Friday, March 21, 2008

March Madness Impressions: Round 1

In MY bracket, the Final Four is Kansas, North Carolina, Memphis and UCLA, with North Carolina winning it all. This even though my heart of hearts championship game is Memphis against Tennessee again!

After watching the 1st round games, I wonder if Tennessee can get there, and maybe it's the "deflation factor." I've watched a lot of tournaments over the years, and one thing that has stuck with me for a long time was what longtime TSSAA and Milan broadcaster Bill Haney told me once. He didn't call it the "deflation factor," but instead, after a team won a great game late in the year, or in the tournament he would simply comment, "There's no way they can win anymore. They done beat who they wanted to beat." I watched it time and time again. A team would rise up and play a fantastic game and win a game, against all odds, and then the rest of the way, they couldn't come close to matching the intensity level reached in that emotional game. I'm wondering if that's not Tennessee's problem. Ever since they played such a fantastic game in knocking Memphis from Number 1, they haven't been the same team. They followed up their emotional win over the Tigers with a loss to Vanderbilt and have not looked like the same "pre-Memphis" team since.

In their opening game against American, they looked bad, by their own standards. We'll see if they can get their "mojo" back, but for the time being, they've looked somewhat "deflated," like "they done beat who they wanted to beat."

I hear so many analysts talking about the Big East and Pac 10 teams, but to my mind, there are at least 10 teams which could win the tournament this year. So many are great teams at times, but so beatable at other times. It should make for an exciting tournament. I'm really pulling for Tennessee and Memphis, but I don't get too bummed if they lose. I made up my mind a long time ago that my happiness would not hinge on whether a group of 20 year old boys did what they were supposed to do.

In the NCAA tournament, I always pull for my favorite teams, but I also pull for the "local" kids, too. It was great to see tiny Eddyville, Kentucky product Ty Rogers nail the winning shot for Western Kentucky against Drake! It's great to see what Poplar Bluff's Tyler Hansbrough has been able to do for North Carolina.

Friday night presented a dilema for CBS Afilliate KFVS in Cape Giradeau, MO. They cover parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois and a slice of Arkansas. Friday night, at once, we had games involving Louisville (Kentucky), Memphis (Tennessee) and Arkansas.

I covered Rick Byrd's Belmont teams when they were in the NAIA, playing Union and Lambuth, and I came out of my seat when Belmont almost beat Duke. I thought it was a "hoot" that their best player was a transfer from nearby Trevecca Nazarene. Seeing David Lipscomb and Belmont in the NCAA Divsion 1 make me wonder if the days of the NAIA are numbered. I also covered Dave Loos (Austin Peay) when he was in the NAIA at Christian Brothers. I always thought the world of both of them. Class Acts!

Commercials: The Old Spice commercials kinda weird me out. I wonder if they're really effective in boosting sales.

Announcers: Love Verne Lundquist & love Tim Brando, even though he made a big goof in declaring the SEC was still looking for it's 1st win in the tournament after Tennessee had already won. I understand Jim Nance is a very nice person, although I find him totally devoid of personality as a play by play guy, in any sport he does. A lot of fans hate Billy Packer, but he doesn't bother me. I kinda like him. You never wonder what he's thinking or where he stands. I also like Bill Raftery. Solid knowledge and a little fun, and that's what it's all about.

PS: A while back, I blogged about Orlando Columnist Mike Bianchi's assertation that only an "idiot" would pick Tiger Woods to beat the field at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Of course, in the end, Tiger sank a 24 ft putt to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. To his credit, Bianchi has declared himself an idiot and admitted, maybe TV folks aren't so stupid after all.

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