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March Madness: Friday Live Blog!

Christian LaettnerWelcome to the March Madness live blog! Same deal as Thursday — we’ll be updating this post between noon and approximately 5 p.m. Eastern, or until I die from carpal tunnel. Refresh this page every few minutes for updates. We’re also using the latest in Internet tech to be fully interactive. You can send your questions and comments to @TobaccoRdBlues on Twitter, e-mail me at MadnessQuestions@gmail.com, or rant at @Grantland33 if you want to complain about me to the bosses. Enjoy the games!

5 p.m.: Florida State is in the lead! Ian Miller hits a huge 3, and it’s 55-52! These are the Seminoles I know! Survive and advance, baby.

Tweet from @Michaelbernola: Bonaventure doesn’t know it’s a damn show. They think it’s a damn game.

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No kidding. As a Catholic, I can confirm that Catholics are always pesky and in your space like that. It’s annoying. Especially the Franciscans.

E-mail from Mark: “Notice that in every arena the arena name is on our right side under the basket, the city name on our left? Always in same blue color, same all-caps font. Question: Are these superimposed by television like the first down lines in football or did the NCAA go around and paint all the arenas? I can’t tell. Also, you failed to use two decent SDSU nicknames: Spaztecs and Kiss My Aztecs”

https://www.youtube.com/v/22jLy7EeYh0?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0

I don’t play video games, but Assassin’s Creed III looks badass, at least from the commercial. Some hooded dude just going rogue on Red Coats because he’s starving in Valley Forge isn’t his idea of a good time? Yup. I’m into it. Tell me where to send my check.

Whoa, and just like clockwork, tweet from @randallstephen3: I hope this doesn’t mean I hate all fun things, but my 5-yr old wasn’t ready for the CUT Assassin’s Creed. What’s the uncut?

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The uncut is where the hero tells your kid some hard truths, like the fact that Washington was an equivocator who could have ended the war in a day with like four assassins.

A couple weird Jim Nantz championship calls, and them I’m out:

Syracuse: “ORANGE you glad I didn’t say Bernie Fine?!”

Temple: “WHOOOOO! WHOOOO! WHOOOO!” [Continues for 10 straight minutes.]

Oh man, I’m officially delirious. Thanks for hanging out. Enjoy the games tonight and this weekend. And hey, look at that, Florida State is going to win! Or are they? If they lose, don’t answer my calls tonight, believe me.

4:45 p.m.: E-mail from David: Vermont Nantz call: “and the Vermont cats-a-mounted their rivals!” Or “the cat-amounts to a champion!”

Second one is more likely, first one is more hilarious.

Florida State is missing layups, missing short jumpers, missing everything. This is the ultimate disaster. They’re about to ruin my bracket completely. This is miserable. I feel so stupid for whining about Wichita State now. This is so much worse.

OK, tonight’s games. Duke and Michigan State are automatic winners, while Kansas has like a 3 percent sliver of a chance of falling to Detroit, a really good 15-seed boasting Ray McCallum. Notre Dame versus Xavier is fascinating, and will largely depend on whether the Irish can take a lead or at least keep it close over the first 10 minutes. When they fall behind, they’re dead. And like Virginia, the momentum is all against them. South Florida versus Temple comes down to how well Temple shoots; if the Owls hit 3s at something approaching their usual rate, they’ll win. If not, South Florida has a shot. Saint Mary’s over Purdue with ease, ditto for Michigan over Ohio, and at this point, I just throw my hands in the air about St. Louis-Memphis. No clue.

Belmont stays within nine at the under-16, Vermont only down 11-9 to Carolina (c’mon, Catamounts!) and Missouri and Norfolk State just started.

Man, one more update and our little two-day experiment is over. So many memories, my friends. So many good times. So many tweets. So, so many tweets.

Tweet from @NDBohlen: Why am I forced to watch commercials without being able to switch games while streaming online? #unintentionallycommunist

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Yeah, that’s annoying to me, too. But it is intentional — it’s a good way to keep you watching the commercials. They’re clever, those ad people.

4:30 p.m.: OK, let’s run this down. Florida State is still down by five to St. Bonaventure’s, which is quickly driving me insane, Belmont is down nine at the half to Georgetown, and Vermont-North Carolina just tipped off. Missouri-Norfolk State starts in about 20 minutes, and that’s it for the afternoon games. Then, of course, we’ve got four 7 p.m.(ish) games, and four at 9:30 p.m.(ish).

