2016 NCAA Tournament Running Diary

by Abe Asher

SWEET SIXTEEN — THURSDAY

9:14 PM: Party like it’s 1939! Goodnight, everyone.

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9:13 PM: Verne spots an Oregon flag.”See that Oregon flag? I’ve seen it around the world. We’ll tell that story on Saturday.” I, for one, can’t wait.

9:09 PM: Oregon wins 82-68, is going to win the national championship.

9:12 PM: Allen refuses to shake hands with the Ducks he leaves the floor. Stay classy, Duke.

9:10 PM: Grayson Allen just sprints into the biggest person on the floor and gets the call. That’s completely ridiculous, and he should be suspended for several years.

9:08 PM: Spanarkel calls Dan Fouts a “big guy.” C’mon, Jim.

9:07 PM: The Ricky Gervais commercial for Verizon in which Kansas is discussed at length is the best thing on TV right now.

9:04 PM: This new rule where the coach can’t call timeouts during play is bizarre. What’s the rationale?

9:03 PM: On the docket tomorrow:

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8:58 PM: Sixteen, by the way, was the margin that Kansas won by. It was also the number of teams left in the tournament before Miami/Texas A&M/Maryland inserted themselves into a paper shredder.

8:58 PM: Ducks by sixteen after another three.

8:57 PM: Spanarkel says that Oregon is an interesting team because, “they can run the ball up the floor, but they’re patient with it at the offensive end.” Whatever floats your boat, Jim.

8:56 PM: But Benjamin Lincoln??

8:56 PM: Well, not Abraham Lincoln.

8:55 PM: Actually, forget Lincoln.

8:54 PM: I like that one of Oregon’s best players is named Benson. I’d like it if Grant, Cleveland, Lincoln, and Franklin joined him in the starting lineup.

8:52 PM: Despite being situated indoors in Anaheim, Jim Spanarkel’s nose is still Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer red.

8:49 PM: Think the country is going to see this score and finally figure out that Oregon is for real? Even with a pasting of Duke, my guess is that the Ducks are still underdogs against Oklahoma.

8:46 PM: Grayson Allen is tripped! The irony does not escape a chuckling Verne Lundquist.

8:44 PM: Ducks out to a twelve point lead on a Duke team that looks like it’s running out of gas.

8:43 PM: Kansas started scoring again. Maryland did not. The Jayhawks are on their way to the Elite Eight, and are still the team to beat in the tournament — but Villanova will give them a game on Saturday.

8:15 PM: Nantz tries an impromptu poem on Kansas’ Perry Ellis, but runs out of steam: “The balance, always there. The grace… He’s going to the line.”

8:13 PM: Neither team in this game has scored for several hours now, I’m not sure what happened but I’d like it to stop.

8:12 PM: Nantz reveals that the man who coined “A tradition unlike any other” for CBS also came up with “One Shining Moment.” Now there’s a legacy.

8:11 PM: I think Maryland has a player named Tchaikovsky. Which is awesome.

8:02 PM: Kansas has its largest lead, up seven on Maryland.

8:00 PM: It’s a little bit unreal that Dana Altman is coaching the Oregon Ducks, but, wow did the school stumble into a brilliant hire when they nabbed him six years ago.

7:59 PM: Oregon finishes the half strong, and leads 36-31.

7:57 PM: “His latest endeavor involves a line of loungewear called Kato Potato, which has pockets for a bag of Doritos and your remote control.”

7:53 PM: Grayson Allen flops, gets the call, and ignores a high-five from Coach K. This man is out of control.

7:51 PM: Pace has slowed a bit. Ducks by two at the under-four timeout.

7:50 PM: With Caruso out of the tournament, Duke’s Luke Kennard becomes the big hope for the receding hairline club.

7:48 PM: Phil Knight is drinking about a gallon of 7 Up.

7:47 PM: But, who better to point out all the standard features?

7:41 PM: #purdue

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7:39 PM: Duke takes the lead and Dana Altman takes a timeout. Both these games appear set to make up in drama what the first two games lacked.

7:38 PM: “Almost like a soccer entry pass,” says Spanarkel of a regular entry pass. He clearly has never seen a soccer game in his life.

7:37 PM: Goodness can the Ducks shoot! Blue Devils hanging with them though, down by just three.

7:36 PM: “Duke has just unraveled 17 points,” says Verne, as if they scored them all at once/opened them as a Christmas present.

7:35 PM: Then again…

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7:34 PM: Mark Turgeon’s striking resemblance to Martin O’Malley just can’t be a good sign for the Terps.

7:32 PM: Settling back in. Maryland has really shown up for what feels like the first time in months, but they trail Kansas by two at the half. Oregon out in front of Duke, with Marshall Plumlee in foul trouble.

