Friday, March 20, 2009

Almost-Quitting-Time Games

No. 6 Arizona State Sun Devils (24-9, Pac 10)
No. 11 Temple Owls (22-11, Atlantic 10)
Miami, Florida
2:45 P.M. EST

Arizona State’s James Harden is the best player in this game, according to the NBA. He’s 6-5, he scores (20), passes (4), he rebounds (5) and he steals (1.7). He’s the sort of player that is good enough to get a team a round one win in the tournament. He was the Pac-10 Player of the Year, too. And, he supposedly could be a lottery pick next season if he elects to leave school. The precocious teenager, though, is coming off a game (the finals of the Pac 10 tournament) where he missed an armload of shots in the closing minute of three-point loss to USC. He seemed a bit overmatched by the moment.
Not overmatched in the big moment was Temple’s version of Harden, Dionte Christmas. The senior guard dropped 29 points on Duquesne in a four-point win in the final of the A-10 convention. He’s also 6-5. He averages 19/3/6/1.5. And I’d never heard of him until today. Even though his name is Christmas. I predict an Owls upset and an announcer screaming “It’s Christmas in March!” after Dionte hits a run-capping three pointer.

No. 1 Pittsburgh Panthers (28-4, Big East)
No. 16 Eastern Tennessee State Buccaneers (23-10, Atlantic Sun)
Dayton, Ohio
3:05 P.M. EST

Many of the gambling terms that we know and love go back to the days when ponies were kings. Or, rather when most people did their betting on horses. Before the days of the lavish OTB and electronic boards showing the changing odds prior to a race all information was put up on chalk boards. These were used because the odds had to keep being erased and replaced as the money flowed in. Since most action at the horse track would pertain to the favorite that horse's line on the board would inevitably become a blurry mess. When people wanted to bet the favorite but couldn't decipher the odds on or even the name of the favored horse they would simply ask the person at the counter to give them "the chalk." This is why we refer to as a bracket full of top seeds being "chalk."
I feel like this information is relevant to this game...

No. 6 West Virginia Mountaineers (23-11, Big East)
No. 11 Dayton Flyers (26-7, A10)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
3:05 P.M. EST

I'm torn on this one. RIght down the middle. WVU is a team that I usually ride in my brackets. But Dayton has the look and the feel of cotton a Cinderella. Or, at least, I thought they did. Until I looked a little closer. They don't have a player that averages more than 14 points per game. And I feel like a Cindy-squad needs someone capable of taking over. Also, the difference between Dayton's points scored and points allowed was just six points. It would seem that they won close games against teams that aren't very good. Like, for example, that one-point squeaker with Fordham. Still, I can't shake the idea that they've got something to offer. I'm not sure if it's the color scheme (red and white like Western Kentucky), the name of the school or what. But for some reason the Flyers just feel like a team that makes some noise.
But, since I can't find any reason to back this up, I'm sticking with the people that brought us Kevin Pittsnogle. I'm going to resort to my lesser instincts and confirm my choice of the Mountaineers because I could see them taking down Kansas in the second round (which is never a good reason to pick a first round game).

No. 3 University of Missouri Tigers (28-6, Big 12)
No. 14 Cornell University Bears (21-9, Ivy)
Boise, Idaho
3:10 P.M. EST

Remember that time that I told you about chalk?

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