Tweet from @JimMcKaySaidSo: I’m secretly hoping one of these announcers on truTV slips up and says ‘Hardcore Porn’ instead of ‘Hardcore Pawn’ #honesty

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Or just has a Boston accent, right? That might do the job all by itself.

Next update, we’ll take a look at the night games. FSU still down four. GAH.

4:15 p.m.: So, Florida State is down 34-28 at the half. I still fully expect them to win by 15, but this is not fun. Also, Georgetown looks like it will ruin my perfect day. Last year, they lost to VCU and doomed me to 15-for-16 on Friday, and now they might do the same by beating Belmont. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Typical Hoyas.

Well, we have a winner for best e-mail of the day, from Terry K. about the Mountain West Conference: “I go to UNM and have some thoughts on the MWC. Let’s not forget that the MWC merging with Conference USA. That’s not something a ‘power’ conference does, is it? Especially since the best C-USA team (Memphis) is joining the Big East. Anyone that says the MWC isn’t a mid-major conference is an idiot. They should be forced to drink a mixture of Dr. Pepper and Bud Light and attend one of Pitbull’s lame parties. Speaking of which, I bet his next commercial is for Hawaiian Punch and includes little kids getting crazy on sugar at a pool party. Long story short, the MWC is a mid-major and I may or may not be drinking some Hawaiian Punch right now.”

Well played, Terry.

Florida is about to close it out on hapless Virginia, leading 57-43. Here’s my question — if we know a team stinks, and know they have no chance to win a game in the tournament, why even invite them? What good is it to have Virginia and West Virginia playing? Like, we had them instead of Miami and Seton Hall (to use examples from the same conference)?

UVa is officially gone. Pacists rejoice.

Tweet from @danielmcgaha: I guess mike Scott had to stand in line for social security and didn’t have time to show up for today’s game

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Belmont pulls within nine at the half, but I’m not exactly feeling great. Why do I even pick upsets? What’s the point? What’s the point of anything, guys? I need an apple.

4 p.m.: Creighton wins! Trevor Releford possibly gets fouled shooting a 3, but no call, and the Bluejays are through. Also, my bracket is still perfect.

Oh God, I just saw the replay, and Kellogg and Nantz can say no contact all they want, but that was a foul. The guy hit him right on the wrist as he shot. But my bracket is still perfect, so I’ll shut up.

Tweet from @kellytm: Another favorite for most annoying ad: “What am I, some kind of summoner?”

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I agree that it’s getting old, but did you know that they have a version of this commercial all over the place? I was watching Fox Soccer one day, and I came across the British version. Can’t find it on YouTube now, but I found the Spanish one, which is great.

I’m thinking about it more now, and I feel pretty bad for Alabama. They just showed an even better replay, and Releford got hacked bad. Hell of a way to end the season. Referees are the worst.

E-mail from Scott: “Do you think Grantland staff can put together a list of each Sweet Sixteen team that makes it through the weekend with suggested Jim Nance-ism for each should they win the championship? Would love to see that. By the way, if VCU wins I suggest Jim Nance say “VCU is your champion!! The crowd is going Shaka Stupid!”

I’m down, as long as we can make them as stupid as possible. “Colarad-OH MY GOD THE BUFFALOES ARE STAMPEDING!”

E-mail from Colin: “The argument over which conference is the best is the single dumbest argument in sports. And using the NCAA Tournament as a basis to determine which conference is the best makes it even worse. Talk about small sample sizes … was the CAA better than the Big Ten last season? The Horizon is clearly superior because Butler made two straight Final Fours.”

AND NOBODY SHOULD FILL OUT BRACKETS EITHER. LECTUREY LECTUREY LECTURE, I’M COLIN AND I HATE FUN! I’M GOING OUTSIDE TO TELL SOME KIDS TO BE QUIET!

3:45 p.m.: Question: Why are referees so bad? Are they just guessing? This question was inspired by the play in which Alabama knocked it out over the baseline, the ref was right there to see it, and he took a 10-step run and emphatically pointed the other way. What is he seeing? Are they just not trained? If I keep asking questions, will the problem solve itself?

Doug McDermott is a wizard at moving around the paint in subtle ways to suddenly get open layups. Huge foul shots coming up for McDermott, and he nails the first. Timeout. One more, and Alabama will be down four with less than a minute left.

