Beware the Ides of March...

Beware the Ides of March...That seems to be a warning most people don't pay attention to, well, in the middle of March; especially people who try and predict the outcome to a now 68 team tournament, a tournament in which your odds in predicting a perfect a bracket are somewhere in the range of 1 quintillion to 1. (A pretty good payout for a $1 bet if you ask me) Despite the odds, millions of people play bracket challenges where teams they know, and have seen, play teams they have never heard of from conferences they didn't even know existed. (Yes I'm involved in this stat) So as sports fans we all listen to so called "experts" to predict the perfect bracket either for fun or for bragging rights in the office pool. You can't count out these smaller schools though. Just because the big power house of oh let’s say Louisville, the Caesar of college basketball is playing an opponent they think wouldn't pose a threat like oh I don't know some team called Morehead State. Louisville wasn't prepared for Morehead and ended up being defeated. Louisville, like Caesar, failed to listen to the warnings with the Ides of March upon us, and with a little luck on St. Patrick's Day, the little school from Kentucky, Morehead State, went on to beat the power house of Louisville.
The Louisville game is just one example of the madness that starts to take place during the ides of March. Let’s be honest with ourselves here...who can name one player from Morehead State, or even find it on a map before today? My dad posed me the same question and I had absolutely no clue, but I do know this, they play basketball there, and they are very good at it. The past few days have been interesting for NCAA basketball. For once something was able to overshadow the NFL players and owners negotiations to try and play football next year, and prevail as a positive light on the sports world. A lot has been said about the committee and the questionable selections they made to the final 4 teams in the tournament. This year, the committee expanded the field to 68 teams with play-in games between two sets of #16 seeds and two sets of #11 seeds. The teams that raised the most questions in this group were the selection of VCU, UAB, and USC. The most noticeable snubs from the tournament were Colorado and Virginia Tech. Both teams were not even listed as the last four in, because, well, everyone already thought they were in. VCU, UAB, and USC were not mentioned in the discussions of the first four out, because, well, they were predicted to be in the NIT not the major tournament to crown a national champion. Colorado players were reported to be crying in Boulder once the news broke, because they believed they had done enough to attain a spot in the field of 68. (Quite frankly I thought they did enough too, but people like Jay Bilas, Dick Vitale, and I aren't on the selection committee) Virginia Tech also had players that were beyond discouraged as they have now had their bubbles busted two years in a row now. A rough time for the Buffaloes and Hokies, but both teams had impressive showings in the NIT trying to show up the committee that they did indeed belong to at least have a chance at the national championship. I'm going to say this just straight up, UAB didn’t play well against Clemson, and that is putting it nicely. It didn't look like they belonged. If not for Jamarr Sanders, their senior leader, who went down late in the 2nd half, the game would have been even less competitive. In my opinion, Colorado or Virginia Tech would have put up a better fight. VCU looked very stout defensively against the Trojans of USC who didn't seem to be that great. Although what more can you expect from a team that managed a 19-14 record and still got into the tournament? Aside from those two performances, and the always talked about "snubs" of the tournament, the committee did a good job in putting teams where they belonged.
In my opinion, there is nothing more exciting than the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. First off, the networks finally got the coverage right where the 16 games on Thursday and Friday are split up upon four different TV. stations. You can also watch any game on your computer, or on your smart phone. Free of charge I may add for the I-phone 4 which offers free live streaming of any tournament game thanks to an NCAA tournament application. (You’re welcome for the free marketing Apple) Aside from the ability to watch every game, every game is exciting. The story lines are endless, but for the first round more than likely revolve around David vs. Goliath. The small team school vs. the big school. Perhaps the first round pits to mid-major teams you have heard of against another, despite what game is on, it always seems to come down to the end. Unless of course the game we're discussing is any of the #1 vs. #16 games or Florida vs. University of California Santa Barbara, those weren't anywhere near close. I mean, unless Duke, Ohio State, or Kansas becomes the first team to drop the first game in the round of 64 to #16 seed, these games will remain to be non-competitive. But, enough of those, either the first or second game was Butler vs. Old Dominion. Butler's Matt Howard (Andy Samberg look alike) isn't boxed out and tips home the game winning points against Old Dominion. Morehead State won on a cold blooded 3-pointer to put the Eagles ahead of Cardinals by one point with a little over three seconds remaining in the game. Rick Pitino's squad was unable to go ahead of the Eagles marking maybe the biggest upset of the first round this year. It certainly is to co-host of Mike and Mike in the Morning Mike Greenberg who had the Cardinals winning it all. That’s a rough day. But it all adds to the fun of watching the most exciting tournament in all of sports. Everyone who creates a bracket follows along and watches the games, because they know have their own personal rooting interest to try and see how accurate their bracket predictions really were. Other great games today were the Temple Owls ousting the Nittany Lions of Penn State. Jimmer Fredette putting up 32 points and 7 assists in a BYU Cougar win over #14 seeded Wofford. The Richmond Spiders pulled the upset over Vanderbilt and oh so tricky #5 vs. #12 match up. UCLA jumped out to a huge early lead, only to barely hold off the Spartans of Michigan State late. Kentucky pulled out a close one against Princeton, and Kansas State pulled out a close one as Frank Martin stared right through the players from Utah State who were trending Cinderella to go far in the years' tournament. That’s just a few of the games from today, but with the spacing of each game putting one fantastic ending right after the other, this tournament is very well thought out and prepared no matter how much negativity it gets for teams that ultimately have a very low chance of making an impact in the tournament. But, once again anything can happen in March. (That being said...Colorado and Virginia Tech should be in period.)
My only problem with the tournament this year that really gets to me is that the round of 64 is the first round. It is not the 2nd round. The first four games that play-in to the field of 64 are play-in games and should not be labeled as the first round of the tournament. They should be labeled as play-in games. Before you know it, teams who lose in the round of 64 calling it the 2nd round will have a Wade Phillips reaction and try to convince the media that they had indeed won a game since they had moved onto the 2nd round. No. It is the first round. The round of 32 is the 2nd round. This is Followed by the sweet 16, Elite 8, Final 4, and championship game. That is how it has been and how it should stay, no questions asked. Aside from that blunder, this tournament has been great so far. Smaller schools get that determination in their eyes, and bigger schools don't take the smaller ones seriously, perfect weather for upsets. The big teams failed to heed the warning of March Madness' past, they failed to beware the ides of March...



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