Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - Round of 32, Day 1

Just a quick recap of what I saw in my Sportz Room -- filled with TVs that I can watch all four games going on at the same time.

GAME OF THE DAY: Dayton vs Syracuse. There were a few really good games and a couple came down to the closing minutes.  This one, however, went down to the final shot.  Dayton and Syracuse truly traded the lead all through the second half and Tyler Ennis' three point shot at the buzzer had that feeling like it was going to go it.  It didn't.

UPSET OF THE DAY: Dayton over Syracuse. By name and seed, this was an upset.  If you look at how these two performed leading up to the tournament, it shouldn't have been too shocking.  Dayton's win ensured a double-digit seed would advance to the Sweet 16 in 28 of the last 30 tournaments.

CONFERENCE OF THE DAY: Big Ten. The Big Ten went a perfect 3-0 on Saturday.  Regular season champ Michigan dominated Texas.  Michigan State was doing the same to Harvard until the Crimson just kept coming.  Still, the Spartans pulled away late.  Wisconsin was down by 12 at half to Oregon, but came back to win in nearby Milwaukee.  We have three Big Ten teams in the Sweet 16.

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD DAY: ACC. Two of the new ACC members lost on Saturday, leaving only Virginia and UNC left to carry the conference's flag.  Syracuse, as we've said, suffered the biggest upset of the day to Dayton.  Pitt wasn't supposed to beat top overall seed Florida, but they were barely in that game at all.

DUD OF THE DAY: Louisville vs Saint Louis. This wasn't a good game to watch at all.  You had an interesting matchup where a pressing team like Louisville took on a great ball-control team like Saint Louis.  Instead, we got early foul trouble for the Billikens and bad offense all around. It was a robust 25-16 at halftime.  Saint Louis finished the game 0-of-15 from behind the arc and just 9-of-16 from the foul line.  

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: Florida.The Gators showed why they are the tournament's top seed by physically dominating Pitt.  They looked a lot better than in their opening round win over Albany.  San Diego State looked very strong also, but they did so against a North Dakota State squad that just looked a bit tired.

 After a couple days of some shocking upsets, we got a pretty tame day on Saturday.  Sure, Dayton did upset Syracuse, but the Flyers played great in the final weeks of the season while the Orange limped into the dance losing 5 of 7.  UConn's win over Villanova wasn't a tremendous shock either since these old Big East foes came into the game pretty evenly matched.  


*Ohio, Texas and North Carolina started with four schools in the tournament.  Ohio (Dayton) and North Carolina (UNC) only have one left each.  Texas (Baylor, SF Austin) still has two

*Conference Count:
3-Big 12 (Kansas, Iowa State, Baylor)
3-Big Ten (Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin)
3-SEC (Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee)
3-American (Louisville, UConn, Memphis)
3-Pac 12 (Arizona, UCLA, Stanford)
2-ACC (Virginia, North Carolina)
1-Big East (Creighton)
1-Atlantic 10 (Dayton)
1-Missouri Valley (Wichita St)
1-Atlantic Sun (Mercer),
1-Mountain West (San Diego St)
1-WCC (Gonzaga)
1-Southland (SF Austin)

*Overtime count is still at SIX.  The record is seven in 1995 and 1997.

*People usually complain about teams getting to play tournament games close to home and, per usual, it has been a mixed bag this year.  Duke was upset in Raleigh, Syracuse was upset in Buffalo.  Florida moved on in Orlando (though they would have done so anywhere), UCLA and Arizona are still alive in San Diego, Kansas and Wichita State are alive in St. Louis, Baylor is alive in San Antonio.  The one team that really seemed to benefit from the close venue was Wisconsin.  The Badgers were down by 12 at halftime to Oregon before they went on a run to make it a game.  The crowd in nearby Milwaukee was pretty much all Badger fans and it sounded like a true home game for Wisconsin.  That seemed to help pull them through to end against the Ducks.

*While you were watching the tournament, Marquette head coach Buzz Williams took the same job at Virginia Tech.

*Today gives us the team that started the season with dreams of going 40-0 (Kentucky) against the team that could actually do it (Wichita State).

*My high horse here, but I just hate the way the NCAA schedules these games.  I understand there are certain logistics to consider, but why is a Villanova-UConn game in Buffalo, NY finishing after midnight?  Seriously.  Two east coast teams playing in an Eastern Time Zone city is tipping off after 10:00pm ET?  Meanwhile the games in Spokane, WA are done?  Oh, and today the games start at 12:15p ET in St. Louis ... which is in the Central Time Zone and means locally it starts at 11:15am ... feature Kansas taking on Stanford.  Stanford students in Palo Alto, CA will have to be ready to watch their team play a 9:15am PT tip.  That's just dumb.

I hate that kind of scheduling.  I understand that can happen and that CBS wants to set up their schedule in a certain way, but to me you should have had the Wichita State-Kentucky game (which is also being played in St. Louis) first since it is at least somewhat a decent time for those schools and then have the Stanford game following.

At least on Sunday, they do a little better.  The Arizona-Gonzaga game gets the late tip, which is scheduled at 9:40p ET or 6:40p PT.

If you watched the UConn-Villanova game ... which was pretty tight until the end ... you saw a ton of empty seats late in the game.  Like I said, it was after midnight in the city and for those fans and they all left.  Granted, I'm sure many of those fans that left were upset Syracuse fans (they lost to Dayton prior to the UConn-Nova contest) who wanted to move on ... while the celebratory Dayton fans went out to celebrate.  But it wasn't like a lot of UConn or Villanova didn't travel to Buffalo either.

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