6:46 PM: Melo Tremble is so much fun to watch. Surprised his star hasn’t really taken off — speaks to some of the problems the Terps have had this year.

6:41 PM: “Jim Nantz. Grant Hill! Right now, the Terrapins in the… mantoman!”

6:40 PM: Maryland time.

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6:38 PM: Over. The Sooners march to the Elite Eight with a 77-63 win over the Aggies.

6:37 PM: I mean, has there ever been a less attractive Cinderella than Syracuse this year?

6:35 PM: Plus we’ve got Duke, Syracuse, and Maryland still around against the seeding odds to go with Kansas and Carolina.

6:30 PM: Not going to happen for A&M. Interesting thing about this tournament — for all its drama, the favorites have barely been touched outside of Michigan State. Xavier was the next highest seed to lose, and no one was paying them much attention anyway.

5:54 PM: But even I could have told you that ‘Nova was going to win if they shot over 65% from three.

5:53 PM: Raftery on Massimino: “This is the longest he [ever] goes without pasta — when he’s watching a basketball game.” Villanova leads 78-61. Miami is done.

5:51 PM: For what it’s worth — and OU is much better than either of the teams they played in the first round — Texas A&M trailed early to Green Bay as well as late to Northern Iowa.

5:50 PM: Aggies come out on a nice little run to start the second half. Lon Kruger takes time. You never know with this team.

5:49 PM: Spanarkel notes that Billy Kennedy has made the same series of adjustments three games in a row. At this point, that’s concerning.

5:47 PM: Good tweet, Villanova MMB.

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5:43 PM: The Wildcats look like a team of destiny right now — eager to avenge that loss to NC State last year, smarter, better defensively, and finally shooting well.

5:38 PM: Villanova has never trailed. I am now of the opinion that you’re basically doomed if you don’t score first points of the game.

5:35 PM: Miami trails by ten at the under-12 timeout. It looks like another two of my eight are going down here.

5:33 PM: The more I read about this school, the more it sounds like a  Ponzi scheme. They play in a conference called “The Sun.”

5:32 PM: Holy Jesus, Rollie Massimino is still coaching! At Keiser University in Palm Beach, whatever that is!

5:31 PM: Rollie Massimino is in the house! Long live Rollie Massimino!

5:30 PM: Maybe Dave from the AT&T commercial should fix his tie, this has been going on for a week now.

5:28 PM: Seriously, how is anyone supposed to pick this tournament if Virginia’s annual 54-49 loss to to an average Midwestern team isn’t on the cards?

5:27 PM: None of Villanova/Indiana/Virginia has or shows any sign of impending collapse, what is real anymore.

5:26 PM: Probably not enough to feel safe against A&M, though.

5:25 PM: Oklahoma executes a possession in which the entry pass is deflected, the big guy grabs it and throws it off the backboard, and a guard scoops it and flips it in from his hip as the shot-clock expires. They lead by 54 points.

5:24 PM: Texas A&M has absolutely tanked it, now trails by 19.

5:01 PM: Verne is eating the name Trocha-Morelos like it’s a burrito.

4:55 PM: Halftime from Louisville: Villanova leads Miami 43-37. Jay Wright is doing a terrible job pretending he doesn’t love where his team is right now in the sideline interview.

4:54 PM: Thinking about money…

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4:51 PM: This seems like as a good a time as any to drop this gem in here.

4:50 PM: Nantz is thrilled that 2013 Final Four star Luke Hancock is now a financial advisor. “Living the good life! Managing money!”

4:46 PM: Good battle between ‘Nova and Miami. Raftery takes it to break with, “A little lingere on the deck! Heart — you gotta have it!”

4:44 PM: “Surrounded by Hurricanes!” squeals Jim Nantz about a cornered Villanova player. Sounds terrible!

4:42 PM: A&M’s balding captain Alex Caruso picks off a swing pass and scores on the other end. Nothing not to like there.

4:40 PM: The TV team discusses A&M’s incredible win over Northern Iowa in the second round. “The greatest comeback in the history of college basketball,” gushes Verne. “They got a bunch of good bounces,” muses his partner Jim Spanarkel.

4:39 PM: Miami goes on a 9-0 run! Jay Wright takes timeout. Oklahoma-Texas A&M about to tip from Anaheim on TBS.

4:39 PM: With ‘Nova 7 for their last 7, Grant Hill chimes in, “Miami, now, they’ve got to get some stops.”

4:37 PM: On right now: Villanova pasting Miami. They lead by fifteen midway through the first half.

