Friday, March 16, 2012

Minor Upsets, But Otherwise Tame Day One of Madness

I parked myself in front of the television just after 11 a.m. and began watching the great event that is the NCAA Tournament.  There is nothing like this grand event, and I have come to expect the unexpected.  However, Thursday didn't have anything too crazy, as minor upset winners such as VCU and Colorado were the only real surprises on the day.

This isn't to say that it was a boring day of basketball.  Kentucky, Indiana, Murray State, Marquette, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Gonzaga all rolled in their games, but other games were a lot closer or had interesting outcomes.  Jim Calhoun's UConn bunch simply gave up and didn't have pride.  The defending national champs were bounced in easy fashion by a good Iowa State squad, but it was a pretty humiliating effort from the Huskies, who won the whole thing last year.  Jeremy Lamb is a good player, but it was clear that he was not the leader that Kemba Walker was last year.  For a team that had the talent, they just simply couldn't put it together.  They have high future draft picks such as Lamb and freshman Andre Drummond, but the great thing about college basketball is that that doesn't matter unless you can play as a team.

VCU pulled out a tight one against a very good Wichita State team, a team many expected to make some noise in this tournament.  Shaka Smart did it again, finding a way to win his sixth tournament game in the last two years.  The run to the Final Four was remarkable last year, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Smart find ways to keep winning.  Colorado, the surprise Pac 12 champ in their first year, beat a good UNLV team in the 6/11 matchup.  I could see these guys beating Baylor.  I feel they still have a chip on their shoulder from last season when the Alec Burks-led team got snubbed from the NCAA Tournament last year.

Powerhouse Syracuse nearly got beat by UNC-Asheville, as the outcome wasn't decided until fairly late in the game.  The absence of Fab Melo clearly hurt this team, and they need to figure it out quick.  Baylor struggled with South Dakota State, but I see them as a team that will get stronger as the tournament goes on.   Vanderbilt also didn't dominate against Harvard, but they got the job done.

Regarding the first day, I am now looking to Saturday for some good matchups with Thursday's winners.  Most notably, I am looking forward to the Murray State-Marquette matchup.  Both teams play a similar brand of ball, and this will be the real test for the Racers to see if they belong with the big boys.  I can't wait to watch that one.

Vanderbilt and Wisconsin will also be an excellent game as Wisconsin's defense will attempt to hold down the Commodores.

I will provide a recap of Friday's game at a later hour.  Let the Madness roll on.

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