Mega March Madness Marathon: Hour No. 3

Tim CarySenior Analyst IMarch 20, 2009

MIAMI - MARCH 20:  Guard Dionte Christmas #22 (R) of the Temple Owls is fouled by guard Rihards Kuksiks #30 of the Arizona State Sun Devils during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the American Airlines Arena on March 20, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

What happens when a sports fan takes in every minute of Friday’s NCAA first-round action with not one, but two full-size televisions in his living room?  The answer is Mega March Madness Marathon 2009, a Bleacher Report series that will be published approximately every hour by columnist Tim Cary.  The action continues in hour number three.

2:00        All of a sudden, the Bison are starting to protect the paint and get some tough rebounds.  The offense was never a question, but if NDSU can get stops, things might be looking up for the underdog.

2:01        Of course, as I type “the offense was never a question”, Bison players miss back-to-back wide-open shots.

2:01        I’m as bad as that announcer who says “he hasn’t missed a free throw all year” as the guy steps to the line.

2:02        Just call me Mr. Jinx.

2:03        Woodside has 25 now.  Kansas can’t keep him out of the paint.

2:03        And after that pull-up, Collins has 23.  Anything you can do…

2:05        Utah State could take the lead in Boise.  And to think I was ready to write them off in the first half.  If teams win 30 games in a season, they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

2:07        And Utah State decides to not get out on a shooter, and boom, they’re down four all of a sudden.  Please strike the previous statement (that whole benefit of the doubt thing) from the record.

2:08        We have our first Friday final.  Syracuse 59, Stephen F. Austin 44, in a game that really wasn’t that close.

2:08        Favorite DirecTV commercial so far.  “Can you feel this?”  I literally have laughed out loud every time I see that guy magically lose his hockey gear, scream, and grab his knee.  Every time.

2:09        By the Final Four, I’m pretty sure I won’t be laughing any more.

2:09        Turnover Bison.  The lead’s ballooned from three right back to eight.  Won’t I ever learn not to pick ridiculous upsets?

2:10        Collins just missed a wide-open three that could have broken North Dakota State’s back.  Still in single digits.

2:12        Gus Johnson: “Meanwhile, North Dakota State needs other players to step up and make shots.”  In other related news from the Department of the Obvious, sky still blue.  Economy still bad.

 2:13       Bison just saw their starting center foul out.  That’s not going to help them overcome this ten-point lead.

2:15        Last four minutes in Dayton, and to no one’s surprise, the Volunteers and Cowboys are still in a one-point game.  Could have made this a lot simpler and just started the game on the final possession that it’s guaranteed to come down to anyway, right?

2:18        I run to the other room to upload the latest article onto Bleacher Report—and the Bison must be making a run, because I can hear the high-pitched, excitable voice of Gus Johnson continuing to increase on the decibel charts.

2:20        This is the hardest part of the day.  Three single-digit games, all with less than four minutes to play, and only two television screens.

2:21        I can tell I’m not getting a lot of sympathy.  That’s okay – I have a quick trigger finger on the remote.

2:21        Kansas by seven, Utah State by four, Oklahoma State by three.  I’d really like to get at least two of these right, so something’s gotta give.

2:22        And it probably won’t be in Minneapolis—unless we count the Bison giving up yet another dunk.

2:22        Bison 7-13 from three in the first half, 1-6 in the second.  Ouch.

2:23        And Ben Woodside doubles the team’s second-half output from behind the arc.  He’s got 35, and the lead’s down to six.  I really want this team to win, and I’m not sure if it’s more because I picked the upset or because I want to see Ben play again on Sunday.

2:24        And the Bison’s chances just went down significantly after a highlight-reel follow dunk from Cole Aldrich.

2:24        Tennessee drains a three to tie the game at 72.  Three points was the largest acceptable margin in Dayton, so obviously the Vols were going to score to make it closer.  I’m not keeping track, but that has to be the 98th tie of the game.

2:25        Give or take eighty.

