Posted 03/21/2008 at 03:03 PM
Good afternoon ladies and gents, the clock is approaching 3:00 p.m. Eastern and I'm going to try and blog it out with you the next couple of hours while we enjoy bets and ballgames galore. For those of you following, hit refresh every minute or so, and please forgive any typos as I just try to bang out as much info/thoughts as possible.
With the obvious exception of Belmont-Duke (how fun is it to root against the Blue Devils?!), Thursday was extremely dull for March Madness standards. However, Friday is off to a frenetic start!
Davidson-Gonzaga was probably the best first-round game I can remember since that OT CLASSIC between George Washington and UNC-Wilmington 2-3 years ago. More on that game (Gonz-Dav, that is) in a minute...
But for now, we've got a thriller going down in St. Pete (horrible place to watch a basketball game, btw!) with Western Kentucky and Drake tied late in the first (of hopefully several) overtimes.
Wild plays down the stretch, the Bulldogs take a one-point lead with 5.7 seconds left on a pair of free throws, BUT Western Ky. pushes it down the floor and we just saw our first buzzer beater of the tourney.
Ty Rogers, a senior shooting guard, took a dish from Tyrone Brazelton, who finished with 33 points, and drained a deep (I'll guess 28 feet?) 3-ball from the right wing as the buzzer sounded. Great stuff!
I had Drake -4 so somewhat disappointed, but you can't beat that stuff. Congrats to the Hilltoppers, who had a huge lead most of the game only to surrender it behind a furious Drake rally led by Jonathan Cox and Josh Young.
No shame in defeat for Drake, which enjoyed an incredible season. Congrats to Adam Emmanecker on an outstanding senior campaign, although it ended in heartbreaking fashion.
So Ty Rogers, unheard of in most parts before today, joins NCAA Tourney lore with the likes of Tate George, Keith Smart, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner (twice), Bryce Drew, James Forrest, Tyus Edney, Jason Cipolla, Rip Hamilton, that dude from Creighton (#23) who went off glass in double OT to beat my Gators, the dude from Northwestern St. who beat Iowa and that dude from Northern Iowa to beat Norm Stewart's Missouri Tigers.
3:20ish: I've got two plays going in this next session of games: 'over' Texas-Austin Peay and San Diego catching double digits.
Interesting development just now as Georgetown's Jonathan Wallace just left the game with a wrist injury after a hard fall. Wallace is the heart and soul of this Hoyas' squad so that could be big (not necessarily in terms of today's result, but I've got Georgetown in my Final Four).
Ok, let's get back to that Davidson-Gonzaga thriller as I take my first look at the box score...
Oh, and lest I forget, forgive a little shameless self-promo plug but my "Blind Pick" is still 100 percent 'career.' For those of you that aren't loyal readers and/or Power Hours listeners, I've made a "blind pick" each of the last three Decembers. What it is is me taking a team in December and announcing three months in advance that that team will win its first-round game whoever they play (in other words, I'm blind on the opponent, yet I'm saying they go down regardless).
I'm being sarcastic with the 'career' remark because this only goes back three years, but it has been Northwestern State, Winthrop and now Davidson this year. Of course, Northestern St. beat Iowa in a 4/13 matchup two years ago, while Winthrop knocked off Notre Dame last year. And now today, Davidson takes out Gonzaga.
I've been touting Davidson's backcourt of Jason Richards (nation's assist leader) and Stephen Curry (best pure shooter in America with a moderate/modest apology to Tennessee's Chris Lofton) as the most underrated in the country all year and have flatly stated that it is one of the top 2-3 backcourt combos in the country.
That FACT was evidenced today, as Curry absolutely blew up for 40 points against a team that plays solid defense, is well-coached and gave him 110 percent attention all day. Seriously, you can't blame Gonzaga one bit for its defensive effort. Curry was taking and making difficult shots that were well defended. He did get a few clean looks off broken plays and a couple in transition, but mostly he was just firing from deep with a hand in his face.
Richards was terrific as well with 15 points and nine assists, but the rest of the Davidson cast showed it was legit too. Andrew Lovedale (12 points, 13 boards) was a beast on defense and a monster on the boards.
If the Hoyas survive UMBC (they currently lead 23-17), they will have their hands full against the Wildcats. I'm salivating at the prospects of getting Davidson catching a rich number, but I doubt we'll get more than six or seven. With that in mind, I'd love to see G-town start rolling against UMBC and therefore (perhaps) inflate the number a tad.
Updates: Butler leads South Alabama 34-26 late first half. I think Butler and Tennessee got shafted by the committee. No way those teams should be meeting as early as the second round (easy Jaguar fans, not burying you in that game yet, just stating my opinion on the seeds). UConn out to a 2-0 lead on SD in the opening minute, while Texas leads the Governors 27-10 with 6 minutes and change left. (Not a good pace at all for my 'over' play!)
4:00ish: We've got some halftime lines to look at. Butler making a big-time statement with a 47-30 lead at intermission. So. Alabama is minus three in the second half and that's moderately attractive when you consider the Jaguars closed as four-point 'dogs and this 2H number would equate to them being +14 (10 points of value from original line).
Wallace from Georgetown appears to be ok in terms of the aformentioned wrist injury, but UConn's A.J. Price just went down with a knee injury that didn't look good.
