There's so many things to say about the NCAA Tournament that I could write a term paper, but I'm just going to rattle ten of them off rapid fire here...
1. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person in the world who was at both the Northern Iowa shocker against Kansas and Cornell's beatdown of Wisconsin. Sometimes you just get lucky, and the combo of Florida being assigned to Oklahoma City and Jax being a Friday Sunday site worked out really well for me.
2. Cornell can beat Kentucky. I'm not saying they will, because they played maybe their best game of the year yesterday and there's no way to know how they'll handle all the attention this week, but having seen them both play in person the Big Red is capable of doing it.
3. If your reaction to what Northern Iowa was doing wasn't excitement but instead angst about your bracket, you're missing the point. All weekend I heard people bitching about their blown brackets - who cares? Were you planning on retiring off your riches from the office pool? Besides, if Northern Iowa goes to the Final Four everyone's bracket will lose however far they go. Embrace UNI - those stories are what make the NCAA Tournament so great.
4. Jacksonville had a really good atmosphere in the Coliseum for the Sunday games there, much better than I anticipated given that Duke was the closest of the four teams to the arena. It seemed like a lot of locals got into it as well. Still hard to understand why so little has developed down around the arena though - between Suns games, events at the football stadium and concerts it seems like there should be enough to have a little life down there.
5. It's conceivable we could have a Final Four composed of Northern Iowa (who will make the Elite 8 thanks to Kalin Lucas's injury), Xavier/Butler, Cornell and St. Mary's. Would that be the coolest thing to ever happen, or the worst?
6. Kentucky was not tested in New Orleans, but there was something strange about the trip. Their fans were not there in anything close to the numbers they usually are. Were they saving money for the next round in Syracuse and/or the Final Four? Scared of New Orleans? Cornell is 45 minutes from Syracuse, and you have to imagine all their fans are buying up every ticket they can get their hands on. Will UK actually have to deal with a semi-hostile crowd? (Although in the Carrier Dome it's hard for any hoops crowd other than Syracuse to make overpowering noise.)
7. The committee did a horrible job of seeding teams, something I mentioned Friday but which was further proven over the weekend. Northern Iowa was 10-1 against the RPI Top 100 during the season. They're 12-1 now. Why were they a 9 seed? How was Villanova a 2, or New Mexico a 3?
8. Somehow on a weekend where there was amazing action happening all over the place, Gus Johnson was assigned to the boring Buffalo games where nothing interesting happened at all. If you felt deprived of your annual does of Johnson's over the top excitement, here's the solution to your problem.
9. Leonard Hamilton continues to show no ability at all as an NCAA tournament coach. This is not a one year trend - the man has three NCAA wins in 22 years as a head coach. Last season FSU lost as a five seed in the first round, and this year they appeared totally unprepared to play against Gonzaga. Hamilton has one win as a higher seed ever and none in the last decade. This is as good as it's ever going to get, FSU. After eight years, is that enough?
10. Out of all the teams I saw this weekend, the one that impressed me the most in person was Kansas State. Their play is intense, and if their guards are on they aren't going to lose.
One of the most overrated positions in America is the St. John's basketball job. Because it's in New York, the media there acts like it's a great position. It is not, which is why no other school's head coach besides Mike Jarvis of GWU has taken the job in decades. Jarvis is presumably who NYC AAU coaches were thinking of when they explained to the New York Times that to get good enough players to win at St. John's a coach is going to need to cheat. St. John's doesn't have football revenue to fall back on either, meaning they could be in huge trouble if the Big East breaks up. Does any of that sound like something Billy Donovan would want to walk into while taking a fifty percent or more paycut for the honor? Sorry, not buying that. Donovan did not turn down Kentucky and NBA money in hopes of someday coaching St. John's.
The Miami Dolphins have to be cringing with the news Ronnie Brown picked up a DUI in Atlanta over the weekeend. Brown's a restricted free agent with a big enough tender that no one else is likely to make a move on him. He's coming back off a major foot injury, and now you add an off field screwup to the list. How much money can you give a guy with that on his resume? Brown's the key to the Wildcat offense too, since Pat White doesn't appear to be a factor in it. Lots of questions and not a lot of answers anytime soon on Brown, which is going to be a serious headache for the Dolphins to deal with going forward.