TSR’s running diary of March Madness, Part II

My apologies for not posting during the last round of games last night, but JC and I got into a 45-minute debate about whether I was as good as Luke Walton when I was in my prime. This has been an ongoing “discussion” for the last two or three years and, simply stated, we’re just never going to see eye to eye. The debate took an ugly turn last night when he said that I “couldn’t hold Luke Walton’s jock,” which is a true statement if he’s talking about the present. But I was talking about my prime, and in my prime I could most definitely hold Luke Walton’s jock.

Luke Walton is in the NBA because his dad is Bill Walton. Is he a good player? Of course. You can’t hang around the league if you are a complete fraud, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a thousand players out there that are just as good as he is. JC’s pro-Walton argument is that he’s a “great interior passer” (whatever that means) and that Phil Jackson, who is a brilliant coach that has won forty seven championships, says he’s a good player, so he must be good. (For the record, I’ve never heard Phil actually say that he’s a good player, so this may in fact be an urban legend.) I think that the Lakers are stuck with him because no one wants his horrible contract and Phil tolerates him because he’s a willing passer on a team full of prima donnas.

He has an assist to turnover ratio of 2.3 to 1. If a player is in the NBA solely for his wonderful passing ability, I’m expecting a A/T ratio of at least 3:1. Sure, Walton’s A/T ratio is fourth-best amongst small forwards, but he trails Shane Battier and Tayshaun Prince in this category and neither of those guys is known as a “great interior passer.” Hell, he’s barely ahead of Ricky Davis in this category. Ricky Davis! The guy who once took a shot at his own basket in an attempt to get an extra rebound to give himself a triple-double. Ricky Davis!

This probably sounds like sour grapes, but I don’t care — I could hold Luke Walton’s jock when I was in my prime.

Anyway, back to the tournament. Gonzaga and Villanova both got off to rough starts, but they settled down and eventually went on to win by double-digits. Despite having them in my Sweet Sixteen, I was sort of rooting against Villanova because JC has them going to the Final Four in his pool and after he said that I couldn’t hold Luke Walton’s jock, it would have been nice to see him lose one of his deep picks. He’s also a big UCLA fan, so I started a V-C-U chant at the bar (complete with Y-M-C-A-esque hand gestures) when the Rams made their run.

Western Kentucky pulled of the classic 12/5 upset, which isn’t a huge surprise considering how Illinois has been up and down this season. On the whole, Jeff Sagarin’s 2+ point favorites were 11-4. That’s not bad, but it’s not near his usual success rate of 85%. We’ll see how he does today.

I’m going to start watching the games here in a minute — check back to see what’s going on in the world of March Madness.

10:57 AM: It was weird to see my former coach, Bo Ryan, on television after he took the Wisconsin job, but it’s even stranger to see a former teammate, NDSU’s head coach Saul Phillips, roaming the sidelines at the NCAA tournament. The Bison are hanging in there against Kansas.

11:40 AM: Well, Utah State gave Marquette a helluva run, but the Golden Eagles move on. I finally got one of those 8/9 games right — Oklahoma State beat Tennessee is a tight one. Sagarin had the game as a pick’em, but I picked the Cowboys because they have better guard play, and it helped them today. Byron Eaton had the go-ahead bucket that sealed the win for OSU.

3:52 PM: Sorry for the delay, but I was laid up with a little stomach problem. Must have been something I ate. Anyway, I TiVo’ed the late set of the early games (yeah, that makes sense) and I have my first bracket buster — West Virginia lost to Dayton. I had the Mountaineers going to the Elite Eight in my official picks, which really hurts, but isn’t a complete dealbreaker. I did take Kansas in my other pool, so hopefully the Jayhawks can come through. Now if Pitt had been the first #1 seed ever to lose its first round game, then I would have had to tear up my bracket. There’s nothing quite like watching your overall winner struggle in its opening around game against a #16 seed while one of your Elite Eight picks can’t get over the hump. Did you see Jamie Dixon’s face after ETSU cut the Pitt lead to two? Can you imagine what was racing through his mind as he was faced with being the first coach ever to guide a #1 seed to an opening round loss? He looked like he was about to crap his pants. Needless to say, I’m not feeling great about my picks, but we’ll see how things shake out. There’s still a lot of basketball to play.

5:29 PM: I’m getting the USC/BC game since I live in Southern California, and it’s being called by what I believe is the best announcing team in the business — Gus Johnson and Len Elmore. Johnson has been getting a lot of much-deserved praise lately, and he’s Bill Simmons’ favorite announcer. He’s known for his spirited, high-energy calls and he adds to the excitement of the game without getting in the way. For his part, Elmore lets Johnson do his thing, but it’s obvious that Len knows what he’s talking about. He makes his point once or twice but doesn’t wear the viewer out like Billy Packer did. But maybe the best thing about the duo is how they avoid the corny jokes that plague their business.

6:28 PM: I haven’t seen USC play since the beginning of the season, and they look like a totally different team right now. They’re balanced offensively and really get after it on the glass and defensively. They are a very live #10 seed and Michigan State might be in trouble if they get past Robert Morris tonight. I thought the Utes would play better with everyone picking Arizona to beat them. They cut the lead to two with about four minutes to play, but Arizona ran away over the last few minutes and won by 13. And another Sagarin pick bites the dust…

10:34 PM: Just caught the end of two great games — Wisconsin/Florida State and Siena/Ohio State. The first day of the tournament was lacking in last second excitement, but both of these games had it in spades. It’s good to see my old coach win a game where his team was the so-called underdog. And the Saints were fun to watch. Ryan Rossiter looks like he’s about 14 years old, yet he’s Siena’s 6’8″ center. It was a big night for Ronald Moore — he knocked down two big threes, one to put the game into overtime and the other to give the Saints the lead for good.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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