Any time I get an e-mail from someone named “Bungalow Benchly,” I’m going to run it: “I picked Creighton to win so naturally, I’m hoping they finish strong. But it doesn’t really matter because they’re only just playing for the right to get crushed by Vermont.”

Fair enough. I grew up across Lake Champlain from Burlington, Vermont, where the Catamounts play, and word has it that the excitement is high up home. Can they beat North Carolina in Greensboro? Definitely. (None of those poor young men will ever see their homes again.)

Haley says: “I picked Creighton over Bama in my bracket only so I could use your Creighton Barrels joke from a few months back on my gchat status. DON’T LET ME DOWN BLUE!!”

Man, I forgot about that one. That was from my corporate period, when all I made were tame jokes about places like Best Buy and Walmart.

Florida State has come back. Trailing 28-24, but I’m slightly less terrified. Slightly.

Holy hell, Creighton almost went over-and-back. Now on the line with eight seconds left and a one-point lead. Alabama will have a chance to tie, at the very least … but the first one is out! Oh God, what’s going to happen … timeout, and I have to send this in!

3:30 p.m.: I don’t want to say I’m panicking about Florida State’s early deficit against St. Bonnie’s, necessarily, but I was worried enough to attack the mailman because I thought he was doing the Tomahawk Chop to mock me. (Turns out he was just singing to himself on an iPod; also, it wasn’t the mailman, or even a man at all.)

Email from Chris: I need to quite being so biased towards the ACC, and so anti-UK (but it’s so hard not to be)…I know it’s early, but FSU could ruin me and I solely picked UConn just so they could beat UK….do I have a problem?

When historians look at my bracket, they’ll probably find that my Wichita State over Kentucky pick, along with UNLV over Baylor, was a wishful projection designed to clear the path for Duke to make the Final Four. And as for ACC bias, yeah, I have FSU winning the title, so I’d say we both have problems, Chris.

Real quote from Jim Nantz: “Usually a boom boom bang leads to good things, doesn’t it partner?”

Creighton in the lead! Nice run, Bluejays, up two with four minutes left. Florida up nine as the second half begins against Virginia, and, crap my pants, FSU is down 19-10. Say it ain’t so, world.

In other news, I hate the phrase “trying too hard,” but that commercial with all the internet memes is trying too hard

3:15: Creighton has roared back, and managed to tie the game at 39 before Bama went on a mini-run to take a 4-point lead at the under-12. With the way the Bluejays shoot, they’ll be pain to play against in a close game late. But Alabama is a strange team; they’re the 331st worst team at shooting threes in D-1, but the 4th best at defending the three.

FSU-St. Bonaventure’s has also kicked off. I have the Noles winning the national title, as you can see in the Grantland staff brackets, so hey, Noles, do me a solid and don’t lose to St. Bonnie’s. A good way to start would be to not go down 7-0 immediately, but I see it’s too late for that. Thanks.

Tweet from djdeem0517: Can we declared the MW as overrated? Other than NM, everyones out. And their best team lost to the 5th best Pac-12 team.

To be fair, I would say New Mexico emerged as the best team in the conference over the last three weeks of the regular season, but yes, it’s fair to declare them overrated. Which is sweet satisfaction for me, because I wrote a “mid-major primer” on the Lobos and got screamed at by Mountain West fans who don’t think they’re a mid-major conference. Put a team in the Elite 8 before you get too big for your Mountain Britches, gang.

Virginia managed just 22 points, which seems about right, and are down eight to Florida at the half. If Creighton can somehow come back here, my brackets will be sitting quite pretty.

Georgetown-Belmont about to tip. Like I said before, this was my big upset pick. I did an NCAA team auction Wednesday night, where you buy teams and earn other teams’ money if you beat them, and some guy bought Georgetown for $300. Which was like, absurdly high, but he acted like he just got a steal, so there’s another reason to hope the Hoyas lose. If you’re into schadenfreude, that is. And I am.

3:00: And they’ve done it! N.C. State has given the ACC its first win of the tournament with a solid 14-point win over San Diego State. Meanwhile, the Mountain West is down from four teams to one, and we’re barely into the second day of action. The lesson as always is don’t believe the hype about small conferences (or even big ones- see Big East, 2010 and ’11) until you see them against good teams outside the conference. Also, there was a strange little sequence of hard dunks at the end there. Tense.

