Game Time: "I've Done Some Pretty Bad Things"
"I've done some pretty bad things..." -- Tiger Woods, 3.21.10
That makes two of us, Tiger. Of course, while the bad things you did were decidedly more kinky and homewrecking than my transgressions, it doesn't make me feel any less remorseful than you. Hey, by the way, saw your texts to Joslyn James; was it really necessary to ask a porn star if they've had a golden shower? A little like asking John Daly if he's tried a Jaeger bomb, no? Anyway....
The fact of the matter is that I have more love for my readers in my little finger than you will ever have for your wife, Eldrick, and the emotional, bracketorial, and (let's face it) financial wrongs I have inflicted upon them with my March Madness preview are unforgivable.
To be fair, I am not alone. The March Madness 2010 graveyard is full of blowhards like me proclaiming that we were smarter than everyone else and that somehow our set of criteria would spit out the correct answers to the test. And then Robert Morris takes Villanova to overtime before lunch is even served on the first Thursday and the bad dream begins. Four days later, you wake up hungover next to someone named "Ali Farokhmanesh" and you're wearing nothing but an Omar Samhan jersey and Cornell boxer shorts. "How in the blue hell did I get here???"
Rice Owls Mens Basketball vs. St. Thomas University Men's Basketball
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Rice Owls Mens Basketball vs. Middle Tennessee State Univ Blue Raiders Mens Basketball
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Yeah, it was a bad weekend. Many of you tweeted me as to just how bad it was for you bracket-wise. I'll share the best tweets in this space tomorrow. (It's amazing how creative people can be even with a 140-character limit; we are really advancing as a species!)
Before we examine just how bad it was, the positives for me (Trust me, this won't take long):
I didn't pick Kansas to win it all. Yes, amidst the bloody carnage that is my bracket, the one positive I can take away is that I still have a chance to do the one fundamental thing a bracket is intended to do -- pick a winner. Half the nation is out of the mix in that regard thanks to the aforementioned Farokhmanesh hitting the quintessential "DAGGUH THREE" (footnote, Mark Jackson) on the Kansas Jayhawks. Of course, my predicted champion (West Virginia) will likely have to knock off a Kentucky team that scored 190 points in its first two games, but whatever. I'm still alive!
I was slightly dubious of this version of Kansas' chops as a "great team." as I outlined in my preview, I thought they were the best team in this field, but indicated that they'd be underdogs to all but one, maybe two, of the champs from this past decade. As it turns out they were the one seed least prepared to advance to the second weekend of the tournament, let alone win the thing.
That's it for positives. See, told you it wouldn't take long.
The conference breakdown for the Sweet Sixteen looks like this:
Big Ten (3) - 2 Ohio State, 4 Purdue, 5 Michigan State
Big East (2) - 1 Syracuse, 2 West Virginia
Big XII (2) - 2 Kansas State, 3 Baylor
SEC (2) - 1 Kentucky, 6 Tennessee
ACC (1) - 1 Duke
Atlantic-10 (1) - Xavier
Horizon League (1) - 5 Butler
vy League (1) - 12 Cornell
Missouri Valley (1) - 9 Northern Iowa
Pac-10 (1) - 11 Washington
WCC (1) - 10 St. Mary's
As if the list including teams from the Ivy and Horizon Leagues isn't disorienting enough, to give you an idea of how wacky (Vitale word) the tournament has been, the 11 conferences being represented in the Sweet Sixteen are the most since the brackets went to 64 teams. Hell, even in the crazy 2006 tournament (George Mason Final Four run, Missouri Valley cracking the RPI-and-Sweet-Sixteen-code year), there were only nine conferences represented after Round 2.
What does this all mean? Well, the Big East probably got too much respect, as usual. The Big Ten was a little more solid than we thought. The ACC is Duke and everyone else, but we knew that. Above all else, anyone can beat anyone, and no one is immune. I could see a Final Four of three top seeds and Ohio State, and I could see a Final Four of Tennessee, Kansas State, West Virginia, and St. Mary's (two 2's, a 6, and a Cinderella 10).
On a side note, how pissed do you think the Mountain West Conference football teams are at their basketball brethren? "All this progress that we've made and you bastards go out and go for 0-4 getting teams to the Sweet 16. Assholes."
As for my predicted "Live seeds," let's put on our bio-hazard suits and go back and see how I did:
"LIVE" 16 SEED PREDICTION: Vermont
RESULT: Lost to Syracuse 79-56 in a game where the Orange steadily pulled away and were never really threatened.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN... Lehigh. Once again, none of the 16 seeds pulled off the first-round upset, but Lehigh actually jumped out to a 12-4 lead, made Kansas use a timeout, and was only trailing by six points at halftime. They went on to cover the spread with ease, losing 90-74. For a 16 seed, that's as live as you're going to get.
"LIVE" 15 SEED PREDICTION: Morgan State
RESULT: Actually jumped out to a 10-0 lead on West Virginia, but eventually folded, losing 77-50.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Robert Morris. The other 15 seeds weren't even close to pulling off the upset of their 2 seed, but Robert Morris took Villanova to the final possession of overtime, and if it weren't for some shaky officiating, might have played St. Mary's in a 10 vs. 15 matchup Saturday morning.
"LIVE" 14 SEED PREDICTION: Montana
RESULT: Hung in with 3 seed New Mexico, falling late by a 62-57 score.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Ohio. The Bobcats got out fast against Georgetown, opening up a double-digit halftime lead and were never threatened in a 97-83 win. Honorable mention to Sam Houston for giving Baylor a tussle.
