6:41: That’s a wrap! Day 1 of the March Madness Live Blog went 6 hours and 41 minutes. Eight games, seven picked correctly, five games decided by three points or less, two upsets and a whole lot of brackets ruined on the third game of the tournament with No. 4 Louisville losing. It might be the weakest tournament field ever, but it produced the best afternoon session in the tournament ever.
I’ll be back on Friday at noon for Day 2 of the March Madness Live Blog to take you through the first eight games of the day once again. But for now, I need some dinner.
6:29: “Timeout Richmond!” I’m becoming a fan of Richmond. Well, I guess I already was a fan since I picked them to win this game, but they’re going to be exciting to watch again on Saturday if they can hold on here. Goodbye, Vanderbilt! Goodbye, SEC!
6:24: Richmond leads by two with 1:10 left. UPSET ALERT!
6:19: San Diego State has increased its lead to double digits and that’s a wrap for Northern Colorado with seven minutes to play. I still feel good about San Diego State as a Final Four pick (since it means they would eventually play in Anaheim), but I would have liked a more convincing win against a 15 seed. Like say, a 30-point win? I guess they could still get there.
6:13: Richmond is out of control with these 3-pointers. If they can get out of this round, they could be a scary team for a few rounds the way they live by the 3 and their success rate shooting it. Then again, it could be their biggest downfall if they go cold. Let’s hope they don’t go cold for the remainder of this game.
6:06: Richmond did a lot of work to take a three-point lead and it was erased by a single 3-pointer from Vanderbilt. I still think this game is going to be decided in the final minute with Richmond coming out on top. (At least that’s what my bracket says.)
San Diego State is pulling away (leading by nine) and that should be it for Northern Colorado with under 13 minutes left to play. If Richmond can pull this out, I will have gone 7-for-8 in the afternoon session with the only loss being Louisville. My goal entering the day was to go 14-for-16.
6:02: We’re in hour seven of the live blog and I just remembered “Jersey Shore” is on tonight. If “The Office” wasn’t on a hiatus, this would have been the perfect day.
San Diego State needs to get their act together. Richmond is looking strong on the offensive rebounds.
5:55: Footage of Jimmer Fredette getting off the bus. He looks ready to drop 50 on Wofford.
5:54: The previews for “Limitless” are running nonstop. It looks like it will be entertaining. I have always hated Bradley Cooper for his role as Sack in “Wedding Crashers” but I hate him less than I did when that came out in 2005. Having Robert DeNiro in the movie certainly helps. But first I need to see “The Adjustment Bureau” within the next week.
5:52: Richmond makes it a three-point game with a long 3-pointer.
TV1: Mike Francesa. TV2: CBS News. TV3: Vanderbilt-Richmond with audio.
Richmond ties it! We have a game!
5:48: If you’re wondering (you probably aren’t), the broadcast team for UConn tonight will be Tim Brando and Mike Gminski. The broadcast team for St. John’s tonight will be Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery. And if you’re wondering when Gus Johnson is working (you might actually care about this), he’s doing the four games in Cleveland on Friday.
5:43: I want Vanderbilt to lose almost as much as I wanted Kentucky to lose. Vanderbilt ruined me a few years ago in the first round, and I will never forget it. I dislike the entire SEC for the most part even though I have a few SEC teams winning their first-round games. And when I say “first-round games” I mean today’s games because today is the first round. Anything before today was a “play-in game”.
5:38: Pittsburgh wins. My bracket is now 5-for-6. Vanderbilt-Richmond is back on and we’re back to finish out the final two games of the first half of the day.
5:26: Since it’s slow right now, here are my picks for the eight games that make up the second half of the day:
#6 St. John’s
#5 Kansas State
5:22: Pittsburgh is going to move on, San Diego State has taken a 10-point lead and Vanderbilt-Richmond is at halftime. Pretty slow time for the tournament right now. I think the Vanderbilt-Richmond will go down to the final minute the way Butler-Old Dominion did, but the other two games left in the first half of the day are probably going to be double-digit wins.
5:15: I have barely watched the Pittsburgh game, but I don’t think it matters since they are taking care of business the way that a No. 1 seed should by just blowing out UNC-Ashville.
