Based on the action so far, you could say some of the favored higher seeds have played with fire today and walked away without a singe. So far we had two high seeds go down to the brink before winning and one other who needed a little push in the last two minutes to get past an upstart. Here are some highlights.
Everyone expected Duke to win since no #16 seed has ever won. That being said Duke had some trouble with Southern. Early in the second half Duke led by only 5 and committed 5 straight turnovers. Greg Paulus committed an especially bad turnover and Mike Krzyzewski calls timeout and when Paulus comes to the bench I lip read him says something like, "What the f*** are you doing out there" Nice way to talk to your freshman point guard there K. Not to worry though, when the game was well in hand K brought Paulus to the bench and they kissed and made up. Well they did not kiss, but they were certainly close enough to. According to K, in one of the most bizzare press conferences I have ever seen, he said he was making sure Paulus knew they were all in this thing together and to play on. He then launched into a very weird speech about reporters eating apples and how he was insulted to have been blamed for UNC being sent to Dayton instead of Greensboro. He also looked annoyed to be there or maybe he had some indigestion, who knows. Duke looked weak tonight, Redick hit his shots, Southern did not have a prayer against Shelden Williams, and besides that Southern does not shoot the ball particualry well. GW is next.
Tennessee, Gonzaga, and Boston College Nearly Bite It
I am actually not suprised about the first two. Tennessee should never have been a #2 seed and I am beginning to think Winthrop deserved better than a #15 seed. In my mind this was a 4-13 game. UT basically dropped back into a zone, crowded the middle and dared Winthrop to beat them from the arc. It worked and with the game tied at 61 UT's Chris Lofton hit a fall away jumper from 19 feet to give the Vols the final lead. UT should be ripe for the picking against Wichita St. Gonzaga honestly needs to either find a new conference or schedule three to four games in February against stiffer competition. I think the Bulldogs are better than they showed tonight but not playing big time schools has dulled their edge significantly. Adam Morrison(or his horrible mustache) took over late and lifted the Zags to the second round.
Boston College gave us the biggest suprise and scare of the day. BC is the cool pick for the Final Four, everyone put them in because they are playing extremely well. I picked them for the Final Four because they look like the best team in the bracket. So imagine my horror in watching their game and almost losing a Final Four pick on the FIRST DAY! It took them 2 overtimes to push past Pacific who had numerous opportunities to win the game but failed to capitalize. The interesting part of the BC near upset is how much spin is flying out there now. ESPN has an article on the front page alongside the game story talking about how many schools have been tested early in Tournament only to go on and win it. I admit there is some truth to that but it is also true that such an assertion is a way of justifying such a poor performance from a team everyone expects to win at least four games in the next two weeks.
Three True Upsets
I love it when I pick an upset and UW-Milwaukee did not disappoint by taking out Oklahoma. Of course given the Sooners' NCAA history from 1989 on, this was not a difficult upset to predict.
The two other upsets account for two of my three missed picks so far. Nevada confirmed what I knew about them when I saw them play a few weeks back but forgot when I did my picks and lost to #12 seeded Montana. The party rolls on in Butte at least until Saturday. The other upset involved Alabama holding off Marquette in a 7-10 game. Marquette struck me better than that.
I just wanted to take a moment and point out that the Big East is 0-3 at present. Of course they also have two #1 seeds but it will be interesting how this "we go eight teams in" super conference actually performs when the chips are down. The real Syracuse reasserted itself tonight and promptly lost to an very good and obviously underseeded Texas A&M team.
UNC Wilmington, who was seeded the highest for any UNC other than UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Charlotte lost to George Washington. GW at a robust 28-2 gets a shot at Duke.
I had San Diego St. pegged as an #11 winner over Indiana because I thought Indiana was not really that good. I obviously forgot Steve Fisher is the head coach at SDSU and 13 years after Chris Webber called that ill fated timeout against UNC, he still does not have clue how to coach end-of-game situations or maybe it is that his players are not very cerebral. My favorite moment was when the SDSU guard had the ball tipped into the backcourt and he refused to touch it thinking it would have been an over-and-back even though he legally could have. It resulted in a jump ball which gave Indiana the ball trailing by one. Indiana gets a three because SDSU stood and watched the shooter instead of contesting the shot. Then SDSU, having to go the full length of the court in 3.9 seconds promptly inbounds the ball all the way over everyone out of bounds on the other end. Maybe Fisher should hire an assistant to coach close games for him.
Some of the expected winners who won handily were: Wichita St, UCLA, Florida, LSU, Illinois, Washington.
I finished the day 13-3 with all of my Sweet Sixteen still intact. If memory serves I tend to trend worst on the second day. I hope that trend changes.