by Abe Asher
Throughout Thursday and Friday, the second (first) and best round of the NCAA Tournament, I kept a running diary while watching the action. Here it is in its entirety, running in reverse chronological order. To read it in chronological order, click on read more, start at the bottom and scroll up. Enjoy!
(This story first appeared on Oregon Sports News)
10:50 PM – Providence, of course, loses to Dayton, denying me my 15-1 day. Good. Night.
8:55 PM – It’s simply not any fun, when the rabbit has the gun,” says Seth Davis, who is clearly hammered.
8:47 PM – Wow, Providence coach Ed Cooley was 357 pounds, had lap-ban surgery, and is under 230 pounds. Never would have known. Love that guy.
8:34 PM – St. John’s just so undisciplined compared to San Diego State who are so well-schooled. That coaching matchup – Fischer against Lavin – decided it.
8:09 PM – The real, authentic joy that Raftery gets each time anyone makes a good play is what makes him so special. He loves basketball and shares that love in the most entertaining, sincere way possible.
8:07 PM – So if San Diego State hangs on and Providence beats Dayton, I will have gone 15-1 and gained zero spots in my bracket pool. That’s what happens when there are zero upsets.
6:27 PM – Doug Gottlieb just asked Ian Eagle if he is a couch or sofa guy, to which Eagle emphatically replied couch, to which Gottlieb replied, “No, I think you’re more of a sofa guy, you’re just saying couch on TV.” Can’t make this stuff up.
6:17 PM – This shady drifter wants to barrow my car, says Rob Lowe. Good, Rob Lowe, let him – I HOPE YOU NEVER GET IT BACK.
6:15 PM – Iowa looks good. They’re beating Davidson by 18 – it’s been a rough road for the A10, whose last hope is Dayton against Providence tonight.
6:09 PM – TNT just ran a graphic in the Iowa – Davidson game that said, “ALL PTS SCORED BY WHITE.” I had to write this down, but can’t make a joke here because there’s no chance it wouldn’t be inappropriate.
5:59 PM – Duke looks pretty impressive right now against the caliber of team they usually lose to in the tournament, leading Robert Morris 79-52.
5:56 PM – Ducks win 79-73; they’re now 26-9 on the year. Altman – though I have absolutely not forgiven him for how he handled the sexual assault situation last spring – should be a national coach of the year candidate.
5:53 PM – Dana Altman is undefeated in the first round at Oregon, but probably just because 67% of his first round games at the school have come against Travis Ford.
5:48 PM – Long-Sleeves Afro from Oregon shoots 45% from the line. That could hold him back at the next level.
5:47 PM – Oklahoma State is actually the worst team ever. Their last two possessions with the game on the line have been a pull up 25 foot three five seconds into the shot clock, and a blocked three at the end of the shot clock. Long live Travis Ford, who remarkably managed to never win a tournament game with Marcus Smart.
5:41 PM – I love the commercial where Northwestern Mutual compares itself to John Wooden.
5:39 PM – Now OSU is back within one at 70-69 because the Ducks think basketball is more fun when they don’t play defense.
5:37 PM – Ducks on an 11-0 run. Apparently Cowboys head coach Travis Ford took a timeout and said, “somebody’s got to get out there and take a charge.”
5:31 PM – It turns out that Marv came back and he just took the game to break talking about how the Kentucky Wildcats went to the Final Four in 1993. Marv just does what he wants.
5:29 PM – Chris Webber brings the Ducks game back from break. This has to mean that Marv either took a bathroom break or said, “I’m too old for this s***” and walked out.
5:27 PM – It’s possible that we have not appreciated the Oregon player who has an afro and wears a long-sleeve black shirt under his jersey enough. Probable, since I don’t even know his name.
5:24 PM – The Ducks are up 63-62. First to 200 wins.
5:19 PM – Oregon has actively decided to stop guarding three point shooters because Oklahoma State hasn’t made any — oh wait, they’ve made like twenty threes. Terrible strategy, Ducks, terrible strategy.
5:18 PM – Oklahoma State is still in the game. Neither team can really stop the other.
5:17 PM – RENT MY CARS! would be an awesome insult.
5:15 PM – For some reason Enterprise has decided to branch out from We Hire More College Graduates Than Everyone Else with a new, bizarro ad about someone dating an Enterprise agent except it was a sham or something because the girls parents were annoying, I know, it doesn’t have to make sense, JUST RENT THEIR CARS.
5:14 PM – Joe Young > LeBron
5:09 PM – For some reason Marv is telling a story about a season some twenty years ago when Dana Altman was at Kansas State and they won a ton of close games and went 19-11.
5:06 PM – Joe Young has like 49.75 of Oregon’s 50 points. It’s looking good for the Ducks.
5:04 PM – What if Elgin Cook went to Baylor then he could have been Elgin Baylor. What a missed opportunity.
4:57 PM – I have watched about twenty basketball games over the last two days, and can count the number of mid-range jumpers I’ve seen on one hand. Plenty of threes, plenty of stuff in the paint, but no one can hit a jumper – open or not.
4:50 PM – Cadillac’s new slogan, “Dare Greatly,” is perhaps the worst writing I have ever seen in big-league advertising.
4:47 PM – Davidson’s coach is a very severe looking pasty old white man – no wonder they had such a good season, I wouldn’t want to upset him either.
4:45 PM – “The prior game that we played with UC Irvine… buildings on the front line,” says a rambling Mike Giminski, doing his best to remind you that he’s your slightly daft, hard-working uncle who was a little less successful than everyone else in his family.
4:44 PM – Doesn’t it seem like #16 seeds are disproportionately worse than #15 seeds? Robert Morris already trailing Duke by 20.
4:43 PM – Somehow I missed the hot take of all hot takes last night when John Calipari said in an interview during the Hampton game, “This isn’t Communism. If you don’t perform, I’m not going to play you.”
4:42 PM – “Charkley, Barles Charkley.”
