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I will post instructions for entering my NCAA pools as soon as Pick65 gets its brackets online.
Pick65 says it will get its brackets online as soon as the NCAA resolves a controversy regarding the BYU Cougars, who are apparently afraid that their potential Saturday evening second-round game might linger into the Sabbath. Evidently, the NCAA is contemplating switching BYU and Weber State (both 12 seeds) to avoid any religious complications. Whatever. I just want to start my pools!
Anyway, it should be ready to go by tomorrow morning. Hopefully.
Observations on the brackets… I’m thrilled the NCAA let in all three mid-major bubble teams (Gonzaga, Southern Illinois, and Butler). However, I agree with Dick Vitale that letting in Auburn instead of Boston College or Seton Hall is a major snub to the Big East and an inexcusable failure to reward tough nonconference schedules over weak ones.
Also, putting Kentucky and Arizona on the same side of the bracket makes absolutely no sense. I am absolutely, 100 percent opposed to the idea of “reseeding” the Final Four, but I’m also absolutely, 100 percent in favor of placing the two best teams in the country on opposite sides of the bracket.
Are you ready to rumble?
UPDATE, 4:05 PM MST: Texas gets a 1 seed! They’re going all the way, dude. :)
UPDATE, 4:09 PM MST: Will Gonzaga, Butler, and Southern Illinois all get in? They deserve to. I’ll be nervous if I hear “Texas Tech” or “Seton Hall” or “Auburn” called…
UPDATE, 4:12 PM MST: South bracket announced, and no mid-major at-larges yet. And, hmm… why does Texas, instead of Kentucky, get to play the play-in winner?
UPDATE, 4:17 PM MST: YES!!! Butler is in! Sweet 16, says I.
UPDATE, 4:23 PM MST: Auburn gets in. Bad news for Southern Illinois, maybe. Meanwhile, the South Region looks pretty weak. A good draw for Texas, especially playing the regional semis and final in San Antonio. Interesting note in the East: if Syracuse can make it to the regionals, it gets to play in Albany.
UPDATE, 4:28 PM MST: Southern Illinois makes it!! Will Gonzaga? I love the Midwest region. I have Holy Cross against Southern Illinois in the second round, and I’m thinking about putting Weber State in the Sweet 16.
UPDATE, 4:32 PM MST: GONZAGA IS IN!!!
UPDATE, 4:35 PM MST: I love the committee this year. The let in all the deserving mid-major teams, at the expense of the mediocre major-conference teams. Hip-hip, hooray!
Okay, I’m done blogging for now so I can focus on filling out my bracket. :)
Today is Selection Sunday, which is pretty much right next to Christmas on my list of most anticipated days of the year. Three hours until the women’s brackets are announced; four hours until the men’s.
Complicating the NCAA men’s committee’s decision, Ohio State is still trying to “steal a bid” by winning the Big Ten’s automatic berth. The Buckeyes were the #8 seed in the Big Ten tournament, and they have no chance of getting an at-large invitation. But if they win the conference championship game today, they’re in — and somebody else is out. In fact, by now, it’s probably a very specific somebody that’s out, even if that somebody doesn’t know it. What do I mean? Well, the Big Ten title game won’t be over until maybe a half-hour before the brackets are supposed to be announced, if that. So, presumably, the committee has had to design two versions of the bracket — one if the Buckeyes win, one if they lose. Which means that somebody’s tournament fate — Southern Illinois maybe, or Auburn or Texas Tech — rests directly on the shoulders of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
In other news, it looks like we’re going to war on Thursday, or thereabouts. Dammit. The tournament broadcast schedule is going to be in chaos. Talk about March Madness.
Perhaps we should employ Dick Vitale as a spokesman for our war effort. “Hey, Saddam: Disarm or die, baby! We got some real PTPers in our Army, baby! Dipsee-doo, adios to you!”
USC’s hopes for an improbable berth in the NCAA Tournament died at the Staples Center tonight, as the Trojans failed to capitalize on Oregon’s late collapse and lost, 74-66.
Trojans win!!! USC will play for the Pac-10 tournament championship — and an NCAA Tournament berth — tomorrow against Oregon at 3:00 PM Pacific time (6:00 Eastern) on CBS.
Will post more tomorrow. Must sleep now. :)
UPDATE: Here’s a story about USC’s win. Here are a couple of photos:
It really is incredible to think that USC is one win away from an NCAA Tournament berth. Remember, the Trojans barely even qualified for the Pac-10 tournament (only the top eight teams get in), losing seven in a row at the end of the season before finally clinching a spot with a win in the last game of the regular season over conference cellar-dweller Washington State. And now they’re 40 minutes from the Big Dance!
