2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament: Important Observations 57-58 UNC/Marquette, KU/Richmond
57, 58. North Carolina 81, Marquette 63; kansas 77, Richmond 57 — The good news about upsets is that they make the tournament exciting; the bad news is that sometimes they create huge mismatches in subsequent rounds.
Wow. Not only were these games both blowouts, they were both blowouts early. It’s not even like we could pretend they were close. kansas was up by 15 before the under-8:00 timeout and UNC held Marquette scoreless for almost nine minutes in the first half, building a 40-15 lead at halftime.
Watching Marquette and Richmond dance into the Sweet 16 was thrilling for all of us, but seeing them both mercilessly destroyed at the hands of perennial tournament contenders like UNC and kansas is sort of just what happens. Both of these matchups featured huge seeding disparities, and people expected one-sided games, but did they have to be this one-sided? Sure, parts of the second halves looked like an even fight, but only because the winning team had taken their foot off the gas and was already in neutral while they looked forward to watching the later games to scout out their next opponent. It’s not like the leads ever dwindled to single-digits.
In UNC’s win, we got to see a monster game from Tyler Zeller against an undersized opponent. Henson and Barnes were great as always, both offensively and defensively. Tonight’s Ohio State-Kentucky contest will be a good one, and both teams would provide an interesting matchup for UNC for the East regional championship.
kansas looks like it could fall asleep in the next round and still win the Southwest regional. They crushed Richmond tonight, without any sort of performance from Markieff Morris, a true rarity. The Jayhawks literally blew the Spiders out with one arm tied behind its back. And what awaits them in the next round? Either VCU or Florida State, two teams that are only marginally better than Richmond.
Marquette and Richmond have nothing to be ashamed of. Sweet 16 berths are great accomplishments for any program, and two wins in the tournament are far more important than a blowout loss to a huge favorite.
I hope everyone is ready for tonight’s two games, which should be a little closer. I know the Ohio State-Kentucky game is one I’ve been anticipating since Selection Sunday.
As far as my first guest blog post contest, you SpreeGoogs readers have been disappointing so far. I’ve only gotten one stab at it so far, and it was a good guess, but not correct. If you haven’t read about it, take a look at it and see if you can pick up what I put down in that About Me post. Keep coming back to check out more of my Important Observations tonight and through the remainder of the tournament.