March Madness continued last night and until then I was feeling good about my bracket going into the Thursday night games. Then the games happened and everyone’s NCAA Basketball World was turned upside down. Let’s go over the games.
The first game we can look at is Duke and Arizona. Most of America had already decided Duke was going to win. No one even gave a second thought was given to the fact that Arizona might win the game. Everyone said, “Duke has too much depth with all their players.” Duke even had all the big names. Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, and Kyrie Irving. To everyone else that mattered, to the Arizona team, it did not matter at all.
The Arizona basketball team came out and hung with Duke in the first half. Most critics expected Arizona would be able to accomplish this task. The Wildcats did just that with the help from Derrick Williams who knocked down 25 of his 32 points total. Then in the second half Arizona put the “afterburners” on during a 19-2 run where Williams barely touched the ball and his teammates scored from all over. Duke didn’t expect it, no one did. Duke had no answer for the scoring explosion and could not recover. Duke ended up losing the game to Arizona by the score of 93-77
Next on the agenda was Butler. I have to say this Butler just makes things look easy. They remind me of the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA. Butler is good in the regular season and then when crunch time comes or the NCAA Basketball tournament in this case; Butler lets the Bulldog come out of them and takes their game up a notch. As long as Brad Stevens is coaching Butler, I would not bet against them in a big game. It seems the bigger the game the better Butler plays. Butler conducted business as usual, defeating Wisconsin 61-54. Butler was even up by 20 points at one point and Wisconsin tried to rally. However, when Wisconsin got within a few points Butler made the adjustment and claimed the victory.
UCONN took to the court as well. UCONN took on the upstart San Diego State. San Diego State is even ranked higher than UCONN at a 2 seed and UCONN is a 3 seed. However, San Diego State is the true underdog for one very important reason. The reason has a name and he is Kemba Walker. Nothing seems to hold him back. No challenge is too big, he shows up every game! Tonight was no different as UCONN’s star player had 36 points and 22 in the second half. Some players just have the “IT” factor. They can take over a game and everybody else can only watch as that player singlehandedly wills his team to the win. I knew Kemba could do this very thing but not on the level that was seen on Thursday night in a Sweet 16 game. This is not to say that the Aztecs did not put up a fight, they fought to the very end to no avail as UCONN won 74-67
The last game of Thursday was Florida Gators versus BYU. BYU came to the game amidst “Jimmer Fever” and Florida boasts Chandler Parsons and one of the best coaches in NCAA basketball today. The Gators also remembered BYU as the team that knocked them out of the NCAA tourney last year and Jimmer Fredette was instrumental in that victory. The game was back and forth, basket for basket. When one team would get an edge, the other would come back. Everyone gave their best effort, Fredette put up 32 points on the Gators. Chandler Parsons and Erving Walker knocked down 16 points each for Florida. Even at the end of regulation, Parsons had an opportunity to win the game and missed a contested layup. The game would go into overtime where it was clear which team wanted it more as Florida pulled away. The final score was 83-74
It was an exciting day of games as there were ups and downs for 8 teams. Some stayed claiming victory, which others went home with a loss and no chance to claim the title of Men’s NCAA Basketball Champion. Today 4 more games will be played and by the end of the night, we will have our Elite 8. Just one step closer to see who can claim the final victory!
The weekend was eventful! NCAA March Madness was in full effect. Again, it was a weekend of surprises. We found out who was a true contender and who was just pretending. We found out which teams had heart and which teams let the pressure get to them. The refs again had a significant part in who moved forward and who was left behind. Now we have the Sweet 16. The 16 best teams in college basketball are going to compete for the chance to play another day and make the elite 8. We can examine the five most interesting matchups
First, there is Ohio State and Kentucky. Ohio State looks like a team on a mission as they have blown out their last two opponents. I expect the same when Ohio State plays Kentucky. Ohio State just has too much firepower. Many thought that there was no clear number one in this tourney but look at what Ohio State did to George Mason this weekend as the Buckeyes won 98-66. I clearly don’t remember seeing a George Mason highlight but I remember seeing many of Ohio State’s highlights, about 40 of them. Ohio State has clearly switched gears to overdrive and is playing on another level this NCAA tournament. I expect Kentucky to put up more of a fight but the result will be the same.
Then there is Kansas playing Richmond. Richmond has surprised everyone in this tourney by making the sweet 16. I have to admit I love seeing the Richmond fans dressed up like Spider-man. However, as much as I like Richmond, I do not believe they can take down Kansas. With the double forward tandem of Markieff and Marcus Morris leading the way, Kansas will take down Richmond. Kansas will put an end to the Spiders being amazing once again. The Jayhawks will reach the elite 8 like they should have done last season when they were a #1 seed.
The most interesting game has to be VCU and FSU. The two lower seeds look care of business over the weekend VCU defeating Purdue 94-76 and FSU defeating Notre Dame 71-57. Looking at the two teams even though both have done an amazing job of making the sweet 16, VCU will be the victor in this game. While I believe FSU has found someone to lean on in Bernard James, the play of James will not be enough to will FSU to victory. VCU is playing their best ball all season and now they have actually discovered defense. VCU could very well make it all the way to the Final Four.
Butler will do it again! Butler always seems to make some noise during tourney time and this time will be no different when Butler plays Wisconsin. Butler does not back down from any challenge. Matt Howard is a closer like no other when in the Big Game. Last year Butler leaned on Howard and this year will be the same as they make the elite 8.
The last game I think is one of the most interesting is the San Diego State versus UCONN game. I believe this game will be won in the last few seconds but this game has an X-factor. That X-factor is Kemba Walker. When it comes to crunch time if the game is close Kemba Walker will be the one that pushes UCONN through the threshold for the win. San Diego State is a well coached team but when it comes down to it The Aztecs do not have anything to counteract how good Kemba Walker truly is.
