Because the entire NBA universe is waiting on word from Dwight Howard concerning whether or not he’ll leave Orlando and who Orlando will get in return for his services, and because we’re starting to find the topic tedious, we opted to write about actual basketball games instead of the speculation of where certain individuals might end up playing basketball games. We’d love to get something posted about D’Antoni, but yesterday everyone was ripping Carmelo Anthony, and while it may have seemed appropriate at the time, I have no idea who to trust in these issues when anonymous sources are the only ones refuting what both players and coach are claiming.
So yeah, like I said, tedious.
But let’s look at this tournament which, for all too many reasons is one we seem to know the least about in quite some time. One is, the field is deeper with quality teams than its ever been while the teams at the top have all demonstrated a higher degree of vulnerability than one and two-seeds have in the past. In short, everyone is anticipating upsets. Lots of upsets. With that in mind, why not do a running diary of the tourney’s first day.
Two things about this: 1) A little note about our surroundings. We’re sitting in a living room in Destin, Florida with one television and Cox Cable, which is like Time Warner Cable circa 2004. In other words, we’re going to miss plenty of action. Sorry, but I couldn’t get ready in time to venture out into public. And 2) One thing you will not get from us is excessive complaining about games being “boring” or whatever. You have Twitter for that, and it always strikes me as commonly misplaced. It’s a do-or-die college basketball tournament that consists of 32 games over the course of two days that run from noon to midnight. If you like basketball and can’t get any enjoyment out of the first round of The Big Dance, then I’m afraid you’re beyond help.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the diary. These were written (if not posted) in real time, please excuse any and all typos. Thanks.
11:15- Murrray State-Colorado State is our first game, as an attempt to give 30-1 Murray State some national attention. No way this doesn’t turn them into a top flight program.
11:17- Colorado State gets to a quick 4-0 lead. One thing I’m noticing as mid-majors ascend the ranks and start regularly receiving higher and higher seeds, a lot of them don’t handle being the favorite well.
11:19- This crowd is 90% Murray State fans. Of the 200 people there, it’s certain to give them an edge.
11:20- Bill Raftery is doing color for this game. Or as I like to call him, the old, white Gus Johnson.
11:26- The Rams are up 10-3, immediately validating Colin Cowherd.
11:27- There are a few scouts in the house. I’m impressed by how miserable they always manage to look. I guess a coushy job where you travel around the country watching basketball on beautiful college campuses on someone elses dime just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
11:30- Someone name Pierce Hornung for Colorado State in a green jersey has seven rebounds halfway through the first (on pace for 28) is absolutely dwarfing everyone on Murray State, and Verne Lundquist has yet to call him “Paul”.
11:33- OK, as it turns out, Paul Hornung is actually on site, and he looks like a mad scientist. But they’re not related as he’s actually rooting for Murray State, as he’s a Kentucky native. So that explains why he’s there (it’s in Louisville), but doesn’t explain why Lundquist still hasn’t called Pierce, Paul.
11:37- Murray State takes the lead, 16-13, almost solely on three’s. This is what makes college basketball, and the tournament in particular, so engaging. There is such an element of urgency that everyone plays with, even if the play isn’t exactly all that efficient, it’s still entertaining as hell.
11:41- Southern Miss-Kansas State is on TruTV, but I’m shit out of luck. I really should have gotten my act together earlier than I did, to get over to Miller’s Ale House. I have no idea if that place is a chain or not, but my god is their bar food incredible. Also, if KSU can survive, look for them to test Syracuse on Saturday.
11:44- #2 for Murray State really needs to throw more 80mph bricks at a 90-degree angle straight off the backboard from three feet away. That’s getting them places.
11:59- As the first half winds down, it’s abundantly clear these two teams are evenly matched. Meanwhile, after jumping out to an 8-1 lead, Kansas State has blown it in traditional KSU fashion, and are now tied with Southern Miss 10-10.
12:01- 24-23 at half. If this doesn’t come down to a buzzer beater I’ll eat my hat.
