Friday, March 20, 2009

The Madness: Day 1

It may not have had much in the way of "One Shining Moment" footage, but it was a very entertaining day of Madness today. I watched a good bit of basically every game today thanks to the magic of an HDTV and two computers linked up with all lined up side-by-side-by-side. I'm not sure that I've ever seen a more beautiful site to tell you the truth. And perhaps the best news of all is knowing that I get to do it all over again tomorrow AND watch my beloved Pitt Panthers kickstart their tournament.

But before we get to all that good stuff, I have 10 thoughts I wanted to share regarding today's festivities:

1. I may have picked Memphis to go to the Final Four in 2 of my 3 brackets...but if Tyreke Evans gets in foul trouble, that squad isn't getting past Maryland and that's all there is to it. Suddenly, I would really like that FF pick back. I can't even see Memphis getting past the Sweet 16 now.

2. No one uglies up a game quite like Big Eleven Ten teams. I don't know how anyone can possibly watch that garbage on a regular basis unless you have a strong rooting interest in one of the teams. When Illinois/Western Kentucky was on CBS in the Pittsburgh region for thTe better part of their game, I chose watching the grainy snuff-film footage of the UCLA/VCU game over watching that Illinois team play on my HDTV. Just brutal.

3. There were very, very few teams that impressed me today, and none of the big names really did. Sure UConn, Duke, Oklahoma and UNC absolutely blew the doors off of their respective opponents, but none of them proved anything to us that we didn't already know, and I remain unconvinced as to how well each one of them can overcome their respective weak spots. If I take Pitt out of the equation because of my biased homerism, I would take Louisville over any one of the 4 teams in a heartbeat.

4. Oddly, one team that did impress me that I expected almost nothing special from was Texas A&M. I looked at that squad and didn't see them getting past BYU. So much for that. They took the Cougars apart, and I think they will give UConn a game in Round 2.

5. I was also impressed by Maryland, and that is now my upset special pick for Round 2 (I think). I need to look through some stats first before I make that official, but Memphis is clearly vulnerable.

6. Another vulnerable team is Gonzaga. I really liked them coming into the tournament, but same as Memphis I just wasn't impressed by them when they were pressed early on by a hungry Akron team. I don't see them losing to Western Kentucky, though that team certainly fits the bill as this year's sweetheart Sweet 16 squad. However, I also no longer consider them a Final Four darkhorse, as I once did.

7. Yet another team that I cooled on significantly was Villanova. I had them pegged as a legit threat to Pitt if they were to meet in the Elite 8. If they play like they did today when they take on UCLA they won't be making the trek to Boston. Maybe I'm being too harsh on these teams for one game, but watching these squads play just gave me all sorts of doubts today.

8. Eric Maynor completely let me down at the end of that VCU/UCLA game. I couldn't have imagined a worse offensive possession there. Maynor drove right at Collison who is superb defensively. Under what circumstance is that an acceptable decision? That play was as coordinated as diarrhea. I guess I'm just pissed because I thought that was a sure-fire upset special pick. Damn!

9. The best player of the day: Marcus Thornton from LSU. I didn't know a ton about him before today apart from him being a good scorer and LSU's best player. But I was very impressed by him today. 30 points against a quality Butler squad is nothing to overlook. And now he gets to match up with a North Carolina squad that is prone to giving up huge numbers defensively. Thornton is just the type of player that could give that Tar Heel team fits and he could maybe be just the right man for the job to lead a stunning upset of UNC. Or maybe I'm insane.

10 . Whoever that Morgan State player is, that guy should be ashamed of himself. That was ridiculous the way he went out of his way to hurt Blake Griffin like that. Completely classless and I really don't know how Griffin didn't get up and beat the bejeezus out of that guy. Would anyone have blamed him if he did? I sure wouldn't have.

And finally a quick prediction for tomorrow's Pitt game: Pitt 84 ETSU 57

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