Saturday, March 21, 2009

Second Day of the NCAA Tournament

I put in another solid 10 hours Friday watching NCAA tournament basketball. To me there is nothing better and I can't wait for the games to begin today. I think we will see 'parity' a little more this weekend and as always there are some great matchups. Here are my thoughts from the games yesterday:

Marquette/Utah State: I actually picked Stew Morrill's squad to win this one over the Golden Eagles. Two factors in my mind: Dominic James not suiting up at point and Buzz Williams first go round as the head guy in the big show. Utah State made it close (did you know they have AVERAGED 23 wins per season over the last ten years) in the second half but couldn't get over the hump. Lazar Hayward from MU is a great player.

Dayton/West Virginia: Watching this one was a little weird to me. In the end I was happy to see the A10 had the Big East their first tournament loss. Again Chris Wright is the real deal and UD needed this win as a program. A couple of days ago a contract extension (not yet signed) was announced for Brian Gregory. Huggs' team had no offensive flow and you have to credit the Flyers for that. The Mountaineers are a donut in basketball terminology and I think that is where you have to beat Dayton. Huelsman and Searcy from the Flyers are hacks waiting to be had.

Xavier/Portland State: Just wanted to follow up some more on how well the Muskies played. I will have a preview of Wisconsin up later today and this is the matchup I preferred over Florida State. I think we do better in half court style games. The Badgers won in OT late last night in a terrific game. Back to the Muskies everybody contributed and again had a season best 7 turnovers. Like Coach Miller said, look around the final 32 teams and notice how many of those X played this season and beat? We also lost a few but we are a battle tested team that is starting to look 'sweet'.

Ohio State/Siena: The game of the tournament thus far and I called this 'upset'. Usually you wouldn't pick a nine over an eight seed as upset material but when 8 gets to play in it's own backyard well you know. I noticed Mike Bobinski on press row as part of his duties with the Selection Committee. He was close to the OSU end but you can be sure he was taking careful notice of Fran McCaffery of Siena. That guy has 'winner' all over him. Great game again. I wonder why Thad didn't use BJ Mullens a little more late in the game. Ryan Rossitter from Siena is their post player and he goes about 6-8 210 and has a choir boy look about him. Once BJ had that inbounds play in the second overtime I would have just kept calling his number. Oh well. Mullens should be back next season unless he gets some really, really bad advice. He needs to play starter minutes to scratch his full potential. Evan Turner for the Buckeyes is a stud. How big can you be Ronald Moore? The point guard from the Saints went BJ Raymond like in the OT's a hit some big threes, including the game winner.

As mentioned earlier FSU/Wisconsin was another OT game and looked like a classic Big Ten grinder which is what Leonard Hamilton and the 'Noles were hoping to avoid. Toney Douglass was giving me nightmares already. Playing Bo Ryan and the Badgers will take lots of patience but it isn't like their going to press us all over the floor.

Some other games I noticed/watched today included East Tennessee State hanging tough with Pitt. The analysts kept talking about Pitt not being a team to pull away from anybody. Their second round matchup against Oklahoma State will feature some stark contrasts in the way the game is played. OkState wants to run, run, run under Travis Ford. One upset special for me today will be the Hilltoppers of WKU over Gonzaga. Should be another great day of college basketball action.

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