12:04- Alright, found the KSU game, they’ve opened it back up to 17-10. Color me surprised Southern Miss even plays basketball, but there at a noticeable, um, athletic deficiency. If KSU does end up losing this game they might as well stop qualifying for the tournament, try and win the NIT from here on out.
12:07- Case in point, K-State is in the bonus with over seven minutes left in the half.
12:12- Southern Miss cuts the lead to 21-20, Jesus KSU, just protect the perimeter.
12:13- Burger King’s green ketchup is about as appetizing as the McRib. And no, this isn’t an endorsement of the McRib, that sandwich is nauseating. But at least it’s something other than food coloring in ketchup. If your promotion is going to be strictly ambiance, why not change the color of all your condiments. Green sweet-n-sour and green honey might draw some customers. Chemical sludge is chemical sludge, might as well make it all look radioactive.
12:19- Torrie Pellam goes down with an injury, plans to come back at half after taping up his ankle. The healing powers of tape know no bounds.
12:26- Rodriguez, a freshman from Miami, Florida for KSU, gets the first “and-1” play of the tournament, and expertly bricks the free throw. I can’t imagine the culture shock of going from Miami to Manhattan…Kansas. It reminds me of Belly.
12:29- This game is in Pittsburgh, by the way. And if the Murray State game only has 200 people there, this one has roughly 75, and no one off-the-court gives two-shits about the outcome.
12:30- 30-27 at half, Kansas State’s coach, who I believe was the dad strip club bouncer in Go, is naturally succinct in his halftime interview.
12:37- Murray State has opened up an eight point lead. Unfortunately for Pierce Hornung and Colorado State, they don’t offer points for accumulated rebounds, though based on Lundquist’s reactions you’d assume they do.
12:39- Looks like Pitbull moved his party out from under the overpass with Dr. Pepper to some black-lit club with Bud Light. Is Pitbull a good spokesman for anywhere in the country outside Seaside Heights and Dade County. For example, I can’t imagine there’s a staunch Pitbull fan base in either Louisville or Pittsburgh, where both these games are being played. Well, maybe Louisville.
12:42- Murray State’s opened up a 13 point lead, time to find Louisville-Davidson on this be-shitted cable provider.
12:45- By the time I do it’s commercial. Question, are their other cable providers that don’t have TNT adjacent to TBS, all the news networks adjacent to all the other news networks, etc. Or is this unique to Cox cable? One of the gems of the south along with great BBQ, seafood & casual racism.
12:51- Remember what I said about mid-majors coping poorly with being higher seeds? At least as it pertains to Murray State, I take it back. They’re up 43-28 now, despite coming out of the gate entirely too confident. Apparently they forgot that despite being a #6-seed, they’re still Murray State. Still, as of now I’m eating my hat.
12:56- Louisville’s up two on Davidson in Portland, K-State’s tied with Southern Miss, and these are the times I wish I had done this at a bar.
1PM- Oh, an CSU has cut Murray State’s lead to nine. Damn you, Murray State. Quit making me look like an indecisive blowhard. Otherwise known as, what I look like every year filling out my bracket(s).
1:02- KSU’s McGruder is the standout performer in this game, has 25 of their 38 points. Also, I’m sure he never tires of MacGruber jokes.
1:06- Another three from Southern Miss to go up 45-40. Kansas State should win this game, but at this point they in no way deserve it.
1:11- Um, with three minutes left in the game, Colorado State’s scored 34 points. Get ready for an onslaught of overly-paid, hyper-critical national talking heads jump all over a bunch of athletes being compensated with classes. How are they one of the best 68 teams?!!?1!? Is how they’ll feign disbelief.
1:15- We now have four games going, and have for the pas ten minutes or so. It’s remarkable what you miss when half your time spent attempting to write a running diary is trying to get your laptop to charge. Anyhow, I’ll try to keep from bitching about this. Wisconsin is up 14-9 early on Montana.
