NCAA Basketball Tournament

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NCAA Basketball: Anatomy of Two Superstars

This week we saw the NCAA basketball champion be crowned for the Men’s and Women’s tournament. While there were some upsets as usual in the Men’s NCAA tournament, the Women’s NCAA tournament was straight forward. The question though is was either tournament more exciting or less exciting this year?

The reason that I asked this question is because it was a pretty much foregone conclusion from the first game of March Madness; who was going to win both tournaments.Kentucky was picked by many to win the Men’s NCAA Tournament and Baylor was the favorite to win the Women’s NCAA Tournament. Both teams were clearly more talented than any other team they faced. Both teams also had the best player in the NCAA. Anthony Davis, who would have made the jump straight to the NBA if it was allowed, is clearly a man among boys. His talent level is through the roof, Davis has redefined the art of the block in college basketball. Similarly, Britney Griner has done the same for Women’s college basketball. To see a woman dunk with the same authority as her male counterparts is simply amazing.

Anthony Davis and Britney Griner are the best players in college basketball

The problem with amazing players who are truly on a higher level than their teammates or the opponents is we know when they play what the outcome will be. The team they play on will win every time or a very high percentage of the time. We start to watch the game to see what how that player will help his team win the game and not because we think their team will lose. Occasionally, that player’s team will have a rough patch where another team will threaten their greatness. It does not take long for the player to kick their game-play up a notch and make us realize how good they really are.

Anthony Davis and Britney Griner while fun to watch I believe made the every game predictable in outcome. No one could truly challenge either of their teams. The only question was how long the opposing team could keep up before the game was out of reach. Even in both of Kentucky’s and Baylor’s championship games this truth held firm.

 Will Anthony Davis and Britney Griner return next year to dominate March Madness again?

I am not trying to take anything away from two great players. I am just saying that the excitement was not the same this year because the favorite going into the tournament was clearly a few levels above the competition. If Anthony Davis stays which is not likely, next year Kentucky will cut down the net again at the end of the season. The likelihood of Britney Griner returning is much greater and Baylor will once again dominate the Women NCAA tournament.

With all that being said congratulations to Kentucky and Baylor for a great year. Both teams deserved to be declared the Champion of their perspective tourneys. Maybe next year another team will rise up to truly challengeKentuckyand Baylor for the crown. Seniors will graduate, a new freshman class will come in, and juniors will rise to become the new seniors as every NCAA team will try to prove they have what it takes to be a champion. Only time will tell which, if any teams have truly made a leap big enough to come out on top.


UCONN vs. Butler! We Have a Champion!

The NCAA Basketball Championship is here! There have been many ups and downs through the NCAA tournament. All the number one seeds went down and are no longer pursuing their dreams. Some teams played up to their potential and other teams failed to reach their expectations. No bracket was safe as upset after upset happened. We are finally ready to determine who will be crowned the winner of the NCAA season.

Kemba Walker has been playing at a high level and carrying the UCONN team through each game. The Huskies rode the “Walker Wave” all the way to the National Championship game. Butler reminds me of the New England Patriots of the NFL as they continue to find ways to win. No one could have predicted the Butler Bulldogs to return to the National Championship game this year. However, here they stand. Will they be the young upstart that wins it all or more like the Buffalo Bills of the 90’s, making it to the big game multiple times and never delivering the victory.

The first half of the national Championship game was ugly. There was hardly any good offense but as the game continued on the offense got uglier on both sides. Chase Stigall knocked down the first points to get the Butler offense started in the first half. In addition, Butler’s guard Shelvin Mack knocked down a couple of three pointers before the half ended. The first half offense for both teams was still atrocious but Butler went into halftime up 22-19 over the UCONN Huskies.

The second half did not bode much better shooting for either team. Butler threw enough bricks to build a new national monument. I seriously thought at one point, “Will Butler even score this half?” Butler at one point in the second half was shooting a dismal 15% from the field. The Bulldogs went through a scoring drought of somewhere close to 10 minutes where they did not score a basket.

It was kind of like watching a children’s league where two young age groups are playing and the children can get the ball high enough to go in the basket but miss wildly. Then every parent cheers when a basket is scored, because the parents realize that the children barely know how to dribble, let alone shoot the basketball.

Now just imagine that same scenario with college players that are supposed to be some of the best players in the country. Butler finished the game with a percentage equal to a high tip at a restaurant for recieving good service at 18.8%. Butler went 12-64 shooting for the night. To say it was a disappointing display of offense is an understatement.

