NCAA Quick Hits

Some quick thoughts from day one of the NCAA tournament (with minimal editing), a day in which I managed to pick 14 of 16 games correctly. Damn you Michigan State and Arizona for blowing those second half leads! Here comes the Wolfpack!!!

I don’t like Jim Nantz much to begin with. Sure, his voice is associated with the Final Four and so many other big games in March over the past 14 years. But he’s a freaking golf announcer, his style perfect for the generic, lifeless, corporate, safe voice the NCAA wants for their marquee event. I’ve just never been convinced he’s an astute watcher of the game. Example, yesterday, 1:10 left in the BYU – Syracuse game, Syracuse up by two points. BYU misses a shot, gets the offensive rebound. “The defending champs are in trouble!” Nantz wildly exclaims. In trouble? They’re up two and just gave up an offensive rebound in the corner of the court. Even if BYU scores, they’ve got 60 seconds to get a guy who’s hit nine threes and ended up with 43 points a shot. BYU missed two more shots on that possession before Syracuse corralled the ball and put the game away at the line. How very Musberger of Nantz to hype something that had yet to happen.

Speaking of bad talking heads, Digger Fucking Phelps didn’t disappoint earlier this week. In calling for a Providence upset of Kansas on Sunday, he said the Friars’ 2-3 zone would stymie KU. Why? Because that’s what Syracuse used against Kansas in last year’s national championship game. Typical DFP logic: finding two events and linking them whether they’re related or not. The fact they both exist means there must be a link. Providence indeed has an excellent chance to beat Kansas. They have a stud on offense, a shot blocker in the middle, and yes their 2-3 zone will force Kansas to hit outside shots, something they’ve not done consistently this year. However, that has absolutely nothing to do with the Syracuse tactics against KU last April. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say, Hakim Warrick’s last second block of Michael Lee excepted, the 2-3 zone had very little to do with Syracuse winning last year. Syracuse won because, in typical stubborn Roy Williams fashion, he waited until Gerry McNamara had hit five first half three pointers and Syracuse had an 18 point lead before he switched Kirk Hinrich over to Gerry Mac. The rest of the game McNamara hit one three pointer. KU was four free throws away from coming back from an almost 20 point lead against the vaunted 2-3 zone, without much help from behind the arc. The myth that the 2-3 zone won the national championship game has been busted, and once again it’s been proven that Digger Fucking Phelps is lazy and has little real analytical ability.

This whole regional name thing has me annoyed. The NCAA says they changed from East, West, etc. to St. Louis, Atlanta, etc. because the pod system made it confusing for fans about who was in what region. How does this make things any easier? Today, teams from the East Rutherford and St. Louis regions will be playing in Kansas City. Last year, teams from the West and East region played in Oklahoma City. Still two different names in one arena. You either understand the pod system, or you don’t.

Did anyone else stay up to watch the Carolina – Air Force game? Joe Scott, Air Force’s coach, refuses to watch his team shoot free throws. For over two years, when an Academy player is at the line, Scott turns away, and drinks from a cup of water. I love superstitions like this. I may try it out tonight.

Anyone else see John Stockton at the Gonzaga game? Does he always have his game face on? I would have hoped he would relax now that he’s retired.

I’m really glad I stayed up until after midnight to watch what could have been the worst NCAA game ever: DePaul’s win over Dayton in double overtime. I haven’t looked at the box score yet, but I think the teams combined to make one free throw in the entire game.

I only picked one upset yesterday, the monumentally popular Manhattan over Florida game that came true. I’ve got one picked today, Pacific over Providence. We shall see if I can repeat my 14-2 performance by sticking with the favorites again.