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NCAA Tourney: Day 2, Update #1 [Mar. 18th, 2005|01:57 pm]
Well, bugger.

The Gopher's season came to an end, and while I'm pretty disappointed, it's still been one heck of a ride. We lost 64-53, and it really was one of our poorer performances of the season. The team... well, no one played well today. Not Hagen, not Robinson, even Grier wasn't up to par. It seemed like we weren't prepared for Iowa St's zone defense at all. We made a decent run in the 2nd and cut it to 4, but

But you know what? It's not all that bad. As an 8/9 game, it was basically a toss up, and Iowa St. rose to the occasion, and we didn't. Simple as that. And although this loss definitely stings, you have to put it into perspective. We were coming off a 12-18 season, with most of our starters gone, it was looking very bleak here in Minnesota. So to even make the tourney is really something to be celebrated. It's really been a tremendous season.

I'd write more, but I'm not exactly in the mood to do that. Just want to absorb the loss and look back on this season...
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Update #4 [Mar. 18th, 2005|08:18 am]
Well... sorta. I'm doing this today because I was dead tired when the games ended and in no mood to say something stupid here. So here it is...

We had one really good game last night, a breath of fresh air. And it was the first game to come down to the last shot. WVU/Creighton, tied up with 10 seconds left, Creighton player puts up a three, airball and it lands right in the hands of a WVU player, who quickly passes it to a teammate, who gives it to a streaking player who slams it in with 2 seconds left. Creighton had one last shot... but no dice. WVU wins 63-61.

Usually I'm cheering for the underdog in this game, in this case I would usually cheer for Creighton. But since I'm an idiot and had West Virginia making it to the Elite Eight, I had to root for them. So I was definitely glad they won...

But who cares about yesterday's games. They were just the appetizer for the main course. And that main course would just happen to be Minnesota/Iowa St. Yes, I'm very pumped up for our first tournament game in TOO LONG, DANGIT!!! Anyway, I don't know what to expect. Iowa St.'s definitely a good team (of course they are, they wouldn't be in the tourney if they weren't), and it should be a very close contest. Hopefully, we'll just want it more, play with a little extra effort and advance into the next round.

Oh, and hopefully we'll see more close games, too. There's no reason I should be watching TT/UCLA in the waning seconds when TT already has the game well in hand. We need a buzzer beater, dangit. Inject some life into this boring tourney...
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Update #3 [Mar. 17th, 2005|08:41 pm]
Good gravy, I don't know why I even considered this idea... absolutely nothing is happening!!!

There was a small chance a #14 seed could pull off a victory, but of course, the higher seeded team ultimately pulled it out. Which has contributed to a very "blah" 1st day, compared to others.

Only a handful of close finishes, only one upset, not one game coming down to the last shot... this hasn't been March Madness!! More like March Boring.... OK, that's stupid, but you still get my point.

Anyway, 8-4 now in my predictions... oh and MXC tonight was one thing that didn't disappoint. Absolutely awesome... too bad the season should be ending soon...
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Update #2 [Mar. 17th, 2005|04:39 pm]
Well, one good game so far. Utah/UTEP came down to the last 15 or so seconds, until a Ute stripped a UTEP player of the ball, and it was over. I was hoping for an upset, but oh well. I got the prediction right. And another note: Andrew Bogut looked like a man among boys. He easily could play in the NBA.

In other developments: Iowa blew (gee, thanks guys), Washington won (obviously), and BC murdered the Ivy League Penn. Now 5-3 so far in my predictions... not too great, but it's still early.

Now I have to wait another hour or so until the next game starts. Man... I always hate these 2 hour breaks.
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NCAA Tourney: Day 1, Update #1 [Mar. 17th, 2005|01:48 pm]
First few games are over, and already, things aren't looking good for my bracket. But who gives a crap about my stupid bracket, it was destined to suck the second I filled it out. Nope, it wasn't exactly the best 4 games to start off the day,but it had one upset and one #15 seed play pretty well. And since I love complete anarchy in the tourney, I always have to cheer for the lower seeds, regardless of what my prediction is.

The first upset, however, kinda sucked, since I flip-flopped on this game numerous times and wound up picking the wrong team. Alabama lost to UW Mil. by about 10 points, and unfortunately for them were the recipient of some really bad luck. First off, UW Milwaukee made just about EVERY three they jacked up in the 1st half, and they put up around 11-12. And the ball just didn't seem to bounce Alabama's way. 0-1 in my picks so far.