No matter what happens in the second round, and I have a feeling it’ll be good, Mark Gottfried has had a spectacular first season in Raleigh. And boy, did they need it.

Elsewhere, Florida has roared back against Virginia and holds a 27-22 lead very late in the first half. And my premonition seems correct — Alabama is up by 10 on Creighton. The Bluejays were over-darlinged, which is a new term I made up for these situations when there’s too much love for a team we don’t really know much about.

Al H. has some Pitbull thoughts: Without knowing who Pitbull was until about this time yesterday, I have found myself already sick of him, despite seeing his commercials about six times total. I think it’s because the commercials are so bland and cliched that I can’t help but think that they were his idea (especially since they’re a little similar). Also, a question about the point of the Bud Light commercials: Since only women are affected by opening one, are they saying that Bud Light only works on club girls, or that it gives you beer goggles?

Whatever they’re trying communicate, we know that both of those things are incorrect. If you ever try to buy a girl at a club a Bud Light, I hope you know a guy who’s good at pulling stilettos out of your feet, and who doesn’t mind being woken up at 2am. Also, science has recently shown that you’re more likely to get accidental beer goggles from Minute Maid Lemonade than you are from Bud Light.

Tweet from PatCarroll13: How do you feel about the StubHub ticket oak commercial?

Covered this a little bit yesterday, but the answer a day later is still, “terrified.” But sort of turned on, too. Just kidding. Or am I? (Becoming delirious from live blogging. Things are about to start getting weird.)

2:45 p.m.: Tweet from @dpelger8: does an iPad, iPhone, and laptop all going at once count as shirking my duties to my employer?

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In my book, negative multitasking is just potential positive multitasking. That even sounds like corporate speak, right? Throw that shit at your boss and you’ll get promoted before he can pick his jaw up off the floor.

E-mail from Kyle: I thought that was Creed from “the office” until you said it was Peter Frampton.

The best part about that commercial is all the people in their early 20s going “Oh my God, Peter Frampton!” As if they know who the hell Peter Frampton is. I don’t even know who Peter Frampton is, and I run the North Carolina chapter of the Peter Frampton Fan Club. But that’s probably a case of the people at Buick being too old to name a hot young musician like Pitbull to get the kids in a fever.

Anyway, my dream job is to write absurd endings for every commercial, and for some reason the companies would be forced to run them with my changes. For this one, I’d have all the young people at the bar going “What?” and then one drunk guy staggers forward and throws a full beer can at Frampton’s face, and as he’s holding his broken nose, the young people are all cheering like mad. And then the announcer comes on and is like, “Buick: Nobody knows Peter Frampton anymore.”

NC State made a nice run, and Lorenzo Brown’s shot just made it 70-59. A quick 3 by the Aztecs, and it’s an eight-point lead. And OH MY, what a jam by Leslie. What a great day for the Wolfpack. Tied for fourth in the ACC, and now they’re in the round of 32. Not a bad rebuilding year, right?

After that dunk, Tim Brando did this thing where he spoke in Leslie’s voice and said something like: “Let me jam it home and take you where you’ve never been!” I like how his conception of Leslie is of a Peter Pan figure leading his team on magical journeys. Come to think of it, that’s how I’m going to think of him now, too.

2:30 p.m.: Tweet from @joey91084: How long will the 2nd Nashville game be delayed due to having to mop all of Cincinnati’s diarrhea off of the floor?

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It’s true that there was diarrhea all over the floor, but if there’s one thing Cincinnati knows, it’s how to play basketball in their own diarrhea. (Sending that one to Jim Nantz for consideration.) What an incredible comeback by Texas, and what a recovery by Cincy. Still, the memory of that rally can’t be helpful psychologically, right? I guess what I’m saying is that Florida State is sitting pretty in that section.

Tweet from @DPG124: You need to declare all games over.

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For $300, I will reverse jinx your team by saying the game is over. For $500, I’ll say they are “dead and buried and mourned and burned.” Believe me, it’s worth the extra money. Nobody expects the “burned” part.

