The Sweet Sixteen is a big deal. So we couldn’t watch the game just anywhere. The obvious choice? Jethros. (So yes Drake sports fans, I do actually go there. Great food and atmosphere, what’s not to like?) Here is a self-descriptive photo of the WebMaster as we watched Tennessee vs Ohio State. Oh, and this is the SEVENTEENTH time (I felt like “17” didn’t provide enough emphasis) the WebMaster has finished the entire thing. By 9 PM, he traded jeans for sweatpants, and was in a cold sweat the rest of the night. This, to me, only further adds to the accomplishment. Kudos WebMaster.
The Webmaster doing his thing.
This got the night off to a promising start. (Seriously. The guy finished it in about 12 minutes. The rest of the table hadn’t finished passing the ketchup.) But then Brent Heemskerk’s subpar performance happened. I knew I was in for a bad night. Shown with Blair Nelson challenging the WebMaster, the three pounds of meat in Brent’s leftovers box were more disappointing than Omar Samhan laying an egg and me wrongly selecting OSU to win a close one.
Now onto the less important stuff–the tourney. I know, I know. I messed up. By about 8 PM last night I couldn’t believe it. While Tennessee and Ohio State were in a dogfight, St. Mary’s was down 25 plus at the hands of the powerful… Baylor? Wait, my upset pick got smashed by more than 20 points and it wasn’t even THAT close? I don’t know what the line on the game was, but man that was ugly. And even my bold player prediction – omar samhan underperformed. (Since I put his name in all caps before, I feel like all lowercase letters is more fitting after his first half performance. At the half omar had a stellar 3 points on 1-8 shooting with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. While the last two figures are decent numbers for a half, 1-8 in a half for your game changer is not gonna win many games.)
Brent not finishing his dinner. Shocking.
Brent must have guarded him during halftime instead of eating his dinner, because omar regained his confidence and put up decent numbers in the second half, finishing with a respectable 15 pts and 9 rebs. But, I guess thats what a gamechanger is. The guy who is going to make or break the team. The guy who can win it. Or lose it. Last night, that guy was omar samhan in a nutshell.
Ok, fine, I got that game wrong (yes WAYYY wrong). At least I was going to be 3-1 in my predictions, right? Well, almost. Tennessee vs OSU was a good game. Ultimately these teams were relatively even and put on a show. I was even right about Evan Turner (it was the obvious choice I know, but still). Turner finished with 31 pts, 7 reb, 5 ast, a steal and a block. That’s a pretty complete game no matter how you cut it. Oh yeah, and he never sat against a swarming defense designed to stop him, pressure him, and rattle him for the full 94 feet. Even though he finished with 6 turnovers, I cannot take anything away from him. He played a very good floor game. Tennessee just has more bodies and more balance.
Now stumbling into the late games, I understood how OSU could lose (Ugh St. Mary’s) but I needed to pick up two wins to at least salvage the evening.
Actually, before I go there, congrats again to the UNI Panthers on a great season. They surpassed all expectations and showed the NCAA that we the MVC are getting closer. The MVC can be a great conference and successful in March. (Now if only we can annex Butler from the Horizon.) Thanks UNI and congrats on a fantastic year.
As for the game, UNI played tough, but ultimately the size, power and coaching of MSU won out. For one of the first times this season, UNI did not get great shots at the end of the game. They were trying a little too hard. Maybe a little tired.
Regardless, MSU still needed to make a few big plays to win the game, and they did.
I’m happy with my Draymond “Day-Day” Green selection for gamechanger. He was easily the difference. In the first half, UNI got out to a sizable lead as MSU struggled to find their identity.
Without Kalin Lucas, the Spartans lacked a calming influence on the floor. In the second half, that was Green. Green finished with 8 points, 5 rebounds, and a team leading four assists. (Tied with Lucious. Yes the regular point guards for MSU are Kalin Lucas and Korie Lucious. Weird, I know. It’d be like if Ali and I played in the same backcourt. As Raftery pointed out last night, a game handmade for Al McGuire.)
Maybe I would’ve been better served selecting Durrell Summers, as he scored half MSU’s points in the first half and continued his scoring string into the second, finishing with 19 pts and 7 reb. But Green is still my guy. And you know what else, Bill Raftery agrees — so it doesn’t matter what me or anyone else thinks.
A few more interesting notes on the UNI vs MSU game, as this was the main event of the evening. After Johnny Moran hit a three to pull UNI within one at 43-42 with 10:22 to go, UNI did not score another field goal. Almost 11 minutes. Thats unheard of for this senior team. Also, UNI’s bench, or I guess in this game Jake Koch, combined for only six points and six rebounds (all six pts and four of the rebs were from the young Koch). Normally a strong suit for the Panthers, bench production was almost non-existant despite playing regular minutes. To put this in perspective, against KU, UNI’s bench finished with 18 pts and 13 rebs.
Maybe the most impressive stat of the night, other than MSU outrebounding UNI by 11, was MSU’s assist numbers. Without their starting point guard, main facilitator, and best player (aka Lucas) the Spartans finished with 15 assists on 19 field goals. Think about that for a second, of the 19 shots made by State, 15 of them included helpers from teammates. Couple that with only 10 turnovers and a team 1.5 A/TO ratio and you’re looking at a winning formula. Take pride, UNI fans, in the fact that despite all these uneven stats, PantherNation still had a chance to win the game in the final minutes. This is progress.
(Oh and by the way I was very excited when I saw MSU’s final 59 point total… exactly what I picked for them. I hope this makes up for omar… Does it? Maybe? No? Fine. I blame Brent.)
When CBS finally switched to Duke vs Purdue the game seemed entirely uninteresting. With only a few minutes left, the game was basically over, Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg seemed like they were half asleep (Why are our nation’s scientists not figuring out a way for Gus Johnson/Bill Raftery to call every sporting event ever?), and the camera continued to pan across groves of empty seats in Reliant Stadium. My heart was with Purdue, but Duke looked better on paper and proved it on the hardwood. At least I no longer had to suffer from the agony of watching. It was over.
Night score 2-2. The weekend score 5-3. Hopefully I can do better in the E8.