2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament: Important Observations 7-10
Could this tournament get any better right now?
7. Morehead State 62, Louisville 61 — The Ryan Spencer Rule is real.
Did you see the way it ended? Louisville at the line with a chance to put the lead at 3, misses a free throw and Morehead State makes the improbably game-winner a few seconds later. It’s as real as karma is ever going to get. This is probably the game that pushed everyone still talking about their perfect bracket off the pedestal and it was only the third game. If there’s anything that predictably about March Madness, it’s the Ryan Spencer Rule. If there’s anything else, it’s unpredictability, with the exception of the Ryan Spencer Rule.
8. Temple 66, Penn State 64 — Good offense beats great defense when it comes to the final shot.
I hate to say this, because I love teams that play good defense, but this principle was on display twice in the final second of this game. First, down three as time wound down, Talor Battle shot a three-pointer from about a full three steps behind the line to force a tie. For Temple, this is exactly the shot you wanted Penn State to take. But Battle drained it. Then, in the final seconds of the game, Temple’s Juan Fernandez made an off-balance jumper with a hand in his face to win it. Again, Penn State defended it perfectly. But when it comes to plays like this, the offensive player is controlling way more of the outcome than the defender.
9. Kentucky 59, Princeton 57 — Teams need to have a play to set up a decent look for the last-second, desperation, full-court shot.
I have a bit of a soft spot for this type of shot, particularly because it’s one of the only thing I can actually contribute to a game of basketball. But what I noticed about the way this ended was that Princeton had a full 2 seconds cover as much of the court as possible and get off a shot to win, but they ended up not even taking any shot because everyone ran around like crazy people and the player who eventually ended up with the ball off the inbounds pass didn’t know what to do. I’ve always thought it should be the responsibility of one of the unused bench players to practice those 3/4 or half-court shots so he could come in and take it in a situation like this. You know no one will guard him. And maybe all this does is raise the odds of making it from 1% to 3% or something like that, but that’s still a better chance and at least the team will know what to do at the end of these games.
10. Pittsburgh 74, UNC-Asheville 51 —Dear announcers, stop calling this the “second round.”
It’s really bothering me that those First Four throw-away games are now officially a round. UNCA’s win wasn’t the first time a 16-seed won a game, it was the first time a 16-seed beat another 16-seed for the rights to be fed to Pittsburgh. Even then, the actual first round has been fantastic today, even this game was close a lot longer than I thought it would be.
Keep coming back, because I’ll be dishing it out.