Saturday, March 23, 2013

3/23: Friday Wrap/Saturday Preview, etc.

Greetings! Before we get going, I'm going to do some shameless self-promotion and let you know that I wrapped up the late games over at Fansided, and I am on duty with the Fansided front-page on Saturday covering the tourney. Let's go!
  • The big story of Friday night was the work of #15 seed Florida Gulf Coast in blasting through #2 Georgetown. Anyone who reads me consistently knows of my hatred for John Thompson III, but not even I saw this one coming. FGCU scored 54 second-half points to extend their half-time lead, and finish with a 10-point upset win. This was the most lopsided 15/2 upset I can ever remember, and they were flat-out the better team. I've always thought that it was inexplicable to run the Princeton offense with upper-echelon talent, and that was proven out here. 
  • There were more "mid-tier" upsets on Friday as well. #5-seed Wisconsin fell in a heap at the hands of Ole Miss by a 57-46 score. The Badgers simply couldn't score, as they finished the game shooting just 25% from the field, and Marshall Henderson took the game over late (after a dreadful start) to put it away for the Rebels. #4-seed Kansas State also lost, as they allowed play-in game winner La Salle to grab an 18-point half-time lead, and while the Wildcats made a big late push, it wasn't enough. 
  • There was a huge non-upset later in the night, as #1 Kansas narrowly avoided a history-making loss to #16 Western Kentucky. The Jayhawks trailed at the half, and led by a tiny margin into the final minutes of the game, before finishing with a 64-57 victory. I can't fathom some of the decision-making that I saw late in the game (cough, Elijah Johnson) from Kansas, and if they don't get it corrected, they're going home in short order. 
  • Minnesota and Iowa State scored convincing victories as lower seeds. The Gophers blitzed UCLA 83-63 behind some stellar defense, and a 28-point game from Andre Hollins. Technically, Minnesota was the Vegas favorite, but a 20-point margin was unexpected. Iowa State took care of business in a big way as well. The Cyclones caused 17 turnovers, and generally lambasted Notre Dame for their own mild upset. 
  • San Diego State avenged the entire Mountain West with a 70-55 win over Oklahoma. I'll say this (again), but I have no earthly idea how Oklahoma was in the field. With that said, SDSU looked really good and that league needed a win. 
Non-tourney stuff... 
  • The Miami Heat ran their win streak to 25 games with a 103-89 win over Detroit. Lebron led the way with 29 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists for Miami, but they had to overcome a mild 1st-half deficit in the win. 25 wins in a row is pure insanity, and with every win, it becomes crazier. 
  • NBA Round-up - Atlanta dropped an inexplicable home game to Portland by a 104-93 margin. Portland entered the game 10-25 away from the Rose Garden, but they got 28 points from Wes Matthews and a 20/13 from LaMarcus Aldridge to beat Atlanta. For the Hawks, it was an ugly shooting night for Josh Smith (9-21) and Al Horford (7-18), but it was the defense allowing 55% shooting that did them in. New York clinched a playoff spot with a 99-94 road win in Toronto. Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points in the win for the Knicks. Houston absolutely destroyed Cleveland 116-78, led by James Harden's 20 points. Tony Parker returned to action for San Antonio, and subsequently led the Spurs in scoring with 22 points in their 104-97 win over Utah. And finally, the Lakers suffered a bad home loss with a 103-100 defeat at the hands of the Wizards. John Wall was insanely good with 24 points and 16 assists, but LA did themselves no favors with 17 turnovers in the loss. 
  • The Arizona Diamondbacks lost their opening day CF Adam Eaton for up to 2 months with an elbow injury. Eaton had become a major fantasy sleeper this season as a 30-steal candidate, but he leaves a bit of a hole in center for Arizona. I would assume that Gerardo Parra gets the nod in CF, but he's never done it over a full season and there's some cause for concern there. 
What to watch for on Saturday...
  • 12:15 - #5 VCU vs. #4 Michigan (CBS) - This is going to be a casual fan's dream. Two uptempo teams, two exciting offenses, and a lot of points. I think Michigan wins the game because of their guard play, but if VCU can get some turnovers and combine that with another subpar effort from Trey Burke, they can win. 
  • 2:45 - #6 Memphis vs. #3 Michigan State (CBS) - A lot of stuff from the state of Michigan in the early going! I think Sparty will cruise here, as I don't value Memphis very highly, and their best trait (athleticism) is mitigated by the size/toughness of the Izzo-led Spartans. 
  • 5:15 - #8 Colorado State vs. #1 Louisville (CBS) - This is the best bet for a blow-out on Saturday. CSU can play, but they don't have the talent level across the board that Louisville does. 
  • 6:10 - #14 Harvard vs. #6 Arizona (TNT) - Harvard can absolutely win this game. Arizona is a quality team, but they aren't any better than New Mexico, and if Harvard can shoot like they did on Thursday, they'll be in this one 'til the end. I'd pick 'Zona, but it'll be tight. 
  • 7:10 - #12 Oregon vs. #4 St. Louis (TBS) - Oregon is not your typical #12, so go ahead and ignore that. St. Louis is a favorite of mine, and I'm picking them because they do all of the little things, they rebound, and they're physical.
  • 7:45 - #6 Butler vs. #3 Marquette (CBS) - Butler is around (again), and they're squaring off against Marquette, who escaped by the skin of their teeth on Thursday. With that said, Marquette is still the better team for me, and Butler's magic runs out here. 
  • 8:40 - #9 Wichita State vs. #1 Gonzaga (TNT) - Don't worry, folks, I'm still on the Zags. Their bracket has really opened up with the upsets of Wisconsin and K-State, and they're still better than Wichita. 
  • 9:40 - #12 California vs. #4 Syracuse (TBS) - For as good as Syracuse looked in destroying Montana, they've looked really, really bad at times this year (think 2nd half of Big East title game), and Cal is capable of winning this game outright. 

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