Boom Goes the Dynamite: Elite 8 Day OnePosted by nvr1983 on March 28th, 2009
We’re back for the Elite 8 today. As we mentioned yesterday, the tournament up to this point hasn’t been as exciting as we are used to, but perhaps all this chalk means that we will get a phenomenal last three rounds. The match-ups today look like they will produce some solid action (particularly in Boston) so we’re definitely looking forward to that.
- 4:40 PM: #3 Missouri vs. #1 UConn
- 7:05 PM: #3 Villanova vs. #1 Pittsburgh
In the first game, it will be interesting to see how Missouri’s frenetic style holds up against UConn and what impact Hasheem Thabeet will have in that style of game. One guy to look out for on UConn is Kemba Walker who might thrive in an up-tempo game. In the nightcap, we have two of the Big East’s top teams going against each other in a rematch of a game that Villanova won behind Reggie Redding‘s 18 points and 7 rebounds. DeJuan Blair only had 9 points and 8 rebounds in 23 foul-riddled minutes. An interesting subplot to this game is that some are heralding it as a look at the future of Big East coaching with Jamie Dixon pitted against Jay Wright.
3:55 PM: I love college basketball, but is it a good idea to encourage people in Detroit to spend their last dollar to get tickets? Isn’t that what caused this financial crisis (outside of the idiots on Wall Street playing around with CDOs and credit default swaps)?
4:15 PM: I’m guessing this is the part of the NCAA tournament where CBS uses human interest stories as filler.
4:38 PM: Here we go… let’s hope for a group of E8 games like in 2005 (where three of the four went to OT)…
4:43 PM: The problem I see with Mizzou pulling the major upset in this game is that UConn is very comfortable playing this style. A matchup against Pitt would have been a more interesting contrast for Mizzou to take advantage of.
4:46 PM: Horrid start for Mizzou and fantastic start (obviously) for UConn. The Huskies are already 6-7 from the field with several wide-open shots available. The thing about Missouri is that theie pressure can get them back into games, but it’s going to be tough to turn over AJ Price and Kemba Walker.
4:49 PM: Sorry, it looks like comments were off for a minute. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts.
4:55 PM: Mrs. RTC just noted that the Mizzou unis are “booger-yellow.” Only the best commentary and analysis from RTC.
5:01 PM: The offensive firepower for UConn at every position is going to be difficult for Missouri to deal with throughout this game. Basically, what we’re saying is either UConn is going to have to go really cold or Mizzou is going to have to catch some serious fire to win this one.
5:04 PM: I’d bet that there’s 20-25k there, but you really have to get to 35-40k in a basketball-configured football stadium before it starts to look “full.” I don’t think UConn fans traditionally travel all that well outside of the Northeast, though, and Mizzou is probably still getting used to having a good football team. Throw in the location – Phoenix – and it’s not exactly a college basketball hotbed for the locals.
5:11 PM: UConn getting sloppy with the ball here. It’s amazing how similar Missouri looks to the mid-90s Arkansas and Kentucky teams right now.
5:15 PM: That last play illustrated exactly what Mizzou is trying to do here. UConn probably thinks “hey we got an easy layup” by Kemba Walker, but Missouri sees that they almost turned the ball over there, with the hope that as their legs tire in the second half, those opportunities will be more readily available.
5:19 PM: Has there been a quieter 31-win team from a major conference in a long time? I’d wager most hoops fans still can’t name a single starter on Missouri, and only about half could name the Tigers’ coach. Out of the E8 teams, they’re definitely the red-headed stepchild of the group.
5:24 PM: A quick stat check shows that UConn is shooting 70% from the field and they’re +12 on the boards, and yet they’re only up four pts. Jim Calhoun can’t be pleased with this.
5:28 PM: 11 turnovers – that’s of course why Mizzou is still hanging in this game.
5:30 PM: Tremendous spin-move and finish there from AJ Price. UConn takes a six-pt lead into halftime despite getting almost nothing from Hasheem Thabeet (2/5/0 blks). This isn’t his kind of game, though, so they may not need him. What they do need, however, is to cut down on the out-of-control turnovers where they get moving a little bit ahead of their typical pace. Missouri feasts on those mistakes.
5:44 PM: Still can’t believe that Michigan St. is still playing in this Tournament. If Louisville doesn’t roll that team up and smoke them tomorrow, then something is seriously wrong.