4:41 PM – Chris Webber, talking about great players, tells us, “there always comes a point in the game where they say, it’s time.” That be a worthless comment even if it didn’t make any sense because there’s currently 2.2 seconds left in the first half.
4:40 PM – This reminds me of a fun time when Bush’s autobiography came out and I convinced my mother that he titled it, “A Failed Presidency.”
4:39 PM – I think in twenty years Travis Ford will look exactly like George W. Bush and be just as unemployed.
4:38 PM – Apparently Joseph Young’s dad was a member of Phi Slama Jama and a first round pick of the Celtics. The more you know, huh?
4:37 PM – Dana Altman is screaming and he just shook so hard that his tie flew over the shoulder, requiring Altman’s attention to dislodge it, which was a good thing because then the Ducks gave up another easy bucket.
4:34 PM – Oregon and Oklahoma State are tied at 36. Marv Albert appears to be mailing it, waiting for the PA announcer to announce who makes each basket and then repeating the name instead of identifying the players himself.
4:34 PM – Turned on Duke in time to hear Raftery say, “Pack the luggage, put the kids in the car – it’s over.” What, your marriage?
4:31 PM – Valparaiso runs the worst play ever, doesn’t even get a shot off, and Maryland wins by three. That’s been the story of almost every game today.
4:29 PM – Valpo with the ball with about fifteen seconds left, needing a three. Bryce Drew calls timeout, looking for a Bryce Drew-level shot.
4:27 PM – Maryland is almost there. Up four with a minute left, but don’t count out Valpo because tournament.
4:19 PM – The way the Ducks’ sneakers are designed makes it look like they are all wearing flip-flops or slides.
4:13 PM – Also, few basketball broadcasters are as stylistically predictable as Ian Eagle. He calls every three-pointer the exact same way. One point game in Columbus. Duke and Robert Morris have tipped too in Charlotte.
4:10 PM – I’ve never heard a game analyst disagree so emphatically with so much as Doug Gottlieb. Most analysts are vanilla and like boosting teams and coaches up, Gottlieb goes the opposite route.
4:08 PM – E. Victor Nickerson of Valparaiso has fouled out of the game. He has the best name of the day after Basel Smotherman yesterday.
4:07 PM – I love Valpo’s uniforms – clean, old-fashioned. A couple of other teams like Georgetown and Michigan State have gone that route as well.
4:05 PM – Maryland’s freshman point guard Melo Trimble is without a doubt one of the most fun players to watch in the country. I’m not sure what his NBA prospects are, but I’d want him on my team.
4:03 PM – Hello again, Maryland and Valpo are now tied at 49 coming down the stretch because tournament. Oregon – Oklahoma State has tipped off as well as we get into the afternoon games.
3:22 PM – Cool post-game interview from Pitino. He was thrilled – shows you how well UC Irvine played. Came up just short.
3:20 PM – Man, Louisville survives on a sketchy no-call on the final play. 57-55.
3:17 PM – Irvine misses a three, then commits a loose-ball foul, and Louisville drains two free throws. Irvine has the ball down two with eight seconds left.
3:14 PM – Now tied at 55 after a great shot by Blackshear. Hell of a game.
3:13 PM – Awesome running floater by a Brit puts UC Irvine up by two with 59.7 seconds to go from Seattle.
3:11 PM – Nothing is the same on offense when you have a 7’6 guy. Tied at 53 with two minutes to go.
3:06 PM – Remember when Rick Pitino told his team that he’d get a tattoo if they won the national championship and they won the national championship and Pitino got the tattoo and it was just kind of gross?
3:04 PM – Irvine leads 51-50!
3:02 PM – I wonder if Spero Dedes can find a gentler way to describe UC Irvine’s 7’6 center Mamadou N’Diaye than, “the monster”?
2:38 PM – Apparently a UC Irvine player took his history final this morning before the game. I don’t know, it’s like the NCAA wants to push the narrative of its players doing regular schoolwork?
2:36 PM – The feeling is hard to describe. But we don’t have to. (Because we have Michelob Ultra.)
2:30 PM – Wow did Bryce Drew not age how I thought he would. Also his father Homer Drew is a dead ringer for Archie Manning.
2:25 PM – Maryland out to a very fast start against Valparaiso in Columbus. That might not be a game for long.
2:20 PM – About halfway through the day, we certainly haven’t gotten the drama of yesterday. The higher seeds are mostly taking care of business.
2:19 PM – Apparently Crean yelled “You suck,” at one of the game officials at the final horn. He deserves to be fired. Virginia is going to survive Belmont, up nine now with a minute and a half to go.
2:13 PM – “Some early onions!” in the Belmont – Virginia game. Hoos by four.
2:11 PM – Tom “The Goober” Crean is absolutely freaking out on the sideline for a number of reasons, mostly because Indiana’s year-long inability to play defense is going to cost them this game in about thirty seconds.
2:10 PM – Belmont just got a steal and banked in a three, leading the kid to run down the floor screaming, “I called it!”
2:08 PM – Belmont’s coach is wearing a sweet sweater vest. I’d love to see this upset happen.
2:07 PM – Is it that Wichita State plays great offense or that Indiana cannot defend to save their lives?
2:05 PM – And while we’re at it Eastern Washington and Stephan F. Austin also won and so did Iowa State.
2:04 PM – I’d also like to mention that I’m still not over the goal-tend call in the SMU – UCLA game. It was an airball and SMU won 59-57.
2:03 PM – “You’ve gotta make your free throws – box out – play defense – don’t jump!” My dad is screaming again, I think the Indiana game has just about broken him.
2:00 PM – Indiana is now down by one because tournament.
1:59 PM – Tom Crean either looks like he’s having a heart attack, about to have a heart attack, or recovering from a heart attack.
1:58 PM – Of all places, would you ever have guessed that Belmont is in Nashville, Tennessee and is a liberal arts school?
1:50 PM – Marv Albert is perpetuating that myth that mascots aren’t supposed to talk after Chris Webber and the Shocker have an altercation. I think that’s ridiculous – I say rights for mascots everywhere!
