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SBN Tournament Early Evening Hub: 3/15/07

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What's poppin' boys and girls? This happy Louisville fan will be serving as your host for SBN's evening coverage of the first night of the greatest sporting event in the world.

If the mood should strike you, shoot me an email at MikeRuth5@aol.com or hit me up on AIM under the screen name MikeRuth5 to share your thoughts on any of the action taking place, or to give your opinion on The King of Queens. The first quartet of games this evening are:

6) Duke vs. 11) VCU: 7:10

1) Ohio State vs. 16) Central Connecticut State: 7:10

8) Marquette vs. 9) Michigan State: 7:20

2) UCLA vs. 15) Weber State: 7:25

You've got arguably the best first-round game if the tournament in Marquette/Michigan State, the upset everyone wants to see in Duke/VCU, the 2007 tournament debut of the '06 runner-up, and the first of four 16 seeds taking a shot at history.

Should be an interesting night.

7:12- Just had a delicious piece of cake. Let's do this.

7:15- Rule #1 of playing against a pressing team is that you attack their press and then press them right back. The Dukies are taking it right at VCU early and the result could be a very entertaining game.

7:25- Everytime I watch a Duke game I find myself wishing I knew more about the lives of the bench players. Did these guys play basketball in high school? Does the first one to sprint onto the floor during timeouts get bonus points? Is this a team I can make?

7:28- Marquette's offensive struggles are continuing as Sparty leads 6-0 four and-a-half minutes in. Whoever was in charge of telling Dom James that the season is five months long should be fired.

Update from Rakes of Mallow: "I think it might just be how nice their uniforms look in HD on the Wake Forest court, but they're taking it to Marquette in a slow, methodical, Big Ten way. I'm glad my other screen is muted, since they just spent a great deal of time with Coach K rambling."

7:35- Marquette scoring watch alert...Six minutes: No.

7:37- Dick Enberg just confirmed that there's never been a shutout in NCAA Tournament history. Damn Crean, Enberg just totally Heismaned you. Eleven-nil Sparty seven and-a-half in.

7:41- Weber (Call me Weeber not Webber) State is up one on UCLA at the 11:40 mark. Time to start takin' the air out of the ball boys.

Update from Burnt Orange Nation: "VCU has hit four straight shots after starting the game 3-for-16, but Duke's scoring extremely efficiently. The Eagles are going to have to get some stops or this is going to be a long evening. Duke leads 28-19 at the under-8:00 TO."

Update from Conquest Chronicles: "It looks like Duke is tired and the full court press is upsetting their rhythm. They have also hade some sloppy turnovers with a couple of traveling calls."

7:51- Daequan Cook buries a trey at the buzzer to give Ohio State a 21-point lead over CCSU at the break. No need dude, could have just taken a knee.

Update from Carolina March: "I can't tell you the envy I'm feeling since everyone else is watching Duke falter against VCU while I'm getting Weber State-UCLA. And I can't even enjoy a Weber State upset because of 1999, which I'm pretty sure never happened."

8:00- Why does Dan Fitzgerald wear a left arm sleeve? Does he just do everything James does? He's like that kid in second grade who would find out what kind of pens the teacher uses and then come to school the next day with the exact same kind. No, you're new pens aren't cool PETER.

8:05- Surprised that VCU is tied at 38 when B.A. Walker only has one three. The Rams look quicker, more athletic and hungrier than the Dukies right now. The refs look quicker, more athletic and hungrier to let Duke win than the fans do right now.

Update from Carolina March: "Weber State cannot buy a rebound. UCLA is ordering them up in bulk. The Bruins need them, with the number of open lay-ups and putbacks they seem to be missing."

8:13- My brother thinks that Tom Crean looks like a person who is certifiably insane, my dad thinks he looks like a Wall Street trader, I'm sticking with Harry Potter. Whatever he looks like his team hasn't made a two-point field goal and trails 30-18 at the break.

8:15- The only game on is Ohio State/Central Connecticut State, and despite the fact that it's 46-22 I still feel obligated to watch.

Halftime scores:

UCLA 37, Weber State 19
Duke 40, VCU 38
Michigan State 30, Marquette 18

Looks like Duke/VCU may be the only ray of sunshine in an otherwise fairly dreary day.

Update from Carolina March: "I don't think UCLA missed a shot between my last comment and the half. Obvioulsy, my internet mockery is the key to success, and I will further belittle the Bruins for a small nominal fee."

8:20- I don't know what country you live in John Mellencamp, but the one I see in the truck commercials isn't mine. Sing your song over a shot of me sitting on my ass, eating jelly beans and watching college basketball and we're cool again.

8:23- CCSU kids are still playing awfully hard. Props to Howie Dickenman (Can we say Dickenman?).

