March Madness Second Round: Winners and Losers


Ted Turner finally found a way to make people care about truTV. (Photo via Creative Commons)
The technical terms may have changed, but you get the gist of it: the NCAA “Second Round” is the real first two days of March Madness. Some people take these days off from work, citing “late-winter cough” or “early summer Avian Flu.” Jim Rome decries this annual ritual of the American workforce. Hooter’s celebrates it, offering coupons to those who come in with a desire for boobs Basketball Fever. It’s become an American tradition, like Andy Griffith, apple pie and Reverend Lovejoy.
What matters more than the bracket standings is the teams and players that make their mark on March. Here are some of the major winners and losers from the opening two days.
VCU, George Mason, and the CAA
VCU showed that they deserved their controversial spot in the First Four, downing Nikola Vucevic and USC 59-46 before stomping the lights out of a convalescent Georgetown team last night. The last time VCU reached the round of 32, it was at our expense, as Eric Maynor dropped a dagger and was immortalized in March Madness lore. Luckily, those wounds were healed by last year’s national championship, and I’m ready to cheer for VCU against a powerful Purdue squad on Sunday.
George Mason lived up to their awesome shirts by downing Villanova with some late game heroics that thrilled Gus Johnson to no end. Their reward is a date with Ohio State–who looked pretty dominating in their win over UTSA–but the George Mason program has some experience shocking the world, having knocked off prohibitive favorite UConn en route to the 2006 Final Four. There are no players left over from that team, and Coach Jim Larranaga has earned his salt, proving ’06 was no fluke. With a combined record of 3-1 in the Tournament (with Old Dominion falling to Butler in the final seconds) the Colonial Athletic Association is setting itself up for more attention from the Selection Committee in coming years. They are definitely winners.
Our beloved east coast conference has been a punching bag for the national media this year. Who’s laughing now? HUH, PUNKS?! Duke, UNC and Florida State all advanced to the round of 32, with the Seminoles being the biggest surprise in a 57-50 win over previously top-20 Texas A&M. Our Blue Devils and the Heels were expected to advance, of course. But it’s heartening to see Leonard Hamilton (probably the ACC’s fourth best coach) break through to the next round. They’ll face off with Notre Dame, and I think with their length and athleticism they stand a chance at beating the Irish, a team that depends on craftiness and finesse.
Morehead State’s national recognition
Giggle all you want at the irony of Rick Pitino’s vanquishers, Morehead State is for real. DeMonte Harper’s last second three was as pure as glacial melt, and Kenneth Faried probably raised his NBA draft stock by leading his team over the Big East finalist Cardinals. It’s always particularly meaningful when a little known school defeats a in-state powerhouse. Morehead State has the opportunity to advance even further today against Richmond…methinks the Eagles can body up the Spiders and advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Tennessee and Bruce Pearl
Blue Devil fans had a particular interest in yesterday’s Tennessee-Michigan game, but after halftime, the game wasn’t all that interesting. Michigan thoroughly blasted the Volunteers, winning by 30 in what must be a record for an 8-9 game. Michigan was a bubble team before the Tournament, and now coach John Beilein looks like some kind of mad genius heading in to the Wolverines matchup against Duke. On the otherhand, Bruce Pearl has the NCAA breathing down his neck for repeated recruiting violations, and is probably going to lose his job in the offseason. Sad…I was hoping to see if he ever douse himself in orange paint again.
Kalin Lucas and Michigan State
UCLA finally mercy-killed Michigan State’s disappointing season, holding on 78-76 after giving up most of a 23 point lead. The Spartans never really coalesced this year, completely disappointing the predictions of many analysts that they would challenge for the NCAA title. Tom Izzo was snakebitten by the defections of lead guards Chris Allen and Korie Lucious, and Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers and Draymond Green struggled to take the reins as senior stars. Lucas’ storied career ended on a Langdon-esque note, traveling as he tried to race up the court for a final shot. I always liked Lucas, even if the comparisons to Kyrie were always a little generous on his side…
St. John’s
Steve Lavin brought St. John’s back from the brink of obscurity this year, defeating a number of top teams in Madison Square Garden including top seeds Duke and Pittsburgh. But the Red Storm and its 9 (?!) seniors struggled all year away from home. Cue Thursday night’s 86-71 defeat at the hands of Gonzaga, far from midtown Manhattan in Denver. The Zags stumbled out of the gate this year, hardly impressing anyone after Len Elmore infamously picked them to win the national championship. But the Bulldogs owned the boards and dished out 20 assists to put this one out of reach. I was pretty impressed with the Big East’s performance in the first round, but St. John’s proved it still has some work to do to rejoin the elite of its monstrous conference.
That’s all for now, folks. Enjoy the second round, and follow us on Twitter for the latest jokes about John Calipari’s hair gel and stuff like that. Thanks to many of our tweeps for suggesting winners and losers! Here’s your moment of zen…remember the days when we were still worried about Kyrie coming to Duke?

