8:55 So far, it looks like the best ending of the day might be, surprisingly enough, in Washington, D.C. The Bruins are down three with the ball and 5-something to play. The Devils are really extending their halfcourt defense, and the intensity that may have been missing earlier is definitely there now. Of course, that’s not going to stop upset-minded Belmont from converting their latest possession. 65-64 Duke.
8:57 Winthrop is going to be loss #1 for my bracket. At this point, the scoring by half looks like this: 1st half, Washington State 29, Winthrop 29. Second half, Washington State 29, Winthrop 5.
8:58 Ouch. The first loss always hurts the most.
8:58 Well, except for when your Final Four team goes down on the first day. Can I hear you, Duke fans?
9:01 Okay, time to pay attention to the Trojans. I can’t lose a bunch of games at the same time! C’mon OJ!
9:03 So much for that plan. Bill Walker for three and KSU’s up nine. Looks like this might be loss #2.
9:04 Now just in case you missed my Belmont editorial from earlier, here’s the basic summary. Yes, I have Duke in the Elite Eight, but as a Purdue fan, I have no problem cheering for them to lose, screw up my bracket, and give the Boilers a better matchup down the road. So I’m very glad that Belmont is within four....or how about one? Bruins for three!
9:06 Belmont with the lead! Belmont with the ball!
9:07 I can’t remember the last time I was so excited to see my bracket fall apart! COME ON VINCE GILL! (I MEAN BRUINS!)
9:10 Back in the 40’s (we’re talking about points): BYU is down 49-48 to A&M.
9:11 But who cares about that? Belmont got a big stop...and they have the ball.
9:12 Here we go. 17-second differential. Don’t be so worried about running clock that you don’t get a good shot.
9:13 And that’s exactly what they did. Bad shot...Duke goes coast-to-coast...and they’re ahead.
9:13 I hate it when teams do that. Belmont had the ball, one-point lead, and they didn’t run an offense at all. When you’re up four, you can milk clock. When you’re up one, you can’t. And Duke just showed why by running the ball right back down their throats.
9:14 Belmont’s going to have one more chance. Four seconds to play. And that was an ugly ugly ugly out-of-bounds play. The official scorer took off about an extra seven tenths of a second, so the refs need to go put that time back on.
9:15 USC is officially done. That’s loss #2 for me. Duke could be #3 in a row. We’ll see.
9:16 Bolerjack and Wenzel are sounding like they’re on the third game of the day. C’mon guys...stick with the program.
9:16 Speaking of struggles, the clock operator is having some issues. Quit taking time off and putting it back on randomly, please.
9:18 2.2 to go...here it is. They got a good look....but it didn’t go down. Duke advances. Too bad for my Boilers. Good for my bracket.
9:19 And we immediately move to devote our attention to A&M...they’re trying to hold on to a four-point lead in the last three minutes.
9:23 My bracket is at nine wins and two losses. The only game I really regret is the USC/KSU pick...I spent a long time debating...and came out with the wrong team. I can’t wait to see the offensive firepower of the Wildcats matchup with the Wisconsin Badgers’ stifling defense in round 2 (assuming Wisky survives everybody’s favorite baseball school, Cal-State-Fullerton.)
9:26 BYU’s Plaisted just missed a free throw. As a Cougar fan, it has to be awful to see a 54% free throw shooter stride to the line at crunch time.
9:27 I’m cheating right now...I’ll confess. Since BYU/A&M is the only NCAA game going on, I’m sneaking a peek at the USA soccer game on the small screen. Freddy Adu & company need a win to qualify for the Olympics. Don’t worry...back to basketball we go.
9:29 A&M gets two free throws...the lead’s at six. And those are the kind of shots March Madness is made of. BYU knocks down a triple...with a hand in the face. That’s not an easy shot and can’t be defended much better, but boom! just like that, the lead’s cut in half.
9:30 And that will get us a commercial. In fact, one of the weirdest Lowe’s commercials I’ve ever seen. It’s either a Lowe’s store or the Garden of Eden, but I’ve never seen that many flowers in my entire life!
9:31 A&M has a 24-second differential. Let’s see if they learned from the Belmont mistake. Get a good shot. THERE IT IS! Dribble penetration and a kick-out. Aggies by 6.
9:32 That’s gonna do it. BYU misses a jumper, and the Aggies can make it a three-possession game here.
9:33 I’m going to take a brief hiatus while all the games are at a break. See you in the next installment of Mega March Madness Marathon!