San Diego State is up two in the first half. I would feel more comfortable if they could run this thing up. I don’t have them in the Final Four or anything…
5:11: Typical Kentucky. Barely beat an Ivy League team and Brandon Knight doesn’t get on the board until Kentucky’s final possession of the game. Have fun losing to West Virginia on Saturday. My bracket is now 4-for-5, even though I didn’t want to win that game.
5:05: Princeton basketball!
5:04: We’re in hour six of the live blog, and Brandon Knight is having himself a game with no points. Princeton has a chance to tie the game coming out of the break, and there’s nothing I want more right now than John Calipari out of this tournament.
4:59: The officials are 0-for-the game on correct out-of-bounds calls. And “Oh So Strong” Harrellson just missed a free throw to complete a three-point play.
4:56: “Harrellson! Oh so strong on the interior!” Really? He hasn’t looked strong on the interior all game against an Ivy League team. You’d think that Kentucky was up 27 points the way the broadcasters are going nuts over Kentucky baskets.
4:53: For a second there when Kentucky got up by five, I though they could cover -13, but that’s out of the question now since they are up three with just over four minutes to go. So, I’m still on the midgame Princeton bandwagon. Go Tigers!
4:50: As we approach hour six of the live blog, the final two games of the first half of today’s games have started with Vanderbilt leading Richmond and San Diego State leading Northern Colorado. I have Richmond and San Diego State in my bracket. The live blog will run through the conclusion of the San Diego State-Northern Colorado game.
4:47: Apparently traveling is no longer a turnover in the tournament. Kentucky by five.
4:43: Kentucky has control of this game now, but John Calipari will probably say something stupid during this timeout, and Princeton will go on a 10-0 run.
4:41: I think Princeton can afford to put the last names on their jerseys. You’re not the Yankees!
4:38: Kentucky’s three leading scorers this year have combined for 10 points in this game. Way to show up!
4:32: I’ve given up on my Kentucky -13 bet and instead have decided to start pulling for Princeton (even though it will hurt my bracket too).
4:30: Vanderbilt-Richmond has started. I hope Vanderbilt gets crushed. I will never forgive them for what they did to me a few years ago in the tournament. Meanwhile, Kentucky can’t get a rebound and Princeton has a three-point lead. John Calipari!
4:28: CBS doing a good job putting in as many smokeshows as possible in the montages coming out of the commercial break. Keep up the good work!
4:23: Over/under six minutes into the second half when Kentucky scores for the first time?
4:21: Not surprised at all that John Calipari’s Wildcats are losing to the Ivy League champion. Kentucky has yet to score in the first two minutes of the second half thanks to a string of bad decisions with the ball.
4:11: Temple wins! Another great game! This is the supposed worst tournament field ever, but I think it’s the best start to a tournament ever. 3-for-4 in my bracket with the Temple win.
4:09: Oh… My… A longgg-range 3-pointer, and Temple and Penn State are tied! I need Temple to win, but anytime you get a chance to see a 3 from that far out to tie a game in the final seconds, you can’t be upset.
4:02: And we’re in hour five of the live blog! Another great finish on the way in Temple-Penn State…
3:59: I just got a lot of texts filled with expletives regarding Louisville. March Madness!
My perfect bracket is finished in just the third game of the day. 2-for-3 so far. I had Louisville going to the Sweet 16 before losing to Kansas. I’m not too upset because just about everyone else had Louisville winning and a lot of people have them going far.
3:55: Morehead State! A lot of Final Fours were just devastated, and Kansas’ path to the Final Four just got a lot easier without them having played a game yet.
On a side note, I hate John Calipari. I hate him. It’s amazing that teams can’t get shots off with a 35-second shot clock. Just disgusting.
3:43: Four games and three TVs caused me to forget about Temple-Penn State, which is a one-point game. Between this game and Louisville-Morehead State, the next 15 minutes should be fun.
3:38: Kentucky and Princeton are now tied. John Calipari! Louisville is down five to Morehead State late and Pittsburgh is losing early. “Richard, what’s happening?”
3:33: The “MORE-HEAD! CLAP, CLAP! MORE-HEAD, CLAP, CLAP!” chants are filling the Denver air! Sound the alarm! UPSET ALERT!
3:31: TV1: Temple-Penn State. TV2: Kentucky-Princeton. TV3: Louisville-Morehead State. Pittsburgh on the bench for now.
3:29: I’m mad at myself for taking a John Calipari team -13. How can I root for this guy?
