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10 bracket-buster observations after first weekend of NCAA Tournament

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My NCAA Tournament bracket, like many others on KUsports.com and across the country, is running on fumes after the first weekend of basketball mayhem.

A top seed is already done, two schools that call Richmond, Va. home are in the Sweet 16 and four double-digit seeds still have their dancing shoes on.

Here are 10 bracket-buster observations from the first weekend of games:

1. Penciling in Kansas to the Final Four would be somewhat premature, given the unpredictable nature of the first weekend. With the Jayhawks' draw, though, anything less than a trip to Houston would likely result in disappointment from the KU fan base.

KU will face No. 12 seed Richmond on Friday in San Antonio (6:27 p.m. on TBS). If I did one thing right this year in my bracket, it was forecasting this matchup. Should the Jayhawks win, they would face the winner of No. 10 Florida State and No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth (not No. 2 Notre Dame or No. 3 Purdue). I'll pose the question to our KUsports.com readers: Anything less than a Final Four = disappointment?

2. Craziest ending to a game from first weekend: No. 8 Butler 71, No. 1 Pittsburgh 70 in Washington, D.C. I really hope Butler junior guard Shelvin Mack found the nearest gas station after the game and demanded tickets to the D.C. lottery. He'd probably win the powerball with the luck that was on his side on Saturday.

With Butler ahead by one in the final seconds, Mack inexplicably fouled Gilbert Brown near midcourt — almost 50 feet away from the basket — with 1.4 seconds left. Brown sank his first free throw, but missed the second. Butler's Matt Howard grabbed the rebound and heaved an awkward-looking, desperation full-court shot, only to be slapped on the arm by Pittsburgh's Nasir Robinson ... roughly 90 feet away from the basket on a foul that was even more mind-boggling than the one that preceded it. Howard naturally sank the first charity to give Butler a one-point lead and intentionally clanked the second off the rim to end the game.

3. Second-craziest ending to a game from first weekend: No. 5 Arizona 70, No. 4 Texas 69 in Tulsa, Okla. Fitting this game was on TNT, which claims the slogan, 'We know drama.' This game was packed with more drama than any Law & Order or Bones episode you'd come across during the station's daytime programming hours.

First question: Should a five-second violation have been called on Texas guard Cory Joseph with 14.5 seconds remaining? Texas led by two before the call gave possession to Arizona, which converted a three-point play to win the game.

Keep an eye on the ref. It really appeared Joseph called timeout around the time the ref's count hit four.

Controversy ensued on the final possession, when UT's J'Covan Brown drove hard to the bucket and received no foul call. Ditto for Gary Johnson on an attempted game-winning put-back. Looking at the replay, I didn't have any problem with the officiating on the final possession. Brown ran into minor contact that probably shouldn't have warranted a foul, and Johnson was hacked after the buzzer, so that's irrelevant. Joseph, however, has a legitimate case to prosecute the Wildcats (or the ref) for getting away with March Madness murder.

4. Can anyone make any sense of No. 10 Florida State, No. 11 Marquette, No. 11 VCU and No. 12 Richmond in the Sweet 16? My bracket has 10 Sweet 16 teams left, five Elite Eight teams remaining, and two Final Four teams left. Far from ideal.

5. Big 12 outlook after first weekend: It's all up to Kansas. Texas A&M and Missouri faltered in the round of 64, while Texas and Kansas State couldn't make it out of the round of 32. This has to be considered an under-performing effort from league squads.

Breakdown of Sweet 16 teams, by conference: ACC 3 (Duke, North Carolina, Florida State); Big East 2 (Connecticut, Marquette); Big Ten 2 (Ohio State, Wisconsin); SEC 2 (Florida, Kentucky); Mountain West 2 (San Diego State, BYU); Big 12 1 (Kansas); Pac-10 1 (Arizona); Atlantic 10 1 (Richmond); Colonial Athletic 1 (VCU); Horizon 1 (Butler).

