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First Weekend Conversation

The Big East is out, Wichita State is out, and the officiating has been horrendous. Our take on the first four days of the tournament.

Joel: The people are definitely going to want to talk about the tournament, so I'll start with rules-related minutiae instead. Why do coaches get five timeouts? I just watched Oregon take a timeout, followed by 12 seconds of game action, followed by a media timeout. That stretch probably had 15 seconds of commercials for every second of game action. And now Bo Ryan has called a timeout before Wisconsin inbounded. Is this not ridiculous? With four stoppages a half for media timeouts, shouldn't two timeouts per team be plenty?

Brad: And you can add in three or four breaks for the constant REVIEW! necessary to make sure that no flow to the game builds. Seriously, why do we have to do that? Yesterday there was a REVIEW! to add a tenth of a second with 20 seconds left and one to award flagrant free throws to the winning team with six tenths left in a five point game. It's moronic. No wonder refs think we tune in to watch them.

Joel: Rough way to go out for Wichita State. I can see you're already rabble-rousing on your personal twitter, but this was hardly a referendum on the Shockers' season. They played a very, very good team on a neutral court and had a shot to win it at the end. The fact that two teams that good were playing in the second round is an embarrassment to the Selection Committee. The fact that one of them lost is unavoidable.

Brad: For the first time in my life, I agree with John Calipari. This game should have sent someone to the Final Four. (Unless he's said "I'm a huge cheater," we'd agree on that). I'm actually not rabble rousing for once, I'm just saying that I think it's incredibly difficult to expect your team to learn how to beat a good team in a good game by doing it to advance in the NCAA tournament.

That said, this was just another idiotic seed by the committee. We talk about the refs all the time, but when will the committee be held accountable for Colorado getting in, UK being an eight seed, Wichita St getting a one, or Xavier landing in the play in while BYU gets a ten? Things that are stupid on their face should be punished.

Joel: Meanwhile, Tennessee is plowing its way to the Sweet 16. The Committee did them dirty and probably did Iowa even worse. Both of those teams should have been in, and Tennessee is a legitimate single-digit seed with no question. To have them in the play-in game is a travesty. The NCAA should really look at their process after this, though of course they won't. Is it cynical of me to think they're exploiting the increased chatter that comes with being overtly wrong rather than thinking they're merely incompetent?

Bry: I think if they did their jobs no one would notice them. Same as refs. Doing what you are supposed to do and letting the players and teams dictate the course of the tournament doesn't get you headlines. Being obtuse and overtly grandstanding does.

I was actually not as sold on WSU as they looked like what I figured they would against good competition. A bunch of mid major players and Cleanthony Early. He was their Napier, but he couldn't get them over the hump.

Joel: Really? I didn't think they had a meaningful talent problem. Early had 31 and 7, but Ron Baker went for 20/5/2 and and VanVleet had 4/4/6 wwith 2 steals and only one turnover. They weren't deep and probably could have used one more big man, but I don't think they would be exposed as meaningfully different than, say, San Diego State. They wouldn't have gone undefeated and garnered all that hoopla, but they would have been a deserving tournament team and not a surprise to see in the second weekend (provided they didn't get screwed by the committee).

Bry: I wasn't saying they were awful apart from Early, all I am saying is that, in a major conference, they would have gotten a 4 or 5 seed. Good team, but not a great team. Creighton needs to get it in gear and carry the banner for the Big East here. How big of a blow will it be if the conference doesn't get a team out of the first weekend?

Joel: Meaningfully? Not at all. In perception? It wouldn't be good. I don't know that Creighton will be a great piece of the conference going forward, but they were a great get because they gave us immediate high-profile star power in McDermott. We're in a very good conference, but ESPN is crapping all over us and the fans who are not intellectually rigorous will just eat it up. I'd hate for them to have another line item for Skip Bayless and that other dude to argue over on First Take or whatever that show is called. Even of Creighton stumbles, our program is in a better place going forward for having moved to the Big East.

Joel: Okay, Creighton just got tattooed. That was hideous.

Brad: We said that they couldn't survive an off shooting night, and they didn't. On the other hand, Baylor was just unconscious. They just played an incredible game. It was their best offensive efficiency game of the year (142.6), the second best defensive game anyone has played against Creighton (92.2 defensive efficiency), and they had a 75.5% effective field goal percentage. That's a massive game. Tip of the cap to them.

Brad: So Creighton and Baylor was not a good game, but we had several that were. Which was your favorite to watch? I'm going to say Dayton-OSU. I wasn't cheering that hard at the start of the game, but by the end I was completely invested. After missing last year, I can't think of any better way for this year to kick off.

Joel: Give me Harvard-UC. It was gratifying to see all the things that should have been hurting UC but hadn't been because of their joke of a conference finally bite them in the haunches. They were built for their athleticism to make up for their lack of basketball skill, but instead Rubles couldn't finish with his weak hand, Kilpatrick tried to turn the corner and threw the ball away, and they shot 36.8% and had only 5 assists. A Harvard team they planned to run off the floor outplayed them. Saint Mick, press conference All-American to the last, had the nerve to complain about their seeding and draw. Priceless.

For best game I saw, I would go with Wisconsin-Oregon. Two teams who straight up score the basketball, a storming comeback, electrifying atmosphere, this game was what the tournament is all about. Watching these two teams bomb each other into oblivion was a joy to behold, and Brust's record breaking 3 to give Wisconsin its first lead of the 2nd half has to be one of the top moments of the opening weekend.

Bry: For best game I saw, I would go with Wisconsin-Oregon. Two teams who straight up score the basketball, a storming comeback, electrifying atmosphere, this game was what the tournament is all about. Watching these two teams bomb each other into oblivion was a joy to behold, and Brust's record breaking 3 to give Wisconsin its first lead of the 2nd half has to be one of the top moments of the opening weekend.

Joel: Since we're here, there's no reason not to pick a game we're looking forward to seeing. There is a nasty slate this weekend, but I'm going with UConn versus Iowa State. Kane and Napier both have the talent and balls to go after games, and they're both playing at a really high level. With Niang down and UConn being kind of crappy, it's going to fall to one of those guys to win the game for their team, and I think they both know it. I'm looking forward to seeing it go down.

Bry: Florida-UCLA for a chance at a double digit seed in the Elite Eight. Both these teams have played two solid games thus far, and Florida walked all over a very good Pitt team in the 2nd half. However, UCLA is extraordinary when they manage to take care of the ball, and both teams have a multitude of players who can hurt you.

Brad: I'm going to go with Louisville and UK. Partly because I'll only miss the very start of that one at work, but mostly because I think that it's going to be a good game and have a great atmosphere. Indy is an easy drive for both fanbases. Plus, the game also offers a great chance to really dig in and enjoy cheering against one of the most divisive figures in college ball. Seeing Calipari get his comeuppance would be amazing.

The game isn't at Hinkle is it? I'm afraid that fans who actually make noise could cause an acoustic disruption of the structure and a tragic collapse. I just checked. It's at Lucas Oil, which is an actual stadium and not a refurbished barn.