4:36 PM: The running diary is going where it has never gone before — the Sweet Sixteen. Hey, if Tom Crean can make it, so can we.

FIRST ROUND — FRIDAY

9:52 PM: Goodnight.

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9:51 PM: Shaka’s reaction was everything: Amazement, disbelief, agony — written all over his face in span of about three seconds.

9:45 PM: One Shining Moment is going to have to be about six minutes long this year. What a day!

9:39 PM: The buzzer beating half-court three and buzzer beating dunk that didn’t count by .000001 of a second came just 3:26 apart.

9:36 PM: I mean really.

9:27 PM: /dead

9:26 PM: AND PHIL MARTELLI IS PIPING HOT. HE IS ABSOLUTELY IRATE. “I’M DELIGHTED TO COACH THEM ONE MORE DAY,” HE HOLLERS AT THE SIDELINE REPORTER.

9:25 PM: IT’S RULED NO GOOD! So Cincinnati’s season ends with the UConn three-quarters court shot in the American Tournament and this in the NCAA Tournament. Goodness.

9:23 PM: St. Joe’s, down by one, hit a three to take the lead with about eight seconds left, Cincinnati went down and got a game-tying dunk at the gun but now it’s being reviewed!

9:22 PM: HELLO WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN ST. JOE’S – CINNCINATI?

9:20 PM: Why is it that every college player can make a half-court shot, but no one can make a midrange jumper?

9:19 PM: so northern iowa banks in a half-court shot for the win and i mean what the hell *shrug*

9:15 PM: Texas picks the wrong time to reenact the parting of the Red Sea, let’s the Northern Iowa big guy walk down the lane for a layup.

9:13 PM: Texas takes a 70-69 lead. Timeout Northern Iowa with 36.5 seconds to go.

9:11 PM: St. Joe’s triple caps a 7-0 run and forces Mick Cronin into a timeout. They lead by four.

9:09 PM: Longhorns blow a chance to take the lead with a travel. Northern Iowa in an 0-8 drought. Still tied with one minute to go.

9:06 PM: Irish hold on. Never a doubt! Now over to Texas…

9:04 PM: Michigan misses a potential game-tying three, sends Notre Dame to the line with 11.1 seconds to go. One and one.

9:01 PM: Notre Dame by three with 1:01 to go. Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s Octavious Ellis decks two players simultaneously on one sweet offensive foul.

8:59 PM: John Beilein is an excellent coach. The Wolverines have looked like a completely different team in March.

8:55 PM: Beachem pours in a three for Notre Dame. “The picture perfect one executed… perfectly!” squeals Spanarkel. Irish by five, timeout Michigan.

8:54 PM: Texas’ 5’8 point guard Felix has bricked two consecutive shots with 25 seconds left on the shot-clock. The Longhorns are going to be fine as long as they get the ball out of his hands.

8:51 PM: Two games tied approaching the under-six timeout. St. Joe’s opening up a comfortable lead on Cincy.

8:48 PM: Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson looks like a pastor who just found out his church has an ant infestation.

8:47 PM: “I think it’s a great thing for the arena and the fans really love it,” Gminski says of the Atlanta studio show being shown in the arena throughout the day.

8:44 PM: Wolverines and Irish trade threes. Michigan by four.

8:43 PM: When Notre Dame and Michigan are tied coming down the stretch but all Verne wants to talk about is when his statistician dove under the table when the ball came at him.

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8:38 PM: Last hurrah of the first round: Texas 53, Northern Iowa 47; Michigan 48, Notre Dame 48; St. Joe’s 52, Cincinnati 49. Here we go.

8:26 PM: Notre Dame and Texas closing hard as the second halves begin.

8:07 PM: St. Joe’s, Michigan, and Northern Iowa all leading at halftime. Xavier closing out Weber State.

8:06 PM: “I’ve yet to see the high-tops that keep you from turning your ankle,” Gottlieb huffs.

8:03 PM: Gottlieb is now talking about someone’s “massive hands.” He also noted that this man has “in the gym range” as opposed to, oh, I don’t know, out of the gym range.

8:02 PM: Doug Gottlieb is pissed because the “trolls” are “out” on Twitter telling him that if “Team A” or “Team B” wins its first game in the tournament that means that they should be in the tournament but it “doesn’t work that way.”

7:58 PM: Jamie Dixon has two NCAA Tournament wins in the last seven years. Excellent.

7:54 PM: Gminski somehow parlays that story into taking a shot at Rick Barnes. There is nothing Gminski will not do.

7:52 PM: “It was Coach Smart delivering pizza to the players.” No context needed.

7:50 PM: Don’t look now, but Xavier’s lead over Weber State is only seven with just under eight minutes to go.