5:55 PM: Agree with Bilas that Kemba Walker has a phenomenal future ahead of him. He’s just as quick as Lawson but with a little more size (6’1) and length. His three-point shooting is suspect at this stage of his career, but he has plenty of time to improve on that.
6:02 PM: Thabeet is completely out of sync right now. He’s thrown up two shots off glass that didn’t even touch the rim and he just picked up his third foul. This just isn’t his kind of game. And of course, as we all know, he’s the one thing that UConn has that nobody else does. When he’s neutralized, they’re still a very good team, but they’re not particularly ‘special.’
6:04 PM: Uh-0h. Is the Missouri run imminent?
6:06 PM: A huge block on one end and sick drive by Walker on the other gives UConn a little bit of stability there. Thabeet is back in – wonder if Mizzou will start taking it at him to get his fourth?
6:10 PM: So which commercial is driving you guys crazy this tournament? The one with the guy dressed in drag for the Taco Bell nachos is mine. The nachos don’t even look appetizing, and the commercial is completely unfunny. Any others?
6:15 PM: Stanley Robinson is doing his best Thabeet impression. Those two were nasty blocks. With ten minutes to go, who would you bet on at this point? Still UConn? They’re 2-15 so far this half, although they have cut back on the TOs (only three this half).
6:18 PM: Bilas brought up another good point about UConn looking a little tired. If that statement is true and UConn is indeed tired, they’re going to lose this game. They’re already extremely cold from the field and if they have tired legs, more turnovers will be coming. Not the position you want to be with only a 2-pt lead.
6:25 PM: UConn with a nice surge here to open up a little bit of breathing room. The last two minutes have been about toughness, and UConn has shown that it has a little bit left.
6:36 PM: Down to the last four minutes here, and Mizzou is going to need more of those 2s (they’re not a huge 3-pt shooting team). Fouling UConn isn’t a bad strategy, as they’re 221st in the nation this year.
6:39 PM: What a completely ridiculous tip-in. Followed by an even more ridiculous bank shot from Kemba Walker. If that’s the kind of shot they’re going to rely on to win this game, they’re not going to win this game. Just mho.
6:42 PM: What a tenuous pass that was, but Price saved it and manufactured a good shot there. Walker has really been the difference in the game for UConn today – guess that’s why you recruit multiple all-americans, eh?
6:45 PM: Three from Lawrence to bring Missouri back to two possessions, but unless they get some turnovers from the UConn guards, UConn is heading to Detroit. I agree with you Scott on Bilas, he’s really judgmental lately. Could he be channelling the ghost of Billy Packer as a CBS analyst?
6:49 PM: Didn’t realize that Calhoun is 2-5 at the E8 step. Isn’t Coach K something like 10-0 at that stage? Interesting that Calhoun seems to have trouble getting to the F4, but when he gets there, he takes care of business (vs. K, who has all kinds of problems when he gets there).
6:51 PM: It’s true that Mike Anderson has done a phenomenal job at Missouri. He’ll lose his top three players to graduation this year, but his system is a plug-it-in style and it’s fun so recruiting won’t be a problem. Plenty of talent in St. Louis and Chicago will want to play for this guy. Kentucky would be smart to at least give him a look, but I doubt they will.
6:58 PM: So UConn moves on to the F4. I admit that I’ve had my doubts about the fortitude of this team, but surely that was somewhat understandable given their recent tournament history. Never questioned their talent, but they reminded me a lot of their 2006 team – loads of players, but something just wasn’t clicking. They showed some grit and toughness today, though, and they were the best team in their region. A rematch against Louisville in the F4 would be spectacular. Something tells me that UL wouldn’t get smoked like they did in February.
7:02 PM: Onto Boston for Pitt-Villanova. Wow, it’s a Big East kinda year, isn’t it?
7:09 PM: Definitely a more hyped environment than we saw in Glendale. Villanova has been to ELEVEN regional finals?!? Who knew? Only two since the 80s though, including today.
7:12 PM: Uh-oh, Blair already with a bad first foul. He should have just let it go.
7:15 PM: It’ll be interesting to track the Pitt +/- with Blair on/off the floor tonight. We’ll try but if we miss something, feel free to correct us.
7:18 PM: Jay Wright couldn’t have asked for a better start to this one. Blair is already on the bench, and they’re playing with tenacity and ferocity on the defensive end.
7:20 PM: Nova was +6 with Blair on the bench for that stint. He comes back in and Pitt immediately scores.