6. Most valuable player of first weekend: Derrick Williams, Arizona.

Williams' 22 points and 10 rebounds against Memphis were impressive, as were the 17 points and nine boards against Texas. But, most importantly, Williams blocked the potential game-tying shot in the closing seconds against Memphis, and completed the game-winning three-point play against Texas. The Wildcats would be watching the tourney from their couches if not for the ultra-clutch Williams, a 6-foot-8, 241-pound sophomore from La Mirada, Calif.

7. Runners-up for MVP after first weekend: Kemba Walker, Connecticut; Jimmer Fredette, BYU.

Walker had 18 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds against Bucknell; he followed that up with 33 points, five assists and six boards against Cincinnati. The Huskies don't look tired after playing five games in five days two weeks ago to win the Big East tournament. Walker, a 6-1, 172-pound junior, has been near unstoppable.

Fredette has 66 points in two games, and has to be one the most conditioned athletes in the field. He's played all but one minute in the Cougars' two NCAA victories. Fredette drilled seven of 12 threes on Saturday, when he lit up Gonzaga for 34 points.

8. Biggest surprise after first weekend: VCU. No contest. The Rams, who snuck into the expanded 68-team field, beat USC in the tournament's First Four round, then smoked Georgetown (74-56) and Purdue (94-76) to reach the Sweet 16. VCU's best victory during the regular season was a triumph over UCLA way back on Nov. 26, 2010. The Rams went 12-6 and finished fourth in the Colonial Athletic Conference. Where did they come from?

9. Best Gus Johnson call after first weekend: George Mason's victory over Villanova. Johnson went crazy in the final few minutes after Mike Morrison followed a missed shot with a dunk that gave Mason the lead with 55 seconds remaining. Johnson quickly proclaimed that the Patriots were "Hustlin' ... fightin' ... scrappin' ... jammin!'" on the way to commercial break. What would the tournament be without Gus?

10. Who's your call to win it all, after seeing what happened in the first few rounds? Ohio State and Kansas looked the best. Duke looked good, especially with Kyrie Irving back, but the Blue Devils let Michigan hang around way too long on Sunday. KU fans have to love the Jayhawks' draw, however, with Richmond, and then either VCU/Florida State. And with Pittsburgh knocked out, the only teams standing in KU's way of making the championship game would be Butler, Wisconsin, BYU or Florida.

That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.

Comments

slowplay 9 years, 2 months ago

I think most fans considered anything less than a Final Four, even BEFORE the tournament started, being a disappointment. The road isn't quite as treacherous with the number of high seeds exiting early, but expectations have always been high. I would keep Duke in the mix with Ohio State and Kansas. Irving has another few days to rest and he looked better than anyone thought. Also, don't forget Michigan also gave KU a scare back in January. (overtime) Florida State was grossly under seeded. They beat Duke and had a couple tough heart breakers against strong competition. Unfortunately they really underperformed in a couple of winnable games and the committee penalized them, but that makes them no less capable of having a strong tournament.

Sean Rodger 9 years, 2 months ago

How long till ksu starts hanging banners just for getting into the NCAA Tournament?

Or have they already?

baldwinjhawk 9 years, 2 months ago

UMMM too late dude they already have an NCAA tourney banner that they add years on.. lol

Andrew Bary 9 years, 2 months ago

I definitely over hyped the Big 12 in my bracket. Had I been more realistic, I'd be several points higher. Oh well though. Still got all my Final 4 teams in!

Dirk Medema 9 years, 2 months ago

UT-UofA - The traditional camera angle for games is about mid-court up high so there is a clear view of at least half the court. There was one replay after the game that showed the last play from underneath the opposite basket. The network only showed it one time, so I'm not certain, but I thought it showed the UofA defender with his arms fully extended pushing Brown into the other UofA defender. The other shot was pretty inconclusive, but that shot from under the other basket seemed to indicate strongly that Brown was fouled.

phi4life940 9 years, 2 months ago

Anything less than final four would be heart breaking. Lets go Hawks!!!

KU_FanSince75 9 years, 2 months ago

Angel Morris is not going to allow the Twins to lose the rest of the way! Final Four to Houston, baby!

RockCaCO3 9 years, 2 months ago

UT-UA game; I think UT screwed up by calling a timeout with 12 seconds left (or 9?) after a UA missed shot.

