I always have a bad feeling in my stomach when I look at my completed bracket before the start of the tournament. The reason : I know every year there are bound to be a handful of chokes. Sometimes the teams that gag are the ones you would least expect. It really hurts when your champion goes out in the second round or loses to a team that should not even be on the same court as them. But year after year, it always happens. This year’s top chokes go to the following:
Southwest 1-seed Kansas (35-3)-
When looking at it from the Jayhawks’s standpoint….WOW! What a bunch of chokes! I don’t think I have ever seen an easier path to a tournament laid out for a team of that caliber. Kansas, top 5 the entire year in AP/ESPN Polls, was one of the most dominant teams in the tournament and on top of that had a very smooth course to Houston. Before the tip of the tourney, Vegas gave Kansas the best odds to win the entire bracket. Although Bill Self’s Jayhawks did make it to the Elite 8 which is a very hard accomplishment, their loss to VCU lead to yet another year that the Jayhawks were a #1 seed and did NOT make the Final Four. I know that if I were a Jayhawks fan I wouldn’t be chanting “Rock Chock Jayhawk”at all right now! For the second straight year, Kansas was dominated by a small conference team (Northern Iowa in 2010). Shaka Smart’s VCU team played a perfect game knocking down 12 from behind the arc, just as they have the entire tournament. On Kansas’s side of the ball, the Jayhawks were held to 2-21 from 3-pt land and were down at one point by 18. I’m glad I didn’t take that game because Kansas was the real dog losing 71-61! I wonder what the twins are going to do. I for one think they should stay.
Southeast 1-seed Pittsburgh (28-6)-
With this team, I will be short and sweet. I do understand that Brad Steven’s Butler Bulldogs are continuing to beat everybody in this tournament, so I won’t ever knock them, but I have to say that Pittsburgh really blew it. They had way too many chances and opportunities in this game to pull ahead and they never did. Nasir Robinson’s foul with .8 seconds left in the game was the worst play I’ve seen in any basketball game I have ever played, watched, or even heard about. That’s all I will say about the game, but I will say a few more things about Coach Jamie Dixon. Yes, I believe he is a great coach…IN THE REGULAR REASON. To be honest, I am kind of sick of all these talented Jamie Dixon Pittsburgh teams getting seeded so high every year and flop in the tourney, usually on the second weekend. Jamie Dixon’s best chance at the Final Four was with the 2009 squad. But even his best group couldn’t get it done as they fell in the Regional finals. This team included some great players such as DeJuan Blair (San Antonio Spurs), Levance Fields, and Sam Young (Memphis Grizzlies). The city of Pittsburgh is more than dedicated to their sports teams (Steelers and Penguins), so I know they would love at least one Final Four, but at this rate- that’s not gonna happen. I’m not saying that Dixon isn’t a great coach (he is), but I think that it would be a fair argument to say that Jamie Dixon is a bad tournament coach and a choke!
Here are my top 5 “Takeaways” of the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament thus far:
- Izzo lost in the 1st Round!
- No-repeat Champion (Florida did it 2006-2007) as West 1-seed Duke falls to 5 -seed Arizona Wildcats 93-77 in the Sweet 16.
- No 1-seeds in the Final Four.
- 3 of 4 coaches in this year’s Final Four (Calhoun, Calipari, Stevens) have already won at least 1 Final Four Game.
- 2 of 11(Marquette and Connecticut) Big East Teams that got a bid to the tournament advanced to the Sweet 16– by beating another Big East Team.