OK, things are getting a little bit mad now. Texas comeback, three-point game between NC State and SDSU, Alabama leading Creighton by five near the end of the first half, and UVa off to a fast 10-4 start against the Gators. If the Cavaliers managed to win that game, that would be a result absolutely nobody expected. Virginia has looked like crap toward the end of the year, but an SEC team like Florida probably hasn’t seen a defense this stingy combined with an offense this slow all season. It can be a rough experience.

And the ACC has been a very successful conference in the tournament, even in seasons when the conference has a so-called down year. I’ll find those numbers in a second …

It’s back to the State-State derby on TruTV.

2:15 p.m.: This e-mail says it all, from Kyle, with the subject “Ummmm Texas”: Down by 3? At one point they were on pace to score 6.4 points. For the entire game.

What is even going on? Needless to say, they have earned main television rights in the surprise of the tournament so far. And now they’re within two. Forget everything I’ve ever said — in this crazy economy, you want to roll with freshmen 24/7. Out with the old!

Haven’t watched a minute of Alabama-Creighton yet, but it’s 19-18 Bluejays at the under-8. The Wolfpack continue to look good in Columbus, but are far from putting San Diego State at 49-43.

State Farm FanCam commercial gets the thumbs-up from me. Always wanted to have a choreographed dance with a friend. The time was never right.

 

Cody from Columbia, via e-mail: After seeing the second Pitbull Dr. Pepper reference, I couldn’t resist. How the hell does that commercial get created. A bunch of old white men sitting in a conference room go,”Okay, we gotta be hip and cool. We’ll have Pitbull in a cool black truck, sipping Dr. Pepper. He then shoots off a text to his posse that LITERALLY SAYS “come and discover the flavor” at three seconds in, which results in a parkour crew, beautiful women, a BMX bike crew and a Dr. Pepper semi rollin up to a highway overpass where everyone fist pumps, dances, and drinks Dr. Pepper until SURPRISE, a dance battle breaks out, finally ended by “Flavor to Another Level”.

Good rant, Cody. It does seem like something that a group of mid-40s white dudes would think is cool, right? They have two young kids, grew up and still live in the suburbs, and just sit there smugly thinking they have their finger on the pulse. With their fancy shoes and their careful expressions. What am I talking about? Don’t know. Words are blurring. But let’s get rid of this Pitbull character before this country gets out of control.

2 p.m.: My analysis on this game is that San Diego better hit a ton of 3s to have any prayer of beating NC State. Coach Mark Gottfried’s got these guys playing great ball, and I think the Wolfpack has to be the favorite to beat whoever comes out of the Georgetown-Belmont game, too.

Alabama and Creighton tipped off, and it’s 13-7, Bluejays. Despite the lead, I’m wishing I took Alabama in that game, just like I had a premonition that I’d make the wrong choice in UConn before they tipped off against Iowa State last night.

E-mail from Joe W.: I’m sure it was inadvertent, but you missed two obvious examples in the 2001 Final Four: Maryland got Ashevilled all day, culminating on the ridiculous fifth foul on Lonny Baxter, and then Arizona got UNC-Ashevilled in the final, most obviously when Jay Williams rode Jason Gardner around on the court like a pony and did not draw a whistle.

Oh, hey, it’s the time of year when everyone complains that Duke gets all the calls! Missed this.

Tweet from @DJennin4: Thoughts on modern flashy uniforms? I think Cincy’s are great, while Baylor’s are…not.

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Baylor’s highlighter-yellow unis are an absolute atrocity, and I don’t think anyone disagrees with us. It’s like they saw how Oregon football executed flashy colors, and asked themselves how they could make it suck.

Speaking of Cincy, Texas has sneaked its way back to a 10-point deficit with 9:30 left. AND NOW IT’S SEVEN. Could the Pandora’s box of madness be creaking open?

1:45 p.m.: It’s halftime, and after six lead changes, NC State is up 33-29. Richard Howell, who had to be restrained from screaming at the refs after the loss to North Carolina, has 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Love to see that. What I don’t love is how Gottfried calls C.J. Leslie “Calvin.” Does the dude want to be called C.J.? Then call him C.J. Or maybe I’m wrong, and he goes by both names, but it comes off a little superior to me. It’s not like he’s calling himself “Dr. Hot Hoopz.” They’re initials.

I guess I’m going to call Cincy-Texas over, as the Bearcats hold a 38-21 lead with 15 minutes left, and Texas can’t have the firepower for a comeback, right? It goes to show, be really careful with young teams in March unless they’re really, really amazing. The only team in the past decade to win a title with mostly underclassmen was Syracuse.