"LIVE" 13 SEED PREDICTION: Siena
RESULT: Lost to a Robbie Hummel-less Purdue 72-64.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Murray State. The first buzzer beater of the weekend came from Danero Thomas as Murray State knocked off 4-seed Vanderbilt. Honorable mention to Wofford for giving Wisconsin a scare, and to Tom Penders for managing to win his conference tournament, coach an NCAA tournament game, and get fired in less than a week.
"LIVE" 12 SEED PREDICTION: UTEP
RESULT: The Miners led Butler by six at halftime, and that's about the only good thing I can say. Butler decided to untie their right hands for the second half, cruising to a 77-59 win.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Cornell. Sometimes the obvious answer is the right one. Cornell has blown out Temple and Wisconsin in getting to the Sweet 16. They are one win away from making Jay Bilas look like Nostradamus. The Nard-dog approves...
" LIVE" 11 SEED PREDICTION: San Diego State
RESULT: Lost a tight one to the Tennessee Headbands, 62-59.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Washington. Came into the tournament as one of two perceived Pac-10 pushovers, and would up beating Marquette on a late Quincy Pondexter bucket after coming back from a 15-point deficit. Followed that up with an 82-64 thrashing of 3-seed New Mexico. They're now a threat to go the Final Four.
"LIVE" 10 SEED PREDICTION: St. Mary's
RESULT: Omar Samhan scored 29 points in an 80-71 win over Richmond, and followed that up with 32 points in a 75-68 upset of 2-seed Villanova.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... St. Mary's. They actually had some competition after the first round (Missouri and Georgia Tech both won first-round games.), but the only 10 seed to make the second round makes the Gaels an obvious choice.
"LIVE" 9 SEED PREDICTION: Louisville
RESULT: Fell behind California 22-4 and were never able to really put game pressure on the Golden Bears, never getting closer than six points the rest of the way. The Cardinals would bow out with a whimper, 77-62.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Northern Iowa. In the history of 64-team fields, a nine seed has beaten a one seed exactly three times, until Saturday. Northern Iowa led by eight at halftime and withstood a late charge from the overall top-seeded Jayhawks, capped off by the quintessential "DAGGUH THREE" from someone named Ali Farokhmanesh...
...DAGGUH THREE indeed.
"LIVE" 8 PREDICTION: Gonzaga
RESULT: Gonzaga grinded out a workmanlike 67-60 win over Florida State in their opener, and then were outclassed in every way by top-seeded Syracuse in the second round, falling behind by as much as 30 before losing 87-65.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN... Cal. The Bears also lost by double digits in the second round, but win out here in a weak field of eight seeds on the strength of the wire-to-wire win over Louisville, and at least being within striking distance of Duke early in the second half. Tallest-midget thing at this seed.
"LIVE" 7 PREDICTION: Oklahoma State
RESULT: Lost in the first round to an enigmatic Georgia Tech team 64-59.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN....BYU. Bad year for seven seeds when a double-overtime win over a bubblicious Florida Gators squad and a second-round thumping from Kansas State makes you "live," but that's what 2010 was for the seven hole.
"LIVE" 6 PREDICTION: Marquette
RESULT: Blew a 15-point second-half lead, and allowed Quincy Pondexter about as easy a winning bucket as you can give up in an 80-78 loss to 11-seed Washington, the first leg of a Pac-10 sweep of the Big East.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Xavier, inching out Tennessee by a hair on the strength of having to beat a third seed in the second round. Tennessee made it to the Sweet 16, but had 14th-seeded Ohio as its second round matchup.
"LIVE" 5 PREDICTION: Texas A&M
RESULT: Pounded Utah State in round one before coughing up an eleven-point lead in the second half to Purdue, losing in overtime 63-61, crushing the hopes and dreams of ticket scalpers in Houston.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Michigan State. Could have gone with Butler here, too, but Michigan State's heart pounding buzzer beater over Maryland was a "One Shining Moment" Special, and in the now-thrashed Midwest Region, even without Kalin Lucas, they may have a darkhorse Final Four run in them.
"LIVE" 4 PREDICTION: Maryland
RESULT: Completely outclassed Houston in the first round in a game where the Terps seemed to be toying with the Coogs in the second half, never really allowing them to get back in the game, then lost on a heartbreaking buzzer beater in round 2 to Michigan State, 85-83.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Purdue. No Robbie Hummel, no problem. At least so far. It may become problematic against Duke in the Sweet 16.
"LIVE" 3 SEED PREDICTION: Baylor
RESULT: Grinded out a win over Sam Houston in the first round before pulling away from Old Dominion late in the second round.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Baylor. This one was correct. Georgetown losing to Ohio was a bracket killer, New Mexico was WAY overseeded, and Pitt did what they do almost every year -- play way under their inflated seed.
"LIVE" 2 SEED PREDICTION: West Virginia
RESULT: Woke up late for the Morgan State game but got it in gear eventually, and then held off a decent Missouri team in the second round.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... West Virginia. Villanova was a train wreck waiting to happen; I'm embarassed for picking them. Ohio State and Kansas State are very solid two seeds, I just prefer West Virginia and their athleticism and defense.
"LIVE" 1 SEED PREDICTION: Kansas
RESULT: Kanas got Farokhmaneshed. Next.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Kentucky. So much for the tight game this group played in the SEC being a harbinger of a possible upset. Now, it is just a 16 seed and an inconsistent Wake Forest team that they beat, but this Kentucky bunch has a serious "Fab Five meets UNLV early `90's" vibe to them. They are now the chalk in the tournament, like it or not.
So there you go. I was correct on who the "live seed" would-be on three of the sixteen. I suck, you suck, we all suck. At least this year we do. Tomorrow we'll look ahead to this weekend and try to do better. Sound good?
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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