Thursday, March 15, 2012

NCAA Tourney - Day 1

Rather than throw out my region-by-region selections, I'll just provide some recap thoughts for the tourney.

But since you asked, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Carolina, and Missouri. Kentucky wins it all.

OK, Day 1:

Tough day for Davidson to go cold from the field, shooting 35% against a Louisville team that could be had. I shouldn't completely discredit Louisville, the Cardinals did a nice job of denying Davidson their preference of running after made buckets. Louisville played good defense, and did what they needed to. Davidson will be back in this field next year, losing 3 seniors, but returning their top eight scorers.

VCU continues to turn heads, the 12 seed knocks out Gregg Marshall and Wichita State in the 5-12 game. I saw this coming, and yet failed to pick it correctly. I know better than to trust a Marshall coached team, and I am pretty sure the South Carolina Gamecocks learned a little something too. South Carolina looking for a new Head Coach after firing Darin Horn. Not sure that Marshall tops their list after this one.

I still don't believe Murray State is THAT good, but I give them credit for holding serve against Colorado State. The Racers have just one loss this season, and I still maintain they haven't played anybody of substance, save for UAB, Memphis and Dayton. Sure they won those games, but I am not convinced. If they make the Sweet 16, I might be, but they have to knock out Marquette to do it.

I'd be remiss if I left out the brutal knife-job UNC-Asheville got against Syracuse. Yes, the Orange are more talented, but the Bulldogs were the better team, played better, and deserved a better fate. Head Coach Eddie Biedenbach wouldn't say it, so I will say it for him. The officials denied UNC-Asheville a chance to write their names in the history books. A lane violation whistle, which when you watch it, is mind-boggling, and then the in-bounds alleged foul call in the dying seconds of a three-point game. It's horrible to see a team have their chance denied by the stripes. Alas, it's part of the game, but I don't let that crew work another game in this tournament. That's just me.

Waiting in the wings, NC State, who feels nothing like an 11 seed, takes on San Diego State on Friday in Columbus. North Carolina meets Vermont and Duke takes on Lehigh, both games in Greensboro. I like the NC teams to move through to the next round, and I actually think NC State gets through pretty handily. If any team is playing with "house money," in this thing, it's the Wolfpack. The final team placed in a region (via the Selection Show), this team felt like the last one in (even though they weren't). They are returning to the tourney after a 6 year hiatus, and playing much better of late. Credit the players and Head Coach Mark Gottfried for finishing strong, because without that, they are NIT bound.

Mike Solarte

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