Monday, March 31, 2008

Tulsa Beats Bradley, Takes 1-0 Lead in CBI Championship Series

Tulsa beat visiting Bradley 73-68 in the first game of a best of the inaugural College Basketball Invitational's three championship series.

Game two will take place on Wednesday night at Bradley's home court in Peoria, IL.

Game three, if necessary, will be played in Tulsa on Friday night.

CBI Finds Success, Despite Being Ignored by National Media

Despite being largely ignored by the national media, the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) has enjoyed a successful inaugural run. Bradley visits Tulsa tonight in the first game of a best of three CBI championship series. John Klein describes the somewhat surprising success of the CBI in today's Tulsa World:

"The CBI has been virtually ignored on the national scene, completely overshadowed by the NCAA Tournament and the National Invitation Tournament.

However, in the small pockets of the country where the CBI has kept the basketball season alive, it has been successful."

And Klein speculates about the larger implications of the CBI's success:

"The CBI opens up postseason slots for many of the teams from the mid-majors. Three teams from Conference USA played in the CBI. C-USA landed just one team in the NCAA and one in the NIT.

The power conferences pretty much ignored the CBI.

However, any college athletic administrator is likely to notice the success of the tournament.

If there is money to be made, by expanding the postseason to more teams, it'll probably happen.

Several coaches have said they expect a handful of these postseason tournaments like the CBI to start as early as next season."

Klein continues:

"(T)here's a good chance that the CBI could help usher in the expanded NCAA Tournament.

There is much talk about adding one round to the NCAA Tournament. Instead of 65 teams, the NCAA's would become a 128-team tournament.

The first round NCAA games (64 of them) would be played at home sites.

Here's what would happen. There would be sellouts all across the country, a big step up from the usual half-empty arenas in the current first round, and the top seeds would almost all win.

Still, twice as many coaches could claim they made the NCAA Tournament.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Final Four Field Set: Memphis and Kansas March On

By Mark Buckets

Today, the final two pieces of the Final Four puzzle were put together, as Memphis and Kansas advanced to San Antonio.

Kansas defeated Davidson 59-57, as Jason Richards' long-range, last-second three pointer sailed wide left of the rim, ending the Wildcats' run at basketball immortality.

Kansas suffocated Stephen Curry for most of the game, shooting 4 of 16 from three point range. However, he did have 25 points.

The most impressive team of the day - outside of Davidson - were the Memphis Tigers.

Roaring to an early lead and shutting the door on two Texas mini-runs, the Tigers were victorious in Houston, 85-67.

The Final Four teams left standing are all number one seeds, a first for Division 1 College Basketball.

In one national semifinal, UCLA will take on Memphis in a battle of contrasting styles - both on and off the court.

The other game pits two teams with truckloads of talent, as North Carolina and coach Roy Williams will meet his former team, the Kansas Jayhawks.

Update: Drive & Dish had promised our readers that we would be covering the 2008 Final Four in San Antonio.

That was the plan. Right up until the NCAA denied us media credentials.

We are extremely disappointed in this development. However, we will do our best to turn this negative into a positive.

That's right, D&D will do our best to cover the culminating event of the college basketball season right here in Chicago.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

UCLA, North Carolina Advance to Final Four

By Trashtalk Superstar

Half of the 2008 Final Four field is set. UCLA and North Carolina punched their respective tickets to San Antonio (the host city for the '08 Final Four) with impressive wins on Saturday.

UCLA hammered Xavier 76-57, and North Carolina handled Louisville 83-73. More here.

UCLA joins Duke and Michigan State as the third school to appear in back-to-back-to-back Final Fours since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

North Carolina will be making its second Final Four appearance in four years, and its third Final Four appearance since 2000.


Drive and Dish wants to congratulate UCLA on their achievement. Making it to three straight Final Fours is most impressive, indeed. It takes a combination of talent, experience, leadership and good fortune for a team to make it to a Final Four.

For UCLA to qualify for three consecutive Final Fours (and to do so without having a future NBA franchise player like Carmello Anthony or Greg Oden on their roster) is a testament to head coach Ben Howland and to the program that he's built.


The fact that UCLA is in the Final Four again means that more people will find Drive and Dish after running image searches for "UCLA Cheerleaders."

