NCAA Tournament: Day 1 Recap

spartyondrumsFor the most part, everyone did what they were supposed to do yesterday, with a few exceptions. Some of the highlights:

  • Despite some fight from Valparaiso and surrendering turnovers in spades, Michigan State pulled away to a win in the tournament’s opening game.
  • Newly anointed Gonzaga nearly blew their opportunity and almost became the first #1 seed to go down in the first round, escaping with a win over a Southern team that would not go away.
  • Harvard University, which has so little going for it, finally found some success in the realm of sport, securing its first tournament win with an upset of #3 New Mexico.
  • New Mexico State also lost yesterday, making this article really sad.
  • Colorado State’s win over continually hapless Missouri was a yawner…until it wasn’t!
  • When will we stop underseeding the Pacific Twelve? Oregon pulled one of the least surprising 12-5 upsets ever by knocking off Eddie Sutton-less Oklahoma State, while #12 Cal eked one out against #5 UNLV.
  • As usual, I got greedy with underdogs in the early rounds, so the dispatching of UNLV and Belmont wasn’t too kind to my ALDLAND bracket. (If you’re a junkie, you can see the updated standings here. We’ll do a deep analysis after the first two rounds are complete.)

On that last point, keep an eye on Ole Miss and Wisconsin today, outcome to be determined by the severity of Marshall Henderson’s inevitable hangover.

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Give The Man His Due (via Sports On Earth)

LAS VEGAS — Jerry Tarkanian shifted in his easy chair to find a place it didn’t hurt so much. “My butt is sore,” he said. It’s what happens when you’re 82 years old and you fell four years ago. Back in the day, Jerry Tarkanian roared. On this day, his voice was a whisper, tiny and airy as a child’s.

“He’s worn out by physical therapy this morning,” his wife, Lois, said.

Maybe it’d be better to talk another day?

“No, no, he needs this,” she said.

In early April, for the first time, Tarkanian will be a  finalist for election to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

A question to him: Would you like to be in?

His lips barely moved. “It’d be nice,” he said.

What would your players think?

Again, a faint breath of air. “They would like it.”

We should shout it out. Jerry Tarkanian belongs in every basketball Hall of Fame. He built teams at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas that were wonders of the craft. They were at once aggressive and careful, disciplined and relentless. To see UNLV leave Duke alongside the road in the 1990 NCAA championship game, 103-73, was to see basketball made beautiful. In 31 seasons at Long Beach, UNLV and at his alma mater, Fresno State, Tarkanian’s teams won 778 games. He took UNLV to the Final Four four times.

This is also worth a shout: Tark was right all along. He called the NCAA corrupt long before such thinking was fashionable. … Read More

(via Sports On Earth)

Busy Monday

It was a busy weekend, really, and mostly because it was twice as long as most ordinary weekends. Plenty of football, including another Lions Thanksgiving day defeat at the hands of the Packers, injuries, and Ndamukong Suh (more on him later), a dominant performance by LSU over then-number 3 Arkansas that left Razorbacks head coach Bobby Petrino less than happy with the Tigers’ Les Miles (Clay Travis (who else?) has the video here), Michigan State rolling over Northwestern in a classic trap game, Michigan beating Ohio State for the first time since 2003 (more on that exciting game later), and Vanderbilt destroying Wake Forest to finish the regular season with a bowl-eligible 6-6 record, tripling their win total from last year and besting their win total of the last two seasons combined. In an era when a new coach routinely gets three or four years to “get his guys in” before he has to show success, Vanderbilt’s James Franklin turned a 2-10 team into a 6-6 team in one year, playing in the toughest conference in America, and he’s mad because they were a couple plays away from being 9-3. The Commodores’ loss to UT still stings, but the Vols’ defeat at the hands of lifeless Kentucky will keep the Big Orange out of a bowl this year, and that definitely is a silver lining for Vandy fans.

In Sunday NFL action, I have to mention Tim Tebow, who continued his improbable winning ways, and the Indianapolis Colts, who continued their extremely probable losing ways.

Two pieces of basketball news sure to be disappointing to large segments of the population: first, throwback UNLV took down top-ranked UNC in decisive fashion at the Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday, and the NBA is back, games to start piously on Christmas Day (link to the entirety of Grantland.com pending) (UPDATE: here it is.). (More seriously, the situation in Syracuse seems to have entered a new phase.)

In hockey, the Red Wings took down the pesky Predators and the Capitals fired their coach 22 games into the season.

Oh, and despite their loss in Ann Arbor, Buckeye hearts are aflutter with news of the hiring of Urban Meyer as OSU’s next head football coach. (More on that later, too.)