OK, I spent pretty much the whole weekend locked in at Poseur HQ, watching an absurd amount of basketball. I watched the LSU baseball games online, but let's face it, none of the games were terribly interesting as the One True Tigers beat the ever living snot out of the False Tigers.
This gave me the opportunity to pay close attention to the tournament, or as I like to call it, The Greatest Sporting Event On Earth. Every year, the tourney delivers, and its format practically generates drama. I tend to lose interest in the tournament as we move on to the Final Four because I don't have much of a rooting interest in who wins this year's Game of Thrones, but the first weekend is just an orgy of hoops goodness.
I'm a sucker for the Little Guy, and the first weekend belongs to Cinderella. Sure, the George Masons of the world will not win the title, but just the chance for them to pull that big upset on national TV is what makes the event so special. Take note, football. Access to the little guy is a good thing, and the big guys still win the title. Being an LSU fan, we're amongst the unwashed masses of the college basketball world, so it doesn't much matter to me who wins the title. I mean, the peasantry doesn't care who the king is. They're all the same from our perspective.
The great thing about the format is that for all of the craziness, and as wide open as this first weekend felt... it really wasn't. If you had taken all favorites in your bracket, you would have gotten 11 of the Sweet 16 teams. All of the top four seeds advanced in the East, and three of the top four advanced in the Midwest and the South. OK, the West went Lord of the Flies on us, but all in all, the favorites held serve.
So I don't feel like I just wasted the last 96 hours of my life watching wall to wall basketball, here's a brief comment on each of the Sweet 16 teams, ordered by seed. Yes, I have watched every single one of them play. I need a life.
1 Louisville. Jesus. They are killing teams. Now, it was a 16 seed and a fairly limited 8-seed that had severe matchup problems, but my God. Didn't even break a sweat.
1 Kansas. At halftime of the UNC game, Kansas finally decided to show up to the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Once they did, it was pretty damn impressive. As always, focus is their biggest concern, and how can you sleepwalk through the first half against your traitorous former coach?
1 Indiana. The Hoosiers made plays down the stretch, but Temple played perhaps the worst endgame I've ever seen by a good team in a close game. They made almost every conceivable physical and mental error down the stretch, and practically gave the game way. Indiana, to their credit, took the gift.
2 Duke. Played two boring games that lacked any drama or standout play. That's a dream weekend for a #2 seed.
2 Ohio St. Everyone is obsessed with the restricted area, but can we focus on another part of the call? How the hell was that called a charge in the first place? The Indiana defender still hasn't set his feet on that play, and he slid in the path of the Cyclone player after he left his feet. But get this, big teams get big calls. This is not a recent development. So shut up about it.
2 Miami. The second most fun team in the tournament. I'm totally onboard, even though they benefited from the worst call of the tourney so far. Forget the Ohio St. game. Miami clearly knocked the ball out of bounds, but was able to retain possession, and it was a horrible call that nearly decided the game.
3 Michigan St. Izzo.
3 Florida. Your villains of the tournament, please step into center stage to receive your shower of boos! Florida has ruthlessly crushed two outmatched teams, and now they get to be the moustache twirlers against everyone's favorite underdog. Let's face it, Billy Donovan loves being the bad guy, and is a little miffed Marshall Henderson took that role in the SEC tournament.
3 Marquette. The Eagles have won two games by three points and have at no point looked like a great team. They are this year's "survive and advance" team, and their win over Davidson was keyed by three prayers from beyond the arc in the final minute. Vander Blue shows the importance of having The Man in the final minutes of a close game. Without him, Marquette is watching the Sweet 16 on TV. He's my MOP of the tournament so far.
4 Michigan. You mean it's not a good idea to press an athletic team with great guard play? Who knew?
4 Syracuse. The Orange went 12 minutes without hitting a basket and still won with ease. Let that sink in.
6 Arizona. Sure, they didn't have to play the #3 seed, but Arizona has looked like a top-four seed. They crushed a popular underdog pick in Belmont and then blew out Harvard in the game's first ten minutes.
9 Wichita St. On the season, WSU shot 33.7% from beyond the arc. They shot 14 of 28 from three against Gonzaga. That's how you pull an upset, by doing something you hadn't done well all year that is completely contrary to your scouting report.
12 Oregon. Apparently, someone was pretty pissed about their seeding from the Committee.
13 LaSalle. Ole Miss still has not realized LaSalle was playing four guards and they had no answer for the Rebels' size on the interior. Yeah, it's fun to mock Marshall Henderson, but this was a terrible coaching job. Why not use your massive advantage in the frontcourt?
15 FGCU. Quite possible the greatest thing that has ever happened to the tournament. Now they get to play Florida? How perfect is that?