Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Whoa Nellie! The NCAA Tournament Is Underway

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The NCAA Tournament officially got underway today.  In my last post, I said I would give a breakdown of players NBA scouts and front office personnel would be keeping a close eye on over the next few weeks.  Obviously, I didn’t quite get around to doing so.

This time of year is extremely hectic and rather than try and do what I originally intended, let’s hit the ground running now that the NCAA Tournament is officially underway.  Did I mention that there are other post-season tournaments going on at the same time?  Yeah, I know.  Who cares?  March Madness is the only tournament that matters this time of year.  NBA scouts and front office personnel take interest in the NIT, CBI, and the newly formed CIT, but the bulk of each team’s basketball operations staff will be on hand for the NCAA Tournament.

I will eventually get around to writing about these tournaments as well (here’s a quick plug for the forthcoming Davidson vs. St. Mary’s clash in the NIT on March 23rd), but let’s get started looking at 2009’s NCAA Tournament.

Day 1 got off to another tremendous start.  There is no better topic to start a discussion about the first day than the upsets and near upsets.  Slaying Goliath is what this tournament is all about and what makes it the best event for determining a champion.  Without further adieu…

AP Photo/Michael Perez

AP Photo/Michael Perez

#11 VCU (64) vs. #6 UCLA (65)

This match-up was by far the best game of the night.  The much hyped battle between VCU junior guard, Eric Maynor and UCLA senior guard, Darren Collison, lived up to the billing.  Highly touted freshman, Jrue Holiday also had a very solid game and displayed the tools that make him one and done player.  Though Holiday plays off the ball while Collison is in the game, he will probably join both Maynor and Collison at the point guard position at the next level.

As we all know, Eric Maynor became a household name two years ago as a sophmore thanks to his exceptional play in the NCAA Tournament against Duke and Pitt.  VCU’s Larry Sanders is following this same recognition path.  The 6′1o” sophomore has been a beast all season, especially on the defensive side of the ball, and came up with some huge blocks against he Bruins.  Just ask Adam Keefe.  Sanders can hit the 15′ jumpshot, but excels in the paint.  He is young and has plenty of room for improvement.  NBA scouts will closely monitor his progress and in a year or two, we could be talking about which team might draft him.

#15 CS Northridge (70) vs. #2 Memphis (81)

Memphis almost got embarrased by 15th seed CS Northridge, narrowly pulling out a victory.  The margin of victory doesn’t put this game into perspective.  CS Northridge took it to Memphis all game long.  Roburt Sallie was the saving grace for Memphis and single handedly kept them in the Tournament.  Antonio Anderson also had a huge game on both ends of the floor and showed why he was named C-USA Defensive Player of the Year.  Freshman phenom, Tyreke Evans, had a decent day for the Tigers, and was undoubtely heavily watched by NBA scouts.  An invite to the Portsmouth Invitational in early April could be in Anderson’s future.

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

#10 Michigan (62) vs. #7 Clemson (59)

My man Manny Harris did it all (23 pts, 7 reb, 6 ast) once again for the Wolverines.  It’s been quite a long time since Michigan last stepped foot in the NCAA Tournament and Jim Beilein’s team showed they deserved to be there.  Clemson, for whatever reason, can’t turn regular season success into post-season success.  That said, Clemson nearly advanced after clawing their way back from a 16 point deficit.  Alas, their comeback bid fell short and the Tigers will be returning home after yet another disappointing season.

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I didn’t get a chance to watch the other games as much as I would have liked.  Hopefully, I will get around to more games on Day 2.

One game I did watch very closely was #10 Minnesota vs. #7 Texas.  I was pleasantly suprised by the Horns tonight.  AJ Abrams has to shoot well for Texas to suceed.  Abrams finished 8 for 15 from three and lead the Longhorns with 26 points en route to a 14 point victory.  Dexter Pittman carried over his momentum from the Big XII Tournament and finished with 17 points and a game high 11 rebounds.

Texas plays their next game against #2 seed Duke, which will be a real test.  Duke has several NBA caliber players on their squad in Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler.  Recent meetings against Duke haven’t gone very well for the Longhorns.  Might this meeting bode well?

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Day 2 is hours away from tipping off and Bust The Clock will be glued to the tv as much as possible.  The games I am most interested in watching are the following:

  • #14 Cornell vs. #3 Missouri
  • #14 North Dakota St. vs. Kansas
  • #11 Temple vs. #6 Arizona St.
  • #12 Arizona vs. #5 Utah
  • #10 USC vs. #7 Boston College
  • #9 Sienna vs. #8 Ohio St.

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