3:25: Focus on Louisville-Morehead State on TV3. Audio up. 48-47. Upset Alert status!
3:21: OK, so maybe Louisville isn’t pulling away. Under 10 minutes to go and it’s a four-point game. Almost at “Upset Alert” status.
3:17: I think I’m going to have to work on my Scariest NCAA Basketball Coaches Power Rankings tonight to post tomorrow. I don’t want to rush them now and forget someone. The criteria needed is you have to have the presence of a coach that your players would be scared to disappoint and lose for.
3:14: Louisville is pulling away as expected and Kentucky and Princeton are both having a hard time scoring. OK, maybe it’s just Princeton that’s having a hard time scoring. Ivy League basketball!
3:06: The Pittsburgh line has climbed to -18. Staying away from it. Richmond at +130 looks pretty tempting…
3:03: We’re in hour four of the March Madness Live Blog! This Louisville game is boring despite Morehead State being in it because Louisville will probably end up winning by 18 points, but I’m excited for the Kentucky-Princeton game to start. Few rules at play here in the Louisville-Morehead State game:
1. Trust the Big East
2. Never trust a team that doesn’t have their last name on their jerseys
3. Go with the bigger coach
2:56: Temple takes the lead and I can envision every Penn State fan in silence around the country. “WE ARE … PENN STATE!”
2:53: Here’s my post from 2:08:
“The tournament is getting chaotic. West Virginia needs to put Clemson away and Louisville needs to play like a Big East team. Butler will win in the final minute. Louisville is down 12. I was going to pick them to go to the Final Four. Now I’m not so sure I should have picked them go to to the Round of 32.”
Well, that’s 2-for-2, and the perfect bracket is still alive!
I just took Kentucky -13. It’s a lot of points, but Kentucky has the ability to run Princeton out of the building, so I’m going to take my chances. I’m part of the anti-Calipari group, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Kentucky wins a close win in spite of me.
Two games completed and already a buzzer-beater, and still 14 games left today.
2:46: Old Dominion won’t go away. I said Butler would win it in the last minute, so I’m not nervous.
2:39: The focus shifts to Butler-Old Dominion on TV1. Temple-Penn State on TV3. CBS studio show on TV2.
2:36: West Virginia wins! West Virginia covers! The perfect bracket is alive! 1-0.
2:35: Louisville tied with Morehead State at halftime. That should be the end of Morehead State. Penn State with an early lead over Temple. I originally picked Penn State to beat Temple, but then I remembered all the annoying Penn State fans at the bar in Washington D.C. last weekend. Here’s the story about that from my NCAA Bracket Rules story from Tuesday:
“No. 7 Temple vs. No. 10 Penn State. I have no clue. I won’t be confident with either pick. But over the weekend I went to a wedding in Washington D.C. Between the ceremony and the reception, I went to a bar with some other people from the wedding and at the bar a bunch of Penn State fans were watching the Penn State game. They were doing the “WE ARE … PENN STATE!” chants every 90 seconds and just going nuts every time Penn State scored. It was weird. Now it could have been a Penn State bar. It probably was. But when I see Penn State in this bracket I think of these kids getting excited about a team that enters the tournament with a 19-14 record and I can’t help but pick Temple. Great basketball analysis.”
2:32: The only way West Virginia loses (and doesn’t cover) is if they pull a Memphis and can’t hit their free throws. Otherwise, I will be 1-0 and one win closer to a perfect bracket.
2:26: It’s 60 degrees out. It’s St. Patrick’s Day. West Virginia is covering. It’s March Madness. Opening Day is two weeks from today. The only thing to make this day better would be a #6 from Wendy’s. I haven’t had a #6 from Wendy’s since before a Rangers game in October at the Wendy’s across from MSG.
2:23: West Virginia is blowing this. Things are going to start flying at the Live Blog HQ if they don’t cover.
2:22: Morehead State looks like the Lakers. I just focused on them for a second and there was an alley-oop that will probably lead “SportsCenter” later. This is one of those games that gets everyone excited early, but once Louisville takes the lead, it will likely be for good, and they will blow it open. Or they lose. Either one.
2:19: That 10-point lead is now a six-point lead for West Virginia. Not good. Butler up four and Louisville down seven, but I’ll worry about Louisville later. Jones going to the line after the break for West Virginia
I forgot to mention, we’re in the third hour of the live blog!