And yes, anything less than a National Championship would be a disappointment :)

In all seriousness, these guys have had a great year, regardless of what happens next.

RCJHGKU!!!

kcglowboy 9 years, 2 months ago

Agree about Texas. While they might have gotten jobbed on the 5-second call, they never should have called the previous timeout to begin with; AND why in the world, with only 10 seconds remaining, did Texas WALK the ball up the court? He wasted so much time that it allowed for only one off-balance shot, with virtually no time left for a rebound/stick-back before the buzzer. I hated to see Texas lose, and to see the Big 12 down to just us, but couldn't feel sorry for the Horns. They did it to themselves.

Steve Gantz 9 years, 2 months ago

In 2008 we entered the sweet 16 with a very similar draw. Beat 16 seed, then an 8 seed, then a 12, Villanova and then a 10, Davidson to get the final four. Remember how close we were to not making it to San Antonio?! Yes to not get to the FF would be a major disappointment at this point. Richmond appears to be underseeded, but still, really, Richmond?
VCU, look at their schedule, not much that scares you there. Even trouncing Purdue, I'm not sure what happened to them, but Purdue got trounced in the BIg 10 tourney by Michigan St.
Florida St. Probably the scariest of these teams we'd meet in the Elite 8. But, still, besides a home upset over Duke, they didn't have the greatest of seasons, but not bad either.

kureader 9 years, 2 months ago

There are so many reasons to hate Texas ... but the video you showed proves how bad Texas was screwed by the ref at the end of their game yesterday. That was awful.

DevilHawk 9 years, 2 months ago

Currently, I would say that Duke is the favorite to win it all.

The Michigan game was somewhat surprising, but we went to OT against them - and there can be no doubt that it served as a wake-up call for Duke and Coach K.

If nothing else, it takes some of the pressure off of us.

As for how far we go: I wouldn't be particularly disappointed with only getting to the Elite Eight...but I think that anything short of cutting down the nets would be viewed as disappointing for this team considering everything negative that happened this year.

kesmithstl1 9 years, 2 months ago

thanks for giving Gus Johnson some dap! That guy brings excitement to every game! May he never work for ESPN! He is too good for them!

ku_jayhawk09 9 years, 2 months ago

I wish Gus would be able to do the final four!!

Hank Cross 9 years, 2 months ago

Please, please, please. No more tears for UT. IF the ref blew the call, the clip shows he missed it at most by about .25 of a second, or the time it would take to extend his elbow from 90 degrees to 180. That's way within the margin of expected human error. Blame Barnes for not running a good inbound play, or not training his players to call a TO at 4 seconds. The only reason UT had a chance to come back was that AZ missed a lot of free throws.

Scott Smetana 9 years, 2 months ago

Derrick Williams is overrated. He plays to get the foul most times he has the ball. That's ugly, Mizzery basketball.

Texas is a worthy, classy opponent. I don't know why so many are against them. They got royally screwed.

Barkley is funny, but very clueless about college basketball. Loved him bashing the "itty-bitty-East"

Headed to San Antonio this Friday... Rock Chalk!!

John Myers 9 years, 2 months ago

That's all J'Covan Brown did, too.. Half of his drives, I don't think he had any plans of shooting the ball..

And UT screwed themselves.. Can't put it all on the ref.. Up 2 with 14 seconds left, why on earth do you call a timeout? Sit there and wait for the foul.

I did still feel bad for them, though..

Scott Smetana 9 years, 2 months ago

cricket, cricket, cricket.... no one listens to you.

bad_dog 9 years, 2 months ago

Hmm. KSA what are your measurable objectives as a poster on this website?

LJW moderators: What does it take to fire someone who uses the Kansas statutory reference for indecent liberties with a child as his/her/its loser name?

Hmm.

justinryman 9 years, 2 months ago

I had fun watching all the teams KU beat this past weekend, all but one of them lost. UCLA, USC, Michigan, Texas, Arizona, K-State, Texas A&M, Missouri, and Memphis.

