I always take lower seeds in the tournament because I hate chalk in brackets. Now to the layman, chalk means taking the higher seed in every game. Any monkey can fill out a bracket but it takes nuance and second guessing and handwringing if you watch as much college basketball as I have in my life. I remember where I was during tournament in past years dating back to my childhood. Well, chalk reigned supreme during the first 2 rounds despite a few upsets. But with chalk advancing, the matchups get really good as the tournament progresses.
This theory proved to be proven throughout the weekend. I don't know what it is about the NCAA tournament that gets me every year. Every year I watch ridiculous amounts of basketball, even more than the Sports Guy who has no real job. I watch Missouri Valley games on ESPN U and follow the Colonial Athletic conferences and MEAC conferences just because... I'm a sick, sick college basketball fan and when the satellite via DirecTv made college basketball games available with multiple games every night it just feeds that addicition.
If I was single, I would definitely have ordered the Full Court package and probably be betting every single night on college hoops. Thank god I found Sarah because would be watching this stuff around the clock. And every year. I mean ever year the Tournament gets me frustrated because my bracket is busted and some secretary in Marketing is winning the office pool. Oh well, it was some unbelievable basketball this weekend starting with the sweet 16 games and ending with the same great Regional Final matchups. Some of the best college basketball I can remember can from all angles. Let's summarize...
In the sweet 16 games on Thursday night, the West regional had two fantastic games as Kansas outlasted the Salukis in a dangerous game for the Jayhawks. The MVC is one of the most underrated conferences in college basketball and SIU played hard nosed defense and rebounding well against the athletic Jayhawk bunch. In the end, Jayhawks proved to be too much winning 61-58 but Kansas looked very vulnerable.
The late game outwest (most people were asleep by the one this one was deep), UCLA and coach Ben HOwland faced his old team in a very game Pittsburgh squad who had a great season in the Big EAst. UCLA was impressive throughout and the defensive ability of UCLA was very evident this game. In a pretty convincing win this Bruin team looked impressive and motivated to end their run of mediocrity. 64-55 was the final.
The other regional in the South included two games that came to the very end.
I was torn in the opener between Texas A&M and Memphis. Acie Law had a timely missed layup with under a minute to go that would have been an unblievable play with the Aggies up one but it cost them dearly. Memphis had three crucial offensive rebounds and finally got fouled on the play. 65-64 was the final after two free throws put Memphis ahead and A&M couldn't get a meaningful shot with 2.0 seconds left. This game showed the Big 12 may have been a little overrated because Memphis really had plenty of weaknesses. And all the Aggie faithful left the Alamodome wanting so much more...
Ohio St. won a miracle game against Tennessee. Down some ridiuclous amount in the first half after they failed to show up for the First Half, the Buckeyes imposed their will and found a way to scratch their way into the game. But Tennessee refused to die behind a powerful backcourt that just kept shooting threes. The Buckeyes were up 1 and Tennessee had a shot to win the game. In what will be one of the most famous play of the season Greg Oden helped his high school teammate Mike Conley Jr. and get a block to win a nailbiter for the Buckeyes
And if you thought the good basketball was over, wait until the Saturday and Sunday..
Florida got a real scare from all the white boys from Butler but in the end the Gators won going away 65-57.
Oregon pretty much manhandled UNLV but the score got close at the end. I should know because I had UNLV +3.5 and they lost by 4. DOH!
If you thought Friday night's games were not any good, then you didn't see the Eastern Regions games. USC looked to have UNC almost dead and buriend and then just lost their energy and couldn't hit ANYTHING. I mean ANYTHING. UNC went on an 18 - 0 Run USC just couldn't do anything but watch UNC run past them. I had USC +7.5 and UNC won by 10. It was a painful Friday night.
Vandy and Georgetown played an absolute epic. By the way, when to VAndy get respectable. I swear I've been watching Football and basketball the last 10 years but where did this come from? Vandy has always been a cover matching football but wow.
Whatever you think about Vandy, they played Georgetown basically even which is a pretty unbelievable feat with Jeff King's off balanced shot to send the Hoyas to the regional final.