Saturday, March 17, 2007

Reviewing the First Round of the NCAA Tournament

So March Madness is here and the first round of the NCAA Tournament is complete. And, currently, in the pool I'm in with my fellow Summer Starters in law school I sit in 25th place out of 30 participants. Ouch. Yes, not a good weekend. Especially when you are considered the "sports expert" of your group of friends. Pretty embarrassing anyway.

Thankfully, though, I didn't get everything wrong. Just most things. Thursday's Day One was my worst day, as none of my upsets (George Washington, Oral Roberts, Texas Tech, Penn, and Old Dominion) all lost. The fact that none of those teams won defies logic. Or, maybe, since they were all lower seeds, the fact that they all lost was quite predictable. Probably the latter. Which is why after the first day I found myself in 29th place.

Yesterday was a bit better. My Winthrop Eagles defeated Notre Dame in one of the days only upsets (one of the only upsets of the whole tournament in fact) but Arkansas and Gonzaga failed to come through, and I find myself needing some help going into the second round.

I'm not completely out of it, yet. I've only lost one Sweet 16 team coming in to today (George Washington) so, things go as planned today and tomorrow, and I'll be right back in the mix. Maybe I just should have listened to my own original blogpost on the subject.

After looking over the brackets briefly (they were just released a few minutes ago) a few other teams I'd look out for in terms of long tournament runs include Oregon (#3 seed in the Midwest), #2 seed UCLA in the West, #2 Georgetown in the East, #6 Louisville in the South. Oregon, playing near home in Washington, may have the chance to do the most damage (especially if Winthrop upsets Notre Dame as I think they probably will) and Wisconsin struggles (which, after their blowout loss to Ohio State this afternoon could happen).

Oregon just barely survived a scare from Miami of Ohio (maybe picking them to go to the Final Four wasn't such a brilliant idea after all -- But I'm not giving up on the Ducks yet) but otherwise, UCLA, Georgetown, and Louisville all looked good, and Wisconsin was lucky to beat 15th seed Texas A&M Corpus Cristi (Yes, that's a real school) who lead for most of the game.

If you've read down this far, you've probably noticed I've talked a lot about my brackets and not so much about the games themselves. Other than pure ego, that's because the games themselves weren't that great (though, I'll admit, I missed most of yesterday's games due to a midterm (who schedules a midterm in the middle of March Madness anyway) so maybe my opinion is a bit skewed). In a tournament famous for "Cinderella" stories, the tournament is void of them, mainly because most of the higher seeds one. Sure, Virginia Commonwealth beat Duke (an #11 over a #6 -- But, c'mon, Duke wasn't that good this year anyway) and the aforementioned Winthrop beat Notre Dame (another #11 over a #6, it's becoming the new #12 seed over a #5 seed) but that's pretty much it. A lot of the games were blowouts (though, again, the close games, like Illinois-Virginia Tech, I missed) and even games I was really looking forward to, like Michigan State v. Marquette, were practically over before they began.

Hopefully the second round, starting today, is better. Some great games on tap, including Michigan State trying to take down North Carolina (they won't), Louisville playing Texas A&M (score one for the Cardinals), and two old Big East rivals get together when Georgetown takes on Boston College (pick the Hoyas). Sunday has Kansas/Kentucky (I picked Kansas in my pool, but Ashley Judd is a big Kentucky supporter, so it's hard to root against them), Southern Illinois/Virginia Tech (go Salukis, whatever a Saluki is -- Wikipedia claims its a "hunting hound", amazing what you can easily find on that site) and we'll see if Oregon can get by the upstart Winthrop Eagles.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have games to prepare for, and schoolwork to ignore (at least for a few hours anyway).

Update, 3:17 p.m.: Okay, you know what I said about the NCAA Tournament being sort of underwhelming this year? Well, I take that back. At least after this great, Xavier-Ohio State game, which, for those that aren't watching, was going to be the biggest upset of the tournament until OSU staged a huge comeback within the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and hit a long three-pointer with two seconds left to send the game to overtime after Xavier lost a chance to ice the game by splitting a pair of free throws with nine seconds to go (wow -- that may be the longest sentence ever. I guess that happens after watching such an exciting finish to a game). OSU leads 67-64 with 3:00 left in overtime, so we'll see what happens (it looks like OSU has retaken control) but in any case, great, great game.

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