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March 26, 2006 4:28 PM   Subscribe

March Madness: 11th seeded George Mason upset UConn in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament this afternoon, continuing their unexpected streak of upsets. Their wins validate not only their inclusion in the tournament, but the rising status of mid-major conferences. The most prominent critic of the inclusion of these smaller schools has been CBS analyst Billy Packer, who verbally assaulted the head of the selection committee on live TV just two weeks ago, and has yet to apologize for his obvious error.
posted by kyleg (49 comments total)

 
Wow, thanks. Guess I didn't have to record the game, when I could count on MeFi to get the results.
posted by donkeymon at 4:35 PM on March 26, 2006


Wow, what a game. I went from thinking that Mason was doing fine just to be in the game, to thinking that they should win, to thinking they were going to blow it, to being shocked at how it went to OT, to being stunned at how it ended.

Not only did they miss some key free throws, but there were three or four possessions late in the second half where they rushed shots early in the shot clock and lost it, when they might've won comfortably if they'd stayed calm. (Which was a tall order for someone in their position.) They showed a lot of poise coming back strong in overtime after what could have been a devastating end to regulation.

I went to George Mason, so I'm pretty thriilled. They've beaten half of last year's Final Four, and the last two national champions.

The contrast in coaching styles was interesting. Jim Calhoun coached a finicky game for UConn, with lots of timeouts and substitutions. Jim Larranaga's last substitution for Mason was with 10:37 left in the game. He's done a great job getting his team relaxed and ready to play.

Previously on MetaTalk
posted by kirkaracha at 4:40 PM on March 26, 2006


Connecticut was running on borrowed time as it was. They should've lost against Washington, and Albany and Kentucky played them much closer than a 1 seed should have warranted. Also, FWIW, I had/have Florida winning the whole thing. Booyakasha.

And yeah, Billy Packer is a douche. What's new?

Finally, here's a good Slate article about the recruiting and morality of smaller schools as compared to schools from major conferences.
posted by billysumday at 4:49 PM on March 26, 2006


Wow. I'm in a bracket of 17 people and we're all done. Game over. No one has anyone in the Final Four.
posted by rollbiz at 4:58 PM on March 26, 2006


I think I had George Mason going all the way to the championship, where they were to lose with Iowa.

I know nothing about collage basketball and mostly picked teams based on how intresting their names were.
posted by delmoi at 5:20 PM on March 26, 2006


It is teams like George Mason that give me hope that the NCAA is not rigged.
posted by Raoul.Duke at 5:22 PM on March 26, 2006


How about a spoiler alert next time?!
posted by mischief at 5:22 PM on March 26, 2006


I'm not a big basketball fan but I can't wait to see Florida (my team) play George Mason next week. I'm actually excited about the final four for the first time and it's because of these smaller schools upsetting the historic powerhouses. I'd say the NCAA has energized what has realy become IMO a boring and predictable tournament.
posted by photoslob at 5:27 PM on March 26, 2006


Guess I didn't have to record the game, when I could count on MeFi to get the results.
How about a spoiler alert next time?!


Sorry, sporting events, though entertaining, are news. It's different than recording your favorite tv program and being upset when I mention the ending. If you care so much about the result of an event that is televised live, watch it live. When it's the main article on CNN.com (as of this posting), it's fair game. Let's stop the derail, ok?
posted by kyleg at 5:31 PM on March 26, 2006


Are you kidding? In my pool three other people, and I, have UCLA. I thought that was the most obvious Final Four team there. One overachieving spunky young team always makes it, and UCLA had that written all over them. You'll need a Yahoo! ID to get this, but someone on Yahoo actually picked the Final Four, including George Mason.

(Disclaimer: UCONN homer) UCONN has dogged it all season and, as others have noted, were lucky to get this far. What's funny is when I was filling out my bracket I thought to myself, "this region SUCKS." Before the tournament started, can you point out a team that anyone thought could do anything in this region, other than UCONN? I guess I was partly right, since if George Mason is the best team in the region, well, that's not a very good collection of teams.

