Sunday, March 20, 2011

03/19 (Sweet 16) Quickie

I want to talk about Butler-Pitt, but first let me say that I've made some really stupid predictions in my time -- jinxes and otherwise -- but it's the one I didn't talk about that ranks among my best/favorite predictions ever:

Butler over Pitt.

The rest of my bracket may be a shamockery. I have George Mason over Ohio State. I have BYU winning the Southeast region. I even have Duke winning it all, which made me want to retch.

But calling a 1-seed getting KO'ed in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is a rare and wonderful thing. I'm going to appreciate it, even if the rest of my bracket is mediocre. It may not be as good as President Obama's bracket, but then again, he picked Pitt to his Final Four. Checkmate, Shanoff.

I appreciate that the two fouls were fouls. But given that the score was tied, I think the ref shoud have swallowed his whistle on that ticky-tack call of Nasir Robinson fouling Matt Howard with 0.8 seconds to go and let the teams battle it out in OT. I get it that Robinson was stupid enough to foul Howard, but it wasn't the right way for the game to end.

(And, believe me, I wanted Butler to win. In fact, I wonder if we'd have this kind of universal "Hey, it's OK the way that ended!" if it happened to eternally considered Cinderella, rather than to the 1-seed.)

All in all, the first half of the Sweet 16 is a healthy mix of chalk (Florida had the exactly the struggle I thought they'd have), good star power (Jimmer and Kemba) and teams outside first four seeds (Richmond and, obviously, Butler). In the Southeast, particularly, I think you can make the case for all four teams to win the region.

I think today sets up for a lot more of a seed shake-up: You know OSU fans are at least a little nervous about George Mason. If I was a UNC fan, I WOULD be nervous about Washington -- like Butler, underseeded. VCU has momentum; so does Marquette. Even Illinois is coming off its best game of the season. Should be a great day.

But, almost by definition, it can't possibly be as crazy as it got last night.

-- D.S.

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