1:48 PM – Wichita State is a damn good team. That game against Kansas on Sunday is going to be epic.
1:47 PM – “Put it back on the cows!” screams my Dad as I switch the channel from a Chick-fil-A commercial.
1:45 PM – Also Wichita’s coach doesn’t get enough credit for looking like Kevin Spacey.
1:44 PM – Does anybody ever graduate from Wichita State? I feel like I’ve been watching their white guard with the wavy hair and VanVleet in the tournament since 2008.
1:43 PM – Also, considering that UC Irvine got a huge boost when I decided not to pick them, I wouldn’t be even remotely surprised if they beat Louisville in Seattle.
1:40 PM – Buffalo loses, and the main takeaway is that Bobby Hurley is a total lunatic. Now we go to Wichita State on an 11-3 run against Indiana.
1:39 PM – The guy had only made five threes all year because he didn’t start trying until he had a chance to ruin me.
1:38 PM – West Virginia hits a dagger desperation three with the shot clock expiring.
1:37 PM – “He has a badly sprained ankle, he’s in foul trouble, he has asthma,” says Doug Gottlieb lauding the heart of a WVU player.
1:35 PM – BUFFALO MISSES A WIDE OPEN LAYUP FOR THE TIE BECAUSE I DESERVE MORE PAIN AND SUFFERING.
1:34 PM – If I told you Bobby Hurley just tripped the West Virginia point guard, punched out the head referee, and pulled his team off the floor, you wouldn’t not believe me, right?
1:32 PM – Bobby Hurley might actually go up in flames. Is this what I missed when he was playing? This is great!
1:31 PM – What’s amazing about Buffalo in this game is that they haven’t even played very well – what we haven’t seen in this tournament is an upset turn in a complete, wire-to-wire, they-deserved-that win.
1:29 PM – Three for Buffalo! Tied at 62! Timeout WVU, Bobby Hurley looks like Sam Waterston in The Newsroom after any particularly intense moment.
1:28 PM – Bob Huggins is now sitting on a stool himself. If West Virginia hit a game winner and Bob Huggins fell off of his stool, I think it wouldn’t be funny because Huggins might not survive.
1:25 PM – I might not know how to pick a bracket, but at least I’m under no illusions about it, right?
1:24 PM – Buffalo is down by four with under four to go, pulling into Gottfried Range where they will inevitably crush my soul.
1:07 PM – Is there any doubt that Bob Huggins is the worst yet most intriguing college basketball recruiter in the game? He has the charisma of a log cabin and it’s sort of fascinating.
12:46 PM – We’re sort of desperately in need of a good game. Indiana – Wichita State looks like a good bet.
12:43 PM – No one makes the word exhilarating sound less fun than Jim Nantz.
12:40 PM – Also VIRGINIA IS COLLAPSING THEY’RE LOSING 18-12 TO BELMONT even though I think they do this every year in the first round and will probably win by 15.
12:36 PM – Three of the four teams I have picked in the games going on are currently trailing. I actually haven’t had any confidence picking brackets since I was like 11.
12:35 PM – Indiana – Wichita State is a legitimately good game – Wichita plays good basketball, but the Hoosiers’ have a reservoir of athleticism and shot-making ability that is worrying.
12:16 PM – Thank god Georgia lost so we don’t have to hear anymore Charles Mann is the man puns.
12:15 PM – Am I the only one who doesn’t find this Mateen Cleaves-loves-Michigan State joke as endearingly hilarious as everyone in the Atlanta studio finds it?
12:14 PM – I just realized that Northern Iowa doesn’t have Farokhmanesh anymore and I’m kind of bummed.
12:07 PM – I have seen approximately 38 missed dunks over the last day and a half. It’s kind of awe-inspiring.
12:06 PM – Yogi’s dad is wearing red and white striped overalls to the game too. Bold fashion choice considering he’s not a 20-year old student.
12:05 PM – Lewis Johnson just reported that Yogi Ferrell credits his dad for his love of the game due to those, “late-night workouts followed by an early breakfast at the diner.”
12:01 PM – There was just a sequence in the Buffalo – West Virginia game where the Buffalo point guard flew up the court one against three and lost the ball, West Virginia missed an alley-oop dunk, Buffalo got it back and turned it over again, and West Virginia drove down and drew a blocking foul. This is the stuff I miss in the other eleven months of the year.
11:57 AM – My dad just made reference to former Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote. It’s getting good!
11:54 AM – It’s getting a little too weird for comfort in the Michigan State game. Georgia is down by three with 20.9 seconds left and the buzzer just went off for no reason.
11:37 AM – Who was the guy at Allstate who thought doing a whole range of strange commercials on sexism would be a good idea?
11:31 AM – Jesus, Buffalo cannot buy a bucket. They’re stuck on five points almost halfway through the first half, down by nine.
11:23 AM – Are we sure that Christian Laettner himself didn’t orchestrate the whole I Hate Christian Laettner campaign to launch himself back into mainstream relevancy? He now has an AT&T commercial with Shaq that he absolutely does not get without the documentary.
11:22 AM – Buffalo have had a very rough start, but at least they look athletic and skilled enough to stay in this game. Stephan F. Austin totally failed that eye test yesterday.
11:20 AM – Apparently Ron Hunter cracked his cast when he fell off his stool and now he has to have his Achilles recast. The man is literally going to be in intensive care if they beat Xavier tomorrow.
11:17 AM – Michigan State has at least three plays in every tournament game where they create a turnover by persistently fouling a big-man with no call, shoot a brick that bounces off the rim and backboard and goes in and get fouled. It’s uncanny.
11:15 AM – How the hell did someone a long long time ago not recognize that Wyoming’s yellow and brown color scheme would be a punchline for the entire country and not change the school colors to something like blue and sliver? How?
11:13 AM – Oh boy, Buffalo does not look good early.
11:11 AM – Really looking forward to Buffalo and WVU. It continues to amaze me and be the greatest thing that Bob Huggins coaches every game in a short-sleeve black windbreaker that is three sizes too big and makes it impossible to tell how fat he really is.
