Day One of the tournament proved uneventful for the most part. One exciting game was the first of the day when Cal State Northridge gave Memphis a good run. Another good one was watching American University (not to be confused with National American University, who I’m sure has an outstanding Online athletics program) lead much of their game against Villanova. Neither, however, made game-of-the-day status.
A few notable points from Day One:
1. Domination of the day: UConn manhandled Chatanooga with head coach Jim Calhoun in the hospital. Their margin of victory (56) was the 3rd largest in the history of the tournament.
2. Best name of the day: Quincy Pondexter of Washington. Runner-Up: A.J. Slaughter of Western Kentucky.
3. Performance of the day: Memphis’ Roburt Sallie. The guy averaged 13 ppg this year, but exploded for 35 today, including 10 3-pointers! He more or less won the game for Memphis.
4. Best game of the day: UCLA vs. VCU. VCU’s superstar Eric Maynor was short on a shot as the buzzer sounded that would’ve won them a trip to round two.
5. Upset of the day: 12-seed Western Kentucky over 5-seed Illinois. This is the upset of the day simply because it was the only one. I also picked this one.
6. My picks for day one: a respectable 13/16.
7. Gopher Review: A.J. Abrams singlehandedly blew the game open against my beloved Gophers by hitting four of his eight 3-pointers in a 2:11 stretch. As a result I will cease showing any respect to people named A.J. Minnesota actually played a good game with the exception of those 131 seconds. I said yesterday that A.J. Abrams would be the reason the Gophers could lose…unfortunately I was very right.
Before I begin the riveting content, let me introduce myself. A few points that may increase my legitimacy in your minds:
1. I am Daniel’s brother.
2. I played high school basketball with the current NDSU Bison QB.
3. I am a graduate of the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.
4. I once dunked a women’s basketball.
5. I have met Tubby Smith and I know Flip Saunders’ son.
Enough of that. The important matter is that complete madness is at hand. Being a Gopher graduate, I’m excited they’re in it. They face a Texas squad that was at one time ranked #5 in the country, but had a similarly embarrassing 2nd half of the season to that of the Gophers. A look at that match-up:
Besides the fact that they represent two of the largest universities in the country, they are pretty much statistical siblings. However, the statistic I found most interesting is one in which the teams are quite different. In games decided by <6 points the Gophers are 5-2, while the Hook ‘Em Up Horns are a sheepish 4-5.
Here are some other key points to the game:
1. Key to a Gopher Win: Control the Tempo. The Big 10 is a very different brand of basketball than…well…everybody else. If this turns into a track meet, the Gophers will lose. They rely on defensive pressure, which is why they have an 11-man rotation.
2. Key Player for the Gophers: Lawrence Westbrook. Predictable, you might say. Sure, it’s predictable, he is Minnesota’s leading scorer. Why is he so valuable?? Because when he scores more than 13 points, the Gophs are 15-2.
3. X-Factors for Gophs: Damian Johnson and Blake Hoffarber. Damian could be huge because he’s been hot lately and wreaks some serious havoc on defense. Blake…well that’s easy. Just watch this and this.
4. Why the Gophs Could Lose: A.J. Abrams. The kid is a player. If he finds a way to break the pressure and get loose, he could do a lot of damage. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tubby throws up to 4 different guys at him.
5. How Far will the Gophers Get?: 2nd round. I say that only because I haven’t let myself think this far ahead, because it could be a meeting of Duke and Minnesota, my two favorite teams. If that happens I’ll know how it feels for Papa Manning to watch Peyton vs. Eli.
Prediction: Minnesota 67, Texas 61.
It’s Tubby Time!!
I am not going to breakdown the brackets, there are enough people to do that. But I do want to highlight a couple of details, players and match-ups that should be interesting.
