Boom Goes the Dynamite: Elite 8 Day TwoPosted by rtmsf on March 29th, 2009
After last night’s fantastic games (especially the Villanova–Pittsburgh game last night–probably the best game I have ever been to), we are hoping that today’s match-ups can equal what we saw last night. One of the more interesting things from the coverage last night (other than the fact that CBS cut to their regularly scheduled programming soon after the game was over according to reports that I have heard) is how little publicity ESPN and other media entities are giving the Scottie Reynolds mad dash to win the game. I’d be interested to hear your perspective on this since I was at the game and out for a couple hours after the game ended.
Anyways, here’s your schedule for today:
- 2:20 PM: #2 Michigan State vs. #1 Louisville
- 5:05 PM: #2 Oklahoma vs. #1 UNC
Even though the late game is getting a lot of the hype for the Blake Griffin vs. Tyler Hansbrough massacre match-up, I think the early game might be a better game. I think people are giving Louisville too much credit for destroying a very mediocre Arizona team and Kalin Lucas will do a much better job navigating the Cardinals pressure than any point guard they have faced this year.
Let me know what your thought in the comment section and I’ll be back a little after 2 PM to get things started.
2:15 PM: What happened to the guy posing with Magic Johnson? It looks like he got into a bar fight, but he looks like he’s pushing 70.
2:20 PM: Interesting fact regarding the coaching match-up today: Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo have never coached against each other.
2:22 PM: How crazy would Gus Johnson have been if he was calling the game in Boston last night? I’m pretty sure he would still be yelling today.
2:25 PM: Slow start for both teams (2 points combined in the first 3:30). I’m guessing this is just a bit of nerves. Hopefully the level of play will pick up.
2:30 PM: “Everywhere he (Pitino) goes success follows” – Gus Johnson. The residents of Boston would beg to differ.
2:43 PM: The teams still seem to be feeling each other out and the game seems to lack a real flow to it. Midway through the first half the teams are on pace to scored 92 points combined (a game after Louisville scored 103 points by themselves). How long the Spartans can maintain this pace before they need to go to their relatively inexperienced reserves?
2:50 PM: One thing to keep your eye on if the game is close late: free throw shooting. I harped on it last night after the Pitt-Nova game, but the Cardinals shoot an atrocious 64.4% as a team while the Spartans shoot 69.6% as a team. In fact, that may actually understate the difference in free throw shooting between the two teams. Louisville only has one starter who shoots over 67% from the line (Edgar Sosa at 74.2%) while Michigan State has 2 starters who shoot 80% or better from the line (Kalin Lucas and Goran Suton) in addition to a key reserve (Chris Allen).
3:00 PM: I just stumbled across this article from 2 days ago where Rick Pitino says that the responsibility of watching over a basketball program rests on the coach’s shoulders. He says they aren’t directed at anybody in particular, but if Louisville makes it to Detroit Jim Calhoun might want to speak to Pitino outside. . .
3:08 PM: Great feed there by Edgar Sosa. This game is really starting to pick up. Could we have a repeat of yesterday? I think this could be another great game, but I have my doubts about UNC-Oklahoma. I have a feeling that the Tar Heels could run away with that game.
3:11 PM: Michigan State goes into half leading by 3. Izzo has to be thrilled that his team adjusted to the Cardinals’ pressure so quickly now he just has to hope their legs hold up.
3:15 PM: Scott, I think Pitino will make a few adjustments and the Cardinals will probably come out of halftime with the pressure cranked up to 11. If Michigan State can weather that storm and keep it within 5 points midway through the 2nd half they should be fine. The one interesting thing about the lack of respect Louisville has gotten this year is that I don’t think they will feel the pressure that the typical #1 overall seed would in this situation. I mean obviously there is some pressure trailing at halftime of an Elite 8 game, but I don’t think they will have the typical pressure of expectations that a #1 overall seed would have.
3:30 PM: BS, I’m sure you’ll get your wish (at least the dunking on part, but probably not the broken collarbone stuff). As for questioning the hatred of Hansbrough, it’s definitely out there. I think the reason Eric Devendorf was at another level is that he’s a lot more demonstrative and there was the accusation and suspension for striking a female student even if the charges were later dropped. I’m sure if you go to Durham, NC you will find quite a bit of hatred of Hansbrough. To be honest though, when I spoke with Hansbrough earlier this year he seemed to be a nice enough guy even if he seemed a little too intense almost an hour after the game.
3:45 PM: Great play by Travis Walton to get back there saving an easy lay-up and leading to a fast break the other way. It turned into a 5-point swing with a 3 by Kalin Lucas.
4:00 PM: “Michigan State popping their collars now!” – Gus Johnson. I have no idea what that means. Anyways, Rick Pitino really needs to get his team back into this game. He might want to wake up Terrence Williams and Samardo Samuels to wake up (2 points so far from a pair that averages 31 PPG).
4:02 PM: How long until we get a “This bank is open on Sunday!” call for that banked 3 by Kalin Lucas?
4:10 PM: BS, you might be right, but I wouldn’t bee so quick to count out Louisville especially with the turnovers their pressure defense can create and the fact that they are in the double bonus.
