Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Grab Bag: ... and do the Harlem Shake

The Pac-12 seems to have bit hard on the whole Harlem Shake thing.  The zombified meme was featured during each of the first five sessions of the recently completed Pac-12 tournament, and a compilation of the attempts was shown at the final.


If there's any one reason that the Pac-12 was "seeding-snubbed" for the capital 't' Tournament, I'd put my money on this.  The Committee is always watching, and looks disapprovingly upon such crimes against humanity.  El Jefe, you brought this upon yourself.  Inform your charges in San Francisco that a repeat performance will not be tolerated.


Back from Vegas, I'm quickly turning my focus towards the Dance.  Despite concern trolls spreading doubt, CU comfortably made the cut, and is headed back to Big XII territory to play Illinois on Friday.

Today in the bag, I'm talking Tournament, Vegas, and Selection Monday for the ladies.

Click below for the bag...

The Buffs are Dancin' -

Breathe a sigh of relief, the Buffs made it.  Not like there was any factually based doubt, but my heart did skip a beat when Oregon popped up as a 12-seed.  Regardless, the Selection Committee didn't lose their minds, and CU was slotted in as a 10-seed, playing Illinois Friday afternoon in Austin, TX.  The selection marks CU's third-straight postseason appearance (a school record) and their second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance (first in 50 years).
CU has to be happy with their draw.  From: the BDC
Colorado also received the 3rd highest seed awarded to the Pac-12 this year, with UCLA and Arizona sharing the six line, and Cal and Oregon both popping up with 12s.  Despite finishing fifth in the league, that's probably a fair result for the Buffs, as, qualitatively, they looked far more consistent and Tournament ready than either the Ducks or Bears.

I'll do a full preview later this week, but I like both the seeding and the matchup.  CU was listed as a 'natural' nine-seed by the Committee, according to the leaked full seed list, so the Buffs were actually dropped to the 10-line to keep the game in-region. It actually works perfectly because dropping off of the 8/9 lines is a big plus.  Should CU prevail Friday, they only have to face a #2 in the form of Miami at a neutral site, rather than a regionally protected #1.

Further, Illinois is a solid matchup for the Buffs.  If I'm Tad Boyle, I'd rather see the Illini on the bracket than many of the other possibilities floating around the 6-9 lines.  They're guard oriented, often playing a fast-tempo four-out/one-in, and can struggle on the glass - essentially playing right into how CU likes to operate.  Brandon Paul can be a monster, but he's nothing that Colorado hasn't seen before.  If the Buffs can keep him in check, and the Illini don't get red hot from outside, the game could quickly tilt to CU's favor.
Brandon Paul and Nnanna Egwu will test the young Buffs.  
On a personal note, as a UofI legacy, this matchup carries with it some emotional weight.  I come from a staunchly pro-Illini family, and, by all rights, probably should've gone to school there.  My first basketball game was at Assembly Hall, and I've quietly cheered for the Chief despite shunning the school of my antecedents for Colorado.  I even geeked out when Stephen Bardo called a CU game a few years back.  As a result, I wouldn't blame you for thinking my loyalties may be divided.  But there is no internal conflict.  My heart pumps Black & Gold, not Orange & Blue, and I desperately want a Colorado win on Friday.

Unbalanced in Vegas -

What a wonderful weekend!  Sure, CU was bounced Friday by rival Arizona, but I didn't let that disappointment ruin my stay in Vegas.  It was a great tournament to attend, and I'm 100% glad I went.

The Pac-12 did itself a huge favor moving the tournament eastward, and out of Los Angeles.  There is simply no comparison between the two sites.  As cool as LA was last season, it can't hold a candle to the entertainment possibilities in LV. The MGM Grand Garden Arena is supremely better suited to hold the tournament than the cavernously large Staples Center, and it's far easier to entice larger groups of fans from the 12 schools when basketball isn't the only thing on the agenda.  I know I'm already planning on a return trip next year, and everyone I talked to over the weekend expressed the same.  The conference nailed the whole thing (outside of the HS, of course).
The MGM was a great venue.
Overall, the Pac-12 did it's best to put on an awesome show.  Seven of the 11 games were decided by two possessions or less, and almost all of them were at least close for much of the contest (the lone exception being the Oregon/Utah laugher).  From Jahii Carson starring in the afternoon sessions, to Utah surprising in the evening, there were plenty of feel-good stories to mull, and the UCLA/Arizona semifinal was one of the best games I've ever seen in person.

Unfortunately, I don't think the tournament results were the best indicator of how the teams really stacked up.  The Pac-12 was famously a random result generator throughout the regular season, and it paid for it in Sin City.  The conference tournament was completely unbalanced, with four strong teams on one side, and Oregon gifted a pile of crap on the other.  To my eye, any of Arizona, Arizona St, Colorado, and UCLA would have made short work of the other half of the bracket.  While those teams beat on each other Friday and Saturday, Oregon snuck past a dysfunctional Washington team, and cruised past a Utah team that simply didn't deserve to be playing into the weekend.  Hardly fair.
The Ducks had an easy road to the title.
Yes, Ducks did eventually go on to beat UCLA and claim the league crown, but I'll simply say that things would've been different had UCLA's Jordan Adams not broken his foot on the final play against 'Zona.  The league would've been much better served had the afternoon session on Friday been the semi-finals, with the Bruins and 'Cats deciding the title with their bravura Saturday clash.  That's a fact.  No offense to the Ducks, but the seeding gods were overly kind.

My zeitgeist of the tournament will swim with memories of Adams, Carson, the abundant Arizona fans, Sean Miller's rant (Did he touch the ball, coach?), and the cute Utes, rather than the champion Ducks.  Hopefully, the league's best teams actually play like it next season, so that unfortunate reality can be avoided come March.

For the record, my All-tournament team:

Jordan Adams - UCLA
Johnathan Loyd - Oregon
Jahii Carson - ASU
Arsalan Kazemi - Oregon
Lizzi, the Dancer - UCLA

Selection Monday - 

Colorado Athletics isn't through with selection committees.  The women's selection announcement is scheduled for 5pm MT this evening, and even the most uninformed of trolls would admit that CU has easily earned a nice seed.

ESPN bracketology currently has the Buffs slotted as a five-seed playing the feisty Central Michigan Chippewas.  The five line would be fair, especially considering that regardless of seeding, the Buffs will be playing home games this weekend.  Regardless of who and when, CU will be favored to win through to the Sweet Sixteen.

One thing I continue to be hopeful for is that the Committee has a sense of potential storylines, and puts the decent Nebraska team in the same pod as the Buffs to set up a potential round-of-32 grudge match.  ESPN currently has them as a three-seed, which seems inflated considering their record.  If they drop down to the four-line, I could easily see them placed in-region with the home-standing Buffs.  If you wouldn't pay to see a Colorado team in any sport whip a Nebraska team, we just can't be friends.

Happy Monday!

1 comment:

Aaron Jordan said...

I have recently confirmed that the UCLA dancer in question was indeed a robot created by the NSA to hypnotize and control the masses... in either case, I call dibs.