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Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Sweet and The Sour

Here's the deal. I could spend my time here telling you why I made the mistakes I made in the first round, but what good is that going to do anybody? I mean, just because I picked against teams I knew were better than their opponent (i.e Louisville, BC, Washington St.) doesn't mean I should try to excuse myself for doing so. Simply put, I out-guessed myself...that's right...again. But hey, it ain't all bad. Oral Rob may be headin back to wherever the hell they're from, but so are the unbearable Dukies. And even though I tanked and went 11/16 on day 1 (slightly better at 12/16 on day 2), I have a silver lining. Apparently, nobody listens to me, and I was the only member of my 22 entry NCAA pool to pick the Kansas Jayhawks as the National Champ. Consider my hopes permenantly harnessed to that Kansas wagon folks. ROCK. CHALK. JAYHAWK! Here's a little look at how I felt the rest of the first round shook down.

First Round Breakdown
Upset City
(3) Washington St. 70 Oral Roberts 54
*Fine, this wasn't an upset. In reality, it was a 9 point favorite winning by 16. In my mind, it was a crushing blow to my Final FOral Rob campaign. That's what you get for trying to predict a Cinderella! I really should know better. But honestly, if you had the will power to resist picking a team named Oral Rob, then I'm not sure I want to even be your friend.

(11) VCU 79 (6) Puke 77
*Duke losing...check. The first tourney upset...check. Finally a good tourney game after 8 snoozers....check. Greg Paulus on the ground all night crying and bitchin'...check mate. Good bye Coach K, good bye Josh McFlurry, and good bye Greg "too good for D-1 football" Paulus. Some say the tourney isn't nearly as good without Duke in it, but not me. This isn't the Masters, and they are not Tiger Woods. The tourney can thrive without the Dukies, and matter of fact, I'm looking forward to watching it do so.

(11) Winthrop 74 (6) Notre Dame 64
*Much like Creighton, up until I saw Winthrop's draw for the tourney, I had a solid feeling I would be penciling them into the Sweet 16. However, again like Creighton, they ran into a team in the first round that I figured was the absolute worst match up for them, the Fighting Irish. I knew the Eagles were seeded way too low, I just couldn't bring myself to pull them through to the next wrong. Hope you were smarter than I was, and by that I mean you listened to what I said before the tourney started regarding Winthrop. Now, much like VCU, you gotta love Winthrop's chances to sneak past a weak #3 in the Oregon Ducks and into the Sweet 16.

Thanks for Stoppin' By
(11) Stanford
*All the people that thought the Tree should have stayed at home were right. Of course I took them as one my token "there's gotta be one team I think has no shot that's gonna win a game" pick. Another instance of, if I listened to myself I would have been better off. Which begs to question, who the hell am I listening to?

(10) Texas Tech
*NOTE: Never again pick a Bobby Knight team in the NCAA tourney. Downside of that is, this may have been my last chance to follow that advice at the rate he's goin'. I would, however, now like to bet that someone is getting choked or slapped in Lubbock, Texas.

(11) George Washington
*Smacked around by Vanderbilt? Good day I say...

(8) Marquette
*I'd like to lie and say I didn't see this comin' because I really like Tom Crean, Dominic James and Marquette, but I can't. Without their best defender and one of their better scorers in Jerel McNeal, the Golden Eagles were helpless. Oh, and only making 5 two point field goals the entire game (zero in the first half), isn't gonna really help your cause either. And yea, I said 5 field goals, but I didn't say Stephen Gostkowski or Adam Vinatieri. Who'd have thunk it.

(12) Long Beach St.
*Apparently picking a team because they represent the place Snoop Dogg is from is not a great strategy. All kidding aside, I picked them because they could score, and by netting 86 they proved they could. It was the 121 they gave up to Tennessee (a first round record) that I wasn't counting on. Then again, who better to handle a run and gun mid major squad than former Wisconsin-Milwaukee head man and current Volunteer coach, Bruce Pearl.

