The only nice thing about being missing in action for a little over a week is that I can tell you I knew everything that happened yesterday went as planned in my bracket. But there’s really not too many people that can say that much. Sure, when you looked at the field there were MAYBE 20 teams that could bring enough quality basketball to the table to make a game of it with the elite teams. And there may have been somewhere between 10 and 12 really good teams, but that’s it. If you can somehow tell me there were more than 4 or 5 teams with a chance to beat Kentucky I’d say that you’re reaching.
So what can we take from yesterday’s games? Well, Notre Dame has a talented player in Jerian Grant but when the other guys aren’t playing great, this team is largely flawed and not too deep. I still wouldn’t count out the Irish, but they need to play much better than they did against Northeastern to win a tricky matchup with Butler. Iowa State had a great run to the Big 12 tournament title. The conference was very good this year. But the reason why so many teams were able to beat each other may have had less to do with the parity in the league and more to do with the lack of one real dominant team (Kansas had two huge losses so don’t ever go there). If you needed to watch the end of the Georgia State-Baylor game to know that Scott Drew isn’t that good of a coach, then you really didn’t know much. The Bears were a middling bunch with a very generous seed and a coach that just can’t do much coaching. He’s a hell of a recruiter, but he’s not John Calipari. Plus Georgia State has two players with a good skill set (Harrow and Hunter) and I don’t think it was all that surprising.
Butler had a solid game against a team that really underachieved and/or just had too many chemistry issues (because there really was NO LACK OF TALENT). Rick Barnes should get his walking papers stat. UCLA and SMU were never going to do much in the tournament, but SMU at least had the guard play to pull that one out. The whole game is not on Yannick Moreira. Leave it to Larry Brown to come up short once again. Sorta surprised with VCU. But Ohio State has had their moments this year and is very talented bunch while Shaka Smart’s club struggled once they lost Briante Weber. Both UNC and Arkansas struggled to reach the round of 32 against each other but these teams are deep enough to go much further if they play to their potential or get on a roll. And NC State’s win over LSU was impressive towards the end of the game. But it also just made it evident just how thin the Tigers were at guard. If they are lucky enough to keep one or both Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin, they will be top 15 next year with the recruiting class they have coming in. The Wolfpack has some older leaders and talented young big men that have fought through some injuries. So seeing them a little healthier isn’t good news for Villanova.
After a day of a record amount of close calls, Friday only looks even more fun. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t disappoint!