1:20- Murray State wins 58-41. To be fair to CSU, they did have to travel across country and they’re in Colorado. Not exactly a hotbed of basketball talent, or anything really. Except skiing.
1:23- Flipped on Wisconsin-Montana, Wisconsin had one possession, burnt the shot clock down to seven seconds, missed a 3. Montana fired up a quick shot, they got the ball back, burned the shot clock down to five, missed a layup, got the offensive rebound, kicked it out to Jordan Taylor, who drilled a 3. This is Wisconsin basketball personified: burn up ninety seconds of clock with two possesions to hit a single three and hold the other team scoreless.
1:30- As Kansas State-Southern Miss comes down the the wire, it dawns on me that I still don’t know any of the names of the Southern Miss players outside of Torrie Pellam, the guy who absorbs strength from medical tape. This can be either a good or bad thing. Obviously no one is standing out, but no one guy has to carry the lead. Considering they’re down two with seven minutes left (which seems to be the story of the day for everyone), things can be worse.
1:33- So the only way this piece of shit laptop will charge is whil resting on my, uh, lap. And I can feel my scrotum melting as a result. Hopefully at least five people read this, to justify my liquified genitals.
1:37- By the way, Larry Eustachy is the head coach at Southern Miss. If he couldn’t control himself around Iowa State girls, the Southern Miss girls are probably afraid to go out after sundown.
1:40- So the guy doing play-by-play for KSU-Southern Miss just mentioned how all of K-State’s recruits are from somewhere else: Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, NYC, Chicago, St. Louis. How do you convince anyone from these places to attend school in Manhattan…Kansas. Good on the dad bouncer from Go.
1:46- K-State up three with 57.2 seconds left. This is why we watch. That, and the chance to luck into a bunch of money from tourney pools.
1:49- After a commercial and splitting the pair of free throws, Southern Miss comes down and misses a fade-away three with twenty left on the shot clock and immediately foul. Rodriguez knocks down both this time. K-State pulls through, up six and going to the free throw line yet again. This is yet another opportunity for the self-righteous to complain a lack of entertainment to warrant their attention.
1:54- Meanwhile, Wisconsin is beating Montana in New Mexico, three bastions of athletic prowess.
1:55- BYU-Marquette has started, and Marquette is just happy Oregon didn’t make the tourney, so they at least win the consolation of Most Blindingly Vibrant Uniforms. Also, is it necessary to have two schools from Kentucky play alongside each other as well as two schools from Wisconsin? No rest for the weary in Kentucky and Wisconsin, except for all the other time no schools from your state are playing.
1:57- Lundquist mentions that somehow Marquette and BYU have played four times in human history, and this still seems like a lot. At least they haven’t played in over forty years, which puts me at ease.
2PM- Looks like Davidson-Louisville is re-enacting the Kentucky-Western Kentucky game from way back when.
2:04- My God. If I ever have a daughter, I’d rather she sleep with the entire Jersey Shore cast than go within 100 miles of Pitbull.
2:15- Sorry, took a brief hiatus as the only two games in action are Marquette-BYU and Louisville-Davidson, which are 10+ point leads in favor of the higher seed, and the outcome seems inevitable in both.
2:18- Lundquist mentions Doc Rivers went to Marquette, I imagine that was a point of contention when Austin was figuring out where to attend school. “Oh, too good for Marquette are you, you preppy Bitch”. That’s almost certainly exactly what Doc Rivers said. To his own son.
2:21- Not to be a food snob, but I’d eat a gallon of green ketchup from Burger King before I’d eat anything in that Applebee’s commercial. Make you fake food look, less fake, I guess, Applebees.
2:26- According to Miller Lite’s ad, Miller Lite won “Best American Style Lite Lager” at some arbitrary awards show. Good thing they winnowed the category down to about five options. That’s some stiff competition.
2:30- Marquette has doubled BYU’s point total with seven minutes left in the first half. Basically, if you picked BYU to win this game without Ferdette or the black point guard who had sex that one time, you’re a fuck!ng idiot.
