Welcome to the 102nd edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where we only play the piccolo and cry when there’s no one else around. Let’s get into it…
The best four days in sports kicked off Thursday morning at 10 and wrapped up Sunday night at about 10. Those 84 hours saw 48 basketball games that ended 48 teams’ seasons before they were ready. Things started off with a bang when two 14-seeds upset a pair of teams that many predicted would make the Final Four. So for a while it looked like we were heading for four days of wild and crazy bonkers-ness. But the next three and a half days fizzled a little bit and produced a weekend that was, on the whole, actually pretty bland. Last year in my recap of the tournament’s opening weekend I wrote about a wild Thursday, saying:
…And this year’s NCAA Tourney Thursday might have been the best NCAA Tourney Thursday ever. Four of the 16 games went to overtime, which has never happened before. Four of the twelve regulation games were decided at the buzzer or in the final minute. So literally half of the games on Thursday came down to the final seconds. Three double-digit seeds won. Three more choked away a would-be victory. Colorado was embarrassed…
It was a glorious, unbelievable day.
This year failed to produce a day that came close to that. Those two crazy upsets that sent Iowa State and Baylor home on Thursday turned out to be a misnomer. Saturday, for example, had only two games decided by fewer than 8 points (though Butler-Notre Dame did go to overtime and NC State upset 1-seeded Villanova by three points). Sunday was even worse with zero games being decided by less than six points.
There were some upsets, sure. But in terms of wild, thrilling, did-you-see-that finishes, the weekend certainly underwhelmed.
Now, to be clear, an underwhelming opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament is still better than most any other sporting event. I enjoyed plenty of fun and awesome and memorable and exciting moments of college basketball from Thursday morning through Sunday night.
Here are my favorites:
The best moment of the tournament’s opening weekend came on Thursday afternoon, just a few hours after it all started. Here’s a quick background: 14-seed Georgia State is down by two to 3-seed Baylor in the game’s final seconds. A few days prior, when Georgia State clinched their tourney invite, head coach Ron Hunter tore his Achilles during the team’s celebration, so he’s coaching this game on a little wheeley-stool-type-thing with big ol’ cast on his foot/leg. His son is Georgia State’s best player, R.J. Hunter, a future first-round NBA draft pick. With the game on the line, the younger Hunter buried an unreal three from about 25 feet out. His injured coach/dad was stoked and produced an all-time great Vine that I’ve watched approximately 500 times.
I like the wide angle better, but the close-up of Hunter is also pretty awesome:
So are these still shots:
Great stuff, folks.
So that was the tournament’s best moment to date. This next one from Saturday night was the most “viral”:
Obviously, the internet was going to have some fun with this one. Here’s my favorite edit:
And within 48 hours she was on the nation’s most popular late night talk show. What a world.
Notre Dame’s Pat Connaughton might have made the play of the tournament with this sick block of a shot that would have won the game for Butler. Absolutely awesome video here.
This is a remarkably underrated Vine from Friday evening. Every time I come across it, I stop and watch it like twenty times.
Before the real tournament even started, we had this moment from Wednesday night’s play-in game. Getting pantsed is cool, but check out the cheerleaders’ reaction:
One of the coolest things about the tournament is fans getting the opportunity to watch players they haven’t seen much throughout the year. For me, this player was D’Angelo Russell. I’ve known for a while that Russell is going to be a top-5 pick, but for whatever reason, I just haven’t been able to watch him a whole lot this year. Ohio State didn’t make it out of the opening weekend, but Russell was a one-man highlight reel.
And check this no-look dime.
And of course, I spent last week ranting and raving about Colorado State’s snub and the ludicrous inclusion of UCLA. It was the most-read post I’ve had in a while. So what happens next? Naturally, Colorado State, the #1 overall seed in the NIT, loses at home to South Dakota State and UCLA makes the Sweet 16.
I would like to take a moment to emphasize one point: A team’s performance, good or bad, in either the NIT or the NCAAs does nothing to merit the selection committee’s decision. Those decisions are made on what’s been done, not a team’s projected in performance in a separate tournament.
UCLA and Texas could both make the Final Four with CSU immediately losing in the NIT and that would still not justify the committee’s inclusion of those brands over a more deserving team.
