Final Four GameLog: Vitriol, Chest Pounding, and Ferris Bueller

    
April 1st, 2007

The best thing about the NCAA Tournament is no matter what happens, the Final Four always has an air of excitement. There are always BCS Championships, World Series and NBA Finals that no one seems to care about (i.e. last season’s World Series, the 2002 and 2003 NBA Finals, every college football game ever played besides 2005’s USC-Texas). But the Super Bowl and Final Four always draw attention (whether it be for gambling purposes or not) and this year is no different. We have last year’s champ and runner-up, the No. 1 ranked team heading into the tournament and the hottest team in the country… but, ultimately it will be Billy Packer that attempts to steal the show.

Back in early February I wrote this game log on the Duke-UNC game but it eventually just became a rap sheet on the announcing incompetence of Dick Vitale and Mike Patrick. Hopefully this gamelog will be different and I will get to focus solely on the teams and players… but I doubt it.

I’m also going to offer a disclaimer. I have seen every game of this tournament besides two. Georgetown vs. UNC and UCLA vs. Kansas. I know, it sucks. But I was on Spring Break and missed the East final because of a poorly timed dinner reservation (I repeatedly left the restaurant to visit the resort’s sports bar, to the point where my friends thought I had a “going problem” like that creepy guy in the Flomax commercials, but still missed the end) and I watched the UCLA-Kansas game but am having an unsurprisingly hard time remembering any of it. That being said, those are the reasons I won’t really be referencing those games.

Ohio State vs. Georgetown

20:00- The Buckeyes and the Hoyas get us started. Obviously all eyes will be on Oden vs. Hibbert but I’m more interested in the Rest of the Hoyas vs. the Rest of the Buckeyes. Essentially the big man match-up will be predicated on foul trouble but I don’t see either guy dominating. As it will be in both games, a lot of NBA lottery teams must pay close attention. The No. 1 pick could be on the line for Oden, while Green and Hibbert have a chance to squander/improve their lottery status. If Conley plays well, he could help his status although he probably won’t come out

19:18- Foul on Hibbert and a bucket by Hibbert followed by a moving screen on Oden. I’m already disappointed.

17:19- Charge on Oden. Great, he’s done. Maybe he can spend the first half filming a Nike commercial playing the role of Wise Lebron.

16:40- Three by Ivan Harris. Third three of this game already. With Oden out and the Ohio State zone being essentially a constant double team on Hibbert with three players guarding the four other Hoyas, this might turn into a three-point shooting contest.

14:37- Hibbert vs. Terwilliger, CBS! Don’t turn that dial!

13:00- 9-2 run by Ohio State since Oden went out. If the Buckeyes win everyone is going to say Oden is overhyped because they won with him on the bench. Being 7-1 in college doesn’t mean you must dominate. As we’ve seen already, your standard 2-3 zone is basically kryptonite for post players. First off, a guy on the back corner of the zone is only an arm’s length from being able to both contest a three-pointer and double team a post player because the line is so short. And since you can take a charge from anywhere on the court and a zone defense is about getting to spots, big guys have to especially careful that some 6-7 punk doesn’t jump in and flop. The next time you hear someone yell, “He’s 7-1! Why doesn’t he just dunk it every time?!” punch them in the face.

8:28- Rivers passes it to no one as the shot clock expires. Clearly his dad was instrumental in his development as a player.

Yet another commercial break and thankfully there have been zero with Dick Vitale or John Mellencamp. Unless I just blacked out when they came on, I’m not sure.

6:48- Two dunks by Hibbert, he looks pretty decent so far… right on cue another bad foul trying to block a shot. You’re 7-2, how can you not block a shot without fouling! You may now punch me in the face.

Well, the big man “Battle for the Ages” is turning out to be outstanding. Neither of these guys will get to 25 minutes and I’m not too surprised. Now we’ll get to see which center can be more apathetic and boring on the sidelines. My money’s on Oden.

4:40- Georgetown looks horrible on offense and Ohio State can only score if it’s off a turnover. Besides Hibbert, 22 of the 32 points have been on threes and foul shots (with the Hoyas not taking one yet). Guess they can’t all be great games. In the meantime Packer is laying into Green so I fully expect him to score 30 in the second half.

Good to see John Crispin’s career has really taken off. And it’s all thanks to Coca Cola.

2:25- Mike Conley is just good. I’m not sure why he is good, but it just seems like he always knows the right move to make and the right path to the basket. He gets way too overlooked, including by me in the Freshman 10.

Halftime- Well that stunk. Oden and Hibbert predictably fouled the hype out of this one. Georgetown is lucky to be down only four though, especially when you factor in that they are making Thad Matta look like he’s mildly competent.

Packer has behaved also, and I’m still waiting for Reyshawn Terry to drop down from the ceiling and "massacre" him. Then again I guess it’s hard to do much complaining when you know nothing about either team (please click on this link, if you hated him before, you will be seething after this). It’s a long night though, he can’t be held down for long.