March Madness Day 1: Winners and Losers

Before we turn our attention to Arkansas Pine-Bluff, why don’t we recap the first 16 games of the tournament slate with the day’s winners and losers. Filled with upsets, overtimes and plenty of late-game dramatics, the past 15 hours have been one of the more memorable NCAA tournament first days in several years. Find out who the big winners and losers were before you watch another 12 hours of college basketball. THIS… IS… MADNESS!!!


Kentucky didn’t just “land the plane” on Thursday. The Wildcats did 360s in midair, nosedives and put the plane on autopilot before touching down safely. They did the one thing everyone said was their weakness: hit their shots. “If we’re hitting our shots, we bury people,” said Coach Cal. Exactly. Led by Eric Bledsoe, who went 8-9 from three, Kentucky connected on 15 of 33 shots from long range and assisted on 27 of their 31 made field goals. This was a thorough burial of a vastly inferior team by the Wildcats, who were not bitten by the upset bug that seemed to be the theme of the day. Kentucky turned in the best performance of the day, dropping 100 on hapless East Tennessee State.

LOSER: Damion James and Dexter Pittman, 8 TEXAS LONGHORNS

Remember when these two seniors, James, the ferocious rebounder, and Pittman, fatboy-turned-unstoppable-load in the paint, were thought to be the best low-post tandem in the country. Well, they have finally been put out of their misery, not having much say in their 81-80 overtime loss to Wake Forest. A sense of urgency didn’t seem to be in the upperclassmen’s vocabulary, as Texas’ three dynamic freshmen combined to score 48 points. James shot a miserable 4-14 in his last game in burnt orange and clanked a go-ahead free throw at the end of regulation. Actually, don’t blame Damion James…Blame this guy…


Talk about a senior who did not want to play his last game. Smith, he of the 17 assists and 23 turnovers in 5 career games against Duke, was incredible with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists and the game-winning fadeaway 18-footer with 1.3 seconds left. Smith began his career as an out-of-control freshman burdened with the unenviable task of replacing Chris Paul. Four years later, he has became a gutsy, tough, calm and clutch leader for the Demon Deacons. We don’t get a stacked round-of-32 matchup between UT and UK, but we do get another matchup to watch: Smith and John Wall going head to head. Speed vs. Speed.


A bit harsh to pick on someone from a mid-major, especially given Johnson’s incredible made-for-TV-movie story to get to where he is today. But Johnson provided some bulletin-board material for New Mexico earlier in the week by suggesting that the Grizzlies got off easing by drawing the Lobos instead of possibly a Big East team. Maybe he wished he got the Big East team instead. Against New Mexico, he wound up eating his words, going 1-12 from the field and negating an inspired effort by his teammates to become the second 14-seed to win on the day. And isn’t it ironic that the Big East (1-3) performed worse in the day than the Lobos’ conference, the Mountain West (2-2).


So the Pac-10 has, and rightfully so, been the punching bag of the Big Six conferences all season. So of course a Pac-10 team beats a team from the former “best conference” in America. In another example of a senior who did not want to play his last game, Pondexter showed those Pac-10 media members and coaches who did not vote him Player of the Year just how much intestinal fortitude he has. After hitting a tough hanging bank shot from the left wing with 1.7 seconds, Pondexter put another dagger into the Big East’s day by sending Marquette back to Milwaukee. Let’s see what response Pac-10 Player of the Year Jerome Randle has against Louisville later tonight.


