Sunday, March 18, 2007

Cinderella Classic.

In the current college basketball landscape where mid-majors like Southern Illinois are expected to do some damage come tournament time, it's hard to say that anyone particularly thought that UNLV, butt of many jokes regarding its graduation rates, the short reign of Rollie Massimino post-Tarkanian, and general fall from grace after 1991, would be headed to the Sweet 16 a couple of months ago. A favorable draw helped -- GT was basically Javaris Crittenton, and Wisconsin, was, well, Wisconsin, as the Big 10 appears to be the weakest of the major conferences.

UNLV is probably the Cindy Classic of the year in a tournament without a double digit seed in the Sweet 16, and the press will continue to lap up the story of Kevin Kruger transferring over from ASU via a rule that's not off the books to play his senior season for dad Lon. Many might argue Butler or SIU as Cinderella teams, but four and five seeds are not really Cinderellas; SIU is good enough where semi-knowledgeable viewers of college hoops expect them to make the 16. The Salukis are Custom Cindy: the Fairy Godmother sent them to the plastic surgeon for a nip, tuck, and unobtrusive boob job. They're just not household names.

Quick rundown of Sunday, as compared to prior declarations here and in other venues:

I'm a Genius: UNLV knocks off Wisconsin. Oregon beats lovable Winthrop (Cinderella for some of you). All Final Four teams still in. Lost no more than two teams per region after first round. Picked the West regional contingent of the 16 perfectly.

I'm a Fucking Moron: Texas gets dominated by USC, costing me an Elite Eight team (I'm not alone here, by far; I bet some of you had Texas in the Final Four). Close second: Memphis decides to hit free throws when beating Nevada. Oops. Butler heads to the Sweet 16. So does Tennessee.

Now Kevin Durant Is Really Going to the NBA: Credit Bill Simmons with only this, as a broken clock is right twice a day -- Durant is going to want out after scoring 30, yet the rest of his team can't put anything together (and really, it's the quietest 30 point game he's had.) He'd have had to be Kobe to win against a USC team firing on all cylinders, and Texas should ask why Rick Barnes can assemble talent-loaded teams but can't do much with them come tournament time. (However, the kitchen would like to offer Simmons our fresh crow for saying the Pac-10 sucks, as now 3 teams from the conference are in the 16.)

The Revival of Tim Floyd's Rep: Has anyone gotten a rep upgrade as quickly by going back to college as USC coach Tim Floyd? From whipping boy coaching the post-Jordan Bulls to developing a team that, if all the players return (and at this point, Gabe Pruitt and Nick Young are low-first rounders at best) and O.J. Mayo comes in, could probably challenge UCLA for Pac-10 superiority next year?

The OSU Death Watch: I have them losing to Texas A&M come 8 time, but this team could very well lose to Tennessee, who opened up on LBSU and came back on a choking Virginia team.

Sweet 16 Picks:
Florida over Butler
Oregon over UNLV (probably will need OT)
Kansas over SIU (couldn't blame you if you take the Salukis, though)
UCLA over Pitt (how far has Aaron Gray's draft status fallen from last year to this one?)
Texas A&M over Memphis (barely)
OSU over Tennessee (even more barely)
G-Town over Vanderbilt (no contest)
USC over UNC (the UConn '06 Principle of Slacking at Inopportune Times will get the Tar Heels, I believe. Besides, I've got to pick one upset.)


twins15 said...

Speaking of the Pac-10 and Simmons, great point about him eating crow, but I'm sure there would be some excuse from him to explain that...something like, "UCLA was playing a Big 10 team, USC played a team coached by Rick Barnes, and Oregon played a Mid-Major, of course they have 3 Sweet 16 teams!"

I do agree with you about USC... they could be really good next year if everyone is back, and could definitely challenge for the title depending on if Afflalo/Collison leave.

Signal to Noise said...

Well, UCLA is bringing in some apparently top notch recruit named Kevin Love next year, so it's not like they're not trying to re-stock. Plus, I think Afflalo and Collison are sticking around. I don't see an NBA star in that group.

USC will challenge, though.

Run Up The Score! said...

I have Texas in the finals of the only pool in which I still had a puncher's chance. So, yeah. Yeah.

twins15 said...

Yeah, Love is one of the top 2 or 3 recruits in the country... if everyone else comes back and they add Love (to give them some inside weapons offsensively), look out... no one will be catching the Bruins in the Pac-10.