Drive and Dish usually gets between 50-60 hits a day from visitors who find our site after having stumbled across the following picture on a search engine (usually Google Images):

2006-'07 UCLA Dance Team at 2007 Final Four

Drive and Dish's subject matter is basketball. We're not trying to be Maxim or FHM. So we normally don't post pictures of "hot chicks" on this site. I put that picture up last year because the UCLA Dance Team is famous, and because their performances have become an integral part of the storied UCLA football and basketball tradition. I wanted to show various images from UCLA's game/victory celebration, and the image of the UCLA Dance Team seemed appropriate at the time.

Another reason that I put it up is because it's just a great picture (not to mention the fact that Drive and Dish ACC/Duke expert and college basketball commentator Mark Buckets had some success with running game on a couple of flirtatious UCLA Dance Team members at the 2006 Final Four in Indianapolis -- but Mark Buckets' girlfriend ultimately found him with the UCLA girls and put an end to his shenanigans). But I never realized just how much people love those UCLA Dance Team girls.

No wonder so many sports websites and blogs put up daily pictures of hot cheerleaders. Hot cheerleader pictures drive traffic to your site (which is why you won't find too many pictures of Yale cheerleaders, Carnegie Mellon, or Columbia Cheerleaders circulating on the net).

Drive and Dish doesn't make content decisions based solely on what we think will drive traffic to our site. If we did, Drive and Dish would be filled -- wall to wall -- with cheerleader pictures, swimsuit shots and photos of various campus "hotties." And our posts would be filled with shtick and flame throwing, controversy generating attacks on players, coaches, teams and fan bases.

This website is about basketball. All about basketball. Nothing more nothing less.

Having said that, I've decided to ease up on the reins for one day and let some of our junior Drive and Dish associates (and interns) have a say in determining the content of this site. Thus, Drive and Dish reluctantly presents more pictures of the UCLA Cheerleaders and the UCLA Dance Team (but after this, that's it!: no more cheerleader pics for you):

Davidson Whips Wisconsin, Elite 8 Field Set

Last night, Davidson punched its ticket to the Elite 8 by embarrassing Wisconsin 73-56 in Detroit's Ford Field. Wisconsin had been the 3 seed in the Midwest Regional. Davidson (undergraduate enrollment 1,600) is the 10 seed.

Davidson's amazing Tournament run has been led by guard Stephen Curry. As Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel writes:

"Curry, whose star has risen so high in the span of eight days that LeBron James came just to see him play (mouthing a visible "Wow" on an acrobatic reverse layup by Curry late in the game), put on another dazzling shooting display, hitting 6-of-11 three-pointers, but his most important stat may have been this one: Four steals."

And Davidson isn't the only team that advanced to the Elite 8 by blowing out thier opponent. All of Friday's Sweet Sixteen games were blowouts.

Texas blew out Stanford 82-62 in Houston, Kansas ripped Villanova 72-57 in Detroit, and Memphis humiliated Michigan State 92-74 in Houston.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Xavier Survives Overtime, Advances to Elite 8

Xavier defeated West Virginia in vertime 79-75 to advance to the Elite 8, (more here).

Despite getting off to a slow start, Xavier's B.J. Raymond made the key plays that put the Musketeers up for good in the overtime period.

Raymond hit two 3-pointers in the last 1:18 of overtime:

"Raymond, who had made only one field goal all night, hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put the Musketeers ahead 75-74 with 1:18 to play. He then shook loose on an inbounds play, took a crosscourt pass and made a 3 with the shot clock expiring with 30 seconds to go for a 78-74 lead."

In addition to Xavier, three other teams punched their tickets to the Elite 8 on Thursday night.

North Carolina beat Washington State 68-47 (more here, courtesy of the Raleigh News Observer), Louisville upended Tennessee 79-60 (more, courtesy of the Louisville Courier-Journal, here), and UCLA got past Western Kentucky 88-78.

On Saturday, Louisville will face North Carolina and UCLA will take on Xavier. The winners of those games will advance to the Final Four.

The second half of the Sweet Sixteen field will face off tomorrow night.

