Friday, March 19, 2010

Degenerate Friday - Day 2 of the Tournament

What a day of games yesterday – a double overtime game, a single overtime game, a 3 point win, two 9-seeds over 8-seeds, and 5 other double digit seeds pulling off upsets. That is why the tournament is the best sporting event in the world. The staggered games keep you glued to the television for a continual stream of big finishes. Incredible. A couple quick gambling picks of the day, and then some quick thoughts on a day that wore me out just watching the games.

Duke (-23) over Arkansas-Pine Bluff
UAPB is just happy to be here after beating Winthrop in the play-in game and will be intimidated just by taking the court with the college basketball royalty that is Duke. UAPB started the season 0-11 and is now 18-15, so they have played better lately, but that will not be enough against the Duke pressure defense. Despite Duke struggling in the first round in recent years – in the past 5 years (2 #1 seeds, 2 #2 seeds and a #6 seed) they have only won by more than 20 once and lost a game – they should be able to run the Golden Lions off the court.

Texas A&M (-3) over Utah State
Typically during the tournament one of the first days has all the drama and the upsets and the other first round day is more routine. That especially is the case when Thursday is full of drama and upsets. The reason is the coaches of the favorites playing on Friday has the opportunity to remind his players of what happened yesterday so that they don’t take their opponents lightly. Thursday was the day of drama and upsets. Sloane will be too athletic for Utah State and A&M will win this battle of the Aggies. A&M also defends well enough to slow the Utah State 3-point attack.

Quick Thoughts…………………

A brief break from college basketball to talk about Ron Washington, the manager of the Texas Rangers. The guy tested positive for cocaine last season during a random test, came clean to the Rangers about it, called it a one-time mistake and they decided not to fire him. I had two initial thoughts. First, are we really surprised? He played in the 80’s when guys like Otis Nixon relied on the head-first slide because he didn’t want to break his coke vial in his back pocket. (Otis may have been the inspiration for Dave Chapelle’s skits) My nex thought was that no one starts out with cocaine. No one wakes up and decides to start doing drugs by doing cocaine – it is not a starter drug. Just look at the downfall of Lindsay Lohan, Corey Haim, Brittany Murphy, etc. Wait – Lindsay hasn’t overdosed yet? It’s unfortunately just a matter of time. If Washington tested positive for cocaine there is a really high probability he smokes weed and probably does other drugs. Lo and behold the news now out that he admits to smoking pot and taking anphetamines during his playing days. I just hope he can get his problem under control.


Not an impressive showing by the Big Least yesterday. They went 1-3, with all three losses to double-digit seeds. And their one win was in overtime over a number 15 seed (with some dubious calls, which I will touch on in a minute). Ouch – awful. At this point, I am not feeling good about picking Louisville in the first round and I’m really nervous about the 3 elite 8 teams I picked from the Big East. The most shocking was the lack of effort and lack of defense from Georgetown in giving up 97 points to Ohio, a team that lost 14 games during the regular season in the MAC conference.


On to the officiating the Villanova-Robert Morris game. I thought there were some suspect foul calls that very easily could have been jump balls. I won’t go as far as saying that Robert Morris got screwed or that they had the game taken away from them. Why would the officials not want the upset to happen? The upsets are what makes the tournament great – so why would the referees try to prevent that? It doesn’t make any sense. Did they miss the calls? Maybe, but depending upon their angles and seeing the game at live speed, they called what they saw, or thought they saw. If you’re Robert Morris, does it stink? Yup. At the same time, if Robert Morris doesn’t turn the ball over 20 times, it wouldn’t have been that close. Scottie Reynolds had a horrible shooting game, but he did what he needed to do, crashing the rim and getting the calls to get to the free throw line.

Now for the sake of my bracket, I hope Villanova takes that as a their wake up call and is ready to take on St. Mary’s.


Random nugget for what it’s worth, Doug Gotlieb just named his top 5 coaches for getting the most out of their players and making in-game adjustments. They included Tom Izzo, Bo Ryan, Thad Motta, Bill Self and Bruce Pearl. Interesting that there are 3 Big Ten coaches and a former Big Ten coach (Self), and not a single coach from the Big Least. He talked about guys that are great recruiters but aren’t as good at in-game adjustments, which included Roy Williams, John Calipari and Jim Calhoun. Just a random thought worth noting.

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