So far we have seen just about everything in this year’s tournament. Bad beats, lots of chalk, and a couple stunning upsets. Thursday’s slate began with an exciting overtime game between Rhode Island and Oklahoma.
URI missed a short shot as time expired that could have won it. Trey Young showed off his talent, but also the bad side of his game. He threw up shots from 30 (or more) feet away late in the contest, for seemingly no reason. Close game. Time left on the shot clock. His decisions with just seconds remaining were even more ridiculous. When you trail by three possessions, take a quick three. Young seemed to be in no hurry.
Eventually, he penetrated before dishing. Two late possessions involved Young using too much clock and netted just two points. Totally backward. I have heard it suggested that coach Lon Kruger pretty much lets him do anything, but I think his hands are tied. Young complained after a loss earlier in the season that he is guarded like no other player. I thought that was a poor excuse for his awful shooting. If you are constantly doubled, find an open man. Don’t keep throwing up threes. I also thought he completely exaggerated how defenses were playing him. It left a bad taste in my mouth. The URI-Oklahoma game was a good way to kick things off. Especially if you had Rhode Island advancing.
Thursday night produced a shocking upset. Buffalo dominated Arizona and destroyed countless brackets. Although Buffalo was considered to be a dangerous team, most people felt drawing Arizona would be too much for them. This was memorable for the way Arizona was blown out. The Wildcats have been surrounded by controversy in recent weeks. Although this might have played a part in their loss, some thought it might fuel them to a long run. I think a lot of people just wanted to see them succeed and stick it to the NCAA. Deandre Ayton is done at Arizona. The 7-foot freshman is headed for the NBA.
Virginia quickly made most people forget about Arizona. I knew it was only a matter of time before people started going with the “hold my beer” theme. De’ Andre Hunter’s injury may have impacted the team sooner than people expected. They can’t cry about things. UMBC lost to Albany 83-39. However, Virginia should not have been playing them. They really should have been paired with a worse team. Somebody who played Tuesday or Wednesday. Recently I wondered if the first 16 to beat a 1 would be somebody who played in a First Four game but then thought that might not happen because those teams are basically ranked even lower than teams who automatically get matched up against one of the top seeds.
Virginia should have been playing against a less impressive opponent, but so be it. Threes are the great equalizer. Normally the 16 struggles to score. At least in older times. Things are different now. UMBC was making shots, and playing confidently. They looked like a 1. Virginia’s style leaves them vulnerable. It’s tough for them to come back from big deficits. Slowing the game down and limiting possessions often makes for closer games, although this one was not close in the end. UMBC’s win was a little less dramatic because they won so easily. Maybe Buffalo showed us the blueprint. Hit threes. Score a lot. Make it tough to rally back. Arizona’s big man seemed insignificant. When you get down double digits, your best chance at a comeback is to make outside shots and have your guards leave the way. We’ll see what this weekend has in store for us. Enjoy the madness.
When it comes to losing to 16-seeds… pic.twitter.com/iXil7kypSF
— Mark Titus (@clubtrillion) March 17, 2018