Friday, March 24, 2017

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - Sweet 16, Day 1


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

GAME OF THE DAY: Gonzaga vs West Virginia. This game was awesome.  So physical with so many ebbs and flows.  West Virginia's defense looked so dominant at times that I felt that Gonzaga couldn't overcome it.  Then the Zags go on a run and I felt the 'Neers were wobbly.  Then it gets back and forth with a huge shot by the Bulldogs late.  The fact that West Virginia couldn't get that final shot up was both heartbreaking and fantastic.

UPSET OF THE DAY: Xavier vs Arizona.  This was a great game throughout but Arizona had an eight point lead with over three minutes left.  The irony of this game is, when tied, Xavier through a pass inside from the high post and scored at the basket while Arizona was hell-bent to take a three for the win instead of getting a shot at the basket.  Xavier had a six game losing skid at one point and will now be playing for a spot in the Final Four.

CONFERENCE OF THE DAY: West Coast. The Pac 12 and Big 12 split their games and Xavier repped the Big East.  But let's throw it up for the West Coast Conference's Gonzaga who hung tough and ultimately beat a West Virginia team that beat Kansas earlier in the year.  The WCC isn't the Big 12 but this Gonzaga team would do fine in that league or any other.

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD DAY: Big Ten. Michigan's magical run ends in such a tough fashion while Purdue hung with Kansas before getting blown out.  Wisconsin is still alive in the East but the much maligned Big Ten shouldn't feel too bad about what they did in this tournament.  

DUD OF THE DAY: Kansas vs Purdue. Look, three of the games were absolute nail-biters and the Kansas-Purdue game was a 32-point spanking.  And even that game was good for a long while.

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: Kansas. They were up just 53-51 on Purdue.  Then closed on a 45-15 run.

UNDERLYING STORYLINE OF THE DAY: Final shots. This tournament has been devoid of that game-winning buzzer beater that ended last year's tournament.  There have been close games and all but none of those shots.  Look at the three games that ended with those opportunities last night.  Arizona was down two, with the ball, settled for a three (albeit a good luck that nearly landed) and lost.  Michigan, down one, settled for a step-back three.  West Virginia had the ball for 30 seconds and kept firing threes to the point that they had to take a three pointer (they had plenty of time to get a two, foul and get the ball back) that eventually the didn't get off.

One of basketball's annoying trends is winning a game with a tough shot.  Why not a smart play?  Xavier was tied with Arizona with less than a minute left and got a shot right at the basket.  Why couldn't the bigger Arizona Wildcats do so to tie?  Oregon's winning bucket was also on a layup.  The point is that we don't need Kobe-esque fade away threes off of the wrong foot with four people guarding you to win these games.  Make the smart play.

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