Sunday, March 11, 2007

Today is Selection Sunday.

Today is Selection Sunday. (YES.)

It goes without saying that there is a lot to love about today (but let's say them anyways): Joe Lunardi is the most important person in the sport universe for a day, we get to label one region "the group of death" and Billy Packer will say something that is so obviously incorrect that all the nation can do is shake its collective head.

But maybe, just maybe, the most underrated aspect is that Selection Sunday serves as Dick Vitale's yearly swan song. He'll get to rant and rave about only seven teams getting in from the ACC - "I'd like to see what would happen if some of these mid-majors had to play in the ACC! What would happen then?! Answer me that, Mr. Fowler!" But after today, Vitale won't be in the booth for several, much more quieter months. You can take those earplugs out now.

There's still four games left to be played - and they're some good 'uns - but let's recap Championship Week before we get into that. Quickly...

Best Individual Performance: Eric Maynor of Virginia Commonwealth. Just an unbelievable series of events to close out George Mason: he rips a GMU player just over half court and then takes it the other way and scores, then he rips another GMU player in the back court and scores again, then hits a ridiculous floater in the lane, then grabs the game-sealing rebound and nails the free throws after he was fouled. Nine straight points to ice last season's Cinderella. It was the best Championship Week performance since Gerry McNamara.

Random Thing Throughout the Week For Which I Can Come Up With No Explanation. The terrible clockwork around the nation. It seemed like every game that came down to the wire came hand in hand with a clock faux pas, too, culminating with yesterday's insane Mid-American title game, where the officials thought the clock started too late so they decided to put some additional time on the clock, which made sense to Billy Packer and no one else. Let's just hand this job over to the robots and be done with it.

Most Annoying Running Gimmick. Sidney Lowe and his ridiculous red sports coat. Look, man...that thing is hideous. It just is. You look ridiculous on the sidelines. Take the damn thing off; it makes you look like the Kool-Aid Guy. What the hell happens when NC St. pulls off the upset, sneaks into the tourney and draws a first round match up with Tennessee? Bruce Pearl with his day-glo orange suit vs. Sidney and his stop sign jacket. My eyes are bleeding.

Worst Coaching Move of the Week. Down by one with well over 30 seconds left, Vermont head coach Mike Lonergan inexplicably decides to hold the ball for the last shot. I'm pretty sure he's the first coach ever to try this tactic, and his team put on a clinic demonstrating the very bad and very obvious down side to this strategy: they turned the ball over but there was no time left to foul, so they lost without ever getting a shot off. Apparetnly, Lonergan did a terrific job this season for Vermont, but this is indefensible.

TV Personality That I Currently Enjoy But Who May Be Heading Down a Dangerous Path. Tom Brennan on ESPN's Midnight Madness. I love the guy - especially when he's paired with Gottlieb, but he is starting to say some goofy things and make weird references; basically, he realized that he's there for a little comedic relief and he's starting too force it. But just a little, every once in a while. Nothing to get worked up about. He's still great. But then I caught an old clip of Dick Vitale and you couldn't even tell it was Dickie V. Vitale has gotten so caught up in his own shtick that he's not even a real person anymore. I'm just praying Brenna stays as far away from that road as possible.

Best Tournament. Just like every year: the Big East. Those games in Madison Square Garden just feel big time, even if the games aren't th best. I still wish the teams were the same as they used to be, but there's no way any tournament can top playing in the Garden. The ACC was fun in Greensborough, but they looked like they were playing on a generic create-a-court in St. Pete's. Too bad.

Dunk of the Week. Hands down, Marqus Blakely of Vermont on some poor sap from Albany. Blakely broke into the open court, dribbled with his head down like he was Clyde Drexler, took off about a step sooner than I thought he was going to, palmed the ball above his head like the Brand Jordan logo and spread his legs (the better to put his nuts in the defender's face) before absolutely hammering it on some tall dude who was trying to take a charge and was probably just as caught off guard as everyone else watching it. Blakely even threw in a little Pippen-over-Ewing-straddle-the-guy-I-just-humiliated-as-he-lays-on-the-ground for good measure. MJ still only gave him a 7 on his scorecard, though.

Alright, let's preview todays game's. Quickly...

UNC vs. NC State. The most important question here is, Who will be calling the game? If it's Vitale and Patrick, Ill wanna hang myself and if it is Jimmy Dykes again, I will wanna hang myself. It is going to be horrific no matter what, but I'd just like to know going in.

Oh, and this game isn't going to be close. NC St.'s 4th game in 4 days against the deepest team in the country who hasn't even had to try hard yet in the tournament? Blow out.

Texas vs. Kansas. Last time these two played, Durant went off, but then got hurt. If he stays healthy, I say Texas pulls the upset. You know what I hope happens tomorrow in this game? When it is close at the end, Rick Barnes actually runs a freakin play for Durant and gives him the ball. I think it would work better than DJ Augustine dribbled the air out of the ball and then taking a bad 15-footer. That play doesn't seem to work, Rick.

Ohio State vs. Wisconsin. You know what? I think Greg Oden is kind of a dork. After his one tip dunk he held his outstretched hands in the air like a nerd and the other time he like blew a kiss or something. Nothing wrong with that, I guess...just seems like something a dork would do. he's playing like a monster right now, though, screaming and stuff and dunking every miss. Ohio State will take care of Wisconsin and wrap up a one-seed.

But you know what would be great? If Ohio St lost but still got a one-seed because the game is scheduled so late that the selection committee can't factor it into their decision. That would be enjoyable for me.

Florida vs. Arkansas. I freakin' hate Florida. But I hate when undeserving teams get into the Arkansas a lock? If Arkansas is going to get in anyways, I hope they win. If they aren't gonna make it, I hope they lose. Simple as that. I'll settle for this: Florida wins, but Joakim Noah's pony tail gets stuck in the net, ripped off and he has to shave his head. Yea. Florida will win.

There's your previews...come back around 1:00 tomorrow for the UNC/ NC St. game, which I will be live-blogging. So watch the game and then during the commercials you can read about what you just watched. Fun. And if I get one comment - just one - during the UNC live-blog, then I am live-blogging Kansas/Texas at 3:00.

Make it happen.

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