Honest first impression: Texas A&M, damn.
When I saw that Memphis State got the second seed I immediately began to hope that we were the seven, because I knew at that point it was either the Tigers or Aggies in round two and I'd much rather face John Calipari than Acie Law in March. Of course if I'm an A&M fan I'm furious because my team is being forced to play Louisville in Lexington even though the Ags are the three seed and the Cards are six. It's pretty ridiculous.
I know Pitino is saying that he's somewhat worried about the distractions of staying in-state with all the media and everything, but let's not kid ourselves, this is an advantage. Unless the current claims being made by some UK fans that they're going to buy tickets simply to root against Louisville are true (they're not), coRUPPt Arena is going to be predominantly CardinalS red on Thursday and hopefully Saturday.
At first glance it seems like U of L is getting a break by getting paired with Stanford seeing as how they're just 18-12 and have lost four of their last five, but a closer look reveals a much more formidable foe.
The Cardinal are playing healthy for the first time in weeks as point guard Anthony Goods has just returned to the starting lineup after missing several games, and leading scorer Lawrence Hill has been cleared to play after suffering a leg injury in Stanford's overtime Pac 10 tourney loss to USC, freshman Brook Lopez, one half of the famed Lopez twins, also missed several games in the middle of the season because of injury.
With everyone finally back, Stanford is back to the status it was when it beat Virginia, UCLA, Washington State, Oregon, USC and Texas Tech earlier in the year. This makes them kind of scary.
The Cardinal is like us in that they don't shoot particularly well, aren't good from the charity stripe, and are a young team that goes through spurts where they turn the ball over a lot. Also like us they win with defense, mainly because they have two 7-foot shot blocking machines in the paint. The presence of the Lopez brothers means that we're going to have to get a lot of points in transition, or shoot the medium range jumper and the three better than we normally do if we want to win. This is a game where we could desperately use Tello.
In addition to the game being played just 75 miles to our east, I think the fact that the tip is scheduled for 12:40 also works to our advantage seeing as how it's 9:40 pacific time. Sometimes it takes days to fully adjust to a time difference as significant as three hours, and let's hope this is the case on Thursday.
Speaking of the game time, this is the first time I can ever remember playing in the first session on Thursday. Kentucky ALWAYS seems to play in one of the first four games of the tournament and Louisville always seems to play in the second session on Thursday or Friday, in fact I can only think of one other time we played early which is '99 when we played Creighton at 3:30 on (I think) Friday.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand if we win it's going to be awesome because I'll get to spend the next two days seeing who gets to join us in the second round without any stress, but on the other if we lose it's going to seriously take away from the pleasure of the first two days of the tournament, two days that I consider to be among the best of the year.
Like the rest of America I had some serious problems with the job the selection committee did this year, and I'm going to tell you about them by revealing my top five overseeded and underseeded teams of 2007.
Top Five Overseeded Teams:
- Gonzaga (10)- This team wouldn't have gotten a bid had they not won the WCC Tourney, but apparently their two wins over San Diego and Santa Clara were so impressive that they got bumped up to a seed usually reserved for at-large teams. Perhaps this is a gift for all the underseedings they received at the beginning of this decade.
- Duke (6)- There is no reason a team that is the seventh seed in their conference tournament, and then loses in the first round of said tournament, should receive a six in the Big Dance.
- Vanderbilt (6)- How this team isn't playing in one of the eight/nine games I will never know.
- George Washington (11)- Everyone agrees that had GW not beaten Rhode Island in the A-10 championship that they wouldn't have gotten in, and that because they did win they essentially "stole" someone else's bid. So someone please explain to me how they can be seeded higher than teams that actually did receive an at-large bid. Because they won their tournament they're seeded higher than teams that would have gotten in over them had they not won. It makes absolutely no sense.
- Arkansas (12)- No excuse for this team being in the tournament, none. The committee obviously took the easy way out and decided to put the Hogs in the tournament so they could start to get stuff ready to send out instead of actually waiting to watch them get demolished by Florida in the SEC title game. Someone HAS GOT to make a rule that bans conference championship games on Selection Sunday, but because there isn't Syracuse got screwed out of an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Top Five Underseeded Teams:
- UNLV (7)- Most experts had the Runnin' Rebs, who are 28-6 and just rolled through the MWC Tourney, as a four or five but apparently the committee disagreed.
- Texas (4)- Again this was a seed that had to be in place before the Big 12 title game, and I don't buy it when Walters says that had the Horns won they would have moved up a line. Really? And you would have gotten that done in the 15 minutes you had between the end of the game and the start of the selection show? Texas and Durant deserved a three and I'm shocked that they didn't get one, but I'm more shocked that they're not in Ohio State's region so that CBS could get the sexy Oden/Durant regional final they're all dreaming of.
- Marquette (8)- Apparently Mike Tranghese boned Gary Walters' wife or something. Notre Dame and Louisville were both seeded a bit lower than expected, Syracuse was shockingly left out completely, and then Marquette, the 18th ranked team in the AP Poll, gets an eight seed meaning that the committee thinks they are between the 29th and 32nd best team in the field of 65.
- Wright State (14)- So Butler is a five, but the team that won their conferences regular season championship, tournament championship, and beat them twice is a 14? No I get it, totally get it, God you guys are awesome.
- Nevada (7)- 28-4 with a second team All-American leading the way just ain't what it used to be.