For the past four days I have been a college basketball viewing machine. Friendships were lost, sleep was deprived, alcohol was consumed. Through it all I can say without a shadow of a doubt I am a better man for it, why? Because this is March Madness, this is college basketball, and if a grown man can't use a vacation day or two to sit at the house, grill turkey burgers, drink Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, wear sweatpants all day, and talk crazy on the almighty Twitter machine...
...then I don't want to live on this Earth.
Step into my brain real quick, here are some things that I've learned during the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
1) That there are some teams that are never, ever to be trusted.
Hey Ricky Barnes, what's up brother? Its your boy Ed. You know, the dude who always says "Tuck Fexas"? Yeah, its me. Look, you know I've hated Texas since I came out of my mothers' womb, I'm from Oklahoma...this is what we do. However, I've watched you amass talent like none other in college basketball, so I watch your funky little program over the years and I always look at Texas and think, "Man, they might do something this year." Of course your funky little program never does anything worth a damn. Shame on me, I'm the one who thought you could go to the Elite 8, hell I didn't even put Final Four aspirations on your shoulders because I knew that would be too much. You got out-coached, again, and the problem is you'll never be fired from your post in Austin, because your funky little program's never tasted anything close to actual success in over 70 years. So enjoy being the top dog on a program who could be elite, but your the coach who wears a dunce cap when it comes to X's and O's while you recruit the Willie's and the Joe's. Never believing in you again.
Oh by the way, please feel free to replace the word "Texas" with "Pitt" and "Ricky Barnes" with "Jamie Dixon" because I feel the same way about your funky little program too Pittsburgh.
2) Whatever you do, don't leave the game in the referees' hands.
This is to co-sign point #1 I made about those funky little programs I referred to earlier. As much as we loathe the officials in the NBA, just realize that they are INFINITELY better at their craft than college officials. I'm not saying that college refs are horrible, they're just not as good as the pros. So for what you saw in that Butler/Pitt game and in the Arizona/Texas game were both great examples of one team executing a strategy versus another team just going one-on-one and hoping for the best. Arizona ran a great screen/roll and got their best player (Derrick Williams) the ball going to the rim. Good things happen when you do that. What did Texas do? They gave the ball to their 4th or 5th best player (J'Covan Brown) and let him go one-on-one. Now look, I know Brown had been hot, but what in the hell are you recruiting Jordan Hamilton for if you aren't going to give him a chance to win you the game?
3) There are some dope ass players in this tournament that don't play in the Big 6.
I'm not going to waste your time with talking about BYU's Jimmer Fredette, I'll talk about him shortly. Sometimes I think we get so enamored with teams and players from the big conferences, that we truly miss out on some of the livest players in the tournament. Here are five that caught my attention from jump.
Morehead State's Kenneth Faried - Dude is live. He doesn't know how to do anything other than jump real high, swing elbows, and play like his hair is on fire. Plus, dude is smiling and having fun the whole time, which makes me want to root for him. Moreover, its fun to hop on twitter and see an entire timeline all tweet the same thing...
Butler's Matt Howard - This dude is hated. I remember watching #54 ball against Duke, playing center for Butler, and he's only 6'6"...dudes out there throwing elbows, flopping, taking charges, all the annoying stuff that folks do to win games. Throw in three point range and an ability to make plays at the end of games and dude is a killer, I'm impressed.
Richmond's Kevin Anderson - The 2010 A-10 player of the year is live, reminds me of Scottie Reynolds from a year ago for Villanova. His willingness to shoot the rock on or over anyone is ridiculous, and at 5'11" (maybe) his ability to get in the lane and shoot that floater keeps defenders off balance. Richmond beat Kansas last year too...just a heads up.
San Diego State's entire squad - This is the most dysfunctional set of misfits I've seen since I hooped against Central Junior High in the 9th grade. It "looks like" Steve Fischer just rolls the ball out on the court and tells them to play, kinda like how folks used to talk about Michigan's Fab Five. I'm not saying they're as good as our childhood heroes, but they find a way to make plays at big moments. They seem too undisciplined for my liking, but they can beat Connecticut for sure.
VCU's Shaka Smart - Following in the leadership of Jeff Capel and Anthony Grant, Shaka Smart is making the selection committee look like geniuses for putting them in the tournament. Three wins in five days is no small accomplishment, and they've got a group of guys that are going to give Florida State all they can handle. Personally, I think they're gonna wipe the floor with FSU (sorry Keith) and make a run to beat the Final Four.
4) The CBS/TNT/TBS/Tru TV network fiasco wasn't all that bad.
I didn't mind switching back and forth, and I actually enjoyed it. So there.
5) Gus Johnson and Len Elmore are suffering badly in this tournament.
Yeah he's had a few moments in there with the Marquette/Syracuse game, but we haven't got anything worth a damn from him in this tournament. You can tell he's got the fire to give us the greatness but almost all the games in Cleveland were blow outs. However, as I peruse the scheduling for next week, there's hope for us all though...
...Gus and Lennie are calling the BYU vs. Florida game.
"JIMMER WITH THE CATCH!!!!!! OH, HE BURIES IT! MY NAME'S JIMMER FREDETTE AND I GET BUCKETS!!!" - Gus
What were your thoughts thus far of the tournament? Who's going to make the Final Four now?
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern or Download our podcasts if you missed the live show on iTunes!