Anyway, UCONN is so talented they don't think they need to play hard, and so they don't, and then they end up down in the second half against a team like Albany, having to play from behind. That can't last forever. Emblematic of that attitude/pattern is Rudy Gay, who will go in the first round of the draft and be worthless as a pro. He's clearly demonstrated that he's incapable of getting up for EVERY game, and you just can't dog it in the pros AT ALL and expect to last. Even the worst team in the NBA is better than Duke. I've seen Calhoun get mad, but during several games I literally thought his head was going to explode. He was very nearly ejected from the Washington game.
posted by ChasFile at 5:32 PM on March 26, 2006


Nice post.

Oh and Billysumday, that article you posted didn't really have anything disparaging to say about George Mason although they were mentioned at the beginning. Does anyone know the background of the players/coach of GMU? I would ask my friends who went there but I doubt they give a shit.
posted by cloeburner at 5:33 PM on March 26, 2006


I would ask my friends who went there but I doubt they give a shit.

Then they suck.
posted by ChasFile at 5:38 PM on March 26, 2006


While I disagree with what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say it.
posted by cloeburner at 5:47 PM on March 26, 2006


I'm from CT and a huge UConn fan. I hate to say it, but I'm glad UConn lost. They've been playing terribly and it's good to see the better team win. This will be a great Final Four.
posted by null terminated at 5:53 PM on March 26, 2006


I missed the first half, but UConn looked great in the halftime highlights, and they were up by nine at the half, so I thought Mason would lose. They really stepped up in the second half, though.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:04 PM on March 26, 2006


Missouri State and Hofstra did get screwed, but Billy Packer is still a moron.

And check out this fucking guy.

If we take the given distribution, the likelihood of someone arriving at this final four is longer than 1 in 1.93200 × 10^-8
posted by Kwantsar at 6:49 PM on March 26, 2006


(should have read Chasfile's comment)
posted by Kwantsar at 6:50 PM on March 26, 2006


When was the last time the tournament included no #1 seeds in the Final Four?
posted by Mach3avelli at 6:55 PM on March 26, 2006


It was a fun game to watch. LSU is another great story though. They were considered a contender for the title. In 2007.
posted by bardic at 7:03 PM on March 26, 2006


1980 is the last time zero number 1 seeds made it to the final four. I'm more interested in the lowest seeded team prior to GMU making it to the final four.
posted by SirOmega at 7:05 PM on March 26, 2006


Everyone in my bracket is out too. No one picked any of these teams making the Final Four. What a tournament!

Billy Packer, douche extraordinaire.
posted by Ber at 7:24 PM on March 26, 2006


I'm more interested in the lowest seeded team prior to GMU making it to the final four.

I was just reading a thread in a bball forum saying that LSU made it as an 11 seed in '86.
posted by markavatar at 7:35 PM on March 26, 2006


The leader on Yahoo had good picks, but on ESPN there's at least three people (320 points in the RFin column) who got the Final Four right. Out of over two million brackets perhaps that's not so surprising.
posted by komilnefopa at 8:00 PM on March 26, 2006


While impressive, I'm upset few people acknowledge the affect the high school exodus of the best talent has on the NCAA tournament. Namely, it gives small schools a chance -- sure.

Anyone on UCONN a sure NBA star? No.

What if Lebron was playing his senior year and Dwight Howard was finishing up leading his team to the title game? I doubt either would have gone to Mason and I doubt the Patriots would have even gotten in the tournament then.

I'm sorry but getting excited about the NCAAs as some huge showcase of great basketball -- aside from the personal stories of the players -- is like getting excited about the AA baseball title -- and few people care who win that.
posted by narebuc at 8:31 PM on March 26, 2006


The best part of the Yahoo guy's bracket? For his tiebreaker final game score, he has UCLA over Florida 97-85. I don't know which Florida he's been watching, but they have some hell-ified D: averaging just 63.9 points allowed per game. Therefore, he's an idiot and I should have won. Somebody cheated.

::sigh:: I never win these things.
posted by ChasFile at 8:41 PM on March 26, 2006


getting excited about the NCAAs as some huge showcase of great basketball

Personally, I get excited about it because its a great showcase of compelling basketball. First, maybe 2% of those kids will turn pro - they truly are playing for the love of the game. Second, unlike pro sports teams that have an only marginal and tangential relationship to the cities that are their "homes," these kids really are playing for - and are members of - an identifiable, cohesive body. That makes it that much more emotional, exciting, and "real." Third, unlike pro basteball's playoff series, the NCAAs are single-elimination, which makes every f'ing game - 64 of them - a game 7. Forth, its alot of fun for gambling purposes.