Karl, via e-mail: Austin Rivers isn’t enough to take Duke all the way, Shane. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.

*Not going to cry. Not going to cry.*

Tweet from @MattChisman: Fun fact for Millennials: that old man on the Aztec sideline used to coach a bunch of people you don’t know and Jalen Rose.

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So he coached Jalen on how to speak on TV? Why is he coaching basketball now? Please write your answer in the form of a Pitbull lyric, because that’s all I understand.

Tweet from SchmasSchemes: What are we to make of TruTV on-the-court guy Otis Livingston’s twitter handle (@O_Smoov24)?

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Clearly his middle name is Smoov, right? Or else he’s the smoovest operator in the biz, and 24 is the number of hearts he’s broken &#!33; in the past week.

Ugh, Ryan Kelly not playing for Duke tonight. Craps.

1:30 p.m.: Tweet from AJResco: what’s the over/under on buzzer beaters today?

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The sad truth is that pure buzzer-beaters, where the clock actually expires before the shot goes in the basket, are incredibly rare. So the answer to that question, every day, is one.

The over/under on games that come down to the last possession, on the other hand, is three. Do keep in mind, however, that the number is completely arbitrary, and I have no idea what I’m talking about.

Tweet from jbunney: I’m taking Mick Cronin with the 1st pick in the Leprechaun League. I’m short so I can say that, right?

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As long as you’re saying it, I think it’s cool. All I’m doing is linking pictures without comment. NO. COMMENT. And if I start following him around obsessively, it’s not because I think he’ll lead me to a pot of gold, guys. That’s just an inference on your part, and you can’t prove anything.

I’m going to go ahead and call it: This NC State-SDSU game is the best one of the tournament so far. It’s a shame that one of these teams will have to lose, and that when they lose, they’ll be in Columbus, Ohio.

We’re at the under four, and the Wolfpack hold a 1-point lead.

Tweet from JimMcKaySaidSo: is it just me or do you want to just run and punch Pitbull in the face in that budlight commercial?

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I might go with crotch, but yeah, it’s not just you. But then again, I’ve always hated manufactured “cool,” style over substance. Style is great, but it has to come with substance or it irks me, which is why I think Mad Men is a sweet show and Breaking Bad is vastly overrated. But if I keep talking, everyone will know I’m a snob, and then I won’t be able to get you to send me money as part of my 10-year plan.

1:15 p.m.: Two tweets about today’s live blog feature picture today:

From BBLyon: the pic on the grantland blog shows the world’s largest fannypack in the upper left; what’s in that a 10 month old baby?

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From @mattkeel: are you using the pic of Laettner and Hill today because you know I am a UK fan and secretly hate me?

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To @mattkeel: Yes.

To @BBLyon: It’s stuffed with pictures of @mattkeel crying after a UK loss.

I would like to this opportunity to say a quick thank you to Lowe’s for the Beatles-ish pop song on their paint commercial. The worst part of March Madness is that you have to watch the same six commercials over and over and over, and it’s nice when one of them has a decent tune.

 

Tweet from @RobHerrick: Most annoying online commercial: Peter Frampton for Buick. Played it every break yesterday. I don’t feel like he does.

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I kinda like when Tim gets to dance with Erica. I mean, she’ll break his heart, but look at that smile!

OK, so it’s 31-17 Cincinnati at the half, which is worth keeping an eye on just because they should be up by a lot more. And it’s 27-26 State at the under 4 timeout in Columbus. This is such a good early afternoon game. Thanks, CBS schedulers.

And since we’re talking about commercials, here’s some inside dope: Those two guys in the car in the Sonic commercials are two of the best improvisers in the world. No joke. One belongs to the group TJ & Dave, and the other is in 4 Square. Now you know.

1 p.m.: NC State-San Diego time! Just in time, too, because Texas has now scored two points in 12 minutes of action. Potential record-setting stuff, there, if Cincinnati can keep up the heat for the rest of the first half.

I really like this NC State team (I wrote, as C.J. Leslie just had the sickest slam of the tourney so far). I’ve covered them a couple times this season, and they’re a pretty fun team. Richard Howell and Scott Wood are two of the best quotes in the ACC (Leslie, who I really like, is easily the worst), and Mark Gottfried seems to be one of the most honest coaches in the game. Sorry, I’m ACC-gushing again, aren’t I?