7:49 PM: Announcer rankings:

  1. Verne
  2. Everybody else

7:48 PM: Spanarkel comes back with a joke about Verne eating chicken wings at the bar during the First Four game. Verne protests, “I only had five!”

7:46 PM: Verne: “Nothing quite like watching a First Four game… in a bar… with rap music playing! QUITE AN ENJOYABLE EVENING!”

7:43 PM: I go over to St. Joe’s just in time to hear Spero Dedes scream, “He loses the handle!” Feels appropriate.

7:41 PM: Until they lose to Northern Iowa.

7:39 PM: I’ll always have Texas A&M.

7:34 PM: Make that a 23-2 run. Sure. Why not.

7:32 PM: Northern Iowa is on a 19-2 run. I’ve also got the Irish down eleven to a Michigan team that barely beat Tulsa.

7:28 PM: Northern Iowa jumps all over the Longhorns and leads by ten as Shaka takes timeout. Thought long and hard about pulling the trigger on them in this game. Goes to show you what kind of tournament I’m having.

7:24 PM: St. Joe’s is off to a quick start against Cincinnati, hoping to impress their coach Frank Sobotka.

7:17 PM: Mike Brey is rocking a sweet goatee as the Notre Dame-Michigan tips. Good stuff, Mike.

7:12 PM: Texas-Northern Iowa has tipped from Oklahoma City. Good first year for Shaka Smart’s in Austin, but should be a good game.

6:43 PM: “We are standing by hoping to get Brad Underwood, but he is being dominated by our friends in radio,” says Verne. Well then. Sounds like quite the celebration.

6:40 PM: Pretty damn impressive from Stephan F. Austin. It’s *almost* like I called it.

“Stephan F. Austin. Ludicrously under-seeded as a 14 and playing a tough game against West Virginia, but this team is really damn good, just like they have been the last three years.”

6:37 PM: West Virginia.

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6:24 PM: Huggins finally draws a technical, shakes his head, and sits back down on his stool. West Virginia going up in flames.

6:17 PM: “Nice to be big and strong,” Spanarkel says. Verne chuckles in reply, “I wouldn’t know.” WVU down nine, my bracket looking like more and more like toast by the minute.

6:13 PM: Huggins takes his last timeout with just under eight minutes to go. His team trails by seven.

6:07 PM: West Virginia called for a questionable foul in the backcourt. Huggins puts his hands on his head and stomps down the sideline like Paul Bunyan. The Mountaineers are issued a bench warning.

6:06 PM: Verne greets a missed free throw with “oops.” Long live Verne.

6:04 PM: West Virginia is now in the double bonus with over 11:00 minutes to go, trailing by four. This is going to be close the whole way home. A&M now clobbering Green Bay, Oregon rolling over Holy Cross.

6:00 PM: I really like arenas like the one in Brooklyn right now where an obnoxiously long buzzer goes off at the end of the shot-clock even if the shot was taken before the clock expired.

5:57 PM: The chances that Bob Huggins is mainlining bourbon during the timeouts are beyond high.

5:55 PM: Spanarkel reports that SFA head coach Brad Underwood told the broadcasting crew yesterday, “I like to win. And I want to win.” Sounds a little scarier if you imagine the guy is Tony Soprano.

5:52 PM: We also have West Virginia losing by nine to this excellent Stephan F. Austin and their oil tycoon head coach. God Bless America.

5:51 PM: Pitt lost the game when star player James Robinson drove into the lane, ran into his teammate, and threw up an airball. I will be accepting Jamie Dixon’s resignation whenever he chooses to offer it.

5:49 PM: Wisconsin wins despite scoring sixteen first half points, the lowest point total for a half in the history of the tournament.

5:48 PM: Pitt biffs it completely at the end, loses the single most disgusting basketball game ever played 47-43.

5:43 PM: Wisconsin can’t inbound the ball and has to take timeout. These teams staying true to themselves right to the bitter end.

5:41 PM: Big three for Pitt! Badgers lead by one with 40 seconds left.

5:38 PM: The Badgers hit a three and take a two point lead with just over two minutes to go. Meanwhile in the West Virginia game, two players dive to the floor and Verne screams in wonder, “Look at these guys!”

5:36 PM: We all know that this game is going to end 49-48 on two missed free throws.

5:32 PM: With the game tied at the under-four media timeout, Jamie Dixon has a conversation with the referee in which he says, “Wow!” and “Oh Boy!” and then jumps backwards. Jamie Dixon is wild.

5:29 PM: These two teams are a combined 3-23 from three. Pitt leads by one with just over five minutes left.

5:28 PM: “March is mayhem. Are you in good hands?” Hardly.