7:25 PM: Notice what Villanova is doing on Blair in the post in this hybrid man/zone defense. He had two guys shading him, which created the opening for Young to pump-fake and blow-by there. Shane Clark with the big three to give Nova the double-digit lead already.
7:28 PM: Clark with 9 pts has already outscored Pitt with 8 pts. We all know Pitt doesn’t mind playing from behind, but they have to be more careful with a team that’s familiar with them like Villanova is.
7:32 PM: Nvr1983 is actually at this game, sitting next to the Villanova student section. Hopefully he’ll be sending some pics a little later.
7:35 PM: Sam Young is keeping Pitt in this game right now. It’s clear that Villanova realize they have to battle Pitt on the boards or they have no chance. They’re going after rebounds like the OctoMom at Vivid Entertainment.
7:38 PM. Wow that was insane. Blair barely moved while Corey Stokes went flying into the stanchion on that foul. Not the smartest play by Stokes there. Is it must me or does anyone else think the PC redhead girl is nerd-hot? Sheesh, I need to get outside more.
7:42 PM: Blair remind anyone else of Corliss Wiliamson from Arkansas – the Big Nasty? Villanova is now 3-11 from three so far, and we’d guess that’s about where Dixon wants to see them. The Cats were 6-15 in the win over Pitt earlier this season. They’re shooting a lot more than that this game.
7:45 PM: Really not sure Villanova wants to be shooting a three per minute in this game. They shoot it at 36% on the season, but that’s not really their game. Penetration and midrange shots are where they excel.
7:50 PM. Just got a couple of pics from Boston from Nvr1983. Here they are… as you can see, the RTC name doesn’t carry the same weight with the NCAA that we think it should… the Villanova student sxn. is in the first, and a general court view in the second.
7:59 PM. Big three by Fields followed by another horrible foul by Blair there. Blair had played the majority of the first half so this doesn’t hurt them too much, but it might if he gets his third early in the second half. As for the +/-, we have it as Nova +6 when Blair is out of the game so far.
8:05 PM: Pitt should feel really good about having a halftime lead here. They withstood the early Villanova run and even two fouls on the part of DeJuan Blair who hasn’t been killing the Cats (8/6). Plus, their defense is excellent, holding VU to 34% shooting and 3-14 from three. This game will hinge on the performance of the Nova guards in the second half, who shot an icy 5-21 in the first, including brick city from outside the arc.
8:23 PM: That didn’t look good for Jermaine Dixon, but it’s probably just a sprain of some kind (possibly groin). Didn’t look like something more serious like a tear. Big three by Sam Young there… Villanova is going to have to get their guards going here.
8:27 PM: Can you imagine if this game were being called like an ACC game? We’d already have 31 fouls by now, and Blair would have fouled out.
8:29 PM: Wow, I’m not a doctor, but I play one on tv (Dixon – groin strain).
8:32 PM: TREMENDOUS hustle to make that play into a bucket for Villanova there. Smart too. Pump-fake the defender at the three and get the easy layup instead.
8:36 PM: Sam Young is just nasty with that pump-fake. Great finish there. Really have no idea who is going to win this game right now. Could go either way.
8:41 PM: Blair has gotten through the first third-plus of this half without another foul, which is great news for Pitt. If they can get him to the 8-minute mark with two, they’ll be in great shape.
8:46 PM: One of the best outside looks Villanova has gotten all day for Stokes there. It’s clear now that Pitt has decided they’re going to try to ride Blair inside for as long as they can. It might make sense for Villanova to take a couple of chances by going right at him on drives just to bait him into a third.
8:49 PM: Andy Katz is reporting that Sean Miller just told one school – either Arizona or Virginia – that he’s staying put at XU for the time being. Not sure if that’ll hold if Kentucky comes calling, though. I understand Virginia, but really, did he really tell Arizona no thanks?
8:51 PM: That could end up being a huge reversal there. Not sure why Dante Cunningham touched the rim; had he touched the board instead they likely would have let it go.
8:53 PM: Didn’t like that 2-on-2 decision to shoot a fadeaway by Reynolds there, but he got his own and created something else. Can anyone get a feel on how this thing is going to go? Our gut says that Sam Young and Levance Fields will get it done in the clutch, but we’re just not sure.
8:57 PM: Shane Clark and Dante Cunningham both have four now for Villanova – the Cunningham situation is far more precarious for the Wildcats. They really will need his aggressiveness down the stretch. Huge three by Dwayne Anderson from the corner.
