are alive.

Michigan State is a Big Ten team, and I like to get the Big Ten out of the tourney early unless they've got a squad that's just blazing good. If GMU's Mike Skinn had played this game, I would have picked the Patriots without even a second thought. Shows you what little faith I have! GMU, even without Skinn, were awesome! What a great job the rest of the team did in stepping it up and filling in the shortfalls. Hands down, this was their best game of the season and and they couldn't have picked a better time or venue to unload. This was also probably the most fun game of the tourney so far to watch. So congrats, Mason!

UAB-Kentucky was the only one of the four 8-9 matches I didn't call correctly. I also picked UNC to win. I thought Albany played great against UConn. Had they won, it would have made my bracket totally useless, but I still was rooting for them. I'm not sure, but I think Albany is from the America East. If so, when you get back to success Vermont's had, we may be looking at a small conference that's close to emerging. You could tell the UConn players really appreciated the way Albany went after them. I think, frankly, that the Huskies are pretty lucky to still be playing. Calhoun, like, HUGGED their coach afterwards.

I went 5-3 in this bracket also, with all my Sweet 16 intact.

And Monmouth didn't look to shabby against Villanova, either. But, Nova and Georgetown both won, and the Big East can breathe a sign of relief after Thursday, where their cohort was dropping left and right. I smartly followed the Big Ten rule in the 8-9 game between Arizona and Wisconsin. I would have loved for Davidson, one of those schools that's submerged in college hoops passion, to beat Ohio State, but in the end, I had to take Ohio State to win that one. I'm 6-2 in this bracket, and it's the only place I've lost a Sweet 16 so far. Sigh...Pacific.

So after one round, I'm 23 and 9. On to the second.

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