Finally, Some Madness
CBS analyst Greg Anthony stars in a commercial where he rhetorically asks the audience, “Is it March monotony?” He quickly answers his own question by saying, ‘no, it’s March Madness.’
The funny thing is day one of the NCAA Tournament was rather monotonous. Other than 12 seed VCU over 5 seed Wichita State there were no upsets. VCU winning doesn’t really count as an upset anymore. The Rams have reached that Butler/Gonzaga/Xavier territory where they aren’t really seen as ‘the little guy’ anymore.
Thankfully day two more than made up for a boring day one. Things started early when Alabama had a chance to hit the first buzzer beater of the tournament. Trevor Releford’s three was partially blocked, and Creighton completed the comeback.
Fourteen seed St. Bonaventure had three seed Florida State on the ropes in a foreshadowing of things to come. The Bonnies led the Seminoles by six with twelve minutes to go. The ACC champs dug deep and were able to grind out a 66-63 victory.
Then things really started to get nutty. Fifteen seed Norfolk State showed Missouri early on they were not intimidated by the two seed. Tied 38 a piece at the half, the Spartans never faded away in the second half.
Every time the Tigers looked like they were primed to blow the game open Norfolk State was able to come up with a big bucket. The bigger Spartans were able to crush the guard-centric Tigers on the glass and create plenty of second chance opportunities. When Phil Pressey’s desperation three clanked off the back rim, the Spartans became only the fifth 15 to knock off a 2.
Then the unthinkable happened. The mighty Duke Blue Devils became the sixth 2 seed to be slayed by a 15. We knew this wasn’t an all time Duke team, but Coach K doesn’t lose first round games to inferior opponents, right?? The Lehigh Mountain Hawks were anything but inferior against the Blue Devils. C.J. McCollum dropped 30 for Lehigh, and Duke was an uncharacteristic 6-26 from behind the arc. When the final bell sounded the Mountain Hawks were 75-70 winners over the four time national champions.
Lost in the Lehigh victory was 13 seed Ohio knocking off 4 seed Michigan. The Bobcats had one of their best shooting performances of the year and were almost perfect from the line. The perimeter oriented Wolverines never figured out the Bobcats’ zone and were only 7-23 from beyond the arc.
COMPLETELY lost in the buzz of the upsets was Rick Majerus’s first NCAA Tournament victory since 2003. The former Utah coach improved to 11-1 in first round games when his St. Louis Billikens knocked off C-USA champions Memphis 61-54.
The drama continued into the night. First Four participant South Florida became the first team to win two games in this tournament. The Bulls fell behind Temple 19-8 in the first half. South Florida never panicked and ended the game on an impressive 50-25 run to advance into the round of 32.
Xavier rallied from a ten point second half deficit to knock off Notre Dame 67-63. Trailing 65-63, Notre Dame’s Eric Atkins drew a foul and trip to the line. For the second time in as many days a lane violation was called when a player came across the three point line before the ball hit the rim. This time the violation was on the offense and Atkins’ swish was negated. The Musketeers hit two free throws to ice the game.
I sincerely hope Friday’s madness continues over the next two days!