In the battle to determine my rooting interest for the remainder of the tournament, Tennessee leads Butler, 53-49 with 7:53 left.
In the other games still ongoing, it looks like Texas, Western Kentucky and Georgetown have the edge (though I’m still hoping for a Davidson comeback in the latter game). And earlier, Villanova beat Siena. I’ll post a pool update after the conclusion of all four of the games currently underway.
UPDATE: What a great bunch of games those turned out to be!! Texas survives a furious Miami comeback, Western Kentucky does the same against San Diego, Tennessee wins a thriller in overtime over a game Butler squad, and Davidson rallies to stun Georgetown! WOO!!!
I realize it’s easy to second-guess the committee after the games have been played, but man, Butler is way better than a #7 seed, eh? They should have been able to reach the Sweet Sixteen without playing a team as good as Tennessee (which arguably should have been a #1 seed). But alas. Great win for the Vols. They certainly had to earn it. I’ll be rooting for them from here on out — unless they meet Davidson in the Final Four (not totally implausible) or Western Kentucky in the title game (umm, kind of implausible), in which case I’ll probably revert to my usual mid-major lovefest.
Anyway, pool update coming shortly.
The first wave of Friday games is underway. ESPN.com’s writers are hoping for some excitement: “Day 1’s 16 NCAA tournament games were decided by an average of 16 points. Will Day 2’s slate bring a return to the Madness?”
You know, if South Alabama beats Butler later this afternoon, Tennessee might have to beat American and USA to reach the Sweet 16? Unpatriotic bastards! :) Right now, though, they’re struggling with American, which is outrebounding them 12-4. Huh?
Also underway: Gonzaga-Davidson. GO ZAGS!!!
Also, Drake-Western Kentucky and Miami-St. Mary’s. It’s mid-major hour! Only two BCS-conference teams are in action at the moment.
P.S. The latest NIT Pool standings are up, after last night’s wins by Syracuse (over Maryland) and Arizona State (over Southern Illinois). Mark Gardner is still perfect, with an 18-for-18 record and 132 points. Ginny Zak is now alone for second place at 17-for-18 and 125 points. Eight contestants are tied for third with 118 points.
The trouble with living in a state that has five NCAA Tournament teams is that you’re locked into watching a lot of first-round games involving those teams, whether or not they’re the most exciting game in progress. I mentioned this before with relation to Duke-Belmont pre-empting USC-Kansas State tomorrow night, but it’s an even bigger issue on Friday, when all four time slots will occupied by games involving Tennessee teams, only one of which (Vanderbilt-Siena at 7:20, a 4-13 game) figures to be potentially competitive. The other games are: #2 Tennessee vs. #15 American at 12:15, #2 Texas vs. #15 Austin Peay at 2:50, and #1 Memphis vs. #16 Texas-Arlington at 9:40.
According to the local CBS affiliate, "At the network’s discretion, all
games BUT the Kentucky vs Marquette game [Thursday at 2:30] and the Tennessee vs American
Game can be switched from/to during play to a better game of the
network’s choosing." (The Kentucky game gets higher "regional" priority than any of the non-UT teams from Tennessee? Weird.) So, once Texas and Memphis open up big leads, they’ll take us out to other games at some point (like maybe Butler-South Alabama in the 2:50 slot). That’s a relief. But I’m doomed — unless I go to a sports bar, which is a chancy proposition when you’ve got a baby — to have virtually zero chance of watching any of Gonzaga-Davidson, Miami-St. Mary’s or Drake-Western Kentucky, all of which I really want to see, but all of which are scheduled opposite Tennessee-American. Arrrgh.
(I tried MMOD at home the other day. It works okay — better than it did with our ridiculously slow connection in South Bend — but I still don’t think it’ll be acceptably smooth for live, fast-moving basketball action. It’s a wee bit jerky, to an extent that might not be bothersome in some contexts, but will, I think, be problematic for watching live sports.)
That’s a healthy-looking line of thunderstorms that’s headed our way.
While watching a SportsCenter commercial last night featuring the Tennessee Lady Vols’ head basketball coach, I came to a horrifying realization:
I think I’m starting to like Pat Summitt.
This is simply not acceptable. Pat Summitt is the enemy! She is UConn’s nemesis! She is the anti-Geno! She is the devil-woman! It is the solemn duty of every good Connecticutian to resist the Evil Pat and all Her Works! I’m allowed to grudgingly respect her, but under no circumstances am I supposed to like her! Must… resist…
"We are the Big Orange Army… you will be assimilated… resistance is futile…"
The good news is, the Notre Dame-George Mason game will be the primary ~9:30 game on the Knoxville CBS affiliate Thursday night. Sweet!
The bad news is, contrary to what I guessed last night, USC-Kansas State won’t be the primary ~7:00 game. I guess they think Belmont, a Nashville university with 4,700 students, has a large enough following in East Tennessee that it makes sense to prioritize #2 Duke vs. #15 Belmont over the super-frosh showdown of Mayo vs. Beasley. Ugh.
