6:20 p.m. EDT: Another upset! De'Jon Jackson, who missed the layup at the buzzer in regulation, hit a sweet fadeaway jumper with 1.2 seconds left in overtime for the lead, then stole the inbounds pass to seal the win as San Diego stunned Connecticut 70-69.
San Diego is the lowest seed to advance so far, the No. 13 in the West. The Toreros salvaged a little something in this Tournament for the West Coast Conference, whose top two teams, Gonzaga and St. Mary's, both lost earlier Thursday.
USD's win sets up a rare all-double-digit Round 2 game against No. 12 Western Kentucky. Let's face it, first-round upsets often create second-round mismatches, so it's great when there are two upsets in the same pairing. We get the upset, then another upset, then a theoretically even-matched game in Round 2. Nice!
So how's your West bracket doing? Thanks to my irrational hatred of UCLA -- paging Dr. Freud: I was born at UCLA -- I had UConn beating the Bruins in the Sweet 16. Think the Western Kentucky-San Diego winner can pull that off?
So do I!
5:55 p.m. EDT: No problem trying to decide which game to watch in the second set. San Diego-UConn was where it was at. The 13- seed Toreros led down the stretch and had a chance to put it away at the line, but kept missing. San Diego had the ball at the end, but De'Jon Jackson missed an off-balance, contested layup at the buzzer and the teams are going to overtime.
In the other three games, 2-seeds Texas and Georgetown routed 15s Austin Peay and UMBC, respectively, and Butler beat South Alabama by 20 in a 7-10 game.
But the Tournament's heating up and starting to deliver. We've had two great finishes Friday, with a double-digit seed advancing, another -- American, against Tennessee -- making a great game of it and now a third in overtime. Thursday double-digit-seed Kansas State, an 11, advanced, and No. 15 Belmont ended the night by giving Duke the scare of its life.
Safe trip home, East Coast commuters.
4:25 p.m. EDT: I've been asked to post the standings so far in the Panel o' Experts. It's awfully early yet. There have been 20 out of 32 games completed in the first round, is all, but your wish is my command, people. You're the leader, after all. In the Panel o', that is.
The second set of games isn't quite as compelling as the first bunch was. At least not so far. Best game by far: Thirteen-seed San Diego is giving No. 4 Connecticut hell in the West, leading by five with just under three minutes to go in the first half.
Worse for the Huskies, UConn point guard and leading scorer A.J. Price went down with what so far is being called a sprained knee. But he was carried from the court, which usually isn't a good thing.
In the other games, Texas is pounding Austin Peay, Georgetown has a healthy lead over UMBC and Butler has a huge lead over South Alabama.
So here are the standings through 20 games. The contest rewards 10 points for each first-round win, then 20, 40, 80, 120 and 160 in the subsequent rounds. The last column refers to the maximum possible points each entry can still earn.
|1. CBS SportsLine users||180||1,600|
|2. NCAA Selection Committee||160||1,580|
|2. King Kaufman, Salon||160||1,580|
|2. Luke Winn, Sports Illustrated||160||1,580|
|5. Stewart Mandel, Sports Illustrated||160||1,440|
|6. Barack Obama, D-Ill.||150||1,570|
|7. Michael Wilbon, Washington Post||150||1,550|
|8. John McCain, R-Ariz.||140||1,540|
|9. Tony Kornheiser, Washington Post||140||1,520|
|10. Jonah Keri, ESPN/N.Y. Sun||140||1,500|
|11. Gregg Doyel, CBS SportsLine||140||1,480|
|11.Grant Wahl, Sports Illustrated||140||1,480|
|13. Yoni Cohen, YoCoHoops.com||130||1,530|
|14. Buster, Coinflip Online||120||1,540|
|15. Seth Davis, CBS/S.I.||120||1,460|
3:20 p.m. EDT: Oh!!! A buzzer-beater! In overtime! For the upset! Western Kentucky provided the Tournament's first classic moment when Ty Rogers nailed an NBA-distance 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Drake 101-99 in one extra session.
It's the biggest upset of the Tournament so far by seed, and so much for my prediction that this would be the year when no 12-seed beats a 5.
Western Kentucky was in control for much of the game behind Tyrone Brazelton, who ended up with 33 points, but Drake rallied late to send it to overtime.
Brazelton figured to be the man on the game's last play, the Hilltoppers taking the ball out under their own basket with 5.7 seconds left, down by one. Brazelton dribbled to the front court, then handed off to Rogers, who calmly swished it from at least 25 feet.
