Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 4 of the Madness: Boom Goes the Dynamite

And on the fourth day, he ended the Syracuse basketball season. We'll save our thoughts on the Syracuse season for a post at a later date, but we'll include some brief musings in our recap of the final day of opening weekend.

Domination Station: After starting the game trailing 11-2, THE Ohio State University got there stuff together and showed why they are the overall #1 seed in the tournament. The rest of the first half, they outscored George Mason 50-15. Put the money in the bag. OSU ends up winning 98-56, and will be headed to Newark, (Governor Patterson SNL voice) NEW JERRRSEY to take on Kentucky in the Sweet 16. Another #1 seed in action, Kansas, also cruised to a victory against Illinois. The Fighting Illini hung around, but never really threatened the Jayhawks, who will now face Richmond in the next round. While we are on the topic of domination, we need to throw VCU aka Southern Prep (South Jersey HS bball reference - thanks J5!) in there. For the third straight game, they've gone up against a team from a power conference (USC, Gtown and Purdue) and completely taken it to them winning by an average of 13 points. Purdue was a sexy pick for the Final Four thanks to the the freakish talents of JaJuan Johnson, who went for 25 and 14 on Sunday. That was not enough, as the Boiler Makers couldn't stop the Rams, who put up 94 points. Yes, this is the same VCU team that most "experts" said had no right even being in the tournament.
You Down with ACC? Both Duke and North Carolina were part of nail-biters Sunday afternoon in Charlotte. In a track meet, UNC held off Washington 86-83. Super Frosh Harrison Barnes has really come into his own after struggling at the beginning of the season for the Tar Heels. He dropped 22, including a 3 with four minutes to play, to give UNC the lead for good. In the second game of the afternoon, Duke and Michigan renewed the Fab 5-Laettner/Hurley/Hill rivalry. Duke went up by as many as 16 in the second half, only to see Michigan storm back and cut the lead to 1 point with 1:30 left, and then again with ten seconds left. 1 of 2 free throws from Nolan Smith and a missed Darius Miller runner as time expired sealed Coach K's 900th victory, and another trip to the Sweet 16 for the Dukies.

Five Seconds: Cue the controversy for the Texas-Arizona game. A questionable five second violation on a late game in-bounds play led to the ball going back to Arizona, trailing by two with 12 seconds left. Zona's Derrick Williams was then able to convert a three-point play the old fashioned way, finishing a layup and making the free throw. The Longhorns had two chances to win it around the bucket but could not finish, including a play on which some wanted a foul to be called. The refs (correctly, this time) swallowed their whistles. Zona will now face Duke, and Texas will once again go home early from the tournament.

Two for Eleven: That's the stat that everyone will talk about this week. The Big East got 11 teams into the tournament, but only two (Marquette and UConn) are still alive in the Sweet 16. They'll leave out the part that there were two games that matched Big East members against each other, so that number should technically be out of nine. But regardless, Syracuse and Notre Dame did nothing to help the cause on Sunday. When the brackets were released, Daily Onions looked at the Syracuse draw and said the first weekend scares us more than the potential second weekend match ups.  The reason was a second round date with either Xavier or Marquette. The Cuse got Marquette, a team the Orange lost to this season, a team that is athletic as heck, plays hard as all and can get up and down the court, and a team that isn't a great match up for Syracuse. Granted, 17 turnovers and some costly mental mistakes the entire game probably cost Syracuse the game as much as Marquette's play did. We won't talk about the backcourt violation (which isn't actually a backcourt violation - refs got that one wrong), but we'll get to Scoop, Dion, I'm Sorry Rick Jackson, Kris and the rest of the crew in a post later this week. Now, we'll pour another one out for the Big East because Notre Dame couldn't overcome Florida State. So what was supposed to be the battle for Indiana Basketball between ND and Purdue in the Sweet 16, has now turned into the battle for Cinderella between VCU and FSU.

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