Well, this was obvious, wasn’t it? I do remember saying during our annihilation at the hands of Georgetown, “This team ain’t SHIT.” Prophetic words, I know. Especially after losses to South Florida, Rutgers and Notre Dame. But OHIO? People hopped back on the Hoya bandwagon after their run to the Big East finals (this writer included, who had them in the Elite Eight), but they completely forgot how to defend. Now Georgetown makes dubious history by becoming the first team seeded 3 or higher to lose by double digits in the first round. Greg Monroe, SHOULD HAVE COME TO DUKE. Maybe you can transfer here so you can learn what it feels like to win in the tournament. Let me know how those workouts for the Wizards go.

WINNER: Armon Bassett and D.J. Cooper, 14 OHIO BOBCATS

And this was just as obvious. These two small dynamos combined for 55 points and 10 three-pointers made, as they consistently shredded Georgetown’s defense. Bassett, a 6’0 sparkplug who transferred from Indiana after the Kelvin Sampson debacle, hit big shot after big shot to answer Hoya runs. And Cooper, a 5’11 freshman southpaw weighing no more than 170 pounds, drove fearlessly into the lane time after time and was able to finish creatively at the rim against the Hoyas size. No one could have predicted this as we all thought Georgetown had cured its mercurial habits.


Kansas did not really lose anything, and they were never in danger, as they still remain the odds on favorite to make it to the Final Four from the Midwest Regional. However, Lehigh was able to cover the spread, which makes the Jayhawks a loser. Lehigh bust out of the gate, leading 12-4 with 13:25 left in the 1st half. The Jayhawks only recovered to lead by six at the half. Perhaps the pressure of everyone and Obama picking Kansas to win the championship has worn on them. Kansas’ uninspiring performance paled in comparison to the thorough domination by the other 1-seed in action, Kentucky.


Roberts’ buzzer-beater is easily the feel good story of the day and has made his Murray State team the early Cinderella darling of the tournament. You know he’ll be in this year’s “One Shining Moment” montage. Receiving a pass with about three seconds left, Roberts dribbled to a spot and pulled up for a fadeaway 19-footer, hitting nothing but net. Watching the second-half of this game, I heard so many audible “Let’s Go Racers” chants. And their fans had good reason to be so confident in their team. The Racers are probably the most balanced team in the tournament, with six players averaging between 9.7 and 10.6 points. Watch out Butler.

LOSER: A.J. Ogilvy and Jeffery Taylor, 4 VANDERBILT COMMODORES

Ogilvy now has the dubious distinction as someone who has been upset twice at the hands of a 13 seed, having lost to upstart Siena two years ago in the first round. Against a team that had one rotation player taller than 6’7, Vanderbilt’s big men came up small. Ogilvy had only 12 points and 6 rebounds in just 20 minutes while Taylor spent most of the second half on the bench in foul trouble. You had to feel for Ogilvy after he dropped to his knees, devastated. But then again, if you don’t want to get upset, assert yourself and take care of business.


K-State’s win over North Texas meant that Wildcat teams turned in the two best performances of the day by a top 4 seed. Personally, I didn’t care about this game as I was so immersed in the Vanderbilt-Murray State classic. But it was good to see that parity hadn’t completely gobbled up the tournament by seeing a 2 seed take care of business with ease, something that wasn’t done earlier in the day (more on that later). Syracuse should watch out for K-State, who have the shooters (Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente) and size (Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels) to give them fits.


The team that breezed through Conference USA instead ends the season with two consecutive losses. At least this one was to a team worthy of being in the tournament (unlike Houston). However, with a couple of strong 5 seeds in the field (Michigan State and Temple), UTEP was a trendy pick to pull the common 12-5 upset. And that would have led to the ultimate Cinderella 12 vs. 13 matchup against Murray State, a favorite of mine. Yeah, I’m just ticked because I picked UTEP to be in the Sweet 16, but I’m writing this column. Instead, Butler extended its winning streak to 21 games, as its three point shooting completely overwhelmed the Miners.