5:19 PM: Jamie Dixon’s hairstyle just looks more and more ridiculous every year. He’s slicking it all back and not really realizing that it’s kind of a medley of colors.

5:17 PM: “Jamie Dixon stars in Criminal Minds, CBS Wednesday.”

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5:13 PM: Pitt up five with 11:37 to go, West Virginia trailing by three at halftime. Oregon crushing Holy Cross.

5:08 PM: A&M keeping cool, and their shooting gives them a seven point lead.

5:04 PM: Verne spots a West Virginia player shove a Stephan F. Austin player after the play. “Oh my gosh!” he exclaims. Spanarkel assures him that they can review it for flagrancy.

5:03 PM: Pitt is collapsing they haven’t scored since the late Eisenhower administration what fun.

5:02 PM: Bob Huggins must have been a hell of a captain for the Continentals during the Revolutionary War.

5:01 PM: Mike Gminski exclaims that Texas A&M-Green Bay is, “like a pickup game!” He may need to be removed from the arena.

5:00 PM: My dad weighs in on the MSU debacle: “Jud Heathcote rolling in his grave!” What my dad does not know is that Jud Heathcote is still alive.

4:55 PM: Both the Aggies and Mountaineers are tied late in the first half. It’s that kind of day.

4:51 PM: When you lose in the tournament and it’s frightening.

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4:50 PM: Jim Spanarkel on the Michigan State loss: “I don’t think that was a punch to the gut on a lot of people’s brackets, I think that was a haymaker.” Verne groans “oooooooh.”

4:46 PM: Verne Lundquist botches an ad-read for Coke and then chortles, “It took us a while because the audio is not quite that prominent in our headsets.”

4:44 PM: More from Dunphy on Temple’s exit. “The abruptness of the ending is……frightening.” Almost as frightening as losing to Iowa or no?

4:43 PM: Temple coach Fran Dunphy on his departing seniors after his team lost a heartbreaker to Iowa. “They’ll work at trying to be professional basketball players… some of them. Some of them will be professional in… some other way.”

4:40 PM: When you go undefeated in the 8/9 and 7/10 games but your bracket is still busted.

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4:38 PM: Mike Gminski is back! And he just said that he thought North Carolina was the fastest team he ever saw play, but Green Bay plays even faster!

4:37 PM: Another one of my Final Four teams looking good: Texas A&M has turned it over on four of their last five possessions and trail Green Bay by six.

4:33 PM: Wisconsin coach Greg Gard is coaching his first tournament game. Believe it or not, Bo Ryan really went out with a bang.

4:28 PM: “And it’s one-and-done,” says Brian Anderson, describing both Wisconsin’s offensive possession and their tournament run.

4:25 PM: The SFA coach looks like an oil tycoon. Meanwhile, Huggins is sitting on his stool rocking a quarter-zip windbreaker.

4:22 PM: Steve Smith is convinced that the Badgers are beginning to find a little rhythm. They’re down by 10.

4:21 PM: There are now five players on the floor in Pitt-Wisconsin, this seems appropriate for this game and I suggest the Badgers draw up a set for such a situation.

4:19 PM: If you ever want to experience misery, I recommend filling out an NCAA Tournament bracket.

4:17 PM: Wisky is 2-15 from the field. They’ve scored six points in fourteen minutes. As usual, the B1G and Pac 12 just face-planting in the tournament.

4:16 PM: 4-0 Stephan F. Austin. Bob Huggins rises from his stool in chagrin.

4:15 PM: On now: Wisconsin’s garbage offense against Pitt and West Virginia taking on Stephan F. Austin.

4:12 PM: Hi. We will not be talking about what happened to Michigan State today.

FIRST ROUND — THURSDAY

9:57 PM: Seton Hall is done. Me too. See you tomorrow.

9:50 PM: This serves me right for picking an East Coast team against a West Coast team in Denver for an 11:00 EST start. St. John’s lost this exact game against Gonzaga a few years ago, and I had the Red Storm in that one too.

9:48 PM: The Seton Hall big guy is down holding his collarbone. The good times continue to roll.

9:46 PM: Seton Hall’s senior leader Derrick Gordon airballs the front end of a 1 and 1. Hall has now missed 11 free throws in this game.

9:42 PM: Seton Hall is just miserable. Isiah Whitehead is 4-21 from the field and Kevin Willard has been assessed a technical foul. They trail Gonzaga by ten.

9:06 PM: Kevin Harlan is talking about “Divine Providence,” and I think that sums it up pretty well.

