Friday, March 13, 2009

The Conference Tournament Pool -- Thursday Recap, Friday Look-Ahead




There were 53 Division I NCAA college basketball tournament games played Thursday. A total of 15 tournaments saw action. Four were just beginning. No champions were crowned. One game went SIX FREAKING OVERTIMES!!!

You want madness? The top two seeds in the Big 12 tournament – the two teams that 11 of the 12 of us picked to meet in the finals and all 12 of us picked to win it – exited the tournament without winning a game. The 2-seed in the Big East went out without winning a game, and the 3-seed fell to Syracuse in one of the greatest basketball games of all time.

We had action and upsets all over the board, which is what this time of year is all about. Our pool has a new leader, as Ed Price had a brutal day and fell from first place all the way down to fifth.

And so on we go to the summary of the 15 tournaments that played Thursday – all of which continue play on this Friday the 13th – as well as one that will crown its champion today.

Remember the Patriot League? You’d be easily forgiven if you didn’t. You picked this tournament nine days ago. It played its semifinals on Sunday but has waited until today to play the final. In that final, top-seeded American takes on second-seeded Holy Cross. Jon, Mark and Steve lead our Patriot pool, each with 7 points out of a possible 8 so far. But Jon has Holy Cross winning the final, while Steve and Mark picked American. So if American wins, Steve and Mark each get 50 cents. If Holy Cross wins, Jon gets a whole buck.

Pretty close to straight chalk so far in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The only game so far in which the higher seed beat the lower was fifth-seeded Coppin State’s 66-63 victory over fourth-seeded North Carolina A&T. But that was a tough loss for pool leader Ed Price, who had A&T winning not only this game but a semifinal game as well. Perhaps this is an opening for somebody?
So far, Dan and Jon Graziano each have picked all seven MEAC games correctly for a perfect score of 11 points. They have the same two winners today, but Dan has Morgan State winning the tournament while Jon picked South Carolina State. So somebody’s going to lose a game somewhere. History tells us it’s probably going to be Dan…
MEAC semifinal matchups today are Morgan State/Coppin State and SC State/Norfolk State. A Norfolk victory today would, I am pretty sure, give this dollar to Nino. But let’s jump off that bridge when we get there, shall we?

Prior to Thursday night, I personally had never seen, heard of or believed in the possibility of a five-overtime basketball game. But then Connecticut and Syracuse changed all that.
They played six.
Eric Devendorf, a tattooed thug who should have been kicked off the team in January, came within a tenth of a second of winning this game for Syracuse in regulation. His three-pointer at the buzzer looked for several moments as if it had won the game. But a replay review correctly determined that the ball had still been in the thug’s hands when the clock ran out, and the officials ruled that the game was not over.
They couldn’t have known how right they were.
An hour and forty minutes later, the game ended, a 127-117 Syracuse victory in six overtimes.
Syracuse didn’t lead in any of the first five overtimes, but they put it away quickly in the sixth. The game took three hours and 47 minutes and ended at 1:23 am. Eight players fouled out. When it was over, the ESPN broadcast crew stood and applauded both teams.
Unbelievably great players showing unbelievable toughness and making play after play all through the night. I really think Jonny Flynn might have a bottomless supply of energy and toughness. I say this truthfully, even though I despise him, his team, his school and all it stands for. But facts are facts, and the guy was a complete bad-ass for four hours’ worth of basketball. He played 67 minutes, and of his 34 points, 17 were scored in overtime.
All of this overshadowed the thrilling finish in the Villanova-Marquette game and West Virginia’s upset of second-seeded Pitt. All of that together, combined with the epic nightcap, proved once again why the Big East Tournament is the best college basketball event other than The Big Dance itself.
Five people had Pitt winning this tournament. Five had Connecticut. Steve has Villanova and Mark has Syracuse. One of those two will win the Big East dollar, depending on how today’s games go.
Semifinals tonight at the Garden: Louisville-Villanova and West Virginia-Syracuse. What can they possibly have for an encore?

