2011 NCAA basketball tournament: Important Observations 1-4

In honor of the first 67-game NCAA basketball tournament ever, I’d like to officially announce that SpreeGoogs will be making 67 equally thrilling important observations about the tournament, each one loosely tied to a game. Technically, 4 games have been played so far, although none of them really counted (see the beginning of my last post if that isn’t clear enough). Nevertheless, to kick off the SpreeGoogs coverage of the 2011 NCAA tournament, I will prime the pumps for the real games with 4 important observations resulting from the First Four.

1. UNC-Ashville 81, Arkansas-Little Rock 77No matter how little the game matters, there really is something about mid-March that makes overtime happen.

First Four winners: Enjoy your moment in the sun, because you're only imagining it

Like most people, I was expecting this game to be absolutely horrible. It wasn’t fantastic, but what I really learned about myself was that no matter how little I care about the game, I can literally be moved to pacing around my living room, breathing hard and sweating with my hands on my head by buzzer-beating shots, even if I don’t know the team or the player taking it. Even if it doesn’t matter to the bracket.  There’s just something about this time of year and a game that comes down to the last possession that is a spiritual experience for me. (Mini-lesson is that it was cruelly thrilling to see the UNC-Ashville guys celebrate their First Four victory, just to realize, like the rest of us, that they only thing they won was a co-starring role in a 25-point embarrassment at the hands of Pitt in 48 hours)

2. Clemson 70, UAB 52)The entire selection committee prematurely got all of us with an early April fools joke on this year’s teams.
There was speculation that UAB was one of the least qualified teams to get into the field this year, and they only combated that with 40 minutes of evidence that we were all right. Every year I have a hard time keeping up with the complaints of the teams that missed the tournament because those teams never go anywhere, but I do have a hard time understanding how UAB got in over anybody. I’m not saying that Colorado would be a final four team or anything, but I am saying that UAB shouldn’t have been in the dance this year. In addition to this, I still wonder who in the committee hates the Big 12 (Texas a 4, A&M a 7 and Mizzou a 13 are all pretty bad underseedings) and why the Big 10 gets three 19-win teams in the tournament (none lower than a 10 seed) and Florida as a 2? I don’t get the bracket this year. The good news is that no matter how you get in or where you get in, you still have to beat everyone else to win it all, so it’ll even out.

3. Texas-San Antonio 70, Alabama St. 61The only thing worse than seeing four games featuring 16-seeds is six games featuring 16-seeds.
We got lucky that the first 16-on-16 game was an overtime pseudo-thriller, but this one was pretty ugly and not even really entertaining. No 16 seed has ever won a real NCAA tournament game, and no one is counting this as the first time, but it’s just tough to watch these games knowing that these are literally the worst teams they could find for the bracket and the only prize is a huge beating at the hands of a 1 seed in a couple of days.

4.  VCU 59, USC 46 It’s never too early to bust my perfect bracket dream bubble.
Not only did I like USC to win this game, I liked USC to beat Georgetown in the next round as well. This was the only game of the four that mattered to my bracket and I was very convinced it would happen. Of course, I was wrong. Technically, now I have VCU beating Georgetown and my bracket didn’t actual take a hit from the loss, but it’s always hard to accept that sinking feeling that you have failed again. It’s no secret that every year, anyone who fills out a bracket kind of thinks that this year might be the year that they’ve done it. It’s almost impossible to stomach that first line of red ink, and for me, it happened before the games even started.

*Non-NCAA slightly less important observation — Alec Burks plays basketball like Todd MacCulloch plays pinball – to the extreme. I can’t wait to see this kid in the Association next year. Watch the highlights of his NIT game and you’ll see.

Come back to SpreeGoogs early and often while the games are in play, I’ll be dropping more Important Observations on you, and I’d love to get your feedback in the comments. Maybe even give me Important Observations of your own.