WINNER: Michael Loyd Jr., 7 BYU COUGARS

Some people know about Jimmer Fredette, the 6-2 gunner on BYU who dropped 37 to finally drop Florida in double OT. But there’s no way anyway outside of Provo, Utah knows who Michael Loyd is. Michael Loyd, who averages 4.6 points on the season? As much as Fredette did to help the Cougars win, I’m sure he’d tell you this victory would not have come without Loyd’s coming-out party. Loyd actually got some experience against New Mexico earlier this season when Fredette sat out the second half due to sickness. Against the Gators, the 6’1 sophomore guard poured in a career-high 26 points to help his team advance to play Kansas State.


This Samhan is a man. The 6’11, 260-pound beast completely dominated Richmond on the interior. Thanks to his 29 points and 12 rebounds, the Gaels outrebounded the Spiders 39-16. That is a ridiculous number, as in Samhan grabbed almost as many boards as the entire opposing team. He not only forced the issue all day in the paint but also got open looks for St. Mary’s shooters such as Mickey McConnell, who contributed 23 points. You will be seeing Samhan on an NBA team in the near future. He is that damn good.


Digger Phelps must be sick to his stomach right now. Who had Notre Dame in the Sweet 16? Not me. I called those Patties ridiculously overseeded and they were; this wasn’t an upset either.. Old Dominion did beat Georgetown earlier in the season (not as impressive anymore), but they were also a statistically better team than the Fighting Irish. Nothing epitomizes the bad luck of the Irish more than Harangody, the former Big East Player of the Year who ended his career with just 4 points and 7 rebounds. What’s interesting is that Notre Dame played its best basketball of the year without big ol’ Luke. His NBA stock is looking reeeeal good right now.


Who the hell said there were no NBA lottery picks in the South region? Although Baylor wasn’t really impressive at all in its win, Udoh certainly was. And I cut Baylor some slack because this was its first tournament win in about a half-century. So it has been a while. Udoh went for 20 points, 13 boards, 2 blocks and even threw in 5 dimes. Baylor looks like a team that can certainly give Villanova fits in the Elite Eight. Maybe St. Mary’s upsets Nova and we get Udoh vs. Samhan in the Sweet 16? What a matchup that would be.


I’ve been taking as many potshots as I can on the Big East. Case in point: it took Scottie Reynolds and his army of zebras to turn away Robert Morris’ upset bid and save the Big East from utter humiliation. Reynolds shot an atrocious 2-15 from the field (although one three was big at the end of OT), but took 16 free throws on the day. These Wildcats, unlike Kentucky and Kansas State, limped to the finish and Villanova did nothing in this game to change the perception that it was the weakest 2 seed in the field. Which takes me to one final winner on the day…


How, you say, do we win by not even playing? Because of the complete carnage that you see on the battlefield that is the South Regional. So originally everyone had the South as the weakest bracket in the field, let by the crummiest 2 seed in Villanova. Then the trendy Final Four pick Baylor has trouble putting away Sam Houston State and both 6 and 7 seeded teams, who many thought were already overseeded, fell. 4 seed Purdue is still smarting from injuries, I believe, and remains a popular choice to be upset by Siena. I hope karma doesn’t bite me in the ass from all the shots I took at the Big East if we have to play Louisville in the round of 32. Everyone may be cowering right now, but they won’t be when they play Duke. Nonetheless, like I said before, there are NO excuses if we do not make the Final Four this year.

Same time tomorrow, folks.

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Previewing the South Region

I was on tenterhooks watching the CBS Selection Show Sunday evening. Several questions ran through my head: will we even get a one seed? will West Virginia or Kansas State loom as our 2 seed? will we have to travel across the country?

Duke does have the easiest path to the Final Four. Will the Devils take advantage?

When Duke was placed in the extremely weak South bracket, I kind of sat back in shock. Well, that was easy. Duke has a great opportunity to make a deep run this year—but will we take advantage and make Indianapolis for Coach K’s eleventh Final Four? Let’s find out, with Crazie-Talk’s preview of the “historically weak” South bracket.

Jacksonville, Fl. Pairing

First Round

#1 Duke v. #16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff: OK…Duke will win this one. Moving on.

