4:00- I’m back to my all-day project of watching and writing about NCAA basketball.
It’s currently halftime in the Purdue game, and I’m thrilled with where things are at. The Boilers have done the job inside (thank you JaJuan Johnson), and adding that dimension to a team that, No. 1 always shoots a good percentage from distance and No. 2 defends with intensity, has been the difference so far.
It’s a 19 point lead over Baylor at the break.
4:01- I like the “power of H” commercial. It’s kinda humorous to see a Yahoo site, the Hollywood sign, and a computer keyboard with no visible H’s.
4:02- The game I had pegged to be a thriller is living up to the hype. Kentucky’s within five of Marquette and denying Dominic James full court. Whichever team survives gets the winner of this year’s “Academic Bowl,” Stanford or Cornell.
4:04- Obviously, you can never assume a first-round win, but since Stanford is a three seed, they should prevail against the Cornell Big Red. That would bring us to an extremely entertaining contrast of styles.
The Cardinal boast twin seven-footers, while both Kentucky and Marquette have incredibly talented guards. That’s one of the reasons the Purdue-Baylor matchup has been so interesting; Baylor likes to run and gun while Purdue wants to buckle down, slow it up, and win with defense.
4:06- It would be nice to be able to watch more than one game right now. Of course, Kent State hasn’t scored enough points for CBS to deem them worthy of viewing. So all four of my channels are showing the same UK/Marquette battle from Anaheim.
4:08- I really think Marquette might have the coolest uniforms in all of college basketball.
4:09- I really think what Billy Gillispie has done at Kentucky, qualifying for the NCAAs without star freshman Patrick Patterson’s 16.4 ppg after his injury, is impressive and doesn’t get enough credit.
4:10- Okay, we’re back to Purdue-Baylor. Now, die hard fans (like me) obviously have the potential to be more optimistic OR more pessimistic than the general public.
Recognizing that, I still want to point out I’m a little worried about the second half. I mean, of all the teams that could come back from a 19-point deficit, a run-and-gun outfit is high on the list.
4:11- Okay, CBS, thanks for helping ease my mind. Or not. They just flashed a graphic that showed how many times Baylor has overcome big deficits this season. Great timing.
4:13- Purdue is shooting its first free throw of the game... in the second half.
4:13- Okay, Purdue’s up 23. I guess that means I can concentrate on the last seven minutes from Anaheim.
4:15- Great hustle by Chris Kramer, saving the loose ball and diving into the Baylor cheerleaders. We’ll move on.
4:15- Marquette just forced a shot clock violation by the Wildcats. You have to win with defense in March.
4:15- These are the only two interesting games right now. Pitt and UNLV are both up 20-plus.
4:17- Purdue just had a wide-open three and three layups roll off the rim in the last minute. Games have turned on less than that (I told you fans can be pessimistic, even with 22-point leads!).
4:18- 19-point lead. Uh-oh.
4:19- And of course, CBS decides this is an opportune time to switch my channel to see the end of Kentucky-Marquette. Brilliant.
4:20- Marquette looks like they are making just enough stops to keep the Wildcats at bay, but can that last for another three and a half minutes?
4:22- Back to the Purdue game. All the rebounds the Boilers came away with in the first half are going Baylor’s way now. I hate momentum.
4:23- Jay Bilas is telling me Kentucky only has one second left on the shot clock.
4:24- Kentucky didn’t score. Just in case you wondered.
4:24- Dominic James is a stud. He just toasted a Kentucky defender who will remain nameless (to protect the very guilty) and made a beautiful reverse layup.
4:24- Baylor’s on an 8-0 run. The lead’s still 17, but that doesn’t make me feel any better.
4:25- The Bears just missed back-to-back threes that could have made things REALLY interesting. This clock can’t go fast enough.
4:25- And Keaton Grant just rejected a layup attempt from behind, swatting it into the bench. Purdue’s all over the highlight reels today.
4:26- The officials are calling the hand check much tighter than they did in the first twenty minutes. I guess when they realized neither team was shooting free throws, they decided things should change. Too bad.
4:27- Kentucky’s down eight with two to play. They’re going to need a big shot...or two...or three.
4:28- Speaking of big shots, Baylor just knocked down its fourth triple of the game. Let’s just get a Purdue run and put this thing out of reach. That’ll be better for my heart rate.
4:28- Hummel three. Hummel defensive rebound. Good start.
4:29- What do you know? Kentucky isn’t ready to go away. 63-58. Great, that means Greg Gumbel thinks I don’t want to watch Purdue anymore. For inventing this “Mega March Madness package,” CBS doesn’t really do a great job of understanding the nuances in switching game to game.
4:30- And there’s our first Bryce Drew/Homer Drew sighting of the day. Both coach for Valparaiso, and I have to say I’m impressed with their travel schedule.
I watched part of the Collegiate Basketball Invitational game at Washington last night. The state of Washington, that is.
They made good time getting to the other Washington (D.C.) in time for brother/son Scott’s showdown against Purdue.
4:32- Marquette by six in the last minute. Looks like UK got away with fouling a 50% FT shooter away from the ball. Convenient.
4:33- He missed the front end. Even more convenient.
4:34- Three-pointer Kentucky. Big time shot! We have a ballgame - 66-63 with 38 seconds to play.
