Mega March Madness Marathon: Hour No. 7

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Mega March Madness Marathon: Hour No. 7
(Photo by Jamie Squire/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 the Mega March Madness Marathon 2009, a Bleacher Report series that will be published approximately every hour by columnist Tim Cary.  The action continues in the evening session.

7:00       

Right on time, Greg Gumbel strolls back into my living room.  Four games are coming up in the early time slot: Utah-Arizona, Louisville-Morehead State, Boston College-USC, and Xavier-Portland State.

7:02       

I have all top-seeded teams advancing except for one big upset.  I picked 12-seed Arizona over Utah.  After listening to every sports talk host blister them for not deserving to be in the Big Dance, I think the Wildcats will be hungry to prove the world wrong. 

7:03       

Utah should be feel good right now, considering how awful my bracket has been to date.

7:04       

I am 16-8 after 24 first-round games to be exact.  I only dropped four games on Thursday, but going 4-4 this afternoon was not what I had anticipated.

7:05       

The Louisville-Morehead State game interests me a little bit because both teams hail from the same state.  The Cinderella schools always want to prove they belong on the big stage, especially when playing with the big boys from just down the road.  It’s entirely possible that several of the Eagles were “passed over” by the Big East in-state program, and they’ll be looking to make a statement and shock the world.

7:06      

I doubt it will happen, but the intra-state “rivalry," if you can call it that, should provide a compelling backdrop for this first-round game from just down the road in Dayton, Ohio.

7:09       

We are underway at two different venues.  My upset special, Utah-Arizona, has tipped off in Miami (Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel are doing the broadcast), while Louisville-Morehead State has started in Dayton with Lundquist and Raftery on the call.

7:11      

Arizona nails a quick three and then forces turnover.  The Wildcats are playing great defense early.

7:12       

Morehead State is up 2-1.  It looks like the Cardinals are on the ropes.

7:13       

I was kidding.  I hope you know that by now.  Cards are now leading 4-2.

7:14

Louisville is overwhelming the 16-seeded Eagles early with their trademark full-court pressure.  Morehead State will have to take care of the ball to stay competitive.

7:14      

Morehead St. breaks the press and finishes with authority.  Eagles get a dunk to tie things up at 4.

7:15       

Great hands by the Cardinals forces yet another turnover.   And again, the result is a layup.  Louisville by a half dozen.

7:17

Utah is controlling the paint with 7’2” center Luke Nevill.

7:18      

And 7’2” center Luke Nevill just picked up his second foul less than four minutes into the game.  That should change things as Arizona tries to attack the paint.

7:19       

Boston College-USC is about to begin in Minneapolis.  It’s always a little tricky to watch more than two games on two televisions.

7:20        

We'll get it figured out.

7:21       

I didn’t realize USC was down 15 at halftime of the Pac-10 Championship Game.  Talk about “happy to be here."

7:22       

That was a less-than-stellar start.  Two Trojans completely failed to communicate in the slightest and chased each other out of bounds with the ball after the opening tip.  I can honestly say I’ve never seen a play quite like that before.

7:23       

It took Gus Johnson exactly forty seconds to get excited and growl for the first time.  This coincides exactly with the first points of the game in Minneapolis.

7:23       

Back in Miami, Arizona is out to a six-point lead early, much to the delight of my battered bracket. 

7:24       

The fourth game of our quartet is about to begin as Xavier and Portland State get ready to start.

7:24       

Utah calls a timeout.  Arizona’s has scored nine points in a row, and they lead 12-4.

7:25       

The Xavier Musketeers were an Elite Eight team a year ago. I am little surprised that Greg Anthony is picking them to lose in the first round.  But who am I to pick on other people about their brackets?

7:26       

I can hear you agreeing with me.  Be nice.

7:26       

Xavier ran exactly 35 seconds off the shot clock on their first possession, and they come away with three points.  I would tend to agree with the Portland State bench that the shot didn’t get off before the shot clock buzzer.

7:27       

But no one asked me.

7:28       

Four games running simultaneously. This is about as good as it gets in sports.

7:29       

Of course, if I had four screens, it might be better. I don’t think my wife wants to hear that, though.  I think I can make two screens work just fine.

7:29       

Wow, Utah coach Jim Boylen just put Nevill back in with two fouls.  That’s risky.

7:30       

Arizona went right at Nevill and got a bucket; the big Ute didn’t really have a choice except to get out of the way.  He couldn’t risk his third foul.  That's great execution by the Cats.

7:30       

Nevill makes his presence felt with an offensive rebound and slam.

7:31     

The Wildcats get another steal with their pressure.  My upset pick is looking good early.

7:32       

But don’t worry, Utah.  My track record should keep you safe.

