Home > Uncategorized > Overtime, Buzzer Beaters, and Upsets… Oh My…

Overtime, Buzzer Beaters, and Upsets… Oh My…

The first day of the tournament realistically might have been the best opening day of March Madness ever. It included three overtime games, eight games decided by fewer than five points, six “by the number” upsets, fifteen seed Robert Morris almost toppling number two Villanova, and 14th ranked Ohio (not Ohio State, but just Ohio) taking down Georgetown. That Georgetown upset was obviously the biggest of the day, as 97.6 percent of the 4.8 million brackets (including mine) submitted to ESPN had the Hoyas waltzing past Ohio. Many of them, though thankfully not mine, had the Hoyas going to the eight, and a few even had the Hoyas going to the Four… talk about your bracket buster.

The second day, well… it lacked much of that intrigue, but it still brought three ‘by the number” upsets, the best of which was twelve Cornell knocking off five Temple.

How’d Sports on the Brain do? I’m glad you asked, I had that Cornell upset (snap!) and over the two days, I went a very respectable 24-8. I had six of the nine upsets, including Georgia Tech, Missouri, Saint Mary’s, and, thirteen Murray State over four Vanderbilt. I only lost three teams I had surviving past the round of 32. Best of all, none of those three did I have going beyond the round of sixteen. So, all my elite eight survive to the weekend.

Upset of the 1st Round – Come on, this isn’t even a contest. I mean, if Bobby Morris had held on to topple Villanova, then it might have been a different story, but only 115K of the 4.8 million ballots on ESPN had Ohio beating Georgetown, that’s an upset.

Performance of the 1st Round – Oh JIMMER… If you’re an NBA GM and watched BYU’s classic double overtime victory against Florida and didn’t come away convinced that Jimmer Fredette can play 10 years in the NBA, well then you’re probably Mike Dunleavy. ESPNs Chad Ford had him ranked 59th on his top 100 draft board, going in to the weekend, but if I was a GM picking in the 25-30 range, I’d have a hard time not selecting a kid with a sweet stroke, superb court vision, and the toughness necessary to succeed on the next level.

Game of the 1st Round – I don’t know how you top the very first game of the tournament. Double overtime, multiple lead changes, and an impressively high level of play. BYU was challenged, but behind Jimmer’s 37, they continually hit big shots when it mattered. Florida had two separate chances to hold for the final shot and missed them both, which is perhaps emblematic of one of the worst coaching moves routinely practiced. Having your team dribble the ball up top until the dying seconds, then having a single player make a rushed attack on the basket, before he takes an ill advised final shot. This has such a miserable success rate, that I wonder why nobody tries
actually working the ball around for a better score.

Goat of the 1st Round – If you watched any college hoops this winter, all you heard about was how dominant the Big East was. At some point pundits were arguing that they deserved ten teams in the tournament, and that they would certainly have as many as four teams in the elite eight. After the first round of the tournament, we know that the Big East is a good, but vastly overrated conference. On the first day, they had four teams in action and went a stellar 1-3, with their single victory Villanova’s near disaster against Robert Morris. All three losses involved upsets, with two sixes losing to eleven seeds, and the ignominious Georgetown defeat. On Friday Syracuse, West Virginia, and Pitt all protected the shield (with only nine seed Louisville getting dropped), but the damage had already been done. Barring deep runs by the four remaining teams, this tournament will be seen as failure for the not quite as Big as they thought East.

All in all a superb opening round, and we can only hope for more of the same from the weekend. Check back Monday to hear about how Gonzaga, Wake Forrest, and Old Dominion destroyed my bracket…

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