Thoughts on the NCAA Tournament... while wondering if I'm the only person who was pleased by Greg Oden's crazy-hard foul as the first reliable indicator that the guy actually cares.
(I'm also wondering if I'm the only person who noticed that
Check out my latest Tournament piece in today's Wall Street Journal Online.
Meanwhile, here's my biggest storyline: Despite the uptick in excitement over the weekend, the favorites continue to march on. That lends itself to a key question today:
Where is Cinderella? Or, more interestingly, in the absence of some double-digit seed crashing the party (for the first time in 10 years), WHAT is a Cinderella?
The highest seed left is 7, which is sort of Cindy-ish. But UNLV also beat arguably the weakest team of the 2-seeds. (Nothing against the Rebels, though. Can't wait for the clips from that '90 team.)
Here's an interesting phenomenon: From their seedings, 4-seed Southern Illinois and 5-seed
It lends itself to a fascinating discussion about what, exactly, makes a Cinderella. I'd argue that it SHOULD be seeding (6/7-plus, at least), but it WILL be the "rep" factor of the team.
Little ol' Butler FEELS like a Cinderella, even though they were seeded with an EXPECTATION of making the Sweet 16. So they hardly qualify.
But if everything continues to proceed like they have in the first two rounds, we won't have to worry about "Cinderella." It will be all high seeds, all the time.
A few more things noticed after watching Tournament all weekend:
1-seeds: KU looked the best, but played the worst team of the four. But you can't say
(OK, this is the type of post that freaks me out as a Gators fan: Oregon is the new Florida. Here's my response: Yes, the path is eerily similar, but I'm not seeing enough roster similarities. Presuming the great outside shooting is a push, last year's Florida team had an unmatched FOUR post players in its rotation, and that doesn't even count Corey Brewer, who was probably the best defensive player in the tournament field.)
Durant is Done: I know his NBA potential is amazing, but it's hard to sustain excitement for a National Player of the Year who can't even get his team out of the first weekend of the Tournament. What a let-down. (Yeah, yeah: 30 points. More relevant: 1 Tournament win.)
(I wonder if the bitter taste of this loss will inspire him to think twice about jumping to the NBA. Doubt it. I think he's gone, and I wouldn't be surprised if PG DJ Augustine bolted, too.)
Looking ahead: UCLA-Pitt is the game to watch, because of the backstory of Ben Howland formerly coaching at Pitt, leaving them for the Bruins and being replaced by his protege, Jamie Dixon.
Florida-Butler: As a Gators fan, this scares me.
Oregon-UNLV: I can't believe UNLV has repositioned itself as a Cinderella after all those years as the Bad Boys of college hoops.
UNC-USC: Well, all of a sudden this game isn't NEARLY as exciting as it would have been if the Heels were playing
Georgetown-Vandy: No team is playing better than the Hoyas, but no team is worthy of "Cinderella" status more than the Commodores.
Ohio State-Tennessee: As mentioned above, the Buckeyes would do well to sit Oden and play small-and-fast versus the Vols.
Memphis-Texas A&M: Watch that Aggies home-court advantage! The regional is in
Tournament Challenge: I have 10 out of 16 Sweet 16 teams. Where'd I go wrong?
USC: Didn't everyone get this wrong?
Pitt: But picking VCU was worth the loss.
UNLV: At least I picked Wisco to lose.
Here's the thing: If I followed my own advice and stuck with the "National Bracket," I would be beating 90 percent of all individual bracket entries right now. 90 percent!
More Sports News Items:
NFL: Packers say Rodgers not on block for Moss. Either the GM is lying or he's stupid. (Or both.) How could they not even consider that deal?
Varsity Dad: For those of you parents out there following the "soft launch," there's a new post up.
Seriously: It's like there's nothing else going on in sports this week...