I had a bet with a friend about the Final 4, I lost a team, I had Texas. Told him I had mixed feelings about their loss. I mean sure it will probably cost me $20, but Texas got beat. Don't care if the whistle blew early or not, Texas didn't play a perfect game either. But hey Texas got beat, Im fine with that, c'mon Texas lost early, underachieved again.

Life is good, when you're a Jayhawk!

Stan Crown 9 years, 2 months ago

Texas blew it, and nobody is talking about their main error. Before the five-second call, why did their player call time out after snagging a rebound, leading by two with 12 seconds to play? Dribble upcourt, pass the ball upcourt, get fouled, do ANYTHING but call time out so you have to throw in under Arizona's basket. They would have had the game in the bag.

GeoHawk15 9 years, 2 months ago

Rick Barnes once again proved why he's a feeble-minded coach. This late in the year, these game scenarios have been coached and practiced hundreds of times.

  • As pointed out by wpjayhawk, why would you call time out after getting the rebound and holding on to a 2 point lead? The clock is your friend!
  • Coming out of a timeout, no go to inbounds play?
  • So the player screwed up and didn't call the TO in time (or as it appears, the ref called it early). Why couldn't Barnes recognize the inbound play was broken and call a TO himself? I've seen that done by plenty of coaches in that same scenario.
  • 2 point lead and you're on defense with 12 seconds. It's very simple, DON'T FOUL. Everyone knows that. As long as you don't, worst that happens is they make the layup and you have 1 more posession to win it or go to OT. What do they do? They foul, the guy makes the layup and converts the free throw.
  • Last play, approx 10 secs on the clock. Once again, the players should have been coached for such a scenario many times. What happens? J'Covan Brown barrels into 3 defenders looking for a foul instead of either pulling up for a jumper or dishing the ball to Tristan Thompson (who appeared to be open on the left post) when the defense collapsed on the driver.

I was rooting for the Big 12 and hoping Texas would win, but I certainly don't have any pity for their loss. Barnes owns this one.

TxJyHwk 9 years, 2 months ago

Anyone else notice that the only 2 Big East teams to make the Sweet 16 did so by beating another Big East team in Round 3?

Sparko 9 years, 2 months ago

The Shelvin Mack foul came after the third step by the out of control Pitt player. I was upset that they let the walk go to call an incidental foul. THAT was the mistake officials made--and it almost cost Butler the win.

Nicholas Cederlind 9 years, 2 months ago

Listen to the player interviews. None of them agree w/the media (including this article) about our "luck of the draw" and i agree w/the players. Sure, it would be tougher to go through Purdue and Notre Dame but no one should expect Richmond, VCU and co. to play at the level in which they are seeded. That said, i still think we are going to the Final Four... Rock Chalk!

Jacobpaul81 9 years, 2 months ago

I hope they fire that official that can't count to 5.

actorman 9 years, 2 months ago

There are so many things to comment on, so please forgive my Jaybate-length post:

"Anything less than a Final Four = disappointment?"

I believe at this point "disappointment" would be an extreme understatement. This team simply HAS to at LEAST get to the Final Four. Nothing else will do after all they've been through this year and the way the bracket has opened up for them.

"Keep an eye on the ref. It really appeared Joseph called timeout around the time the ref's count hit four."

As I recall, the rule at one point was that a player was not allowed to call timeout once the count had reached four. Am I wrong in that recollection? Has the rule changed? If not, then the call was correct. But I'm guessing that I'm wrong, since I haven't heard anyone else comment about that.

"This has to be considered an under-performing effort from league squads."

Sadly, I don't think that's the case. This is simply what the league ALWAYS does. Yes, there were a couple of years about a decade ago when the Big XII had two Final Four teams (with KU being one of them both times, of course). But other than that one two-year period, the conference has a long history of pitiful performances in the tournament. (In fact, other than those two years, has any Big XII team other than KU even MADE it to the Final Four?) Until the conference regularly places teams other than KU in the Final Four and occasionally wins championships, it's hard to take seriously the argument that the Big XII is being disrespected.

"AND why in the world, with only 10 seconds remaining, did Texas WALK the ball up the court?"

Thank you, kcglowbo, I was thinking the same thing! The only thing I could come up with was that he was trying to remain calm in an intensely pressurized situation. But given that I had Texas going to the Final Four, I was screaming at the TV, "Move, damnit!"

