|Wednesday, March 21, 2012|
My NCAA Tournament bracket was really bad after the first two rounds. How bad was it? It was so bad that when I tried to feed it to the shredder, the machine rejected it.
While the state of Ohio placed four teams in the tournament field, they are sending all four teams to the Sweet 16. That is playing some hoop.
Ohio State, Xavier, Cincinnati and Ohio all advanced to the next round.
Tennessee did not fare as well. Far from it.
The Volunteer state had three teams make the field -- Belmont and Vanderbilt from Nashville and the University of Memphis.
Belmont and Memphis were one and done. Vanderbilt bowed out in the second round. Not very impressive.
ESPN college basketball analyst Greg Anthony projected Vanderbilt to make the Final Four. He must have based that pick solely on the Commodores beating Kentucky for the SEC Tournament title.
But then Anthony played his college basketball at UNLV, so maybe he got an inside Vegas tip from Louie the Loser.
Memphis caught the dreaded 8 vs. 9 game, matched against St. Louis. If only it had been the hapless NFL Rams instead of the Billikens.
St. Louis Coach Rick Majerus knows his way around the NCAA Tournament and he certainly knows where the best restaurants in the country are located.
Memphis Coach Josh Pastner still has training wheels on and the Tigers didn’t stay long enough to get the sheets changed in their hotel rooms.
Belmont also got a dose of reality, courtesy of Georgetown. Belmont could not match up physically with Georgetown, whose defense held the Bruins to 38.9 percent from the field while the Big East power Hoyas were stuffing the basket at a 61.2 percent rate. The Hoyas owned that glass, 32-24, and Belmont bowed out, 75-59.
“They’re well taught and they’ve got great athletes,’’ Belmont Coach Rick Byrd said. “If (Big East champion and No. 1 seed) Syracuse is better than that, I’m glad we didn’t play Syracuse.’’
While Belmont and Memphis losing did not fit in the “shocker’’ category, Vanderbilt’s second-round loss to Wisconsin didn’t sit well with Commodore Nation.
Coach Kevin Stallings had a veteran team that started four seniors and junior John Jenkins. They were a preseason No. 7 pick and finished out of the top 25.
In March is when your stars have to step up. They have to be game changers. Difference makers.
It didn’t work out that way for Vanderbilt. Its two leading scorers Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor came in averaging a combined 36.4 points. They scored a combined 22 points against a physical Wisconsin team.
Still, they had chances to win the game. Jenkins had the best look he had all game on a 3-pointer that would have put Vanderbilt up a point with 1:22 left in the game.
It was a shot he has made in his sleep, but the ball did not go in and Wisconsin held on to advance.
So Vanderbilt’s season of inconsistency is history. Next season promises to be a rebuilding year.
It will be even more so if Jenkins decides to leave for the NBA. Some mock drafts have him going late in the first round (guaranteed money). Others have him going in the second round (no guaranteed money).
So time will tell.
It always does.