Things You May Have Missed: Day 1 Observations From the Sweet 16
With multiple games on at multiple times, it's impossible to catch everything -- unless you have a man cave with multiple TVs like Bill Simmons, in which case more power to you. Which is why we started this feature: Things You May Have Missed.
Here you can find observations and anecdotes from all four of Thursday's Sweet 16 games, complete coverage without the rigidity of the box score.
Hope you enjoyed today's games.
Here's our take:
I don’t know if anybody else noticed this or found it peculiar, but why did they segregate the white commentators and the black commentators? Gus Johnson, Len Elmore and Reggie Miller formed the broadcast crew for the games in the Southeast region. Verne Lundquist and Billy Packer covered the Southwest division.
The addition of Miller to the team of Johnson and Elmore was unnecessary and annoying.
- Victor Marticorena
UConn 74, San Diego State 67
SDSU lost because it could not bring “The Show” to Anaheim. The giant faces that were a part of every Aztec home game were not there to distract Connecticut. The likes of Michael Jackson, John Stamos, Borat and Kim Jong Il strike fear into the hearts of college athletes shooting at the free throw line, but I guess the tickets were too expensive for the students.
It is rare that a single moment decidedly shifts the momentum of a basketball game. It happened in this game. SDSU's Jamaal Franklin lowered his shoulder into UConn's Kemba Walker as the players walked to their respective benches after a timeout. Call Walker a flopper, but he took over after falling to the ground from the hit.
The UConn point guard sunk both technical free throws on his way to outscoring the Aztecs 14 to 3 over the game's next 4:30. Walker's run turned a four-point SDSU lead into a nine-point UConn lead with under five minutes left.
- James Santelli
The key to UConn winning was not Kemba Walker. He was going to get his buckets. Instead it was freshman Jeremy Lamb, who was 9-for-11 with 24 points and sealed the game with a key steal that led to a dunk.
After making their first Sweet 16 in school history, SDSU may turn out to be a one-year wonder. Starters Malcolm Thomas, D.J. Gay and Billy White are all graduating this spring. And the team's top scorer, sophomore Kawhi Leonard, is likely to leave early for the NBA Draft. Leonard, who averages a double-double in points and rebounds, is ranked as a lottery pick by ESPN.com's Chad Ford.
The departure of Leonard and the seniors takes away 53.7 (75 percent) of the Aztecs' 72 points per game, and 28.9 (76 percent) of the team's 38 rebounds per game. That makes the loss to Connecticut an even tougher pill to swallow for San Diego State fans.
Kemba Walker tied UConn's school record for most points in an NCAA tournament game, 36. Great performance. I feel an upset coming on, and a lot of busted brackets.
- Devin Altschul
The Huskies have one more thing going for them. They’ve got the player with the best name in the tournament: Shabazz Napier
Offensively, Jimmer Fredette is NBA ready. His range is ridiculous and he knows how to use his upper body strength to create shots. Defensively, he's going to struggle a great deal. He's like that kid from Modern Family. He has no attention span whatsoever. At one point in the first half, he was guarding Florida's Erving Walker on the perimeter. He got caught ball watching in no man's land. By the time he looked up Walker was shooting a wide open three. Swish. Three points, Florida.
Jimmer mania is sweeping the nation, and for good reason -- he's extremely fun to watch. If he's going to be successful at the next level, though, he needs to step it up on both ends of the court; not just the one that earns him the most attention.
- Patrick Crawley
BYU may have lost on the court, but most of the Cougar players are going to end up with a hot wife and six kids. THAT's the real BYU Honor Code. So, in life, they are winners.
- Scott Enyeart
After watching this game, I still only know one player on BYU’s team. Can you guess who?
The reincarnation of Joseph Smith couldn't hit a shot, so he decided to drive and score layups to make up for his terrible shooting. The Jimmer showed a surprisingly nice crossover too.