Oh, baby. They didn't even need a three, and he shoots one from six feet behind the line. Talk about gilding the lily.
In the other early games, Tennessee hung on to beat American, Miami pounded St. Mary's and, in a mild upset, Davidson beat Gonzaga, a 10-over-7. You, the public, picked only two upsets in the first round, both of them minor, and you were right on both: Texas A&M over BYU, a 9-over-8, Thursday, and Davidson over Gonzaga Friday. An 8 and a 9 are the same thing, but it looks like the selection committee really did miss in seeding Gonzaga and Davidson where it did.
2:20 p.m. EDT: Quick, before the game ends: Davidson's Jason Richards -- he's No. 2 -- looks like Jake Gyllenhaal. Just me on that one?
Also: I don't know why but I love that Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel, the CBS announcers in Little Rock, are getting such a kick out of the nickname of Miami forward Jimmy Graham, which is "Liger." Half lion, half tiger. They keep referring to it and joking about it, but they don't seem to be aware that it comes from "Napoleon Dynamite."
2:15 p.m. EDT: March Madness on Demand, the free online streaming thing, works beautifully for me when there are two good games going. I can have one on the TV and one on my computer screen. It's hard for me to follow two games at the same time -- it's hard for me to follow one game at a time with my attention span and did I mention I'm out of butter? -- but it's possible.
But the last 90 minutes or so have been a little more challenging because all four games have been worth watching. So one game on the box and one on the laptop has left me two games short.
All late in the second half, Miami has pulled away from St. Mary's in the last few minutes, but Western Kentucky leads Drake in a possible 12-over-5 upset, Davidson-Gonzaga is close and American is hanging in with Tennessee, down by six with a little over two minutes to go. American would be a true Cinderella, a 15-over-2, the biggest upset since Hampton over Iowa State in 2001.
St. Mary's is a local team for me, so the Gaels have been on the tube. I'd love to tell you I've been hanging on every play of that game, plus the three others on my computer. Instead, I've been trying to figure out how to watch three games at once on my computer.
The answer: Get a different computer, pal.
I'm on a Mac, and March Madness on Demand is designed to be used on a PC running Internet Explorer 6.0. That's a browser that's not even available for the Mac. So I can watch one game on Safari and one game on Firefox, and maybe there are other browsers I could open up to watch the third game. I don't know. I'm not computer illiterate, but, you know, I'm a civilian.
The problem with watching one game on each browser, other than the fact that I'm still missing one game, is that there's no volume control. That's right, sports fans, no volume control. There is one on a PC, but not for the Mac.
So I can listen to both games, which is chaos, or neither, which makes it a little hard to follow simultaneous games, not being able to look at one and listen to the other at a given time. Which is confusing enough, considering there's a third one on the TV. And by the way I'd like to thank my kids' school for not being open today. My entire family just ran out of the apartment, screaming.
This whole online streaming media thing, it's nice. But every time I hear about the future of media, or the future of TV, or something, I run into stuff like this. I mean, I've put in more time and effort in the last hour trying to find a volume control, for crying out loud, than I've spent in my whole life trying to get TV sets to work properly. And I've had some crummy TVs.
In some ways, we've arrived in the bright shining future. In others, we're still struggling with things that were taken for granted in 1938.
12:35 p.m. EDT:Tennessee came out in a full-court press against American and got a backcourt steal on American's first possession. Tennessee is No. 2 in the East, American No. 15. Why don't more high seeds do that against smaller schools that might be rattled and jittery in the opening moments of a first-round Tournament game?
Of course, while I was typing that paragraph, American took a 4-2 lead. That was shortly 9-5. American is looking like it can play with Tennessee for a while.
A lot of times when a would-be Cinderella is hanging with a powerhouse it's because the jumpshots, especially 3-pointers, are falling. That almost never happens for a full 40 minutes. But American is hanging with Tennessee in the paint. The Eagles are penetrating and rebounding.
Maybe it won't last. It probably won't last. But in the first seven minutes or so at least, it's not looking like the usual fool's gold. It's 9-5 American.
Late Thursday: It didn't happen until the night session, but the 2008 NCAA Tournament finally spit out its first great finish in the third set of games Thursday.
Fifteen-seed Belmont took No. 2 Duke to the wire in a West region game in Washington, D.C., but Duke held on to win 71-70.