Other interesting game: #15 seed actually competed with a #2 seed, and EKU was within 5 points of Kentucky with 3 minutes left. But as to be expected, the higher-seeded team ultimately pulled it out, and won by 8. Dang... it would be nice to see a huge upset in the 1st round this year. 1-1.

Other finals: Oklahoma rolls over Niagara, and Pacific beats Pittsburgh. That last one was a tiny surprise, as most (including me) thought that Pitt would easily win. But as always, I'm wrong. 2-2 to start the day.

Need to go: Iowa/Cincy just started (2-2 so far? Nice to see two teams that really came to play....), and that congressional steroids hearing is also going on...
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OK, FINAL NCAA Predictions... [Mar. 16th, 2005|02:35 pm]
I swear. This is my final bracket. I've done about 20 different variations of my predictions, and have finally settled one this one. I think.

First off, let me say that this will undoubtedly be the worst bracket you'll see this year. I usually determine my predictions on how well they're playing, the inverse hype effect, and gut feeling. Well, after my gut delivered me 3 out of 4 Final Fours teams and Xavier and Nevada as my cinderellas last year, it ain't working this year. You'll see why below.

OK, to start out in the Midwest (it's not the friggin' Chicago region... that's so incredibly stupid):

1st Round: Illinois over F. Dick, Texas over Nevada, Alabama over UW Mil., BC over Penn, LSU over UAB, Zona over Utah St., St. Mary's over So. Ill., OK St. over SE Lou.
2nd: Illinois over Texas, Alabama over BC, Zona over LSU, OK St. over St. Mary's
Semifinals: Illinois over Alabama, OK St. over Zona
Final: OK St. over Illinois
My Reasoning: Relatively upset free region. I was considering UW Mil. to make it to the Sweet 16, but after reviewing my other asinine predictions, I decided to play it safe. Why OSU over Illinois? Illinois didn't really show me all that much down the stretch. Sure, they won the Big 10 Tourney, but they could have easily lost the last two. Plus, OSU was in this position before: #2 seed, looking to face a 1 loss team in the final... it seems to be set up quite nicely for a repeat appearance.

1st Round: Wash. over Montana, Pitt over Pacific, Ga. Tech over GW, Louisville over LA Laf., TT over UCLA, Gonzaga over Winthrop, WVU over Creighton, Wake over Chatt.
2nd Round: Wash. over Pitt, Ga. Tech over Louisville, TT over Gonzaga, WVU over Wake
Semifinals: Wash. over Ga. Tech, WVU over TT
Final: Wash. over WVU
My reasoning: Want proof I'm an idiot? Look above. Yes, that's Washington winning the region. Why? Because everyone's giving them the shaft because they took the top spot from Wake, which I think is unfair. Put them in say OK St.'s position, and everyone would put them in the Final Four. And yes, I'm taking Wake to lose in the 2nd round. This is one of those gut feeling picks, which will ultimately look completely ridiculous. Oh well...

1st Round: UNC over Oakland, Gophers (Whoo!) over Iowa St., Nova over NM, Florida over Ohio, N. Iowa over Wisky, Kansas over Bucknell, NC St. over Charlotte, UConn over UCF
2nd Round: Gophers over UNC (I am the dumbest man alive), Nova over Florida, Kansas over N. Iowa, UConn over NC St.
Semifinals: Nova over Gophers, UConn over Kansas
Final: UConn over Nova
My (incredibly mixed up) Reasoning: I already explained my idiotic reasons for Gophers over UNC, and I'm taking N. Iowa over the Badgers for biased reasons as well. I think Nova will beat Florida, though, as both teams are pretty hot right now, but Nova doesn't have the history of high expectations, lowly early round exits Florida has.

1st Round: Duke over Del. St., Stanford over Miss St., ODU over Mich St., Syracuse over Vermont, Utah over UTEP, Oklahoma over Niagara, Iowa over Cincy, Kentucky over EKU
2nd Round: Duke over Stanford, Syracuse over ODU, Oklahoma over Utah, Kentucky over Iowa
Semifinals: Duke over Syracuse, Oklahoma over Kentucky
Final: Duke over Kentucky
My Reasoning: Well, I had to have at least ONE favorite make it to the Final Four. As for the upsets, Mich St. hasn't exactly played well as of late, losing to both Iowa and Indiana (plus I needed a 12 over 5 game). And Cincy always sucks in the tourney, it should be considered an upset if Cincy wins.