4:11 PM: Durell Summers just hit a 3 to stretch it to a 15-point game and the Spartans are 8/15 from beyond the arc today. This one might be over.
4:20 PM: BS, do you think Dr. Izzo is moonlighting? And yes this thing is over. What do you guys think about the UConn-Michigan State match-up? I think it will come down to how A.J. Price plays against Lucas. It will be interesting to see how Izzo utilizes Suton away from the basket to neutralize Hasheem Thabeet‘s defensive impact. I would guess that the Huskies will be around a 5-point favorite, but the home court edge might make the spread closer than that.
4:25 PM: On the plus side for rtmsf, his constant ridiculing of the Spartans (ok I took a few shots at them this season too) isn’t nearly as bad as leaving 7th seeded Boston College out of the NCAA tournament in his predictions on Selection Sunday.
4:30 PM: Short break here at the RTC East HQ while I take care of some other stuff before the next set of games. I’ll be back around 5 for the last Elite 8 game.
4:45 PM: Actually, it’s rtmsf to take over for the second half of the doubleheader. Reflecting on the above, BC should have been left out – they got shelled by USC in the first round despite being the higher seeded team, AND this is such an overrated MSU team that it’s not even funny. Although I am glad they knocked out another pretender in Louisville.
4:50 PM: I’ve seen that kind of an E8 meltdown by a Pitino team before. Does 1995 Kentucky-UNC ring a bell for anyone? Substitute Rod Rhodes for T-Will and you have the same game.
5:00 PM: The Sheraton commercial is terrible, but what makes it especially so is that Louisville’s rival is not Memphis – take a walk around Lexington right now and I guarantee you’ll find dozens of people celebrating the first game’s results today.
5:10 PM: Was afraid of this kind of start for Oklahoma. Remember this group of Heels has played in three straight E8s. The key question today will be whether the OU defense will be able to get enough stops at the right times to defuse any potential Carolina runs.
5:15 PM: Tell ya what, though. Really too soon to be talking about this, but a UConn-UNC final would be sick.
5:17 PM: Blake Griffin is on a 40-rebound pace, but his team needs some scoring right now.
5:18 PM: This could really get ugly if OU doesn’t find a stroke soon. They simply can’t score with the Heels. They’re efficient at scoring, but most of that is due to Griffin’s presence, and they just don’t have the wealth of options that UNC does.
5:23 PM: #2 on Hansbrough there, but will it hurt UNC all that much? Ed Davis might be just as effective in there.
5:26 PM: Willie Warren is just a scorer in the James “Hollywood” Robinson mold. He can pretty much get his shot whenever he wants it.
5:30 PM: Josh, interesting find on Memphis there. Duke, UNC and Louisville, presumably in addition to their usual games against Gonzaga and a few others would be a nasty, nasty OOC slate. The Calipari to UK rumors are getting stronger – wonder if he’s just letting them ride so he’ll get a much bigger payday?
5:32 PM: WOW. What an explosive move by Griffin there. Most guys would have finger-rolled that. It’s nice to see that the reigning POY has decided to get assertive here.
5:37 PM: Josh, hadn’t noticed that about Alcindor/Abdul-Jabbar. You’d think that they would call him by his current name. Any idea what the women’s game does with ladies who later get married and change their name?
5:38 PM: A completely stupid offensive set by OU there. They had 3 open shots, including a 4-footer by Crocker, and instead they ran the clock down to take a contested 22-footer. What are they doing here?
5:41 PM: You won’t see Carolina throw up two straight airballs like that very often. I’m sorta surprised Griffin didn’t power through and dunk that ball after the foul on Lawson there. It wouldn’t have counted in the college game, but plays like that can still fire up your team.
5:42 PM: Griffin needs to immediately spin off the defender upon the catch. If he waits even a half-second, the 2d Carolina defender is already there. He’s seen double and triple teams before, but he needs to be more aggressive.
5:44 PM: Wanna know what the difference for OU is between this first half and the first half against Syracuse? Try 0-8 from three, particularly Tony Crocker’s donut from the field so far.
5:48 PM: Thanks for the comment JJG, although I NEVER said Tom Izzo was overrated. He’s truly one of the very best coaches in America, no question. The fact that he’s able to will and coach some of the teams he’s gotten into the F4 (for example, 2005 and now, 2009) shows just how good he is.
5:50 PM: Right, the one thing Jeff Capel can take solace in so far is that this is an Oklahoma paced game. It’s ugly; not free-flowing at all. If OU can start getting some of these threes to fall from Crocker and Warren, in addition to a huge second half from Griffin, they could end up pulling this off. I’d put the likelihood of this at about 25% at this point, though. What do you guys think?
5:53 PM: Ridiculous shot there by Griffin. I’m not sure how Carolina didn’t pack that. I’m sure Capel will take being down only nine at this point.
5:59 PM: On the flip side, Lawson and Ellington only have 6 pts combined, Hansbrough is in foul trouble with only 4 pts himself, and Danny Green is the only one beating you (14/3). So maybe Roy is the one feeling pretty good at this point. I dunno, I’ve seen a million Carolina games, and it just doesn’t seem like they’re in all that much danger here.