I just hope our Comcast connection can handle MMOD. (Speaking of which, if you want a "VIP pass," you’d better sign up now — they’re 86% full!)
Knoxville's Krutch Park in bloom. … Meanwhile, I just got a text message from Kristin in South Bend -- where I'm guessing it's decidedly less springlike -- reporting that Notre Dame Law School has been evacuated due to a fire alarm. Hmm.
UPDATE: Our intrepid NDLS correspondent reports: “All ok, incident involved a microwave, a sandwich wrapped in tin foil, & a styrofoam plate.” Heh.
In the latest escalation of the Pat Summitt-Geno Auriemma War, Tennessee recently reported UConn for an alleged recruiting violation — arranging a tour of ESPN’s studios in Bristol for star freshman Maya Moore back when she was a recruit who was heavily prized by both schools.
ESPN, obviously keen to avoid "becoming the story" again in the future, says that "to avoid future incidents, our tour policy will now prohibit high school
athletes from receiving tours at the request of a college or university
But the bigger story here, in my mind, is the Summitt-Auriemma angle. It has become increasingly clear that these two really don’t like each other. In fact, here is some exclusive footage of Pat and Geno going at it before a recent ballgame:
Correction: I’m told those are the Oral Roberts and IUPUI mascots. My bad. But if Connecticut and Tennessee meet in the Final Four, that’s pretty much what it’ll be like.
With the state of Tennessee having such a great basketball year, I’ve been wondering how we stack up against other states in terms of our number of NCAA Tournament teams. Now, thanks to this nifty Wikipedia map, I have the answer.
If Middle Tennessee State knocks off Western Kentucky tonight in the Sun Belt title game, Tennessee will have six teams in the NCAA Tournament — meaning exactly half of its 12 Division I schools would be dancing. (MTSU would join at-large locks Memphis, UT and Vanderbilt, and automatic bid winners Belmont and Austin Peay.) If that happens, Tennessee would probably finish tied with California for the largest number of teams in the Big Dance, and would either tie Indiana or finish first all by itself for the percentage of its Division I teams going dancing (among states with at least five Division I teams).
Personally, if I were a raccoon, I wouldn’t tangle with Pat Summitt. (And if I were Erin Andrews, I’d stay the hell away from Bruce Pearl. But that’s another story entirely.)
USC leads Stanford, 45-35, with 16:51 left at the Galen Center. If the Trojans win and Washington State loses to UW tonight, USC will be the #3 seed in the Pac-10 tournament, and any possible Loy-Tran bet-deciding USC-UCLA game wouldn’t happen until the conference final. If USC loses or Wazzu wins, the Trojans will be the #4 seed, setting up a possible semifinal matchup with the top-seeded Bruins.
In other news, last year’s Notre Dame-conquering Big South champion, Winthrop, earned another auto bid to the NCAAs, joining Cornell on that short list and sending regular-season champ UNC-Asheville to the NIT as that tournament’s first automatic qualifier.
Later today, three Tennessee teams will try to earn automatic NCAA bids of their own, as Cinderella story #6 seed Tennessee State, 15-16 and #215 in the RPI, faces #1 seed Austin Peay, also from Tennessee, in the Ohio Valley title game (ESPN2, 5pm), and Belmont, yet another Tennessee school, faces Jacksonville in the Atlantic Sun final (ESPN2, 7pm)
We're at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame here in Knoxville with Kristy. Geno Auriemma's book doesn't seen to be selling to well at the gift shop. I'm shocked, SHOCKED… :)
One night after Stanford was blatantly robbed of a possible Pac-10 title share by a foul call so bad that even the UCLA players admit they got lucky, highly questionable refereeing struck again in the lower-profile, yet in some sense higher-stakes, setting of the Atlantic Sun quarterfinals.
Unlike NCAA-bound UCLA and Stanford, A-Sun semifinalists Belmont and East Tennessee State were fighting to extend their respective seasons — win or go home — when, with 19.4 seconds left and ETSU holding a 1-point lead and the ball, an official took it upon himself to completely change the course of the game by calling a technical foul on ETSU player Kenyona Swader, who appeared to lose his temper slightly after being fouled by a Belmont player. Belmont hit both technical free throws to take the lead, and ultimately won the game.
The TV announcers on Comcast Sports Southeast mostly defended the call, with the analyst repeating several times that Swader “swung an elbow.” But his elbow made no contact with anyone, and it didn’t even look like he’s intentionally doing anything aggressive with it. I don’t know what he said, of course, but unless it was about the ugliest, most egregious thing anyone’s ever said in the history of college basketball, I’m not convinced that it justifies calling a game-deciding “T.” All in all, to me, it looked like a very weak call, and one that’s pretty ridiculous to make in that situation. But judge for yourself:
Good grief. Let the players, not the refs, determine who wins and loses. Is that so much to ask?
HUGE crowd at the WDVX Blue Plate Special today for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra's string quartet and, in the show's second half, renouned Cape Breton Island fiddler Natalie MacMaster. So cool.