Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sleep is a good thing

After working four straight days at 6 a.m., I decided to just go to sleep after last night's games ended at 12:30 in the morning. That gives me a lot of ground to cover, so here goes.

Sleep is a good thing

After working four straight days at 6 a.m., I decided to just go to sleep after last night's games ended at 12:30 in the morning.

That gives me a lot of ground to cover in this post, so let's get going.

Dick Jerardi was in Charlotte for last night's games. He recaps North Carolina's rout of Washington State and Louisville's chaotic win over Tennessee.

As Joe Juliano and Mike Kern write, one of tonight's big storylines will be how Villanova, Kansas, Wisconsin and Davidson handle the enormity of Ford Field. They've put the court in the middle of the football field instead of in the end zone, which is a terrible idea unless you're in charge of counting revenues at NCAA headquarters.

It's one thing to play in a place like the Carrier Dome, which doesn't actually take up that much space physically. Same goes for the soon-to-close RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

But the really gargantuan facilities, like Ford Field and Reliant Stadium in Houston -- both hosting regionals this year, and Final Fours in years to come -- are really bad basketball venues. That won't stop games from being played there, but it won't surprise me if none of the teams playing in Detroit shoot very well tonight or on Sunday.

Interesting to see, by the way, the quote from Scottie Reynolds, who worried about what might happen if he dives for a loose ball and goes flying off the floor. You have to hope that doesn't stop him from trying.

Kern also writes that tonight's game is as much an opportunity as a challenge for the Wildcats, and even adds a third story about how Bill Self isn't taking 'Nova for granted.

Juliano and Mike Jensen get together for a notebook with some quite interesting tidbits, including which team Larry Brown will root for tonight (he coached Kansas to a national championship in 1988) and whether Bill Self can out-dress Jay Wright. I'll believe that when I see it, honestly.

Lastly from Villanova camp, Bob Ford has a long column about how the Wildcats recruited Scottie Reynolds.

Elsewhere in Detroit, Jensen and Rich Hofmann profile Davidson star Stephen Curry.

Oh, and Kern isn't done yet. Here are capsule previews of Wisconsin-Davidson and Villanova-Kansas, including three things each team must do to win.

Bob Cooney is in Houston, where the court is at midfield but at least there will be curtains behind the ends. He writes that Texas-Stanford is a matchup of size against speed, while Memphis' John Calipari and Michigan State's Tom Izzo are not happy at all about having to play each other. Plus capsule previews with keys to the games.

Finally, Frank Fitzpatrick asks whether Billy Packer enjoys his life. Which brings us to tonight's schedule, and yes, you might notice someone missing from the local broadcasts...

First Window (coverage map)

7:10 p.m., KYW (primary):
M10. Davidson vs. M3. Wisconsin (Ford Field, Detroit, Mich. / Gus Johnson and Len Elmore)
Approx. 7:27 p.m.: S3. Stanford vs. S2. Texas (Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas / Jim Nantz and Billy Packer)

Second Window (coverage map)

9:40 p.m., KYW (constant):
M12. Villanova vs. M1. Kansas (Ford Field, Detroit, Mich. / Gus Johnson and Len Elmore)
Approx. 9:57 p.m.: S5. Michigan State vs. S1. Memphis (Reliant Stadium, Houston Texas / Jim Nantz and Billy Packer)

Now for last night's top performances. Since there were four games, I picked four players.

You'll notice that all four of them in the later two games. West Virginia-Xavier might have been the game of the night, but I didn't think any one person was particularly outstanding for all 45 minutes. Josh Duncan was in foul trouble, and though C.J. Raymond was clutch in overtime he didn't do much before then.


4. James Keefe, UCLA. With Alfred Aboya and Lorenzo Mata-Real limited to a combined two minutes on the floor, the 6-foot-8 sophomore stepped up in a big way. His reward was a career night and the honor of being the biggest reason why the Bruins never lost their lead during Western Kentucky's comeback.

Name
Min
FG
FT
3pt
OR
DR
TR
A
S
TO
Blk
PF
Eff
Pts
J. Keefe
26
7-9
4-5
0-0
6
6
12
2
0
1
4
3
32
18


3. Tyrone Brazelton, Western Kentucky. Coming into the tournament, the attention on the Hilltoppers focused on guard Courtney Lee. But Lee's backcourt partner stole the show in all three of Western Kentucky's games, and capped it off by almost upsetting UCLA last night.

Name
Min
FG
FT
3pt
OR
DR
TR
A
S
TO
Blk
PF
Eff
Pts
T. Brazelton
34
10-21
5-7
6-10
1
2
3
5
2
6
0
4
22
31


2. Earl Clark, Louisville. Much was made of Tennessee's paltry 5-for-20 three-point shooting, but the most important stat might have been the Cardinals' 22-for-36 performance (61.1%) from two-point range. Clark was a big part of that.

Name
Min
FG
FT
3pt
OR
DR
TR
A
S
TO
Blk
PF
Eff
Pts
E. Clark
28
7-10
3-4
0-1
2
10
12
2
2
3
4
2
30
17


1. Kevin Love, UCLA. If the Bruins beat Xavier and advance to the Final Four, Love will surely have the lead in the race for Most Outstanding Player honors when he arrives in San Antonio.

Name
Min
FG
FT
3pt
OR
DR
TR
A
S
TO
Blk
PF
Eff
Pts
K. Love
38
10-14
9-12
0-2
4
10
14
4
0
3
4
2
41
29


Finally, last night's video highlight. Western Kentucky was charging back with a full head of steam, and had cut UCLA's lead to 63-59 with 5:39 left in the game. But after Keefe hit two free throws, this Josh Shipp three-pointer as the shot clock expired all but snuffed out the Hilltoppers' momentum.

Bonus points given because of how much Shipp struggled in the first two rounds, and for the awkwardness of the shot itself.

Jonathan Tannenwald Sports Producer
About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Jonathan Tannenwald Sports Producer
Andrew Albert Sports Producer
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