"... the video you showed proves how bad Texas was screwed by the ref at the end of their game yesterday. That was awful."

See my comments above about players not being allowed to call timeouts at the four-second point. If I'm right, then the video only shows that he waited to long to call timeout.

"Currently, I would say that Duke is the favorite to win it all."

I agree, and I'm kicking myself for not doing the bare-minimum research to know that Irving was coming back for the tournament. If I had known, I definitely would have picked Duke over Texas to go to the Final Four, and I probably would have even had them beating OSU to get to the championship game. Irving is that good. And now that he has a few days to rest up from the first couple of games, it's hard to imagine that anyone is capable of preventing them from at least getting to Houston. Remember, also, that Duke was number 1 to start the season, and they were playing like the best team before Irving got hurt.

Eric Sorrentino 9 years, 2 months ago

hey actorman, always good to see you on here. Thanks for the post. I heard someone mention the rule about the player not being able to call timeout after four seconds. Apparently, that's an old rule, and it has since been changed. Seth Davis of CBS tweeted this after the game on Sunday: "A player can call a timeout up until the ref counts to five. Rule changed several years ago."

Thanks for posting! -Eric

actorman 9 years, 2 months ago

"Texas is a worthy, classy opponent. I don't know why so many are against them."

I don't know why it's a mystery to you. It has nothing to do with how they are as an opponent (although I will agree with you that they're generally classy, and no one can argue that they're not usually a worthy opponent). It's all about economics. They're the powerhouse, with the second biggest school in the country (behind only Ohio St.) and a budget that dwarfs everyone else's in the league. Throw in the fact that they negotiated themselves a sweetheart deal to keep the conference together, and the true mystery would be why anyone WOULDN'T hate them. It's like the Yankees; they have more money and power than anyone else around, thus they're not competing on a level playing field.

"Barkley is funny, but very clueless about college basketball. Loved him bashing the 'itty-bitty-East'"

"Itty-bitty East," I love it! I hadn't heard that. Barkley may not be much of an expert on the college game, but I think it's a little harsh to say he is "very clueless." He knows about some of the players and teams, he just doesn't know as much as those around him so he looks bad by comparison.

"So the player screwed up and didn't call the TO in time (or as it appears, the ref called it early). Why couldn't Barnes recognize the inbound play was broken and call a TO himself? I've seen that done by plenty of coaches in that same scenario."

Excellent point. What the hell was Barnes doing while that was all unfolding??? It's complete incompetence on his part.

"2 point lead and you're on defense with 12 seconds. It's very simple, don't foul. Everyone knows that. As long as you don't, worst that happens is they make the layup and you have 1 more posession to win it or go to OT."

It SHOULD be that simple, but it's ridiculous how often teams foul in the closing seconds with the lead. You see it over and over (and over) again; it's like players have no clue how to judge the specific situation in a game. They just play exactly the same way, whether they're ahead or behind, and whether there are 30 seconds left or 10 seconds left or 12 minutes left. You see it with great teams, with terrible teams and with everyone in between. I'm astounded how often players make those types of bonehead mistakes.

actorman 9 years, 2 months ago

"I was rooting for the Big 12 and hoping Texas would win, but I certainly don't have any pity for their loss. Barnes owns this one."

Absolutely true, although I would go further than to say I don't have any pity: I'm furious at them for blowing the game, and I'm furious at myself for being stupid enough to pick them to go to the Final Four.

"The Shelvin Mack foul came after the third step by the out of control Pitt player."

I'd have to look at it again, but I don't think that could possibly be the case. My recollection is that they were both going for the ball, the Pitt player got there a split second before Mack, and Mack ran into him. Think about it: there were, what, 2.2 seconds left when he was throwing the ball inbounds? How could he have taken three steps and the clock only gone down to 1.4 seconds??? Eight-tenths of a second is only enough time for a player to touch the ball before being fouled.

actorman 9 years, 2 months ago

"Texas is a worthy, classy opponent. I don't know why so many are against them."

