Most of us have had the same complaints in recent years. College basketball has gotten slower and less fun. The tempo is down, the whistles are up, and there's a timeout every 45 seconds or so. A given game could produce 40 fouls and 50 free throws, last nearly two and a half hours, and produce a 68-64 final score. The payoff for following the sport isn't as grand as it once seemed to be. And if you're a Missouri fan, that feeling goes double. Triple, maybe.
The relationship has grown stale, in other words.
But if there's ever a chance for us to rediscover that spark, it will be over the next three to four weeks. March Madness is still wild and fun. And on Thursday, s*** gets real. There were 10 games on Tuesday and 33 on Wednesday, and there are 60 today! And some actually good teams are playing -- 16 top-25 teams, in fact! Let's see if we can't fall in love with this sport all over again.
Here's your reminder that SEC Bingo also gets rolling today. Here's your card (via HHKB Chris, click to enlarge). Turn this into a drinking game, and you'll die.
happy gut-wrenching links
Rodger did an awesome job on this piece about St. Francis barely missing its first NCAA berth.
The school claims the gym in the Pope Athletic Complex holds 1,200. That would make it the 348th-largest home arena of the 351 in college basketball. It's clearly well past capacity, but the official attendance given for the night is 1,013. Of everything about this place that is intensely New York, the most New York thing is a real estate listing that vastly inflates its size. [...]
The game itself is wildly physical. St. Francis is one of the nation's worst shooting teams and one of its best offensive rebounding teams. Robert Morris responds by playing a 2-3 zone that lets the Terriers shoot as much as they'd like, but makes any activity within the arc a war.
Despite this, St. Francis does exactly what they always do, scrapping for boards with each possession leading to big bodies crashing against big bodies. The Terriers manage 23 offensive boards on 37 missed shots.
While SFC misses and rebounds and occasionally shots, Robert Morris gets legitimately hot, drilling 50 percent of their threes on the night. After trailing to start the second half, a few big runs have them up 10.
St. Francis never quits. They battle back to within three, and on a frantic possession with under 10 seconds left, Tyreek Jewell is fouled shooting a three. To save his team's tourney hopes, the 62 percent shooter has to make three in a row.
He hits none.
SEC 2nd Round: Alabama vs. Florida (12:00 p.m. CT, SEC Network)
SEC 2nd Round: Texas A&M vs. Auburn (2:00 p.m. CT, SEC Network)
SEC 2nd Round: Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt (6:00 p.m. CT, SEC Network)
SEC 2nd Round: Ole Miss vs. South Carolina (8:00 p.m. CT, SEC Network)
ACC Quarterfinals: No. 3 Virginia vs. Florida State (11:00 a.m. CT, ESPN)
Big East Quarterfinals: No. 4 Villanova vs. Marquette (11:00 a.m. CT, FS1)
Big 12 Quarterfinals: No. 16 Baylor vs. No. 18 WVU (11:30 a.m. CT, ESPN2)
ACC Quarterfinals: No. 14 Louisville vs. No. 19 North Carolina (1:00 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Big 12 Quarterfinals: No. 9 Kansas vs. TCU (1:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Pac-12 Quarterfinals: No. 5 Arizona vs. California (2:00 p.m. CT, Pac-12 Network)
MWC Quarterfinals: No. 25 Boise State vs. Air Force (2:00 p.m. CT, CBS Sports)
ACC Quarterfinals: No. 2 Duke vs. NC State (6:00 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Big 12 Quarterfinals: No. 13 Iowa State vs. Texas (6:00 p.m. CT, ESPNU)
Big East Quarterfinals: No. 23 Georgetown (6:00 p.m. CT, FS1)
Big 12 Quarterfinals: No. 15 Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPNU)
ACC Quarterfinals: No. 11 Notre Dame vs. Miami (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Big East Quarterfinals: No. 22 Butler vs. Xavier (8:30 p.m. CT, FS1)
Pac-12 Quarterfinals: No. 17 Utah vs. Stanford (10:30 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Bubble Teams (or close to it)
Big Ten 2nd Round: Michigan vs. Illinois (11:00 a.m. CT, BTN)
Pac-12 Quarterfinals: UCLA vs. USC (4:30 p.m. CT, Pac-12 Network)
Big Ten 2nd Round: Indiana vs. Northwestern (5:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
AAC 1st Round: UConn vs. South Florida (7:00 p.m. CT, ESPN News)
Big Ten 2nd Round: Minnesota vs. Ohio State (7:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
MWC Quarterfinals: Colorado State vs. Fresno State (10:30 p.m. CT, CBS Sports)
Other Conference Tournament Goodness
A10 2nd Round: La Salle vs. UMass (11:00 a.m. CT, NBC Sports)
Big Ten 2nd Round: Iowa vs. Penn State (1:25 p.m. CT, BTN)*
Big East Quarterfinals: St. John's vs. Providence (1:30 p.m. CT, FS1)
A10 2nd Round: VCU vs. Fordham (1:30 p.m. CT, NBC Sports)
AAC 1st Round: East Carolina vs. UCF (2:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU)
MWC Quarterfinals: Wyoming vs. Utah State (4:30 p.m. CT, CBS Sports)
Sun Belt 1st Round: Texas State vs. UT-Arlington (5:00 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
AAC 1st Round: Houston vs. Tulane (5:00 p.m. CT, ESPN News)
MEAC Quarterfinals: Hampton vs. UMES (5:00 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
A10 2nd Round: St. Joseph's vs. St. Bonaventure (5:30 p.m. CT, NBC Sports)
MAC Quarterfinals: Eastern Michigan vs. Toledo (5:30 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
Sun Belt 1st Round: UALR vs. South Alabama (7:00 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
MEAC Quarterfinals: Howard vs. Delaware State (7:00 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
MWC Quarterfinals: San Diego State vs. UNLV (8:00 p.m. CT, CBS Sports)
MAC Quarterfinals: Akron vs. Kent State (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
Pac-12 Quarterfinals: Oregon vs. Colorado (8:00 p.m. CT, Pac-12 Network)
A10 2nd Round: Duquesne vs. George Washington (8:00 p.m. CT, NBC Sports)
* See, ESPN? You don't have to schedule games two hours apart. That ceased being realistic around 1989. BTN is doing them 2:25 apart, and NBC Sports is doing 2:30, and that seems just about perfect.
Together, we will learn to love again.