The *cough* NCAA Tournament *cough* got underway last night with the first two of four play-in games. Western Kentucky and Mississippi Valley State dazzled the nation, and play-by-play man Jim Nantz, with a fantastically awful first half of basketball that featured a 23-19 score and the teams combining to make seven of their first 26 field goal attempts.
President Barack Obama, in attendance with British Prime Minister David Cameron, told commentator Clark Kellogg that “both teams are shooting terrible.”
Nobody could argue you on that point, Mr. President.
The second half was much better, and even featured what turned out to be the first of two unbelievably fun finishes, as Mississippi Valley State couldn’t handle a full-court press, was on the wrong end of a 22-5 run over the last four minutes or so. The 59-58 win earns WKU a meeting with in-state big boy Kentucky, in Louisville, on Thursday.
The second game between Iona and BYU, well, was even more baffling. The Gaels scored 55 points in less than the first 16 minutes, and had a 25-point lead over the Cougars at one point. It wasn’t enough. Like Chris Farley in a sailboat with no wind, the Gaels then became stuck, helpless to stop BYU, which smartly began using its size advantage and limiting turnovers.
By scoring only 27 points over the last 24:34, Iona went from trendy first-round “gonna beat Marquette” to “this is why you can’t have nice things” on Twitter.
It reminded me that this is why these games were play-ins, will always be play-ins, and never considered, by me at least, as real NCAA Tournament contests. That said, hell, bring on Lamar and Pat Knight, who made his dad proud, I’m sure, by hanging up on Steve Phillips (yes, that one) after some agenda-y questions.