SI.com points out that potential “party crashers” like USC make life difficult for teams on the bubble. That’s okay with me; I just hope the committee lets all the deserving mid-majors — like Gonzaga, Southern Illinois, and Butler — go dancing, and leaves home the mediocre major-conference teams like N.C. State and Texas Tech.
That USC-UCLA title game is still looking possible. The #8-seeded Bruins lead #5-seed Oregon, 45-42 at halftime. #7-seed USC plays #3-seed Cal after the conclusion of the Bruin-Duck game.
I can’t believe all these upsets happening all over the country. Following in the footsteps of #1-ranked Arizona, #8 Marquette and #15 Stanford yesterday, today #3 Texas, #7 Florida, #10 Xavier, #14 Maryland, #16 Memphis, #18 Wisconsin, and #23 Oklahoma State have all lost. That’s 10 of the Top 25 knocked off in 48 hours! I don’t remember ever seeing a Championship Week like this before. If this is a sign of things to come, it should be a very interesting first two rounds of the NCAAs!
Most intriguing of all, a whole bunch of teams with no chance of winning at-large bids are advancing deep into major-conference tournaments. Wouldn’t it be something if USC (or UCLA) wins the Pac-10 tournament, North Carolina wins the ACC, and Alabama-Birmingham wins Conference USA? Those bubble teams have got to be sweating…
And yet, most of the bubble teams are winning! Saint Louis and Minnesota may have played themselves out of contention, but N.C. State, Texas Tech, and Indiana are doing everything they’re supposed to. The committee’s job is looking increasingly tough!
UPDATE: So much for that all-L.A. final. The Bruins collapsed late, and Oregon won, 75-74, to advance to tomorrow’s Pac-10 title game. The Ducks will play the winner of the USC-Cal game, which just tipped off.
Meanwhile, unranked UConn just added #11 Syracuse to the day’s list of Top 25 upset victims — a list that now numbers eight teams. Can USC make Cal the ninth? The Trojans lead 4-0, three minutes into the game.
Trojans win! Trojans win!
USC, seeded #7 in the Pac-10 tournament, stunned #2-seed Stanford, 79-74, to advance to the conference semifinals. The Trojans’ NCAA Tournament hopes are still alive! One win down, two to go.
All three Pac-10 tournament games so far have been close, exciting games — and all three have been upsets: #8 UCLA over #1 Arizona, #7 USC over #2 Stanford, and #5 Oregon over #4 Arizona State. Can #6 Oregon State make it a sweep with a win over #3 California? They’ve got a chance — the Beavers are down by just two at halftime.
UPDATE: Well, Oregon State fell apart and Cal turned it on in the second half, so the #3-seeded Bears are the one higher-seeded team to advance today. They won, 69-46. Even so, tomorrow’s semifinal line-up makes the Pac-10 look like the Wild, Wild West:
#8 UCLA vs.
6:15 PM Pacific time
#7 USC vs.
8:45 PM Pacific time
Something to consider… Why is the media drooling over UCLA all of a sudden, just because the previously awful Bruins (9-18 in the regular season, 6-12 in the conference) pulled off one lousy upset? A commentator on ESPN just said they are “almost a favorite” to win the Pac-10 tournament. The lowest seed, a favorite?!?! C’mon! Meanwhile, the Trojans defeated Stanford, also a Top-15 team, and nobody seems impressed. Everyone keeps talking about the possibility of the Bruins playing their way all the way into the NCAAs… and not mentioning that USC could do the same exact thing. Personally, I’m rather looking forward to Saturday’s USC-UCLA title game at the Staples Center. :)
A Trojan-Bruin title game? Hey, it could happen! USC 39, Stanford 28, halftime.
I’m watching the Pac-10 tourney on Fox Sports right now, and fervently rooting for UCLA. (Why?) And the Bruins are making it a game against top-ranked Arizona — trailing by just five points with six minutes left! Go UCLA!
UPDATE: Arizona by 1, just over two minutes left! Go Bruins! Go Bruins!
UPDATE: UCLA ball, down by 1 point, 34.9 seconds left!
UPDATE: Bruins missed, Arizona got the ball and his two free throws… so now it’s Wildcats by 3 with 9.6 seconds left, Bruins ball.
UPDATE: Wow!!! UCLA’s Ray Young hits a NBA-length 3-pointer! Tie game with 4.9 seconds left!
UPDATE: UCLA 90, Arizona 87 with 53 seconds left in overtime. The Bruins, the lowest-seeded team in the conference tournament, are on the verge of stunning the #1-seeded and #1-ranked Wildcats… and making the Pac-10 bracket wide open!
UPDATE: UCLA wins!!! Bruins 96, Wildcats 89. Now, if USC can beat Stanford tonight and Cal (or Oregon State) tomorrow night, we’ll have a chance to win the Pac-10 championship (and qualify for the NCAAs) in a title game against someone other than Arizona! Thanks, Bruins!!
