We are through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament (oh, I’m sorry, round 2 and 3), and it has been an amazing tournament! So many buzzer-beaters, clutch shooting, and amazing performances. And ONIONS!
If you didn’t watch the first day’s afternoon action, you deserve to be forced to live under a rock forever. From Morehead State’s upset over Louisville, Matt Howards tip-in winner over Old Dominion to Richmond’s upset over Vanderbilt, it was the most exciting afternoon of basketball. The night games were sub-par, but still had some great moments, like Michigan State nearly overcoming a 20+ point comeback against UCLA. Or Jimmer Fredette putting up 32 on Wofford. And that was a “bad” night for Jimmer.
Friday was not nearly as good, but I want to talk about the parity in this year’s games. The 15 and 16’s this year played competitive. Boston U gave Kansas a run for their money into the second half, and Pittsburgh was challenged as well. It was great watching those teams play competitive halves. Usually, six of the eight #1 and #2 games are blowouts all the way. But I thought it was a complete flip-flop this year. Only Duke and Ohio State ran away with their games.
I thought the team that proved the most was UCONN. Many thought they would be drained by their five wins in five days in the Big East Tournament last week, but Kemba Walker led the way with a statement win over Bucknell, by 29, and then a gritty victory over Big East rival Cincinnati. When you have a superstar like Kemba, you’re going to be in games. That’s why I have them going to the championship game.
Cinderella is Virginia Commonwealth. An 11 seed, which many people did not feel deserved an at-large bid out of the CAA, beat USC just to make the field of 64. And then they destroy Georgetown (two straight blow-out Tourament losses to mid-majors) and wax Purdue by 18 points each game. Dominating. And they get a bit of a break with Florida State defeating Notre Dame. It is very possible that the CAA is going to get a spot in the Elite Eight.
But the tournament is about superstars, which is why at the end, it will be Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker going at it on April 4th in Houston. I think Ohio State loses a close one to UCONN in the Final Four, and BYU gets by Kansas (I originally had Notre Dame in my bracket). My winner: Fredette-about it!