2:15: When we get somewhat of a break in the action, I will give you my Scariest Coaches Power Rankings.
2:14: The CBS team is loving Booker’s dunk. FYI: You’re down nine points. Butler up three!
2:13: Phrases you like to hear: “West Virgina will shoot two the rest of the way.”
2:11: West Virginia needs to keep this thing at double digits, so Bob Huggins can breathe and lower his blood pressure to healthy levels. (It will take more than one win in the tournament to lower his cholesterol.)
I think I just saw sparks from my crazy TV wiring. If you work for Sony or Samsung, and you’re reading this and want to sponsor the live blog in exchange for some 52″ flatties, I think we can work something out.
2:08: The tournament is getting chaotic. West Virginia needs to put Clemson away and Louisville needs to play like a Big East team. Butler will win in the final minute. Louisville is down 12. I was going to pick them to go to the Final Four. Now I’m not so sure I should have picked them go to to the Round of 32.
2:01: If you’re wondering why all the TVs at the Live Blog Headquarters look like I bought them off Craigslist, it’s because I couldn’t move the biggest flatscreen because it’s hooked up to the same splitter as the modem, and I didn’t want to take any chances messing up the Internet connection. Otherwise I would be doing this blog from a Blackberry.
1:59: 10-0 Morehead State! When does the upset alert ticker go on all the channels covering the tournament? Nevermind. Louisville scores. 10-2. I was hoping for a first-half shutout.
1:57: Morehead State still shutting out Lousville 7-0. Isn’t 7-0 a skunk? Or is it 11-0? I haven’t played ping pong in a while. I used to skunk my friend Necklas frequently in the “man cave” at his house.
1:56: Butler-Old Dominion on TV1. West Virginia-Clemson on TV2. Louisville-Morehead State on TV3. West Virgina-Clemson audio on.
I’m finding out that not many people I know have Butler beating Old Dominion. Hopefully I’m right and they’re wrong. West Virginia up 12!
1:51: Morehead State has a 7-0 lead over Louisville. Not really a big deal. Rick Pitino will probably put someone in a choke hold and Louisville will turn it around.
1:46: West Virginia could be up by 12, but they are missing easy baskets. But I’ll take this three-point play and be quiet.
1:42: A 48-43 lead for West Virginia. The Mountaineers need to extend this and protect the -2.5 line. Now let’s run it up! It’s not worth winning if you can’t wing big!
1:39: Clemson has gone cold! West Virginia is covering for the first time today! BANG!
1:38: Here’s a picture of the Live Blog Headquarters. Also, I’m happy Flowers is back in the game for West Virginia.
1:32: We are in the second hour of the live blog, and so far it’s been pretty calm. But now that the third game will be starting, the Madness officially begins.
Greg Gumbel becomes one of the most popular men in America during the tournament coverage. My question is: How far into the tournament does he wish the tournament was over? He probably waits for this weekend the entire year and gets pumped for it, but I’m sure by the late round of games tonight with the quick turnaround for tomorrow, he probably hates it pretty quickly. He warned Charles Barkley about the long work days prior to the start of West Virginia-Clemson game. I’m sure Barkley will complain about it tomorrow. West Virginia’s first lead of the game!
1:27: Butler had a chance to extend their two-point lead (27-25), but got called for “carrying” the ball. Instead they go into the locker room down two (29-27) at halftime. 12 lead changes in the first half of Butler-Old Dominion. Both games are now at halftime. 13 minutes until Louisville-Morehead State begins on TBS.
1:23: Does anyone that isn’t associated with the University of Tennessee care about Bruce Pearl’s career? He broke some rules. He may or may not be fired. If he isn’t fired, he will likely break more rules. If he is fired, he will get another coaching job. Please don’t tell me any more about Bruce Pearl.
1:19: No games currently with commercials and halftime, so I thought I would make this point: How is this considered the “second round” now? The play-in games should count as part of the tournament, but they shouldn’t count as a round. It’s a pointless and meaningless technicality, but it’s driving me nuts every single time a broadcaster says it. THIS IS THE FIRST ROUND!
