March Madness 2017 Pt 3

Originally published on nicholasboon.com.

As a heads up, this is a continuation from a Part 1 and a Part 2.

WOW. Well whatever complaints I had about the first weekend no longer hold up. My apologies, oh Mad Lords of March. Three absolute barn burners (there’s no way that’s a positive expression in Amish country) and an absolute shellacking of Purdue, my Final Four darling.

DAY 5 | SWEET SIXTEEN | 03.23.17

  • Oregon actually looks pretty good. Every round I am a little more surprised slash impressed. Just so balanced (even without Boucher) and they can always get a good shot off. Cannot believe they let Walton Jr. take an open look for a chance to win WITH MULTIPLE FOULS TO GIVE. Close call, Ducks.
  • Goddamnit, Purdue. Granted, the Boilermakers got off to an alright start. They even led by 8 points early on. Then I go put some laundry in the machine, and BLAMMO they’re trailing by 20 to a Jayhawks team that looked like they’d all eaten one of those Super Mario stars. Swannigan Just absolute devastation. Bye-bye bracket.
  • Gonzaga/West Virginia was an absolute GRIND. Did you guys see the stat of 51 total fouls? Cause I sure did. That’s over 1.25 fouls per minute. College basketball really does need a fix. Anywho, congrats to the Zags for surviving Press Virginia at their best.
  • ANOTHER SENIOR HERO. Buddy in 2016. Bluiett in 2017. Genuinely surprised Xavier pulled this one off, I truly thought Zona was an Elite Eight lock going into this game. Shows what I know.

DAY 6 | SWEET SIXTEEN | 03.24.17

  • Butler didn’t stand a chance. You know how Purdue fell apart to Kansas after a competitive start? None of that here.
  • I have to say, I am glad that one of the South Carolina and West Virginia defenses is still alive. They are SO much fun to watch. I’m also glad Baylor is out so I can stop confusing them with Oregon every time I half zone out.
  • UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH. Never trust a LaVar Ball. I don’t wanna talk about it.
  • Not even going to comment on Florida/Wisconsin. If you haven’t already seen the highlights, you obviously don’t care enough.
  • Yes. Still sour about UCLA.

The Sweet Sixteen are perennially the best days of the tournament. Here’s the theory. They find the perfect blend between quantity (two games at a time, staggered so you get both second halves) AND quality (teams that actually won two games).

Though you have to love the chaos you get in the first weekend, it’s actually nice to watch a full game or two. This goes for double at the Elite Eight, when you HAVE to watch a full game.

DAY 7 | ELITE EIGHT | 03.24.17

  • This is what I mean by balance. One day, Gonzaga faces a brutal, slogging WVU team. The game absolutely plays the style WVU wants, and the Zags STILL pull off the win thanks to some gritty defense of their own. Less than two days later they’re shooting the lights out as they torch Xavier, including 12 threes at a 50% clip. These Bulldogs aren’t your daddy’s Bulldogs. These guys have a real shot at the whole thing. Good finals pick by me too, by the way.
  • Again, another balanced team shows their stuff. Just like the Michigan game, against Kansas this Oregon team showed a TON on both sides of the ball. Hanging with Kansas offensively is a feat unto itself — especially after they lit the whole stadium on fire against Purdue. But just as impressive is their defense. I head one analyst today (apologies, I can’t remember who) talk about how the Ducks switch from zone to man to zone and back. It’s so fluid, with seemingly no transition point. It’s hard to even call it two separate defensive systems — I’m all but convinced it’s just different principles depending on situation. Regardless, a work of art.

DAY 8 | ELITE EIGHT | 03.25.17

  • Admittedly I missed most of the Florida/South Carolina game BUT I was lucky enough to catch the finale. And what a treat. This South Carolina run is absolutely incredible. And each game I fall in love with Coach Frank Martin a little more. Did you read his piece on The Players’ Tribune? Cause you should.
  • DAYUMN the UNC/Kentucky match-up did not disappoint. Lower scoring than I’d have hoped maybe, but still. This is what I thought the Kentucky/UCLA game was going to look like, but UCLA never got their shit together. UNC didn’t really either (16 turnovers, 20% from three) but showed enough defense (9 blocks) and controlled the ball enough to pull this game out.

Bring on the Final Four.

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