Sunday, March 24, 2013

Quick Hitter: Easiest Road to the Final Four Ever? (and notes)

Right now, I'm watching as Creighton is up on Duke...and the two teams are setting a scorching pace...they'll score around 40 points each, if they keep going this way.

Coming into the tournament, pundits and fans alike could agree that this was a weird tournament as there was really no clear favorite...and college basketball's parity would be more on display than ever this year.

It has been...but some of it is self-inflicted.

Gonzaga never deserved a one seed...but their seeding was an obvious representation of a thesis I've had for years: the committee gets brainwashed like everyone else does...and no one, even committee members live in a bubble.  Stupid crap spewed by guys like Vitale simply muddied the water and forced the hand of the committee.

The Zags nearly became the first 1 to lose to a 16...then followed it up by getting knocked out by Witchita State. This was one thing I got right in my bracket; I had no faith in Gonzaga.  Unlike B1G teams, they simply weren't tested...the pressure is ratcheted up on the biggest stages versus the best teams...hell, it's even a lot of pressure versus an OK team, on national TV in a large, packed house; when you're supposed to win. Mark Few's guys failed the test, but it shocked no one.

Foolishly, I believed that Jamie Dixon would forget who he was this year and take his Pitt Panthers on a lil' run in the tourney.  Of course, he did not. And in doing so, he taught me a valuable lesson: Never pick Pitt in March...and Pitt made sure that advice would stick the day after their loss by signing him to a 10 year extension...craziness. I guess they felt his door was getting beaten down; by whom, I don't know.  Their conference mate, G'Town also crapped the bed by becoming only the seventh 2 seed to go down to a 15.  The good news is Florida Gulf Coast was the assassin's hand, in this case...and we got to meet their coach's wife in the process: Amanda Marcum.
Purdue had a player transfer to that school a few years ago...before his transfer, I had never heard of the place.  I found out today why that was: the school has been around 16 years...and has been D-1 for two.  But their coach had a ton of confidence coming into the tournament anyway...and his team reflected that confidence.  Let's be honest- if your wife looked like his, you'd be confident too...or perhaps, if you had his confidence you'd be married to a Maxim model? Doubtful.  There's a difference between confidence and out-of-your-mind-cockiness.  Good for Coach Enfield for whichever got the deal don with the mrs.

Earlier today, we saw Temple wilt under the pressure of the big stage and Oladipo rise to the occasion (yet again) as IU survived and advanced to the round of 16.  Still no word from Bloomington on whether nets were cut down, a new trophy case was built or rings were handed out...I assume the answer to all questions is yes.  Hope so, because I think Boeheim's Orange will be a tougher win than the owls were this afternoon. IU struggled versus the zone this season...and no one plays that defense as well as Syracuse.

Another guy that stepped up today was Aaron Craft. I've never been a fan of that guy...but if he wore gold and black, I'm sure I would be. He plays hard, doesn't believe any loose ball is out of his reach and seems to be afraid of no one. He made a few mistakes down the stretch versus The Mayor's Cyclones...but he made up for it with a few huge plays in the closing seconds.

And with aOSU's win, it became pretty obvious to me that the Bucknuts most-assuredly have the easiest road the final four EVER.

They've beaten a 15 and a 10 seed so far...their next two steps will be versus a 6 seed and a 9 or 13. WOW!! Ohio State is good...but the old saying is it's better to be lucky than good...but how about, it's best to be lucky and good. Matta's team has been given a gift in their bracket...a road to Atlanta in which they'll have to only play one ranked who was barely ranked at the end of the season.

UCLA officially fired Ben Howland in the wake of their dismantling at the hands of a mediocre Minnesota team. UCLA had one of the nation's best recruiting classes in '12...and they probably acquired it by whatever means necessary...Howland's program had been slipping; and the only reason they had everyone eligible during this season was because an NCAA investigator dropped the ball during the investigation.  My question after I heard that this was going to happen last night was how long it will be before Shaka Smart and/or Brad Stevens are contacted? Sure, both bowed out pretty early from the tourney this season...but both are still white hot commodities in the coaching world.

Getting back to the bracket really quickly- I've never had one of mine deemed completely worthless as early as I did this year.  For some dumbass reason, I picked New Mexico to go to the Final Four. Steve Alford promptly kicked me in the teeth.  The good news is that when your bracket turns to crap, you can watch the tournament and just root for underdogs and programs you like (read as: the cutest mascots).  But on Twitter, J and I were asked if we root for B1G programs this time of year.

If you read the site, which I'm quickly learning many of our Twitter followers don't*, you know that we have very little conference loyalty.  I wasn't rooting for Wisconsin because I wanted to see Bo Ryan whine. I don't root for MSU because they seem to have a ton of unlikable characters within the program...and I absolutely never root for IU (since Crean was hired). I actually did root for IU to win when Davis was coach; that was the exception.

Here's to IU's run ending soon and Florida Gulf Coast's coach earning another trophy.

*Actually, I don't think many of our Twitter followers think we're anything more than one amazingly-funny and/or brash dude in his parents' basement...they're only half right.


Tim said...

The difference betweent B1G fans and SEC fans is that B1G fans actually went to college. Therefore an individual school is what matters and not blind loyalty to a conference. (Or to ND football if you went to IU)

Jeff Vivant said...

So your judging the difficulty of them getting to the final 4 based on the seeds they play? Obviously you are unaware of whats happened in the tournament and how under rated the PAC 12 was coming in. Arizona will be an extremely tough out because they are far more athletic than Ohio St. The BIG 10 bias in this article was preposterous. UCONN had a real easy road to the final four when they got matched up with George Mason in 2006. We will see how "easy" their road is next weekend.

J Money said...

Jeff- first off, you're not your.

The Pac 12 has indeed acquitted itself well but that doesn't mean they should suddenly be considered a good basketball conference. Arizona just beat an Ivy, don't forget.

Big Ten bias in an article saying we don't pull for the Big Ten....why because the truth was stated that a Big Ten team is far more battle-tested than a soft Gonzaga program?

Hey, we'd love to see OSU lose...we just don't think it'll happen. As for 2006, not sure what your point is but George Mason was a LITTLE flukey in 2006, which was demonstrated when they got wrecked in the FF.

Purdue Matt said...

I like to see the sweet sixteen littered with B1G schools. But now, its time for IU and MSU to bow out. Don't mind seeing Michigan and OSU going to the final 4 as long as they don't win it all.

boilerdowd said...

Yay conference!

J Money said...

The Yankees look like they're going to be a mess this year. But as long as the Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays or Rays win it all, I'll be somewhat happy.


Purdue Matt said...

Conference strength perceptions are important in sports dependent on polls for seeding. Doesn't apply to pro baseball.

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