NCAA March Madness 2024

It’s still too early to talk brackets, but I wanted to kick things off by sharing this edit from Miami coach Jim Larranaga’s post-game presser last night after his team got dominated by Virginia to the tune of 60-38:

“Thank you for your attention.”

The WaPo had something to say about Virginia, too:

The Cavaliers (18-5, 9-3) have ripped off seven victories in a row, including Monday’s 60-38 suffocation of Miami. (It was the Hurricanes’ lowest point total since 1948.) Their defense might not be quite at the levels they achieved in 2020, but it’s as close as they’ve gotten since then.

My Bruins were a complete wreck for months, but apparently bottomed out in a humiliating loss at Utah and have finally started to look like a decent team (admittedly against generally the bottom of the mediocre Pac12, but we should have beaten Arizona at Arizona save for the refs giving them almost 30 FTs in the 2nd half to erase a 19 point deficit, and did beat Oregon this weekend, which is still a bubble team). We’ve gone from tied for last to tied for 4th in the Pac12, and are getting better each week.

Definitely a year in which we really wish the old “last 10 games” was part of the tourney criteria. Instead, November performances far outweigh February/March (pre-tourney) wins, which is pretty sucky given that the idea is to grow your team into its potential, not be at your potential on day 1.

But I won’t count us out of a P12 tourney run yet.

To get an idea of how bad the .net (Edit - NET rankings, I’m too techie and did .net ;) ) rankings are at determining how good a team is now (as compared to November/December), I give you Los Angeles.

USC (9-14) - has lost 7 of 8 games, all but 1 by double digits, alone in last place in the mediocre Pac12. NET ranking of 99

UCLA (12-11) - won 6 of last 7 games and have climbed from last place to 4th in the Pac12. NET ranking of 118 (including a double digit win at USC)

I’m starting to believe UCLA will be playing top 30 basketball and be better than a large chunk of the at-large teams by the time the tourney rolls around, but dear lord is the deck stacked against teams who get better during the season.

Totally agree, and teams seem to get too much credit for big blowouts of bad teams, which encourages some coaches to leave starters in way past the time that they should clear the bench so they can nudge their margin of victory up further in a game that is not in doubt.

Especially with so much transfer portal action, teams take time to come together and your performance in the second half of the season should be weighted higher than the first half. The nonconference schedule and results should still matter (despite generally being all first half of the season games), but a bad early loss shouldn’t kill you and, by the same token, a big early win probably should not help you as much as a win later in the season (i.e. knocking off someone big like Kansas is probably easier in November than it will be in February).

It is conference tourney championship week, which is the last chance for bubble teams to make their case for receiving an invitation to the Big Dance or for underdogs to become thieves by stealing the automatic bid that comes with winning their conference tourney.

I have fond memories of some of my high school teachers wheeling a TV into the classroom on ACC Tourney Friday so we could watch the games. (That TV was not nearly as fancy as the one below. I’m pretty sure it still had channel dials on it.)

This is gonna seem weird, and it feels kinda weird to type out…but after the conference tourneys for the women…I’m kinda more looking forward to the women’s tournament than the men’s this year. SEC and B1G and Pac-12 all had insane tourneys. The women’s side of things is just gonna bit lit.

South Carolina and LSU certainly lit the fireworks a little early on that one. SC Coach Dawn Staley was the all-everything point guard at UVA when I was in school, and they are bringing their 32-0 record to the party. Iowa’s Clark is always worth watching. It should be a great tourney and hopefully all the big time matchups will stay intact for the final few rounds.

UVA completely blundered their ACC semifinal game last night and so will have to sweat it out to see whether they are even in the bracket tomorrow. They were up 3 and had their best shooter on the FT line for 1-and-1, something like 97+% win probability. But we bricked the free throw, did not foul NC State as they scrambled the ball up the court (even though we had 3 fouls to give to waste their time) and banked in a prayer 3 to send the game to OT, where State dominated.

It didn’t help that UVA is the worst FT shooting team in the ACC by a mile and went 6-11 at the line with all attempts actually taken by our two best shooters. Bleh.

Oh hey that’s why all my local friends in Raleigh were losing their minds on FB last night.

After scoring 16 points in the first half last night, Akron rallied to beat Ohio 65-62 on the back of MAC Player of the Year Enrique Freeman’s 24 pts, 21 boards, and 7 blocks. Tonight they played bitter rival Kent State in the championship game. Kent State takes the lead on a putback with 6.2 left… and then Kent fouls on the inbound. Akron sinks both and wins 62-61, punching their tickets to the Big Dance.

They must really be losing their minds now! NCSU steals a bid and that may be what keeps UVA off the shrinking invite list. Ugh.

State’s last men’s basketball tournament title was not in my lifetime; hopefully the next one doesn’t take 37 more years.

My fiancee had to put up with two hours of me dooming and giving her belly rubs expecting the curse to come hammering down again. I don’t know this feeling.

I was thinking that the WBB Tournament was going to be all about the B1G, SEC, and maybe Stanford, but watching the last-ever Pac-12 tournament was something. I’d sort of accepted the conventional wisdom that Southern Cal was a one-woman team revolving around outstanding freshman guard JuJu Watkins…but then in the tournament final she only scored 9 against the Cardinal, and SC still beat mighty Stanford. That kind of puts down a marker that USCw might be another team to watch, and now the Pac-12 appears to be sending a pretty loaded contingent to the dance as well with UCLA at #6 and Oregon State at #12.

And then you’ve still got loaded programs at UConn and Notre Dame…it’s gonna be a helluva tournament.

The Final pac 12 tourney was fun, but bittersweet.

And I did get good seats for the last ucla Pac12 game

Brackets are out! UVA squeaked into a First Four play-in game Tuesday night, so we’re kind of the warm up act but I’ll take it. As much as I love the tourney, it’s a lot more fun when your team is in the field. I hope we can break the curse of having exactly 0 NCAA tourney wins since our Natty in 2019.

Let’s bust some brackets!

I’ve created a group on the Yahoo Sports March Madness page: Yahoo Fantasy Men's Bracket Madness - Join a Group. Group name is QT3, and the password (all lowercase) is the last name of the guy that likes to shoot monkeys around here. You’ve got until Mar 21st at 11:15 AM CDT to complete your bracket.

Good Luck!

I am in! Thanks for setting this up.

Nebraska men and women teams both made it into the tournament. Which is positive news for the fans of Nebraska athletics because Texas A&M just poached our AD. The first round draw for both men’s and women’s team is a matchup against . . . Texas A&M.

Someone on those selection committees has a nasty sense of humor.