The NCAA Tourney's First Round Had Some Hair-Raising, Electricfying Performances

NC NighthawkAnalyst IMarch 21, 2009

MIAMI - MARCH 20:  A Wake Forest Demon Deacons   Cheerleader dances on the court during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament during a game with the Cleveland State University at the American Airlines Arena on March 20, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images);  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Poor Wake Forest cheerleader in the above picture. Cleveland State's complete domination over her Demon Deacons was so shocking that it was a hair-raising, electrifying experience.

Who's your daddy? As far as I know, Don King is not her real father or grandfather either.

And neither am I, although I only live about a short 45-minute drive to the pretty Wake Forest campus, shaded with many trees. After Round One, Cleveland State is Wake Forest's "daddy."

More about the Cleveland State Vikings in a little bit. Also later and more importantly, how did I fare versus President Barack Obama in our brackets?

In round one of the 2009 NCAA Tournament, the Midwest had the most surprising results. The other three regions, especially the West, were very predictable; well, at least for me.

I’m standing at No. 13 in the prestigious Bleacher Report’s Best group at Yahoo! Fantasy Sports. I’m also participating in other bracket challenges on the Internet, including ESPN and CBS, and including a couple of Round-by-Round challenges.

The main goal for my bracket is for all four of my final four picks to remain and after the first round, North Carolina, Memphis, Louisville, and Pittsburgh are still around.

The losses by Wake Forest and West Virginia hurt me the most because I picked them as Sweet Sixteen teams.

While the brackets create great fun, interest, and entertainment, it is the games themselves that intrigue my mind.  As always, the unexpected the results and the one or two teams no one anticipates are the best stories.

Dayton, Western Kentucky, Cleveland State, and Siena are the tournament’s early Cinderellas. Cleveland State looks dominating and the team I would not want to face.

While Siena’s double overtime win over Ohio State was very dramatic, Western Kentucky’s effort over Illinois was impressive, and Dayton’s victory over West Virginia was unexpected, Cleveland State’s domination over Wake Forest impressed me the most. Yes, the Demon Deacons may have been flat and gave a disappointing effort, but the Vikings had it going in all cylinders and from all players.

The Pac-10 went 5-1 in Round one. I think they were motivated by President Barack Obama’s bracket, in which he gave the Pac-10 no respect.

Obama put all the pressure of the North Carolina Tar Heels, saying he would be disappointed if they did not win it all. 

Insert here your own political/sports metaphor in response to the Presidential Bracket or “Bracketology” as ESPN/ESPN oddly coins it. “Bracketology” is not even recognized by spell check.

For Round One, the record shows President Obama went 19-13 overall and Silver Fox went 23-9. Did Bleacher Report’s Finest send “Barry O ’Bomber": (Obama’s high school basketball nickname) an invite?

And include a mere $1 million of stimulus money in our bracket pool, please. I wonder how much money circulated for the White House or Oval Office pool? 

As long as it’s not our tax dollars being gambled. Never mind. Scratch that. The stimulus plan and the omnibus bills produced “gambling” debts for generations to come.

Oops! Sorry about the political transition between paragraphs.

Back to this tournament. The ACC had a disappointing 3-4 record in Round One. I knew the SEC would not fare well (1-2), so I just picked them all to lose, but LSU won.

The Big 10 did OK at 4-3 and the Big East looks great at 6-1, as expected. I respect what I’ve seen from the Big 12 so far: 6-0 perfection!

But this tournament is not about conferences, but about individual teams and game by game matchups, especially guard play.

Looking at Round Two—both UNC and Duke have pivotal games against formidable opponents in LSU and Texas, respectively. LSU can get physical and Texas is highly athletic with a superior inside game. 

I expect Louisville to take care of business with Siena. The UConn-Texas A&M game should be fun to watch and Connecticut should prevail.

I pick Memphis to beat Maryland and for Pittsburgh to handle Oklahoma State.

That takes care of all “five” No. 1 seeds. Memphis, to me, is the fifth No. 1 seed.  After that, take your pick for the next best teams, probably mostly from the Big East, although the Big 12 and PAC 10 are screaming for our attention.

Thus, for me, the Round One story is Cleveland State. They appear to be on a tear similarly to Davidson a year ago. Of course, a loss in Round Two by the Vikings to Arizona would prove me wrong.

Arizona is the team that many pundits, notably Dick Vitale, said they did not belong in this tournament, but that St. Mary’s did. You know, if we doubled the tournament to 128 teams, pundits would whine about who is No. 129.

With this single-elimination tournament, anything can happen, and the unexpected happens. That’s why it’s called March Madness, not March gladness or March sadness.


Quote of the Day:

"Act as if it were impossible to fail."
—Dorothea Brande

Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Brought to you by Copyright (C) NIV. All Rights Reserved.