2:25        Back in the Dome, NTSU is going to need a steal to really make this interesting.  The Jayhawks have a six-point lead and the ball with 67 seconds to play.

2:26        Marquette can tie their game at the free throw line, while the game in Dayton is still tied (surprise!)

2:27        Tennessee just missed three or four chances at getting a defensive rebound.  That won’t help the Vols’ chances.

2:27        The Bison missed a three in the final minute, and the margin is eight.  It looks like Woodside’s valiant performance will come up short.  And my bracket will come up lacking as well, I’m afraid.

2:28        Great move by Tyler Smith.  The Volunteers are tied, and Smith will have a free throw to put Tennessee up one with 24 seconds to go.  Bruce Pearl was so excited, he actually got off the ground.

2:29        From my limited exposure to Pearl’s athleticism and vertical leap, I like my chances against Pearl in a 1-on-1 showdown.  End random tangent.

2:29        Vols by one after the free throw; here comes Ok. St. for the game.

2:30        And it’s a hoop and foul with 6.7 to go.  This may be a good thing for those of us that picked Tennessee—I mean, it’s been obvious the whole game that whoever had the ball last would win.  That will probably be the Vols now.

2:31        It’s looking more and more like I could miss all three of these close games on my bracket.  Utah State’s down three in the final minute. 

2:32        The worst part is that I convinced my wife’s grandma to fill out a bracket this year.  I’ll probably lose to her too.  I guess last place is last place regardless of how any people participate, right?

2:32        Right?

2:33        Tennessee misses a game-winner at the buzzer.  Oh no!

2:33        Utah State banks in a lucky three-pointer.  Oh yes!

2:33        Aggies are down two, 23 seconds to play.

2:34        Whoa-wait a minute.  “He was intending to use the board”?  Right.  And I was intending to screw up my bracket.

2:34        The next time I see somebody make a three-pointer off the backboard while trying to purposely bank it will be the first time.  Sorry, Mr. Announcer.

2:35        With the bonus for upsets, I really need the 11th-seeded Aggies to come through here.  Is it too much to ask to win one close game in our pool?

2:36        Fouling to stop the clock:  Takedown by Pooh Williams for Utah State. 

2:37        Pooh Williams is a great name.

2:37        One free throw rattled in.  One free throw rattled out.  Here comes Utah State down three.

2:38        And the step-back three-pointer comes up short.  But as a firm believer in Murphy’s Law, I expected that.

2:38        And the Aggies fouled the 81% free throw shooter.  I expected that too.

2:38        Good news: Utah State knocked down a huge three at the buzzer.

2:38        Bad news: The Aggies were down four at that point.  Final score: Marquette 58-57.

2:39        I’m getting used to crossing games out on my bracket.  Unfortunately.

2:40        Wonder what Tom Crean’s thinking right now?

2:41        Four more games coming up in the next time slot: Dayton-West Virginia, Pitt-East Tennessee State, Temple-Arizona State, and Cornell-Missouri.

2:43        Expect upsets in that set of games—I picked all higher seeds.

2:45        Most likely to be upset according to my track record: 6th-seeded West Virginia, who I picked into the Sweet Sixteen.

2:46        Arizona State all over Temple early in Miami.  9-2 Sun Devils.  I’m still not sure what to make of the Pac-10 this year.   Not really impressed with the league as a whole, but Washington and UCLA won yesterday, so maybe I’m not giving them enough credit.

2:47        Let’s see how many interesting lines the announcers can script that take advantage of Temple guard Dionte Christmas’s name. 

2:48        This could be a fun game – I want to try. 

2:49        “Christmas lights it up.”

2:50        That’s all I’ve got.

2:51        Howie Long commercial number two.  Does Chevy know this is a basketball tournament, not football?

2:53        Nice shot of Miami and South Beach as CBS comes back from a commercial.   Weather looks slightly more enticing than here in Ohio, if you ask me.

2:54        Time to get this posted on Bleacher Report before all the other games start.  See you in hour number four!       



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