It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XIIIPosted by jbaumgartner on March 7th, 2012
Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.
Five Things I Loved This Week
I LOVED….pureness. Some would argue that there’s nothing better than a last-second buzzer-beater. FALSE. There’s nothing better than a last-second buzzer beater that also touches zero iron on the way down. Ohio State’s William Buford gave us one of those on Sunday against Michigan State for a huge win, and for me the swish adds even a little bit more to the drama. I’m thinking back to Isaiah Thomas’ Pac-10 conference tourney walk-off last year, and some others, too – maybe I’m just an absurdly picky fan, but nothing beats the twine tickler with the clock ticking down.
I LOVED…..Buford. The senior has had some subpar games during this conference season, and he’s the main reason why I’ve started to sour a bit on the Buckeyes. But if he plays like he can, he can take this OSU team to a different level on both ends of the floor. They need his long-range shooting to diversify their O, and his freakish athleticism on the defensive side, too. If he’s that guy in March, the Buckeyes could be there at the end.
I LOVED….the tables being turned. My UNC loyalty has been mentioned before, and I’ve truly never been as heartbroken as when Austin Rivers’ three dropped into the Dean Dome net back in February as time expired. I wondered if anything could make up for that painful disappointment, and I have to say, this might have done it. Absolutely demolishing, obliterating, dominating, embarrassing, and – oh yeah – BEATING Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Senior Night was heavenly (and I can’t say that watching Mason Plumlee cry didn’t give me some sick sort of pleasure). You make the pick though – comparing the two outcomes, which would you prefer?
I LOVED….Florida State following through. The 33-point win over Carolina, the buzzer-beater at Duke, it would been easy for these overachieving Seminoles to be happy with what they did and settle for another ho-hum conference season. But Leonard Hamilton kept FSU focused, and they’re fully deserving of their impressive 12-4 conference record and a guaranteed NCAA tourney berth. Well done down in Tallahassee.
I LOVED….Murray State both keeping pace and getting some cred in the rankings, even after that one loss. With their clutch tourney title finish, the Racers head into March Madness at 30-1 and have to start drawing some comparisons to last year’s San Diego State squad.
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED….how freaking good Kentucky is. All I’m asking for is a real scare, you know? Make them tie a game up at the end of regulation and win in overtime… survive a last-second three-point attempt while only up two….something! But no, the Cats just wiped the floor with the 13th-ranked Florida Gators on the road Saturday and had fun doing it.
I HATED….Baylor. Barring an unforeseen run to the Big 12 Tournament title, I feel like I will have no idea where to pick these Bears when the bracket comes out next Sunday. They have not beaten a ranked team in conference play, but the ones they’ve lost to are two of the country’s best teams. They can beat the lower-level Big 12 teams, but dropped one to Iowa State this past weekend. Can you count on them to actually knock off a quality team in March with no hard evidence that they have that ability?
I HATED….being wrong. I watched Marquette/Washington earlier this year, and commented to a buddy via text that this Golden Eagles team was the epitome of overrated. But after decisively knocking off No. 12 Georgetown, Buzz Williams’ group is 25-6 overall, 14-4 in conference, and headed toward a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. I’m impressed with the leadership of Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, but I have to admit, I still see this team as being susceptible to an upset. We’ll have to wait and see.
I HATED….watching Mark Few do a terrible job of having his team adjust to Saint Mary’s in the WCC title game on Monday. I watched the second half plus overtime, and without fail, Gael point guard Matthew Dellavedova would stand at the top on almost every play and call for a pick. A big man would give a half-hearted screen, and Gonzaga would make no attempt to fight through, instead allowing seven-footer Rob Sacre to switch onto the quicker Dellvedova. Sacre fared OK a few times, but over the course of a half that matchup doesn’t fall in the Zags’ favor.
I HATED….looking at how many letdowns we’ve had this year in terms of potential top teams. Take a look at the preseason Top 25. In my mind we have a massive letdown (UConn), a big letdown (Vandy), and several normal letdowns (Pitt, Xavier, Bama, UCLA, Texas A&M, and Arizona). That said, we’ve certainly had some fun surprises, too, with Mizzou, Michigan State and Marquette among others.