Cuonzo Martin Named Head Coach at Missouri State

By Trashtalk Superstar

Yesterday, Missouri State announced that Cuonzo Martin has been hired as the new men's head basketball coach. Prior to his hiring at Missouri State, Martin spent eight years at Purdue, where he served as the Associate Head Basketball Coach. Martin played for Gene Keady at Purdue from 1991-95.

Cuonzo Martin's arrival at Missouri State comes an important juncture in time for the Bears' basketball program. As Missouri State's press release states:

"Martin becomes the 16th head coach in the history of Missouri State, the 27th winningest NCAA Division I program in America. He will take over the reins of the program in time for the 100th anniversary of Missouri State’s basketball program and will inaugurate the Bears’ move into the $67 million 11,000-seat JQH Arena for the 2008-09 season."


Earlier in the month, Drive and Dish noted that Coaching News Online was floating a rumor about Illinois Head Basketball Coach Bruce Weber's purported interest in the Missouri State job. The "rumors" section at Coaching News Online reported that Bruce Weber had been talking to Missouri State about the school's head coaching job.

While there turned out to be no truth to the rumor that Bruce Weber was headed to Missouri State, it's probably true that Bruce Weber was talking to Missouri State about their head coaching job. Weber spent eighteen years as an assistant to Gene Keady at Purdue. He coached Cuonzo Martin at Purdue and maintained frequent contact with Martin while Martin was coaching at Purdue.

It appears likely that Missouri State talked to Weber on at least a few occasions, in order to get Weber's opinion on Martin. Bruce Weber is highly respected in coaching circles and among Athletic Directors at NCAA institutions. Missouri State probably relied on him as a reference for Cuonzo Martin.

Bradley to Face Tulsa in CBI Finals

Last night, Tulsa beat Houston 73-69, and Bradley beat Virginia 96-85, in the semifinals of the inaugural College Basketball Tournament (CBI).

Bradley and Tulsa will meet for a best of three CBI championship series.

Tulsa will host the first and third games. The first game will be held on Monday.

The Gazelle Group's CBI website has more on the CBI finals.

More on Bradley's win at Virginia: here. And here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Hard Sell: Who Needs Two?

By Mark Buckets

It’s been a difficult week - and month - for ticket brokers in and around the Detroit metropolitan area.

As Joanne C. Gerstner of The Detroit News says, it’s certainly been a buyer’s market for fans looking to attend the Midwest Regional at Ford Field Friday and Sunday.

At first glance, these brokers were licking their chops at an opportunity to gobble up hundreds upon hundred of tickets to this week’s Midwest Regional at Ford Field.

The reason?

Michigan State (Michigan’s only true college basketball program at the moment) was expected to earn a seed high enough to play their way into the Midwest Regional.

After a year in which the Spartans were as up and down as an amusement park roller coaster, Michigan State ended up peaking at - depending upon whom you ask - the right time.

For those with Midwest Regional tickets expecting to see the Spartans, it was too little, too late.

The Spartans ended up with a five seed, and were shipped to the South Region.

To those pesky ticket brokers, this was a nightmare scenario that became a stark reality.

The four teams participating in the Ford Field Regional? None of them include Michigan State, and two of the teams - Villanova and Davidson - are mum on sales of their allotment of 1,250 tickets.

Drive & Dish is in negotiations with Enterprise Rent-a-Car to provide a rental car for Trashtalk Superstar and Mark Buckets, enabling the duo to cover the games on Friday and Sunday.

As of Wednesday Afternoon, representatives of the rental car giant have yet to deliver a response.

We'll keep you posted.

Trashtalk Superstar adds:

Wow. I didn't know that Mark Buckets was thinking about renting a car to go to Detroit. Apparently, he's in deep negotiations with Enterprise.

That's fine. But Trashtalk Superstar only travels by Gulfstream, son. Mark Buckets can rent a Festiva if he wants to; but if I can get away for those games, you best believe that I'll be big pimpin' in the G4.

CBI Semifinals

Four teams remainin in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational (CBI) field. Tonight, Virginia hosts Bradley and Houston visits Tulsa in the CBI semifinals.

Tonight's winners will face each other in a best of three series to determine the CBI championship.

The Peoria Journal Star previews tonight's face off between Bradley and Virginia.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lefty Driesell = Godfather of Davidson Basketball

As Davidson prepares to take on Wisconsin in the Sweet 16, Newsday has a feature on the man who put Davidson basketball on the map, Lefty Driesell.

