In a moment of boredom while watching Florida methodically dominate Pittsburgh, I decided that I’d unload some NCAA tournament thoughts (I tried sparking a conversation with my gal about the tourney, and it didn't go over well..).
I feel okay with my bracket so far, with 15 of my Sweet 16’ers still breathing! If Duke wins, I’m even better off, but I can’t be the only one that takes pleasure in seeing the Blue Devils get bounced early, right? Less than 3.3% of rubes on ESPN picked Mercer. How's your bracket doing?
After watching the Gators take care of business today, the first time full game I’ve seen them play this year, I now understand why they’ve been so successful this season. Frankly, I’m now unsure if anyone can beat this team! Defensively dominant inside, they don’t turn the ball over, they don’t foul you often are efficient on offense. Pittsburgh was within fighting distance for most of the game, but never stood a chance. No solid offensive opportunities, couldn’t get to the foul line and didn’t have anyone physical enough to outmatch Patric Young inside. Scottie Wilbekin is going to be a problem for people as well. I only see UCLA and Kansas giving the Gators any fits in their region. UCLA scores a ton of points, and would need a career day from Jordan Adams. Kansas will need huge production outside as well, because I honestly think Andrew Wiggins is going to his butt kicked in the paint. Florida will probably win the whole damn thing now.
On the #92noon affair Friday, we got to chat with NDSU Bison head coach Saul Phillips, who is officially now one of my favorite personalities in college basketball. You can tell he loves the game and his players, and is a guy I’d love to have a beer with. (Check out the KFAN.com On-Demand section and listen to his interview. It’s a MUST-LISTEN, folks.) Most importantly, of course, is that they won their first tourney game in NCAA history on Thursday night! I picked them in the upset bid for two reasons: The Bison have the highest team shooting % in the country, and Oklahoma is garbage on defense. Admittedly, my bracket has their tournament ending today against San Diego State. But after watching the Aztecs nearly blow it in the 2nd half against New Mexico State, I feel like NDSU has a shot today! Taylor Braun will need to get back to his usual scoring ways, which I think he will, and the Bison have to get better on the boards FAST. If those two things happen, and if San Diego State folds like a lawn chair in the 2nd half like they did Thursday night, Saul Phillips and his group of Seniors that he loves so much will be dancing in the Sweet 16! (biZon)
(by the way, just into 2nd half of Louisville/Saint Louis. Have you seen a more brutally terrible game this year?!)
My new captain, Paul Allen, has brought big opinions to the show on Wichita State running the table. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on him legitimately choosing the undefeated team, despite my speculation that he’s merely amused by their “Shockers” nickname (cue inappropriate hand gesture). I’m excited to watch them take on Kentucky tomorrow because I think the Shockers are a great team with a SUPER-soft schedule. With that said, they did beat 4 teams this season that made the tourney (Tulsa & Saint Louis on the road, BYU and Tennessee at home) in non-conference play, prior to their laughable Missouri Valley schedule. Getting to Kentucky, though, I’m tired of people trying to tell me how they’re on the downturn. Kentucky, if anything, is underseeded. Six of their ten losses are to Michigan State, Baylor, North Carolina and 3x to the Gators). They absolutely OWN the glass. Cleanthony Early might get blocked back to the cornfields if he doesn’t come prepared. If the Harrison twins show up for the Wildcats and Julius Randle has one of his many brilliant performances inside, it’s very reasonable to think Kentucky can advance. (I have Wichita losing next round to Louisville)
Lastly, Coach K said some really nice things about the Mercer team that upset him Dukies yesterday, so much respect to him for being such a graceful loser. He’s the best coach we’ve seen at any level in 20 years. BAR NONE! But as I noted above, I love seeing Duke lose. Not sure why, other than a potential grudge I have from the Christian Laettner years in Minnesota. I’m not above it.
I’m done. Seeing teams like North Dakota State and Mercer winning historical games for their schools and the passion the kids have for the game (pre-NBA shoe deal type of passion) is a blast to watch every season. This Mercer guy doing that dance, though. How awful was that? Might be most putrid thing I’ve seen in years! Check out his moves in the video below --->