Friday, March 19, 2010

NCAA Tourney day one: the Big Least

Boy does that Big East stink. Or at least the four reps who played yesterday sure do, right?


Georgetown's loss to Ohio was simply horrible. Not only did the #14 seed beat the #3 seed, the #14 DOMINATED the #3 seed. A 97-83 win is pretty outrageous. On the rare occasions a #3 goes down in the first round, like 2006 (Iowa) and 2005 (Kansas), it should be a low-scoring close game, not a shootout rout. There is something seriously wrong in Georgetown's locker room. Wright, Monroe, Freeman and Clark are top-end talent. Add DaJuan Summers from the 08-09 team that flopped to a 16-15 record from a preseason top 10 spot, and there are unanswered questions about coaches and players on that team.

Marquette's loss is defensible: a 6 seed loss to an 11 seed isn't horrible like, say, a 3/14 loss, and Washington has been a season-long underachiever before hitting a good run in the last month. The Huskies are a major conference team (sort of, considering the 2009-10 Pac-10), beat Cal (preseason top 15 team) twice and had that conference's best interconference win (over Texas A&M). Marquette has been a team greater than the sum of its parts all year and that's a credit to coach Buzz Williams. A two-point loss is no real shame.

Notre Dame's loss is far worse even though it's another 6/11 matchup. Old Dominion is not a major conference team and ND played worse than Marquette did. Notre Dame earned its NCAA bid with big wins in February and March (Pitt twice, at Marquette, at Georgetown) and didn't show that form yesterday.

The worst performance by a Big East team yesterday should have been Villanova -- needing OVERTIME and (according to Yahoo! Sports blogger The Dagger) bad officiating against its opponent to beat the #15 seed Robert Morris. In its first game this year, Robert Morris played Syracuse -- SU won 100-60. Think that's opening game jitters? In the middle of conference season, Robert Morris lost by 24 to Pitt. But Villanova escaped infamy.

Overall, a fine first day if you like exciting tourney games. Vandy choked on its high seed again by losing to Murray State on a fine buzzer beater, Texas completed its season-long collapse by honking an 8-point lead in OT, Florida showed some character after receiving a questionable bid by playing in a 2OT loss to BYU, and the Kansans did what they're supposed to do to low seeded teams.

But that reek you smell? That's the Big East right now.

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