Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Madness of March (Part I)

Well, here I sit, watching the Kentucky-Kansas game on my computer. Currently it's 15-14 for the good guys.

Historically, of course, this series has not been a lot of fun for KU. However, the last two years have been OK. Of course, during the last two years the season ended before this weekend.

(19-19 at the 8 minute TV timeout.)

Anyway, I want to take this opportunity to continue to break all the basic rules of blogging, go completely off topic, and give you one of those bullet-lists of thoughts about the tournament:

  • The ACC, as even Billy “Duke University” Packer, admits today, was over-rated. Duke especially. Seven teams in, only one remains. Of course, if I had my druthers, no league would get more than four teams into the tournament. I mean, really, if you can't finish in the top three/four or win you conference tournament, why should we think you can win the Big Dance?
  • 28-25 KU at the four minute timeout
  • The other 3 number-one seeds had some nervous moments getting out of the second round. Eventually we'll see a number 16 seed beat a number one, and even get into the final four. Things are that balanced.
  • CBS's March Madness On Demand (MMOD) works well on the Linux box, using the mplayer plugin. Oddly, it doesn't work on the Mac, because OS X doesn't support Windows Media Player, and I'm not going to search around for the appropriate plugin. So I'm typing this stuff up on the Mac while I watch the game on Hal. This also allows me to avoid watching when it gets too tense: I just work on this entry.
  • Sports Illustrated picked KU to win it all. Well, I guess I won't have to worry then.
  • 36-30 KU at the half. Kentucky's basically keeping KU from running, and KU had some early frustration charging fouls. Nevertheless, KU isn't playing badly, and Billy thinks UK is getting tired. We'll see. Hopefully KU learned enough from the two Texas games so they don't fold (see the Texas A&M game) if the 'Cats make a run. If you asked me at the beginning if I'd take a 6 point lead at half, I'd have said “hell yes”, of course.
  • KU 54 UK 42 with 14:11 left in the half. No idea how. I spent halftime and the first few minutes of play vacuuming rabbit-droppings off the back porch — don't ask.
  • Irritatingly, the CBS live scoreboard and play-by-play are now about 80 seconds game-time ahead of the video. So I know what's about to happen. Actually, when I think about it, this is a good thing, since I know when not to look.
  • If I was going to really reform the NCAA tournament, I'd let everyone in. Make it like a state high-school tournament. It's almost that way now. Is there a conference that doesn't have a tournament? If not, then the only teams that don't have a final chance at the dance are independents. Even Notre Dame, the most famous independent of them all, plays in the Big East for the basketball tournament.
  • 56-43 at the 12 minute timeout.
  • Another thing I'd do is take the money out of the equation. Teams should only get expenses for the players (plus parents and siblings), coaches (ditto), cheerleaders, band, and a few VIPs (A.D., President, Governor, etc.). All the other money goes into the NCAA pot, and it's divided equally among all the teams in Division I. That way there's not as much pressure to cheat to win. Of course, this has about as much chance of happening as Arnold has of becoming President.
  • One of the irritating things about MMOD on the Linux box is that the mplayer-plugin doesn't play unless it's visible. So I can't move to another area of FVWM's virtual desktop, nor can I completely cover the video part of the browser window. Which is why I'm typing this on the Mac.
  • 64-51 at the 7:38 TO, but Kentucky's at the line. Still waiting for them to make a run.
  • In baseball, it's often the case that the winning team will score more runs in one inning than the losers score in the whole game. Basketball, too, is a game of streaks. I haven't seen a study of it, but I'd guess that in most games the winner has one or more runs where they score 8+ points in a row. It's partly talent, partly luck. The example is the Syracuse-KU title game in 2003, where KU was the superior team, but Carmelo and company kept running off streaks that force Kansas to keep coming back.
  • Scoreboard says that Kentucky only has 6 team fouls to KU's 8, which is a bit surprising, considering UK has so many players in foul trouble.
  • In other games, looks like Texas is going home, which means that Kevin Durant is playing his last college game. He's going to be a great one in the NBA if he gets on a team with some support.
  • 71-56 at 5:46. KU now has 10 team fouls, which Billy and Jim somehow haven't noticed. If Kentucky gets on a run, they get two shoots on all fouls. Of course, the 'Cats show no sign of making a run, but that doesn't mean they don't have one in them. KU hasn't exactly broken away, and a 15-point lead is only a five-possession game.
  • Speaking of Billy and Jim, who decided that Chicago was the prime site this weekend? Not that I don't think so, but doesn't Billy ACC really belongs in Carolina. They aren't really talking about the game, anyway, just the tradition of the teams. Which is fine, but there's a friggin' game going on, and it's not totally out of reach for UK, at least not yet: 76-61 at 4:12, and Randolph Morris has 18 points to go with his three fouls.
  • KU stops a 7-0 Kentucky run (see?) with a Collins FG. 78-63 with 2:52 left. Maybe? I keep flashing back to the 1978 game at Lexington, where KU was ahead by about 6 points with a minute to play, no three-point shot, no shot clock, clock keeps running after a basket — and lost anyway. 6 points/1 minute/old rules < 15 points/3 minutes/new rules. It's still a five possession game, and I don't like KU's historic freethrow shooting.
  • OTOH, now it's 81-66 with 1:50 left. KU basically blew a minute off the clock without losing ground. Not bad.
  • CBS, having learned nothing from the 2000 election, has put KU into the regional finals with 1:32 left. Of course, now it's 83-66.
  • The Chant is going through the crowd. Funny, when I was at KU we never did this during the game. I guess it's sort of like Red Auerbach's cigar.
  • Finally, it's over: KU 88, UK 76. And KU's now 6-19 in the series, with the last three in a row.
  • And they're waving the wheat. Nor more than four more nights of agony left this year.

Well, thanks to all of you that stayed through the whole entry. Sometime next week we'll get back to the Linux part of the blog.