2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament: Important Observations 55-56 Zona/Duke, Butler/Wisco
Opening note that is important but not related directly to the games tonight — The Three-goggles trend is stupid. If players stopped yesterday it would be months too late.
I don’t know who thought of this or who encourages it, but it’s generally ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of celebrations in sport. But this one is an exception. It’s not a touchdown, a home run or a goal or something excessively important, it’s a three-pointer. Congratulations on making it, but people do it all the time. A three-pointer that results three-goggles is worth 3 points. In a game where the average final scores are usually in the 60s or 70s, 3 points isn’t really that important. Maybe if it’s late in the game the shot might mean more, but in the scope of the entire game, three-pointers aren’t that huge of a play and there doesn’t need to be a silly little dance for it.
55. Arizona 93, Duke 77 — Home court really does matter in the tournament.
Duke as in control of this game early, but when it started to slip away in the beginning and middle of the second half, it really started to slip. The entire second half, Arizona was faster, more energetic and overall just better. By a lot. And tonight, Arizona really was the better team, but most nights, Duke could crush this team, especially with Kyrie Irving in the lineup. There aren’t too many guys on the Arizona team that would even sniff minutes as a towel boy on the Duke roster (Derrick Williams could play for any team in America, but after him, yeah…..) but the Wildcats trounced the Blue Devils in the second half almost solely because they played with more energy. And it wasn’t just a little bit more, it was enough more to outscore the Blue Devils 55-33 in the second half.
Why did they have more energy? There are probably a bunch of reasons, but a big one to me seems to be the crowd, which seems to be made of exclusively Zona fans. And why wouldn’t it be? The game is in Anaheim, which is an awful lot closer to Arizona than Duke and is also in Pac-10 territory. I watched this on TV in awe of how one-sided the fans in the background seemed to be. To their credit, the Wildcats fans in the stadium were obscenely loud and fed the Zona players an awful lot of energy. They ended up being a huge factor in this game. It is never easy to play Duke in the NCAA Tournament, but if you have to play them, it might as well be in an entire stadium of your own fans. I can’t say this is a fault of the committee, because there are only so many cities and so many teams and you have to put teams where they fit the best, but I wish I would have paid more attention to the cities that are hosting the games when I filled out my bracket this year. I didn’t even expect Arizona to beat Texas, but maybe I would have thought differently about this whole thing had I taken this into account.
As a side note, with Jimmer out of the Dance officially now, the College Player Who Boosts His NBA Draft Position A Whole Bunch in the NCAA Tournament of 2011 is going to Derrick Williams.
56. Butler 61, Wisconsin 54 —Butler is one Cinderella I just cannot get behind.
Usually, I cheer for the underdogs. Who doesn’t? It’s always fun to cheer for the George Mason team that no one expects to win, but keeps destroying brackets all over the place. That’s why we all watch the NCAA Tournament. Butler almost became one of the biggest Cinderellas of all time last year, coming within one near-miss of winning the entire thing. But for some reason, I just don’t want to see them keep winning. I don’t care that they beat Pittsburgh, a team I liked enough to compare it to my beloved NBA JAM: TE GSW. I can’t hold that grudge. But I’m just tired of seeing them win games. I love high-tempo games with all sorts of points and plays, but the Butler style just doesn’t do it for me. They’re good, and I’ll admit that with no problem. Look at the teams they beat to get into the Elite 8. Pitt had a great season, Wisco had a great season, even Old Dominion had a good season. And Butler beat them all. Congrats to anyone who picked Butler-Florida for the Southeast bracket championship game, but seriously, do I have to watch Butler again?