Final Four:
Oklahoma St. over Washington, Duke over UConn

Duke over Oklahoma St.

My Reasoning: You're still here? Oh, well I'm basically winging it at this point, so pay little attention to these picks.

Actually, pay little attention to any of my picks. They all suck.

(Oh, and by the way, I'll be pretty active tomorrow, giving recaps of every single game. It's truly one of the greatest days of the year..)
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Selection Sunday Wrap Up [Mar. 14th, 2005|02:55 pm]
Yes, I'm doing this a day late, I had better things to do yesterday, dangit. Wait.... no I didn't. Anyway, I was too lazy to do this yesterday, so here it is today.

Anyway, as you might already know, we drew the dreaded 8 seed. Not good. What's even worse? Our first round opponent is going to be dang tough, as we will play the #9 Iowa State Cyclones. I don't know much about the Cyclones, other than the fact that they started out 0-5 in Big 12 play and finished 9-7. And from reading a few articles and such, they're not the greatest matchup for us. Dang.... and I thought we'd just waltz right into the Final Four.

Oh, and our potential 2nd round opponent, provided we take care of business in the 1st round? Ladies and gentleman, the reason I prayed for something other than an 8 or 9 seed, the #1 North Carolina Tar Heels. Now, I haven't really seen much of this team, as they hardly get any airtime on any of the networks (them and Duke), but apparently they're OK. They're the #2 team in the country, for cripes sake, and we have to be the unlucky saps who drew them in our bracket..

So, after seeing our match ups for the first two rounds, you would say, "Surely, Alex, there isn't any possible way you can pick the Gophers to do anything in the tourney now, right?" Well, you're sorely mistaken, my friend. I'm predicting a win over Iowa St in the first round, and in the next few days, I'll develop some kind of reasoning behind that pick. And yes, I know that this is the stupidest thing I could possibly do, and this will undoubtedly screw up my bracket, but I'm picking the Gophers to upset the #1 UNC. And I'm dead serious.

And I'm a complete idiot. But you know, last year Kentucky was being pegged as an almost-lock for the Final Four, and they couldn't make it out of the 2nd round. Same thing with UNC... EVERYONE is picking them as their team to come out of the East region, and it's almost like the Tar Heels are just being set up for a spectacular early round exit. So I'm doing the unimaginable... even for the biggest Gophers fan, and with absolutely no factual evidence to back this pick up, I'm predicting the Gophers will beat UNC.
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Man, *so* close... [Mar. 12th, 2005|02:38 pm]
But we couldn't make those key baskets down the stretch, and lost by the score of 64-56.

We were within 3 with around 4 minutes left in the game, but we couldn't get the job done. I know that we really had no chance and that Illinois was basically just biding their time, but still... you get involved in these games hoping for a miracle. Ultimately, it just wasn't meant to be.

I thought that once Vincent Grier botched that easy two to cut the lead to 6 by going for the spectacular dunk, the game was over with. And after Illinois extended the lead to 14, I KNEW it was over. But of course, I was wrong. You've got to hand it to Grier... I felt kinda bad after he botched the dunk because I knew he was trying to swing a little momentum our way, cause despite only trailing by 8, we really had none. But you've got to make sure you get the two.

But credit to him, after that mistake (and others... he didn't have his greatest game today), he played with an absolute vengeance... getting even the craziest shots to go down. He had something like 13 points in the 2nd half, and really kept us in the game.

And you know what the scary thing is? Even though we lost by 8 to the top team in the country, we could have played a lot better. I mean, yeah we played pretty good defense. When you hold one of the most potent offenses in the country to just 64 points, you must be doing something right. But we gave up WAYYY too many offensive boards. Became ridiculous at some points. And on the offensive side, a complete role reversal from yesterday. We were pressured all day, and that resulted in numerous turnovers, too many to count. That and the fact that a few players played no factors at all (Coleman was a liability... Stamper wasn't very effective), you'd be amazed looking at the score if I told you we could have played better.

But with that said (and I realize I shouldn't be complaining too much since we're already in the tourney and played a team that murdered us earlier in the year), what a great effort by this team. It's really amazing that one, we made a comeback against the best team in the country, and two, we competed despite all the turnovers we committed. I'm sure Monson preached the same thing after the game, and I'm sure this will do wonders for our confidence heading into the big dance.