11:09 AM – Only Raftery could make a joke about Jim Nantz’s physique and live to see another day.
11:08 AM – Georgia has cut the Michigan State lead to two, Northern Iowa is crushing Wyoming, and Buffalo – West Virginia has tipped.
11:06 AM – Giminski adds, “The chances of two players getting mono at the same time is astronomical.” How did I miss this story!?
11:05 AM – “We heard the story about Nantz and the mononucleosis,” says Dedes. Wait, I never heard the story about Nantz and the mononucleosis.
11:03 AM – Asked about Bobby Hurley, Barkley delivers this piece of genius: “When you go to a program like Buffalo, you’re not going to Duke, North Carolina… or Cincinnati.”
11:00 AM – All Raftery wants to talk about from his appearance on The Price Is Right is the washing machine he bought for his wife. He’s the best.
10:58 AM – Congrats to Reggie Miller for being just as annoying in his Amazon Kindle ad as he is in real life. Very accurate.
10:56 AM – All three games are in commercials at the same time there should be rules against this THANKS OBAMA.
10:55 AM – “Oh my, what an adjustment by the little guy – slithering to the tin!” – Raftery. Michigan State leads by twelve, timeout Georgia.
10:50 AM – Georgia coach Mark Fox has already started making excuses as to why his team will lose to Michigan State, telling Tracy Wolfson at halftime that his team is having a hard time dealing with injuries and foul trouble.
10:48 AM – “Who said these teams can’t put up a bunch of points?” crows Dedes with the score at 9-8 Wyoming. Well, everyone said these teams couldn’t score, including Doug Gottlieb who said that this game would set basketball back 40 years.
10:43 AM – “He has done just about everything except drive the bus for Ben Jacobson and the Panthers,” says Spero Dedes. I think this announcing crew is going to be fun all day.
10:42 AM – Things we love about Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt: His last name, his yellow sweater, his awful posture.
10:41 AM – Mike Giminski is on hand for Northern Iowa – Wyoming. He notes that the game is tipping off early, and tells us that, “the warm-up is really critical.”
10:40 AM – Love that the tournament is in Seattle and Portland this year. We rock.
10:39 AM – Why is Conan being promoted this year like an Academy Award winning docu-drama?
9:57 AM – Yep, Raftery just said, “nice little show by Tum-Tum!” Georgia leads 14-12.
9:52 AM – The CBS truck, asleep at the wheel, awards five consecutive points scored by Kansas to New Mexico State, listing the score as 26-22 instead of the correct 32-16. If the truck could award points to whoever they wanted, I think we’d have even more good games.
9:50 AM – “He’s a soccer player first, he doesn’t have the best hands,” says Weber about New Mexico State’s center. It could be a long day for them.
9:47 AM – “Terrific looking STROKE, by the little guy!” – Raftery
9:42 AM – Raftery’s first words of the broadcast were, “Are you ready, kid?” to Grant Hill, who is broadcasting his first tournament game.
9:40 AM – “Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, right now, Georgia Bulldogs go… mantoman!”
9:37 AM – Things I did not see coming: Mike Golic fronting a Bass Pro Shops commercial in a fisherman’s vest.
9:35 AM – He fell out of his chair and everyone was happy.
9:29 AM – Michigan State – Georgia is coming up shortly on TruTV, which means… Bill Raftery!
9:28 AM – Why pay more for the same satellite TV? You wouldn’t, would you?
9:26 AM – Somehow Len Elmore got promoted to the number two announcing team this year with Marv Albert and Chris Webber. That is a shock.
9:24 AM – I’m up, I have made myself a chicken salad sandwich, and am ready for day two. On right now: Kansas against New Mexico State. The Jayhawks are up 11-4 early, which unfortunately suggests that their annual collapse will have to wait until Sunday.
9:22 PM – That’s all for today’s running diary. Best day of the tournament I can remember. I’ll be back tomorrow bright and early. Thanks for reading!
9:17 PM – Kenny Smith actually just said that Arkansas didn’t have any clear advantages in the game. I don’t think he actually watched.
9:12 PM – I’m so bummed about Eastern Washington’s collapse. Georgetown is on something like a 25-0 run.
9:11 PM – Mike Anderson happens to be a very suave dresser and cool customer as well. I like him.
9:10 PM – “Was the size the difference?” Aww yeah,” says the Arkansas player interviewed post-game.
9:09 PM – Arkansas hangs on after Wofford misses two good looks for the game-tying three, including the first shot which was halfway down.
9:03 PM – Still, they’ll probably find a way to lose.
9:02 PM – I don’t think Arkansas can really lose this game because they are so so much better than Wofford. They can get any basket they want in the paint with astounding ease, and Wofford doesn’t have any offense.
8:58 PM – I think that CBS thought to themselves, who can we get for our Late Late Show that will be a much less cool version of Craig Ferguson, and hired James Corden.
8:56 PM – Arkansas literally cannot go a single defensive possession without fouling or not boxing out and giving up an offensive rebound. It’s amazing.
8:52 PM – Arkansas is so bad but so much more talented than Wofford this is the perfect recipe for another nail-biter. Also Eastern Washington has collapsed, which is awful.
8:48 PM – I honestly believe that Andrew Catalon is a better basketball announcer than Jim Nantz.
8:41 PM – A guy from Arkansas threw down a monster dunk, then decided to take the possession off on defense, resulting indirectly in a three for Wofford. This game is all kinds of fun.
8:39 PM – EASTERN WASHINGTON IS COLLAPSING WHY EASTERN WASHINGTON STOP IT PLAY DEFENSE MAKE SHOTS PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
8:31 PM – Let’s not forget how epic LSU’s meltdown was – they missed their last four free-throws, and didn’t score for the last four minutes of the game.
8:27 PM – I WONDER IF GOTTFRIED IS SECRETLY CRUSHED THAT HE DIDN’T LOSE?