(12) Arkansas
*The Razorbacks were public enemy #1 after making the field, and they did little to improve their popularity. They hung with USC for about a half, and then were promptly run out of the bu idling. So, to recap, of the three "bubble teams" (Stanford, Illinois and Arkansas), two were blown out in round one. Anyone who still wants to tell me that the right 65 teams made the field no longer has my respect or attention for that matter.

Shaky Chalk
(3) Texas A&M 68 (14) Penn 52
*After flip-flopping between Nevada, Ohio St. and A&M to win the South region, I finally decided on the Aggies as my pick. Needless to say, they promptly went out and fell behind in the first half to the Penn Quakers. Sure, they eventually pulled away and won the game by 16, but it was a less than inspirational performance. 55% from the free throw line and 8 bench points aren't exactly signs that this squad is ready for a deep tourney run.

(2) Memphis 73 (15) North Texas 58
*If you wanted proof that Memphis was a little shaky and untested heading into the tourney, you got it in the first round. Sure, they may have been up for most of the game, but anyone that watched didn't see a dominant team ready for a deep run that's for sure. 16 turnovers, 40% shooting and 25% from 3-pointers aren't exactly stats that a 2 should have when facing a 15. I know a win is a win, but I'd be worried if I had Memphis in my corner.

(2) Wisconsin 76 (15) A&M Corpus Cristi 63
*The 13 point win looks somewhat better when you consider the Badgers were down 8 at halftime, but not by much. Unlike Memphis, Wisconsin's issue was more on the boards than in the back court, which is an even scarier thought as far as advancing. Without 8 rebound a game Brian Butch down low, the Badgers only had a +1 rebounding edge against the lowly Islanders. I didn't like their chances before the tourney started, and after watching them in round 1, I'd have to say they are going to have their hands full with the UNLV Runnin' Rebs.

Sweet 16 Predictions
1) The #7 seeds finally had a year where they went undefeated against the dreaded #10 seeds, and I look for their luck to continue. Look for Nevada, UNLV, and Indiana to be prime to upset their #2 seed counterparts in the 2nd round. That being said, Boston College will probably run Georgetown out of the gym, but because I don't want that to happen I don't have to predict it! In all honesty though, the Hoyas are the lone #2 seed that I feel has a safe match up in round 2 against their former Big East mate, and should cruise into the Sweet 16.

2) At least one #1 seed won't make it out of the second round. I'm not saying I saw anything in particular in the first round to tell me this, but looking at 2nd round match ups I see a few that don't set up so well for the top dogs. Florida is facing a Purdue squad that's going to beat them up on both ends of the floor, and UNC is facing a Michigan St. team that, while maybe not nearly as talented, has arguably the best coach in the modern day of the NCAA tournament, Tom Izzo. You also gotta love the fact that all the #1 seeds are facing programs that have plenty of experience toppling Goliaths in March and making deep tourney runs of their own.

3)There will be two #11 seeds in the Sweet 16. Like I said earlier, both Virginia Commonwealth and Winthrop are just as primed for the upset in round 2 as they were in round 1. VCU is facing a Pitt team that has trouble scoring and a center in Aaron Gray that has a tendency to disappear from time to time, while Winthrop is flat out a better team than Oregon. Funny thing about these games though, is they should basically be polar opposites. Winthrop and Oregon will be flying up and down the floor, to the tune of 80 points each. VCU/Pitt, meanwhile, could easily end up having more bricks than a Colombian wedding .

NCAA Pool Breakdown

Current Leader - Sean P 27/32 picks correct (Final Four: UNC, Texas A&M, Kansas, Florida)

Most Common Champion - Florida (6), Georgetown (4), Ohio St. (3), UCLA + Texas (2), Kansas, Kentucky, UNC, Memphis, Louisville (1)

Hey, everyone made it through round 1 without losing their National Champ! Congrats to us all. A lot of people took lumps when Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Duke went down (and Frosco took lumps on all 3), but for the most part everyone is still looking pretty solid. Now it's time for round 2 though, which is where the carnage will truly begin. For all those in the pool, I'd find whoever has the same champion as you do, and cheer against all the teams you don;t have in common with them. That's how you win, and isn't that what this is all about?!

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