My only thoughts on the halftime show is that Seth Davis must be sleeping with someone high up at CBS. Is he seriously the best analyst they can get? If anyone caught the five hours of pregame they probably saw that Davis got his own entire show where he stole the story (about the state of the student-athlete) from the most recent Costas NOW episode, the title from ESPN, they called it “Outside the Games” (I hope Bob Ley body slams him) and while interviewing Myles Brand, he stole his interviewing strategy from Ryan Seacrest.

19:12- A full 48 seconds have passed without Oden or Hibbert fouling anyone. What an upset.

17:38- Jeff Green woke up and both teams agreed to stop playing defense so maybe the second half will be both entertaining for the fans and infuriating for Packer, which would be doubly exciting.

15:56- Hibbert breaks the ice with a foul. Over four minutes without one though, impressive.

I love the Nutrisystem commercial with the former athletes. Especially that they let John Kruk essentially say he’s still a fat-ass after being on Nutrisystem.

As they show the Buckeye cheerleaders, Nantz goes, “There’s a lot of action down below here Billy.” He never fails.

15:26- With Hibbert out Oden is doing what he does best… being bigger than everyone.

11:50- Hibbert in, Oden fouls, Oden out. “The Hills” is less scripted.

8:50- Packer jinxes Hibbert into fouling and Nantz delightedly announces it’s his fourth. Packer begins lambasting people. I can’t tell if I’m angry or enthralled. Either way, Florida/UCLA will have a field day with either of these teams if they play like this.

Oden back in and he’s on the clock.

7:24- 6-0 run by Ohio State since Hibbert went out and I really think the players besides Oden, Hibbert, Conley and Green are arbitrary. The media may have hyped both of these coaches into basing their gameplans solely around the two centers even though it goes against both team’s styles.

6:37- Oden gets another HUGE call in his favor when he tries to complete the greatest dunk ever, Green takes a charge that would’ve been Oden’s fourth and they call a block. The CHN message board might crash as a result of this.

5:15- Hibbert hits a 17-footer. I don’t know.

3:18- A run out by the Hoyas and we’ve got a game. Packer, not to be outdone, tries to jinx Hibbert again and pulls the dreaded double-jinx and Oden gets his fourth. Just not Billy’s day.

2:02- What we’ve learned so far: Oden and Hibbert can score against players who are in foul trouble.

1:41- Oden hits a short jumper, blocks Hibbert and then Conley hits Lighty for a three-point play and a nine-point lead that might seal it. Daequan Cook was last seen grabbing a hot dog on the concourse.

Seriously though, Lighty and Cook have totally flip-flopped since the early part of the season. There’s no way the Buckeyes are still playing if they don’t have Lighty.

0:35- 63-54, somehow the Buckeyes are going to the championship game. Pretty amazing stuff, after all their huge deficits and with their youth. Just really inspir—AHH, DICK VITALE WITHOUT SLEEVES EATING PIZZA! They get you right when you least expect it!

0:00- Late threes not enough and Ohio State will get the honor of getting crushed by Florida or UCLA in the final. Well, at least that’s what they want you to think. I’d say that was a pretty boring game overall without much of a flow. It’s probably due to the constant shuffling of centers and neither team being able to adapt offensively or score in the halfcourt. Oden probably still is the No. 1 pick, Hibbert didn’t really help or hurt his draft stock either way. Jeff Green is probably going to undeservingly drop out of the Top 10. Mike Conley’s stock may not get any higher than it is now, which should be tempting, especially if they win it all. And Matt Terwilliger might be the first pick in a future YMCA pick-up game.

Florida vs. UCLA

20:00- Lots of storylines going here. Rematch of the championship last year, do the rumors of a coach leaving become a distraction for Donovan and Florida like it did Roy Williams’ 2003 Kansas team, can Florida repeat, whose close-up will scar more HD viewers, Joakim Noah or Lorenzo Mata? Much like the other game, the big guys and their foul trouble should be a theme. If the Bruins big guys can’t stay in the game they are toast. Brewer on Afflalo should be fun as well. I think Florida takes it.

One of my favorite parts of the Final Four is the pre-game intros and what I like to call the Jim Nantz Gaze. It’s when he stares blankly at his broadcast partner with a goofy grin and occasionally looks towards the camera to effectively creep out America. I’ve seen more comforting eyes on To Catch A Predator. I’m pretty sure he’s thinking about a topless Phil Mickelson prancing through a meadow to Yanni while all this is going on.

As Mata and Noah jump center I press info on my remote to make sure I’m not watching the Discovery Channel.

16:27- Three and a half minutes and we have four points and six fouls. Remember when everyone thought the teams that score a lot of points always win? That was cute.

15:19- When Nantz seamlessly transitions from play-by-play to ridiculous CBS promos I sit on the edge of my seat. I’m convinced he’s been either brainwashed or castrated by CBS Sports. He definitely lives in the basement of CBS Studios in a white padded room with that dorky Masters piano music playing 24/7.

