It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XVIPosted by jbaumgartner on March 21st, 2011
Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball. This week, Jesse longs for a 16 to beat a 1, discusses how that Butler win can keep on winning, and says it’s time to holiday-ify the first two rounds.
Five Things I Loved This Week
I LOVED…..Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith in the studio analyzing collegiate games. And frankly, anyone who doesn’t has no sense of humor. These guys have little idea what they’re doing, and the result is an endless string of off-the-cuff observations that contrast with the measured responses from the normal college basketball analysts. My favorite moments were as follows: 1) Barkley ripping the Big East a new one right in front of guest panelist Rick Pitino. The Louisville coach was absolutely simmering as Barkley explained how the conference “has no talent,” and Pitino proceeded to guarantee that Notre Dame would knock off Florida State. That obviously didn’t work out so well. Barkley also said that his first-round picks don’t count and blamed the Cardinals for his red-heavy bracket right in front of Pitino. 2) Kenny and Chuck dissecting a zone defense. Barkley summed up his point by saying something to the extent of this: “The zone is EASIEST defense in the world to play against. You just dribble through it.” Comedy gold, people. Embrace it.
I LOVED…..finding out the answer to this question: How long can you keep your job by selling the fact that you recruited Blake Griffin? Answer: an even two years, as we found out with Jeff Capel this week. Some (including Griffin) say he got a raw deal. I don’t know, though – Griffin is the type of recruit you should be able to use to draw other guys in. Frank Martin had a similar situation with Michael Beasley at Kansas State, and he’s still got his Wildcats in the national picture.
I LOVED…..Brad Stevens doing it again. After last year’s Cinderella run, it would have been so easy to see the Bulldogs backslide with the loss of Gordon Hayward. This run to the Sweet Sixteen cements his squad as a consistent contender, and in my mind it makes recruiting that much easier. Now you can tell prospects, “Hey, not only did we make the final against Duke, but we came back and knocked off another No. 1 seed the next year.” I still think it’s hard to see Stevens not leaving in the near future, but it’s good for the college game if he stays and keeps Butler at this level.
I LOVED…..that by the time the first weekend ended, we weren’t complaining about the mid-majors who got at-large bids (VCU shut everyone up pretty quick) but instead were debating the collapse of the Big East. For how much we overhype that conference every season, perhaps we should spend a bit more time in February critiquing some of the big boys rather than singing their praises and justifying their mediocre conference records with the parity argument. By the way, it’s been six years since a team from that conference took home the trophy.
I LOVED…..that you knew how great this year’s tournament would be from the first game. Yes, every tourney’s great, but when a small school knocks off a potential Final Four team (my national runner-up, thanks Pitino) to the tune of “ONIONS!!!” you know it’s going to be an extra-great version. The quality of play in these first two rounds has just been awesome – parity, upsets, close finishes, etc. I don’t remember a better first four days.
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED…..end-of-the-game fouls. Of course I’m referring to Butler/Pitt, where the Bulldogs went from high to low to high in all of two seconds. The rules might say to call the game like it’s the first minute, but we all know that’s a load of BS. Unless there’s blood, let the players decide the game. The ref shouldn’t have called that first bump, and by doing so, he made it so he absolutely had to call the second foul on Pitt (which was far worse, and utterly bizarre). Luckily, in the end we got the correct and what felt like the just result with a Butler win.
I HATED…..going to work on Thursday and Friday. Are there any two less productive days during the entire year? For those of us who suck it up and actually make it into the office, it’s basically an eight hour period of checking scores, secretly streaming games online, long lunch breaks, long bathroom breaks, long stretch breaks…you know what I’m talking about. It’s a waste of two days, so why not make them holidays? Judging by his brackets, I’m sure the President would be behind the idea. Thank heavens for CBS streaming all the games online. I don’t know what else I’d do.
I HATED…..Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton. There is no excuse – NO EXCUSE – for what Hamilton did to the Tennessee players right before they took the court in the NCAA Tournament. We all have our opinion on Bruce Pearl’s NCAA violations, but to question his job security in an interview right before the tournament and make it a big story is pathetic. Hamilton owes a huge apology to every Vol on that team, and especially the seniors. What a joke. Your job is to help the kids, and you go on air and just make things more difficult for them (as if having their coach suspended for part of the year wasn’t enough).
I HATED…..being heartbroken again by the No. 16 seeds. I firmly believe that this monumental upset will finally occur at some point, so every year I scan the bracket to see which team I can put my dreams behind. This year it was Boston U. They had some athletes, and they were up against Kansas – a team I think has an ability to underperform when the situation calls for it. For one half they had me glued to the TV – yelling at the refs, calling BU star John Holland by name and believing this was the year. Then they lost by 19.
I HATED…..the San Diego State/Temple double-overtime “thriller.” Count me as one person who was iffy on SDSU getting a 2-seed in the first place, but no one could have enjoyed the basketball played in that game. It seriously could have been the least dramatic double-overtime finish in history (awful final shots), and the quality of play was just nowhere near that of a 2-seed. Give the Aztecs credit, though – despite having little tournament experience, they’re in the Sweet 16 and will have a home gym-like atmosphere in Anaheim to try and make the Final Four.