I don't know why it's a mystery to you. It has nothing to do with how they are as an opponent (although I will agree with you that they're generally classy, and no one can argue that they're not usually a worthy opponent). It's all about economics. They're the powerhouse, with the second biggest school in the country (behind only Ohio St.) and an economy that dwarfs everyone else in the league. Throw in the fact that they negotiated themselves a sweetheart deal to keep the conference together, and the true mystery would be why anyone WOULDN'T hate them. It's like the Yankees; they have more money and power than anyone else around, thus they're not competing on a level playing field. "Barkley is funny, but very clueless about college basketball. Loved him bashing the 'itty-bitty-East'"

"Itty-bitty East," I love it! I hadn't heard that. Barkley may not be much of an expert on the college game, but I think it's a little harsh to say he is "very clueless." He knows about some of the players and teams, he just doesn't know as much as those around him so he looks bad by comparison.

"So the player screwed up and didn't call the TO in time (or as it appears, the ref called it early). Why couldn't Barnes recognize the inbound play was broken and call a TO himself? I've seen that done by plenty of coaches in that same scenario."

Excellent point. What the hell was Barnes doing while that was all unfolding??? It's complete incompetence on his part.

"2 point lead and you're on defense with 12 seconds. It's very simple, don't foul. Everyone knows that. As long as you don't, worst that happens is they make the layup and you have 1 more posession to win it or go to OT."

It SHOULD be that simple, but it's ridiculous how often teams foul in the closing seconds with the lead. You see it over and over (and over) again; it's like players have no clue how to judge the specific situation in a game. They just play exactly the same with 30 seconds left or 10 seconds left as they do with 12 minutes left. You see it with the great teams, the terrible teams and everyone in between. I'm astounded at how often players make those types of blunders.

actorman 9 years, 2 months ago

Whoops, sorry for the double-post. It didn't look like the other one had gone through.

haydenhawkco 9 years, 2 months ago

Not sure if the video was off normal speed but that was a fast 5 second count for Texas. Just beat Richmond and move on - 1 game at a time.

fansincewilt 9 years, 2 months ago

When you put a stop watch to the ref when he starts counting, the player does get the timeout called within the 4 second time limit. The ref is counting faster than a second. Either he is an extremely poor ref or was wanting to call the 5 second call. The call is absolutely incorrect I don't care how much the announcers want to pretend that the call was right. It is my understanding that you hand the ball to the player and then start the count. If you put a stop watch to the time he starts his count, the call is absolutely ridiculous and seems to have to be intentional. His motions are way too fast unless the the playback is not real time and is faster than normal. If that is the case then the call might be right. Otherwise the call is wrong and Texas was cheated out of a spot in the sweet sixteen.

Jared Grillot 9 years, 2 months ago

I don't feel bad for Texas (I picked AZ), but I hate bad officiating, and as far as I can tell from the video, not only did he ignore the timeout call, but he definitely short-armed that 5 second call, and you are right, it almost looks like he was just itching to make that call. Can't say for sure what his thoughts were, but his count was definitely off.

fansincewilt 9 years, 2 months ago

I am very disappointed with the Big 12. I think I am going to stop picking them to win. They have completely messed up my bracket.

Michael Luby 9 years, 2 months ago

yeah, I also think they underperformed...But so did the Big East. Besides there is only one team in the Big 12 that matters. KU!!

actorman 9 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for the clarification, Eric. Since the rule has been changed, then it's true that Texas got completely screwed. On the other hand, as others have pointed out, they shouldn't have called timeout when they got the rebound in the first place, so they also screwed themselves.

REHawk 9 years, 2 months ago

What brand of a loony appears on these posts to declare that Self should be fired if his team does not get to Houston? That guy must slither beneath big rocks.

Kent Wells 9 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

9 years, 2 months ago

Hey Wells, looks like you must have offended KSA. Who would have thunk that to be possible...

Jared Grillot 9 years, 2 months ago

I haven't been paying that close attention to TX this season - have these types of "bonehead" plays been an issue with them this year? If not, I wonder why they suddenly lost their heads, but if so, then one must conclude that Barnes isn't prepping his guys for game situations. Anyone that is more up on the Horns that can fill me in?

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