NCAA Tournament: Bitter Sixteen
By Kevin Duffy
[img_assist|nid=3417|title=Greg Paulus - Icon SMI|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=371]This time of year, most people are focused on celebrating the good by reviewing the NCAA Tournament's upsets and buzzer-beaters. Let's take a step back and look at the “not so good” from the opening weekend of action. Here are the sixteen biggest disappointments of the NCAA Tournament thus far:
16. The CBI.
The what? The College Basketball Invitational. Ok technically it's not part of the NCAA tournament, but for some reason it exists, a tournament for teams that failed to qualify for the NIT. What good is a tournament that no one respects, no one can watch and no one cares about? A Div 3 championship game is infinitely more exciting.
Their long, devout loyalty to the smug and unpopular Billy Packer as their lead color guy and championship game analyst is both frustrating and enigmatic. Two words: Bill Raftery.
14. WCC "Powers"
Gonzaga and Saint Mary's - first not winning the WCC tournament then first round exits, being outlasted by their third Conference entrant San Diego.
13. Notre Dame
The Irish had a chance to advance to the Sweet 16 and prove that the Big East was indeed the best conference in America. Instead, they fell flat on their faces. Notre Dame managed just 41 points against Washington State and Big East Player of the Year Luke Harangody had a miserable 3-for-17 shooting performance. He did, however, pull down 22 rebounds.
12. Kent State
Ten points in the first half versus UNLV? The Golden Flashes weren't considered to be a “bad selection” by the committee, but they proved to be extremely non-competitive against a team that isn't so competitive itself.
11. Mississippi Valley State
29 points? I know UCLA is very good defensively, but c'mon. I think my intramural team could at least put up 30 on the Bruins. Of course, UCLA would score 150, but that's beside the point.
10. The Committee
No gripes with the selections (outside of Arizona State), but every year there are some bad match-ups. Purdue vs. Baylor this season might take the cake as the worst 6/11 game of all-time.
9. Bobby Knight
Ok, we get it. You like Pittsburgh. But Coach Knight's infatuation with Pitt made Dick Vitale look like an unbiased fan at a Duke game. Not only did Knight pick the Panthers to win it all, he said they were the most impressive team in the first round (a round that saw them knock off powerhouse Oral Roberts) and said that Pitt-Michigan State was “game to watch” in the second round. Enough is enough already. Now that Pitt bowed out in the second round, I wonder what team Knight will start worshiping next? My guess-- Michigan State.
This was a consensus top ten team at the beginning of the season. Kelvin Sampson's firing sent the Hoosiers into a downward spiral that finally ended in a 14-point loss to Arkansas in the 8/9 match-up. Eric Gordon took a small step back at the end of the season-- particularly with his shot selection-- but nonetheless should find himself in the top ten of June's draft.
Second only to Georgetown in the meltdown department blowing a 15 point first-half lead to a Villanova team with no real inside presence. The Tigers had become a chic sleeper pick, but couldn't even make it out of the first round. The ACC has one team left in the tournament in UNC, which doesn't speak very highly of the quality of the Conference this year.
What's that…like 10 straight first-round exits for the Wildcats? 'Zona has made a habit of underachieving during the regular season, drawing a middle seed, and ruining everyone's bracket by continuing to underachieve in the NCAA's. Maybe some day the Selection Committee will require this team to have a conference record that is above .500 in order to qualify for the Tournament.
First George Mason and now San Diego. It's difficult to consider UConn a national power at the moment. Though the loss to the 13th seeded Toreros can be partially blamed on the unfortunate ACL tear of their most indispensable player, AJ Price, Hasheem Thabeet was incapable of defending a simple pick-and-roll, and the Huskies trademark of tough defense completely failed them. Teams have counteracted Thabeet's shot-blocking by dragging him out of the paint, where he is practically useless defensively. He's far from ready for the NBA, and could surely use another year at UConn under Calhoun.
4. North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, UNC-Charlotte and Virginia Tech
Stephen Curry is from Charlotte, N.C. Stephen Curry is the son of one of the top 3-point shooters in NBA history (who is one of Virginia Tech's all time greatest players) . Stephen Curry is averaging 25 points in the second half in 2 games of the NCAA tournament. Stephen Curry is hands down the best shooter in college basketball. And somehow, Stephen Curry plays for Davidson.
The Hoyas became the second 2 seed to go down losing to Davidson after completely collapsing in the second half. Regardless of the fact that Davidson features the deadliest shooter in the college game, for a team that prides itself on defense, giving up 47 second half points, including a 17 point second half lead qualifies as the biggest choke of this year's tournament.
For many the "one shining moment" of the NCAA tournament is seeing the Blue Devils go down early and Coach K squirm in his post game press conference. Duke's inability to reach the Sweet 16 for two straight years with eight McDonald's All Americans is inexcusable. Their loss to West Virginia followed a one point win over lowly 15 seed Belmont. After West Virginia's upset victory, reserve Cam Thoroughman asked if point guard Greg Paulus was one of the eight McDonald’s All-Americans. Upon confirmation, Thoroughman replied: “Oh my God. Are you kidding?”
The Commodores were absolutely pathetic. They didn't just lose to 13th seeded Siena, they got blown out of the building. And Siena proved no match for Villanova on Sunday. A No. 4 seed should never lose to a No. 13 seed by 21 points. Never.