UPDATE: Bruin senior Jason Kapono just sang “Stayin’ Alive” for the Fox Sports interviewer. Hehe.
I’m also working on creating a stripped-down version of my homepage that will replace my normal layout during at least the first two rounds of the tournament. This is the first NCAA tournament since I started blogging, so I should be able to publish pool updates (latest standings, scenarios, etc.) more frequently and easily than ever before. The idea of the homepage redesign is that, by eliminating a lot of the graphics, I will be able to stuff the homepage full of blog posts (which in this case will be mostly pool updates) without unduly slowing it down.
I’m leaving the Toby-Saddam graphic on the homepage, though. After all, the war is probably going to be starting at about the same time as the tournament.
Is it wrong that possible disruptions to the NCAA Tournament broadcast schedule are completely dominating my present thinking on the impending war with Iraq?
I could deal with games being moved from CBS to cable, as I discussed on Friday, and as CNN (via Reuters) is now discussing. But this morning’s New York Times reported that unlike CBS, cable networks such as TNN and TV Land do not have the “ability to switch from one region to another for a brief look at what is happening in other games, or to leave at the end of one region’s game to see the remainder of another’s.”
I don’t understand why that’s the case, but if true, what I suspect it would mean, in practical terms, is that first-round coverage would be dominated more than usual by the most boring games — e.g., #1 Kentucky vs. #16 Wagner, #1 Arizona vs. #16 South Carolina State, and so forth — because the top-notch teams are generally the ones with the most solid audiences, and people in, say, Kansas, would be royally ticked off if they couldn’t watch the Jayhawks’ opening game in its entirety. Trouble is, the 1-vs.-16 and 2-vs.-15 games are very rarely exciting for the nation at large, because they are usually blowouts. The genius of CBS’s system is that, typically, the network will cut away from a lopsided game throughout much of the nation (e.g., everywhere except Kansas) to show us some previously-unknown 12-seed’s brewing upset.
If that’s not possible, it could mean trouble for the nation’s viewing pleasure, and for the delightful insanity of March Madness. It’s those 3-vs.-14, 4-vs.-13, and 5-vs.-12 games that most frequently produce incredible tournament moments, like Creighton’s double-overtime win over Florida last year or Valparaiso’s buzzer-beater against Ole Miss back in 1998. But those games typically don’t have the same rabid following as, say, a Duke game. So, CBS usually starts its general coverage with a look at some big-name team with a big fan base, then switches everybody over to the games that are actually exciting once the big-name games have become totally lopsided. If they can’t switch around like that this year, they won’t be able to cut away from, say, Texas’s 80-38 lead over Sam Houston State, and we might miss Manhattan’s last-second victory over Maryland!
Oh, the humanity!!!
So basically, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, here’s the deal. You either gotta go to war this weekend (so the novelty will have worn off by Thursday, and CBS will stick with the NCAAs), or you gotta wait until next Monday, the 24th. NO INVADING IRAQ DURING THE FIRST ROUND!!! Got it?!?!
Both of the Connecticut teams I mentioned earlier, Fairfield and Hartford, lost this evening, leaving only UConn to represent the Nutmeg State in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Oh, well.
More shocking, Gonzaga lost to San Diego, failing for the first time in five years to win the West Coast Conference tournament. But the Zags will probably still qualify for the NCAAs as an at-large team.
Details on this year’s Living Room Times moneyless NCAA pools are coming soon.
Live scoreboard from the MAAC title game between Fairfield and Manhattan, now in progress. It’s not looking good for the Stags so far; Manhattan leads, 20-7, midway through the first half. D’oh! C’mon, Stags! Time for a comeback!
In tonight’s other conference championship games, UNC-Wilmington (the team that knocked off USC last year) plays Drexel for the Colonial Athletic Association title; two of last year’s Cinderellas battle as Creighton takes on Southern Illinois for the Missouri Valley Conference crown; and San Diego challenges perennial Cinderella Gonzaga for the West Coast Conference championship.
UPDATE: Manhattan 69, Fairfield 54, final. Oh, well. The Stags made it a game, but couldn’t close the gap. Congrats to the NCAA-bound Manhattan Jaspers. And congrats also to UNC-Wilmington, a.k.a. the Trojans’ Bane, for its 70-62 win over Drexel. Now, tonight’s big games: Creighton-SIU and Gonzaga-USD.
UPDATE: Holy mackrel: Creighton 22, Southern Illinois 4. This may not be much of a game. Hopefully the Salukis will come back… Creighton is NCAA-bound regardless, but a loss (especially a bad loss) would place SIU squarely on the bubble!!