#8 California v. #9 Louisville: This could be an interesting game. California won the Pac-10 regular season, but that doesn’t mean anything, as there were no elite teams playing anywhere on the West Coast, regardless of conference. But the Bears are no pushover, with several star players, including guard Jerome Randle and big man Patrick Christopher, plus former Duke forward Jamal Boykin contributing 12 points and 7 rebounds per game. Louisville has been an enigma this year, beating top seed Syracuse twice but losing by 20 to St. John’s and Marquette, as well as dropping early season games to Charlotte and Western Carolina. Louisville is a tough draw for the Bears, who just lost forward Omondi Amoke to suspension. Louisville forward Samardo Samuels will be able to take care of business down low, and the Cardinal guards will do enough to slow down Randle. I take Louisville in this game, although I desperately hope I’m wrong.

Second Round

#1 Duke v. #9 Louisville: This is a really scary early round matchup for the Blue Devils. Rick Pitino, adultery aside, is a fantastic motivator, and will get his boys up for a face-off with us. But when it comes down to it, our guard play is better than the Ville’s. Scheyer and Singler will have to take care of business, as the Cards have several quick guards to throw at Nolan. I think our bigs can contain the 6’9” Samuels, who gets frustrated if he can’t get push people around for easy layups. PG Edgar Sosa is very inconsistent, and Duke’s hard on ball pressure should get under his skin. K will win this battle of Hall-of-Fame coaches and Duke will advance to Houston.

Spokane, Wash. Pairing

First Round

#5 Texas A&M v. #12 Utah State: This battle of two Aggie squads could be very interesting. Texas A&M got a difficult draw in the first round after a solid Big

12 season. Utah State play great defense, just like A&M, and score few points, just like A&M. They also won 27 games, including a victory over seventh seeded BYU. They probably would have had a 10 or 9 seed had they not lost to New Mexico St. in the WAC tournament. Moreover,  Texas A&M has been riding the play of star guard Donald Sloan all year, and since Derrick Roland was injured in the fall, haven’t had too much offensive firepower. Still, Crazie-Talk favors playing in good major conferences, and the Big 12 is probably the second best conference in the country. Texas A&M wins a low-scoring game and advances out of this tough first round game.

#4 Purdue v. #13 Siena: Everyone has been railing on Purdue since Robbie Hummel went out with a season-ending ACL injury. But I’m not buying all the Siena hype here. The stars of the Saints’ near ’09 near Sweet 16 run, Kenny Hasbrouck, is gone. Edwin Ubiles and Clarence Jackson are a solid backcourt, but still don’t match up well with Purdue’s Keaton Grant, Chris Kramer, and E’Twaun Moore. Contrary to popular assumption, Purdue has just enough to win this game without Hummel.

Second Round

#5 Texas A&M v. #4 Purdue: Like I said—Purdue will have just enough to beat Siena in the first round. The Boiler gas will run out against A&M, who will stifle Purdue defensively. The Boilers scored just 11 points in the first half of a pitiful Big 10 tournament loss to Minnesota. Look for the same kind of stunted offensive output, and a double digit A&M victory.

New Orleans, La. Pairing

First Round

#6 Notre Dame v. #11 Old Dominion: First of all, the Fighting Irish are grossly overseeded. Although they played well without big man Luke Harangody, Notre Dame doesn’t deserve this position, in the weakest region no less. The Irish have been peaking without star player Luke Harangody, playing better defense and getting more players involved, such as Ben Hansbrough the Younger and veteran PG Tory Jackson. However, the committee didn’t do them any favors by matching them up with Old Dominion. The Monarchs took out Georgetown earlier this year at McDonough, proving their ability to play with tough Big East squads. Old Dominion will beat another Big East team in this game, and Notre Dame (and former Duke assistant Coach Mike Brey) goes home early.

#3 Baylor v. #14 Sam Houston State: Each of these teams would love to play in the Houston regional, but Baylor has too much talent. Baylor guards  Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn complement forwards Quincy Acy and Ekpe Udoh. The Bears play high-octane offense, averaging nearly 80 points per game. Baylor advances here.