Back to the Hoyas, who lead 34-22 at halftime and are seven-point 'chalk' in 2H (making 'em -19 for game). Meanwhile, Texas has a 39-24 lead at the break. Still not quite on pace for 'over,' but I feel a lot better about it than I did midway through the first half. If you want to look at Texas 'over' in 2H, you'd only need 137 rather than original total in 141-142 range.
Look at the Toreros, who lead UConn 22-20 with seven minutes left in the first half.
5:00ish: Allright, let's play catch-up. UConn is playing just as flat as it did in a loss to West Va. to get sent packing pronto from the Big East Tournament. The same early pink-slip-like dismissal could also be in the works today, as San Diego has scored the first four points of the second half to take a 38-29 advantage. Jim Calhoun just took a timeout to adminster a serious tongue lashing to his Huskies's squad. As I mentioned, I'm on the Toreros plus the pts., but where's my +700 money-line play?!
Back to Butler, which continues to deal a serious pimpslap to South Alabama (in Birmingham). The Bulldogs lead 79-53 in the waning minutes. I'm guessing Tennessee will be a 5 1/2-point 'chalk' against Butler, while my VI cohort Chris David guessed the number to be six. We should know within a matter of minutes as LVSC will send out the opening line.
UMBC made things a little interesting, cutting the deficit to 11 midway through the second half, but the Hoyas have now put 'em away, leading 63-45 with three minutes remaining.
Texas has a 70-47 lead over A-Peay and my 'over' is going to need a miracle with the Governors too far out of reach to make the final minute a free-throw fest.
I've got three games pending for tonight in my pick pack if anyone is interested. The Ark-Ind play is on the total and is a pay-if-it-wins-only selection.
UConn had rallied to tie the game, but Brandon Johnson just hit an audacious fadeaway 3-pointer off the dribble to give USD a 49-46 advantage with 7:08 left.
Texas ended up covering and the 'under' cashed. Ouch!
Las Vegas Sports Consultants just sent out opening numbers for Georgetown and Tennessee in the second round. Look at this mad respect for Davidson, which opens as just a 4 1/2-point 'dog against the Hoyas. My guess with the Vols was dead-on accurate, as LVSC sends UT out at 5 1/2 with a total of 140. On first glance, that's a possible 'over' I'll consider.
Davidson-G'town total: 132. Texas opens as 7 1/2-point 'chalk' vs. Miami with total of 139.
Johnson just banged home another 3-ball. He has scored eight straight for the Toreros, who are now up six with six and change left.
5:30ish: UConn just took its first lead of the second half, but it only lasted about 5-6 seconds. Game now tied and San Diego has the ball with 2:16 left. This is what I call nut-cuttin' time.
Oh boy! GREAT dish from Johnson to Rob Jones, who made an acrobtic reverse lay-up scoop shot.
San Diego gets a stop and now Toreros up four off another Jones runner. Calhoun gets a TO with just 51 ticks left. Somewhere in Las Vegas right now, Mark Franco is bummin'.
Out of the timeout, UConn gets a quick bucket to pull within two. UConn gives a foul with 37 seconds left, but Huskies still have two fouls to give before San Diego is in the bonus.
Free-throw shooting is going to be key for San Diego to pull out this upset. Devin Ginty buries the front end of a one-and-one, but missed the second and UConn answers with a quick basket and timeout with 20.1 seconds left. USD still leads 59-58.
Ginty to the line with 17.1 left. He makes the first but misses the second again. UConn's Jerome Dyson quickly rushes the ball up and gets fouled by Johnson (his fourth). Dyson drains the first of two at the line. Here comes the big one with 10.4 left...
Dyson nails the second also. Here we go...De'jon Jackson goes the length of the floor and had a great look from about four feet --albeit with a defender coming at 'em -- but misses. We're going to OT in St. Pete -- again.
UConn did a great job of not allowing Brandon Johnson to get the ball on that possession. USD no stranger to OT, beating St. Mary's in a double-OT game in the WCC Tourney.
By the way, Tim Brando is brilliant on play-by-play.
Ok, I'll describe all of OT in a minute, but here's the latest. USD just takes a one-point lead on a jumper with 1.2 seconds left and UConn takes a timeout. Nineteen years ago, the Huskies faced this exact situation against Clemson in the Meadowlands. Scott Burrell threw the length of the court to Tate George, who caught it on baseline and hit a game winner to advance to the Elite Eight.
On this occasion, it was not to be as the Toreros stole the pass near midcourt. San Diego advances and it's a good thing because the Toreros almost got robbed by the refs.
With the Toreros leading by four in OT, UConn got a 3-point play the hard way on a complete phantom call against Gyno Pomare (22 points on 10-of-12 shooting), who did not even touch the Husky. More than the extra point at the free throw, this was critical because it fouled Pomare out and Johnson was already limping around with a groin injury suffered early in the extra session.
Nevertheless, San Diego moves on thanks to Jackson's jumper that was defended decently. Jackson started out beyond the key, dribbled to his right and pulled up from about 16 feet and drained the fadeaway at money time.
A few quick-hit tourney thoughts on what we've seen so far:
1-Stephen Curry (Davidson)
2-Jack McClinton (Miami)
3-Gyno Pomare (San Diego)
4-Tyrone Brazelton (Western Kentucky)
5-Jonathan Cox (Drake)
Allright folks, now I need a timeout.