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 No. 8.
8:01 - Halftime in Dayton and the Cardinals hang on to a two-point lead. So it’s the Ville by a bucket, the Wildcats by five, and USC-Boston College all even at 30 in the final minute. Meanwhile, Xavier is starting to take control.
8:04 - The Musketeers have the lead stretched out to double digits…look out Vikings…
8:08 - Murphy’s Law says that almost every game should hit halftime at the exact same moment. Boston College leads 34-30, Arizona 34-29, and Louisville 35-33.
8:12 - Dominguez with a huge hoop “and one” for Portland State. 40-32, and Dominguez is headed back to the bench in the final minute to keep from picking up an unnecessary foul.
8:14 - Big shot Portland State! With Dominugez on the bench, Waters drives the lane and kicks to Murray for a wide-open three. The Vikings are within seven at the break.
8:15 - And speaking of break, with all four games on hiatus for a few minutes, I need one! Back in a minute…
8:21 - Make that six. Diet Coke has been refilled, my eyes are no longer crossed, and basketball has resumed in Dayton and Miami.
8:22 - Morehead State just got called for a ticky-tack violation, but it’s a costly one. The resulting turnover leads to a Cardinal hoop, and the Ville’s up four.
8:24 - Utah’s come out of the locker room hot; the Arizona lead is down to five. To refresh your memory, I picked all higher seeds in this time window (Louisville, Xavier, Boston College) except I predicted an upset for 12-seed Arizona, thereby sealing their eventual demise.
8:25 - At this exact moment in time, I’m next to last in our family pool. Only the four-year-old trails me at the moment.
8:25 - That’s the honest truth—no exaggeration at all.
8:26 - In other words, I hope you enjoy this series and remember that I know absolutely nothing, all at the same time.
8:26 - Louisville 6-0 spurt out of the locker room, and the lead is eight. Danger time for the underdog Eagles.
8:26 - Arizona got a great reverse layup and then forced a turnover with the press. Cats by ten, and to make it even better, the Wildcats drew foul number three on Utah center Luke Nevill, the MWC Player of the Year. Nevill has to stay out of foul trouble for Utah to survive and advance.
8:29 - “Cute as a button”: today’s quote from Bill Raftery. I know I’ve heard that expression before, but still. How exactly is a button cute?
8:29 - I mean it. Have you ever seen a “cute” button? Not me.
8:30 - Cardinals have stretched the lead to double digits in Dayton, while Boston College and USC are underway in the second half. Eagles are up seven, but I picked them, so watch out for the Trojans in the final twenty minutes.
8:30 - Random trivia: Arizona coach Russ Pennell played with Scottie Pippen at Central Arkansas. Something I’ll bet you never knew. Me neither.
8:31 - That didn’t take long. Boston College’s seven-point lead has shrunk to two almost instantly. My bracket is a curse upon the 2009 tournament; I’m convinced of it.
8:31 - Here’s the Final Four that won’t be, direct from my star-crossed printout: Louisville, Duke, Purdue, North Carolina.
8:32 - The Louisville pressure is taking its toll on Morehead State. The plucky Eagles are down 50-37, and the dream seems to be slipping away quickly.
8:33 - There it is: the Wildcats just drew Nevill’s fourth foul to send the center back to the Utah bench. Keep an eye on the score: Cats are up nine now with 14:30 to play.
8:34 - Great rejection by Arizona freshman Kyle Fogg.
8:34 - “He can’t get through the Fogg.” – Ian Eagle
8:34 - Foul trouble strikes again in Miami. Arizona’s Jamelle Horne just got his fourth. Both teams will be shorthanded for a long stretch of this second half.
8:36 - Nasty dunk by Kim Tillie. Wow.
8:36 - Portland State and Xavier have resumed. Musketeers on top by ten, and Dominguez just got robbed; his three-pointer was almost all the way down before popping out.
8:37 - These margins are starting to widen. Louisvile by 15, Xavier by 12.
8:38 - Of course, I would flip over to the close games—but they’re all at commercial. Go figure.
8:39 - Xavier is dominating the offensive glass right now. Of course, I would like to think that even I could get a rebound over a 5’6” guy every now and again.
8:39 - Great alley-oop for the X-Men. With all the highlights, SportsCenter might need a Top Twenty tonight. Musketeers by a dozen.
8:40 - Utah just passed a wide-open layup to kick the ball to a three-point shooter. I will never understand giving up free points.
8:40 - And it cost the Utes, who rimmed out the perimeter jumper and then gave up a dunk in transition. Oh, and by the way, Dick Vitale—the Cats belong in the tournament.
8:41 - Right now, USC-Boston College is shaping up to be the most competitive game. The Eagles lead by a point in Minneapolis. I hope it stays close to the end, because I’ll flip the sound on to listen to Gus Johnson. It’s not really March Madness until Gus gets to call a game-winner.
8:44 - Crunch time for Utah. Nevill’s returned to the floor with four fouls and 11:30 to play. If I’m Arizona, I isolate him every single time until he’s back on the bench for good.
8:45 - Louisville was up two at halftime. Nine minutes into the second frame, the lead’s eighteen. Things can unravel quickly for a 16-seed.
8:45 - Our family pool rewards upsets with bonus points for the seed differential. Translation: if 12 Arizona beats 5 Utah, I get seven bonus points (12-5=7). The Wildcats are up ten with ten minutes to go, but I don’t feel safe yet.
8:46 - Arizona’s Nic Wise is shaken up. Nevill got him with an inadvertent arm to the face, and Nevill’s lucky he’s still playing basketball today. If the referee had seen the contact, Nevill would be disqualified with his fifth foul. Instead, Utah gets the ball on the questionable turnover…
8:47 - …and promptly scores. 58-50. I’m telling you—the Wildcats are doomed.
8:48 - Speaking of possible comebacks, Portland State has the Musketeer lead back down to ten. Still a lot of time in Boise with 12 minutes to go; can Mighty Mite Dominguez rally his veteran squad to an upset victory?
8:50 - Morehead State keeping things respectable in Dayton as well. The overall top seed, Louisville, leads by fifteen.
8:50 - Make that eighteen. Cards bury their third bomb of the second half.
8:52 - Gus is screaming. Boston College and USC are going end-to-end, and the signature voice of March Madness is loving every second of it.
The rejection, the dunk, and the three-point jumper. He gets excited for all of it.
8:53 - So which underdog has a run in them? Morehead State, down 14? They need to make up two points a minute. How about Portland State, down 12? They need to make up one per minute.
8:54 - Maybe I’m a little too optimistic. Louisville and Xavier stretch their leads with mid-range jumpers, almost simultaneously on my 60-inch and 32-inch screens.
8:55 - Even USC is trying to stretch out a lead. Trojans by seven in Minnesota, and my Boston College pick is in trouble.
8:57 - Let’s face it, I’m used to my picks being in trouble.
For the final hour of MMMM, click here.