Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - Sweet 16, Day 2

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

GAME OF THE DAY: Kentucky vs Louisville. Truth be told, all four games were pretty good.  All four went down to the final minute.  All four were decided by five points or less.  Louisville led this game pretty much the entire way but Kentucky's poise ... surprising for such a young team against a defending champion ... won the game for the Wildcats.  Fierce rivals made this a bit more emotional that most Sweet 16 contests, but it was a great game regardless.

UPSET OF THE DAY: Kentucky over Louisville. Funny that three of Friday's games saw the better seed lose (Virginia, Iowa State, Louisville) but were any of these true upsets?  The only reason Kentucky gets the nod here is the fact they were the lowest seed to win.

CONFERENCE OF THE DAY: Big Ten. The Big Ten got three teams in the Elite 8.  After Wisconsin advanced on Thursday, Michigan State and Michigan moved on Friday.  Heading into the regional finals round, all three could find themselves in North Texas.  

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD DAY: Big 12. Both the Big 12 and the ACC saw their final teams bounced from the tournament.  The Big 12 gets the nod here because they got a tournament-high 7 teams in the tournament and none of them made it to a regional final.

DUD OF THE DAY: UConn vs Iowa State. There were hardly any duds on Friday, but I'm going with this one.  Iowa State got out to such a lousy start that this game didn't look very competitive until about six minutes left in the game.  While the other three games saw a lot of tense moments, this was the Cyclones climbing uphill all game long.  

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: UConn. As I just said, UConn ran out to a big early lead and held on to it for most of the game.  Iowa State made it interesting late, but the Huskies just marched up to the line and hit their free throws to put a lid on this one.

UNDERLYING STORYLINE OF THE DAY: Replay. I know I've harped on this a lot during these first three rounds, but they need to streamline this replay.  In the Kentucky-Louisville game, they took about 8 minutes to try to find out who knocked a ball out of bounds.  When they came with a verdict, it was like they just went with the call on the court instead of a definitive decision.

In the Michigan State-Virginia game, Virginia hit a shot with 1.1 seconds left.  When Michigan State inbounded the ball, Virginia fouled and they everyone was walking to the other end for free throws.  The refs went to replay to see how much time should've been on the clock after Virginia's shot even though a play had run in between.  

I love replay ... don't get me wrong ... but this has been just overkill.  In the Kentucky-Louisville situation, there should just be a time limit like the NFL has.  If it is that difficult to figure out, just go with the call on the court and move on.  Both sides will swear they should have gotten the call anyway so just make a decision and let's play.  It really deflates the game and makes the flow a bit colder.  In the Michigan State-Virginia game ... I do understand that a split second can make a difference ... but unless it is an obvious abuse of running the clock, just let it goooooo, let it gooooo.  We can do this all game long and accrue all these extra tenths-of-a-seconds to make the right timing of the game.  Again, if the clock blatantly ran too long or, even like the UNC game, started way too late let's go check that out and change it.  But spending five minutes to add on a split second is ridiculous.


*Ohio, Texas and North Carolina started with four schools in the tournament.  Ohio (Dayton) is the only one that still stands.

*Conference Count:
3-Big Ten (Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin)
2-SEC (Florida, Kentucky)
1-American (UConn)
1-Pac 12 (Arizona)
1-Atlantic 10 (Dayton)
*Overtime count is still at SIX.  The record is seven in 1995 and 1997.

*This is actually one of the most magical Elite 8s in a while.  Your matchups?  Tournament favorite Florida gets the Cinderella Dayton, the only #1-#2 matchup with Arizona and Wisconsin, recent tournament standards Michigan State and UConn face off in New York, and sudden darlings Kentucky takes on defending runner-up Michigan.  Other than Dayton ... but really know knows ... can be looked at as a championship team.

*Dayton is trying to be the first Atlantic 10 team to reach the Final Four since UMass in 1996.  VCU, now an Atlantic 10 school, made the 2011 Final Four as a member of the Colonial Athletic Conference.  Technically, UMass's appearance has been vacated.

*The Big Ten is trying to become the second conference to place three teams in the Final Four.  The only other time it happened was in 1985 when the Big East sent Villanova, Georgetown and St. John's to the Final Four in Lexington.

*The American and Atlantic 10 are still alive.  The Big East and ACC aren't.

*A lot has been made of the fact that we were seeing regular season rematches earlier in the tournament.  The fact that Kentucky and Louisville met in the Sweet 16.  I love it!  I think it puts extra narrative in a tournament.  Who cares if it would be better if they met later on in the Dance?  It actually makes these contests more likely to happen.  Plus with the restraints off the seeding process, it allows for more teams to play closer to home than ever.  That's why we got Kentucky-Louisville in Indianapolis instead of Kentucky playing in Anaheim.

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