The first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament was about as chalky a tournament as we've ever seen, at least through two rounds. For those not plugged in on the gambling parlance, "chalky" is just a fancy way of saying that almost all the favorites moved on — all the 1-seeds, all the 2-seeds, all the 3-seeds, a couple 4's, a 5, and one random 12-seed. (What exactly WERE you doing there, Oregon?)
So it would stand to reason that a Sweet Sixteen full of blue bloods and chalky programs would give us a title game with at least one hallowed Final Four regular. Instead, not only will there be no North Carolina, Duke, or Kentucky (all programs who were alive to start the weekend), but we get two programs that will turn this thing into a slow down street fight before they even think of playing a game with both teams in the '70s.
Congrats to both Texas Tech, in the title game for the first time ever, and Virginia, who returned to the Final Four for the first time since the year after Ralph Sampson graduated. I'm happy for both schools, can't wait for tonight's game, but I'm nervous about what America will think of this game aesthetically. Probably not the programs nor the playing styles to draw in the average viewer. We shall see.
A few other thoughts on the outcomes from the weekend:
The foul called on Samir Doughty at the end of the Auburn game WAS a foul
There were a lot of people on Twitter after the game — some just Twitter alarmists, but others who've been involved in basketball for years on many levels — saying that you cannot make the call that the official did on Doughty at that moment, where the ref called Doughty for bumping Kyle Guy low on what would have been a game winning three point shot with under a second to go. I understand not wanting to decide the game on a ref's call, but I mean... it was a foul. Guy was clearly bumped, and it clearly affected the shot. Credit Charles Barkley, a former Auburn player, for admitting after the game that it was definitely a foul. If anyone would have had the right to pull the "you can't decide the game that way" card, it's him, and he did not do that. Now, as it turns out the more egregious miss by the refs....
However, that WAS a double dribble by Ty Jerome
... was this play:
It's easy to get mad about THIS one, because in retrospect it was so obvious, but here's why you can't — nobody got angry about it in the moment — the announcers, the Auburn players, the Auburn coaches, the Auburn fans, ME sitting on an Auburn-Texas Tech moneyline parlay ticket, NONE of us did. So it's hard to destroy the refs over that call in the moment. That said, the NCAA probably should say SOMETHING about it, but they're likely too busy trying to chase down some secondary violations of a recruit getting a free sandwich somewhere.
While the foul call on Guy's shot may have been controversial, these videos of Auburn fans prematurely celebrating are awesome
Let these next two videos be a lesson to you — never, ever, EVER begin celebrating until you make sure there are no flags down (in football), and/or the referees have made all the necessary calls, and the scoreboard says "FINAL". These are just painful (but hilarious)....
Some Auburn fans didn’t realize the foul was called and started to roll Toomer’s Corner thinking they had won. pic.twitter.com/IByz9ivPmm— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) April 7, 2019
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This bar in Birmingham didnt realize a foul was called. pic.twitter.com/qaTIqYyAV3— Jake Query (@jakequery) April 7, 2019
Sadly, I know how these people feel. My final college football game of my senior year at Notre Dame was the 1991 Orange Bowl, where Rocket Ismail returned a punt with like a minute left in the game to win the game. I was at the game, and went nuts with many of my fellow students. We were rolling around in the bleachers like a mosh pit! And then.... FLAG on the play. Devastation. I'm just glad there was no Twitter back then (for many reasons).
What will it take for Texas Tech to keep Chris Beard?
It's really incredible what Beard has done with this Texas Tech program, which was a 200/1 shot to win it all at the beginning of the year, and now is just a one point underdog in the title game to a team that's been perennially among the best in the country for the last several years. With three seniors in his starting lineup and Jarrett Culver possibly on his way to the NBA, maybe you drop the mike, and go onto the next job while on top. I have no idea what Beard is pondering (other than "beat Virginia"), but UCLA, Arkansas, and a few others need to flood his agent with texts and phone calls. Even Texas, if they didn't have a gargantuan buyout for Shaka Smart, would be a no brainer for Beard, who was a student manager there under Tom Penders in the late '90s. I'm guessing $4 million per year will be the starting point in contract negotiations.