I'm sorry, but if you can't get excited about the NCAA bball tournament, I don't think much in sports will excite you. And that's fine, you're not a sports fan. But if you are, I think its about as much fun as sporting events get.
posted by ChasFile at 8:49 PM on March 26, 2006


cloeburner:
I dont know anything about the coach, but GMU's starting 5 all played high school ball in Maryland and I believe that most of them played in the same league, i.e. some were teammates or played against each other in high school. As a senior at GMU I think it's going to be an exciting week on campus. I can't claim to be much of a college hoops fan but when my school upsets a team like Uconn, I'll jump right on the bandwagon. :)
posted by MjrMjr at 9:08 PM on March 26, 2006


Also interesting note from CBS's selection show -- the other analysts seemed to all basically agree that this was probably the year when finally all four #1 seeds would get to the Final Four.

Whoops.
posted by aaronetc at 9:35 PM on March 26, 2006


Silly Pecker.

Go Pats!!
posted by Mr Bluesky at 9:37 PM on March 26, 2006


Umm....I love sports but at least want to be critical about my passions.

Have you seen the relative sloppiness of some of the games? I can't stand how long a guard will just sit up top and dribble while his teamates just stand there.

And, I'm not sure about this one -- but what happened to more disciplined, zone defenses? I remember that was a fun thing about college basketball versus pros and I was not seeing much of it in this years games.

Listen, I'll give you that the games are fun because they are single elimination. (The Texas-WVU was breathtaking in its own way.)

BUT, not too long ago -- the players did matter. In 1979, Bird-Magic met in the title game and I'm sure people who saw them then knew they would witness greatness for years to come. Even later, Jordan, Isiah, David Robinson, etc......all such guys stayed for a bit at least and you sensed you saw emerging greatness.

Now, the best won't even play college ball and the upper crust of mediocre go after 1-2 years.

I'm sorry but that has taken something away from the game. That is -- come on, the first time ever no #1s make it?!

An at large from the CAA is here? Even during the regular season, I laugh whenever ESPN runs a headline like "Tulsa shocks Kansas". It's not really a shock when the talent level is not all that different between the teams.

*On another note -- I tend to not follow college sports too closely given that the student aspect of the athlete at this level is almost non-existent. I say just pay them in the open.
posted by narebuc at 9:55 PM on March 26, 2006


On a similar note, 9th seeded Holy Cross beat 1st seeded Minnesota in overtime during the NCAA western semi (quarter? not sure. I don't follow very cloesly.) finals.

Stupdly, that meant the final game wasn't telecast live. Stupid FSN. National hockey championship and I can't even watch it on TV in the town it's in. Must be some weird NCAA thing, because most of the games are on locally.

Of course, UND stomped Holy Stross the next night. But they always seem to win when I'm watching (which is only when I'm in North Dakota).

Also if you cared you probably already knew this
posted by flaterik at 10:57 PM on March 26, 2006


my bracket is done for.

only 159 days until football season.
posted by anjamu at 12:54 AM on March 27, 2006


Packer may be a douche.. and he may have been wrong about some things.. but come on, several of the selections this year were mildly insane.

Air Force getting a bid? Come on. That was just the icing upon the big cake made of ridiculous batter.
posted by twiggy at 1:45 AM on March 27, 2006


Geaux!
posted by ColdChef at 5:49 AM on March 27, 2006


Mason's coach played at Providence, and one of his sons plays pro ball in Italy.
posted by candyland at 6:04 AM on March 27, 2006


flaterik writes "On a similar note, 9th seeded Holy Cross beat 1st seeded Minnesota in overtime during the NCAA western semi"

...And Maine beat my Spartans. Damn. It was the only March playoff I really cared about.

I had hopes for the women's basketball team, but Duke stomped them. As for the men, well, looks like it's George Mason's year.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:45 AM on March 27, 2006


Second, unlike pro sports teams that have an only marginal and tangential relationship to the cities that are their "homes," these kids really are playing for - and are members of - an identifiable, cohesive body.