Driesell began his college coaching career at tiny Davidson College in the early 1960's. The Wildcats had suffered through eleven straight losing seasons before Driesell took over the program.

But he got things turned around in short order. Four of Driesell's Davidson teams finished in the top 10, and one of his teams came within a basket of making it to the Final Four.

More on Davidson, courtesy of the blogosphere:

Will's World (a Davidson student blogs about Davidson basketball).

Davidson Basketball Update.

North Carolina Steamrolling Competition

By Mark Buckets

Could the North Carolina Tar Heels be an overlooked team?

This, from a team that opened the year at number one and ended the regular season in the exact same position.

How can that be?

Well, if you’ve watched any college basketball lately - Drive & Dish certainly has - you’d have to recognize North Carolina as the best team in the country, far and away.

While UCLA was struggling to stave off Texas A&M - an hour from their campus - the Tar Heels were waltzing into the Sweet 16 for yet another run at a national title under coach Roy Williams.

This is a runaway train without a conductor blazing down the tracks towards a car laced with dynamite. They’re that destructive.

While Memphis was struggling to score points (Chris Douglas-Roberts saved the days once again) against another unspectacular SEC school, Carolina rolled from the opening tip and put the Arkansas Razborbacks down to sleep, winning by 31.

Memphis fans, let me be the first to say: Jarvis Varnado is no Tyler Hansbrough.

Without point guard Tywon Lawson, the Tar Heels looked “ordinary.”

Ordinary to some, unreal to others.

Quentin Thomas as your third-string point guard? He would start - and probably excel at that school eight miles down the road - on almost any team in the country. That is undeniable.

At this point, it appears Kansas is the only team with a puncher’s chance at North Carolina.

As good as Sasha Kaun, Darrell Arthur, and Darnell Jackson are - this three-headed monster has been spectacular this year - they’ve yet to go against a team with equal interior depth. This edition of the Kansas Jayhawks have been through more adversity than most of us will ever know. That fact leads you to believe they have the chops to give North Carolina a run for their money. History isn’t on their side, however.

North Carolina presents a bevy of problems to each and every one of the other number one seeds left standing in the round of 16.

Memphis? They are probably the team that can match up the best athletically with North Carolina, but they lack the intestinal fortitude to compete with the Tar Heels.

UCLA? Kevin Love v Tyler Hansbrough? Push. Those backing these two superstars up? I’ll take Deon Thompson any day over Lorenzo “Brick” Mata-Real.

The North Carolina Tar Heels appear to be headed on a fast track towards another National Championship. It would take a supreme effort - in combination with an off day from Ol’ Roy’s crew - for any team left in the Sweet 16 to dash Carolina’s title dreams.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sweet Sixteen Field Set

(Click to enlarge bracket).

The first week of the NCAA Tournament is over. 48 teams have been eliminated. The field of 64 teams has been whittled down to the remaining Sweet 16.

Western Kentucky and Davidson are this year's surprise Sweet 16 participants. They'll, no doubt, be called "Cinderellas." Villanova and West Virginia are also surprises, but since they hail from the Big East Conference, they won't be called "Cinderellas."

Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina and UCLA were all 1 seeds and were expected to get this far. So were Texas and Tennessee, which were both 2 seeds (Duke and Georgetown were 2 seeds who couldn't quite get over the "hump").

In addition to the 1 seeds, all of the 3 seeds (Louisville, Stanford, Wisconsin and Xavier) live to fight another day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

On Easter Sunday, Villanova Rises to Sweet 16

It's Easter Sunday, it's still March, the weather is bad in many parts of the country and there were NCAA Tournament games being played today (hey, what else is there to do but watch basketball on the most holy day for the world's largest religion?).

One of today's participants was Villanova.

Just one week removed from nearly having been left out of the NCAA Tournament, Villanova has had a remarkable rebirth: on Friday, the Wildcats upset heavily favored Clemson, and today they beat Siena 84-72, en route to a berth in next week's Sweet Sixteen.

Fittingly, the culmination of Villanova's remarkable rise from near Tournament bubble casualty to Sweet 16 participant came on Easter Sunday, the day on which most Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus (yeah, I realize that it's a ridiculously over dramatic analogy, but c'mon!, every story's got to have an "angle," and besides, I've seen ESPN be even more preposterously over dramatic many times).