8:26 PM – NC STATE WINS AFTER THE WORST END-OF-GAME OFFENSIVE POSSESSION EVER ON A PUT-BACK LSU COLLAPSED THEY SCORED AN OWN-GOAL AND GOTTFRIED TRIED BUT HE COULDN’T RUIN ME THIS TIME!!!!!!!!!!
8:24 PM – This might be the most incompetently played game. LSU just scored on themselves, NC State’s guy fell over on defense, LSU missed a layup, and NC State took another timeout. Down one with the ball and 13.9 seconds left.
8:22 PM – Gottfried takes timeout, he needs to talk over his end of game strategy which will most likely include BLOWING THE GAME WITH TERRIBLE SHOT SELECTION AND OVERALL DECISION MAKING.
8:19 PM – LSU isn’t making any field goals or free throws because LSU is bad – the question is, does Gottfried want more to ruin my life again (his annual tradition) or win the game?
8:17 PM – NC State plays so dumb. It’s the hallmark of a Gottfried team.
8:16 PM – The LSU – NC State game is going to get crazy. Gottfried knows no other way and the Tigers will be more than happy to oblige.
8:13 PM – Three really close games right now. We could be in for a final flourish on opening day.
8:12 PM – Also, Eastern Washington is out to a 15-10 lead over a reliably sluggish Georgetown. This is the one I really want.
8:11 PM – Don’t scrutinize that last comparison too much, the more you think about it, the less sense it will make.
8:10 PM – NC State has pulled it back to a five point game. They’re like a compulsive gambler who almost puts his life back together but relapses every time.
8:04 PM – Georgetown star Devonte Smith-Rivera says that the Hoyas haven’t talked about or addressed their awe-inspiring ability to get upset in the first round of the tournament. I am crazy, or is not acknowledging that you always got upset maybe not the best strategy?
8:03 PM – The classic, “Defense, blah-blah, defense!” chant is the worst chant, and everyone who partakes should be thrown out of the arena.
8:02 PM – Harlan introduces Rachel Nichols as, “the award-winning Rachel Nichols.” Maybe she did win some awards, but not for this stuff.
8:01 PM – Commercials with old women seem to be in. Are old women really funny? Did I miss something?
7:59 PM – Seriously I cannot believe they’re still making Harlan work with Reggie Miller. He. Is. So. Goddamn. Annoying.
7:54 PM – Eastern Washington – Georgetown has tipped – this is my last chance to salvage a marquee win from a wild day one of the tournament.
7:52 PM – NC State decided it would be a good joke not to play any defense in their NCAA Tournament game and still tried to win. Remains to be seen whether it will be funny.
7:50 PM – Oregon tried to hire current Arkansas, then Missouri coach Mike Anderson – maybe Mizzou should take a good hard look at themselves since their last two basketball coaches left for the Razorbacks and Tulsa respectively.
7:48 PM – Wofford – Arkansas looks like a good old-fashioned 12-5 shootout – you know, everything SFA – Utah wasn’t.
7:45 PM – Texas is the first state to have five teams lose in a single day. Congrats Texas, Texas Southern, Baylor, SMU, and Stephan F. Austin – you sucked but you still made history (but actually SMU won, so this is all mute.)
7:43 PM – I hate Mark Gottfried and his sliver suit. I don’t find him even slightly good-looking. I think he’s possessed by the devil.
7:35 PM – Kentucky are in the bonus after just seven minutes of the first half.
7:34 PM – This is one of the biggest mismatches I’ve ever seen physically. Kentucky is just destroying Hampton on the boards, but the Pirates are hanging around only down two.
7:32 PM – Nike absolutely ruined Kentucky’s uniforms, which look horrible now. Strange, usually Nike is content to let Adidas ruin uniforms.
7:29 PM – Also Wofford is beating Arkansas because too many things are going right for me and I need to learn how to deal with pain and adversity.
7:25 PM – Hampton – Kentucky has started, and everyone should just think for a moment about what it would be like if Hampton actually won. It would be the greatest moment in the history of college sports, and one of the greatest moments in the history of American sports.
7:18 PM – Stephan F. Austin is going to lose, and that’s what they deserve. They were absolutely dreadful all night.
7:13 PM – Utah is up four with 30 seconds left, LSU is beating NC State by fourteen at the half, I’m like 0-5 in close games today, and nothing is going right.
7:08 PM – Stephan F. Austin banks in a three to make it a one possession game because THEY ARE CLEARLY TOYING WITH MY MIND.
7:06 PM – NC State is losing by 11… WHY DID I PICK MARK GOTTFRIED AGAIN I SHOULD BE HANGED WHY WHY WHY????????
7:04 PM – SFA is just keeping this game close enough to toy with my mind and imagine the glory of a correctly called upset that surely isn’t coming.
7:03 PM – “People around the water cooler will be talking about Jakob Poeltl tomorrow,” Miller says. But actually no one will be talking about Jakob Poeltl.
7:02 PM – Utah plays good defense, but just the fact that Stephan F. Austin haven’t made any shots and are still in this game speaks to limited the Utes are. This is the weakest part of the field with the Eastern Washington – Georgetown the other game.
7:01 PM – Somehow SFA are only down four with the ball with 3:31 left. It’s like there can’t be a single bad game.
6:55 PM – Stephan F. Austin is pretty much a disaster. I’m disappointed in them.
6:49 PM – Also I hadn’t noticed but we’re well into the first half of NC State – LSU and Mark Gottfried is clearly already plotting a clever way to ruin my life.
6:48 PM – It was an incredible shot by Caulpain of the Bearcats to force overtime, but Purdue completely blew it in the last minute of regulation. Meanwhile, Stephan F., despite shooting only 39% to Utah’s 55%, are only down six.
6:45 PM – The front end of the 1 and 1 is missed, but Purdue misses a three at the buzzer and loses by one.
6:44 PM – Cincinnati going to the line with 5.6 left. This is probably the best-worst 8/9 game ever.