I would disagree with that. At least the pro athletes live in the city. They eat in the city. At many of the serious college programs, the athletes live in separate dorms than the student body, they don't go to class, and they don't have other student friends. They are corporate-sponsored basketball players. Their sponsor happens to be their college.
posted by flarbuse at 7:01 AM on March 27, 2006


Great post. I'm not a huge basketball fan, but loved the stories about parity in the mid-majors after the first round, especially the bit about how few TV analysts ever got to see the MVC teams in action during the year, since they're rarely televised and few big conference teams want to schedule games against them. Littlepage nailed it:

“I think Billy made the comment that he hadn’t seen the Missouri Valley Conference play, but he felt comfortable enough to talk about their lower level of performance not only this year but over time,” Littlepage said. “It seems to be counterintuitive, if you will, that he’d make a comment like that.”

Have to wonder how much of the problem was worry from CBS about ratings.

I never win these things.

As a drunken joke, I used the line from an Irish betting site to make my picks and got 6 of the 8 from last round. None of the final four, though.
posted by mediareport at 8:19 AM on March 27, 2006


Er, um, that's two of the final four.
posted by mediareport at 8:27 AM on March 27, 2006


[ok, I can't count. 6 of the 8, though.]
posted by mediareport at 8:32 AM on March 27, 2006


On a similar note, 9th seeded Holy Cross beat 1st seeded Minnesota in overtime during the NCAA western semi (quarter? not sure. I don't follow very cloesly.) finals.
posted by flaterik at 1:57 AM EST on March 27


These were the regionals. Of course, Holy Cross got stuck playing their "regional" in Grand Forks while BU and BC played here in Worcester, MA (Where Holy Cross is from.)

I was at the regional games Friday and Saturday, and I'll laugh every time I think about when they showed that Holy Cross pulled it off in OT. There was a stoppage in play, and when it hit the out of town scoreboard the whole place went apeshit. Of course, the players couldn't really see the JumboTron right above them, so needless to say they were a bit confused as to why we were all screaming bloody murder and hugging when they waiting for the commercial break to end...Good stuff.
posted by rollbiz at 10:02 AM on March 27, 2006


At least Duke lost :)
posted by malaprohibita at 10:30 AM on March 27, 2006


I still don't understand people who are fans of schools they never attended- or have no connection to.

I don't root for UCONN, but George Mason is in Fairfax, VA--and last night's game was played in D.C. So it was basically a home game for Mason. The UCONN coach was groaning about that prior to last night's game.
posted by wfc123 at 10:50 AM on March 27, 2006


I still don't understand people who are fans of schools they never attended- or have no connection to.

I'm in complete agreement with you, wfc123.
posted by malaprohibita at 11:24 AM on March 27, 2006


Geaux!

Tigers!

All-time favorite LSU cheer: Give me a T (T!), give me an I (I!), give me a G (G!), give me an E (E!), give me an R (R!), give me an S (S!). What's that spell (LSU! LSU! LSU!)
posted by turbodog at 11:47 AM on March 27, 2006


wfc123- Lots of reasons. Geographical attachment mainly, I'd guess. That's why I was rooting for Holy Cross in the hockey tournament. UConn is a good example too, most of CT goes NUTS for UConn. Why? Well, this time of year, what else do they have to root for? Arena Football?
posted by rollbiz at 1:02 PM on March 27, 2006


"I think I had George Mason going all the way to the championship, where they were to lose with Iowa.

I know nothing about collage basketball and mostly picked teams based on how intresting their names were."

You think Iowa is an interesting name?

And:

.

That's for Billy Packer's credibility.
posted by Mcable at 1:24 PM on March 27, 2006


"I know nothing about collage basketball and mostly picked teams based on how intresting their names were."

That's why I'm waiting for Gonzaga vs. Morehead State.
posted by Mcable at 1:26 PM on March 27, 2006


If it were up to Billy Packer, the tournament would be just the winners of the top 6 conferences or so. Boy, that sounds exciting.
posted by Todd Lokken at 11:31 AM on March 28, 2006


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