9:05 PM: Something of a standoff between sideline reporter Lewis Johnson and a Providence player. The player said he couldn’t describe the emotions of celebrating with his teammates, but Johnson fires back that he’ll have the video to go back and look at.

9:03 PM: We’d like to thank the Trojans for missing all their free throws down the stretch! RHODE ISLAND’S BEST MOMENT SINCE TIMES LONG AGO!

9:02 PM: STEADY EDDY COOLEY IS UNFAZED AND STILL KIND OF PISSED BECAUSE THE FRIARS MISSED ABOUT FOUR POTENTIAL GAME-WINNING SHOTS IN THE FINAL MINUTE.

9:01 PM: AND A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT AS USC BLOWS IT AND PROVIDENCE WINS AT THE HORN!

8:54 PM: Missed the front end! Ed Cooley takes timeout.

8:54 PM: Dunn misses a fadeaway jumper short. Trojans headed back to the line with 27.6 seconds left.

8:53 PM: SC misses a dunk, but gets the foul call. Makes one of two. Trojans by one, under a minute to go.

8:50 PM: Dunn nails a three to tie the game for the Friars. “Way to stick it! ALWAYS REPPIN’!” my dad bellows as the Providence bench celebrates. Heading for a great finish in this one.

8:47 PM: SC in the driver’s seat coming down the stretch against Providence. How terrific for them.

8:40 PM: Seton Hall is holding a team meeting at mid-court. Their last ten minutes have been, shall we say, not excellent.

8:39 PM: Providence given an unexpected boost as SC’s point guard drives down the lane and eats it, setting up a fast-break three for the Friars. They lead by one.

8:35 PM: Hey, at least Purdue still has its football team!

8:32 PM: SC and Providence trade threes. Trojans lead by five with under 8:00 to go.

8:30 PM: (i did not watch requiem for the big east.)

8:27 PM: My request is that Seton Hall and Providence start putting the basketball in the basket again GOOD LORD WHY DID I PICK ALL THE BIG EAST TEAMS DID I NOT WATCH REQUIEM FOR THE BIG EAST?

8:21 PM: “Jalen Lindsey, his mom named him after Jalen Rose!” Kevin Harlan is having some sentence structure problems.

8:19 PM: I think Providence-SC and Hall-Zaga are going to save what has been a pretty dire slate of afternoon and late games.

8:17 PM: Steve Lappas thinks that the elevation in Denver could spell doom for Seton Hall. You have to give Lappas credit, he is nothing if not creative.

8:13 PM: Wichita State has opened up a 20-point lead on Arizona. Sean Miller and his translucent white shirt have been issued a technical.

8:11 PM: Note to the USC center: If Providence is leaving you open at the free-throw line on every possession, it’s not because of constant defensive breakdowns. It’s because you can’t make that jumper.

8:09 PM: “Where wuz the help…..from the Flyers?” slurs Reggie Miller after USC’s point guard slashes in for a dunk.

8:08 PM: PROVIDENCE HAS A PLAYER NAMED JUNIOR LOMOMBA, WOW!

8:04 PM: That sweet sweet Purdue offense.

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8:00 PM: Arizona has 21 points in 23 minutes. Someone might need to sedate Sean Miller.

7:57 PM: “YOU GOTTA STOP THE BALL!” Lappas is losing is it. Zags out to a 7-2 lead on Hall.

7:55 PM: Seton Hall comes out in a zone, leaving Lappas stunned and scrambling. He can’t believe it.

7:53 PM: “A fraternity at Seton Hall got lobster uniforms for Halloween, said why don’t we wear these to the games, it’s become a thing, and that thing continues here in Denver.”

7:50 PM: Captain Obvious is running for President but he’s actually running so it’s funny also buy hotel rooms.

7:48 PM: Trojans lead Providence by one at the half, but they’re toast if Chris Dunn gets going after the break. The winner of this game could give Carolina a real run for its money on Saturday.

7:47 PM: If USC didn’t have a basketball team, I don’t think anyone would notice.

7:28 PM: The TNT crew just took a close up of the possession arrow. It’s Arizona’s only hope in this game.

7:21 PM: Stony Brook just shot a 30-foot three off the backboard, after which the ball bounced off the head of the Kentucky center to a Stony Brook forward, who then promptly airballed a jumper. Good times!

7:19 PM: “That wasn’t a Euro-step, that was a Rockford, Illinois-step!” Someone please tase Reggie Miller.

7:17 PM: You know which play I love? The play where the big man gets the ball down low, gets stopped by another big man, spins three times, shakes off a pass, and throws up an airball. That’s a great play.

7:15 PM: As long as no one dies in these late games, I think the window is a success.

7:13 PM: TBS just went to a close-up shot of color announcer Dan Bonner calling the game on Press Row. That should tell you something about the quality of play right now.