6:42 PM – Purdue gets two with just under seven seconds left. Anything could happen.
6:40 PM – Purdue are now down three with the ball and 21.8 seconds left. Stephan F. Austin are now trailing by ten against Utah, which is extremely aggravating.
6:39 PM – This Purdue – Bearcats game is nuts. I take back everything negative I said about it. Maybe.
6:38 PM – I’m thinking that if Raftery were with Verne today there would have been at least two onions calls and his reaction to the SMU-UCLA debacle would have been priceless.
6:37 PM – There have been fourteen lead changes in the Purdue – Cincy game. Currently 64-63 Bearcats.
6:36 PM – The chemistry in the Harlan-Miller-Bonner booth is fascinatingly horrible.
6:34 PM – Maybe Purdue just thought it would be fun to try out an overtime game and now that it’s in overtime they’ll really try to win.
6:31 PM – A Utah player just got rim-checked on a wide open dunk. Harlan lets him down easy, saying, “it’s getting rugged.”
6:30 PM – Incredible shot by the Cincy player. What. A. Tournament.
6:29 PM – Bearcats drive down and hit a lay-up that spun around and in to send the game to overtime. Awesome call by Verne – this game’s score at the end of regulation was 59-59!
6:27 PM – Somehow the Carolina – Harvard game ended before the Purdue – Cincy game because Purdue simply refuses to win. They’re up two now with 7.4 seconds left. The Bearcats have the ball, and they’ll have a shot at the tie or win.
6:26 PM – Harvard misses a three for the win at the buzzer. North Carolina survives.
6:25 PM – Meanwhile Carolina gets a fast-break dunk, Harvard misses a three and commits a foul. One and one for the Heels.
6:24 PM – And they threw it out of bounds. How fitting. Both teams need two more points for 60-59.
6:24 PM – Oh Jesus, Cincy’s only down one and they have the ball.
6:23 PM – Timeout Harvard. Andrew Catalon and Steve Lapas, despite being the #8 crew, are doing a fantastic job on the call just as they did on the Georgia State – Baylor game.
6:22 PM – Chambers of Harvard completes the four-point play. Harvard leads for the first time, then Carolina answers. It’s tied at 65.
6:22 PM – HARVARD HITS A THREE AND GETS FOULED CAROLINA IS COLLAPSING THEY HAVE COLLAPSED WOW WOW WOW.
6:19 PM – 63-61 Carolina. Two and a half to go.
6:15 PM – Purdue is going to win. Now let’s see if CAROLINA COMPLETES THEIR TOTAL COLLAPSE.
6:14 PM – Three point game in Jacksonville. Suddenly a sell-out crowd showed up with everyone pulling for the Crimson.
6:13 PM – Three from the parking lot puts Purdue up five. The B1G is looking pretty good today.
6:12 PM – Lundquist just made another joke about the goaltending call in the SMU-UCLA game. He’s making me feel better.
6:10 PM – A closer look reveals that NORTH CAROLINA IS COLLAPSING which Roy Williams deserves because he’s probably just as big a cheater as Boeheim.
6:08 PM – It’s now 51-49 Boilermakers with just over two minutes to go. Harvard has cut Carolina’s lead to seven in ……….Jacksonville…….
6:04 PM – “Do you always get close games like this?” Spanarkel asks Verne, who launches into a story about calling a Duke – Florida A&M game with Al McGuire that Duke won by 48 points that ends with everyone around the world laughing because Verne is the best and this game will also finish 60-59 like the two other games he called today.
6:03 PM – “That’s an are-you-kidding me shot,” Lundquist says as the Bearcats forward throws one over his head while falling away from the basket.
6:02 PM – The idea is that the finish of Purdue-Cincy will pay off everyone who stayed awake for the first 38 minutes of the game.
5:59 PM – He coached the game in a t-shirt, his kid hit the game-winner, he fell off his chair, he called out Obama, and HE IS NOT DONE YET!
5:57 PM – The Purdue center just got hit in the head with the ball as he was running down the lane not looking for the pass. Could be the defining moment of this game spiritually.
5:55 PM – “Basel Smotherman,” says Lundquist. Te-he-he-he-he.
5:51 PM – “It’s the preverbal, in that case, eight-point play,” says Krystowiak, not making any sense. 26-19 Utah at the break in that one.
5:49 PM – SFA has no points in the paint with just over a minute to go in the first half. They haven’t scored in seven plus minutes, and are on pace for 30 points.
5:47 PM – Stephan F. Austin’s offense looks horrifyingly bad, which is not exactly what I had in mind when I put them in my Sweet 16.
5:40 PM – Yes, Kevin Harlan just screamed, “I LOVE BISON NACHOS,” and then moved on like nothing happened. I rewound it just to make sure.
5:37 PM – Utah is now up six on SFA. I’m getting frustrated.
5:33 PM – Villanova is now up 84-39. Meanwhile, Ellis has been ejected from the game and is now sobbing. What a disaster. That’s no good for the Bearcats.
5:32 PM – Ah, this is the same player who was dismissed… after an incident… in a bar… and let back into the school after two years at community college!
5:31 PM – Octavius Ellis of the Bearcats smashes a Purdue player in the face, drawing a flagrent. “He’s had anger issues he whole career!” huffs Verne.
5:29 PM – Lundquist just remains such an enjoyable listen. Jiving nicely with Spanarkel too.
5:26 PM – Telling the life story of a Cinncinati player, things take a turn when Lundquist announces that the young man, “was dismissed from the team… after an incident… in a bar…”
5:23 PM – After Stephan F. Austin banks in a three, Miller cackles that banked threes, “count in Vegas now.” Harlan responds that they, “count here and in Vegas and everywhere in between.”
5:23 PM – Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak is simply a tall man who does not look good in a suit.
5:22 PM – Villanova is up by 39 points. But god, those Patriot League teams just terrify Jay Wright.
5:19 PM – My dream scenario is Dan Bonner driving a spear through Reggie Miller’s temple with Kevin Harlan sitting next to them screaming his signature, “Right between the eyes!”
