Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.15.09Posted by nvr1983 on March 15th, 2009
It’s officially here. . .Selection Sunday is upon us. Time for a bunch of whining and complaining by grown men about how their team that went 20-12 deserved to get in or for Billy Packer to rip some mid-major for getting in at 26-7 over an ACC team that went 17-15. Thankfully, the slate today is a little lighter to let us get some work done on our NCAA tournament preview. We’ll be covering all 4 games today and we will be doing a separate live blog (RTC Live style, but we won’t be inside the Selection Committee room although give it time). Here are the games today in chronological order and a brief synopsis of what is at stake in each game:
- 1 PM: #22 FSU vs. #8 Duke on ESPN, Raycom, and ESPN360.com: This is only for seeding purposes. FSU is probably a solid #5 after knocking off UNC yesterday. A win here might be able to move them up to the last #4 seed. Duke is pretty much locked into a #2 seed. There is no way they are getting a #1 seed and they won’t fall to a #3 seed because the two teams above them and three teams below them in the rankings all had worse weeks.
- 1 PM: Tennessee vs. Mississippi State on CBS: This is the biggest game of the day because of its implications on the bubble. I’m guessing 95% of the people who have any rooting interest in this game will be pulling for Tennessee. The Vols are solidly in the field at a #7 seed in most predictions and I can’t see them jumping much higher, which would essentially mean they should be ranked, if they beat a good, but not great MSU team. The Bulldogs on the other hand can wreck a bunch of teams NCAA dreams by winning the SEC title.
- 1 PM: Texas-San Antonio vs. Stephen F. Austin on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: The winner of this game will end up with a 14 or 15 seed. SFA might be an interesting first round opponent since they actually had a decent RPI for a Southland team (#79) and boast a win over #94 North Dakota State. Honestly though, unless you’re a fan/grad of one of the schools, you’re not going to be watching this over the other two games.
- 3:30 PM: Ohio State vs. #24 Purdue on CBS: Another game that is about seeding. I think Purdue has moved up about as far as it can after destroying Illinois in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Ohio State has a chance to move up to a 7 if they can win this after knocking off Michigan State yesterday.
12:20 PM: Ok. Some quick questions for you that ESPN.com posed this morning:
- Which teams are the #1 seeds?
- Is UConn better off as a #2 seed?
- Which conference will send the most teams to the NCAA tournament?
- Will the SEC really only put two of its teams into the NCAA field?
- Will Arizona’s 24-year bid streak finally end?
- Which teams will be seeded higher than you think?
- Which teams will be seeded lower than you think?
- Which mid-major teams will the big boys hope to avoid in the first round?
Let me know what you think and I’ll give you my thoughts in a little bit.
12:45 PM: Why does CBS drag these Selection Committee people onto the show? I know they’re trying to hype up the Selection Special at 6 PM, but they add absolutely nothing. They just give generic, PR firm answers. I almost prefer the bickering that ESPN has arguing whether or not a team deserves to be in.
12:50 PM: Drew, thanks for the comment. We know that MSU can actually only “take” one spot in the tournament, but we’ll never know who that last team out was. Consequently there are a bunch of teams who will be crushed and think that they were the one left out because of MSU’s win if that happens. In addition, I’m pretty sure several bubble teams will be deflated if MSU beats the Vols this afternoon hence the “dreams” comment. [You might be a psych major so I'll also point out that this does not refer to literal dreams because I'm assuming most of the players won't take a nap between the end of the SEC title game and the Selection Special at 6 PM.]
1:05 PM: Duke-FSU is underway and Duke is up 3-2 early off 3 by Jon Scheyer following a sloppy FSU turnover. FSU needs to avoid those turnovers if they want to have a chance to win this game. The Seminoles don’t look that tentative right now although they have madea couple of sloppy plays. Toney Douglas will need to have a 25+ point game today for the Seminoles to win.
1:20 PM: Close games at both sites although Duke has opened up a 6-point lead with 10 minutes to go. The Vols are only up by 3 with 11:59 left with MSU headed to the FT line.
