Tag:March Madness
Posted on: May 10, 2011 11:18 pm

RIP NCAA Tourney Buzzer Beaters

Here lies what is considered by many sports fan around the country to be the best part of March Madness...Gus Johnson.

It was announced today that Johnson will become the lead play-by-play voice for FOX Sports' football booth for PAC-12 football and various other college football games on other FOX owned/related networks. And while FOX was willing to pony up the large contract offer that Johnson wanted, and depending on who you talk to deserved, most college basketball fans mourn the loss of their beloved buzzer-beating call hero.

The man who had a website dedicated to his best soundbites, the site GusJohnsonGetsBuckets.com is now defunct, and is a cult hero among college basketball fans for his earsplitting screams and calls during the later stages of games is riding off into the sunset to PAC-12 Football...

I'm hurt. Really I am. Without knowing the specifics of Johnson's asking price to CBS, and I'm sure it's outrageous, the fact that this relationship has failed is a travesty. And while CBS might say that Jim Nantz is their No. 1 guy in the booth for the Final Four, fans know the truth.  Gus Johnson was No. 1, and it wasn't even close. Nantz might be the face of CBS Sports and he is one of the greats, but Gus Johnson is, or rather, was, the face of March Madness. And with respect to Nantz and the other announcers, perhaps he should be paid like the top gun. Gus Johnson is likely aware of his popularity during March Madness, CBS Sports premier event in my opinion and wanted to cash in on it. Perhaps he has ratings of games he did on TruTV or whatever to prove that he is worthy of whatever asking price he came up with. Do I, and other fans, think he's worth every penny for those two weeks, probably, but then again, I'm not president of a major network who gets to make these decisions

At the end of the day, Gus Johnson's popularity carried the NCAA Tournament to new hieghts with his entertaining style of announcing and general excitment for the game. Gone are the days of Billy Packer, whose analytical and monotonous style was, to put it lightly, unpopular with the tournament's younger fan base. Fans nowadays expect their broadcasters to get caught up in the moment and show some emotions during their telecasts. And I think that Gus Johnson, as well as Dick Vitale and others helped change the way college basketball is broadcast on the national television stage. 

And while I still have Bill Raferty and his "ONIONS!" to tide me over during the first week of games, the fact remains that there will still be a small part that will be missing. A part that was created and filled for many years by Gus Johnson's blood-curdling screams blared from my television as a buzzer beater dropped. The gold standard was set by Gus Johnson, and I daresay it will not be passed anytime soon.

Maybe the fact that Gus is leaving to do PAC-12 Football is why I am so upset. Perhaps I and many others will be drawn to the late night telecasts of the PAC-12 on FX or whereever just to hear Gus Johnson's comfortable screaming as someone scores a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. But the odds of me caring about PAC-12 football anytime soon? About zero. Gus Johnson or not.

But March Madness will still go on. Sadly without Gus Johnson. And his soundbox website, which I demand be recreated so that fans around the country can at least fill the screams as the next year's VCU makes a run towards the Final Four.

But here lies the modern day buzzer beater. It was perfected by Gus Johnson and beloved by many and I doubt it will ever have an equal. It rests in piece for as long as you are not tempted to type in "Gus Johnson" and "Buzzer-Beater" into Google and/or YouTube.

Which for most of us, isn't much longer than five minutes.

Happy Trails, Gus. Good luck with the PAC-12, wish you could've done Big East games instead. You will be missed.

- Eagle

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 16, 2010 3:01 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2010 3:22 pm

Mid-Majors Revolt Against NCAA

Yesterday I gave my first impression of the NCAA Tournament and teams that were snubbed and got hosed by the NCAA selection committee. Naturally, the Duke fans aren't happy that I called the South Region "easier" than say, the Midwest. Also, naturally, they are upset with me. So what else is new.