UCONN faired better in the second half. While the Huskies did not all of sudden start to make every shot. UCONN was at least able to score a few points and put together a limited run. Kemba Walker led the Huskies with 16 points and 9 rebounds. Moreover, Jeremy Lamb sparked the offense in the second half with 12 points. Alex Oriakhi provided a defensive presence with 4 blocks for the game. The Huskies were able to put together some semblance of offense and defense.

The National Championship game was not the knockdown drag down fight, that everyone expected. It was more like watching 2 prize fighters wandering aimlessly around the boxing ring, neither quite landing many punches. It just so happens in this case UCONN landed more punches than Butler. There was not much exciting to look at during the game. Moerover, the game had very few plays fans would cheer about or motivate someone to jump out of their seats.

Even though UCONN ended up being National Champion, neither team delivered a performance worthy of a championship battle. The only redeeming factor is that this year is I enjoyed the game at home, instead of paying to attend the game. I think I would of asked for my money back if I was sitting in the arena watching two teams struggle so badly. I was ready to see the most exciting game of the year, instead UCONN and Butler delivered a game that could of put anyone to sleep.

March Madness! The Elite 8 is Almost Set!

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!

March Madness! It’s Fantastic!

Yesterday was the day! That’s right the March Madness games officially started. What A day in college basketball! Some things were expected and some were very unexpected. Last year mostly everything went according to plan. Most of the right teams advanced. The NCAA people responsible for seeding did a pretty good job. This year well throw all your plans out the window, tear up your brackets, and just know that no one could have seen all this drama coming.

Let’s start with the expected. Jimmer Fredette did his thing with 32 points and 7 assists, BYU of course won 74-66! Kemba Walker was under his season average with 18 points but he had 12 assists and pulled down 8 rebounds. UCONN advanced easily over Bucknell with a score of 81-52. Pitt looked like a team on a mission as they overpowered UNC Asheville winning 74-51. Kansas State defeated Utah State taking it back old school style and draining free throw after free throw (11-14) to win the game with a 73-68 victory. San Diego State comfortably showed why they are a number 2 seed and should be a number 1 seed as they  defeated  University of Northern Colorado in a 68-50 victory. Temple advanced over Penn State by a score of 66-64 on a late shot made by Juan Fernandez. The UCLA Bruins had to fight and claw to eek out a win over Michigan State. Michigan’s State Kalin Lucas missed a last second half court shot. The Bruins are now moving on after winning 78-76.

Now the unexpected… Clemson was close to taking down West Virginia but no cigar for them as at the end of the game Dalton “I like salt with my” Pepper had 3 steals in 40 seconds to seal the deal for West Virginia in a 84-76 victory. Kentucky squeaked by Ivy Leaguer Princeton with the help of Brandon Knight (who was 0-7 in shooting at that point) looked like his namesake saving the day with the winning layup to seal the deal to the tune of 59-57.

Butler did it once again and advanced over Old Dominion on the clutch play of Matt Howard as they have done many times before as he scored the winning basket achieving victory in a 60-58 game. It seems like no matter where they seed Butler, the team always seems to win one or two games in the NCAA tournament each year.

I am not sure which of the next three games is more of an upset. The first game I speak of is Morehead State and Louisville. If we look at this game, on the bracket it’s a 13 seed Morehead State vs. Louisville a 4 seed. No one could of predicted Morehead State to come out with some fire in their eyes and a bunch of heart. They played Louisville down to the wire, which gave Morehead State the opportunity for the upset. Then Morehead State on a well timed 3 pointer by Demonte Harper and defeated Louisville 62-61.

Then later in the day, the Richmond Spiders faced Vanderbilt. Every year there is always a 12 seed defeating a 5 seed at some point. This year Richmond was ranked 12th and Vanderbilt was ranked 5th. Most people look at the seeds and think Vanderbilt should win this game easily. Not so fast! Richmond led by Kevin Anderson and his 25 points (16 in the second half) came to play. A late shot by Kevin Anderson put Richmond up by 3. After each team fouling the other which extended 20 seconds into like 15 minutes. Vanderbilt had one more chance at a half court shot and it was not even close. Vanderbilt went down to Richmond by the score of 69-66.

Gonzaga is always seeded with a low number and then they always end up winning. Today was no exception. Gonzaga crashed the boards and proved once again they are tired of being seeded low with a victory 86-71 over St. Johns.

Other games were played as well but no shockers or even close endings. Wisconsin, Florida, and Cincinnati all advanced without much trouble. Well that is all that happened yesterday in the World of NCAA basketball. It was exciting! It was shocking! It was truly satisfying and I am ready for more! Bring on day2!

March Madness is Here!

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.


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