1:30 PM: FSU is in trouble. Duke is on fire right now. They’re on an 18-3 run in the last 8 minutes. Leonard Hamilton needs to get his guys to settle down and start playing some defense. Watch the next 5-10 minutes closely because Duke could run FSU out of the gym if they don’t turn it around quickly.
1:35 PM: Sorry about the delays in the post. I had to take a bathroom break so I would be fine for the more important parts of the game and I’ve been working on my thesis project on the 8 questions I posed earlier. Duke is up 29-15 with 6:28 left, but could get back into the game because they’re outhustling Duke right now. Wayne Chism just took it right at Jarvis Varnado and got the “and 1″. He makes the FT to tie it at 23 with 8:20 left. Varnado has been relatively quiet so far.
1:40 PM: FSU only has 1 FG in the past 9:30 after Kyle Singler hustles back and blocks a dunk by Jordan DeMercy. All of FSU’s hustle is nice, but they need to hit some shots at the end of the day. No Sam Cassell sightings yet. I guess a depressed Gollum doesn’t make for good TV ratings. Duke is up 33-18 with 3:21 left in the 1st half.
1:50 PM: Duke goes into half with a 35-21 lead behind some hot shooting from beyond the arc (7/14 from 3). Tennessee is holing onto a 30-29 lead with 2:08 left. CBS has been speculating that Varnado may be sick, but the MSU staff just told them that is not the case. He is on the bench because he has 2 fouls.
2:00 PM: Stupid play by MSU costs them the lead at half. Just poor spacing on the turnover and Tyler Smith makes them pay with a 3 at the buzzer (his first basket all day). Tied at 36.
2:02 PM: For those of you who missed it last night, check out Scott Van Pelt mentioning us on SportsCenter last night.
2:05 PM: Here are the answers that I spent the first half working on while trying to keep you updated:
1. Which teams are the No. 1 seeds?
Definites = Louisville, UNC, and Pittsburgh
Debate = Memphis and UConn
I’m going to go with Memphis here although I think UConn deserves it because they have actually won games against solid teams whereas Memphis only really has their win over Gonzaga to hang their hat on.
2. Is UConn better off as a #2 seed?
I think this really depends on which Regional they get sent to. I’m not sure which regions the teams. I’m assuming that the #1s will be divided up this way: Pitt (East-Boston), UNC (South-Memphis), Louisville (Midwest-Indianapolis), and Memphis (West-Glendale). If the committee plans on putting UConn in the East, that would be very bad for the Huskies as DeJuan Blair has gotten the better of Hasheem Thabeet in their match-ups this year and Jim Calhoun has no answer for Sam Young. If they get shipped out West (strongest #2 playing the weakest #1), it shouldn’t matter whether or not they switch seeds with Memphis.
3. Which conference will send the most teams to the NCAA tournament?
I’m going to pull a Michael Wilbon here and push with the ACC, Big East, and Big 10 getting 7 teams in. I just don’t think that Penn State will make the cut to give Big 10 its 8th team that everyone keeps talking about.
4. Will the SEC really put only two of its teams into the NCAA field?
Yes unless MSU helps the conference save face by pulling off the upset. Just something to watch for when you wonder about some calls in the SEC title game today. A couple interesting facts from ESPN: (1) It would be the first time in 21 years that a BCS conference only got 2 bid (Pac-10, 1988); (2) In the past 15 years, there have only been 3 times where a BCS conference sent just 3 teams to the NCAA tournament; (3) The SEC has sent at least 5 teams to the NCAA tournament every year since 1996 when they sent 4 teams. Of course those 4 teams were really good (Kentucky won the title, MSU made the Final 4, and Arkansas and Georgia made the Sweet 16). And this is a down year for mid-majors. At least the SEC people still have football, right?
5. Will Arizona’s 24-year bid streak finally end?
Yes. It should be noted that the streak technically doesn’t exist because the NCAA vacated Arizona’s 1999 bid. Their 1-5 finish and 2-9 road record kill their case. The only way the Wildcats get in is if Tennessee beats MSU and the committee dings Creighton for getting blown out in their conference tournament.