13:00- Eight points and nine fouls in seven minutes. That is all.

11:26- Third on Afflalo. NBA scouts are wishing they had gone to the strip club tonight.

11 shots taken and none of Florida’s have been inside the arc. UCLA somehow has zero turnovers. These stats cannot be ignored.

9:37- A game-changing 2-0 run by UCLA to cut the lead to 9-8 causes a flustered Donovan to call a timeout. Better not let this one get away from him.

8:38- Seven fouls between Mata, Afflalo and Mbah a Moute (who, for my own sake will be known as MAM for the rest of this log). Should be trouble.

7:52- ANOTHER timeout. Someone must have a ”going problem.”

6:36- Uhhh, Josh Shipp?

6:14- Uhhh, Corey Brewer? Didn’t anyone tell these guys no one is supposed to show any semblance of offensive competency tonight?

5:44- Nantz: “The Tribes dance for their supper on Survivor…”

ANOTHER timeout from Howland? Nantz says they have two left for the game. Not sure if I trust him but that would be insane.

5:32- A fast break! Wow, I almost ruined my pants there. I guess Florida is playing after all.

4:24- The tempo is picking up which means Florida takes an 8-point lead. Horford is playing like a monster defensively. I guarantee he gets picked ahead of Noah, everyone on ESPN freaks out (like they did when Utah picked Deron Williams over Chris Paul) and he turns out better (which you could argue Williams did as well).

3:58- And I hate that loser Virginia Tech Coca-Cola kid. I hope his teeth rot out.

3:28- Packer says he’s never seen a shot like Noah’s and he will never be a good shooter. Then says, “Boy can he play.” Billy Packer, King of the Backhanded Compliment.

2:22- Brewer and Shipp have 27 combined points. Great match-up with Afflalo out. Noah, Horford, Afflalo and MAM have four points and eight fouls combined. Sixers GM Billy King is seen yelling, “On second thought, tell them to win tonight!” frantically into a cell phone.

Half: 29-23 Florida in another relative snoozer. I would credit good defense more than bad offense, unlike the earlier game, but it’s still ugly either way. Unfortunately fouls are marring what should have been an otherwise classic game.

I choose Ferris Bueller’s Day Off over the halftime show and I’m convinced Matthew Broderick could take Seth Davis.

17:34- Two and a half minutes and both teams have combined for 13 points already. That’s more like it. I still would never select Lee Humphrey for a pick-up game.

Somehow UCLA has one timeout left for the game and Billy Packer’s hasn’t strangled anybody. He’s really off his game tonight.

14:43- Brewer hits a three to put the Bruins on life support. They are doing nothing on offense as Nantz points out: “UCLA is in danger of falling too far behind… Quitting smoking? Scientists believe there is something in your DNA that might make it easier. 60 Minutes…”

Howland uses his last timeout. He probably wants to make sure they get a good shot here. Oh wait, there’s 14 freaking minutes left.

11:58- 49-32 Florida. Hopefully only the excruciating TV timeouts are between us and the merciful end to this game. Only a caged death match between Packer and Reyshawn Terry will make this game worthwhile now.

11:23- Now that we are officially in Time to Impress NBA Scouts Mode, Corey Brewer makes a ridiculous block. Meanwhile the Sixers lost and Billy King takes a sigh of relief.

9:02- MAM fouls out giving Howland a much needed 30 seconds to draw up a crucial play. Oh wait, there’s nine freaking minutes left.

8:24- It must be Howland’s lucky day as Donovan calls a timeout up 14 with eight minutes left. The UCLA washboard is going to spontaneously combust.

7:19- I think my fantasy baseball team is going to be really good this year… sorry, this is painful.

5:51- Isaiah Thomas will draft Chris Richard in the first round of the draft this year.

4:44- Do you think the Florida bench players like it when Noah constantly runs over there screaming and pounding his chest? If I saw that as many times as they do I’d never sleep.

1:57- Al Horford is the real deal by the way. Arron Afflalo is taking full advantage of Time to Impress NBA Scouts Mode. I still think he’s undersized but he’s definitely going to be a solid player on a team that steals him at a pick lower than he should go.

1:20- UCLA keeps everyone honest by cutting it to 10. Packer decides Florida should be disappointed because they let them back in the game. He’s starting to warm up for Monday.

1:12- Another foul out for UCLA! Someone take Ben Howland to Vegas, I think he’s drawing up the Bryce Drew play.

0:00- Looks like it’s going to be Florida-Ohio State, which, based on tonight, should be rather lopsided. Oden vs. Horford/Noah should be entertaining though. Watching those two interact will be like watching a timid, whipped guy who doesn’t know how to control his crazy, drunk girlfriend at a party. Noah’s head might start spinning.

Pretty disappointing night of basketball all around, right down to Billy Packer’s lack of vitriol. I think the only person who got their money’s worth is Ben Howland.