Daily Dribble: NCAA Tournament Day Two

March 17th, 2007

- Good job by Bill Self clearing his bench in the Jayhawks easy 107-67 win over Niagara. 14 guys got in the game including little used Brennan Brechard (22 minutes in his career) who even got 4 minutes of PT. Nothing like the memory of getting a few minutes run in the Dance.

- Similar bench-clearing for Florida who ended up beating Jackson State by 43. This game was actually neck and neck for about 15 minutes. Jackson State led 26-25 with 6 minutes to go in the first half. It was 87-43 Florida the rest of the way..

- Like Jackson State, North Texas was right there with Memphis after 15 minutes. The score was tied at 26 with 4:32 left in the 1st half.

- None of those scares compared to the ridiculous score of Texas A&M-CC and Wisconsin. The Islanders led 24-7 after 15 minutes. That's right, the #2 seed Badgers scored 7 points in 15 minutes. Once Alando Tucker finally started asserting himself, the tide changed quickly.. and then when Kammron Taylor caught fire in the second half, the Islanders had no chance. Taylor ended up with 24, all in the second half.

- The Badgers go on to play UNLV, who won a hard fought game with Georgia Tech. I spoke a lot yesterday about the Sagarin rating.. and how GT was actually "favored" in this game because they were ranked 19th to UNLV's 28th. 9 spots (out of 336 teams) isn't much, so this game's 4-point outcome isn't surprising. It was an odd game, no one on either team outside of UNLV's Michael Umeh (4 of 8 from three) and Wendell White (8 of 12) shot the ball well at all. Kevin Kruger managed to go 0-8 from three..

- UNLV's win was basically a must for all the fans out there who feel that the mid-majors got slighted this year. There hasn't been much of a chance for the mid-majors to prove themselves because the committee managed to square them off against each other. Case in point: Creighton and Nevada who met in the 7-10 game. As I noted yesterday, the fact this game went to overtime isn't surprising considering they're virtually identical in the Sagarin (41st and 43rd ranked teams). Nick Fazekas gets most of the pub for Nevada, but it was all about Marcelus Kemp today. The junior had 27 points, 12 boards, and 4 assists. The 6-5 junior has improved every year and is playing himself into NBA consideration.

- Virginia went crazy shooting the ball against Albany. The Cavaliers shot 54% from the floor and 53% from three, including some truly long-range bombs. It was just one of those days.. but they better hope they have some shots left when they face Tennessee on Sunday. They went off for 121 points against Long Beach State, whose up-tempo style played perfectly into the Vols hands.

- Only significant upset of the day was Winthrop beating Notre Dame. Like VCU beating Duke yesterday, this wasn't much of an "upset." Winthrop's been to back to back tournaments, and almost beat Wisconsin and UNC (both on the road) earlier in the year.

- Oregon better wake up or they'll be Winthrop's next victim. The Ducks barely escaped pesky Miami (OH) 58-56. Particularly troublesome was the success Miami big man Tim Pollitz (21 points and 5 boards) had on the interior. Winthrop big man Craig Bradshaw (who had 24 points and 6 boards) will only be that much harder to guard down low.

- Biggest surprise performance of the day goes to SIU's Tony Boyle. After Matt Shaw hurt his ankle shortly before half, the sophomore big man was forced into unexpected second half action. Boyle is a guy who averages 2 points and 2 rebounds on the season, and who hadn't scored more than 8 points against a D1 all year. His 14 point, 4 boards though were key in helping the Salukis hold off a tough Holy Cross team.

- Arkansas did nothing to quiet the critics who thought their at-large bid into the Dance was a complete joke (like Stanford yesterday). The Hogs finished under .500 in the conference and ended up with a whopping 14 losses. Somehow the Hogs made the dance despite the fact they had 1 win all year against a currently ranked team (they beat SIU in OT back in November). Apparently the committee was impressed by the fact they.. umm.. well, I dont know. If you figure it out, let me know.