Belmont had a great chance to win it. The Bruins were down one after playing matador defense on Gerald Henderson, who drove coast-to-coast for what would be the winning layup with about 11 seconds left. They had the ball out of bounds under the Duke basket with 4.0 seconds left, but they threw away the inbounds pass.
Belmont was still able to get a pretty good look at a 40-foot would-be game winner at the buzzer. At least to the extent that a 40-footer can be a pretty good look. The shot, by leading scorer Justin Hare, missed and the Blue Devils escaped.
A Belmont upset would have been great, especially on a near-half-court shot, but it was a terrific game all the same, nip and tuck down the stretch and with an exciting finish. That's all you can ask for. If the underdog won all of those, it wouldn't be any fun.
Only two of 16 lower seeds won, and one of those was Texas A&M over BYU in the West, a 9 beating an 8, which really doesn't count for anything. The only meaningful upset was No. 11 Kansas State beating No. 6 USC in the Midwest, which really didn't look like much of an upset at all. The freshman showdown pitting K-State's Michael Beasley against USC's O.J. Mayo never really materialized.
Beasley got into early foul trouble, though he did come back to have a good game. But it was his supporting cast -- also mostly freshmen, and particularly Mayo's old high-school teammate Bill Walker -- who controlled the game. Mayo did score 20 points, two fewer than Walker and three fewer than Beasley, but a couple of garbage-time baskets inflated that total.
It seems counterintuitive that in this age of parity we're seeing fewer upsets in the early rounds of the Tournament every year, but I think what's really happening is that the selection committee is doing a much better job of seeding than it used to.
Back when the committee just wouldn't buy the idea that a team from a smaller conference could actually be worth a damn, big-conference teams would regularly get overseeded, then they'd lose in the first or second round to a smaller-conference team that had been underseeded.
It would look like an upset -- the guys in the dark uniforms would have the crowd behind them, and they'd win and be really happy, and the guys in the white suits would look shocked -- but as often as not it wasn't. In a lot of those "upsets" over the years, if the teams had played each other 10 times, the "underdog" would have won seven or eight of them.
Something to think about as you try to count how many national commercials are using Beethoven's Ninth on their soundtrack.
The upset-light Tournament has led to a bunched field early in the Panel o' Experts contest. The leader at the moment is -- you, the crowd, as represented by the users at CBS SportsLine.
The public picked the favorite in every first-round game except two: Texas A&M over BYU and Davidson over Gonzaga, a 10-over-7 in the Midwest Friday. So far, so good on the upset calls. The only game you all missed was Kansas State over USC.
In the second round, the masses are picking two 5-seeds over 4's, Notre Dame over Washington State in the East and Clemson over Vanderbilt in the Midwest. Otherwise you've got favorites all the way to the title game, except you have North Carolina beating UCLA. Memphis is a higher 1-seed than UCLA, so the Tigers would be the favorite pick in that semifinal. The fact that the public generally agrees with the selection committee's seedings supports the idea that the committee is doing its job well.
Thanks to helpful reader J.G. Harrington, Tony Kornheiser's bracket has been located at This Website Stinks! Michael Wilbon's is also there, so he's on the panel too.
And former champion Yoni Cohen of YoCoHoops.com e-mailed his bracket, but with the disclaimer: "I left Fox Sports at the end of last season to concentrate on politics. This season I wrote a handful of columns as a freelancer for Sports Illustrated on Campus, but am not much of an 'expert' these days."
The NCAA Selection Committee and I both missed two games; Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, whose bracket doubles as the magazine's bracket, the inspiration for this contest, missed five; and Seth Davis of S.I. and CBS missed six. I think he picks a lot of upsets just to stand apart from his on-air partner, Clark Kellogg, or Chalk Kellogg, as Davis calls him.
Everyone else missed three or four. The USC loss really hurt the S.I. boys. Stewart Mandel had the Trojans in the Final Four, Wahl and Davis had them in the Elite 8. Keri also had them in the Elite 8. Kornheiser, McCain and Cohen had them in the Sweet 16. The only other bracket that got hurt anywhere near as badly was Gregg Doyel's. The CBS SportsLine columnist had Baylor going to the Elite 8.
On Friday, we'll do it all again, with the other half of the first round. Watch this space for updates throughout the day. First up: Tennessee vs. American University at 12:15 p.m. EDT. Gonzaga-Davidson -- your other upset pick -- Drake-Western Kentucky and Miami-St. Mary's follow a few minutes later.
Previous column: Running commentary from Day 1
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