The first and second rounds came and went and basketball was consumed in a massive amount. Thinking I would enjoy the new CBS and NCAA deal which allowed me to catch at least a part of every first and second round game, I failed to spend time on school and rest purposes. It was nearly impossible to move away from the TV for four days and I remember thinking to myself after the first day, that there was no way I was going to make it through the weekend. I did thankfully make it, while catching some amazing comebacks, upsets and heart breaking games.
Let me start with the game that I cared about more than any other, and what I consider the heart-break: Michigan vs Duke. Not only being from Ann Arbor and a diehard Michigan fan, but having Duke losing to Michigan in all my brackets, I wanted this one BIG time. Similarly, watching the Fab 5 documentary and hearing Jalen Rose and Jimmy King mock Duke, I was hyped and very hopeful.
Michigan hung with Duke throughout the first half. I thought this was mainly because Duke had to switch up their lineup and was still working in Kyrie Irving. Michigan is a very small, guard oriented team and only starts one forward/center. This forced Duke to change their lineup, which usually consists of two big men on the floor at all times along with Kyle Singler at the wing. Michigan had mismatches across the board when Duke’s big were guarding the perimeter, but Coach K soon put Singler at power forward and put in Irving for Plumlee.
This lineup allowed Duke to come out fast, sparked by the shooting of Nolan Smith. Although I won’t complain too much, the refs were very friendly towards Duke. Michigan, like they have been all season, never gave up and went to a trapping 1-3-1 defense. As the 15 point lead slowly began to shrink and Tim Hardaway hit the three pointer to cut the Duke lead to one, I honestly thought Michigan was going to win this game. We all know the ending and I’m not going to rehash a sore subject, but let me just say that I would have rather Hardaway, Douglass or Novak get a three pointer for the win. The ending didn’t happen the way I would have liked, but this was still a classic NCAA tournament game.
Other Tourney Notes:
Pittsburgh: Honestly, is there a team that has worse luck in the tournament? Going against Butler this seemed like a very reasonable win. Somehow the Big East regular season champs fell because of stupidity and fouling a guy 90 feet from the basket with one second left.
Ohio State: In my eyes, OSU probably is the best team or most dominating in the country right now. Kentucky in the next round should be a really tough test, followed by a potential game of the ages against North Carolina. If OSU gets to the Final Four, I like their chances of winning it all.
Notre Dame: I predicted a sweet 16 exit for the Irish, so an early exit isn’t surprising. Notre Dame just got a horrible match up and played a Florida State team that had unbelievable size and outmatched everyone one of ND’s bigs. Pretty bad showing for the top two teams in the Big East.
SDSU: Although I am a huge Steve Fischer fan (fab 5 coach), his San Diego team is very careless. They nearly blew the Temple game because instead of putting them away for good, they made a lot of unforced mistakes. The talent is there, it’s just whether this team can play smarter against UCONN and slowdown Kemba Walker from advancing.
Florida: I wasn’t too high on this team as they play in the SEC, but so far they have looked really good. BYU is the next round matchup and I like FLA’s chances because they have more than one good player in Chandler Parsons, Kenny Boyton, and Irving Walker.
Here is a picture my dad took in Tampa of the UCLA team warming up.