1. I am pretty sure every bubble team got into the tourney. Minnesota, Michigan, Arizona, etc.
The seeding for said bubble teams is very high. I think MN is a 10 seed. I understand that “if” they were to get in, the Gophers are better than many automatic bids and some at large bids. But a 10 seed is like giving Tubby’s team the ”you will make up for your late season disaster” pass, which I am not sure they deserved.
And Penn State and St. Mary’s out, not sure why.
2. NDSU gets as much of a home court advantage as possible in Minneapolis.
The Bison only have to drive 3 hours or to face No. 3 seeded, and defending champs, Kansas. Which is great because NDSU travels very well. Two points:
a. In the midst of a huge blizzard that dumped 8-12 inches of snow on the region, the Bison nation was in full effect at the Summit League tourney supporting their team in Sioux Falls, South Dakota – I also find the name of the city a little ironic.
b. Two years ago,when the Bison football beat the Gophers at the Dome, I was told the Dome was at least 50% Bison fans, and probably more. So I would expect a “home game” feel to the first round mach-up with Kansas.
There are some very interesting facts surrounding this game with the Jayhawks.
- North Dakota State is the state’s first school to make the NCAA tourney.
- NDSU is playing Kansas Jayhawks, who recruited Jeff Boschee from Valley City, ND – the first McDonald’s All-American from ND. Jeff went on to be a four year starter, played in the 2002 Final Four, and finished his career as the Big-12 leader in three pointers made. Texas’ A.J. Abrams broke that record this year.
- Kansas center Cole Aldrich was a McDonald’s All-American out of Bloomington, MN who had a coming out party against UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough on the Jayhawk’s way to the national championship.
- During Boschee’s senior year, Kansas came to Grand Forks, ND and played the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux in the first ever event at the infamous Engelstad Area.
- Pointless side-note -On that UND team was NBA draft pick Jerome Beasley.
3. Does it bother anyone else that three out of the four No. 1 seeds lost the last game they played? It bothers me.
4. I think UConn is not the weakest No. 1 seed, but they are the most likely to lose before the Final Four. They have a potential match-up against with Purdue or Missouri/Memphis.
5. Which the toughest region? The South Region. UNC, Oklahoma, Syracuse, and Gonzaga make-up the best top four seeds in any bracket and after that is a crap shoot to determine who get out of that mess.
6. No. 12 seed most likely to beat a No. 5 seed? I have two.
- This may have more to with who the 5 seed is, than who the 12 seed, but Western Kentucky has a great draw against a bipolar Illinois team that struggles offensively.
- No. 12 Arizona match’s up with No. 5 Utah in the Midwest Region. Arizona has at least two NBA players and you might she a “last hurray” type effort with Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill - just imagine if Jared Bayless and Brandon Jennings decided to play for the Wildcats, I bet Lute would have stuck around.
7. MnM’s. In my brackets I have seven schools that start with the letter “M” playing in the second round. Five of the in the West Region – Memphis, Missouri, Maryland, Marquette and Mississippi State.
8. My Final Four – In one bracket I have all four No. 1 seeds. In the other, three No. 1 seeds and Memphis, but trust me, it gets all crazy before the final four.
9. On Wednesday evening or so, we are going to have a special guest to help me breakdown some of our favorite teams. He has a close connection to a couple teams and opinons on the others – which is what we need here, more opinions.
Now, I have stated that did not play varsity sports in high school, but the new guy did – if you are nice and say king things, he might stick around and post on a regular basis .
So over the next couple days clear your schedule and get ready for the greatest sport event in the world.
The Minnesota Golden Gopher’s are in a tough battle with the Michigan Wolverines and depending on who you follow in the world of college basketball, the winner is in and the loser is out of the NCAA tourney.
Both teams have played like it is the “play-in” game and this will go down to the wire (first cliche’ of the post).
I do need to point out that it is possible for six teams from the Big-Ten to get an “At-Large” bid for the tourney. If Selection Sunday were tomorrow; MSU, Purdue, Illinois (over-rated), Penn State (under-rated) are all in. Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Michigan are bubble teams who all have legit resumes and arguments to secure a tourney bid.
