After that first set, hey, who's up for some more? (No upsets, but hey: Stanford totally came to play.) And by "more," we mean "endless nonstop lunacy for the next 72 hours." Four more this afternoon, all coming to you from Mr. Shanoff, whom we hope you enjoyed from the first set of games.
Here's the schedule:
So, stick with us, particularly if you're stuck at work and would desperately like to talk to someone about Belmont.
5:17: And that's it for the early- and late-afternoon games on Day 1 of Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament! Thanks for sticking with me all day. It's been a ton of fun. Don't forget you can always catch me over at www.danshanoff.com. Enjoy the rest of the Tournament, everyone!
5:15: Continued from the entry before: All I know is that I've gone 7-0 to start a day before (as I will today) — and crashed and burned in the night set. If you pick all the favorites, you will NEVER remain perfect.
So today's 7-0 start for the favorites (and no great finishes) simply makes it THAT much more likely that we'll see some upsets or great finishes soon. Hopefully tonight.
(But if I have any hope of staying perfect, it better be VCU over Duke.)
5:10: As this session of the live-blog winds down (be sure to come back tomorrow afternoon, noon-ish, for MJD goodness!), I don't want it to be as dejected and hopeless as that last live-blog entry makes it seem.
The best news is that the Tournament has a way of evening things out: Like flipping a coin "heads" seven times in a row, you know that at some point, you'll get a "tails."
Similarly, you know — either tonight or tomorrow afternoon or tomorrow night or sometime over this first weekend — there WILL be an upset or a thrilling finish. Most likely, more than a few.
When? Where? To whom? Who knows? But that's where the fun is.
5:05: The Aggies seem to have things in hand, and we're facing a very serious reality: Of seven afternoon games — nearly a quarter of the Tournament's first round — not a single upset happened.
More than that, not a single game had a thrilling finish. When neither of those two things happen, it erodes what makes the Tournament special: Either (a) the Unexpected or (b) the Thrilling.
4:57: And Vandy and GW are underway in the 5 p.m. ET Game That No One Ever Sees. (Unless you're on the West Coast or have CSTV or MMOD.) I always pitied the fans whose teams were put in this game. No buzz whatsoever. And considering that GW has ZERO points at the first TV timeout, probably deserved.)
As a Northwestern alum, I have to root for Vandy, because that's as close as Northwestern is ever going to get to the NCAA Tournament. No, Duke doesn't count. And I would have said Stanford, except even fans of Northwestern — WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN TO THE NCAA TOURNAMENT — don't want to be associated with Stanford right now.
4:49: Just when the nation tunes in, fully attentive, Penn is falling apart — and Texas A&M is turning it on (10-0) run. But this should scare the hell out of anyone (cough!) who has the Aggies going deep in this tournament.
(That's a good question, actually: Couldn't a great team have a particularly tough time against a specific first-round/early-round opponent without actually being as vulnerable, long-term, as that result suggests? Without anything quantitative to point to, it seems like every Final Four team inevitably finds some trouble in at least one first-weekend game.)
4:41: After a day of minimally competitive games, no truly fantastic finishes and zero upsets, we finally have some drama, if only for the moment. I'll take it. This is what we've been sitting around all day for.
With the Butler-ODU and Georgetown-Belmont results both foregone conclusions (and no other games on the afternoon schedule until the classic 5 p.m. ET game no one watches), the entire country settles in to focus on this one game. Let's hope Penn keeps it close enough to keep it interesting.
4:38: We've been talking about this all day, but everytime that "Entourage" DirecTV ad comes on, it's another death knell to that show's cachet. (As if it didn't evaporate a season ago...)
I need Gatorade AM sponsoring my blog. Like now. (Uh, please?)
4:35: Penn is back in it. They've dropped the Butler game to jump to the A&M/Penn game. And Gus Johnson is calling the game! It HAS to have a thrilling ending!
(In case you missed the early-afternoon live-blog, I think Johnson is the best play-by-play guy in the NCAA Tournament. I would pay quite a bit of money to have him call my weekly rec-league game. "Shanoff with the baaaaaaaalllllll.... HE'S GOT IT! THE SLIPPER STILL FITS! THE SLIPPER STILL FITS!")
4:31: Interesting that Butler calls a time-out having earned SO much momentum on those 3s.
AD WATCH: Buffalo Wild Wings is apparently attempting to counter Hooters' positioning as "the place for boobs" with positioning as "the place for dudes watching sports."
ODU is falling apart right before our eyes. Scoreless for four minutes heading into the under-8 timeout...
4:26: Wazzu over Oral is a final. Georgetown is a virtual W over Belmont. Who hasn't lost a game yet? (By the way, that can fall apart SO quickly. Like tonight. Or tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow.
Butler has their biggest lead heading into an ODU timeout.
4:23: AJ Graves' family owns a plubming company. And he "drained" that 3. Groan. That wasn't me; that was the paid TV analyst...
4:21: There has been enough game action to pay attention to that I have restrained myself from blatant self-promotion, like telling you to check out www.danshanoff.com as part of your daily blog rotation. OK, the TV time-out on ODU and Butler is over... back to games...
4:16: OK, we're down to one game that matters in this late-afternoon grouping — Butler and Old Dominion, which has sized up as a toss-up since the moment the bracket pairing was revealed. Will we finally get a game that goes down to the final seconds? Hopefully. (But with both teams as mid-majors, it lacks the oomph of a traditional "small" over "big" — or even 12 over 5 — upset. But who am I kidding? I'll take it.)
