A few thoughts on Day 2 of the NCAA Tournament
Tyler Hansbrough dunked for the game’s first two points before the seats were even warm and North Carolina never looked back, routing Mount St. Mary’s in the first round.
The Tar Heels did exactly what they wanted to do — win their first-round game with ease, so much so that the final 4 1/2 minutes featured a Surry Wood alley-oop dunk. The last thing North Carolina needed was a hard-fought 40-minute game like Duke or Tennessee had to endure.
UNC wasn’t exactly perfect, though the box score may reflect otherwise. North Carolina was never threatened in this one, but there wasn’t exactly anything you would call defensive intensity. Then again, guarding people — really guarding them — takes effort, a lot of it, and this game was all about expending as little energy as possible.
Billy Packer told a story in the late stages of Davidson’s win over Gonzaga about the Wildcats’ Stephen Curry. Packer said that coaches like Roy Williams of UNC have said in hindsight that they basically “just missed” in recruiting Curry.
Boy, did they ever.
Curry scored 30 points in the second half on his way to 40 in the game, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot in the last 8 minutes of the game to first keep Gonzaga from pulling away and then to carry Davidson to victory.
At the same time, lost in Curry’s heroics — and Curry was brilliant, shooting 14 of 22 from the field and hitting on eight 3s — was the sparkling performance by forward Andrew Lovedale. Lovedale, who averaged 6.4 points and 5.2 rebounds this season, had 12 points and 13 boards, including the offensive rebound that led to Curry’s 3 with the game tied at 74. Davidson never trailed again after that.
All in all, that was as good of an NCAA tournament game we will see this month. Just a well-played game done so at a very high level. Good, solid hoops were being played out there with two teams throwing big-time bombs at each other.
Um, did anybody else see the shots of Adam Morrison courtside?
Nice pick there, Michael.
And then after Davidson/Gonzaga tickles our basketball fancies, along comes another great game with Drake and Western Kentucky.
You’re always supposed to pick a 5-12 upset in your office pool, but it didn’t happen last year.
This year it did, and in dazzling fashion.
Drake was down the entire game, falling behind by as many as 16 in the second half. Drake was still down by eight with just over 4 minutes to go, but forced overtime.
It looked like the upset was going to be avoided when Drake hit two foul shots with 5.7 seconds left to go on top by one, by Western Kentucky’s Ty Rogers had other plans.
What was truly great about the play was that Tyrone Brazelton, who had 33 points and carried Western Kentucky much of the day, raced downcourt just to set up Rogers, who buried a 3 at the buzzer for the improbable 101-99 overtime win.
What a game.
Not to be outdone, San Diego led UConn for most of the second half before the Huskies fought off the 13th-seeded Tereros long enough to force overtime.
But after UConn’s Jerome Dyson made two clutch foul shots to give the Huskies a one-point led with just over five seconds left, San Diego’s De’Jon Jackson made a tough step-back fader with 1.2 ticks left to give San Diego the biggest upset of the tourney so far.
So that gives us 12th-seeded Western Kentucky and 13th-seeded San Diego on Sunday for the right to go to the Sweet 16.
Now this is what the tournament is supposed to be about.
Just what is in the water at Tampa, Fla.? All four lower seeds advanced there, including Siena and Villanova, which rallied from an 18-point first-half deficit to beat Clemson.
What a terrible loss for Clemson. It was eerily reminiscent of two of the Tigers’ losses to North Carolina in which they built big leads and faltered down the stretch.
Again, Clemson struggled from the foul line, and though the Tigers got a chance when Nova coach Jay Wright got an inexplicable technical foul and later tied the game, they just couldn’t find a way to keep from making poor decisions, like fouling in a double-team 45 feet from the basket.
Clemson, a trendy pick, is gone. This team is awfully talented, though, and is probably just a year away from making real noise.
Speaking of Villanova, would you ever want to play on the same team as Scottie Reynolds. I know he can score, but c’mon dude, pass the freaking ball. He’s like a blacktop pick-up game nightmare. Ugh.
Tar Heels’ fans are scared to death of the East bracket, mostly because Tennessee and Louisville loom ahead.
Watch out for Butler, though. Playing with a chip on their shoulder after getting a ridiculous No. 7 seed, the Bulldogs destroyed trendy upset pick South Alabama by 20 and face Tennessee next.
And the Vols didn’t look good in their first-round game, only finally putting American away with under 5 minutes to go.
Is Butler the Cinderella this year? Could be.
Arkansas looks like a pretty good team, holding Indiana at bay the entire second half. The Hogs had some pretty impressive responsive runs when the Hoosiers would make a run at them, never relinquishing the lead in the second half.
It’s going to be a tough game for the Heels in the second round.
Easy wins for Texas and Georgetown. No surprises there.
Jack McClinton is good. Real good. He went off for 32 points in the second half on his way to 38 as Miami did the ACC proud by whipping St. Mary’s, which has been ranked for much of the season.
When McClinton’s on, Miami is dangerous. When he’s not, teams like N.C. State are capable of beating the Hurricanes.
No. 13 seed Siena destroyed fourth-seeded Vanderbilt in a game that a lot of people will porbably think is a big upset. But Vandy was only a paper tiger this season, the Tennessee win aside. The Commodores were only dangerous on their home (raised) floor and were never in the game against Siena.
How’s this for a crazy second round? Two 12-13 matchups for the right to go to the Sweet 16. Crazy day.
Is anyone else beginning to think that maybe Jeff Capel should be the heir apparent to Coach K rather than Johnny Dawkins?
I couldn’t watch SportsCenter at all this morning, knowing that the Gerald Henderson highlight would be everywhere. I’m still feeling sick to my stomach.
Tar Heels’ fans everywhere were oh, so close to having the perfect comeback for any Duke fan who wanted to bring up Weber State.