And judging by our performance against the NUMBER ONE TEAM IN THE COUNTRY (I must stress that), if we cut down on the turnovers and control the boards on defense, who knows what this team will do. All I know is that I'm feeling pretty good about their chances..
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Up Next: [Mar. 12th, 2005|08:08 am]
(gulp) Illinois.

OK, so we have no chance to beat the #1 team in the country, but really... our work here is done. We did what we needed to accomplish, and secured a spot in the NCAA Tourney... The outcome of today's game has no significant impact on either team. What, Illinois will move down... zero spots if they happen to lose? And if the Gophers lose, they'll move down approximately... zero spots? Really, the only reason to try to win is to continue our winning streak heading into the tourney, and to get the national media to give us some respect... just kidding, they wouldn't give us the time of day if we beat Illinois, UNC, and Duke by a combined score of 80!

Although it might be cool if we can upset the giant, realistically... it ain't happening. And I'm perfectly OK with that. I mean, the Gophers are going to the NCAA Tournament after years of frustration and no improvement in sight. I can't be THAT demanding to expect us to beat Illinois.

The outcome I'm hoping for... is an extreme one. Either the Gophers pull off the huge upset... or the Gophers get crushed by 30. Why, you may ask? Seeding. Right now, we're looking (I believe) at a 8/9 seed, which is something I desperately want to avoid. I mean, I know we can't play Illinois in the 2nd round due to being in the same conference and all, but do we really want a 2nd round matchup with a team like UNC? If we lose spectacularly, we might go down to a 10 seed and have a more winnable 2nd round game against a 2 seed (I know the 1st round matchup will then be tougher for us, but really... what's the difference between a 7 and 8 seed? Not that large of a disparity between the two), or if we (miraculously) win against Illinois, perhaps a 7 seed will be our future.

Although one of those two scenarios would be nice, it's probably going to be either a close game where Illinois runs with it late, or a game where Illinois keeps us within a safe 10-15 point distance the whole game. Eh, I'll probably start playing MVP midway through the 2nd half.
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*Tries To Contain Excitement* [Mar. 11th, 2005|03:44 pm]
[Current Mood |goodgood]
[Current Music |Dance The Night Away (you know I had to listen to it)]

Well, we came into the game needing a win to ... ah, screw it.


(that's a long, insanely stretched out "Yes", in case you can't read that.)

Man, I can't believe it. We're actually going to the big dance, baby!!! This seemingly impossible fantasy is about to come to fruition... and it feels AB-SO-LUTELY GREAT!!!!!!! We're going to the NCAA Tourney!!!

Oh yeah, about the game. Well, as you can probably tell, we won. And it really wasn't even close, much to my surprise. It was close for about 25 minutes of the game, but we were never in serious trouble and always seemed to contain Indiana from making a huge run. And when Indiana closed the gap to 2, that's when we pounced and put them away for good. It was 42-40 at one point... a few minutes into the game, it was 67-47. Have I mentioned that this win feels INSANELY AWESOME?!?!?!?! I did?? Oh.... well, it NEEDS TO BE MENTIONED AGAIN!!!! YES!!!

Just a great performance by the Gophers... it could quite possibly be their greatest game of the season. Great coaching, great focused effort, superb defense (did we seem to have like 10 blocks or is it just me?), and just brilliant on the offensive side. Superb, BALANCED effort... not one player stood out above the rest, but everyone with GREAT contributions. Robinson with his clutch 3 pointers, Hagen with some great passing, Tollackson coming in and providing a good boost in the few minutes he played, oh and Lawson and Coleman also pitched in with double figures in scoring. Is that everyone?? Well, Tucker didn't really play much... Stamper played well, also.... OH YEAH. I haven't even mentioned the Gophers best player, Mr. Vincent Grier. While he didn't have an EXCEPTIONALLY good game, he had his moments and had some key buckets. Just a great game...

And what a thoroughly enjoyable game to watch!!! Sure, I was nervous for most of the game, up until the Gophers made the run. And when they made that huge run, my nerves slowly began to disappear and I slowly began to realize that it was actually going to happen. And it's about to happen... WE'RE GOING TO THE TOURNAMENT, BABY!!!!!!!!!


(Alex passes out after excessive celebration)
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