6:14 PM: Little break for the half there, so what should we expect to see this half? I’d guess we’ll see a much more aggressive Blake Griffin this half, and more penetration by Ty Lawson on the Carolina side. The first five minutes are really key for Oklahoma, because if UNC goes out to a 15+ pt lead (not to go all Billy Packer on ya), this one is over.
6:19 PM: That was the first possession this half where UNC hadn’t scored. With that stat about all-time NCAA wins, the state of Kentucky just let out a collective groan.
6:21 PM: If Ellington is going to start doing that, forget it. Speaking of forget it, Griffin just jumped through the ROOF on that one-handed dunk!
6:22 PM: Uh-oh. Crocker just pulled a Peja. Terrible sign for Jeff Capel when your “hot” shooter from last game is passing up open looks.
6:24 PM: I really want to kill the person who came up with that Taco Bell commercial. Hey, did you guys know that you can’t buy a Mac with a 17″ screen for less than a $1000. Me neither.
6:27 PM: This really isn’t the best CBS announcing crew. Nantz is ok, but he is so vanilla he makes Kenneth from 30 Rock seem eclectic. And Kellogg is also ok, but he seems more reserved than he used to. Guess it’s better than Packer, though. Speaking of which, did anyone watch his show with RMK last weekend?
6:30 PM: Another brick from Crocker. I’m going to give the Sooners until the ten-minute mark to hit a three, and if they haven’t by that point, I’m calling it.
6:33 PM: More commercial talk – is anyone else bothered by the length of time it takes the VW bottle to land in the bin when Laettner shoots it in his front yard? Either he put a ridiculous amt of arc on that thing… or… he didn’t actually HIT IT!!!! More chicanery from Christian – he’s got nothing on Lebron (60 Mins promo). (calm down Josh, tongue in cheek here)
6:35 PM: That would be Ty Lawson’s Toe, JStevens. Ty Lawson as we came to know him ceased to exist about three weeks ago. He’ll from hereon be referred to as TLT.
6:37 PM: Wow, what a terrible shot by Warren there. And another brick from three by Crocker. We’re under the ten-minute mark so I’m going to go ahead and call this one. OU just doesn’t have the offense to go on a big tear and pull this one out.
6:39 PM: Ok, let’s start looking ahead here. UNC will have its hands full with Villanova because they have scoring threats everywhere on the floor, but how do you guys see UConn-Michigan St? I think you know which way I’ll be going in that one (despite the D-town venue).
6:44 PM: Josh, laughing here too, but I think that the key difference is that Villanova plays defense a lot better than their Carolina counterparts do. Now, I’m not saying Nova wins (yet), but I do think UNC will have trouble with them. To me, Gonzaga was the terrible matchup, but they’re softer than Charmin when they get punched. Villanova is not soft in any way.
6:51 PM: Hansbrough just attempted the Dwight Howard dunk, but I’m not sure he ever got the ball more than a few inches above the rim. I’d bet more than one NBA scout noticed that and made a notation in one of their scouting books.
6:53 PM: 35 minutes of game action before OU hit its first three. Congrats, with a fast break two to follow. Nantz is telling us to hold on before we advance Carolina in our brackets, but unless Deron Williams and Luther Head are on the bench for Oklahoma, we’re not buying it.
6:57 PM: Good God, is Bob Knight selling his name to everything these days? ESPN, Guitar Hero, Billy Packer…. somebody hire this guy before he’s hawking Viagra with Denny Crum soon.
7:02 PM: Those are good points about Villanova, Josh, especially the “home court” one, but I still believe that VU is a ‘tougher’ team than UNC, and when the Heels see their own blood, they are vulnerable. I can also guarantee they won’t shoot 1-17 from three, or whatever it is now. We’re probably looking at a UConn-UNC final, which would pit the two best teams in the country against each other, but I do think the UNC-Nova game will be a good one.
7:05 PM: Oh yeah, before we finish off this game, we wanted to let you guys know that tomorrow RTC will be unveiling its bracket for the best teams of the 64-team era. This bracket will include every NCAA champion, runner-up and sixteen at-large teams that didn’t make it that far. Each weekday we’ll advance a round into the tournament, culminating with a final two on Championship Monday. As always, we’ll be listening to what you guys think as we move along the way. Should be fun revisiting many of these great teams of the recent past.
7:11 PM: And that’s it. We have a Final Four. Two #1s, a #2 and a #3 seed. Blake Griffin will take his hardware but no F4 appearances with him to the next level, while Hansbrough and company will be the elder statesmen at this year’s festivities. Today’s games were a couple of turds, but you just never know how this tournament will play out. This year reminds me a little bit of 2005, where Illinois and UNC were the two best teams, and they were set to face each other in the final game.
7:17 PM: So wraps up another edition of BGTD. We’re still discussing internally our plans for next weekend’s games, but let us know if you have any particular preference as to format for the greatest Saturday in sports. Be sure to check back this week for our continuing coverage of all things NCAA Tournament. Hell, we might even throw up some NIT coverage this week! Take care everyone…