Best Round 1 Game: West Virginia (7) vs Creighton (10)
These two teams have statistical profiles that are nearly identical. I bet if they played 10 times each team would win 5. I picked Creighton on my sheet but figured this was the game most likely to come down to one play late, and what a play it was! How great is it that a kid, who was having a wretched game, blocks a jump shot and gets the game winning dunk on the other end? In the words of one great American sage, ?Schweet!?
Biggest Round 1 Dud: Alabama (5)
Let?s be right up front. UW-Milwaukee?s Panthers are a good basketball team – period. This is a dud because of the way Alabama played, not because of the outcome. The Crimson Tide evidently never got off the plane, allowing 64% eFG to the Panthers after holding regular season opponents to 46.4%. They turned the ball over 19 times and sent UW-Milwaukee to the free throw line 28 times. Ycch!
Biggest Round 1 Dud Runner-Up: LSU (6)
After being down by 26 points in the second half against UAB my strong inclination was to award LSU the overall prize. The only reason the Tigers are runner-up here is the contrasting styles effect. In the SEC South Carolina, Florida, and Kentucky all press and trap but none employ it as their base defense and play it for 40 minutes. UAB forced LSU into a track meet then simply flew right past them.
Biggest Round 1 Dud Honorable Mention: UCLA (11)
UCLA, with only a single senior playing significant minutes, might have gotten a pass after losing to a more experienced Texas Tech team. The outcome of the game is hardly a surprise, especially considering how well Ronald Ross has played for the Red Raiders this year. The easy thing for me to do would be to tip my cap to ?The General? and talk about the bright future in Westwood. However the Bruins get a honorable mention dud based on their very disappointing effort (especially since I pegged them as a double-digit seed nicely equipped to make a run). They looked nothing like the team that played brilliantly down the stretch in the Pac 10 and bludgeoned Notre Dame into the NIT. They looked discombobulated on offense and seemed completely disinterested on defense even though the score was cosmetically close until very late. They had the look of a team waiting for a 10-0 run to fall from the sky rather than trying to make one happen. Coach Ben Howland did little to change the tempo or flow in the game. The Bruins were content to play a halfcourt game, walking the ball up the floor even after a rare Tech miss and rarely extending on defense. It?s not at all clear to me why they thought they might win this way.