What a wonderful weekend of March Madness. Sure, outside of the Duke-Belmont game on Thursday night, the first day was pretty shitty. But that was more than made up for on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. At one point Sunday, Tennessee-Butler was in overtime, Davidson-Georgetown was going down to the wire, and Western Kentucky was holding off San Diego to advance to its first Sweet 16…….all at the same time. Watching CBS go back and forth between the three games, not getting a commercial break in for about a half-hour was the second coolest thing I saw all weekend (the first, obviously, being Duke losing again…..but we will get to that later).
East Region–North Carolina and Louisville might have had the most impressive weekends of anyone in the entire tourney. The Tar Heels scored 221 points in two games, including a blowout of Arkansas, one of the SEC’s top two teams. Meanwhile, Louisville dispatched Boise State 79-61 (and it wasn’t that close) and then beat a solid Oklahoma team by 30. My pre-tourney pick, Tennessee, survived two subpar performances against American and Butler to reach the Sweet 16. The Vols game with the Bulldogs Sunday was really, really ugly. The two teams combined for 50 fouls and 34 turnovers, and there could have been more of both. The most disappointing performance of the region was Notre Dame’s second round 41-point performance after shooting the lights out against George Mason on Friday.
Midwest Region–Like everyone else, I absolutely love Stephen Curry. Dell’s kid scored 70 points over the weekend, including 55 in the two second-halves in which he played. I especially love him because I picked Davidson to advance to the Sweet 16. But that was more of an admonishment of the Georgetown Hoyas and the definition of weak sauce, Roy Hibbert. Seriously, people talk about this guy like he’s a clear-cut lottery pick. Meanwhile, he went scoreless in a Big East tourney game and scored 6 points and grabbed 1 rebound while committing 5 fouls in 16 minutes…….against Davidson. Yeah, he’s sure to tear up the NBA. In other Midwest Region play, Wisconsin had two solid wins and could topple Kansas this weekend; however, I don’t see anyone beating the Jayhawks.
South Region–Memphis coach John Calipari continues to bristle whenever the media mentions his team’s free throw shooting woes, saying its not a big deal. Although its entirely possible the Tigers could survive the tourney and become the worst free throw shooting team to ever win the title, I think Calipari’s continued sensitivity about the subject is obviously an effort to deflect attention away from a glaring weakness. Yesterday, Mississippi State was a bad bounce off the backboard from tying Memphis at the end of regulation after trailing 73-65 with 49 seconds left. How did this happen? The Tigers went 15-of-32 from the line, including 6-of-12 in the last minute. I could entertain the argument that Memphis is the least likely team to make the Final Four out of this region, behind Michigan State (a troublesome matchup for Memphis), Stanford (survived a scare and has the offensive post presence to really challenge Joey Dorsey), and Texas (a strong two seed who survived its own late scare to beat the Hurricanes of Miami). I would also like to give a shout out to the Pitt Panthers, who completely shit the bed against a big Ten team after winning the Big East tournament and getting my hopes up for a run at a Final Four appearance and a $410 return on a $50 “investment”.
West Region–All of the fun is being had out west, as UCLA monster-fucked poor Mississippi Valley State and then squeaked by Texas A&M to reach the Sweet 16. Meanwhile, Western Kentucky and San Diego verified what half of us were thinking when the brackets came out: “Why the fuck does UCLA get such an easy run?”……this thought also may have manifested itself with “How the hell does UConn get a 4 seed and Drake get a 5 seed?”. But the best part of this region…..nay, the whole tourney, was the Blue Devil beating at the hands of West Virginia after lucking out on Thursday against Belmont. Lets look at this, now: while consistently being a solid regular season team, Duke has been horrible in the tournament lately. Since the 2001-02 season, Duke has advanced past the round of 16 once, and that was in 2004 when they lost in the Final Four. I think its time to start calling Duke the chokers that they are.