2:31- Scratch that, Davies is playing. You might not be a fuck!ng idiot. Still, pretty embarrassing none the less.
2:32- UNC-Asheville-Syracuse has tipped off, and Asheville is up 5-4. If the score stays exactly the same, Ashville has a chance to pull off the win.
2:40- Cuse is still tied with Asheville at thirteen. Too early to start worrying, but it’s still poor form. Cuse doesn’t want their history of tournament choke jobs to reach the apex of choke jobs.
2:44- My roommate’s Maltese is staring at me like he’s going to kill me in my sleep. Whatever, I’ll just close the bedroom door, it’s not like he can open it. Grown some opposable thumbs, dipshit.
2:51- Asheville just hit a four-point play, putting them up 21-17. Fab Melo is probably responsible for this, but if Anthony Davis goes out for Kentucky (Which Calipari would never let happen on his watch, those grades would be inflated so quickly) they’re not losing to (looks for bracket) Western Kentucky. At least not this year.
2:54- Even if they lose, Syracuse wins the title for coolest player name: Scoop Jardine. If there were ever a person were born to have a pair of sneakers named after him, it’s Scoop Jardine. Nike will make sure he’s at least a second rounder.
2:57- Louisville seals up a win against Davidson, 69-62. If Davidson had played the whole game with the same tempo they played the last two minutes, a win might have been feasible.
3PM: Note to Montana; if you’re giving up 70 points to Wisconsin, you might as well have just stayed home.
3:05- Back to Asheville-Cuse, both teams are in the bonus, which means the last five minutes of the half will drag on past the half hour mark.
3:06: Asheville now up seven, if you’re a Cuse fan, player or coach, this is far from OK.
3:08- If it seems I’m honed in a little too much on one game, it’s because Wisconsin’s up nineteen with three minutes left and Marquette’s up fifteen at half.
3:09- If Triche’s Syracuse teammates don’t refer to him as “Trish, The Dish”, I’m adamantly rooting for a Syracuse loss. As opposed to just passively.
3:12- Asheville was up seven, but after giving up two dozen offensive rebounds on the same possession, Syracuse cuts it to five.
3:16- Downside to Asheville winning? Tarheel & Blue Devil fans somehow convincing themselves they can claim this because it’s a small satellite school in North Carolina.
3:18- Wisconsin closes out Montana, who thought they were sooooo cool because A River Runs Through It is set there. Wisconsin was all like, “well, Bridesmaids was shot in Milwaukee, so eat it, Montana.” as they beat Montana 73-49.
3:20- Asheville-Cuse ends the half with a bit of controversy as Trish, The Dish collects an offensive rebound as time winds down and gets fouled on a put back. After replay, they wave the bucket, take away the foul but still add 1.4 to the clock. If it’s a close finish that’ll be scrutinized within an inch of its life. 34-30, Asheville. Easily could have been 34-33 or 34-32.
3:24- Long Beach State-New Mexico is getting ready to tip off. Long Beach hopes to be the first team to win a tournament game after being popularized on a Snoop Dogg album.
3:43- Come back in from walking the Maltese (he’s not a dog) to see Long Beach is up 10-9 and Cuse down 36-33 at the start of the second. Marquette is still making quick work of BYU, it’s not important to what degree.
3:46- Asheville up six now, Cuse better make a move. They’re a top flight program. The first team to lose to a sixteen seed has to be someone like Cincinnati or Purdue or Auburn when they were a 1-seed back in ’99. Basketball is pretty much all Syracuse has left, outside of lacrosse. And I mean, come on. Let’s be serious.
3:49- Apparently you can’t review a goal-tending that wasn’t called goal-tending but was a blatant goal-tend (Cuse hit it after it hit the backboard). So Asheville simply doesn’t get those two points? At least they got one on the foul that was called on the play. I’m sure they’re happy with that compromise.