But now, I'm picking a long standing bone with the NCAA. Normally, I would complain that the selection committee didn't include enough mid-major teams in the at-large teams. This year, with 8 teams from non-power conferences, I can't do that. But I can complain about who those mid-majors consistently play: other mid-majors.

Don't believe me? Here are the all mid-major first round games that shouldn't have happened: [8] UNLV vs. [9] UNI; [5] Temple vs. [12] Cornell; [5] Butler vs. [12] UTEP; [7] Richmond vs. [10] St. Mary's.

Here are all "power" conference matchups that could easily be moved to solve this problem I have: [8] Texas vs. [9] Wake Forest; [7] OK St. vs. [10] GA Tech; [7] Clemson vs. [10] Mizzou; [8] Cal vs. [9] L'Ville.

Well, look at that! Four games each! Two of the games even have the same seeds! Well that should be easy enough to fix, let's switch the teams. To fix the other two, demote the ACC teams and give Cornell and UTEP 10-seeds, just because I'm in an ACC bashing mood.
Ok, all kidding aside, I actually agree with some of those games listed above, especially the Texas-Wake game. But that's not the point. In 2009, I thought the tournament committee did a pretty good job at avioding all-mid major games, mainly because there weren't any mid-majors. In 2009, Xavier-Portland St. as a 4-13 game is hardly cause for concern.

2008? Not so much, with games between Butler-S. Alabama (7-10), UNLV-Kent St. (8-9), Gonzaga-Davidson (7-10), Drake-WKU (5-12).
2007? Ditto, Butler-ODU (5-12), S. Illinois-Holy Cross (4-13), BYU-Xavier (8-9), Nevada-Creighton (7-10)

One of the great things about the NCAA tournament is seeing mid-majors pulling for upsets against higher seeded, power conference teams, especially in the 5-12 game. Three out of the past four years a limited number of mid-majors who gain bids are beating each other in the first round. The cream of the NCAA crop will rise to the top in the Elite 8 and later rounds. But until then, I want to see the WKUs, Davidsons and George Masons making Sweet 16, Elite 8 and Final Four runs against big conference teams. We've seen the mid-majors play each other this season, it's called BracketBusters and conference regular seasons.

That's not say that the NCAA tournament committee doesn't give put mid-majors against power teams. But if you exclude New Mexico as a three seed and Gonzaga on principle, then the best games by seed would be BYU-Florida (7-10), Tennessee-SDSU (6-11), Notre Dame-ODU (6-11) and Wisconson-Wofford (4-13) in each region. While I don't mind these games, there aren't enough games on the 8-9 or 7-10 level that could be great matchups.

I know the tournament committee has a tremendous job to do and again, for the most part, there isn't all that much to complain about. But being from a mid-major school I always root for the little guys during the first weekend of March Madness. I don't care if it kills my brackets, because it's fun to watch and it is much more interesting than watching a couple of mediocre ACC and Big 12 teams battle it out.

All that I really am asking for is to avoid all mid-major games at the 8/9 and 7/10 levels when possible, like this year. I'll let the 5-12 games go for now but the less games there as well, the better. I will always approve the 6/11 game being power vs. mid-major. And all that I'm really asking is to move teams by one seed. If there is really that much of a difference from a 9-seed to a 10-seed, then by all means keep putting the mid-majors against each other, which proves nothing.

But that's just me, I'm crazy. I'm crazy because I hate the BCS and want the little guys to get their shot. I'm crazy because I hate Duke and would consider their loss to VCU a few years back as one of my favorite 1st round games of all-time. Not because Duke lost, okay, not just because Duke lost, but because it was a fantastic game with a great finish. And a mid-major got the better of a power team. That will never get old to me.

And niether will Duke losing for that matter.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 15, 2010 12:44 pm

NCAA Tourney - Burst Bubbles and Biggest Gripes

It seems every year the NCAA Tournament Committee has to make a few tough decisions a leave a few bubble teams on the outside looking in. Every year it seems that teams and fans complain that their teams should have gotten in over this team and so on and so forth. But this year, it easier to make a case for the top teams left out of the tournament to be on the outside, than it is to have them dancing.


