NCAA March Madness Recap: Let the madness begin!
Well well well, here we are. March has arrived and with it the conference tournaments leading up to the "Big Dance" next week. It is safe to say I have been waiting for this time of year since the first tip-off last fall.
It has been a rollercoaster ride for many of us. Teams jockeying for that top spot in the nation. We have seen several teams snatch it for a brief second before eventually losing a game and conceding it to the next team.
It is safe to say that Houston is probably the team that has held it the longest. They really came through down the stretch and in the end I think they have proven that they belong here despite all the arguments about "strength of schedule".
As I said, conference tournaments started this past week and at this point national rankings go out the window. I won't be talking about those anymore (at least not as much as I did before). Now it all comes down to tournament seeds and how to you perform down the stretch.
We've already seen a couple of teams get knocked out of the running (supposedly), we will see what happens come Sunday.
Monday the West Coast Conference Tourney started. The number 1 seed in that conference Saint Mary's took down #5 seed BYU 76 to 69. Likewise, #2 seed Gonzaga beat #6 seed San Francisco 84 to 73.
There is a good chance both of those losing teams still make it to the field of 64 next week, but they will probably be a pretty low seed and have a tough road ahead of them to advance in the national bracket.
Tuesday Gonzaga went on to beat Saint Mary's giving them a pretty good shot at getting a relatively high seed in the national tournament.
Wednesday there were quite a few games, but none of them of real significance. Mostly first round games of the conference tournaments.
Thursday is when the conference tournaments really jumped into gear. I know I said that I wasn't going to talk about rankings anymore, but I have to point out that many games were played this last week that aren't showing up on my score sheet because they weren't ranked teams during the regular season.
I say they are insignificant and that is usually the case... until they aren't. Don't be surprised if a couple of teams suddenly jump onto our radar simply because they had a good conference tournament run.
In the Big East Conference Tourney, 8 seed St. John's took 1 seed Marquette into overtime, but fell short 70 to 72. Meanwhile, in the ACC, 9 seed Wake Forest almost pulled off an upset against 1 seed Miami.
In the Big 12 5 seed Iowa State beat 4 seed Baylor 78 to 72.
A lot of people think UConn is going to be one of the biggest sleepers that comes out of the Big East Conference. Additionally, it looks like Duke in the ACC is starting to get hot at just the right time. Which drives me nuts because I hate Duke.
The final big upset of last night was in the Big 12 Conference. 6 seed TCU took down 3 seed Kansas State 80 to 67 in a blowout win. If TCU is getting hot right now, they could turn the Big 12 on it's head.
That being said, there is still going to be a lot of representation from the Big 12 in the national tournament, so don't worry!
I watched the Michigan/Rutgers game yesterday while I was at work and while the Wolverines came out strong, they fell flat in the second half. Which I am totally okay with. They got throttled in the second half of the game with Rutgers outscoring them something like 37 to 22.
This should knock U of M out of the running for a seed in the national tourney, but I wouldn't be surprised if they find a way to squeak in. We all know the NCAA is all about money and the U of M fan base travels well, so I can see them putting them in a slot expecting the fans to travel and buy lots of tickets.
They really don't deserve to be in the Big Dance, but don't be shocked if they make it.
Today, my eyes are going to be solely focused on the rematch of Michigan State and Ohio State. MSU had a good game against the Buckeyes a week or so ago, but they kind of took their foot off the gas towards the end of the game.
While the Spartans are pretty assuredly in the national tournament, they need to chase that high seed. We have seen how much the Spartans struggle in the early rounds of the tourney. The path of least resistance is what they need right now.
With 16+ games being played today, you can't really miss by watching any of them. Pretty much everyone has something to play for right now. It's March after all, let the madness begin!