If that analogy is too over the top, then maybe it would be better to compare Villanova's recent rebirth to the life of the patron of the Augustinian order, St. Augustine (Villanova is an Augustinian university). St. Augustine led a hedonistic life as a pagan intellectual before converting to Christianity later in life. He famously once prayed, " (Lord), grant me chastity and continence, but not yet" (da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo).

After St. Augustine's conversion, he went on to become the Bishop of Hippo and, essentially, the intellectual and philosophical father of the Roman Catholic Church. He rescued the church following the fall of the Roman Empire and his writings/philosophy were instrumental in laying the foundation for the medieval period of Western Society.

O.K., maybe that analogy is a little over the top too. I'll grant you: Jay Wright's Villanova Wildcats probably aren't going to influence any religious currents, and they probably won't do anything to change the world. Nevertheless, their run in the NCAA Tournament is a heck of a story.

Villanova barely made it into the Tournament, but now they're headed to the Sweet 16 for the third time in the last four years. They'll take on Kansas in the regional semifinal Friday night in Detroit.

Villanova is led by high scoring combo guard, Scottie Reynolds.

Reynolds was the catalyst in today's win.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer notes:

"Scottie Reynolds sparked the Wildcats with 15 points in the first 10 minutes and played one of his finest all-around games of the season. He finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two turnovers in 37 minutes."

While it's unlikely that Villanova can get by Kansas, the Wildcats have been one of the pleasant surprises of this year's NCAA Tournament. And, they've been one of the only teams from the much hyped Big East to advance past the second round of the Tournament (Louisville and West Virginia are the others).

What's more, with most of it's key players being underclassmen who are set to return next year, Villanova should develop into one of the the best teams in college basketball next year.

West Virginia Upsets Duke

By Trashtalk Superstar

Immediately after selecting Duke to beat West Virginia in my NCAA Tournament bracket, I started to wish that I'd picked West Virginia instead. I'd waffled a bit before I picked Duke because I felt certain that West Virginia could (and maybe should) beat the Blue Devils.

But ultimately, I decided that West Virginia had been too inconsistent this year for me to feel especially confident about picking them over Duke. Then I made a major error: I started to project how West Virginia would match up against Duke, position by position. I thought that West Virginia was as good as, or better than Duke at every position except for at the wing. I concluded that Duke's combination of Gerald Henderson and DeMarcus Nelson would be hard for West Virginia to defend, and that the game would likely turn on Duke's advantage in that particular matchup.

On Saturday, West Virginia upset Duke 73-67, and earned a trip to next week's Sweet 16.

DeMarcus Nelson was held to 6 points.

Now I really I wish that I'd just gone ahead and picked West Virginia. I wanted to, but I let myself over think my decision.

Look, for the last two or three years years it's been my contention that Duke has been vastly overrated.

Before last year's NCAA Tournament field was announced, I questioned whether Duke even deserved an NCAA Tournament bid, and I suggested that they probably really belonged in the N.I.T. And I wasn't exactly shocked when Virginia Commonwealth knocked Duke out of the Tournament in the first round.

But I believe that many of the world's ills are directly attributable to mankind's seemingly insatiable thirst for ego-gratification: particularly the kind of ego-gratification that one gets from saying,"I told you so," "I was right and you were wrong," etc. And besides, I didn't think that Duke's loss to VCU was that big of a surprise. So I refrained from commenting on Duke's early exit from the 2007 NCAA Tournament on Drive and Dish. I did, however, take note of ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale's preposterous explanation of Duke's first round Tournament collapse last year . Furthermore, in that archived Drive and Dish post, I cast my cynical eye on what I considered to be overly optimistic projections of a Duke return to glory in 2008. I asserted that I'd noticed the development a trend wherein ESPN college basketball analysts would attempt to minimize poor NCAA Tournament showings by Duke with the promise of an immediate return to dominance for the Blue Devils in the upcoming season (and NCAA Tournament), courtesy of yet another stellar incoming Duke recruiting class:

"Not to worry, Dukies. Vitale jubilantly pointed to Duke's outstanding recruiting class for 2007. He told the Sports Center audience that the Devils will get right back to kickin' ass and takin' names in '08. Help is on the way! Duke has some serious studs coming in! The Dukies will be back at the top next year, baby!

