Your live blogger for this game will be Queens resident Ben Muschel, who — until he finally starts law school — blogs about The West Wing. Please don't tell him how it ends.
Hello friends. (I believe Jim Nantz made it federal law to start all NCAA tournament discussions with those words.) For reasons they are sure to regret, Daulerio and Sussman have opened the gates, allowing people like me to type words that appear on their holy site. I assure you, as I did them, that my credentials for providing this "distraction" in the guise of a "live blog" are best summed up by George Costanza: "Maybe I could be like, an announcer. Like a color man. You know how I always make those interesting comments during the game."'
Anyway, your game: #2 Memphis vs. #15 Cal State Northridge. Already I don't like typing it, so be prepared to see a lot of "CSN" and try not to immediately think of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Memphis is 31-3, 16-0 in their conference, and last year's runner-up. Here's what I know about the 17-13 CSN Matadors: 1) They play in the Big West. 2) ESPN.com has their "Notable Results" as: UCLA (L by 18), @San Diego St. (L by 16), @New Mexico (L by 11). 3) Their leading scorer, Deon Tresvant, got suspended for allegedly stealing electronics equipment. And their starting point guard, got injured in a car accident. Adds Whitlock, for good measure, "For my money, Northridge is the worst team in the tournament." So, um, this should be a doozy of a game. 19.5 is the spread, and I have half a mind to bet that for the first half. Billy Packer would like to advise you to turn off your TV right after tip-off.
Your announcers: Tim Brando and Mike Gminski.
Your live-blogger: I'm Ben, also known around these parts as Student of The Game. My biggest contribution to Deadspin before today was making this happen. Nice to meet you all.
Enjoy the game, have fun in the comments, and remember, as always: nobody gives a shit about your bracket.
12:20 - I should also mention I'm in New York and CBS is airing, thus I am watching this game online at MMOD. If I make any mistakes, blame the internet stream.
12:28 - 5-2 Cal State! Do you believe in miracles?
12:30 - Let's look at the scenery. Game is in Kansas City, in the world-famous Sprint Center. Looks about 30% full. And CBS informs us that notable CSN alumni include Richard Dreyfuss and Helen Hunt. Not sure what that says about their chances today.
12:33 Memphis is doing the thing where a high seed comes out playing sloppy, not really caring much, and will probably do the thing where they wake up midway through the first half and take over.
12:36 - First TV timeout, 11-6 CSN. And as MrRedDevil points out, they do have a wicked font on their jerseys.
12:38 - I was going to say "Robert Salley ties the game with a 3", but apparently his name is Roburt Sallie. Well played, young Tiger.
12:41 - My friend Etan points out that this is the way crowds show up for these first games. "It's like a concert; iit fills up about a third for the opener, then the rest of the fans show up for the real act." Except in this case the next game is Maryland-Cal, so... insert proper music metaphor here.
12:44 - Memphis forgets to box out after a free throw, giving CSN a free two points and a 17-16 lead with 11:48 to go. They don't think it's a damn show, they think it's a damn fight! In other action... screw it, if you're reading this you know how to check a scoreboard yourself.
12:48 - Did you know? This year's Memphis team set a record for wins in a 4-year span, passing the 133 wins by Duke from 1998-2001. Related: Did you know? Duke didn't have SMU and Rice in their conference.
12:52 - Turnovers, turnovers, and turnovers. 9 so far, and we're only 25% through this game. Points aren't coming easy, but Sallie just buried another 3. 21-17 Memphis
12:56 Sallie is on fire (14 of Memphis's 26 points), but Kenny Daniels just had a sweet fast-break dunk (off a turnover, of course) to keep CSN within four. Third TV timeout, and we still have a game.
1:01 - Sallie needs a better nickname than "Long Tall Sallie." Other than that, he seems to be quite skilled at shooting from long distance. My quick research tells me he was 41.9% from 3 this year. Not bad. 29-22 Memphis
1:07 - Pressing questions: If CSN are the matadors, shouldn't their primary jersey color be red? CBS's MMOD setup is awesome, but is it too much to ask for to have scores of other live games somewhere on the page? Fred Thompson is the best notable Memphis alum they could come with (other than Penny Hardaway)?
1:10 - Memphis continues its grand tradition of missing free throws (as flashes of last year's tournament appear in Calipari's eyes), wasting an opportunity to go up 9. A Tremaine Townsend slam, and it's a 5 point game, 3:12 to go. 32-27, Memphis
1:14 - I haven't been listening too closely to Brando and Gminski; they're not good enough to pay attention to, not bad enough to mock relentlessly. But I think Brando just referred to the Memphis players getting "lathered up" before the game. Hey, CBS here switched off their game and onto mine. Now I can watch on sweet 20-inch, non-HD goodness.
