The 2nd and 3rd rounds sure have lived up to the hype this year. MoreheadState, Richmond, Butler and more. The upsets have been galore, and many games have come down to the final seconds. What more could you really ask for? Since my last update, here are my thoughts for the Saturday and Sunday games thus far.
-I can’t say I didn’t tell you so (https://sportskraze.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/edition-61-buckeyes-look-prime-for-2010-2011/). I guaranteed a Final Four spot for the Ohio State Buckeyes back in November 2009 on this very blog for a reason. They have been my favorite all year, and I am sticking with them. Today they made a pretty strong statement transforming George Mason into appearing to be a high school JV squad. This Buckeye team can be near impossible to guard when they are clicking. Today they were clicking. I realize that it will be no walk in the park to get to the Final Four with a date against the Wildcats looming and then a possible matchup with a very talented Tar Heels team in the Elite Eight. But a Ohio State versus Duke Final Four matchup would truly be a game of epic proportions.
-Speaking of Duke, they are beatable. I realize that many have anointed this team as the favorite especially with the return of super frosh Kyrie Irving. But there are some definite weaknesses as I have stated many times. The Blue Devils outrebounded the Wolverines 31 to 18 today, and shot over 50 percent from the floor. Yet they barely squeaked out a victory against a Michigan squad that lost 14 games in the regular season and went 500 in the Big Ten. Duke has the potential to bring it home, but they have not even won their region yet.
-Shelvin Mack is a heck of a player, but may not be the brightest tool in the shed. The Junior star put up 30 points on 10 of 16 shooting. Yet he also made one of the bonehead plays I have ever witnessed. Granted Pittsburgh’s Nasir Robinson made an even more crucial mistake soon thereafter. But it wasn’t just Mack’s bonehead foul, but how he handled the press after the game. Mack said, “I was just talking to Matt, it’s been the craziest weekend of my life basketball-wise. Win two games on game-winners coming down to the last play of the game. I had an up-and-down feeling the last minute of the game because I had probably the worst foul in Butler history, but then the dude from Pittsburgh made up for me. So that got to be all right.” No reason for Mack to call out the “dude” (Nasir Robinson) on Pittsburgh. Everything he said in the post game press conference was fun up until the point.
Luckily for Mack, Butler Coach Brad Stevens is one of the smoothest cats I have ever seen with the media. The guy seems to have a knack for knowing exactly what to say all the time. Stevens was quoted saying, “Like I said, we’re not better than Old Dominion. We’re not better than Pittsburgh. We just had the ball last.” Spoken like a true champion.
Now the real question is when or will the clock strike Midnight on Cinderella. Or will they be staying for the entire ball this year?
-Saturday night was definitely comparable to Thursday afternoon in pure excitement. A double overtime game between San Diego State and Temple. The thrilling ending to the Butler/Pittsburgh game. I have never seen an ending like I witnessed as Pittsburgh became the first number 1 seed to fall. I did not expect Pittsburgh to lose in the Round of 32, but I fully expected them to lose in the Sweet 16. They are just not built to make deep runs in the tournament.
-Lastly, are Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette human? Sure they both have really cool names, but these two guys are living up to all the hype and more. They have both turned in 2 excellent performances as both of their teams are continuing to dance into the 2nd weekend. Fredette dropped 34 in Round 3, after putting up 32 in Round 2. Kemba dropped 33 after nearly putting up a triple double in UConn’s first tourney game. Want to know another amazing stat? In the tournament, Fredette is 15 of 17 from the charity stripe, while Kemba is 20 of 20. Never underestimate the importance of hitting your free throws. The real question is which one of these two amazing scorers is the Player of the Year? It could boil down to who gets the farthest in the tourney.
Keep enjoying the Madness. I am not sure the 2nd weekend can live up to all that has been Weekend 1.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.