Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - First Four

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: Syracuse vs Arizona State. Two teams that many thought shouldn't even be in the tournament faced off in the best game of the First Four. I mean, it was the lone game that actually had a game winner attempt from Arizona State that was off the mark. The Orange, who are used to sneaking into the tournament and making a run, is set to face off against TCU next.

UPSET OF THE DAY: St. Bonaventure vs UCLA. Upset is a bit strong, but not many people are familiar with St. Bonnie at all and they just ousted one of the NCAA Tournament blue bloods in impressive fashion. It was the Bonnies first tournament win in 48 wins. Courtney Stockard dumped 26 points on the Bruins.

CONFERENCE OF THE DAY: SWAC. The SWAC beat fellow HBCU conference MEAC in an NCAA Tournament game. Texas Southern went out and played a daunting schedule (their first 13 games were on the road and against power conference teams). They went 0-13, but that experience against better talent allowed them to get back to the NCAA tournament and win a game.

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD DAY: Pac 12. Only three Pac-12 teams made the tournament. Two of them lost in the First Four. Now only Arizona remains in the field of 64.  

DUD OF THE DAY: Texas Southern vs NC Central. Both schools returned to the tournament for a second straight year. In the battle of HBCU schools, Texas Southern owned this game for the final 30 minutes.

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: Texas Southern. Once they jumped all over North Carolina Central, they coasted to an 18-point win.  They held NCCU to just 46 points.

UNDERLYING STORYLINE OF THE DAY: Uniqueness of the First Four. The First Four gets mocked as not really being part of the tournament, but it shouldn't. Since the First Four began in 2011, at least one team has advanced to the second round (round of 32, in you wish). If you didn't pay attention, UCLA and Syracuse were playing in it. The city of Dayton does a fantastic job of hosting the event no matter if it is four mid-majors you are unfamilar or two schools from the west coast the fans support the event every year. I know for a program like UCLA that has won 11 championships may be bummed to end up there, but it still is the tournament. It feels like the tournament and usually gives us good games.

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