Sound familiar? It should. Again, Vitale said exactly the same thing last year. Hey, how could Mike Krzyzewski be expected win Tournament games with overachievers like (Shelden) Williams and (J.J.) Redick? Once Duke replaced that dead weight with incoming super freshmen such as Gerald Henderson and Jon Scheyer, Vitale pleaded, they would be right back on top of college basketball in '07. Baby!"

And I questioned the logic by which Vitale (and other analysts) arrived at the conclusion that Duke was destined for greatness in 2008:

"Vitale would have college basketball fans believe that some scrawny white (kid) named Kyle Singler is going to step on campus next year, and -as a skinny, goofy looking freshman- lead Duke back to the promised land. Naw, Dickie V, you're not putting undue pressure on a kid who's still in high school. Kyle Singler already has enough to stress about: graduation, whom to take to Prom, what to do after Prom, etc. Now he's got to figure out how to single-handedly lead Duke back to the Final Four next year.

Just as Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson were going to lead Duke back to the Final Four - as skinny freshmen- this year.

Just as Greg Paulus was supposed to do -as a skinny freshman- last year."

It has been my contention that over the last three years, the national sports media has over-hyped and overrated Duke (and, to a lesser degree, the entire Atlantic Coast Conference). And ESPN has done so, in large part, because of programming considerations.

Duke has truly become college basketball's equivalent of Notre Dame football.

Consider the fact that just as every Notre Dame football game is broadcast to a national television audience, so too is every Duke basketball game. No other college basketball program can claim that distinction. It doesn't matter whether Duke plays an opponent that would naturally generate a large television audience -- such as when they play their arch-rival, North Carolina (in yet another "battle of the century," or "game for the ages") -- or whether Duke plays an early season patsy such as Florida A&M or Cornell. Every single Duke game is nationally televised.

And most of those games are broadcast on ESPN. Duke basketball has all but become the centerpiece of ESPN's college basketball programming. Therefore, it's in ESPN's best interest to have Dick Vitale and their other college basketball analysts constantly doing their best to hype up and, hopefully, generate interest in Duke basketball.

Another way in which Duke basketball mirrors Notre Dame football is in the way Duke basketball generates extreme emotional responses from sports fans. Just like Notre Dame, plenty of folks love Duke and everything that Duke basketball purports to represent, but a hell of a lot more people absolutely DESPISE Duke, and loathe everything that they perceive Duke basketball to represent.

Although contributing Drive and Dish basketball commentator Mark Buckets will, undoubtedly, balk at the following characterization, Duke basketball (and, for that matter, Duke University) is widely perceived as being arrogant.

Duke is college basketball's "blue blood" program du jour. And unlike college programs that have previously been (and occasionally still are) referred to as "college basketball blue bloods" (Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, Indiana, North Carolina), Duke's basketball program represents an institution (Duke University) which is an extremely selective, highly reputable, ungodly expensive private university that boasts an amazing $6 billion dollar endowment.

What's more, the nutty Duke students who camp outside Cameron Indoor Stadium for weeks before each Duke game, paint their faces and bodies blue, pack Cameron's 9,000 (or so) seats to the rafters, boisterously bop up and down while chanting, screaming and taunting, and mercilessly ridicule opposing teams' players (often with predictions of those players' pending status as future professional subordinates/flunkees of said Cameron Crazies) do nothing to minimize the public's widespread perception of Duke as an elitist institution, comprised of arrogant little prick students who come from wealthy, privileged Northeastern families.

It's easy to understand why lots of people don't like Duke. Duke is an easy target. And it doesn't help that Duke's coach, Mike Krzyzewski, often comes across as aloof and arrogant himself.

There's just no way around it: Duke basketball generates passion. People either love Duke or they hate Duke. There's really very little in-between. Just as in the case of Notre Dame football.

So ESPN's constant promotion of Duke should be seen as a smart move. Duke's basketball program is different from any other program in the college basketball. Duke basketball equates to drama. For ESPN, programming and promoting Duke hoops is a no brainer. It's kind of like their version of having a soap opera or reality show.

