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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Round 2 Upsets: Is your bracket in the trash?

The most exciting two days in college college basketball have ended.  This first (now second) round of the NCAA Tournament is often filled with buzzer beaters, 100 point outbursts from #1 and #2 seeds, and of course upsets.  Well, I don't recall any buzzer beaters (thank you, Josh Jones) and the three highest scoring teams of round 2 are Michigan St. (89), Marquette (86), and Norfolk St. (84). 

What? Norfolk St?

Yeah, that just happened.

That's right, fans. Something crazy happened and your brackets probably have more red than you thought after day one went pretty much as planned. Coming into this year's tournament only four #2 seeds failed to advance to the round of 32 and that last happened in 2001.  Yesterday both Missouri and Duke failed epically making the 2012 tournament one that will be remembered forever regardless of what happens the rest of the way. 

According to Luke Winn at, protected seeds (1-4) who have 
a great offense but a poor defense tend not to do well in the tournament.  
This does not bode well for Missouri, Duke, and Indiana. 

This was the first bullet in the second section of my Tips for Filling out Your Bracket post. Why, then didn't I follow my own advice?  I had these guys in the Final 4!

Missouri has the number one offense in the nation. Number one. Let that sink in.  They don't turn the ball over, they shoot the lights out (40% from 3, 57% from 2, 77% FT), and they don't foul.  The only game they turned in a poor offensive performance was their loss at Kansas St.  They should be able to score on anyone, especially in the potentially wide open West Region.  The Tigers struggles can be attributed to poor offensive rebounding and defense.

Last night Norfolk St. scored, and scored, and scored some more.  They pretty much scored at will. In a 64 possession game they put up 86 points (1.36 points/possession) which might be one of the five highest numbers put up by any school this season.  Watching the game it was apparent to me that Missouri had no interest in playing defense.  They'd let the opponent shoot and wait for a rebound to start their offense.  Well, Norfolk St. didn't miss much and Missouri missed more.  This was an incredible upset.

If the result of the Missouri game shocked you there are probably no words to describe how you felt when a second #2 seed got eliminated yesterday.  I watched Duke in person this year and came away unimpressed.  The Blue Devils rely far too heavily on the 3-point shot and though they excel at getting to the free-throw line, they don't have much of an inside game (the Plumlee's are not good, folks).  That cost them last night as they shot 26(!) threes. It's not like they were making them either. Duke finished 6-26 from the line with Austin Rivers being the only person who made more than one (he made two).  I don't know why they insisted on raining it in (can I say this if they weren't making them?) from beyond the arc but Lehigh was glad to let it happen. Oh, by the way, Lehigh's best win coming into this game was either Wagner or Bucknell neither of which made the NCAA Tournament.  On defense, Duke couldn't get Lehigh to turn it over.  This is something the Blue Devils have struggled with all season and when you only get your #15 seed opponent to turn it over eight times something strange is going to happen.  My bracket isn't ruined from this one since I had Xavier knocking the Blue Devils out in the next round, but my opinion of Coach K took a bit of a hit tonight.  Poor offensive execution and a refusal to alter the game plan for 38 minutes can't be blamed entirely on the players.

My new favorite small school. I like anyone who beats Duke.

Best Second Round Games
  1. #15 Norfolk St. 86 - #2 Missouri 84
  2. #8 Creighton 58 - #9 Alabama 57
  3. #12 VCU 62 - #5 Wichita St. 59
  4. #1 Syracuse 72 - #16 UNC Asheville 65
  5. #11 Colorado 68 - #6 UNLV 64 
Top Games to Watch this Weekend
  1. #4 Wisconsin vs. #5 Vanderbilt - The winner of this game might be favored to go to the Elite 8 
  2. #4 Louisville vs. #5 New Mexico - I still believe the West can be won by anyone. MSU is not a great #1 seed.
  3. #8 Kansas St. vs. #1 Syracuse - Syracuse looked awful on Thursday. Can they rebound?
  4. #3 Florida St. vs. #6 Cincinnati - Two excellent defensive teams mean this game will probably be close.
  5. #15 Lehigh vs. #2 Xavier - I just have this feeling the craziness isn't over.
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