3:51- Cuse takes the lead . Looks like all they needed was a blown goal-tending call in their favor to get back on track.
3:53- Long Beach is up on UNM, of Breaking Bad fame. This is the game of utterly macabre uniforms. If Marquette is vibrant yellow, Long Beach is drab yellow.
3:54- Speaking of Albuquerque, Harvard-Vanderbilt has tipped off, with the conclusion of this game will be the end of this diary. Hopefully nine Open Office pages is enough content to intermittently help kill a few hours at work.
3:56- Harvard’s playing the way all Ivy league schools should play: three feet below the basket. Vanderbilt isn’t exactly the LSU of basketball in the SEC.
3:59- Asheville goes up 46-43 with 12:30 left on the clock. It’s starting to feel like the seams are coming undone for whatever Asheville’s team name is.
4:01- Just found out Long Beach’s uniforms say, “The Beach” on front of them and look like something you might see in White Men Can’t Jump. That. Is. Amazing. I’ve watched maybe five minutes of this game & for the life of me I can’t figure out why they’re a 12-seed, they’re up 26-25. Sucks for New Mexico, but they dicked me over last year in my bracket, so I’m fine with it.
4:03- Harvard down 10-6, from what I understand of Ivy league success in the tourney, they’re going to have to shoot three’s at a far higher percentage than they currently are.
4:05- Jesus, BYU-Marquette still has over three minutes left in it. Feels like that game has been on for eight hours.
4:08- Cuse up four with eight minutes left, but misses the free throw (take a shot). Obvious momentum killer.
4:10- Asheville is hitting some hail mary’s all over the place, still only down two though.
4:11- There’s a guy with the last name Pappageorge for Long Beach. The more I find out about this team, the more I like them. The only way it would improve is if they had the Dog’s from the “What’s My Name” video somewhere on their jersey.
4:17- Scoop Jardine’s obviously let the cool name get to his head, as he fires up an ill-advised three-pointer that barely scrapes the front of the rim. Cuse up five with four minutes to go.
4:20- Sutherland for Syracuse hits a three to go up eight with 2:24 to go. Looks like they’re getting the win even though they don’t necessarily deserve it. More so than any fifty point blowout, this is why no #16 has ever beaten a #1.
4:22- On the other hand, Jardine fouls on a three point attempt, because they’re desperate to keep this game close and start two days of “Kansas State will beat Syracuse” predictions.
4:26- I know I can see the conclusion to Cuse-Asheville on TruTV, Ernie Johnson, but TruTV doesn’t offer HD for environmental reasons, I’m sure.
4:29- 58-62, Cuse up after a pretty pass on Asheville’s part. Asheville almost gets the 5-second call, but Cuse calls timeout at the very last moment. In fact there’s no way that wasn’t more than five seconds.
4:31- Len Elmore asks, “why would Asheville foul with 1:30 left”, then TruTV flashes Jardine’s free throw percentage for the season: 49.1%. I think I figured it out!
4:33- Asheville gets completely hosed when he misses the first half of the 1-and-1, on a bullshit lane violation call, which from every angle on three different replays is confirmed to be bullshit. Anyhow, Jardine defies all odds and hits two consecutive free throws.
4:34- Asheville comes back down to knock down a three, cutting the lead to 61-64 with just under a minute left.
4:34- Jesus, Len Elmore acts like every foul is intentional, “I don’t understand this”, “Why would you foul?” Because people are imperfect, Len. OK?
4:36- Asheville down 66-63, after getting hosed yet again on an out of bounds call (though at least Cuse was fouled, which also wasn’t called). Cuse hits both free throws, 68-63.
4:38- Cuse fouls yet again, without any inquiries from Elmore even though that foul made even less sense than all the others. 68-65, Cuse.
4:39- Asheville fouls immediately after hitting the two free throws. Trish, The Dish hits his two free throws and Asheville turns the ball over with two seconds left.
