Wow, what a day of basketball Thursday was! We blame Notre Dame and Rutgers for setting a standard everyone else had to live up to.
Here are Thursday’s scores. We broke them into three groups: blowouts, competitive and significant upsets.
- Kansas 73 Texas Southern 47
- Gonzaga 93 Georgia State 72
- Baylor 85 Norfolk State 49
- Tennessee 88 Longwood 56
- St. Mary’s 82 Indiana 53
- UNC 95 Marquette 63
- UCLA 57 Akron 53
- Providence 66 South Dakota State 57
- Arkansas 75 Vermont 71
- Memphis 64 Boise State 53
- Michigan 75 Colorado State 63
- Creighton 72 San Diego State 69
- Murray State 92 San Francisco 87
- St. Peter’s 85 Kentucky 79
- Richmond 67 Iowa 63
- New Mexico State 70 UConn 63
For what it’s worth, here’s how we did.
- Gonzaga: yes.
- Memphis: yes.
- Arkansas: no.
- Baylor: yes.
- UNC: no.
- St. Mary’s: yes.
- Murray State: no.
- Kentucky: no:
- Michigan: yes.
- Tennessee: yes.
- Kansas: yes.
- Creighton: yes.
- Iowa: no.
- Providence: yes.
- UCLA: yes.
- New Mexico State: no.
Let’s look at the upsets. We think we said at one point that St. Peter’s had “no chance.” Tell it to Shaheen Holloway. The former Seton Hall star - he played for Tommy Amaker - had a brilliant game plan and Kentucky seemed thoroughly flummoxed. It really showed up at the free throw line where St. Peter’s cleaned up in the overtime and Kentucky just tanked. Not intentionally obviously. But they lost the game there.
After the game, Holloway was asked if he had been nervous. “Nah. For what? It’s basketball.”
You can be sure that someone is going to make a run at Holloway after this.
Incidentally, we knew nothing of St. Peter’s Doug Edert but as soon as we saw him we thought he looked strikingly like a young George Orwell. Maybe it was the mustache.
This has not gone over well with BBN, not well at all if Twitter is any way to judge. People are screaming for John Calipari’s head. But who is more suited for that job? And who would take it?
Remember Lute Olson and Mike Krzyzewski were both pursued at different points, if only to gauge interest. Both realized it would be impossible to satisfy the fans and stayed the hell away.
Next year, when you make out your bracket, remember this: Iowa’s Fran McCaffery has never won two games in the NCAA tournament. He’s gotten 11 bids at four schools and has won a game four times.
So either you figure he’s set to buck the odds or maybe he’s just not a great tournament coach.
Richmond did the honors this time, winning 67-63. Guard Jacob Gilyard, all 5-9 of him, was brilliant. We loved how he led his team.
We went back and forth on New Mexico State. Why? Here’s why.
When people think of basketball schools, they tend to think of Duke, UNC, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Indiana, UCLA and maybe a few more.
But there are others. There’s Xavier, Butler, Cincinnati at one level. And then there’s another level of schools that don’t always break through that are always tough. Schools like Belmont, Davidson, Charleston, Murray State, Eastern Kentucky, UTEP, Wyoming, South Dakota State and New Mexico State don’t always get the headlines. Over the years though they have built wonderful traditions of their own.
We thought about banking on that but went with Danny Hurley instead because we think he’s a superb coach. Check back in five years and UConn is going to be an absolute juggernaut.
Just not Thursday. Congratulations to the Aggies.
Just a few notes on the other games. We were stunned that Georgia State stayed with Gonzaga for as long as they did. They did a great job on the perimeter, limiting Julian Strawther, Rasir Bolton and Andrew Nemhard to a combined 22 points and 7-17 shooting.
But they couldn’t stop Drew Timme, who finished with 32 points and 13 rebounds, and Chet Holmgren, who had 19 points, 17 rebounds, seven blocks and five assists.
Add it up and that’s 51 points and 30 rebounds from two players.
Only one guy, Jalen Thomas, played who was over 6-8 and the 6-10 junior fouled out in 24 minutes.
Memphis will be a different challenge Saturday. We’ll come back to that later.
We thought that a pressing defense might bother UNC but that didn’t happen as UNC just beat Marquette senseless. They’ll get a battered Baylor next and either UCLA or St. Mary’s if they should win that.
One of the things we’ve always thought was true about the NCAA tournament is this: it’s not necessarily great to have a great game early.
Because you’re not likely to have one like that again.
We’re not saying that UNC can’t beat Baylor. We’re just saying that the odds of having a second game like that aren’t very good, simply because a game like that is peak performance and that’s very hard to reach twice.
But you can win in different ways.