Reflections on the first two rounds of the 2009 NCAA Tournament

Our thoughts on the first weekend, after the jump.

  • UCONN and Syracuse were clearly the two most impressive teams from the first weekend. I guess it's safe to say that the six overtime classic hasn't had any long-term effects. The Huskies wins over Chattanooga and Texas A&Mgive them a +82 scoring margin...probably some sort of record. AJ Price is our pick for best point guard in college basketball. He's more versatile than Gonzaga's Jeremy Pargo, and a tad more of a scoring threat than UNC's Ty Lawson. In his last three games, Price is averaging 27 and 7. Syracuse is running on all cylinders, with Jonny Flynn (yes, he's the fourth best point guard in college basketball) finding anyone and everyone for open shots. The Orange are crushing on the boards -- they've already pulled down 77 of them -- and forced Stephen F. Austin and Arizona St. to shoot a combined 33 percent from the floor. The three headed monster of Onuaku, Jackson and Ongenaet are fairly formidable, and if Jimmy B plays his cards right, they could limit an already banged up Blake Griffin.
  • Siena - Ohio State will be remembered as the drama king of the first-round, but any television market subjected to the full 50 minutes of play knows it was one of the most poorly played games in the tournament so far. The game featured 40 turnovers, a 26.5 combined three point shooting percentage, missed dunks, soft fouls, and air mailed cross court passes that ended up in row three. Initially I was going to touch on the fact that many people have criticized lack of quality play in Division I college basketball this season. But when Siena follows this game up with a near upset of top-dog Louisville, you just have to love the unpredictability of this sporting event and sometimes refrain from passing judgment by just enjoying the drama as it unfolds.
  • In hindsight, we all should have seen the Wake Forest meltdown coming. The Demon Deacons had lost five of their last seven away from Winston-Salem, were small compared to Cleveland State, and Jeff Teague's scoring average and field-goal percentage had been dropping for the last month. I found this blurb from the live bloggers over at the New York Times during Friday night's game:

Mike Ogle: Where has Jeff Teague gone? This guy was being touted, with good reason, as the most talented player in the A.C.C. in the winter. He's averaging 13.4 points in his last five games and has just 6. He scored 25 or more points eight times this season, including three games in the 30s. He just hasn't been the same since January. No wonder Wake Forest has gone 8-6 in its last four games after starting 16-0 and earning the No. 1 ranking in the country for a week. Teague is still on the missing persons list tonight (4 points so far on 4 shots), and the Deacons are sweating big time.

Teague finished with 10 points, and it may have been the last we've seen from him. With a crappy 2009 draft, he'll probably bolt for the pros and hope for lottery dollars.

  • Villanova responded tremendously against UCLA, after a fairly lackluster performance against American. The Wildcats had 20 assists on 31 field goals, and turned the ball over a modest 11 times. Why don't more people talk about Corey Fisher? He has one of the best handles in the college game, and would probably attempt to jump over a tree if it meant drawing a foul. With Scottie Reynolds graduating, Jay Wright's backcourt is in good hands with Fisher, Corey Stokes and their incoming freshman class.
  • I underestimated Michigan. Clemson never really impressed me this season, Duke blowout win aside, but I didn't think the Wolverines would necessarily win the game, instead I thought the Tigers would lose it. John Belein prepared his team well, and they even stuck with Oklahoma for a good chunk of the contest.
  • While I wrote them off after the Dominic James injury, Marquette is clearly the best team eliminated this weekend. Overcoming a 16 point deficit to take the lead against Missouri was fun to watch, even though it would have severely damaged my bracket.  We'll never know what would of happened had Lazar Hayward not pulled that brain fart, and it's too bad he's going to have to live with that over the summer. At full strength this team was a Final Four contender.
  • It's funny how Arizona can squeak into the tournament as a 12 seed, but be the final Pac 10 team standing.  The Wildcats weren't very good on the road this season (5-10) but got a favorable draw with mid-majors Utah and Cleveland State.  You wonder if Brandon Jennings is watching from overseas
  • Cole Aldrich's NBA stock is rising...like really fast.  Many will expect him to leave after this season, but he is living his childhood dream playing for Kansas. He's from Minneapolis but attended the Jayhawks summer camps growing up.   Don't be surprised if he sticks around.
  • Why does Boise, Idaho continue to be a tournament site?  The Taco Bell Arena appeared empty for all four games -- I am guessing mainly due to fans unwilling to travel to the frieken state of Idaho, coupled with the fact only 587,000 people call the metro area home.  The NCAA might want to re-consider, or someone should tell me why it's a good fit.

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