Tuesday, March 22, 2011

VCU Belongs! ... and 5,000 other topics crammed into the same column

Hi, I'm something named Paul Daugherty and I wrote a bad column for Sports Illustrated today where I commemorated the NCAA tournament by shoving 68 disjointed different thoughts into the same column and acting like it was cohesive. Can you count them all? Send a list to BWP for a free prize*! Feel the "madness"!

*No prize

Another year, another wild opening weekend in the NCAA tournament

This column is going to literally attempt to recap everything that happened in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

VC-Who?

At least he nailed the opening. VCU? More like greasy boobs! Alright, score one for the D-Man. (The D-Man is Paul Daugherty)

The Rams of Virginia Commonwealth University appeared out of nowhere, straight from the far-right edge of the office pool bracket. Damned if we saw them coming.

Nevermind whatever in the wide, wide world "the far-right edge of the office pool bracket" could possibly mean, but we're going to hammer this entirely original point home: Seriously, who knew VCU could win three games -- one of them even against a good team!

We could go on about the wonderful wackiness of the NCAA tournament's first weekend, but that is a given.

Wait, but -- you -- the headline -- only the third paragraph --

We could ask for a moment of silence for the officiating, which was fatally dreadful in crucial moments. But that's going to happen. The ceremonial bracket-burning took place slightly earlier than usual this year -- thank you very much, Texas -- but that's nothing new. We've been flaming brackets for decades.

I would gripe to a national audience about my bracket, too, if SI paid me. But that's because I'm a bad writer.

Let's just sum up the first weekend by offering some meas and culpas to VCU, superstars of truTV, validators of the First Four and all-around Madness poster-guys.

Is this supposed to come off sarcastic? "Congrats on your basic-cable wins, guys." I mean, I think G'Town was soft, and who gives a shit about USC, but Purdue was a top-10 team this year.

Oh, and in no way was VCU a "validator" (not a word) of the First Four, those games were still stupid and ruined the whole process of filling out the brackets.

The Rams persuasively dismantled a very good Purdue club Sunday to earn a Sweet 16 game with Florida State in San Antonio Friday. Afterward, VCU forward Jamie Skeen declared, "Look at us now.''

We are. We can't look away. It's like a wreck on the highway. The Rams could have us rubbernecking from here to Houston.

Yes, an 11 seed winning two tournament games is exactly like when cars going 70 miles per hour smash into each other on the highway. In every single imaginable way.

What's more, Richmond, the Southwest's No. 12 seed, plays top seed Kansas Friday. If the Spiders do the unlikely, we could have an all-Richmond regional final. The capital of the Confederacy and college basketball? Who knew?

Right, if Richmond does something that has never fucking happened, then there would be an all-Richmond final, provided that VCU can get past the nation's best defense. This is a perfectly acceptable thing to glaze over so we can get to a strange Charlie Daniels reference.

A nod to Charlie Daniels, boys: The South's Gonna Do It Again.

But don't think that this means D-Man thinks The South Is Actually Gonna Do It Again. In a minute, he's going to mention that he's openly rooting for chalk from here on out. He just said that to make an awesome and totally-not-36-year-old reference out of the clear blue sky.

"Anybody can beat anybody,'' said the aptly named VCU coach Shaka Smart, 33, whose name is suddenly on the speed-dial of all athletic directors seeking the Hot Young Coach of the Moment.

His name is smart, and his team won basketball games! SMART.

Smart's right. Four double-digit seeds will play on this week. Butler, an 8 seed, returns. The Big East is suddenly little: Only two of its 11 bids escaped the weekend, though it didn't help that the league cannibalized itself in two games: Marquette beat Syracuse and UConn took out Cincinnati. When four of your teams play each other, casualties are inevitable.

This is where we start getting jumpy. Keep in mind that we're talking about VCU and Richmond, but at the same time D-Man throws in this random, half-thought-out reference to the Big East. Despite staying on this topic for .03 seconds, he still manages to make an ass out of himself: Yes, the Big East did have two games they were bound to lose, but no mention of the obvious: Those two games were the only ones where a Big East team won.

Picking a champion looks to be as easy as picking who's Marcus and who's Markieff. The Morris twins combined for 41 points and 24 rebounds in Kansas' win Sunday over Illinois.

Mk is an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier, and when they're on TV playing basketball they wear different huge numbers on their shirts. Sorry to nitpick but that was such a lame reference used as a sloppy transition to Kansas.

A key to winning when you're not supposed to? Cherish the basketball. VCU beat Purdue when it combined 26 assists with four turnovers. Richmond has nine turnovers in two games. Contrast that with Syracuse, which exited stage early again, partly owing to 18 turnovers

VCU! Richmond! Remember the Big East? Kansas! Don't turn the ball over! I can't feel my face!!!

The elephant at half court is Ohio State. The Buckeyes are filing their nails and saying, "N-e-e-xt.'' They merely demolished George Mason Sunday, 98-66, with a thoroughness that makes them seem the best Shining Moment candidate going.

Whatever.

Their main perspirer, coach Thad Matta, barely offered a drip while watching his team go on a ridiculous, 50-15 run in the last 16 minutes of the first half. George Mason wasn't Kansas. But the eighth-seeded Patriots owned a history of slipper-wearing, having reached the Final Four as an 11th seed in '06.

Don't count them out -- they did really well five years ago! And everyone knows that there's tons of continuity for college basketball teams at the bookends of five-year periods. Like, no way a five-seed in the '06 tournament could have gone 13-19 this year!