9:00 PM: Two bad turnovers for Nova where they really had a chance to put Pitt back on its heels a little bit. Sure Jay Wright would love to have those two possessions back. And then an offensive board by Blair to get back to the line. What a terrible series of possessions for Villanova here.
9:02 PM: Blair is positively Shaq-like at the line, missing his last three to go to 2-5 for the night. But he’s got the touch in the paint, sitting at 6-6 from that area.
9:04 PM: Villanova certainly isn’t kiling themselves from the line – now 16-16 from the stripe. Blair’s third foul was no smarter than his first two. But with 5:30 to go, he’s probably ok unless there’s OT tonight.
9:06 PM: This is more like it!!! Back and forth we go with big shots. Awesome rebound and putback for Blair, as he’s yet to miss a shot from the field.
9:08 PM: Heading into the last segment of the game, Pitt definitely has the advantage. Blair is getting big rebounds and hitting everything in close, while Sam Young is showing why he’s just as important to this team as his bigger counterpart. Villanova is going to have to have some guys step up in a major way to get a couple of defensive stops here.
9:10 PM: Nova couldn’t have played much better D than it did there, and Pitt still got a tough shot to drop. Danger time here after that turnover. It’s too early to call it, but Villanova definitely needs momentum to change in a hurry.
9:11 PM: As if on cue, not sure why Pitt’s Dixon fouled him there? Gave Nova a free point, now down one.
9:12 PM: Nova got the two stops it needed… now let’s see who they go to on the other end…
9:13 PM: Wow. Villanova WILL NOT DIE. Is it Blair, Young or Fields time for Pitt?
9:15 PM: Bet Redding wishes he could have that one back. Unnecessary foul 40 feet from the basket. What a dagger three from Anderson.
9:17 PM: Man, I couldn’t be more impressed with how Villanova has fought back here. Huge walk by Blair, followed by a bailout on the possession arrow.
9:18 PM: Remember, Villanova hasn’t missed yet. Let’s see how they do under pressure.
9:20 PM: WOOOOOOW!!! The YOUNG and the restless right there, neither one of these teams will beat themselves, will they? I’m really jealous of Nvr1983 right now.
9:21 PM: Not sure I agree with fouling from behind there the way Nova is shooting FTs. But maybe Dixon wanted the full shot-clock to go for three next possession?
9:23 PM: Yeah, didn’t agree with that three by Survive and Levance either. But who are we to complain – that guy has drilled so many of those. Have you guys noticed that Blair hasn’t received the ball in scoring position in about 8 minutes of game time? Yeah, us too. Thanks Verne for mentioning the record there.
9:24 PM: Smart play by Fields there to wait for the open two. You miss a three there and your season is definitely over. Now they can foul and hope for another miss for a chance to tie. Not sure why more teams don’t do that, actually.
9:25 PM: RIDICULOUSLY BAD PLAY THERE BY VILLANOVA. First of all, why go for the home-run? He was covered! Secondly, if you’re going to save it, either make sure you hit Fields with the ball for certain or go on out of bounds with it. Crazy. Now Fields is a lock for these FTs.
9:28 PM. REYNOLDS LENGTH OF THE COURT!!!!!!!!
9:29 PM. I think Tyus Edney just got replaced in NCAA lore.
9:30 PM. Fields gave that about as good of a shot as you could ask for there. You really hate to see either team lose in a game like this. Just phenomenal.
9:32 PM. Now THAT is what the NCAA Tournament is all about! I mean, goodness, the cojones for Fields to nail both of those FTs, followed by a very dangerous pass leading to the Scottie Reynolds foray into the lane. Just amazing.
9:41 PM. My heart rate is just now slowing down. Cannot believe that game. Pitt had it in hand, but Villanova just wouldn’t lose. Then it appeared that Nova had given it back to them, only to have Reynolds save their season. Wow, wow, wow. Maybe if we’re lucky we’ll get Nvr1983 to write up a post on his experience there tonight.
9:47 PM. Ok, that’s going to do it for BGTD on the first day of the Elite Eight. If we’re at all lucky, we’ll get two more great games tomorrow. I’m less excited about those two as I was about today’s, but the beauty is that you never know. You just never know. For example, that was the first time all year that Pitt lost while getting a full game from Blair. So we’re signing off for now, but check back tomorrow prior to the first game. Enjoy the night, Hoops Nation.