6. Which teams will be seeded higher than you think?
These next two are a little difficult for people who follow college basketball as closely as we do because I don’t think anything will be that big of a surprise since we look at bracket projections on a daily basis. Having said that, I’m going to go with USC, Tennessee, and Siena. The Trojans might go from a team that had no shot of getting in to being a 9 or 10 seed just by getting hot in the Pac-10 tournament. Tennessee could be a 6 seed if they win today, which means they should theoretically be ranked (and they shouldn’t be). Siena will probably end up as 9 or 10 seed, which would be a brutal match-up for a 7 or 8 seed.
7. Which teams will be seeded lower than you think?
Arizona State and Butler. Right now they are predicted to be a 7 and 8 respectively by Lunardi. The Sun Devils were as high as #16 on the S-curve a few weeks ago and now they could potential play a 1 or 2 seed in the 2nd round. Similarly, Butler was as high as #21 on the S-curve a few weeks ago. A couple big things to watch for with these teams: (1) Will they end up playing Siena in the first round? That would be the best 1st round game by far. (2) Who will be the #1/#2 they face in the 2nd round? I’m sure all of the coaches with #1 and #2 seeds will be praying that they don’t get these teams in their pod especially the Sun Devils with All-American James Harden.
8. Which mid-major teams will the big boys hope to avoid in the first round?
Butler, Siena, and VCU. I’ve discussed the first two already, but does anybody want to face Eric Maynor, who broke Coach K’s heart a few years ago. Throw in freshman Larry Sanders and his 7’7″ wingspan and you have a tough 1st round match-up.
Let me know what you guys think. I’ll be on BGtD full-time for the rest of the games.
2:15 PM: FSU cuts the lead to 11 with 15:43 left. They’re about to start the 2nd half in Tampa. Varnado needs to step up and play like he did yesterday if the Bulldogs are going to steal a NCAA tournament bid.
2:20 PM: If anybody is from Knoxville, do you know if they sell orange blazers like Bruce Pearl has off the rack or is that custom-made? I can’t imagine that they carry that color at Brooks Brothers.
2:22 PM: Awful call by the officials leads to Varnado’s 3rd foul. That could be huge. I’m not sure what the official along the baseline was looking at on that one.
2:25 PM: Quick check-in from the Southland tournament. Stephen F. Austin is up 54-45 with less than 8 minutes left. This is all you need to know about this conference: It’s a single-digit game for a spot in the NCAA tournament and the analysts just spent the past 2 minutes talking about the Big 10.
2:28 PM: FSU is on a 9-0 run in the last 4 minutes. They’ve cut the lead to 8 with 13:13 left. The 50 Seminole fans in attendance start the Tomahawk chop, which is quite possibly the most annoying thing in sports. The arena is probably 75% pro-FSU anti-Duke.
2:35 PM: Thanks for the responses to my questions. I’ll address them at the end of this set of games. MSU has opened up a 5-point lead with 12:30 left, but Varnado is on the bench. Great finish by Tyler Smith for the “and 1″ cuts it to 2.
2:40 PM: Gerald Henderson might end up deciding this game. He already has 24 points. He’s probably the most athletic player in the ACC and I don’t think FSU has anybody who can guard him. Douglas is a great college player, but I don’t think he can guard Henderson straight up. A 9-0 run in the last 1:30 has stretched the lead back to 19 off a 3 by Kyle Singler. This game is over with 7:17 left.
2:42 PM: Scott, I agree with your assessment of the SEC title game. That 3 by Kodi Augustus looked like something I would casually throw up at the gym when I’m warming up and nobody is around. It’s not something you do when you’re trying to get into the NCAA tournament.
2:45 PM: Scott, I think that FSU will get into the Sweet 16, but I think they are too much of a 1-man team to go much further than that. I think they were able to knock off UNC for a couple reasons, but the two big ones were no Ty Lawson (UNC is good, but not great without him–remember that UNC’s 2005 championship team lost its season-opener to Santa Clara when Raymond Felton was injured) and the fact that they know UNC really well because they’re in the same conference.
2:48 PM: I’m going to turn my attention to the Southland title game since there is 1 minute left. SFA is up 9 by after Nick Shaw makes a pair of FTs with 59.2 seconds left.