4:14: I'm ready to call the Wazzu win over Oral. If Wazzu gets to 65 points, it's a done deal. (And the Cougars have looked really impressive against a pretty damn good Oral team.)
4:11 Stop the presses! Exercise...might keep you from getting sick?!?! No shit!! Tell me more, James Brown! Tell me more, Katie Couric! And they wonder why CBS Evening News performs like Stanford...
4:06: Another annual NCAA Tournament phenomenon. When CBS leaves your locally broadcast game with 15 minutes to go, the game has been "called."
4:05: Roy Hibbert playing against the Belmont players is like that kid in 6th grade who was 6-foot-3 and the rest of us were 5-3. In an analogue, I was shaving that early. (My face, thank you... my face.)
4:01: The crushes on Georgetown's Jeff Green are well-earned. That guy is a joy to watch.
3:55: Why can't some master TV programmer at CBS just flick fans around from game to game? They wouldn't even need to SAY they were doing it — give fans credit that we'd know that we're watching a new game. If I could have one one-day-a-year job (besides live-blogging the Tournament here), I would want to be given free rein over the "live look-in" power.
3:53: Hmm: I ate lunch in front of the TV and three laptops, each open to MMOD... Go figure. (Oh, stop: I kid 'cause I love.)
3:45: And, yes, ODU and Butler combined for less points than Louisville scored in the first half against Stanford. More fodder for the argument that Stanford was the biggest waste of an at-large bid ever.
3:43: I appreciate all of the emails supporting the notion that the "Entourage" guys completely suck for doing that DirecTV ad. Completely. It's over for them.
3:36: Wazzu and Oral are back in play for the second half, a few minutes in. Wazzu has pulled out in front by 7. Meanwhile, ODU and Butler are racing to see if they can combine to score as many points in one half as Louisville had against Stanford.
3:34: We've got Georgetown-Belmont on the local CBS broadcast here. The Hoyas size advantage is tremendous.
3:30: Remember a few years ago, when you couldn't escape that "I'm a Leader, not a Coach" ad for AmEx featuring Coach K? The front-runner for most annoying (and over-played) Coach K ad is that State Farm ad. I asked this in the early-afternoon live-blog, but really: Do I have to pay extra at that K-camp for the sanctimony?
3:24: 14-12 in the Butler-ODU game at the under-8 TV timeout? Yeesh. Makes Wazzu-Oral look run-n-gun.
3:22: OK, so I take it back that me and four guys from a local playground could do better than Belmont. Even though I'm in Brooklyn, it's the wuss, "gruppy" part.
3:18: Oral and Wazzu in a close one at the half. Worth tuning in for, say, the final four minutes. (Or, perhaps, the final two seconds... if they're anything like the end of the first half.)
3:15: And, thanks to that earlier post, Belmont has now decided to shit the bed. I could find four guys at the playground down the street and have better luck on offense.
3:08: Mark it down. March 15, 2007 was the day that "Entourage" officially turned the corner from cool to scholck. Thank you, DirecTV ad.
(Frankly, the show was always overrated — certainly good, but not nearly as good as it's supposed to be. Kind of like Memphis.)
3:07: It is a moral victory that Belmont is tied with Georgetown at the under-12 TV timeout. The coach just earned the right to call a notably better level of recruiting talent.
3:02: Will just brought up a good point (not to jinx things or anything): Would Belmont beating Georgetown be the biggest first-round upset in NCAA Tournament history?
I said YES. There have only been a handful of 15-over-2 upsets anyway, and certainly none of those 2-seeds had as high expectations as this Hoyas team, which is — by far — THE bandwagon Final Four pick of the Tournament.
3:00: Umm... Belmont? No: BEEELLLMMMONNT!!
2:59: From an email I just got: "Perhaps that Stanford performance is karma paying Billy Packer back for being such a whore for the major conferences. I hope he has fun calling Xavier-BYU tonight."
2:57: AD WATCH. I can't believe they recycled those dudes from the last two year's Cingular ads. Wait: Do they know it's AT&T now?
2:55: It's things like a BANKED 3 that make you start to wonder if Belmont can pull off the upset that would absolutely obliterate 90 percent of pools out there. (That's the percentage of all college hoops fans who have jumped on the G'town bandwagon, right?)
2:54: Back to Wazzu/Oral. If you too can remember watching Wazzu coach Tony Bennett playing in the Tournament for UW-GB Fightin' Phoenix, holler. (This is all part of my nostalgia trip today as I consider that it has been 10 years since I managed NCAA Tournament coverage over at ESPN.com as college basketball editor. 10 years... cripes.)
2:51: Can we all agree that Roy Hibbert is Greg Oden when compared to Aaron Gray?
2:49:G'town/Belmont underway! I said this last week during the Big East Tournament. Georgetown's gray uniforms are in the Top 3 for best unis in college basketball.
2:40: Stanford-Louisville is, mercifully, over. Let the debate begin whether Stanford was the worst waste of an at-large bid of all time.
Meanwhile, from Sacramento, when James Brown says "scrumptious," it makes me tingle.
2:35: Welcome to Part 2 of Deadspin's Round 1/Day 1 Live-Blog. I'm Dan Shanoff, formerly of here, now of here. See the previous "12:20 Game" post for all of that live-bloggish goodness, including a Commenter frenzy about the best regional fast-food.
Anyway, Washington State ("Wazzu") and Oral Roberts (uh..."Oral") are underway. Bring on the thrilling "deliberate" style of play!