URI/UAB/Memphis - At the end of the day, there wasn't enough room for some more of the little guys. Mid-major teams got 8 at-large bids and there wasn't enough room for the 4th A-10 team or a third C-USA team.

Illinois - Illini fans are probably unhappy that Minnesota made it ahead of them in the NCAAs. They're from the same conference, and the Illini did make a better showing in the Big Ten tournament against Ohio State. But Minnesota beat Illinois head-to-head at Illinois in the regular season and did make the conference tourney finals after beating a lackluster Purdue team sans-Robbie Hummel.

Arizona St. - The Pac-10 wasn't getting more than two teams into the NCAA at most. Washington played their way in over the Sun Devils by winning the Pac-10 tournament and relegating regular season champ Cal to an at-large bid. ASU got bounced in the quarter finals by Stanford, ending any chance for a third Pac-10 team to make the dance.

VA Tech - I saw somewhere that the Hokies non-conf. RPI was 339th. There are only about 350 Division I teams in the NCAA. VA Tech's best non-conf. games included a loss to Temple on the road and games against Georgia, Iowa and Seton Hall, not exactly murder's row of "BCS" conf. teams.

Mississippi St. - Here's a little known rule - If you lose to a MAAC team (other than Siena) at home, you can't make the NCAA tournament. And it doesn't help that you play in the SEC West, which got a total of 0 NCAA tournament teams to my knowledge. Yes, that season opening loss to Rider came back to haunt you. If the Broncs aren't going dancing, then neither are you.


Kansas - The number one overall seed usually means the easiest overall bracket right? Tell that to the Jayhawks, who have a ton of big name teams in their bracket from seeds 2-6 in Ohio St., G-Town, Maryland, Mich. St., and Tennessee.

Kansas St. - Not only can they not beat their arch-rivals, but they are also in the same pod (Oklahoma City) as Kansas. Meaning that a lot of bored Kansas fans could get their hands on some tickets and make a very hostile environment for K-State.

Syracuse - Can't play in the East Region because they're hosting it, fine. Duke jumped them for the "3rd" number one seed, don't like it, but fine. But Gonzaga in the 2nd round? Potential Elite 8 game against homestanding BYU? Seems a bit much, even for a team that struggled down the stretch in the best basketball conference in the country.

Gonzaga - So they lose the WCC championship to St. Mary's and get placed as an 8 seed? Really? Move ND or Marquette out of one of their 6 spots and give the Zags a fair seed for once. I know they're hard to seed, but they're the best program in a non-power conference in the country, give them so respect. Have fun with Syracuse at home in the 2nd round.

Temple/Butler - Is there an NCAA rule that forbids mid-majors from being as high as four seeds? Aside from New Mexico's stellar season, the other top 15 seeds are power conf. teams. If you're going to put them as five seeds, at least don't give them two other mid-majors to play against. And definitely don't give them two good ones in Cornell and Utah St. respectively in the first round.

C-USA - They got two teams in, and probably deservedly so. But to relegate UTEP, a ranked team to a 12 seed and give Houston a 13 isn't good for a conference that I still think has respect in the NCAA. How about at least a 9/10 seed for UTEP and bounce Florida State.

Winthrop - This is a team that has won an NCAA tournament game in the past few years, and they get relegated to the play-in game? I'm sorry, but that's not fair. Move E. Tenn. St. to that game and give the Eagles a 15 seed somewhere.


Duke - Admittedly, I don't miss an opportunity to pile on Coack K and the Blue Devils. But this is almost too easy. Duke should be grinning like they just swiped a cookie from under Mom's nose. They have the easiest path to the Elite 8, in which the hardes team they have to play is Louisville. There's a good chance they could play Siena in the Sweet 16. And Nova, ND and Baylor are going to beat the snots out of each other before playing Duke in the Elite 8. And they get a neutral crowd in Houston rather than a hostile one at Syracuse.