These are definitely the most intriguing games coming up this weekend. I am looking forward to see who makes the Elite 8. This has been one of the most exciting NCAA Basketball Tournaments to date. In addition, the excitement is not over! More last second finishes are coming and I cannot wait to experience the next thrill March Madness will bring!
Well it’s here. It is finally upon us. Some have waited all year long for this day to arrive. They have planned what they would do and how they would do it. Other people have even taken off work to enjoy this time of year. That’s right its March Madness time!
The teams have been set! The seeds have been chosen! The Last Championship games have been played! Who will win the tourney? How many upsets will there be? No one can tell. This year there is no true favorite to bring home the glory. Duke is not as good as they were last year. Kansas is good but not so dominant; Even North Carolina is a maybe to go all the way and may even lose in the earlier rounds. I know my readers are wondering what to expect.
Well expect some upsets, expect some number one seeds to fall. Expect some bad calls by the refs. That is all part of the fun of March Madness. Can Harrison Barnes take North Carolina all the way to the Final Four? Doubtful. Is Kemba Walker as good as advertised? Yes every bit! Kemba has averaged 23.5 points per game over the year and during the Big East tournament, he averaged 26+ points a game. He is playing his best basketball of the year is easily the reason UCONN was so successful in their Championship Week. On the other hand, have you heard of a kid named Jimmer Fredrette from BYU? Fredrette had a 52 point game the over New Mexico in the Mountain West tournament semi-finals and he has not stopped being nothing short of sensational since then.
All the experts are saying Ohio State is the number one team in the country and they have a good chance to go all the way. All the predictions mean nothing, its rare that the team predicted to win the whole NCAA tournament actually does accomplish the task. The games start Thursday and I am more than ready to experience all the highs and lo’s of the tournament. I am ready for some fantastic finishes. I am ready for the Cinderella team to make it to the Elite 8. Moreover, sideline commentary by Dick Vitale just feels so right at this time of year. March Madness is officially here and its going to be one wild ride. Get ready! Get those brackets out! Cancel all your weekend plans! The games are on and the best ones have yet to come.
A great deal of people watch sports and most people have a favorite sport. Whether it is hockey, football, baseball, or basketball. We generally love to see two teams really compete down to the wire. Very few people love to watch a blowout, where one team is completely overmatched. We cheer, we get excited, we even cry when our team loses. While the players and coaches affect the game directly, another group of people can do the same.
We have all gotten mad at this group of people during one game or another. The group I speak of is referees. That’s right the refs are sometimes the saviors and sometimes they are the most hated individual in the game. We have to repsect them though because referees are the rules caretakers.
My readers are probably wondering why I am on this subject. Well its because right now is when March Madness starts for college basketball and soon after there will be the NBA playoffs as well. This is the time of year that referees can truly prove their worth or fail miserably. The referees can make the crucial foul call that can send someone to the free throw line to win the game. The referees are the ones that make sure the players are not traveling or going back court after they have crossed half court line. The referees even control instant replay and watch the game clock. March Madness has not even officially started yet but Championship Week is going on and we have already had an infraction of the last statement.
Watching the Rutgers and St. Johns game, yesterday the referees “took a vacation” in the last 30 seconds of the game as St John’s was leading by two points. First they failed to make an “over the back” call when the St. John’s player was clearly hanging on the back of the Rutger’s player to get the ball. St John’s scores and takes the lead as a result of the play. Most people watching the game were thinking, “Well maybe they just missed that call, or they are letting them play it out.” Then Rutgers throws the ball in with 5. 5 seconds left and the ball is thrown to a player who is just across the half court line. When the Rutger’s player goes up to get the ball, two St. Johns players basically mug the player. A foul should of been called but again we have a no call! St John’s recovers the ball and the St John’s player throws the ball up in the air as he steps out of bouds. In addition, when the St. John’s player steps out of bounds there is still 1.7 seconds on the clock. This would usually mean that Rutgers gets the ball with some time left on the clock. Not yesterday, the referees call the game over and never even review if time was required to be added back to the game clock.
The kicker to all this bad refereeing is that the game was a championship game, which the winner automatically gets a bid into the NCAA basketball tournament. Will we ever know if Rutgers would of made a game winning shot? It could have been a shocker victory with a last second three point shot. Similarly, Rutgers could of tied the game with a two point shot to take the game into overtime. The Rutgers players, coaches and fans were all robbed of ever experiencing what the game should have been. They were all denied a chance to see if their team would persevere by bad referee “no” calls. I can understand someone making a mistake in a game or even two or three mistakes over the course of the game, but not all in a matter of a few seconds.
One of the referees should have seen that something was in error and make the right call. One of the referees should of at least have been watching the time so the correct amount of time was left on the clock. Alas, none of the above happened and we have a game that ended too soon.
What should be the penalty for such bad job performance on a national stage with so much at stake? Someone will probably lose their job, if not the whole officiating crew. With two collegiate programs affected, not to mention the fans, I am sure at least one person will suffer consequences, if not more. If the media was not involved this debacle would probably just slide by and out of view. Once the media is involved though, some sort of action is required. Let’s hope the NCAA makes the right choice and takes steps to assure such bad officiating will not happen again, especially during the NCAA tournament. It would be a shame to crown a national champion if a similar situation happens to the opposing team. We need referees to enforce the rules of the game and I appreciate what they do. However, my request is similar to what a coach tells his players “Get your heads in the game!” Today was a clear indication the referees heads were somewhere else or at least their eyes were.