5:16 PM – Barkley is talking about his Final Four and screaming about how “I keep telling America that the Wildcats are going to win the championship, but it’s going to be the Arizona Wildcats not the Kentucky Wildcats!” not realizing that another one of his four, Villanova, are also the Wildcats. He should have picked the Davidson Wildcats too just to make it a clean Wildcat sweep.
5:13 PM – Thank god, the Stephan F. Austin – Utah game has tipped. I have SFA in this game, because the Pac 12 is terrible – as evidenced by UCLA’s close loss earlier today.
5:12 PM – After the two biggest wins of his career, Ron Hunter tore his Achilles and fell out of his chair. The man cannot stop partying.
5:11 PM – Greg Gumbel says, “Now for another upset,” but I don’t get it because SMU was favored and they won 59-57.
5:10 PM – Charles Barkley just pronounced March Madness, “Martch Mablah.” So happy he’s back this year.
5:07 PM – “If you look at the statistical categories, there’s not gonna be one area where one is dominating it,” Kenny Smith says breaking down the Purdue game.
5:04 PM – I don’t get paid for this, Jim Spanarkel, however, does.
5:02 PM – Allie LaForce asks Purdue coach Matt Painter about 26 of the Boilermakers’ 29 points at the half being in the paint. Gee, maybe it’s because his name is Matt PAINTer.
4:56 PM – I actually think CBS cut to the Everette Stephens shot while the game was going on. Can’t say I blame them.
4:55 PM – “That lady has no sense of drama. She’s blocking our shot of Everette Stephens,” Lundquist says incredulously.
4:54 PM – We’re finally in a bit of a lull. Purdue-Cincy is close but so unwatchable that Spanarkel made a Somtherman Smothers pun and Lundquist said, “we’ll try to come back after the break,” while UNC and ‘Nova are both winning in landslides.
4:53 PM – It’s not easy being a small business owner. Carly needed some help along the way. And patronize UPS, for some reason.
4:52 PM – Every time Verne says, “Basel Smotherman,” the human race wins.
4:50 PM – The Bearcats point guard just missed a jumper which was rebounded by a Bearcats forward who traveled under no pressure. Lundquist’s call was, “Umm, no.”
4:47 PM – Cincinnati’s official Twitter account just tweeted that, “the offenses have cooled down.” Hmmm, really?
4:45 PM – Tommy Amaker takes timeout with Harvard down 19-7 to North Carolina. Harvard has to be the least likable Cinderella ever, right?
4:42 PM – What was not adorable was the goaltending call in the —- ah, whatever.
4:41 PM – Boy, this Purdue-Cincy game is ugly. Lundquist and Spanarkel are entertaining themselves by reciting the goaltending rule in unison, which is kind of adorable.
4:40 PM – Ah, the first belly laugh from Verne Lundquist. It’s not the same listening to him without Bill Raftery, but Jim Spanarkel is as good a replacement as any.
4:35 PM – Check that, the arena is more than half empty…
4:32 PM – Why the hell is the tournament in Jacksonville??? The arena is half empty for the start UNC-Harvard, will continue to be half empty because Jacksonville is the worst sports town and probably the worst town period.
4:30 PM – Adidas have dressed Cincy up in those jerseys with sleeves. That is the reason that they will lose by five to a mediocre Purdue team when this game goes final in an hour and a half.
4:27 PM – Ron Hunter’s reaction at the final buzzer might have been even better than when he fell of his chair. Head in hands, huge smile, disbelief. Awesome.
4:22 PM – Final: Ohio State 75, VCU 72. The Buckeyes are basically the same team as Texas, their fates were just the difference between Thad Motta and Rick Barnes.
4:19 PM – VCU got a good look from three, but its missed and Russell is at the line with five seconds left needing just one make to put it away.
4:18 PM – Is it hard to spell Cincinnati? Or am I just a bad speller?
4:17 PM – 22.5 seconds left to go, VCU with the ball down 73-70. Purdue – Cincinnati has tipped – expect that game to finish 60-59, as both of the games in Pittsburgh did this morning.
4:15 PM – Russell executes the best behind-the-back move ever, is so hyped that he bangs his jumper off the backboard. Ohio State still with the ball, up three, timeout.
4:14 PM – VCU’s decision to double-team Russell has loosened up Ohio State’s offense. Shaka is starting to squirm in his peach shirt.
4:13 PM – Bullseye three for Bates-Diop! Buckeyes by three!
4:12 PM – Dan Bonner, realizing that he might not have the chance to say Mo Alie-Cox for a while, reminds us that Mo Alie-Cox has fouled out of the game.
4:11 PM – Double foul on a box out fouls out Jae’Sean Tate of Ohio State. Yep, it’s spelled Jae’Sean.
4:07 PM – This is a helluva game. Still tied at the first timeout in overtime.
4:06 PM – Reggie Miller is still complimenting Smart’s decision not to call timeout on the last possession, when obviously he would have called timeout in hindsight because VCU never got a good look and missed its shot.
4:04 PM – “Sounds great, but what’s your angle,” he said with a crooked brow and a twinkle in his eye.
4:03 PM – Both teams miss their final shots, and we go to overtime. Really well defended all around.
4:02 PM – VCU misses a three, Ohio State calls timeout with 47 seconds left. I wonder who the ball is going to?
4:00 PM – Back-to-back three pointers from Johnson of VCU, followed by a monster dunk from Ohio State ties the game at 66 with 1:15 to go.
3:58 PM – Villanova has raced out to an 11-2 lead on Lafayette. The funniest moment from yesterday’s press conferences was when Jay Wright said that the only thing he was hoping for was to avoid a Patriot League team, and that a Patriot League team should never be a 16 seed because Lehigh beat Duke three years ago.
3:56 PM – It’s not all the camo and the guys from Duck Dynasty that are turning me off to Xaxby’s, it’s actually the crinkle fries that are only ever found in the frozen isle at the grocery store.
