The first week of the NCAA tourney is in the books and as usual, there were fantastic finishes, shocking upsets and controversial moments. Ohio State and Kansas still look like the teams to beat, but Pittsburgh had another early exit and Duke nearly followed them out the door. There are underdogs still dreaming big, with a #12 seed, two #11 seeds and a #10 seed advancing to the Sweet 16. All in all, it was a great start to the best tourney in sports.
- It pays to dream big. The biggest shocker was Morehead State’s knockout of perennial powerhouse Louisville. Down two and in a timeout with 23 seconds left, Eagles coach Donnie Tyndall told guard Demonte Harper he dreamt about the exact situation the night before and wanted the senior to shoot a three-pointer for the win. Harper told the coach he would make it, stepped back on the floor, patiently ran down the clock and then nailed it. When the shot swished through, Tyndall’s dream became the Cardinals’ nightmare.
- I guess they deserved to get in. Universally criticized as a team that shouldn’t have made the bracket, VCU beat USC by 13 in the First Four on Wednesday, crushed Georgetown by 20 in the second round on Friday and thrashed Purdue by 18 in the third round on Sunday. The Rams are playing so well right now, the only thing stopping them is the schedule, which doesn’t have them on the court again until Friday.
- I don’t believe what I just saw. Against Pittsburgh in the third round, after taking a one-point lead with three seconds left, Butler’s Shelvin Mack committed the dumbest foul I’ve ever seen, sending Pittsburgh’s Gilbert Brown to the line. After tying the game, Brown missed the second and his teammate Nasir Robinson committed an even dumber foul that allowed Matt Howard to shoot the game-winning free throw. I’ll watch college basketball the rest of my life and never see two stupider plays back-to-back.
- The refs got it right. It’s easy to criticize officials, especially with the benefit of replay. But in the previously mentioned Butler/Pitt game, the refs made the right calls. I constantly hear people say the players need to decide the games, not the officials. But if the officials don’t call the fouls when they are committed, then they are deciding the game anyway. In this game, the calls had to be made and they made them. Well done!
- The refs got it wrong. In the Arizona/Texas game, we had the opposite end of the spectrum. With under 15 seconds left and the Longhorns leading by two, a referee was way too excited to make a five-second call on an inbounds play that gave the Wildcats the ball. Not only did replays show he made the call before five seconds had elapsed, it also showed he stopped his arm motion (used for timing in that situation) so he could ignore the inbounder’s attempt to call timeout and enthusiastically make the call. In this case, no call needed to be made but the referee made it anyway. Ugh!
- Jimmer! Is there anybody more fun to watch in college basketball than Jimmer Fredette? Is there a name more fun to say than Jimmer? He scored 32 points against Wofford and then 34 more against Gonzaga to lead BYU to the Sweet 16. He can make scoop layups and he can drill three-pointers from 30 feet. Despite losing Brandon Davies to the honor code violation, the Cougars are making a deep run in the tournament and have a legitimate chance to make it to the Final Four and it all starts with Jimmer!
THERE IT IS!