If Nevada wins the tournament, Jim gets a dollar. If Utah State wins the tournament, Sal wins the dollar. If neither of those teams wins it, we’ll recalculate.
Semifinals today: Utah State/New Mexico State and Nevada/Louisiana Tech.

Bowling Green, Akron, Buffalo and (Eat My) Ball State all advance to the semifinals in the MAC. EMB State needed OT, and Buffalo had to hold off a second-half rally by Kent State, but that’s your semifinal setup for today in the Mid-American.
Currently, Dan, Greg, Steve and Rob each have 10 out of a possible 12 points, but sadly for Dan, the only MAC game he’s missed is this Kent State loss, and Kent State was his predicted champion. Just not Dan’s year, he guesses.
Greg, Sal, Ed and Jon all have Bowling Green winning this. Chris and Steve have Buffalo. Yohan has Akron. Everybody else’s champ is out.

The upset of the day in Atlantic City was seventh-seeded Duquesne’s victory over second-seeded Rhode Island, which is more bad news for pool leader Ed Price. Ed had URI winning the A-10, which they will now not do. Chris and Nino each have scored 10 out of 12 possible points so far, and each has Xavier winning it all.
Xavier takes on Temple in one of today’s semifinals, and Duquesne tries to extend its Cinderella run against Dayton in the other.

One big upset here – Wyoming over New Mexico. Only Feinsand picked that one, and Dan, Chris, Ed, Sal and Steve all had New Mexico winning the whole tournament.
Dan is the pool leader right now with seven points, since he’s only missed one game. But as mentioned, that one game cost him his predicted champion, so he is likely toast. For Dan to win this dollar, BYU and Wyoming have to win today and Wyoming has to win the tournament. Otherwise, somebody else wins. As usual.
Semifinal matchups today: BYU/San Diego State and Utah/Wyoming. Go Pokes, is all I can say.

BIG 12
Well, this is about as bloody as it gets.
Three of the 12 of us picked Kansas to win the Big 12 tournament. They lost their quarterfinal matchup Thursday afternoon to Baylor.
The other nine picked Oklahoma to win the Big 12 tournament. They lost their quarterfinal matchup Thursday night to Oklahoma State.
So there ain’t much left out there in terms of points. Greg actually had Missouri beating Oklahoma today in the semis, so he’ll pick up three points if they beat OSU. No one else can earn any more Big 12 points.
Right now, Ed, Sal, Jim and Jon each have finished with 7 out of a possible 22 Big 12 points, and will each get 25 cents if Oklahoma State wins its game today. But if Missouri wins, then Greg, who currently has four points, would get three more and make it a five-way tie. In that case, Ed, Sal, Jim, Jon and Greg would each get 20 cents.
(In the other semifinal, Baylor plays Texas. Nobody had either team winning that game.)

Well, Memphis won, which is cool, since all 12 of us picked them to win this tournament. They get Houston (an overtime winner over UTEP) in one semifinal while Tulsa and UAB do battle in the other for the right to get waxed in the title game.
Mark Feinsand leads the way here with 11 out of a possible 12 points so far, and if UAB wins today, Mark will win this pool’s dollar. However, if Tulsa wins today, Sal will win this pool’s dollar. All true, I promise.

Sraight-up chalk in the SWAC, with all four top seeds advancing to the semis. Rob, Nino and Steve each picked all four quarterfinal games correctly, and only Jim lost a finalist (Southern). Nino and Steve all have the rest of the tournament picked the same, so if Arkansas-Pine Bluff beats Alabama State and Jackson State beats Prairie View A&M today, they’ll each get 50 cents. But Rob has Alabama State winning today, and Jim and Jon get right back into this if Prairie View wins, so stay tuned. I mean, if you want.

USC pulls the day’s upset in the Pac-10, costing seven of us a point and Yohan his predicted champion (Cal). Still wide open in the Pac 10, where eight have UCLA, Rob and Nino have Washington and Jim has Arizona State cutting down the nets.
Semifinals today: Washington/Arizona State and USC/UCLA.

