Top 11 things we learned from the first weekend of the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament

The last four days have been a constant and overpowering stream of non-stop college basketball. And it came at you from every angles possible. If you weren’t careful, you may have been knocked helplessly to the ground and swept away, or worse, missed something. I know you’ve been following my constant updates and Important Observations, but there’s still a chance that something slipped by you, so for the benefit over everyone who didn’t have the pleasure of watching the games through my eyes, I’ll recap a couple of the key points from the busy weekend so you can prepare for this weekend’s sports. I’m going to keep pounding you with these top 11 lists until you get used to them, so get to the basement and strap yourself to something heavy or this whirlwind tour through the first weekend will put you on your ass.

What we learned in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament:

1. The Big East got eleven teams into the Dance, but they weren’t as good as we thought they were.

Sorry, Big East, this tournament isn’t for you.

Nine of them have lost already, and the only two that remain (Marquette and UConn) are there because they beat other Big East teams. While no conference is really having a standout tournament in terms of number of teams in the sweet 16, the Big East has been the most disappointing.

2. Ohio State established itself as the team to beat.
They won their two games with no difficulty at all. I don’t remember seeing this team struggle at all in it’s two massacre wins, and even though every team still alive has won two tournament games, the Buckeyes won two tournament games by a combined 61 points. While every team still dancing has looked good for some stretches in the first two games, Ohio State is the only one left that hasn’t looked bad yet.

3. It looks like kansas has the easiest road to the Final Four.
The remaining teams in Jayhawks’ southwest bracket are 10-seed Florida State, 11-seed VCU, and 12-seed Richmond. Those teams surely belong there and all won pretty convincingly in the second round, but just there’s no nice way to say it: they aren’t as good as the teams left in other brackets.

4. Referees make mistakes.
I think every game that came down to the wire had some sort of prominent officiating error involved in the endgame. If I had to pick the biggest, I’d probably put it on the 5-second call against Texas last night. I wasn’t aware of it at the time because I was caught up in the moment, but that count wasn’t anywhere close to a full 5 seconds. Or a partial 5 seconds. Or even a full 4 seconds. I find myself saying this during football season a lot too, but if they’re going to use replay, why don’t they actually use it?

5. There were a bunch of incredible guards playing basketball last weekend.
Kemba Walker, Jimmer Fredette, Nolan Smith, Every player on Ohio State that isn’t Jared Sullinger, Brandon Knight, Jacob Pullen, Isaiah Thomas, E’Twuan Moore to name the most elite.

6. Who scheduled all the predictable blowouts for the same time slot?
I’m not about to say that there’s a lot that’s predictable in the NCAA Tournament. What I am going to say is that 1-16 games aren’t good. 2-15 games aren’t good. 3-14 games are equally not good. So why did the Sunday afternoon-early evening slot have a bunch of these predictable blowouts? The world may never know.

7. Gus Johnson makes things happen.

“Deee Jaaayyy OOOOHHHHHHHHHH”

I mean that sentence in the casual figurative way and also in the strictly literal way. Did you see him make that game-winner last night through Darius Johnson-Odom? It was borderline spiritual.

8. TruTV is, in fact, a channel that is on my tv.
I don’t know how long I’ve had it or where it came from, but this is a legitimate station of broadcasting. I’m not sure what the broadcast schedule is like for the upcoming games, but I had mixed emotions when I found out that there were going to be games on TruTV last weekend. The emotions that were in the mix were as followed: 1) How will I see those games? I don’t even get that channel. 2) Wait, how long have I had that channel. 3) What else am I missing that’s on my TV? 4) (after checking the website to see the TruTV programming) I’m glad this is the first time I’ve seen TruTV. 5) Brackets!

9. It doesn’t matter what if you know the players/teams involved, a game-winning shot will always make you freak out.
Or at least it’ll make me freak out.

10. It’s time to stop cheering for your bracket and just watch the tournament.
In the first weekend, it’s acceptable to compare brackets and cheer for teams you haven’t heard of because you picked them. It’s all fun and games then, because the perfect bracket dream is still alive and anything can happen. But anything didn’t happen. It’s always annoying to hear someone root for a team simply because they picked them to win and the first weekend is everyone’s free pass on it. But play time is over, it’s about watching to see what teams can hang with the big boys and outplay the rest. The brackets will keep existing, but they’ll take a backseat to the actual teams playing for the actual first-place prize.

11. The Ryan Spencer Rule is real.
Don’t forget that the man behind the Ryan Spencer Rule will be giving us a guest post soon to update us on how the rule has played out this year, or possibly to alert us to new facets of the rule, maybe even to explain a new scenario that qualifies for RSR-eligibility. I’m not even ready for the knowledge he’s going to drop on the college basketball universe, so get pumped.

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