1:21 - A combination of bad execution and good CSN defense has left Memphis without a field goal in some time. CSN misses an opportunity to cut the deficit at the end of the half, but can't be too upset going into the locker room down 3. Possible upset in the making, or this could go the route of 2007, when 15th seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi led Wisconsin by 8 in the half, only to lose by 13. Either way, Jim Nantz is worried that he won't get to use the championship-moment line "They're walking in Memphis tonight!" that he was ready to use last year before Mario Chalmers ended that dream. (He just texted Brando to tell him if CSN wins to say something about Matadors taming Tigers.) Halftime: Memphis Sallies 34, California State University, Northridge 31
1:26 - BREAKING NEWS: Jim Calhoun will not coach UCONN's game against Chattanooga, due to health issues. I'd make a joke about being intimidated by the mighty Mocs (seriously, they're the Mocs), but the man has had to deal with prostate cancer and, more recently, squamous cell carcinoma. Get well soon.
1:30 - I should point out I'm feeling a little uneasy, as I have Memphis going all the way in my bracket. I made that pick after a lot of analysis and research that can best be described as "guessing." Oh what's that? I broke my own rule? Not at all. Nobody cares about yourbracket. This is about mine.
1:37 - Halftime is boring, so here's a John Calipari fun fact to keep you busy. During his playing career at UNC-Wilmington, John Calipari indulged in 27 of the 64 fetishes in this tournament.
1:45 - Memphis still sloppy, and it's a one point game as the second half gets underway. Here's the CBS graphic you should be prepared to see in about 20 minutes, should the game be close: #15 seeds to defeat #2: 1991-Richmond def. Syracuse; 1993 - Santa Clara def. Arizona; 1997 - Coppin State def. South Carolina; 2001-Hampton def. Iowa State
1:51 - And we're tied at 40. I'm thinking Memphis fans are missing Derrick Rose and Chris-Douglas Roberts right about.... now.
1:53 - And a CSN Mark Hill 3 gives them the lead! It's 44-43! And it's time for some Tim Brando packaged lines! "Jumping up and down all along the 405." I assume this is some highway near California or State or Northridge. Also the Matadors are "climbing the hill" in Kansas City, a city I'm pretty sure is in the middle of the Great Plains.
1:57 - Calipari is a veteran coach, he's taken two teams to the Final Four, yet this team looks completely stressed out. Out of the timeout they seemed panicky, took a bad shot, and at the other end Cal State has another open shot underneath the basket. 46-43, CSN.
2:02 - All of a sudden it's a scoring frenzy. Robert Dozier remembers he's supposed to score and gets his first points, then Townsend buries one from just inside 3-point range, followed by 3's from Sallie, Hill, and... I just can't keep track at this rate. It's 55-55, which produces a lame Brando pun which makes no sense and I cannot remember.
2:04 - Granted, I don't have an official college team I support so I might not be the expert on this subject, but that rivals-as-friends ad puzzles me. UNC/Duke? OK. USC/UCLA? Understood. Ohio St./Michigan? Of course. But are Georgetown and Syracuse huge rivals? Does a classic Hoya/Orange game immediately come to mind when you think about those teams?
2:06 - Everybody on CSN is getting in on the party. A three from Rodrigue Mills and a Vincent Cordell layup and it's 62-56, 15 leading 2, midway through the half. It's as if Northridge came into this tournament with the sole purpose of proving Jason Whitlock wrong.
2:09 - A ferocious Antonio Anderson dunk is quickly overshadowed by a sweet "whirling dervish" move by Hill. More back and forth and it's 64-63 CSN, 7:40 to go. I think they're gonna cover the 19.5.
2:11 - Fact: The later the game has gotten, the more annoying Tim Brando has gotten. Let's hope we don't have 6 overtimes.
2:13 - I haven't mentioned it yet, and this has to be pointed out: Roburt Sallie averaged 4.5 points per game this season. With 7:40 left in regulation he has 29. Know what else? He's long. And tall.
2:16 - Memphis starting to put some offense together. 6-0 run to go up 67-64, 6:02 left.
2:18 - We now turn it over to a guest blogger, the one and only Rick Reilly! "Ben Muschel picked Memphis to win it all in every one of his brackets. Yet there he was on Thursday afternoon, loudly cheering for the underdog Matadors of Cal State Northridge. Madness? Well, that's March."
2:21 - Memphis slowly making their shots, taking the momentum, and starting to move away. 72-66, 2:40 left.
2:23 - It looks like CSN is gonna fall short. Sallie hits another 3, then another (35 points!), and Memphis has a 10 point lead. 78-68, 1 minute left.
2:25 - And it looks like the Matadors will be eaten, though not torn to shreds, by the Tigers. Roburt Sallie joins the long list of iconic Sallies: Field, Mustang, and Jessy Raphael.
2:28 - Memphis making free throws, and gamblers across the country begin to sweat. 13 point game, 41.2 seconds left.
2:31 - And that'll do it. Valiant effort by Cal State Northridge, but Memphis and your precious brackets are safe. Final score: Memphis 81, Cal State Northridge 70.
2:33 - So Memphis moves on to play either Cal or Maryland, and I feel like they're gonna take that one a little more seriously in the first half. That's it for me; enjoy the other 13 live blogs today and 16 more tomorrow. Thanks to A.J. and Suss for all their help. Roburt Sallie, enjoy your 1,000 new Facebook friends.