7:32       

Louisville is up five on Morehead State.  It seems like the Eagles are keeping their composure pretty well against Pitino’s schemes.

7:33       

This is a bad sign for Boston College.  Their best player, Tyrese Rice, is 3-for-3 for seven points already, and the Eagles are still down three.

7:34       

Freshman guard Reggie Jackson just checked into the game for BC.  Can we call him “Mr. March?"

7:34       

Big-time baseline dunk by Taj Gibson for USC.  As Gus says, “He was trying to rip the thing down!”  (insert Gus Johnson 100-decibel impression here.)

7:35       

Great drive to the hoop by Utah’s Carlon Brown.  If the Utes can hang around with Nevill in foul trouble, it bodes well for the higher seed.

7:36       

I might as well ask this now because it’s bothering me.  What in the world is a “running Ute?"

7:37       

Whatever it is, it’s down 18-10.  Arizona’s quick hands are causing all kinds of problems for the Mountain West champions.

7:37     

Arizona gets another steal.  There’s a quick five points, and the Wildcats not only belong in the tourney they may have deserved a higher seed, 23-10.

7:39       

Wow, Morehead State converts an amazing follow-up dunk.  SportsCenter, save a spot for that play. The Eagles are within 19-16. Will another No. 1 seed struggle in Dayton today?

7:39       

Arizona just forced its 10th turnover of the game in only twelve minutes.

7:40       

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that, if Utah keeps up this pace, they will be hard-pressed to win with 34 turnovers or so.

7:40       

Morehead State’s Maze Stallworth just hit his third three-pointer.  And that one was deep, like from back home in Kentucky deep.

7:41       

Morehead is ahead by a bucket.  Timeout Louisville!  The Eagles are on a 17-5 run and lead it, 24-22.

7:42       

USC is really crashing the glass so far in Minnesota.  The Trojans want every loose ball, every rebound, and they are willing to go over, around, or in that case, through anyone in their way.  It's 18-18 from the Metrodome.

7:43       

The Wildcats still trying to figure out how to attack Utah inside, and they draw the third foul on Nevill.

7:45     

Lots of zone defenses scattered around my televisions right now, Arizona and Boston College most notably.  Of course Arizona plays zone, right?

7:46       

Another star is in foul trouble—it’s Portland State 5'6" senior Jeremiah Dominguez. 

7:47      

Xavier’s C.J. Anderson just jumped on top of and over a Vikings player.  That’s one of those “I hope somebody had a camera” moments. 

7:48       

The good news for the Louisville Cardinals at this point is that they have forced seven turnovers.

7:48       

The bad news is that they have committed six turnovers of their own.

7:48      

A big three from Utah’s Lawrence Borha cuts the Wildcat lead to single digits.  There's a timeout in Miami.

7:49       

Louisville runs off eight straight in Dayton.  Morehead State needs to stay within striking distance in the last four minutes before halftime.

7:50       

Borha hits another long jumper on the next Utah trip.  The referees are going to the monitor to figure out if it’s a second straight three-pointer or not.

7:51       

The tournament is special because teams from Rhode Island get to go hang out in the great weather of Florida.  For a team like USC getting shipped to Minneapolis, it’s probably not quite as enjoyable.  “Do I want to trade my palm trees for ice fishing?  Sure, why not.  As long as I get to play on CBS.”

7:52       

There have been many great blocked shots today, including that last trip by Boston College.  Interior defense seems to be all the rage

7:53       

The score in Boise: Xavier 24, Portland State 22.

7:54       

Make that Portland State 25, Xavier 24.  Tiny, little Dominguez is all over the floor for the underdog Vikings, and PSU’s putting a first-half scare into the X-Men.

7:55       

Speaking of scares, Louisville is trying to buy a little breathing room in the Midwest.  Cardinals just knocked down their fifth three-pointer, which stretches the lead to seven and lets them set up the deadly press.

7:55       

Utah is not going away.  The Utes have cut Arizona’s lead to five.  I am starting to be afraid of a Utah blowout.

7:56       

Great job by Chase Budinger to keep attacking the Utah basket.  Budinger’s has eleven points and counting for 'Zona.

7:58       

“Sensational move.  Except for the finish.”

7:58       

I’m sorry, Jim Spanarkel, but you can’t use the term "sensational" after a missed layup. I don't care how good the crossover dribble was.

7:59       

There is a big shot by Utah.  The Utes get an offensive rebound and knock down a three to cut the halftime deficit to five. 

7:59       

Speaking of halftime deficit, the Louisville Cardinals could be facing one.  Morehead State has the ball down two in the final minute of the half.

For hour number eight of MMMM, click here.

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