7:09 PM: Arizona is making Fresno State look like the Warriors. They’ve scored two points in the last nine minutes of game time.

7:07 PM: Kevin Harlan just said a USC player is like “a minnow in shallow water.” Yep, it’s time for the late games!

7:06 PM: Chris Weber knows why the Wildcats are struggling. “Wichita State played two days ago. Arizona played six days ago. And sometimes rust never sleeps.” So there you have it.

7:05 PM: “Arizona is down to 23% shooting,” says funeral correspondent Ian Eagle.

7:02 PM: Hmm, not so much.

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7:00 PM: “Right now, #TruTVIsAThing is trending on Twitter,” Andrew Catalon says. Let’s see.

6:55 PM: I think Wichita State got their entire team from the set of Footloose.

6:53 PM: Fresno State somehow takes a one point lead, only to see Utah pour in seven straight.

6:48 PM: Wichita State makes a fast start as VanVleet nails a three. I think it helps that they’ve been able to keep this group of core players together since 2005.

6:42 PM: Wichita’s press forces a tie-up and a timeout in the first minute of the game. I like the look of this.

6:39 PM: Inside the Shockers locker-room, coach Greg Marshall tells his team, “It only gets better from here.” Not sure if he’s referring to the tournament or his hideous outfit for tonight’s game.

6:37 PM: BRING BACK DR. PAUL MISKOVITZ!

6:34 PM: Let’s pause to spend some time with LSU football coach Les Miles.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 6.33.46 PM.png

6:32 PM: “Fresno State has cut it to single digits,” Catalon says hopefully. The Bulldogs have 28 points midway through the second half.

6:31 PM: When you remember you made the Sweet Sixteen in 1997.

IM1

#smocks

6:29 PM: When you remember you’re not coached by Tom Crean.

IM1

#smocks

6:27 PM: When you stop the Hoosiers from hitting triple digits.

IM1

#smocks

6:26 PM: Smocks lose. 99-74.

6:24 PM: Wichita State – Arizona is coming on. I picked the Shockers, because once you’ve picked the Chattanooga Smocks over Indiana, you can do anything.

6:13 PM: Greg Gumbel just said “More AT&T&T&T&T&T&T at the half when we come back” while dissolving into laughter. He’s getting more fun with age.

6:06 PM: Laranaga post-game: “AND THAT’S WHY WE’RE GOING TO RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE TO FIFTEEN BUCKS AN HOUR!”

6:03 PM: Don’t be a settler. Get DIRECTV.

5:59 PM: Over at the Indiana game, Yogi Ferrell’s sister is wearing a shirt that reads, “Yogi isn’t famous, he’s my annoying brother.” Uh, clever?

5:58 PM: Miami just up four on Buffalo, shooting two with 1:15 to go.

5:56 PM: JEEZ O MAN AND GOSH ALMIGHTY, FRESNO STATE HAS 11 POINTS! MANY COUNTED THEM OUT BUT THEY DID IT!

5:53 PM: Fresno sitting on nine points like a mother on her eggs.

5:50 PM: Lappas on Utah star Jakob Poeltl: “Even if he’s not making baskets, he’s still 7’0 feet.” Can’t argue with that.

5:49 PM: There may be 7:30 left in the first half, but Utah should think about pulling their starters and resting them for Saturday.

5:48 PM: Update: Fresno still unable to break ten points.

5:45 PM: Roy Williams has a clover adornment hanging dangerously off his lapel, and, with his team up double digits, it’s the most interesting thing on right now.

5:43 PM:  “Make some noise……….for the iHeart Music Radio Awards on live…” Kevin Harlan struggling.

5:39 PM: The Smocks are all of the sudden down by 17 points and ‘Lil Wayne is now on two channels simultaneously. Remind me next March why I hate this tournament.

5:35 PM: Fresno State is stuck on three points midway through the first half, they might not win the championship this year.

5:32 PM: Buffalo’s uniforms are astonishingly bad. Words can’t even do them justice. One of their players just went behind the back (like we haven’t had any problems with that today!) and then threw the ball into press row. ‘Canes by nine.

5:31 PM: Jim Laranaga bears a striking resemblance to Bernie Sanders.

5:20 PM: Miami grinding down Buffalo. Now up by 11.

5:13 PM: Just think about how many points Florida Gulf Coast would beat Purdue by. Down by one to UNC at the half.

5:10 PM: “The Eagles are playing with house money. They’re the 16 seed.” Reggie is on a tear.

5:09 PM: The UNC shooting shirts say “LOCK.” Uh oh.

