Posts Tagged ‘Michigan State’

Talkin’ Final Four: Butler vs. Michigan State

John S: Alright, Tim, it’s Final Four time. I don’t know how we manage during the two weeks before the Super Bowl, because just having two more basketball free days really chills my excitement for the Final Four. An up-for-grabs game between two very likable teams that not many people saw getting this far, though, is a great way to start the weekend. But, this game is going to be UGLY. Neither of these teams plays a very fast game, particularly now that Kalin Lucas is gone, and each of them likes to keep the game low-scoring. Matt Howard, Butler’s leading rebounder who is going to be counted on to hang with Michigan State’s great rebounders, seems to start the game with three fouls. Butler managed to beat Syracuse and Kansas State by getting them to take bad shots, but the Bulldogs themselves haven’t shot particularly well either. So this game may not be the most aesthetically pleasing of the Tournament. My question to you: Will it be ugly exciting, or ugly boring?

Tim: Well, if you run down the games these two teams have played in the Tournament so far, it’s hard not to envision this being ugly exciting. Michigan State won its four games by a total of 13 points–which I think is the fewest ever for a Final Four team. After its first-round win over UTEP, Butler’s last three games have come down to the final minute. I have no doubt in my mind that this game is going to be close. Continue reading

The Double Bonus: The Final Countdown

TIM: Four more days of lousy basketball, am I right, John? We lose all our Cinderellas by Friday, and then the refs giftwrap a Duke win on Sunday. I can’t wait for the Tournament to be ruined next year with 96 teams.

JOHN S: I hope you’re kidding. Duke’s in the Final Four! At least be excited about that. And we did get some great games last week. Michigan State and Tennessee was decided by one point, Butler upset Syracuse, West Virginia upset Kentucky in a game that can only be described as very weird, and the Duke/Baylor game was exciting throughout. But we should probably discuss the best game of the Tournament at least little, despite so much already being said about K-State vs. Xavier. I’ll ask you this: Does that game lose any of its cache because K-State lost its next game? I mean, I think if the Wildcats had managed to beat Butler and then steal the championship, that game would be put in the Pantheon with the Laettner shot. As is, it probably won’t even be as remembered as Farokhmanesh’s shot by this time next year.

TIM: You saw right through me. I totally wanted to start with K-State and Xavier, and not just because I got into a brief commenting war with a fellow named “Mikey” on Joe Posnanski’s blog about it. I, for one, thought this was the best Tournament game since 2005; if I were one of those weird people who thought the decade ended in 2010 and not 2009 and my list of the Top 10 College Basketball Games of the Decade were pushed back a year, Kansas State and Xavier likely would have fit in nicely at No. 4. Even before the game went to overtime, I remember thinking that it had been particularly well-played and was shaping into one of the Tournament’s most memorable games. Continue reading

Talkin’ Basketball: Michigan State vs. Tennessee

Well, Tim and John combined to go an impressive 1-3 yesterday. Guess which one of us got the only game right! Here’s a hint: It was Tim. Hopefully we will fare better today. The first game on the docket features two of John’s favorite coaches, Bruce Pearl and Tom Izzo, going head-to-head in a game that will hopefully wash the stink off of last night’s Bob Huggins-John Calipari duel.

TIM: John, I’ve had a lot of fun at your expense these last few weeks, from your decision to knock Butler out in the first round to your incredible ability to pick games incorrectly on second and third tries. But, there has been one thing (and one thing only, it seems) that you have been right about where I was wrong: You just don’t pick against Tom Izzo in March.

JOHN S: Well, first of all, some of my incorrect second or third tries were not what I had originally said, so that’s a little unfair. For example, I had West Virginia in the Final Four in my original bracket so….basically I’m a genius.

But yeah, it’s hard for me to really take credit for the Tom Izzo thing, because by now everyone should realize that Michigan State almost always outperforms expectations in the Tournament. Only three times in the last decade has MSU lost to a team seeded lower, and once was in the Final Four to national runner-up Arizona and another was to a George Mason team that would end up in the Final Four. Just as often, the Spartans have made surprising runs of their own, including one to the Elite Eight as a 7-seed in 2003, to the Final Four as a 5 in ’05, and to the National Championship game last year as an unheralded 2-seed. Izzo simply knows how to coach in the Tournament. So it’s not really surprising that Michigan State is once again in the Elite Eight, even in spite of the injury to Kalin Lucas. Continue reading

John S Picks The Friday Games

If there was any remaining doubt that this was the best NCAA Tournament ever, last night’s Xavier-KSU game (which I declared would not be close) should have cemented that status. Anyway, here are some more picks you can take to the bank….

2 Ohio State vs. 6 Tennessee

Original Pick: Georgetown over Ohio State

What I’ve Learned: Obviously, if the Volunteers are going to win this game, they are going to have to shut down Ohio State’s leading scorer in this Tournament: Jon Diebler. Diebler tore up UC-Santa Barbara in the First Round, dropping 23 points, and everyone knows that as goes Diebler, so go the Buckeyes. In all seriousness, Evan Turner has been the best player in college basketball this year and—notwithstanding what Denis Clemente, Terrell, Holloway, Jordan Crawford and Jacob Pullen all did at various points last night—the player who can most take over a game in this Tournament. Thanks to Georgetown’s early loss, Tennessee got to face Ohio in Round 2 and dispatched them fairly easily after struggling against San Diego State. But the fact that the Volunteers haven’t played a good team yet should make anyone wary of their ability to contain Turner.

The Pick: Ohio State  Continue reading

Get to Know the Sweet 16

I understand your issues. You loved watching the exciting first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, but you’ve used up all your little tidbits of info, like “Murray State has won a lot of games this season.” So, to prep you for Thursday and beyond, here’s all you need to know about the Sweet 16.

9. Northern Iowa Panthers

Conference: Missouri Valley

Location: Cedar Falls, IA

How they got here: def. UNLV 69-66; def. Kansas 69-67

Biggest reason they got here: Ali Farokhmenesh took and made the ballsiest shot in the Tournament since T.J. Sorrentine buried Syracuse in 2005. Oh, and Xavier Henry missed that big free throw.

Last trip to Sweet 16: Never.

A great and recent Tournament game: Umm…did you watch on Saturday?

Tim’s favorite player in UNI history is: Current reserve Lucas O’Rear. You rarely see the combination of a great name, a shamrock tattoo, and mutton chops.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Panthers lasted until: Selection Sunday! I had them going out to UNLV.

You should root for Northern Iowa because: It’s Northern Iowa. QED.

Did you know? Northern Iowa has played eight games in the NCAA Tournament in its history. All eight have been decided by five or fewer points.

Were you aware? If you lined up the rosters of all 16 teams remaining in the Tournament and were told to pick which one comes from Iowa, 96% of people would correctly select the Panthers.

Fun Fact! Ben Jacobson is the best-looking coach in the Sweet 16. Continue reading

The Double Bonus: Not Thrilling, But Nice

We’re back to Week 1 with our formatting here: Tim is in black, John is in red. We asked for feedback last week, and we got one response demanding the return of color. You’re welcome.

We’re roughly halfway through the conference season already, and I can’t help but react to the season thus far the same way Dom Deluise’s Caesar does to that alabaster tub in History of the World Part I: “Nice. Nice. Not thrilling, but nice.” A lot of it has to do with the parity settling in among the nation’s conferences: There seem to be fewer elite teams in 2010 and several leagues with tightly packed standings.

It also appears as if most of the big six conferences are having down years. We knew coming into the season that the Pac-10 would be down, if not to this Oregon State-got-beat-by-51-by-Seattle extent.* The Big XII is having an excellent season with Kansas, Texas, and Kansas State at the top and a nice balance in the middle. The Big East is still the Big East, if not quite as top-heavy as last season. The SEC is having a bit of a bounceback year—how could it not after last season’s disaster?—aided by South Carolina’s upset of Kentucky and Vanderbilt’s win in Knoxville (once again, the SEC East may have four teams better than anyone in the SEC West. Prove me wrong, Mississippi, prove me wrong).

*Which was still not the most surprising loss in the last month for a member of Craig Robinson’s family. Continue reading

Live Blogging ESPN’s 24 Hours of College Basketball: Evening

We’re in the homestretch now. This is Part IV of IV in our epic live blog of ESPN’s Season Tip Off Marathon. We’ve been covering it since 2 AM. You can check out the Overnight here, the Morning here, and the Afternoon here. For the Evening, both John S and Tim will cover Duke vs. Charlotte, then Tim will bring you his thoughts on Gonzaga at Michigan State and Memphis at Kansas.

12:20: Well, roughly 22 1/2 hours after we’ve started, it’s time to wrap up our live blog of the college basketball marathon. Can’t complain about those last two games: The No. 1 and No. 2 teams were taken to the wire. We discussed rust, the career of Timmy Chang, Jerry Glanville, what constitutes an X-factor, and if Temple and Georgetown played the worst half in the history of sports.

From the recliner in my parents’ basement, good night, and good luck.

12:18: After the pick with Coleman, Williams had a look from the right wing that looked pretty good–just a tad long. Can’t kill him for going for the win as the underdog.

I must admit, there was a small part of me that wanted Collins to hit both, Memphis to push the ball, and Williams to hit a game-tying three at the buzzer to send it to OT.

12:17: Tired legs: Sherron Collins comes up short on his first free throw. Memphis is out of timeouts, so you have to expect Elliot Williams and Coleman to run a pick-and-roll down the other end here. Kemp and Mack for kickouts.

12:13: Okay, Elliot. Don’t show off too much to your new friends. KU’s lead is one.

By the way, even though it didn’t work, I love how Pastner threw a zone at the Jayhawks last time down. And I love that Collins knew exactly what to do when he saw it.

Continue reading

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