I'll have an entry on over and under seeded teams later in the week and maybe an entry on my ongoing gripe against the NCAA and how they continue to match mid-majors with each other in the first round. Three days away from the greatest four days in sports.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: April 6, 2009 1:22 pm

Long Weekend Recovery - UConn Men/Sunday Sports

Saturday night was a depressing evening. The dream of an all-Big East championship was crushed. I watched the UConn Huskies struggle to do anything against a scrappy group of Spartans from Michigan State. Then I watched Villanova get demolished by UNC, ending the Big East's run in the Men's NCAA Tourament. Not only that, I lost my dorm bracket pool to my roommate, who has Michigan State winning it all. How do you recover from such a bitter night? Watch more sports of course!

Sunday was a fantastic day of sports for me. After a night of rejection and heartbreak, I was treated to an entire day of victory.

Jeff Gordon snaps losing streak at Texas

NASCAR?!?!?! Who watches NASCAR? FYI, it's better than F1 or Indy Cart. Why? Because you've actually heard of everyone in the race. Anyway, I jumped into the race with about 50 laps to go. This gave me enough time to see Carl Edwards lose the lead on a poor pit stop and Jeff Gordon to hold off a charging Jimmie Johnson to win his first race at Texas and end a 47-race winless streak. The best part of all this? Gordon is leading the points standings early in the season and is looking for his 5th NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.

Derek Lowe, Braves shutout Phillies on Opening Day

For the record, I think Derek Lowe's contract is reprehensible. It's terrible. I hate it. But he continues to pitch like he did last night, I'm going to have to change my mind on that in a hurry. Lowe went 8 shutout innings and was supported with a barrage of homers from Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur and rookie Jordan Schafer. Schafer also became the 99th player in MLB history to hit a homer in his first career at-bat. Mike Gonlazez had a shaky 9th inning to close the game, but a win is a win. The Phillies also celebrated their 2008 World Series Championship complete with video highlights, raising a championship flag and a first pitch by former GM Pat Gillick. And who ruined it? Larry "Chipper" Jones and the HOTlanta Braves. Good times.

UConn Women Rout Stanford, Reach Title Game

A friend of mine adamantly told me that Stanford would crush the Huskies last night. Needless to say, he was wrong. I was hoping for an all-Big East title game, but I figured it was more likely to come from the Men's side. But thanks to Louisville's upset over Courtney Paris and Oklahoma, the Women's side will be an Big East affair. One problem with both title games though? Both favorites have blowout wins over the underdogs (UNC 98-63 @ Ford Field; UConn 93-65 @ Storrs, CT/UConn 75-36 @ Hartford, CT - Big East Tournament Final). So I'm hoping that the two finals won't be a repeat of the earlier contests, because I know CBS and ESPN hate the UConn Men and Oklahoma Women, respectfully, for potentially producing two snoozers. Imagine the hype for a UConn-UNC and a UConn-Oklahoma title game. Might make my previous blog entry relevent.

Anyway, numerous friends of mine asked me if I was okay with the UConn men losing. Aside from losing a small bracket pool to my roommate, I was fine with it. This loss was nothing compared to the George Mason upset from a few years ago (and that was no where near the worst loss of my life - Bucs over the Eagles - 2002 NFC Championship). Had UConn played better or "well enough to win the game" (an arbitrary standard that analysts use. I think it's dumb), I might have been a little more disappointed. But honestly, the UConn Men's team might have overachieved this season. After losing Jerome Dyson for the season, they struggled down the stretch losing to Syracuse in that epic 6 OT thriller and Pittsburgh twice. They weren't the same team and didn't have the same depth. Yes, Stanley "Sticks" Robinson, A.J. Price and freshman Kemba Walker were phenomenal this season, especially after Dyson went down with the injury. But UConn just wasn't as deep with out Dyson. UConn really only used a 7-man rotation for the last half of the year with Thabeet, Adrien, Robinson, Austrie and Price as the starting 5 and Walker and Gavin Edwards coming off the bench. Having Dyson allows UConn to go smaller more often with three guards and giving the big guys some more rest.

