Tourney Notes, Weekend One

This is a very busy week, with our spring break beginning Thursday and a lot of prep in the days between now and then, along with some babysitting of a nephew one day. So I figured I would start my NCAA post Sunday night as I watch the final game of the weekend, Oregon-UC Irvine.

KU

I told you this was going to happen. OK, I feared a blowout because of Auburn’s experience, speed, athleticism, and depth. But I didn’t expect an even worse version of last year’s Final Four beatdown by Villanova.

Man, that got ugly quick. And kept getting uglier. I guess KU made an effort to get back into it in the second half. But by then I had the game muted, was watching stuff on YouTube, and busier texting with fellow KU friends who were grousing about the game to pay much attention.

More on KU down the road.

UCF-Duke

Seriously, I’m madder about this game than the KU game. I’m not sure what the hell happened on that attempted alley-oop with a little over a minute left, UCF up three, and poised to go up five. Throwing a lob on the break in crunch time in march is not for the light hearted. Only those of the stoutest constitutions can pull it off. Naturally Duke went down, drilled a three, and the game was tied.

That baffled me. But it did not make me mad. What did make me mad was the blatant push-off by RJ Barrett on Zion Williamson’s missed free throw that gave Duke the game-winning bucket. Two hands in the back, extended arms. That’s a foul all day, every day. But since it’s Duke in the NCAAs somehow it becomes a play-on. Two last-gasp shots rimmed out for UCF and the Blue Devils live to fight another weekend. FUCK.

Then again, perhaps that was some kind of karmic balance for Grayson Allen’s last-second shot crawling all over the rim and then falling off against KU last year. If so, I suppose I’m fine with this miss.

But, damn, that was America’s chance to end this Duke nonsense. Now they will get their shit together, roll through their regional, and make it to Minneapolis. And in his hometown, Tre Jones will, miraculously, find his shot and punish anyone who dares defend him the way UCF did Sunday. And then we’ll hear the endless blathering about how he persevered, how Coach K and his teammates never doubted him, and the usual Duke bullshit.

Fuck I’m mad right now…

Big 12

Sucked. Texas Tech looked outstanding all weekend. But other than that? Mostly garbage. But, again, we knew this was coming. Unless you were a fan of one of the other schools, you knew every one of them had shitty performances in them. Hell, I picked Auburn, right? And, gee, the SEC seems kind of good.

Others

Just me or was this the worst first weekend in years? Lots of blowouts, lots of chalk. Were there more than a handful of games that made you start texting people to make sure they were watching? UCF-Duke, obviously. LSU-Maryland was freaking great. Iowa-Tennessee was shockingly good for the last ten minutes plus overtime.

Oh, a word about Iowa. I’ve never liked them. As a friend of mine put it, “They’re super generic and never great at anything.” College wrestling fans probably get annoyed by that but it’s true: plenty of good Iowa football and basketball teams over the years. But never national title contenders. I can’t say I’ve watched more than three minutes of Iowa all this season. I hated all those guys by the end of that game. Every single call they would throw their arms up in the air and argue. A couple even did the dismissive wave of the hand that is an automatic T in the NBA. Their coach is a real prick so they obviously get it from him.

Anyway, what stood out in that game was what had to be the worst call of the tournament. In case you missed it, an Iowa player attempted a three-pointer. It appeared to be blocked cleanly by the Tennessee defender. The ref standing five feet away even made the tipped hand signal to indicate the shot had been blocked. Tennessee, up three, had the ball and a player racing forward for an easy layup/dunk. But the ref on the opposite side of the court blew his whistle, came running over, and called a foul on the shot. As he and the ref who, you know, actually saw the play, discussed it, viewers were shown replays that confirmed there was zero contact on the play. But the discussion ended with Iowa shooting three free throws to tie the game.

How does this happen? How does a ref with a worse angle get to overrule a ref right next to the play? Chris Webber suggested that perhaps the outside ref just anticipated the play. Which happens, whatever. But if the closer ref has a better angle and view of the play, the outside ref should always defer. I think this guy just got shitty because he knew he made a bad call and refused to back down. Or he had money on Iowa. You never know.

Fortunately the Vols won in OT and the Hawkeyes were all crushed afterward. Which serves them right, whiny bitches.

Brackets

I had a very good weekend. I missed 11 first round games, which isn’t ideal. But I also end the weekend a perfect 16 for 16 on Sweet 16 teams. That’s solid. I am currently tied for second in one pool and waiting for results in the other, which is old school and does everything in Excel rather than online.[1]

Women’s Tournament Commercials

Have you seen these? On ESPN? In which a series of legendary players and coaches and other people around the women’s game offer little testimonials to why the women’s tournament is so good? And then, at the very end, Kobe Bryant shows up talking about “that Mamba mentality.”

WAIT A FUCKING MINUTE.

Kobe Bryant is not a woman. He never even played college basketball. What the fuck does he have to do with women’s college basketball.

Oh, AND HE WAS ACCUSED OF RAPE. Yes, charges were dropped when the accuser refused to testify, but in his statement after he accepted that she viewed their encounter as not consensual. WHICH MAKES IT RAPE.

Who the hell thought this was a good idea? And apparently I’m the only one who thinks it is strange because I haven’t seen any of the usual outlets expressing outrage. Maybe that’s a sign of how little attention people pay to women’s college basketball.


  1. Run by computer geeks, no less. Not sure how this happens.  ↩