One Great Season
For fans of Cinderella, underdogs and buzzer-beaters, the second day of the NCAA Tournament didn't deliver the dramatics that day one did, but we still saw some quality basketball on Friday.
Saturday brings us the first day of the second round, and there are some good matchups on deck this weekend. But let's review the highs and lows from the second-best day in American sports:
+ Ohio State's Evan Turner is the best player in the country, but he's far from perfect. His poor night from the field isn't what should concern OSU fans, but his sometimes lazy and sloppy ballhandling should. I've actually thought this for a few weeks, particularly in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal against Illinois. Turner is dangerous on the bounce during transition or when he has a path to the basket, but sometimes when he tries to attack the lane in the half-court, he forgets to protect the basketball. Being 6-foot-7 and not a natural point guard, I'm sure he's used to being vertical, but as the Buckeyes advance, he'll need to protect the rock against smaller guards who've lately been able to knock the ball from him with regularity.
+ Nice to see the Big East bounce back with three wins in four tries Friday, after Thursday's disastrous 1-3 effort. West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse coasted to fairly easy wins. But Louisville got embarrassed by Cal, giving what was supposed to be a weak PAC 10 two wins in two games against the alleged top league in the country.
+ I'd read a bunch about Cornell the last three months but never once saw the Big Red on television until Friday. If the way they played is how they always play, then that was no upset. An excellent team beat Temple, and handily. It was pretty impressive when, after a few trips, CBS would show tight shots of Cornell players getting back on defense after a make. Sorry for the cliche, but you really could see a good, positive, laser-focus in the eyes of those players. They'll give Wisconsin a tough game Sunday. Or will Wisconsin give Cornell a tough game?
+ Glad to see Purdue get a gritty win over a game Siena team. The Saints might be a Gonzaga East in the making, as they've pulled off upsets the last two years and were subsequently a fashionable first-round upset pick for many. But even without Robbie Hummel, the Boilermakers showed they can win some games when their star is down. Chris Kramer was hardly the hero of the game for the winners, but if you're teaching your son how to play good, solid, fundamental basketball with a high motor, Kramer is Exhibit A.
+ And speaking of the Big Ten, a 4-1 start isn't too shabby. In addition to OSU and Purdue, Wisconsin and Michigan State hung tough to avoid upsets. Minnesota couldn't complete the skunking, however, as the Gophers fell to a very well-prepared Xavier team. XU coaches turn over every few years, but whomever is at the helm, the Muskies never disappoint come tournament time.
+ No. 10-seed Georgia Tech and No. 7 Oklahoma State squared off to settle an ACC-Big 12 dispute. Wake Forest beat Texas on Thursday, and early Friday, Missouri bounced Clemson. The Yellow Jackets won the rubber match, advancing to a very winnable game against Ohio State in Milwaukee on Sunday.
+ Friday's best Tweet came from KySportsRadio, who said after Louisville's horrendous start against California, "If this keeps up, Rick Pitino is only going to be able to get women in an Olive Garden."
+ And kudos to CBS' Seth Davis for breaking down the end of the New Mexico State-Michigan State game. Davis said on Twitter he'd spoken to the NCAA coordinator of officials by telephone and that both of them dissected the replay of what was thought by many to be a questionable lane-violation call. But Davis showed viewers at about 12:45 a.m. ET that it was the right call. However, Davis also showed the officials did screw up moments later when a ball was batted out of bounds with 0.7 seconds left in the game. By the time the operator stopped the clock, it read 0.3, but the officials didn't add the extra time, which could have been significant to New Mexico State.
+ For those who love Gus Johnson, here's an excellent soundboard of some of his great calls.