3:55 PM – Mo Alie-Cox has fouled out! I’m feeling good about this one!
3:54 PM – Russell, not missing a beat, drills a three. Could he possibly also beat Arizona by himself?
3:53 PM – VCU’s best player is a dead ringer for Keyon Dooling. They also have a big man who I believe is named Mo Alie-Cox. This is the info you need to know.
3:51 PM – The game is at a standstill as the referees look at the elbow and Russell is tended to. “If you want to close it in a hurry, you put duct tape on it. That looks like electrical tape,” Harlan says, showing that he’s also a tape genius as well as a play-by-play savant.
3:48 PM – Reggie Miller is breaking down the elbow incident by basically saying that he didn’t throw the elbow intentionally which means he shouldn’t be penalized, but it should be a flagrant one because he elbowed him in the face
3:47 PM – Russell gets elbowed in the eye contesting a fast-break layup, blood is now gushing down his face. This tournament is off the charts.
3:46 PM – I’m becoming more and more confident that these officials are going to blow this OSU-VCU game.
3:45 PM – Terrible charge call negates an awesome and-one by Russell for Ohio State. He’s probably been the most impressive player today. Tied at 58 in Portland.
3:43 PM – Can you imagine if RJ Hunter had missed that shot and Georgia State had lost and Ron Hunter had fallen out of his chair? It would have been too sad to be funny, and that would have been the greatest tragedy of all.
3:42 PM – Ohio State – VCU is now 58-57 with under seven minutes to go. But I can’t stop watching vines of Ron Hunter falling out of his chair. He fell out of his chair!!!!!!!
3:40 PM – Ron Hunter is going to be in a coma by the Kentucky game. This is going to be the most epic 30 for 30 ever.
3:38 PM – Great call of that GSU shot by Andrew Catalon, but I also loved Steve Lapas on color freaking out that Georgia State wasn’t driving to the basket down two. He literally screamed, “What are they doing!?!?” two seconds before he hit the shot.
3:37 PM – Crippled Georgia State coach Ron Hunter coached the game in a t-shirt. He is an American hero. He is the only American hero. He is the only American.
3:33 PM – Two games have finished 60-59 today, another was decided by one point, and for the first time since 1995, two #14 seeds won. In one morning. If you don’t love this tournament, you’re dead.
3:33 PM – “You decide the games you want to watch, and these are just some of the featured matchups,” says Harlan as a schedule of every single upcoming game is shown on screen.
3:32 PM – It’s going to be really great when Georgia State beats Kentucky in the Final Four.
3:31 PM – Xavier has finished smashing Ole Miss. They should enjoy it before Georgia State beats their brains in on Saturday.
3:29 PM – Shaka Smart is wearing a hideous peach-colored shirt because he’s Shaka Smart and he can.
3:27 PM – I think we’re appreciating the magnitude of Baylor’s collapse, but UCLA went scoreless for almost eight minutes in the second half and won on a goaltending call on an airball that was only set up by an SMU player panicking and throwing the ball away just before he was about to be fouled.
3:25 PM – Kevin Harlan just said, “It’s going in high and hot and if you’re going to go in high you have to go in hot – Buckeyes win, err, lead, by two.” Even when Kevin Harlan is high he’s CBS’ best announcer.
3:23 PM – Reggie Miller is still employed and he’s calling Ohio State star D’Angelo Russell “Plastic Man.” This Bucks-VCU game is shaping up to be another barnburner.
3:20 PM – It’s possible that we don’t appreciate that Xavier’s name is the Musketeers enough. That’s just a brilliant mascot.
3:18 PM – I love how TruTV tries to reinvent itself each March during the first weekend of the tournament. I feel like I’ve been seeing these “Discover the new TruTV!” ads every year for the last five years.
3:16 PM – Would it be too extreme to change everyone’s pick in my bracket pool to SMU because UCLA ACTUALLY LOST THE GAME 59-57 and no one who picked UCLA should get any points?
3:13 PM – Rick Barnes might have ended Worst Coach in the Tournament running early. The Longhorns looked like they’d never seen a zone when Butler ran one in the second half.
3:12 PM – The only predictable thing that happened was Butler beating Texas 56-48, because Butler is made to win important games 56-48 and Texas is programmed to lose them.
3:10 PM – I’ll tell you who looks really dumb right now: It’s the experts who derided this year’s field as weak and said that it was just going to be a year for the favorites. Those guys are just lazy and have no clue.
3:04 PM – Thoughts from the morning games, ranked in order of importance.
1. GEORGIA STATE, THE GREAT AMERICAN TEAM!!!!! (To recap: They won their conference championship 38-36 in the worst basketball game ever, in the post-game celebration, the coach tore his Achilles when he got tackled by his son who is also the star player. This morning, that son scored twelve of the last thirteen points as Georgia State beat Baylor, including the game-winning three from like 79 feet which caused his dad, the coach, to fall off his chair.)
2. Iowa State played that joke where they trail lesser teams at halftime and down the stretch one too many times and it stopped being funny.
3. Larry Brown dresses really really well in the latest fashions for a man in his 70s.
4. SMU got absolutely screwed when the officials called a goal-tend on a UCLA three-pointer that was GOING TO BE AN AIRBALL to win the game.
5. How the hell did UAB pull a major upset shooting 34% from the field and not making any three-pointers? The Cyclones played outrageously badly.
8:41 AM – Is it a good thing that I have the same Final Four as a coach who thought it would be a wise career move to leave Marquette for Virginia Tech? Perhaps not.
8:25 AM – Before the games tip off in about an hour, there is a few important things to to keep in mind.
1. Buzz Williams just picked the same Final Four as I did on TruTV. Buzz and I are in this together.
2. No, no one is going to miss Jim Boeheim and his khakis this year.
3. But can you imagine the conversation that took place between Boeheim and the higher ups at Syracuse this week? The chancellor probably told Boeheim that he needed to retire, and Boeheim probably said, “Sure, I will retire………….IN THREE YEARS!!!!!!” before falling to the floor laughing.