8:26- Gus Johnson is so pissed about today's games. You can just tell that he's dying to make a fake presidential assassination announcement just so that he can speak with some sort of inflection.

Update from Carolina March: "A little bit of trivia: the Marquette-Michigan State game pits the fourth and fifth highest paid coaches against one another. That's 3.4 million dollars combined to produce an 8th and 9th seed."

Burnt Orange Nation Update: "Second half is underway in Buffalo, and yes, Josh McRoberts is still a douchebag."

8:35- Every time the color guy (name is escaping me) says somnething negative about one of the teams in the Duke/VCU game they start to play amazingly, and every time he says something positive they start to play like shit. He says Paulus doesn't turn the ball over and Paulus turns the ball over. It's like the Jedi mind shit.

Burnt Orange Nation Update: "May I just note - for the record - that using exceedingly smart and verbose children characters as a ploy to sell products is terribly unattractive. Most people hate Dakota Fanning, right?"

8:41- Right.

8:41- Bitch move by Wesley Matthews who yanks down a Spartan and then stares down at him for no reason even though his team is down 15. I'm all for the Big East but I just can't cheer for Marquette and Crean when they're playing an Izzo coached team.

Conquest Chronicles Update: VCU is playing them tough, but Duke just won't die. Everytime the Rams get close Duke goes on a mini run. Agree with Peter on the officiating: very tight.

8:46- All four games were just on commercial at the same time. I've got half a mind to use my ruggish good looks to woo Pelosi into making sure this never happens again, and that if it does I get Les Moonves' head on my doorstep.

I'm just sayin', I want to watch basketball.

Burnt Orange Nation Update: "This game is getting -very- physical. VCU's coach has pretty clearly instructed his guys to play with a reckless physicality."

Update from Carolina March:`"The play-by-play guys just congratulated Weber State for "not giving up" and going on a 6-0 run. That cuts the Bruins' lead to 21, by the way. And SoCal CBS wouldn't cut away from this if Krzyzewski started firing off a handgun in Buffalo."

ConquestChronicles Update: "Is this a basketball game or a rugby match? Paulus can really be irritating and is not afraid to get in your face. He acts like a QB on the court too."

9:02- Paulus is a chotch, it's not even an argument.

Rakes of Mallow Update: "What a miserable set of games since Davidson challenged Maryland. My only potential joy is getting mauled by the officials, who may not be calling it for Duke, but by calling it so tight, they're effectively doing that and hindering the VCU attack on both ends."

Burnt Orange Nation Update: "VCU is mismanaging their advantages tonight. By taking it to Duke in the mouth (literally), they've put Duke on the line too often and made life easier for the Blue Devils on offense. The Rams would have been wiser to just utilize their advantage in athleticism, play quick, keep the Duke players in front of them, and make Duke earn tough buckets. Duke's a solid defensive club, but they can struggle to score against athletic teams. Putting them on the line - not to mention firing them up with all this physical play - has been a mistake."

9:09- Do it for the Metro, Rams...oh yeah and the rest of the country too.

9:17- VCU's inability to block out or grad a loose ball on that last Duke possession may be something they look back on with heavy hearts if they don't win here. 69-68 Dukies.

Conquest Chronicles Update: "Gotta give VCU credit, they just keep coming and they are wearing Duke out with that physical play. They can steal this one if they just keep attacking."

9:28- Please let Paulus blow this, please let Paulus blow this, please let Paulus blow this.

9:30- Will Famini fouls out which means watch out for McRoberts getting a key offensive board sometime in these last 102 seconds.

9:34- VCU's pressure may end up winning this game, but not because of turnovers, but because fatigue.

9:37- Eric Maynor is March.

Burnt Orange Nation Update: "Effing nails. Acie Law transferred to VCU."

Burnt Orange Nation Update: "By the way, I might be a genius."

Conquest Chronicles Update: CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS!!! VCU just played their hearts out and never gave up! Freaking Awesome!!

9:43- VCU wins as Colonial Athletic Association Tournament legend Eric Maynor is the hero again. Did Paulus cry? Someone there please tell me Paulus cried.

Carolina March Update: "You never want to see a player get hurt, but Scheyer headed to the bench bleeding after a shot to the face really isn't going to get any sympathy from me."

Carolina March Update: "So here's how you truly enjoy a Duke tournament loss - you look for the guy crying. He won't get much camera time, because they'll be focusing on the winning team, so ideally you'll have both the local and sattelite feeds, as they're about two seconds apart. You normally look for a senior, but the only one this year is a role player, so focus on the guards (Be careful - Scheyer's natural expression is pretty muich on the verge of tears.) or anyone particularly close to the coach. Henderson's a good prospect, as is Nelson.

Then, sit back and enjoy the schadenfreude."

9:47- And with that we move to the late night session.