5:08 PM: “This building will change the dynamic in here if it ends up being a close game,” says Reggie Miller. He’s suggesting that the USC and Providence fans will swing this game for Florida Gulf Coast.

5:07 PM: So glad we got to see Tulsa get their shot in the tournament last night. They really did the Selection Committee proud.

5:01 PM: Meanwhile, Florida Gulf Coast has pulled within three points of UNC.

4:59 PM: Tom Crean is a walking Alka Seltzer commercial.

4:54 PM: Dr. Paul Miskovitz is on to talk about Colon Cancer Awareness month. Hope we get to see more of him over the next couple of days.

4:51 PM: It’s going to be awesome when Butler is the last team from Indiana standing again.

4:50 PM: “Soft enough to be tippable,” says Raftery. Boy could that mean a number of things.

4:49 PM: Florida Gulf Coast plays pretty basketball offensively. This game might finish with both teams over 85 points.

4:47 PM: North Carolina is on pace for 104 points against Florida Gulf Coast.

4:45 PM: Alleyoop for the Smocks. Tom Crean’s got that Accidentally Backed Over The Dog What Am I Going To Tell My Kids look going again.

4:43 PM: Mocs rhymes with Smocks.

4:37 PM: “No fear by Miami of going to the paint,” says Reggie Miller. Impressive, because Buffalo’s interior defense strikes the fear of God into most power conference teams.

4:32 PM: Chattanooga’s coach looks like a 25-year-old Intel intern. I love this pick already.

4:30 PM: “I love the fact that the Mocs aren’t changing who they are, still pressing,” says Grant Hill as Indiana breaks Chattanooga’s press for an easy two. “I’d play ’em in the half-court,” says Bill Raftery.

4:27 PM: Over. Little Rock 85, Purdue 83. Second 12-seed to win today. Matt Painter has now won one tournament game in the last five years.

4:24 PM: Little Rock goes one for two, Boilermakers drive down and get two. One point game with 11 seconds left.

4:22 PM: Down by three, Purdue makes one of two at the line. 21.8 second left.

4:20 PM: Little Rock guard Josh Higgins hits a step-back jumper. Lappas weighs in: “We call that in New York, he’s going off.”

4:18 PM: Can we talk about why Purdue’s shorts have a diagonal stripe across the butt? It’s a problem. Granted, it’s not the biggest problem right now. But it’s a problem.

4:17 PM: Purdue should just resign.

4:15 PM: The Purdue guy runs into his own teammate and throws the ball off the backboard. Little Rock hits a three. Five point game.

4:13 PM: Purdue airballs a three. Lord have mercy.

4:11 PM: Does somebody want to tell Miami that their game started?

4:10 PM: The Purdue guard runs into a big man and throws up an airball. This is torturous. We’re going to double overtime.

4:09 PM: The man Matt Painter called “the best shooter he ever had” promptly misses his second free thrown. Little Rock drives down and ties it. Timeout.

4:08 PM: Purdue at the line, up 2. 25.2 seconds to go.

4:06 PM: Why did I put Purdue in the Sweet 16. Why. They couldn’t beat a halfway decent Community College by more than six points.

4:05 PM: Purdue is undergoing a meltdown of astonishing proportions. They just ran out the clock on themselves in regulation.

4:03 PM: Steve Lappas is having an aneurysm talking about the so-called Player Control Foul rule.

10:46 AM: I think Duke’s 1-5 are tougher than in their first round exits in years past. Plumlee and Allen aren’t going quietly.

10:26 AM: This is the classic 8-9 Butler game. Easiest pick in the tournament every year.

FIRST FOUR — WEDNESDAY

7:17 PM: Tulsa may be bad, but this is no great advert for Michigan’s inclusion in the field either.

7:15 PM: Mike Gminski thinks there’s an under 18:00 media timeout. There is not an under 18:00 media timeout.

7:01 PM: Tulsa puts up 20 points in the first half, makes the Committee members look like studs.

6:56 PM: Can we sub in St. Bonaventure?

6:55 PM: Gminski refers to Blackburn as his former partner, then dissolves into laughter and says, “Former!? We’re still working together!” Goodness.

6:51 PM: “Rashad Smith, rolled ankle, no obstacle,” says rising spoken-word poet Carter Blackburn.

6:49 PM: Tulsa is playing like they can’t believe they’re in the tournament either.

6:46 PM: Mike Gminski, on rehabilitating an injured player: “I’m sure they had him run around a little bit in the hallways.”

6:42 PM: Carter Blackburn gleefully exclaims after a long lead-up that Johnny Dawkins is the coach at Stanford, blissfully unaware that Stanford fired Johnny Dawkins earlier this week.

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