Sunday, March 7, 2010

CAA Semis and More Printable Brackets

Fan Fest

A statue in front of the Richmond Coliseum
(These pictures would be so much cooler if I had that Kyle Whelliston's little ball.)

Virginia's 529 plan is a college savings account. This is the greatest sponsor ever.

Weird Observations of the Day

-Northeastern brought three giant heads to the game, and shook them behind the basket on free throws. I’m sure they sent them with the team, but I still pondered what it would be like to take a giant cut-out head through airport security.

-The VCU mascot stripped off his jersey during a second half timeout. I know he’s only a fluffy mascot with nothing to hide under a jersey, but it still seemed wrong.

-The VCU fans booed the Old Dominion pep band. Not to be out-done, the Old Dominion fans near us said the VCU cheerleaders sucked.

The Games

William & Mary didn’t just leave the door open against Northeastern today, the door was off the hinges. (Yes, this is my new favorite basketball expression.) Although I haven’t checked the box score, we counted that Northeastern had at least 6 shots to tie the game in the final 30 seconds. But despite numerous offensive rebounds, the clock finally expired.
After the game, one of the Northeastern players was hunched over with his head in his hands. A cameraman knelt to take the picture from half-court and it seemed so wrong. But then the beauty of college basketball shined through. One of the William & Mary players came over and helped the Northeastern player up. The William & Mary player gave him a hug and said a few kind words. Northeastern had nothing to be ashamed of. The day before, they won in double overtime to reach the CAA semifinal. Today, they came back from a 14 point halftime deficit and had a chance to win or tie at the end. Northeastern left it all on the floor. And that sportsmanship, that act of kindness towards a defeated opponent, is exactly what college basketball is all about.

For William & Mary, it was a surprisingly tense victory. The game started with William & Mary hitting 4 of 7 three pointers. And of course when you knock down threes, it opens up the inside game. William & Mary then built a 14 point halftime lead by taking the ball inside and getting wide open dunks and lay-ups. But in the second half, things turned south. William & Mary couldn’t make shots from the perimeter, went about 5 minutes without scoring to start the half, and struggled to even reach double digits in the second half. But a late three pointer and a never-ending defensive stand sealed the victory for the team that once won at Maryland and Wake Forest this year. To break out the cliché, the game was a microcosm of William & Mary’s season. They looked good early, struggled for a good portion of the season, but now find themselves on the doorstep of the NCAA tournament if they can beat Old Dominion on Monday Night.

And as dramatic as the W&M – NU game was, the Old Dominion vs Virginia Commenwealth game was even better. Old Dominion led by 5 nearing half-time and seemed ready to break the game open. But that’s when the play came that seemed to swing the momentum. ODU got a defensive rebound and tried to push the ball ahead. But the pass was off the mark, and an ODU player and VCU defender jumped for the ball at the same time. The winner was VCU’s Joey Rodriguez who not only got the ball, he whacked the ODU defender across the head and knocked him aside. Then, with no one around him, Rodriguez calmly stepped to the three point line and knocked down the three pointer. VCU seized momentum for the next 13 minutes of the game and built a 12 point lead.

But the regular season champ ODU was not to be denied. They rode a career high 26 points from Gerald Lee and terrific defense to get back in the game. I like to think that Greg Monroe is special, being a forward who can take the ball from the top of the key, drive and score. But then you go to a game like this and see Gerald Lee do the same thing. His drives from the three-point line to finish near the basket were unbelievable for a 6’10” forward.

So of course, with 15 seconds left, the ball was in Lee’s hands in a tie game with a chance to win the game. And of course Lee was called for traveling with 6 seconds left. VCU then called timeout, but luckily for Lee, ODU’s defense was so spectacular that VCU couldn’t get a shot off. So the game went to overtime.

In overtime, the critical play occurred at the 1:08 mark when VCU went for a steal and left Ben Finney wide open from three point range. Finney nailed the three pointer to give ODU a seemingly safe five point lead. (ODU was only 3 for 8 from deep, but they made all 3 threes in the final 5 minutes and overtime.)

But of course VCU had an answer. VCU’s Brandon Rozzell hit a three and after ODU’s Gerald Lee was called for a 5 second in-bounding call, VCU had a shot to tie the game with 5 seconds left. Sadly for the large contingent of VCU fans at the game, the same fans who had started the wave when they built a 12 point lead in the second half, the game-tying shot by Ed Nixon came up short.

What’s up with the “luxury boxes” in the Richmond Coliseum? It seems like all they did was build a fence around some seats. This doesn't even ring the lower level, they only have it in a couple of sections.
Editorial Note: I always get at least two NCAA teams wrong each year because I always pick too many mid-major teams in the field. And I don’t regret that. These games never seem to play as well on TV, but if you went to these two semi-final games in person, you’d be convinced that ODU is clearly an NCAA tournament team. Their defensive intensity is as good as anyone. I’m sorry but an Illinois team that has lost 5 of 6 and all their recent games against quality competition, a Mississippi St. team whose only quality win is Old Dominion, and an Ole Miss team that failed in every opportunity to get top 50 wins in the SEC conference, don’t cut it for me.

Printable Brackets

Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Bracket – ESPN needs to re-negotiate this contract. They still only air one ACC game on Thursday, even though the ACC has had 12 teams for several years now.

Big Ten Conference Tournament Bracket – The winner of the “Who gets a Hummel-free Purdue team in their bracket” is Northwestern. Or maybe Indiana. Northwestern hasn’t been able to win the games against the lower-tier teams lately.

SEC Conference Tournament Bracket - As of 11pm on Sunday night, the SEC still hasn’t filled in their printable bracket. You may have to do this manually by looking at the match-ups here.

Pac-10 Conference Tournament Bracket – As of 11pm on Sunday night, the Pac-10 still hasn’t filled in their printable bracket. You may have to do this manually by looking at the match-ups here. USC is sitting this one out to cover up violations by the football program. Or maybe it was OJ Mayo. Or Renardo Sidney. You make the call.