2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament: Important Observations 43-44 Wisco/KSU, UConn/Cincy
43. Wisconsin 70, Kansas State 65 — Jacob Pullen simultaneously kept K-State in this game and lost it for them.
In a bunch of ways, Jacob Pullen was the only reason K-State had a chance to beat Wisco in this one. He scored 38 points (more than the rest of the team combined), made a bunch of threes and even had some big defensive plays to keep the Wildcats in it. Yet, in the last two minutes of the game with the game tied, Pullen had a bad pass that was stolen and resulted in a 3-pointer at the other end. Then he made a layup to bring the deficit back to one. Pullen then turned the ball over in transition on the next possession, which pretty much sealed the win for the Badgers. In short, Pullen’s incredible first 38 minutes were the only thing that set him up to blow the game with turnovers in the last 2 minutes, and even then, he was still the only Wildcat to score in those last 2 minutes. But the turnovers were bad ones, and without those, it might have been a different game.
I hate to sound like a Pullen critic, because his first 38 minutes had me marveling. Even with the two turnovers at the end, Pullen’s individual effort was probably the best one-man performance of the tournament do far, it’s just ironic that the two game-losing mistakes were also his fault.
44. Connecticut 69, Cincinnati 58 — For all the teams it got into the Dance, the Big East has underwhelmed in the actual tournament.
I’m sure someone else has noticed this, but all the news on Selection Sunday was about how the Big east got 11 teams into the tournament. And since then, those teams went a combined 7-4 in the first round and 1-3 today, including this Big East-on-Big East game, which had to result in a 1-1 split. 8-7 overall is a good record that I think any conference would like to have, but the conference hasn’t been nearly as strong as it was made out to be. Think of the Big upsets of the first three days? Who were the big losers? Pittsburgh, Louisville, St. John’s, Georgetown- notice anything here? To the conference’s credit, Marquette did beat Xavier in another notable one. Tomorrow, there’s another Big East matchup (Marquette, Syracuse), so the conference will get at least 2 teams into the Sweet 16, and if Notre Dame beats Florida State, the conference will get a third, but overall, I feel like the big victims of the major upsets this year are all the Big East schools. Still, the Big East’s guaranteed 9 wins is still good, and it could still be the highest total of any conference, but in terms of beating the teams they should be beating, the Big East has looked pretty vulnerable so far.