(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Friday, March 19, 2010

More NCAA Observations

1. Hats off to Ohio U. More often than not I think it's been the case that an underdog that has won its conference tournament flames out in the first round of the NCAA tournament because they're spent. Ohio was seeded 9th in the MAC tournament, was 7-9 in conference play and a #13 seed. You wouldn't have known it by the way they played last night. Georgetown looked like a glue horse, stuck in a slow gear, and played without much energy for most of the night. Ohio played like a champion.

2. Big conference bias. Were Marquette and Notre Dame truly worth of #6 seeds? I say not, especially Notre Dame. Is it that the Big East, because it's back east, gets much more attention and, as a result, hype (as, perhaps, the best hoops conference in the country), or is it that other teams by comparison don't get as much attention on ESPN? At any rate, the Big East was 1-3 yesterday, and the 1 was somewhat controversial, given how much Villanova got to the foul line against #15 seed Robert Morris (whether 'Nova deserved a #2 seed after their late-season dive is also another good question). I didn't see the 'Nova game, and defenders of the officials have taken the view that Villanova was more aggressive and that you draw fouls when you drive to the hoop and that you draw a lot more fouls when you do that and your opponent only shoots jumpers. Decent point, but it was hard to find a voice on the radio yesterday or this morning who didn't take the point of view that Robert Morris got jobbed.

3. Hats of to Murray State, Old Dominion, Washington and St. Mary's, all of whom won in upsets. St. Mary's, of Moraga, California, thrashed Gonzaga in the WCAC conference tournament final and poses a serious threat to Villanova in the second round. Something's up at Villanova. Jay Wright benched Taylor King for a few games during the end of the season and benched his starting backcourt for 4 minutes yesterday as a teaching lesson. Wright's a good guy and a good coach. Either this strategy of discipline will propel 'Nova to the much-predicted regional final game against Duke, or they won't get past St. Mary's. And, if the latter's the case, then there is a chemistry/discipline problem at 'Nova that bears watching. Is the team unglued? Has Jay Wright lost his team? Or, are this isolated incidents? Hard to know.

4. Unless one of the darlings of the predicters of upsets, Cornell, beats Temple today (and I blogged about the unlikelihood of that yesterday), Temple might be the best team that no one's heard of. Doug Gottlieb of ESPN pretty much said so this morning, arguing that the Owls were more worthy of a #3 seed than Pitt. We'll see today, but the Owls don't turn the ball over, rebound and defend well, and can score enough points to stay with almost anyone. Fran Dunphy only has 1 NCAA tournament win in his career (and that shows you how difficult it is to both get in the tournament and win a game); he's going for #2 today.


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