Overall, fans might remember this UConn season more for the failures, Dyson's injury, the recruiting scandal and the Final Four loss, than the great achievements. Getting to the Final Four is no easy task and making it to the Elite 8 is still a fantastic accomplishment. Navigating through the toughest conference in college basketball should grant every player in the league some sort of combat achievement from each branch of the US Military. I hope Jim Calhoun doesn't retire. He (and Geno Auriemma) are the face of Connecticut basketball. And I still think that both coaches will win another National Championship. And I'm not counting Tuesday's game in that calculation. If the UConn Women beat Louisville for thier 6ht National title and 3rd undefeated season, Geno has to win one more on top of that.

And I know both coaches would say that they should win at least two more. Possibly three. They're just such great competitors.

But we do know one thing. If Jim Calhoun retires, he's not giving a dime back. And he shouldn't have to.

- Eagle


Posted on: March 28, 2009 10:46 am
Edited on: March 28, 2009 8:13 pm

Thoughts on the Madness

Author's Note (3/28 - 7:40pm) - This entry was featured on the CBS Homepage under the Featured Blogs and Groups section on March 28th. After I noticed this I fixed a few grammatical errors and added a point on Oklahoma that I wanted to add.

I realized that with Dantheman's amazing blog (which everyone should read) on the NCAA Tourney, that well, there was already a market for previews and whatnot, so I abstained from posting a few entries the past few weeks. So instead, here's a few rambling thoughts that I havae scribbled down in my head for the week or so.

Bubble Team Who got Shafted: St. Mary's. Come on people, there were a total of 4 (FOUR!!!) at-large bids to mid-majors this year. That is shameful, but as a HUGE mid-major fan, I am biased. How do we solve this problem, easy. Which "BCS" conference had to many teams make the field: the Big Ten. No disrespect to the Big Ten, but you got 7 teams into the NCAA tourney, the same as the Big East and the ACC. I will give you 6 teams and replace Minnesota with St. Mary's as a 10 seed against Texas. Don't even have to change the bracket. But Eagle, wasn't Wisconsin the last team in from the Big Ten? And what about Arizona? Yes, but I liked Wisconsin more then Minnesota AND Arizona has the talent to compete in the NCAAs as we saw during their run to the Sweet 16. So there.

Team Who Got NO Respect Before the Tourney Started: UConn. And, no I'm not being a homer, it's true. Forget the Yahoo! Sports recruiting story for a moment. The Huskies shouldn't have been a 1 seed. They should have. The Huskies played their first round game without their Hall of Fame head coach. George Blaney's a pretty good coach too. The Huskies are playing without their best shooter, Jerome Dyson. His replacement Craig Austrie had 17 against Purdue, and there's still Thabeet, Adrien, Robinson and Price on your starting 5. You don't think they're playing with a chip on their shoulder? You don't think they didn't hear all the TV talking heads saying they were the weakest 1 seed? Think again. They heard, and they answered back, by demolishing their first two opponents and dispatching a pesky Purdue team. Their game vs. Mizzou today should be a good one.

Team That I Didn't Respect Enough: Oklahoma. I like Blake and Taylor Griffin. I like them a lot. But I saw Oklahoma struggle down the stretch without Blake and figured they would do the same in the tournament. Good players win NCAA Tourney games, good TEAMS, however, win titles. I didn't respect Oklahoma as a team enough, and picked Syracuse to win. Naturally, I was wrong, which happens quite often. They demolished Syarcuse. Don't let that scoreboard fool you, that game wasn't all that close. Now we get the epic battle between Blake Griffin and Tyler Hansbrough.