Everybody had Pacific, which beat UC-Davis, and seven people correctly picked UC-Santa Barbara’s victory over Fullerton. Sal leads here with a perfect six points so far, but this is the re-seeder tournament, which nobody has yet picked to its conclusion. We will do that today.
The semifinals today feature Long Beach State against Pacific and Cal State-Northridge against UC-Santa Barbara. You will receive your updated Big West brackets shortly. Please pick both semifinal games and then pick a winner from between your two finalists.

The big first-day upset here was Georgia Tech over Clemson, which only Rob picked, in a nod to one of his impressive alma maters. Rob did miss with Miami against Virginia Tech, though, so nobody got all four first-round ACC games right. Seven people had Clemson winning twice and will suffer for that, but this is still wide open.
Nine people have North Carolina and Ty Lawson’s swollen toe winning this tournament. Steve Politi, who is a UNC graduate, has the Tar Heels losing their first game, and he (along with Rob) picked Duke. Dan, ever the iconoclast, picked Wake, which all but guarantees a Maryland win today.
Quarterfinal matchups today: UNC/Virginia Tech, Florida State/Georgia Tech, Wake Forest/Maryland and Duke/Boston College in a war for Graziano Kid Brother bragging rights.

Nine people have Vanderbilt winning its first-round game. They did not. Alabama did. Otherwise, no real movement of significance on the first day in the SEC.
LSU is the hot pick here, with six of the 12 of us picking the Tigers. Rob and Jim picked Tennessee. Yohan and Steve have Florida. Jon has South Carolina, and Dan, ever the iconoclast, picked Auburn to win this.
(A note here: Dan did his picks first, before any others came in, and was alarmed that nobody else in the pool besides Ed has Auburn winning even a single game. All pool history tells us this is bad news for Ed.)
Quarterfinal matchups today: LSU/Kentucky, South Carolina/Mississippi State, Tennessee/Alabama and yes, that pivotal Auburn/Florida game. Guess we’ll see.

Another just-getting started situation, with three first-round games. Eight of the 12 of us picked all three correctly, while Nino, Rob, Yohan and Jim all lost with Northwestern. But nobody lost a semifinal team, so the Big Ten remains wide open.
Eight of us have Michigan State to win it. Greg and Jon picked Illinois. Chris and Jim picked Purdue.
Quarterfinal matchups today: Michigan State/Minnesota, Wisconsin/Ohio State, Illinois/Michigan and Penn State/Purdue. How awesome would it be if those were football games?

Surprising amount of movement in the Southland, mainly due to UT-San Antonio’s upset over Sam Houston State. Everybody had Sam Houston winning Thursday, 10 of us had them in the final, and Greg, Mark, Nino and Sal all had them winning. Yohan’s champion, UT-Arlington, also lost its first-round game.
The most popular pick for the tournament winner is Stephen F. Austin, which was picked by six of us. Jim, in a desperate attempt to make up ground, picked Nicholls State.
Semifinals today: Stephen F. Austin/Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Nicholls State/UT-San Antonio.

Steve Politi: 233
Rob Biro: 229
Chris Sabatino: 228
Sal Sabatino: 227
Ed Price: 226
Greg Lester: 222
Paul “Nino” Canino: 216
Jon Graziano: 213
Yohan Sengamalay: 212
Mark Feinsand: 204
Jim Graziano: 203
Dan Graziano: 201

Ed Price: 6
Chris Sabatino: 6
Sal Sabatino: 6
Jon Graziano: 5
Greg Lester: 5
Steve Politi: 5
Rob Biro: 4
Yohan Sengamalay: 3
Paul “Nino” Canino: 3
Mark Feinsand: 2
Jim Graziano: 1
Dan Graziano: 1

Ed Price: $2.66
Steve Politi: $2.66
Yohan Sengamalay: $2.16
Sal Sabatino: $1.66
Paul “Nino” Canino: $1.66
Mark Feinsand: $1.00
Greg Lester: $0.50
Chris Sabatino: $0.50
Rob Biro: $0.16
Jon Graziano: Zip
Jim Graziano: Zilch
Dan Graziano: Nada

That’s all I got. I need a morning nap…

No comments:

Post a Comment