4:41- Game over. Still, this can’t be good news for Orange fans. Anytime a one-seed has a scare against a 16, they almost always lose. See: Cincinnati without Martin in 2001, Purdue with Glenn Robinson in …1996, we’ll say.
4:50- The way that Asheville loss went down kind of sucked all the energy out of me. Kind of sidelined right now. All I can think is I’m glad I don’t have Syracuse going past the Sweet 16 in any of my brackets.
4:55- UNM, of Breaking Bad fame pulling away from Long Beach, of Snoop Dogg fame; 51-43. Today is going to be great fodder for people that like shitting all over everything that doesn’t live up to their lofty expectations.
4:58- Long Beach cut it back down to two, 49-51. Restoring my faith that at least one team will completely shit the bed.
5:03- Vanderbilt is on a 25-6 run ever since Harvard was up 20-17 (do the math). Not the best outing for the Crimson in their first tourney appearance in sixty years.
5:08- Man, there’s a guy with the last name Pappageorge and he has a teammate with the first name Casper. If they play Ohio State my allegiances will be torn. Still down, 55-56.
5:12- Eugene Phelps for Long Beach has a follow-up tip that would be a dunk, 99% of the time in the NBA, but he lays it in. Tied at 57.
5:14- Long Beach makes up for the tip lay-in when someone named Ennis steals a back court pass and throws it down emphatically with two hands. Wow. I’m sorry I ever besmirched The Beach.
5:16- They just showed the UNM cheerleaders, and I’m still reconciling with the fact that New Mexico is a place that exists. No idea why I have such a hard time grasping the concept.
5:18- This game is going either way. Lobos go up 62-61 after nailing an NBA three.
5:19- Harvard’s cut their deficit down to eleven. With the way I assume they shoot the three (haven’t done the research), they still have over twelve minutes to mount a comeback.
5:21- Though if they give up three offensive rebounds it’s going to be difficult. Had it down to nine, Vandy hit a three to put it back to double digits.
5:23- Long Beach misses a free throw on a three-point play, which you’ll notice is happening pretty regularly amongst the teams that keep losing.
5:26- New Mexico up four going to the free throw line with 39 seconds left. Haven’t looked at the numbers, but I get the impression Long Beach isn’t much of a shooting team.
5:29- CASPER Ware hits two free throws to cut it down to 68-71 with 29 seconds. Some guy that looks like he just did an eightball before stepping to the free throw line for UNM manages to relax enough to hit both free throws.
5:32- Well, that’s a wrap on Long Beach State’s tourney effort. Leaving me with a twenty point Vanderbilt lead on Harvard to find something to say about.
5:34- Hold on, they cut it down to eleven. Why aren’t they playing with this same sort of organization the entire game?
5:36- Oh, that’s right. They can’t ever stop Vanderbilt from scoring. Back to fifteen.
5:40- Harvard hits a three to cut the lead down to 13, people get entirely too excited. I’m not falling for THAT trap. At least not again.
5:44- Harvard hits another three and pokes away the in-bound pass, which causes the Vandy point guard to push the Harvard point guard, and is called for a foul. Vanderbilt must love this, it’s the only time all year they get to be the big, bad basketball juggernaut.
5:47- Harvard has it yet again back down to single digits, but since Vanderbilt is on pace to score over 80 points, my skepticism remains. Vandy might be the highest scoring team in the first round, and they’re a five-seed.
5:49- Vanderbilt’s the Northwestern of the SEC, and much like Northwestern they seem intent on trying to blow this, at least. Harvard forces another back court turnover and knocks down two free throws, 70-63.
5:51- Six free throws have been shot in the last two minutes, I’m not recapping every last one. Just not it’s a lot, should be boring but is kind of suspenseful.
5:54- Vanderbilt extends their lead to eight with 48.4 seconds left, and the Harvard guy at the line misses the first. I’m comfortable calling this a game.
That’s it for today, enjoy the rest of the games. We’re going to the Final Four in New Orleans and plan on posting about the experience here, so we’ll see you in a month.