Team Who Shot My Bracket on Day One: West Virginia. I had the Mountaineers in the Elite 8 against Louisville. It's not an NCAA Tourney unless I lose one of my Elite 8 teams on Day one. Still having a decent year picking games though.

I'm Gonna be Kicking Myself for this one... So one of the pools that I'm entered in wanted you to pick two bonus scorers, one for the highest single game and the other for the tournament's highest scorer. I picked D. Blair from Pitt as the Tourney scorer and Siena's Kenny Hausbrouck (I'm a MAAC homer, sorry) for the single game. This basically jinxed Hasbrouck but props to Siena for beating Ohio State on the road and taking Louisville to the wire. Sidenote: I mentioned to my Dad that there was a player who scored a rather high amount of points in a game this year, but we chose to stick with Hasbrouck anyway. That player: Ben Woodside, North Dakota St. He only dropped a tourney high 37 against Kansas. My bad Ben, I should have chosen you instead of a mortal enemy...I'm bitter.

You Know It's March When... Bill Raftery turns to his broadcasting parter and says "inthamantaman" or gets confused when someone starts out in a zone. High comedy, and it never gets old. For the record, a lot of people disliked CBS' Billy Packer because he's not as entertaining as Raftery or Gus Johnson, but I think Packer grew up in a different age of sports announcing, where the average fan wanted to know about the X's and O's of the game. Now, the average fan isn't as educated on the game (in my opinion. for example: see that random chick who always wins your office pool/NFL pool/etc.) and really wants announcers who sound excited to be there. I might miss Packer calling the Final Four, I might not. I will definately miss Raftery and Johnson when they retire however, they're two of the greats. And here's a little tribute to The Coach, Bill Raftery.

Biggest "Onions" Award : A triple order for Levance Fields 3-pointer with 50 seconds left against Xavier. Xavier had Pitt against the ropes and was winning for most of that game. But one 27-foot (or so) jumper changed everything and got Pitt into it's first regional final.

And here's a Closing Rant to bring it all home...

So I was watching the Women's selection show with my dad while we were at a local bar. Yes, in Connecticut you watch the Women's selection show, stop laughing. Anyway, I noticed a few quirks in the pod system and how several lower seeds were playing "home" games. Rutgers played at home against 2nd seeded Auburn and Michigan State played at home against top seeded Duke. On the Men's side, Ohio State as an 8 seed could have played two home games if it defeated Siena and then played Louisville in the 2nd Round. I understand that the pods sites are chosen beforehand and it's much harder on the women's side to get sites, which is why the first rounds are usually played on campus sites like in Storrs, CT or Durham, NC. But you can't give Rutgers or Michigan St. "home" games for being a middle seed. You just can't, it's not fair. I understand that money drives this tourney, but it shouldn't be the only factor. I love to see upsets in the women's game, I love to see upsets in general, but not by defending your home court. I understand that Duke and UNC will always play in Greensboro, NC because they will sellout that building, but as long as they are at least 4 seeds and deserve it, I don't care. I have no problem with Villanova playing in Philly, because they're a 3 seed and I loved them playing American (send them an order of onions too for their game, fantastic team) as a 14 seed because it's a bus ride for them from DC. Sending Portland St. to Boise, ID and giving the Portland fans a better chance to travel is a great idea and I'd like to see that happen more often. Do we need to send Cornell to Boise? Why not send them to Miami as a 14 or 13 seed in the South and Midwest regionals respectfully, keep them in the same timezone at least and let those Ivy Leaguers loose in Florida for spring break.

So get your act in gear NCAA, and fix this pod system so your not two years behind the teams playing in it because that's not fair to the teams that earned the right to play a defacto home game in the 1st and 2nd round by being a 1, 2, 3 or 4 seed.



Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com