Sunday, March 15, 2009

VSR: The Madness Starts

Gotta love Selection Sunday. It's where college teams look for their dancing shoes, where they're dancing and hope to do it as long as they can. And best of all, eight teams (your patsy 15-16 seeds) are just happy to be invited and once in a blue moon, a 15 seed surprises us (Jamaal Tinsley is still probably pissed at the site of any Hampton gear after Iowa State laid an egg in 2001).

March Madness officially starts Thursday but with the conference tournaments last week, it almost seems like an extended encore of the excitement. It’s time for the best three weeks of basketball and see who becomes the next tournament hero.

And every year, I have to remember my first exposure to the Madness 14 years ago: UCLA's last title in 1995. Like a coward, I ran into the bathroom after the 2nd round game with 4.8 seconds left and missed Tyus Edney's mad dash to the basket. Learned a valuable lesson that day - never leave before the game is over. I still remember that year's team (Ed and Charles O'Bannon, George Zidek, Toby Bailey and JR Henderson and of course, the floor general in Edney) and my affair with UCLA became stronger.

It’ll be hard to top last year’s heroics of Stephen Curry, Western Kentucky, my alma mater San Diego, the great run of Memphis and the title game where Kansas made a comeback for the ages to win the national title. But that’s the beauty of the NCAA Tournament, you never know what can happen.

Here are my winners and losers from Selection Sunday.


The Big East: Seven teams in, three No. 1’s that are favored to win, Syracuse rises from an 8/9 to a 3 after their incredible run.

USC: They were left for dead on Thursday, but they upset Cal, UCLA and Arizona State en route to the Pac-10 and got a good shot against Boston College in the 7/10 draw. Guess Taj Gibson’s mom has a reason to be proud and no need to call us.

Arizona: They should have been left out of the tournament but instead they got in for a 25th year as one of the last teams in. I don’t care if they beat UCLA, they don’t deserve to be a trendy 5-12 upset just yet.

Yours truly: Hey, I picked two out of four No. 1’s so I should pat myself on the back. But I knew Pitt would be a No. 1 after I wrote that and I never saw Oklahoma losing their chance or Louisville creeping up.


St. Mary’s and San Diego State: Far be it from me to defend the cause of my in-state rival and a conference foe, but they should be in over Arizona. The Wildcats played well down the stretch – beating UCLA at home – but they got whooped by AZ State in the conf. tourney and just didn’t get in there.

Davidson: Stephen Curry won’t get another encore (true fans remember him blowing up 2 years ago, not last year). Unless he goes to the NIT

Arizona State: You blow a second-half lead to USC, you don’t deserve the No. 5 seed.

Kentucky: Not in the tournament for the first time in 17 years. End of a good long streak that we saw coming last year when they lost to Gardner-Webb and San Diego (yeeeah!!!) at home.

I’m happy my UCLA and Duke teams got in but UCLA may not have a shot against Villanova in Round 2, let alone VCU aka Cinderella from 2 years ago (still shudder about them beating Duke but I saw it coming). Duke could very well lose in the 2nd round to a physical Texas team. Of course they could tug at my heart and meet in the Sweet 16 but I dont know.

This is one of the hardest years to pick a national champion because there has been no overwhelming favorite. UConn would be the favorite if not for them losing to a good Pitt team twice, North Carolina would be there but with Ty Lawson’s foot injury – it’s hard to tell, Pitt could be the best by default, Oklahoma looks vulnerable, Louisville’s a wild card and that’s not even considering wilder cards like Missouri, Memphis, Michigan State.

I don’t make predictions until my bracket is revealed on Wednesday so you’ll have to wait til then for a special VSR. But I think UConn has the easiest road to the Final 4 on first glance…other than that I go into hibernation to figure out my bracket.

Bracketology 101 begins to-NIGHT and prepare for a lecture on Wednesday (aka the VSR-March Madness edition).

1 comment:

  1. Evan i must say i am quite impressed by your writing. I agree with you, Uconn may have the easiest road, and the UCLA/VCU matchup is quite intriguing.....would not be surprised to see an upset.