Surviving a No. 8 seed isn't a given. Ask Pitt, which did not survive, and Duke, which blew a 15-point lead in the last 10 minutes, before beating Michigan by two. Ohio State has five players who can score, a load in the middle in Jared Sullinger, and coolness at point guard, where freshman Aaron Craft had 15 assists and two turnovers.

Pitt lost! OSU is good! Their point guard is "cool"! TOO MANY TOPICS FOR SNARKBOT3000 101011101010101010101

"If they play like this every day, they're a tough out,'' George Mason coach Jim Larranaga said. "But you don't play like this every day. Every game is different. Every opponent is different. The next round, they're probably going to play a team with a little more size and a better matchup, physicality-wise.''

Hey, there's something we could do some analysis on -- could OSU get bothered by Kentucky's super group of freshmen? Or will it be UNC's size? Or will we just forget we even inserted that quote and change gears with no transition?

Physicality speaking, here's a question: When do UConn guard Kemba Walker's legs fall off at the thighs?

Knew it.

A grueling Big East regular season was followed by a grueling Big East tournament was followed by 74 grueling minutes in two games over the weekend. The Huskies and Marquette are all that's left of the Big East's 11 tournament invitees.

I don't blame D-Man for repeating himself; even he can't remember saying the same thing like 20 topics ago.

But, back to lesser-hyped teams that are still around. VCU shot 65.6 percent in the second half and scored 48 points in the paint against a Purdue team known for its defense. The Rams carry the classic boulder on their shoulder into the region.

We're switching topics too fast. I feel like I'm going to throw up.

Clichés are clichés because they're true. Nobody thought VCU would be here now. Certainly not the heathen media, which universally trashed the Rams even getting into the tournament. VCU tiptoed in through the back door, having lost five of its last eight then being shuttled off to Dayton to play in what the NCAA ingloriously termed the First Four.

Sorry, which part of this was a cliche? The media being "heathens"?

Also I have a lot to say in re: VCU getting into the tournament (namely that winning in the tournament doesn't magically make their regular-season profile better and prove they should have been here; I think unequivocally, Harvard, VTech and Colorado had a better case to get into the tournament) but I could literally harp on that all day. Suffice to say: this column is getting stupider exponentially.

The Rams weren't playing Broadway. They played on truTV. Until Tuesday, did anyone know what truTV was?

I don't blame D-Man for implying that the games on lesser channels were somehow less meaningful or important. I blame the NCAA for passing the rule that if you play on TNT or TBS, you have to give 85% effort, and truTV was a whopping 65%. I think it's criminal.

Column's almost over, let's not even pretend we know what transitions are any more!

Florida State is in the Sweet 16, even as the Seminoles' best player, Chris Singleton, lasted only 10 minutes against Notre Dame. Singleton broke his foot Feb. 12. Butler is back, thanks to Matt Howard's look-what-I-found putback against Old Dominion, and a head-shaking foul in the last second against Pitt.

These teams won too! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

By the way, it's nice that the TV can have NCAA supervisor of officials John Adams on for purposes of explanation and clarification. But the guy's not exactly objective when it comes to questionable calls. Over the weekend, egregious followed questionable followed infuriating.

Hard-hitting fact-finding from D-Man: The NCAA's supervisor of officials will tend to be subjective in favor of NCAA officials. Someone get this man a Pulitzer.

The ref in the Arizona-Texas game couldn't count to five. The guy in the Pitt-Butler game decided he'd decide the outcome himself. Washington lost a crucial second of time in its loss to North Carolina. And so on.

Wah wah my bracket's busted too.

But we digress.

A natural pause before we get to the height of this column's flagrant retardery.

At some point, we want the upsets to stop.

Wait, what? We do?

The Little Teams That Could are a fine diversion during the first weekend.

Wow, that's condescending and not at all true.

This week, we really need the big boys to hitch up their pants. Unless, of course, your idea of greatness is Richmond-Butler in a national semifinal.

That would be pretty cool. Better than the same shit we see every year, isn't it?

We don't visit the National Gallery of Art seeking graffiti.

Wow. Just wow. How many mid-majors can D-Man offend at this point?

No disrespect to VCU and Richmond and Charlie Daniels. But this weekend, we'd prefer the classics: Kansas, Ohio State and Duke.

Who the fuck are we? You don't speak for me, jerk. And I like that he spends a little while disrespecting the shit out of teams, calling them "graffiti" in an art museum, and touches it with a finesse "No disrespect."

The Southeast will give us the fly in our soup: Butler, Wisconsin, BYU or Florida. We'd prefer it be BYU, because you can't not root for the audacity of someone who calls himself Jimmer. Let's see Fredette go for 40 against the Brothers Morris.

Mmm, yes, yes. We normally reserve the fourth place in the national semifinal round for a "team of diversity." Let them have their little piece of luxury for once, don't you say? Mmm. Yes. [Adjusts monocle]

Finally, a spadeful of dirt to the No. 16 seeds, who stunk on toast, as usual. They lost to the No. 1s by an average of 28 points. They're now 0-108 all time. We'd call them Charlie Browns, but that'd be an insult to Charlie Brown.

Really?

And the NCAA thought it was necessary to add four teams this year?

Might as well finish with a non sequitur, right?

Oh, yeah. One of those teams was VCU. Never mind.

Yeah. And they don't deserve to win. But their coach is smart. Kansas. Also, the 16 seeds lost. Butler. Richmond and Charlie Daniels. TEXAS GOT BONED. WASHINGTON MICHIGANDUKECAROLINAWISCONSINMONTREAL[head explodes]

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