2:50 PM: UTSA just turned the ball over. It looks like SFA will get its first tournament bid. The big question is whether the SFA fans will rush the court and whether the ESPN guys will call it what it is instead of something lame like “Get on the floor”.
2:55 PM: Weak/no effort from the SFA fans although I guess it’s hard to rush the court when you’re bottle-feeding an infant like one of their fans was doing.
2:58 PM: Jarvis Varnado just bailed out Dee Bost (great name) after the freshman guard took a dumb shot. Varnado will be going to the FT line after the TV timeout with MSU up by 3 with 3:33 left.
3:00 PM: Scott, MSU would be very difficult for a team that doesn’t shoot well from the outside because Varnado (aka “The Human Eraser”) could take away the middle unlike anybody else in the nation with the exception of Hasheem Thabeet. Tennessee is up by 1 with 1:54 left so the Bulldogs still have some work left.
3:02 PM: “Onions!!!” Huge 3 by Phil Turner to put the Bulldogs up by 2 and he follows it up with a pair of FTs to give them a 4-point lead with 1:15 left. I thought Chism got hit on that 3, but CBS hasn’t shown a replay yet.
3:07 PM: Chism cut it to a 1-point game with less than aminute left. Barry Stewart gets bailed out. There was no contact there. He just lost his footing. They’re going nuts in Tucson right now. He only makes one of two FTs. Bruce Pearl calls a timeout with 12.4 seconds left and the Vols down by 2.
3:10 PM: Duke win 79-69 behind 27 from Henderson. He may be the explosive one-on-one scorer that Duke has lacked in the past few years. J.P. Prince gets a make-up call from the officials and only hits the front end, but Varnado can’t control the rebound. Tennessee ball with 9.6 seconds left down by 1.
3:13 PM: Wow. That may be the worst decision I have seen by a college player in a while (maybe since Chris Webber‘s technical timeout in 1993). Tyler Smith gets called for 5 seconds on the inbounds with a timeout in his pocket. He was close, but like I said earlier look for the close calls to go to MSU.
3:15 PM: The CBS people still haven’t noticed that the clock didn’t move after the in-bounds pass went off Prince’s leg. Just 9.3 seconds left. Wow. Another make-up call. Dee Bost steps out of bounds. This is a crazy finish.
3:18 PM: They still haven’t fixed the clock. It still says 9.3 seconds left. Tennessee turns it back over. After this ugly display I don’t think the SEC deserves a single bid. Technically that last play shouldn’t have counted because the clock was never fixed. This is just a mess. This is like a youth league basketball game.
3:20 PM: Scott, I’m not sure how I forgot about Jamelle Horne, who we made fun of on a couple of occasions. Those look even worse now that Arizona might miss the tournament by a game or two. Congrats to MSU on their SEC conference title. And yes, the officiating was horrible here. At least neither team is getting left out of the NCAA tournament because of it, but expect some angry comments from fans of teams that end up on the wrong side of the bubble.
3:25 PM: I’m not trying to rip on ESPN here, but why do they have NHRA on ESPN and Bracketology on ESPN2? I have a hard time believing drag racing would get higher ratings than college basketball at this time of year.
3:27 PM: Lunardi just took St. Mary’s out of the NCAA tournament. He has 7 teams battling for the last 2 spots. Gottlieb is ripping all of the bubble teams. I think he has a point here. Not bad for a guy who left Pitt out of his pre-season top 25.
3:30 PM: We’re officially on the last game before the Selection Special unless St. Mary’s wants to try to get another game in to try and convince the Selection Committee that Patty Mills is back to 100%. . .
3:35 PM: I have to say it’s sort of weird doing this watching only 1 game. It’s much more of a challenge trying to cover a dozen games with 1 TV and a single computer. Maybe next year I’ll try the PIP function on my TV.
