Friday, March 16, 2012

3/16: Wrapping up Day One...

Greetings everyone! If you missed it, I recapped the NBA trade deadline in a separate piece, so hit it up... Now, let's get to the events from Thursday, starting with non-tourney stuff, and then a recap of the Madness...
  • Dwight Howard is staying in Orlando. I didn't cover this in the trade deadline recap because, well, he didn't get traded, but Howard's headline is that he has "opted-in" for 2012-13 meaning that he is under contract in Orlando for next year. What does this mean? He can't sign freely this off-season, but don't think he can't/won't ask for a trade again. The circus continues.
  • Mario Williams to the Bills - $50 million guaranteed sounds pretty rich to me, and that's apparently the amount it takes to lure an all-Pro to Buffalo. I don't think the people of upstate New York will be disappointed.
  • Greg Oden released by Portland - In an effort to formerly finish the blow-up, the Blazers cut ties with Oden last night. I still feel deeply sorry for Greg, and I hope he goes to Phoenix, gets with that training staff, and averages a double-double for a decade.
To the tourney...
  • There was one tremendous game on Thursday, and it was between VCU and Wichita State. The Rams, fresh off their final 4 appearance last year, pulled the 5-12 "upset" over Wichita, who I thought was the best mid-major in the field. Bradford Burgess hit a big three with 1:33 left that I thought keyed the win, and Wichita's Garrett Stutz struggled down the stretch including the final heave at the gun. Big-ups to Shaka Smart.
  • What could have been the lead story from Thursday? Syracuse struggled mightily throughout with UNC Asheville (read my preview post for my thoughts on the matchup pre-game lol) and even trailed at the half by 4. Asheville was in this game all the way to the end, and while Syracuse pulled away, 7-point wins over 16 seeds aren't scaring anyone in the field.
  • Most impressive teams? I'm going with Gonzaga and Marquette. Gonzaga dominated from the opening bell over a normally daunting West Virginia team. They looked like the best team in the building and never trailed. Marquette got the benefit of playing a weaker (and possibly tired) BYU team, but make no mistake, that's better than a normal 14-seed, and the Eagles ran them out of the building to the tune of 88 points.
  • Colorado was 3-6 on the road in the Pac-12. Colorado beat a 6-seeded UNLV soundly on Thursday night. I'm not sure what's happened in the last 2 weeks to that team, but I was really impressed by Austin Dufault and company in this one. As someone that had UNLV headed to the Sweet 16 in his bracket, my kudos.
  • 5-12 matchups - The traditional 5-12 battles didn't disappoint as much of the day did. We covered the one "upset" earlier, but both the Long Beach/New Mexico and Harvard/Vanderbilt games were reasonably competitive. Long Beach looked like they belonged throughout and was in the game until the final minute, while Harvard competed well early before giving it away a bit with a bad 8-minute stretch mid-game.
  • I see you, Wisconsin...
  • UConn completed their dismally disappointing season by being soundly beaten by a pretty average (but veteran, at least) Iowa State team. Remember when they were #1 in the preseason by a couple of experts and outlets?
  • Baylor held off South Dakota State with an 8-point win. Perry Jones had 2 points in the game. It defies me why people think they can trust a team that a) has a best player that is fully capable of scoring 2 points in a tournament game, and b) is "coached" by Scott Drew. If I didn't love Quincy Acy, I'd kill them even more than I do. Good luck. (and now they'll look like "good Baylor" in the next 2 games, and I'll be an idiot)
  • I didn't pick New Mexico State over Indiana, but I sure wanted to. At least until I saw Tyler Zeller absolutely go to work on them. Get yours, Big Fella. I still don't believe in Indiana as a deep-run team because of the Jones injury and a reliance on the jumper, but if they pound the ball to Zeller like they did Thursday, they are in good shape against VCU and should hold serve there.
That'll do it for me... stay tuned for the full Friday preview shortly...

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