E-mail from Chris: Funny info. from a Lehigh rival for their game against Duke: CJ McCollum looks freakishly like Steve Urkel. Look it up, trust me.

Did I do thattttttt? Good call, Chris.

Tweet from @JClarkPoland: Given your quest for a perfect first round day, would you be willing to give it up for the fabled 16-1 upset?

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Such a good question, and I thought about it a lot Thursday. The only way to tackle the answer is to assume it’s a late game, and the other 15 are wrapped up. Yesterday, an Asheville win would’ve ruined my perfection, but I still had eight night games left, and you have to assume you’ll lose one of those, so I would’ve taken it in a heartbeat. But if it was game 16, and I was 15-0? So hard. So, so hard. I hate to say this, but I think I’m going for a perfect 16. It’s my white whale.

NC State-SDSU is a dandy so far. Fast, fluid, fun basketball, and State has a 13-12 lead. If you’re not familiar with the Wolfpack, by the way, keep on eye on Lorenzo Brown. He’s still learning, but he can be absolutely spectacular. The best point guard in the ACC, when he’s at his best. He’s not always there, so that honor goes to Carolina’s Kendall Marshall, but still.

The dream of a single-digit half is done in Nashville, as Texas scores its 11th point with four minutes left.

12:45 p.m.: You know how people are always making fun of older eras for their clothes and fashions? Particularly the ’80s? I always wonder what people will say about us, and I think I know the answer: They’ll mock us for songs that include one phrase that is repeated and over and over again in the chorus, like that horrible “Let’s have a real good time” Dr Pepper commercial tune by Pitbull.

 

At least I hope that’s what they make fun of us for. If not, it means things have just gotten worse.

Tweet from @Nate_Friedman: If you’re a top 1-4 seed, what lower seed are you most scared of? I’d have to say Cincy, since they’re sore losers and all.

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In a fight, Cincy is the correct answer. Basketball-wise, I’d be terrified of New Mexico if I was Michigan State. After Thursday night’s beat-down, I’d also be scared of Gonzaga, too (and Saint Mary’s by extension). And hey, nobody’s giving the Racers any respect, but Murray State has lost one game all season. Finally, I think Wichita State has a great chance to beat Kentucky in the Swe- SON OF A ASLD;JFAL!

Tweet from AJ_Trever: I had a cuse/cinci rematch in the sweet sixteen. How dumb do I look now?

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Not that dumb? I think Florida State is too good to lose to Cincinnati in the second round, but it’s not impossible. As for Syracuse, there’s legitimate reverse jinx mojo going on. When everyone jumped off the bandwagon, they immediately gained some under-the-radar momentum.

Experience trumping youth big-time down in Nashville, with Cincy up 13-2.

E-mail from Al, about getting “Ashevilled”: To be fair, Shane, had FSU gone to overtime against Duke last weekend, FSU would have had a case of being UNC-Ashevilled since, you know, Rivers took 200 steps before his heave.

Rivers doesn’t travel. Don’t know what you’re talking about. Stick with the talking points.

Something I just thought of: There are three teams in the NCAA that survived fights this year. Cincy, Xavier, and Georgetown. Georgetown and Xavier lost, while Cincinnati seemed to win. Hopefully we can draw some important conclusions based on how they fare in the tournament. I’m seeing a future where coaches pay a group of thugs to beat up their teams in order to bring them closer together.

12:30 p.m.: Tweet from DSBlixt: I went 16/16, drank all 16 beers that were put in front of me, boom! Gonna do the same today for Round 2. #drunk

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Looks like we got our first party dude! Yeeeowwwww! @DSBlixt is in the house, and if you think he won’t rock it til the sunrise, best think again, brotha.

Tweet from djennin4: Had to go see friends’ band last night. May have yelled SHIT loudly btw songs when the Wichita (final 4 pick) came up.

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I like to imagine the singer had just said something like: “Great news, everyone, we just signed our first record deal!”

Tweet from elechner1: Do you see Memphis advancing?

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No, but I’m sort of getting screwed by counting on mid-majors in this tournament, so it’s entirely possible that St. Louis isn’t as good as KenPom thinks. But at least they’re A-10. I see Memphis as a super-athletic team without a ton of discipline. The Tigers have won seven straight, but against nobody. I’ve got them folding at the end. This is a super 8-9 game, by the by.