3:40 PM: Josh, I’m assuming that you’re referring to the “Duke swoon” post by rtmsf. That’s not my post. I’m the one who threw up the Duke elbow column that your people went apeshit on a few weeks ago. Since the “Duke swoon” post was put up the Blue Devils are 9-4, which is a solid record, but nothing exceptional. It should be noted that they really only have 1 great win (Wake Forest) and 2 good wins (FSU) during that period. I think they’re a solid Sweet 16 team unless they get stuck with Arizona State or someone like that in the 2nd round who could give them a scare. [I'd love to see a Harden-Henderson match-up.] I think getting past the Sweet 16 will depend on who they get in their bracket.
3:55 PM: If anybody from ESPN is reading this, please explain to your college basketball people that there is a difference between correlation and causation. #1 seeds usually get that honor because they are considered nearly unbeatable (maybe not so much this year, but it’s true in most years) while #2 seeds don’t get the honor because they’re often considered to be too inconsistent. That’s why they lose to the 15 seed or the 7/10 winner not that the those teams are that much better than the 16 seed or the 8/9 winner.
4:00 PM: Purdue and Ohio State are tied at 24 with 4 minutes left in the game. Quick start from William Buford again with 10 points already.
4:05 PM: Just some advanced warning for you guys, we’ll be doing an interactive chat that a lot of you have been asking for when we cover the Selection Show today. Make sure to check out our interactive chat in a little over an hour and half.
4:15 PM: Ok. I’m getting a ton of messages so I’ll try to take them one at a time. Josh, that’s a nice way of picking a starting date. I started from the moment that rtmsf posted that article. You started from right after Duke lost 3 of 4 and 4 of 6, which is awfully convenient and make it look much better. I’ll agree that Duke did a solid job of recovering, but there current finish isn’t that much better than the previous years that he listed. Duke typically hasn’t completely fallen apart (except for 2005), but there is a drop-off, which may be due to the increased competition rather than Duke playing worse.
4:25 PM: am19psu, I’d agree there is a difference between making the Sweet 16 and Final 4. I think the drop-off between 3 and 4 depends on the region. Looking at Lunardi’s brackets right now I would only say there is a big difference in two of the regions: East (Wake > Gonzaga) and West (Kansas > Washington). I would rather play the #4 in the South (Syracuse) than the #3 (Villanova). I’m neutral on the Midwest (Missouri ~ Purdue). As for the calculations you used, I’m not that familiar with all of that stuff so I can’t say much about it other than I have feeling that it assumes that the #1 team is inherently better than the #2 team, which may not be true in the cases of toss-ups.
4:35 PM: Whew. Back to the games. Ohio State is up by 1 with 15:44 left. Ohio State is on fire from beyond the arc today (6/12 so far).
4:50 PM: Purdue has a 2-point lead with 11:36 left. Evan Turner needs to step it up (4/12 FG) if the Buckeyes are going to pull this one out. Sorry about the delays. I’m doing a ton of stuff right now and I’ll check out the link tonight/tomorrow.
5:00 PM: Josh, a couple things until I let rtmsf handle his own arguments. He made that post before 95% of Duke’s campus knew who Elliot Williams was and I’ve noticed that Coach K has cut his minutes since Nolan Smith has come back. Is that a sign of things to come? I’m not that interested in arguing semantics or whether a downward trajectory has to be linear or just finish at a lower point than it started at. I’m going to focus on the games now and let rtmsf handle this in the comment section.
P.S. Have the people at Duke stopped crying about the Singler post yet?
5:15 PM: Purdue is up by 4 with 2:25 left. Do the Buckeyes have a run left in them?
5:20 PM: Purdue has missed their last 8 shots. Not a good way to finish off a team. Make that 9 in a row.
5:22 PM: That should do it. Purdue finally hits a shot (a 3) and gets a block. If they hit their FTs, this one is over. Now all we have to do is wait for the Selection Special.
5:23 PM: Awful foul by E’Twaun Moore leads to Evan Turner converting an “and 1″. Down to 3-point lead with 14.7 seconds left.
5:27 PM: Ok. That should do it. I think. Ohio State can’t make a 7-point play. Can they? Nope, but they hit a 3 to cut it to 4. Did that cover the spread?
5:30 PM: We’re going to head over to the Selection Show post. A couple quick links while you head over there: