King Kaufman's Sports Daily

NCAA Tournament Day 1: Running commentary updated throughout the day.


Salon Staff
March 15, 2007 8:00PM (UTC)

11:50 p.m. EDT: Whoa! Wake up!

North Carolina's cruising against Eastern Kentucky, leading 39-12, when Eastern Kentucky goes on a 32-9 run straddling halftime to pull to 48-44.

This dawns on me as I glance up at the newly readable score bug. Whoa! 48-44. How'd I miss that score getting close while I'd been enjoying Xavier-BYU?

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So I flip over, Carolina goes on a 7-0 run and that's that. The Tar Heels are now up 81-58 with three minutes to go. I'm long gone.

I soon went back to BYU and Xavier, a dandy of a game that seemed even better because it was called by CBS's best play-by-play guy, Gus Johnson. Now Xavier gets to play Ohio State, which Xavier claims refuses to play its fellow Ohio school.

Understandable. Ohio State's got to leave room on the schedule for Virginia Military and Valparaiso. Anyway, a bonus is that Ohio State's coach, Thad Motta, used to coach at Xavier. So that'll be a 1-vs.-9 game with a little more intrigue than usual.

Indiana's hanging on to a double-digit lead over Gonzaga with about a minute and a half left in the night's penultimate game. The last teams playing will be Pittsburgh and Wright State, a 3-vs.-14. Wright State went on a run and tied the game in the first half, but the Panthers quickly regained control with even more authority than North Carolina did against Eastern Kentucky. It's 68-47 with a little under seven minutes to go.

These are both over. But I'll stay up for a few more minutes just in case.

We'll do this again tomorrow.

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10:45 p.m. EDT: Fourteen-seed Wright State fell behind No. 3 Pittsburgh 13-0 in a West region game. And now it's tied 22-22.

BYU-Xavier and Indiana-Gonzaga are both pretty good games at halftime. Only one blowout so far in this last set of games: North Carolina over Eastern Kentucky.

No early bedtime for this column.

Co-leaders in the Pool o' Experts so far, with only one miss each? Stewart Mandel and John McCain.

9:45 p.m. EDT: Yes! After a day of the guys in the white suits winning by double figures, Duke and Virginia Commonwealth put on an NCAA Tournament game.

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Were the Rams just setting up the dramatics when they let DeMarcus Nelson dribble the length of the floor without opposition to score the tying basket with 10 seconds to go? It looked that way when VCU calmly came back up the floor and Eric Maynor buried the game-winner from the free-throw line with 1.8 seconds left.

Duke got a last shot, Greg Paulus missing from half-court at the buzzer.

Virginia Commonwealth's attacking pressure made this a terrific game. The Rams fell apart just before the midpoint of the second half, falling behind by about nine, but then jumped right back in, and the teams tussled down to the wire. Great game.

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It didn't look like that much of an upset. A big factor was that Duke simply wore down under VCU's relentless pressure. The Blue Devils just didn't have the horses this year.

Still, easily the best game of the day so far, with one set of games left.

8:20 p.m. EDT: It looks like we're going to get our first "upset" in this third set of games. Michigan State is having its way with Marquette, 30-18 at that half, and that includes a long stretch when Marquette outplayed the Spartans after falling behind 14-0.

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But that's only a 9 over an 8, and the difference between a 9 and an 8 is a coin flip.

Duke and Virginia Commonwealth, a 6-vs.-11, is at halftime, with Duke up 40-38 in an entertaining game. That could be the first legitimate upset, though it would hardly be a shocker.

Weber State over UCLA would be a shocker, but it's not going to happen. UCLA struggled a bit with turnovers early but the 2-seed Bruins have gotten their act together and lead 37-19 at the half.

All of this is secondary. The real news is that CBS has fixed its score bug. Now the seed numbers are white, same as the lettering of the team names, so the yellow numbers giving the score jump out. Much better.

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Anybody else have a shortcoming they want me to point out so they can go fix it?

5:20 p.m. EDT: Acie Law and Dominique Kirk were too much for Penn and Texas A&M won going away.

Seven games in and we have yet to have an upset. That means the NCAA selection committee has an unblemished bracket, one of only four left in the Pool o' Experts. The other three belong to 2006 champion Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and my son Buster.

All of the rest of us had figured to see at least one upset by now. I thought it'd be Old Dominion over Butler. Gregg Doyel of CBS.SportsLine.com is off to the worst start. He's already lost two teams from his Sweet 16, Davidson and -- heh-heh -- Stanford. Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated and Tony Mejia of CBS.SportsLine have each lost one Sweet 16 team.

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The other entrants are: Seth Davis and Clark Kellogg of CBS-TV, Luke Winn of S.I., Tony Kornheiser of the Washington Post, Yoni Cohen of YoCoHoops.com and the CBS.SportsLine.com users, who won in 2005.

That was confusing, wasn't it? I'll post standings when the day's games are over.

Vanderbilt is putting the wood to George Washington at the moment, leading 22-9 in the back half of the first half. That's the only game going on in this stretch, which I guess is dinnertime back east.

I think I was supposed to go get my kid at school a while ago.

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4:50 p.m. EDT: Hold on a second. Butler went on a huge run to take a commanding lead over Old Dominion, but who saw this coming: Penn also went on a big tear to take the lead over Texas A&M. But the Aggies have just gone on their own 10-0 run to lead by eight again.

A while ago one of CBS's announcers answered my question about how many times Butler had worn their white suits in the NCAA Tournament by pointing out that today marked the first time the Bulldogs had ever been the higher seed in a Tournament game, and therefore this was the first time they'd worn white.

Here's their Tournament history. I'm not sure about 1962, though, when there wasn't the same seeding system. Couldn't find any pictures of the Bulldogs' games in that Tournament in a quick online search. Anybody know if they wore white in any of those games, which included a consolation game?

4:30 p.m. EDT: At the suggestion of a reader, I'm including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, in the Pool o' Experts. He's got a bracket challenge going on at his Web site.

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McCain is taking the unusual approach of picking all four No. 1 seeds to make the Final Four. What are we to make of this gambit, politically and ideologically? On the one hand, it seems conservative to go straight chalk. Then again, all four top seeds have never made the Final Four, so McCain's going out on a limb here. Wild. Radical.

4:15 p.m. EDT: Kind of a mid-afternoon -- Central time, where I am -- doldrums here. Probably just me. This is my nap time, you know.

Texas A&M, Washington State and Georgetown seem to have things well in hand, now that the Cougars have shaken off the early challenge from Oral Roberts. Butler and Old Dominion are playing a close game. Kind of a sludgy one, though. They're averaging about a point a minute each. It's 27-24 ODU with just over 15 minutes left.

In the game.

I have a hard time rooting for Oral Roberts, by the way, even when the Golden Eagles are big underdogs. I just can't get past, you know, Oral Roberts. The guy. Is that a problem for anyone else?

Meanwhile, one interesting thing that's going on is that my readers are propositioning my boss in the letters thread. So that's always nice.

2:55 p.m. EDT: The first set of games is in the books. No upsets. (7) Boston College over (10) Texas Tech, (4) Maryland over (13) Davidson and (6) Louisville over (11) Stanford.

I'd missed that Washington State-Oral Roberts had started, the 3-14 game in the East. ORU is up 20-16 a little over midway through the first half.

Georgetown-Belmont, 2-15 in the East, is just getting underway. Georgetown is a popular pick to go to the Final Four and the Championship Game, but not a popular pick to win it all, at least among the brackets I've been looking at. I've got the Hoyas going to the Final Four and losing to Ohio State in the semis.

The mid-major Super Bowl, Butler vs. Old Dominion, starts momentarily. That's a 5-12 game in the Midwest. How many times has Butler worn home whites in the NCAA Tournament? That's a question not worth researching at the moment.

Texas A&M, a surprisingly popular Final Four pick for a No. 3 seed, tips off against No. 14 Penn in the South in about 15 minutes.

Two 3-14s, a 2-15 and a 5-12. This could be a long couple of hours. On the other hand, Belmont has an early 9-4 lead on Georgetown.

2:20 p.m. EDT: CBS has to do something with the score bug that keeps viewers updated on the other games. The teams' seed numbers are the same size, color and font as the score numbers, and the seed numbers are a lot closer to the team names than the scores are. It's very confusing.

It looks a little like this:

11 STAN       42 | 10 TT       75
 6 LOU         66 |  7 BC       80

Every time I look up there, I think Stanford's leading Louisville 11-6 and Texas Tech is leading Boston College 10-7.

Stanford is not leading Louisville 60-33. It's losing by two dozen. I just wanted to reiterate that.

Davidson looks like it's fading against Maryland. Boston College has beaten Texas Tech. I wrote in the preview that it's never a bad bet to go against Bob Knight in the Tournament. Took some heat for that because of the titles. I meant in the last couple of decades. I was not wrong.

1:45 p.m. EDT: I'm not paying much attention to Texas Tech-Boston College, though it looks like a good game, close and high-scoring. Are they not calling fouls in that game or something? It started five minutes after the Davidson-Maryland game and it's abouut four minutes of basketball time ahead. Even I got tired of watching Stanford get beat up, so I've been with Davidson, and they've just gone on a run to take an eight-point lead early in the second half. The shots are falling, but Davidson's hanging with the Terps and then some in all aspects of the game.

How did this kid Stephen Curry end up at Davidson? He's the son of a former NBA player, Dell Curry, and he's a knockout. He's been dominating an ACC team here. Nothing against Davidson, but Curry looks like a big-conference player.

Not that I need an answer, this being a rhetorical conversation, but ESPN's Pat Forde wrote about Curry a few weeks ago. The kid wanted to go to Virginia Tech like his sharpshooting dad, but there wasn't much interest in him.

Davidson's up by five. Boston College by six. Louisville, heh-heh, by 28.

12:45 p.m. EDT: When a set of games is just starting out, I usually have trouble figuring out which one I want to watch. Takes a while to latch on to one of them. But with Louisville jumping out to early leads of 4-0 and 12-2 over Stanford in front of a near-home crowd in Lexington, Ky., it's a pretty easy choice. Go Cardinals, with an s on the end.

Stanford came into this game in a slump and it's showing. The Cardinal look completely baffled by Louisville's pressure defense and don't appear to be able to stop the Cardinals from penetrating.

Steal, slam dunk. Charge, Stanford. At the first TV timeout, 13:58 to go in the half, it's 17-6.

Let this Old Blue just get comfortable here ...

Davidson, a 13-seed, is raining down threes and hanging with No. 4 Maryland. It's 28-27 Davidson with about eight minutes to go in the half. That's a 90-point pace.

12:20 p.m. EDT: Here we go. On CBS's pregame show, Clark Kellogg, a former star at Ohio State, says players are anxious to get out there for that first game. "Between the lines is where you do your best work," he says.

Between the lines is where I do my best work too, as it happens. You know what I mean? Thought so.

I'm not quite ready for this, to be honest. I'd been hoping my back -- bothering me since those two unfortunate nights on a sleeper couch in November -- would somehow feel better before I spent about 48 of the next 96 hours on my couch watching basketball. No such luck.

Also, I'm still gathering brackets for the fifth annual Pool o' Experts.

Why doesn't ESPN post its experts' brackets? It just has a page with their Final Four picks and a few "upset specials."

Lame. Put 'em out there, kids. It's OK. We know you're all as dumb as the rest of us.

Southern Conference champ Davidson tries to pull the first upset of the Tournament against Maryland in Buffalo. Boston College-Texas Tech and Louisville-Stanford are starting in a few minutes.

A minute and a half in and it's 2-2. Davidson's hanging in. Here we go.

Keep checking back all day. I'll be here.


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