Second Round

#3 Baylor v. #11 Old Dominion: The Monarchs do not have the offensive potency to match up with the Bears. Forwards Gerald Lee and Frank Hassell meet the towering, athletic Udoh and Acy and are dominated on the blocks. Look for this to be a blowout, with Baylor advancing past ODU to the Sweet 16.

Providence, R.I. Pairing

First Round

#7 Richmond v. #10 St. Mary’s: Oh, we love the Richmond Spiders! St. Mary’s has to travel all the way across the country for this one, and no Patty Mills means no containing Spider guard Kevin Anderson, the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. Omar Samhan is a good player for the Gaels, but again, no respect for West Coast teams (as if beating Gonzaga is an accomplishment!). Richmond wins by 10 and moves on.

#2 Villanova v. #15 Robert Morris: The Wildcats haven’t been at their best of late, but Scottie Reynolds and Co. take care of business against Robert Morris and advance to face Richmond. ‘Nova by double digits.

Second Round

#2 Villanova v. #7 Richmond: Here’s the first big upset! Anderson and David Gonzalvez are good enough to match up with the ‘Nova guards Corey Stokes, Corey Fisher, and the aforementioned Reynolds. Villanova has tanked of late, and Richmond barely lost to fifth seeded Temple in the A-10 championship game. Richmond may be the Cinderella of the Tournament, and their first big victim will be Villanova. So long, Taylor King! Have fun chain-smoking all the way back to Philly. Richmond heads to Houston.

Houston Regional

#1 Duke v. #5 Texas A&M: The Aggies are close to home for this game, and their fans (and thousands of Duke haters) will be out in force rooting for an A&M victory. Donald Sloan is a star, and the strength of the Aggies lie on the defensive end. We have struggled against powerful and athletic teams like Georgia Tech and Georgetown this season, and the less-than-stellar run through the ACC Tournament does not inspire too much confidence for this type of opponent. I think Zoubek, LT, and the Plumtrees come up big. A&M doesn’t have too many bigs other than Bryan Davis, and if they can’t shoot the ball, they won’t be getting too many offensive boards over Zoubs. Duke takes this one by 5-10 points.

#3 Baylor v. #7 Richmond: It’s tantalizing to send Richmond to the Elite 8, but that’d be overdoing it. The Cinderella run ends here. Dunn and Carter are too quick and explosive for Richmond’s guards, and Udoh will take all comers on the glass. Anderson has a Steph Curry-like performance, but the Spiders fall short against Baylor in the Bears’ home state,  setting up…

The Regional Final: #1 Duke v. #3 Baylor

OK. Here we are, on the brink of our first Final Four (in six years). Baylor—a team with tremendous speed and athleticism—stands in our way. The Bears have all the elements of team we have sucked against: athletic guards in Dunn and Carter, a powerful 6’10” big man in Udoh, and an upstart young coach in Scott Drew. Sounds like Villanova circa last year? Just replace Dunn and Carter with Reynolds/Fisher/Stokes, and Udoh with Dante Cunningham.

This game will take every last ounce of Duke’s energy, but I believe we can win. And it will have to come on the defensive end. Baylor scores a lot of points, but their guards do not have tremendous size: Carter is 5’11” and Dunn 6’4”. If Nolan Smith can slow down Carter and Scheyer can neutralize Dunn’s scoring, we can win the battle on the perimeter. Duke will have to go deep in its bench—expect the quickness of Baylor to force a lot of early fouls. Dawkins must play and contribute positive minutes. Zoubek will have to play without fouling, as the Plumlees can’t control their hands of late and keep picking up silly touch fouls. Lance Thomas has to keep the ball in his hands and be able to finish on offensive putbacks.

Truth be told, Duke will have to play its best game of the season to get past Baylor. But I’m confident because of the man in the dark suit on the sideline. Coach K is 10-1 in Elite 8 games. Scott Drew coaches at a program that has never won an NCAA Tournament game, period. Advantage, Duke. We will squeak out a win, probably in the high 70s or low 80s.

Coach K will cut down the nets again, leading Duke to the Final Four for the eleventh time in his career. (courtesy of

See you in Indy.

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