And I can’t really blame CSU for coming out flat for what turned out to be their last game of the year. They were emotionally drained. They lacked focus and energy, especially early. And that’s all fair. Not overly surprising. Not something I’m going to fault them for.
An opportunity for some decent national exposure (had they gotten to play in Madison Square Garden) went down the drain, but if we’re honest we know that nobody gives a damn about the NIT. CSU’s season truly ended on Selection Sunday.
Off to the weekly departments…
Douche of the week:
A few weeks ago I ranked Allie LaForce pretty high on my Swoon Index (#5, but that might have been too low). So naturally, I AM NOT DOWN WITH THIS.
Photo(s) of the week:
CBS Sports tweeted an awesome gallery of the best pictures from the opening weekend. These are my favorites (along with the one at the top of this page).
Tweet(s) of the week:
A couple Las Vegas hotels tweeted out some pretty funny videos of a meaningless layup in the final seconds of the VCU – Ohio State game. VCU is down by five, and throws in a layup at the buzzer so the Rams only lose by three. This made a bunch of people happy.
Stud of the week:
This post is a little shorter than a lot of other weeks because it took me about two full days to recover from a concert I attended late on Saturday night (and into Sunday morning)*.
*Not that I was, like, wasted. I’ve learned from experience that concerts are more fun when you remember them.
I’m told I started listening to Garth Brooks when I was about four years old and I do remember the cassette of his self-titled debut album always kicking around in my dad’s car. So saying I grew up with Garth Brooks is not at all an exaggeration. I have the hard copies of eight or nine of Garth’s albums with a few other downloads peppered in. I honestly think I know every word to every song on every one of those albums.
Garth was “retired” by the time I started going to concerts and prior to this week, he hadn’t played in Denver since I was eight years old. So by the time I truly learned to appreciate and enjoy his music, I had come to the realization that I would probably never be lucky enough to see him play live. So saying I’ve waited pretty much my whole life to see Garth Brooks, that too, is not at all an exaggeration.
I’ve known that much of Garth’s astounding success is due to his live shows and I’ve seen plenty of YouTube’d or DVR’d concerts. But at the risk of repeating what 25 people have already put in your Facebook feed, it was pretty damn awesome.
Singing along as Garth let the crowd take over on Unanswered Prayers (like I’ve done while listening to Double Live hundreds of times) was worth double the price of admission. But so was screaming the live-only third verses on The Thunder Rolls and Friends In Low Places (like I’ve done while listening to Double Live hundreds of times.)
And, damn, it was loud. I have definitely never been to a concert that was as loud as the Pepsi Center was between every song. It was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard that place, which is saying something.
Garth will do a little of the corny, you-guys-are-the-best-crowd-yet stuff that may make you might roll your eyes. But that’s just Garth being Garth. He plays to the crowd and does it well. Overall though, Garth sings the songs you want to hear and does it with the passion and energy that’s made him a zillion dollars over the past quarter-century, even if it’s his second show of the night and it’s well past 1 a.m. on Sunday morning.
And I know this is an original opinion, but it’s pretty damn awesome.
NBA Tank Watch 2015:
The Nuggets continue to choke this thing away. They’ve held steady in the 8-spot of the Tankandings, and it looks pretty clear that played themselves out of a high lottery pick, which is kind of astounding when you think about how bad they were and how little they cared under Brian Shaw..
- New York, .197, 14-57
- Minnesota, .229, 16-54
- Philadelphia, .243, 17-53
- L.A. Lakers, .265, 18-50
- Orlando, .306, 22-50
- Sacramento, .348, 24-45
- Detroit, .371, 26-44
- Denver, .380, 27-44
Some links I enjoyed and you should too:
- I failed to link this last week but this story from Matt Norlander on a former Butler Bulldog’s brush with death and survival is an excellent read.
- And from this week, Greg Doyel on Notre Dame coach Mike Brey coaching just hours after his mom’s sudden death. He didn’t tell a soul.
- And Paul Klee on CSU center Tiel Daniels’ background.
And finally, CJ Anderson bought his grandma a car and that’s pretty damn awesome.
Grandparents are the best.
Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.
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