Total number of participants in the Sports 56 Bracket Challenge: 949
My rank: 707
My performance mirrors that of the SEC in the 1st two rounds--a massive disappointment. How embarrassing is it that a "power conference" as financially supported as the SEC can send but one team to the Sweet 16 this year? The SEC needs to do a little soul-searching and figure out whether it well and truly wants to be both a football and a basketball conference, or if it would prefer to spend all its energy on the pigskin.
After this weekend, there should be no doubt in anyone's mind the ACC is the best college basketball conference. The ACC is 8-2 after the first two rounds, the best record of any conference, including the 7th best team in the ACC (N.C. State) beating the Big East regular season champion (Connecticut) by 3. Granted, West Virginia beat Wake Forest in a 2OT thriller, but I would contend that N.C. State's victory was far more unlikely. The West Virginia/Wake Forest game was one of the greatest games I've ever seen. Mike Gansey is the new Jerry West. Gansey is now known, to me at least, as "Lil' Logo". 19 points in 10 minutes of overtimes? Jerry West, Jr.! North Carolina did everything you could ask of them and then some, but the excitement over their big victories has to be tempered by the fact that they beat Oakland and Iowa State. That's not exactly Murderer's Row--it's not even Jaywalker's Row. UNC's title hopes will be judged on the Villanova game; 'Nova is a big step up in class. If UNC loses, I'm concerned that Will Askew might hurt himself or others.
Kentucky survived the first two rounds. Barely. Not the most impressive performances I've seen, but I didn't expect a whole lot from the Wildcats aesthetically. That's not really their game. I was more impressed with the heart and desire they displayed against Cincy, a game that so easily could have gotten away from them--Cincinnati was not the best matchup for them just because of the physicality, yet Randolph Morris, Chuck Hayes, and the interior guys for Kentucky stepped up. Now comes Utah. I love seeing Utah next. Kentucky is 5-0 against Utah in the tourney--all 5 times since 1993. The only time Kentucky's played Utah in the tourney and not gotten to the Final Four was 2003, when they lost in the Regional Final to Dwyane Wade and Marquette. The karma is there.
Speaking of mojo, Bruce Pearl and his Wisconsin-Milwaukee team are riding it all the way to Chicago for the Sweet 16. As I mentioned in an earlier post, clearly the Memphis Morning Express mojo is working its magic. Clearly. Ed McCants is for real--that guy could play for anyone in the country; he is clutch. Adrian Tigert is like a bigger, less-talented Keith Van Horn, too, so that's cool. The Cobra is hard at work trying to secure Bruce Pearl again for sometime this week on the program. Go get 'em, Cobra!
--Digger Phelps' whole matching highlighter/tie thing has got to stop. Now. Wearing lime green and hot pink ties with no regard for the viewer is irresponsible and wrong.
--Billy Packer has got to stop making verbal love to Duke during these broadcasts. It's nauseating.
--Did anyone watch Spring Break Shark Attack?
--I've seen the same freaking commercials on CBS one hundred billion times. Enough Coach K, enough Pontiac, shut up about "taste loss", enough "there's a place for us", screw putting the lime in the Coke or whatever, enough! New ads, now.
--Tough loss for the Grizzlies yesterday, but nice to see Pau back--the ball's in your court now, Stro. Nice of the Rockets, Kings, and Lakers to cooperate by losing yesterday, though.
--Hey, Paul Silas, see you next Tuesday. Guess when the best player in the NBA scores 56 points and you still lose to Toronto, it's probably not good for your career.