1:13: OK, I haven’t been paying enough attention to the Butler-Old Dominion game, but the audio is up and Butler takes the lead. I doubted Butler in their conference championship against Wisconsin-Milwaukee (they had beaten Butler both times in the regular season), and Butler made me pay. I have never been a big Butler or Xavier guy (I consider the two teams to be the same team), but that changed this year. I have both Butler and Xavier winning their first games. But then I have them both losing their second games.
1:09: West Virginia ties the game on a 3! BANG! Where’s Gus Johnson? A 9-0 run to end the first half for West Virginia. Bob Huggins is not happy in the halftime interview. Someone is getting a chair thrown at them in the locker room. Here we go! (Butler down two.)
1:06: I think Mike D’Antoni is coaching the West Virginia defense today. This game is breaking a lot of rules from my Rules To Filling Out Your NCAA Bracket.
The Big East team looks terrible. The ACC team looks great. The better coach is losing.
1:04: We are 31 minutes away from having different games on all three TVs. I’m excited and nervous. I think I need another Dunkaccino. Get a stop, West Virginia!
1:01: West Virginia’s losing. Butler’s losing. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
12:58: I’m nervous about the West Virginia game because my friend Forman, who has picked upsets at like a 92-percent clip since sixth grade, has Clemson winning. But he is a Purdue alum and his logic is that he hates West Virginia because they beat Purdue.
Right now Clemson is shooting 61 percent and I don’t expect that to keep up. And as I say that, they score again. WVU goes down and misses a 3-pointer and then loses the rebound.
12:51: With both games on break, here are my picks for all 16 games today:
#5 West Virginia
#2 San Diego State
#6 St. John’s
#5 Kansas State
12:45: No. 8 Butler vs. No. 9 Old Dominion on TV1 now, but keeping the audio on West Virginia-Clemson. I have Butler in my bracket and nothing betting wise on the game, but the Butler money line was tempting.
12:42: West Virginia is scoring at will now. The only problem is that Clemson is as well. West Virginia within four!
12:36: If I want to watch the same channel on multiple TVs, whichever TV I set first will be in realtime and the other(s) will be delayed. (If that makes any sense.) So I have managed to make my own replay system from right to left with TV1 on the left being a few seconds behind TV2 and TV3.
12:33: Things you don’t want to hear if you have West Virginia winning this game: “Bob Huggins is looking down the bench for some depth and there is none.”
12:26: The TV timeout and first commercial break of the tournament couldn’t have come at a better time. West Virginia looks like the team that had to play a play-in game to get to this game. I know it’s early, but you can bet the criticism of allowing a team an extra game before the “actual” tournament begins will start immediately following this game if West Virginia plays like this all day.
12:23: Slow start for West Virginia as they are 1-for-6 shooting and the fouls are starting to pile up. We are probably two consecutive non-scoring possessions away from Bob Huggins losing it. And Flowers has two personal fouls now. Great! Can I change my West Virginia by 2.5 points?
12:18: I thought that new score bar was just for truTV and I thought that CBS would be using the traditional one. I’m not sure how I feel about the new one, but as of right now I don’t like it.
12:16: My final four picks are Kansas, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and San Diego State (the same as Mike Francesa). And I have Kansas over Syracuse in the championship.
In Game 1 today, I have West Virginia over Clemson. I also have West Virginia -2.5.
12:11: If this whole sports journalism thing doesn’t work out, I think I have a career working for Cablevision or DirecTV or Comcast. I managed to hook up three TVs to the same the cable outlet (not sure if this qualifies as stealing cable) and have a setup of TV1 (left), TV2 (center) and TV3 (right). I’m starting the day with ESPN on TV1 (because you can never have enough Doug Gottlieb) and CBS on TV2 and TV3 until there are three games to view on the TVs.
It’s good to see Ernie Johnson and Charles Barkley on the studio show since it’s always good to see Ernie Johnson when it’s not for doing play-by-play in the MLB postseason, and I’m sure Charles Barkley will say something insane today that will cause him to trend on Twitter.
12:00: On March 1, I live blogged the Rangers and Knicks game simultaneously in their first games following the trade deadlines using two TVs. And with March Madness starting today, it only made sense to add a TV, multiply the games by four and live blog the NCAA tournament.
The live blog will run through the first two rounds of games on Thursday and Friday starting with No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 12 Clemson and ending with No. 2 San Diego State vs. No. 15 Northern Colorado.
So get your brackets, beer, fast food and parlays and get ready for one of the six best days of the year!