Too bad his team couldn't step its game up and support BYU's basketball prophet.
I wonder if Jackson Emery violated the honor code with that technical foul.
- Johnie Freatman
Gus Johnson and Len Elmore pointed out Reggie Miller’s ineptitude almost every time he spoke. But then Johnson opened his mouth one too many times. Did he really ask Reggie if a team should foul with 20 seconds left when the game is tied?
Yes. Yes he did. Pay attention to the 19-second mark of this clip:
It's a testament to the goodwill Gus Johnson has built up over the years that he wasn't crucified on Twitter for that foul with the game tied comment. Goes to show you that sports fans aren't always as fickle as we think they are.
Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com tweeted after the game, "Remember when it was announced that Kyrie [Irving] was back and everybody said we had to adjust our brackets? This is not what those people meant."
But don't blame Irving for Duke's failure to capitalize. The potential top pick scored 28 points in 31 minutes for the Blue Devils, going 9-15 from the field and 8-9 at the line.
Irving's backcourt partner Nolan Smith did not fare nearly as well. The senior guard shot 3-of-14 for just eight points, his third-lowest offensive output this season, and a disappointment for someone who averaged 21 points per game this season.
I know winning a Sports Emmy is a big deal, but CBS’ Billy Packer has lost himself as an analyst since winning the award in 1993. Paired on Friday night’s broadcast with Hall of Famer Verne Lundquist, Packer could frequently be heard cutting off play-by-play calls and injecting his own voice at points in the game that didn’t warrant it. Look, I love "ONIONS!" and "Send it in, big fella" as much as the next fan, but sometimes less is more. It’s time someone calls out Mr. Packer, for neglecting to realize he is the storyteller not the story.
- Dave Dulberg
Dorm room walls in Tucson are already filling up with Derrick Williams’ latest masterpiece. After a floater by freshman Jordan Mayes fell off the mark early in the first half, Williams flushed the putback home with a tomahawk right-handed dunk that’s bound to make its way into the "One Shining Moment" montage. Just another day at the office for college basketball’s best impression of the Human Highlight Film.
Reggie Miller is an interesting analyst when it comes to calling a college basketball game. The unwritten rule for college announcers is to not be as critical of college players as you would for pro players -- they are students, after all. Reggie hasn't gotten the memo.
Sometimes that can be a good thing, as when he rightly called out a Kansas State player for a flop in one of last week's games. "That is a flop," Miller proclaimed. "And you are talking to a guy who was the master of it." Fair enough. But it can also be distracting and groan-inducing, especially when he interrupts partner Gus Johnson in the middle of play.
Reggie makes fair points and has become a pretty good analyst for the NBA. But if he is going to call next year's tournament, he needs to tone down his casting aspersions and know to wait his turn.
Wisconsin was uncharacteristically average at the free-throw line against Butler. The Badgers went 13-of-19 (68.4 percent) from the charity stripe. That's a low percentage for a team that was one of the best free-throw shooting teams of all-time this season at 81.8 percent, just barely below the 1984 Harvard team's record of 82.2 percent.
When the topic of NCAA Tournament underachievers comes up, people most often mention the Pitt Panthers (thus breaking the heart of this Pitt fan). Indeed, in the last six years the Panthers have been eliminated from the Tourney and five of those losses have been to teams with a lower seed. Despite earning a five-seed or higher every season since 2006, Jamie Dixon's team has never made the Final Four.
But you can add the Wisconsin Badgers to that same list of disappointment. As Pete Thamel of the New York Times points out, the Badgers have been eliminated by a lower seed in four of the past five tournaments. The teams beating Wisconsin have been ranked anywhere from seventh to 12th. Each of those four times, the Badgers was seeded fourth or better. Like Dixon, coach Bo Ryan has also never reached the Final Four.
Chalk it up to bad luck or an inability to come through in the clutch, but there's no doubt Ryan's teams have let the Madison faithful down the last few years.