Cincinnati up 7-2 on Texas very early. I root against Texas in every sport, but I have to say that if I had to make a college team from scratch, our colors would be burnt orange. If you’re curious, our name would be “Coach K’s Exclusive University of Distinguished Young Gentlemen.”

12:15 p.m.: Starting off strong with an e-mail from Dominic in Mystic, Conn.: “In case you or your readers are confused by an event in last night’s UConn game (or last year against Texas): Roscoe Smith is the name of a basketball playing killer robot from the future. As such he has little regard for the concepts of time and space as humans experience it. Every once in a while, his neural net processor is overwhelmed by the nuances of the college basketball game and he takes shots more suited to his reality.”

Right on, Dominic. Here’s something horrible: reader Marcus writes in to let us know that the Southern Miss band chanted some ugliness at a Kansas State player. Way to reinforce all my stereotypes of Mississippi, guys. It’s hard to believe that crap is still happening, especially among college kids.

Tweet from Ryan_Smith23: Is a Belmont upset becoming too popular to call an “upset”?

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It’s veering in that direction, and I find it totally aggravating. I did the work! I did the research! I called this before it was cool! Anyway, they have the fifth-best field goal percentage in all the land, and they don’t rely on the three, which is good because Georgetown plays some stifling perimeter D.

Same thing happened with Syracuse, by the way. I had them losing to Kansas State in the second round before it was cool. Before they released the hit single “Fab Melo Ineligible” and sold out. Now everybody’s into them.

Cincy-Texas about to tip off. Yee-haw.

High Noon: Well that was a very so-so start to the tournament. I really wish I had stuck around a little past 5 p.m., so I could have gone into an obscenity-laced, 10,000-word rant about how badly the officials screwed UNC-Asheville at the end. Did I scream at the television about that one? Can’t remember. You tell me.

Thursday was a tease. The only two “upsets,” by the seedings, included a win from a Power 6 conference team (Colorado over UNLV), and a Final Four team from last year beating a mid-major (VCU over Wichita State). The only really “fun” result, if you’re into scrappy Pacific Northwesters, was Gonzaga over West Virginia. Also, I’m super bitter because in my idiot bracket, I had Wichita State over Kentucky in the Sweet 16. I might not fully understand the logistics of the tournament, but I’m pretty sure that can’t happen now. Did I throw a remote when the Shockers lost, earning a stern look from my girlfriend? Maybe. Hard to say, really.

I have a good feeling that Friday is going to be way better. From a personal standpoint, I know it will be, since all five ACC teams go today, and that’s my bag. NC State-San Diego State will enjoy TV status during the early session, and I’m anxious to see if the Wolfpack’s impressive performance in the ACC tournament, when they got “UNC-Ashevilled” against North Carolina in the semis, means anything.

Definition: UNC-Ashevilled (verb). When a team with inferior status gets big-timed by referees against a high-status team, leading everyone to believe the result is fixed or there’s just a profound rich-getting-richer mechanism operating in the universe. Kings against Lakers, 2002. Orioles against Yankees, Jeffrey Maier. Asheville against ‘Cuse. I’m sure you guys can think of more examples.

Also, it’s worth noting that the supposedly great Mountain West Conference laid a big egg Thursday. Colorado State and UNLV went down, New Mexico barely survived against Long Beach State, and that leaves only SDSU on Friday. Good omen for the Pack, I would guess.

The first game, scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Eastern, is Cincinnati-Texas. This is another of those UConn-Iowa State games where absolutely nobody picked Texas. This time, I think people are right. Cincy peaked at the end of the year, and Texas is young. Unless, of course, we’re underestimating the hell out of the Big 12, and Iowa State was the first sign of total world domination.

Later today, we get our first looks at Creighton and Belmont. Belmont over Georgetown is my big first-round upset pick, and Creighton, the second-best 3-point-shooting team in the tourney, is a potential nightmare second-round matchup for Carolina in the Midwest. (Although unfortunately for them, that game would be played in Greensboro, powder blue country all the way.)

I’m psyched for Day 2. Went 13-for-16 on Thursday, with losses on Wichita State, UNLV, and UConn, and I’m still feeling pretty good about the bracket. Anyone go 16/16? Send me your tweets or e-mails (contact info above), and let’s get mad.