Northwest won AT Purdue and Michigan State and embarrassed Florida State, Minnesota beat Louisville, and Michigan has beat both UCLA and Duke. Ohio State beat Notre Dame, Butler and Miami. Wisconsin beat Virginia Tech but does not have another impressive win outside of beating Illinois.
If it were up to me, MSU, Purdue, Illinois, Penn State and Minnesota should be in. Michigan and Ohio State need to do some work, Wisconsin has to win two games in the Big-Ten tourney.
Finally some good news out of the Florida State Seminole football program. Safety Myron Rolle is putting the NFL on hold and hearding to Oxford work on his master in medical anthropology as a Rhode Scholar. “How do you like them apples?”
Rolle is projected to be a 2ndor3rd round pick this season. And he realizes that waiting until next years draft would more than likely drop his status. But Rolle is unfazed about his decision to head back to the classroom.
Here is a quote from the espn.com article;
“I want to be a neurosurgeon,” Rolle told ESPN’s Joe Schad in November. “And I want to help impoverished nations build up their vaccination programs. I think in many poor countries, vaccination programs and mental health programs are wrongly pushed aside.”
The last couple of evenings Sportcenter has featured a new segment called “Knight Watch”. Former coach Bobby Knight “breaks down” some of the best in college basketball. He took a look at Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin and Davidson’s Steph Curry. Tonight will be the Duke Blue Devils after their game against Georgia Tech.
I watched the bits on Griffin and Curry, and this segment is crap. Plan and simple. I understand trying to use Coach Knight more and showcase his “expertise”. But it is unreal.
Knight highlighted some interesting film clips, showed Griffin’s athleticism and then made the “expert” analysis that the Sooner stud is “the best sophomore in the country”.
Are you kidding me?
The next evening, Knight declares Curry the best passer in the nation. WHAT? Now, I will say Curry is a better passer than many give me credit, but that is what the legendary coach comes up with.
Griffin is the most physically dominate player in the country right now, period. Regardless of class.
Curry is an all-around great player and is second in many POTY races. But I am not sure I would call him the best passer in the country.
I have not seen the Duke segment, but I suppose tonight Knight will call Duke’s offense “good” and their defense “defensive”. And that the Duke away uniforms are intimidating. Or some random crap.
I have long thought Knight was passed his prime and is not relevant in college basketball and ESPN has unintentionally exposed that truth.
On January 10th the Duke Blue Devils beat the Florida State Seminoles 66-58. Nothing too exciting there.
What was exciting? Gerald Henderson scored a career high 25 points, grabbed five rebounds and had three steals. My hope is that this is the start of something beautiful. My fear is that this was a fluke.
Henderson has bever been a great shooter, but he was 9-for-14 from the floor, 3-for-4 from distance and 4-for-6 from the foul line.
Keep it going Gerald. UNC and WF are coming soon.
The Golden Gophers
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are ranked 17th in the country and are in a tied for 2nd in the Big-Ten. They have beat Louisville, Ohio State andgave a boost to the Big-Ten in this years challenge with the ACC.
Tubby Smith has turned this program around faster than anyone – including myself – thought possible.
The Gophers are balanced on offense and in your face on defense. A good deal of the sucess has to be attributed to the progression of point guard Al Nolen. The 6’1″ sophomore is steady with the ball in is hands and harasses the ball defense. His stats are a microcosm of what make this team go.
8 pionts, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals per game.
According to Bigtennetwork.com, The Golden Gophers hold their opponents to 59 points a game, 38 percent shooting from the floor and 33 percent from distance. The Gophers score 72 points a game, shoot 47 percent from the floor and 37 percent from distance.
The Gophers also grab the 2nd most offensive rebounds in the conference with 14.8 a game and are third in total rebounds with 40.5.
The Gophers have a tough match-up at Wisconsin tomorrow evening (1/15).