Thursday, March 19, 2009

Buzzer Beaters at the Dinner Bell

No. 7 University of Texas Longhorns (22-11, Big 12)
No. 10 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (22-10, Big 10)
Greensboro, North Carolina
7:10 P.M. EST

I never cared for Tubby Smith when he was with Kentucky. But I'll admit that I even found Ashley Judd tiresome after a while so maybe it's just that I never cared for Kentucky. Which is probably because the coach that they all pine for down there was named Adolph. Yup, that might have something to do with it. Regardless, all my Tubby aversion seems to have been washed away by the waters of the Minnetonka. Now, I find myself pulling for his Golden Gophers. And, they did beat Louisville in December, which means there is hope for them against the Longhorns. Right?

Over at the Worldwide Leader, NCAA hoops maven Andy Katz named Texas "the hardest team to figure" in the East bracket. He's talking about the way this team has beaten Villanova and UCLA but inexplicably lost to Nebraska. And the way that A.J. Abrams and company never really got to full speed en route to their 22 wins. I've also not been able to figure out Texas. But, not just this season. I've never been able to correctly gage how good they are. Ever. I'm not really sure how I feel about Rick Barnes. I don't really know what I think of him as a coach. I know that the team has been blessed with decent guard play (T.J. Ford and D.J. Augustin) in recent years and that Kevin Durant was the cat's pajamas. But, I don't really know what I know about the program other than that they bring in good talent.

Ultimately, I could see Texas upsetting Duke in the next round and I can't fathom Minnesota hanging with Coach Kommercial's kids. So, if T > D and D > M then wouldn't T > M? Picking a first round game because of something having to do with the second round has to be the one of the top five of worst ways to fill out a bracket, but that's the way we do things around here. My heart says Minnesota (and one of the brackets I filled out) but my blog (and the rest of those brackets) will say Texas.

No. 7 Clemson Tigers (23-8, ACC)
No. 10 University of Michigan Wolverines (20-13, Big 10)
Kansas City, Missouri
7:10 P.M. EST

Whoever comes out of this game alive will get a lot of attention and be given a decent chance to advance through to next week. It's just one of those games. But's that mostly because the winner of this tilt plays an Oklahoma squad that people think can be had on any given night (but not consistently over time) like the Michael Beasley-led Kansas State squad from last year.

Through Feb. 24, the Tigers were 22-4. Their only losses were to Wake Forest, UNC, Florida State and in OT to Virginia. They were ranked. And they were good. From that point, though, they lost four of their next five. Which brings us up to date. I tend to think that they're more of a 22-4 club than a 1-4 one. And I think that they're up-tempo style could have tired them out at the end of a grueling ACC season. If that's the case then a few days of rest will have done them some good. If not, then they could be had by the Wolverines, who have beaten Duke, UCLA and Minnesota this year.

I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Manny Harris (17/7/4 per game) led Michigan to a win tonight but I'm going to take Clemson. I think they remember all-too-well the sting of losing to a lower-seeded team from a power conference. It happened to them last year when they got dropped by Villanova. And, I don't think they let it happen twice.

No. 2 Villanova Wildcats (26-7, Big East)
No. 15 American University Eagles (24-7, Patriot League)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
7:20 P.M. EST

This game is in Philly at the Wachovia Center. Where Villanova sometimes play home games. American's marquee win came over Holy Cross. Let's not waste words. I mean, normally I love wasting words. In case you hadn't noticed. But, not now. Not on this game.

No. 4 Gonzaga Bulldogs (26-5, WCC)
No. 13 Akron Zips (23-12, MAC)
Portland, Oregon
7:25 P.M. EST

It would be far more ironic if Gonzaga's title hopes were dashed by the unheralded Zips of Akron than if I were to be dining and found myself with several spoons when all I needed was a knife. Mark Few and the Bulldogs reinvigorated the glass slipper business in the past decade. But, I think the Zags will be wearing steel-toed boots tonight. They've won 18 of their last 19 games (the loss being to Memphis) and are probably better off for not having an Adam Morrison-level superstar. They're balanced and have managed to go underreported this year. Which is an upset in and of itself.

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