The Basketblog

Celebrating the love of the Game.

NCAA Championship Tournament: Third Round

Chalk rules this year. The elite eight consists of all four number ones, three number twos, and a number three. Chalk rules and so do brackets picked by those who don’t follow college basketball. I need not say who has the best bracket in my family, but it is not me or my dad. I actually don’t have a bracket anymore.

I burned it. Charcoal lighter, matches, and a bowl of water for safety. It’s now a small black crisp. It’s not that it was in such horrible shape (although it was), it’s that I’m tired of people thinking the bracket matters. I don’t gamble (says the guy who is paying $900 in income tax on poker winnings), so the bracket means nothing to me. When the last two teams in the tournament that I like lost, I just quit caring about who wins and emphasized that fact with fire.

Yeah, all the teams I like are out. That means I now cheer for the teams that will prove me right: UCLA is the best team in the tournament, Ohio State and Greg Oden are weak (they’re trying to prove it; their opponents just aren’t letting them do it…), Florida is not motivated enough to win again, and Kansas is too streaky to advance far. Now on to some comments…

Apparently a Kansas fan rode to the game with the game officials and a hypnotist: *snap* “NO SHOT CLOCK VIOLATION ON KANSAS” *clap* “NO GOALTENDING ON KANSAS” *ding-a-ling* “KANSAS NEEDS ALL THE HELP THEY CAN GET TO ADVANCE IN THE TOURNAMENT WITH BILL SELF.” For the record, that dunk that was at least half a second after the shot clock buzzer (the really loud noise that everyone in the arena but the officials heard) was the worst call I’ve ever seen in on tv. I wish I could find a picture that shows the clock at 00 and Julian Wright’s feet less than a foot off the ground.

Actual thought of mine: “Why is there a woman on the court…? Oh, it’s Joakim Noah.” Seriously, dude, look in a mirror.

I wish I’d said this to someone then, but I’ve thought since February that Florida this year reminded me a lot of Connecticut last year. Both were coming off recent championship seasons with many of their stars being key players on the previous team–they just don’t want it as much as the other teams do. Both were predicted by a lot of experts to win the championship and both will lose to the lowest seed left in the regional finals.

I did a comparison of five key defensive stats among the sweet sixteen teams (points allowed, defensive field goal percentage, defensive rebounds, steals, and blocks). The team with the better average ranking in those stats won seven of the eight games (UNLV was higher than Oregon). I know it’s not a very scientific way of looking at defense because every team plays a different style, but it emphasizes the point that defense wins championships.

About Jeff Green’s game-winning shot: Although everyone I know disagrees with me, I don’t believe it should have been called a travel. In slow-motion, super-magnified replay, you can see him pick his right foot up and put it back down, but in normal speed, no one could see that (I felt like a prosecutor who knew he had a winning case until the defense found a new piece of evidence at the last minute to break my case). No one I talked to argued that he put his right foot down–they all said that he traveled because he stepped and turned with his left foot. If we slowed down and analyzed every play of every game, there would be a lot of calls that would be questioned, but the game is called at regular speed, so I’ll explain what was seen in regular speed:

Green picked up his pivot foot but never put it down before he let go of the ball. A player is allowed to pivot as many times as he needs to as long as he holds his pivot foot (one step) and then is allowed to pick up his pivot foot as long as he releases the ball before he puts it down again (half a step). That’s the one and a half steps a player is allowed to take. Now, Green pivoted a lot and took a very long step with his right foot, giving the appearance of traveling; but he had both feet on the ground before he picked his right foot up and released the ball before he put his right foot down.

It’s the same case as going up for a layup–when you want to shoot on the right side, you pick the ball up as you’re putting your right foot onto the ground (right foot is the pivot foot); then you step with your left foot and pick your right foot off the ground; you release the ball before your right foot lands again. If your right foot landed before you released the ball, it would be a travel. The only argument you could make is that he hopped from his right foot to his left and that both feet were off the ground at the same time. See pages 68-69 of the NCAA basketball rule book. Whatever you think about the call, let’s all agree that it was a great shot and that his travel did not help him make it at all.

Tyler Hansbrough is no longer wearing a mask, in case you hadn’t noticed.

I know why Acie Law missed the layup at the end of the game: He was about 22 feet too close to the basket.

I think North Carolina is the most talented team in the tournament. I feel like, when watching them, that they could blow any team in the nation away. Why don’t they? I really have no idea. Is their apparent talent just an illusion, or is it their relative inexperience that keeps them from winning every game? I’m going to have to guess illusion because they have the best coach in the nation. I can imagine Roy Williams making a team look better than it really is before I can imagine him having a team underachieve.

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March 23, 2007 - Posted by | ACC, Big 12, Big East, MVC, MWC, NCAA, Pac-10, SEC | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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