4:34- Purdue turnover. Baylor can cut into a 17-point lead with under 11 minutes to play.
4:35- Okay, back to Anaheim. Let’s talk strategy. With only a three-second differential, I can’t imagine playing defense without fouling. And Billy Gillispie obviously agrees. Here come the Marquette free throws.
4:36- Swish. and... Swish.
4:37- Five-point game. And here’s why I love color commentators. Bilas: “They don’t absolutely need a three.” He hadn’t finished the phrase before Kentucky hits a three.
4:38- Two-point game, 20 seconds to play. UK needs at least one Marquette miss from the stripe. Billy Gillispie is using every second possible as he waits to replace his player who fouled out. Do they call it icing the kicker in basketball? :)
4:38- Thank you to the rim as that shot bounced in. They need one more.
4:38- And he calmly drained it. Here come the ‘Cats.
4:39- Steal by Marquette. That should about do it.
4:39- Keaton Grant just swished a three for Purdue. Whenever they’ve needed a big shot this season, he’s seemed to come through.
And the best part of that was the way the Boilers broke down Baylor’s zone. Inside-outside and the result is three points.
4:40- Don’t write the Bears off just yet. Back-to-back threes and the lead is 14.
4:40- Marquette has officially advanced. Final score, 74-66. Don’t look now, but my bracket’s perfect so far. I don’t say that to gloat at all.
I just figure I should enjoy it while it lasts!
4:42- Time to jam some meatballs and corn dogs in my mouth.
4:45- Have you ever tried to type with meatballs and corn dogs in your mouth?
4:47- Purdue’s making just enough turnovers and Baylor just enough shots to keep this one interesting. 6:40 to go and the Bears are at the line.
For as much credit as the commentators are giving the young Purdue players for their poise, they seem to be struggling against the pressure.
4:48- That’s one of the things that frustrates me. Is Purdue young or not? Are their freshmen poised or not? As a color commentator, you can’t blame every turnover on youth and every assist on “wise beyond their years”.
Make up your mind.
4:49- Purdue gets a couple hoops and stops. Thank goodness. Lead is back to 17.
4:50- Checking in around the country, Pitt is putting the finishing touches on a dominating victory over Oral Roberts in Denver. The Panthers are coming off a Big East tournament championship and show no signs of letting down. They’ll see Michigan State in the second round Saturday.
4:51- GREAT JOB, Chris Kramer! Attacking the Baylor pressure and converting a three-point play. Purdue’s stretched the lead to 18 and I’m starting to breathe easier.
4:53- If Purdue’s going to make a run in the tournament, Scott Martin is going to HAVE to start hitting free throws. End of story.
4:55- Tweety Carter just committed a foul. It wasn’t especially noteworthy, but I do like typing the word Tweety.
4:56- Great give-and-go between E’Twaun Moore and Chris Kramer. Just like a practice drill in early November.
5:00- Nothing to write about because we’ve spent the last four minutes in two different timeouts. Purdue is using a timeout almost every single time to break the Baylor pressure and TV timeouts, as we all know, will wait for no one.
5:02- There’s only one game starting between now and 7:10; it’s the one I’m dubbing the Academic Bowl: Stanford vs. Cornell. I’m going to wait until 7:00 pm to resume this series (don’t want to risk running out of material)...so check back for the 7:00 – 8:00 installment of “Mega March Madness Marathon.”
Thanks again for taking the time to read about my day. I’m out of here as soon as the Boilers finish putting Baylor away.
5:04- Why would you dribble the ball into a corner? I teach my high school girls that pressing teams will try and trap in a corner. Why voluntarily go there?
5:05- Offensive rebound, Boilermakers. Let’s take another 35 seconds off the shot clock how about it?
5:05- Baylor keeps knocking down threes. It’s 83-70 with 2:07 to play. For a team that claims defense as its No. 1 calling card, Purdue has let teams shoot lights out from downtown in three of its last four contests (@ Ohio State, Illinois in the Big Ten tournament, and here today).
Of course, the difference between the Baylor game and the other two is that it looks like we’re going to win this one.
5:07- The last few minutes of this game are dragging out, thanks to lots and lots of free throws. After a first half with hardly anyway, it just makes sense in some twisted way.
5:07- Looks like the Big Ten is going to be 2-0 in the tournament. Not bad for a “down” conference.
5:08- Guess what? More free throws!
5:09- Stanford-Cornell just started in Anaheim. Slightly shorter trip for Stanford fans.
5:10- That brings us to the trivia question of the hour. Quick, where is Cornell located?
5:10- Correct answer: Ithaca, New York. And here’s a bonus tidbit: The Big Red were 14-0 in the Ivy League this season. Maybe they’re the ’08 Cinderella?
5:11- And still the Purdue-Baylor game drags on from DC. Quit fouling already!
5:12- And we’re into the final minute. The Boilers are playing keep away and looking ahead to Xavier on Saturday. I’m only one win away from my Bleacher Report BracketBreaker t-shirt!
5:12- Final score from the Verizon Center: Purdue 90, Baylor 79. Thanks for reading
I’ll have some thoughts on Stanford-Cornell when I resume the series with a 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm installment.
Way to go Boilers!