Duke basketball games have esentially become ESPN's answer to American Idol and Dancing With the Stars. Duke basketball broadcasts provide drama, intrigue and live/unscripted competition.

And you either root for Duke or you root against them. But one thing you aren't is apathetic.

In my opinion, that's why ESPN and the national media hype Duke up so much. It has everything to do with drama and with television programming.

So guys like Dick Vitale talk about Duke until the cows come home.

But, in the end, it results in Duke being perpetually overrated (although that, in no way, should detract from the actual success -- 3 National Championships, multiple Final Four appearances -- that the Duke basketball program has had over the past 25 years).

Before filling out my NCAA brackets, I really thought that West Virginia had a good chance of beating Duke. And before the season started, I thought that Duke was overrated and that their youth and inexperience (along with their weaknesses at point guard and in the post) would prevent them from being an elite team and from making a deep run in hte 2008 NCAA Tournament.

But as the season went along (and especially after Duke went into the Dean Smith Center and beat North Carolina in February), I began to let the chatter affect my better judgment. That's why I ultimately picked Duke over West Virginia.

I won't be fooled again.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Second Round Liveblog - Update

By Mark Buckets

At the risk of sounding like a complete homer - D'oh! - I have decided to omit commentary of the Duke vs. West Virginia game from today's program.

Drive & Dish will have a full postgame report later in the evening.

However, Mark Buckets will be back to Liveblog immediately following today's first game in the Nation's capital.


I apologize to all of our loyal "D&Ders" out there that were expecting full commentary of today's NCAA Tournament action.

What you got, however, was a whole lot of nuttin'.

As you may (or may not) know, I am a Duke fan. I'm feeling extremely hurt right now, as if, in the immortal words of Mike Jarvis: "I feel like somebody came into my house...and raped me."

Perhaps those words are a tad bit harsh, but nonetheless, I am disappointed.

However, I will remain objective the rest of the way and continue to do the best possible job to bring the readers insightful and funny information.

I'd also like to extend my thanks to fellow blogger - and good friend - Trashtalk Superstar for the condolences.

If it weren't for people like him, I might end up drunk on Franklin Street like one of our "classiest" readers.

Trashtalk Superstar Adds:

Franklin St. is the center of off campus nightlife in Chapel Hill. It's where people go to party and have fun. It's not the kind of place where people go drown their sorrows. That's usually done at some out of the way neighborhood tavern, or in the comfort of one's own home (or -- if you don't have a place to call home -- on a park bench, on a street corner, or while sprawled out on a sidewalk).

At the moment, it doesn't sound like Franklin St. would be the ideal locale for Mark Buckets' drinking needs (forget about the fact that Mr. Buckets' home base of Willow Springs, IL, is more than 1000 miles from Chapel Hill, NC).

It sounds like Mr. Buckets -- in his current condition -- would be more inclined to be locked in a room with a bottle of Ripple or Wild Turkey, trying desperately to drink his sorrows away (and judging by his mysterious absence from his stated plans of meeting Trashtalk Superstar on the basketball courts of a suburban Chicago gym and of resuming his live blogging of the NCAA Tournament -- to say nothing of his subsequent lack of explanatory correspondence -- I'd bet the house on the Wild Turkey scenario).

Friday, March 21, 2008

Session Two - Night Games

By Mark Buckets

The dust has cleared and the damage has been done. The two games at St.Pete Times Forum today were the two best of the tournament.

Drake and Western Kentucky was everything you could want in a college basketball game. It featured big play after big play - the game was decided in overtime and on a last second shot and ultimately, the requisite live theater NCAA Basketball fans demand.

In the second game of the day, San Diego overcame a late Connecticut surge (in regulation) and won 70 to 69. A.J. Price went down early in the game with a knee injury and the Huskies lacked a leadership presence they sorely needed.

Tonight should offer up another firecracker or two. Villanova over Clemson is the trendy pick - just watch ESPN - but I feel that the Tigers are playing too well at the moment.

Should be a fun night, and we'll have it all here for you to enjoy.

6:05PM- Time for tonight's upset special picks, this all courtesy of CBS: Seth Davis is going with St.Joe's and Siena, whereas Clark Kellogg continues to lack any courage in his picks, with action "returning to form" tonight. (I.e. I have an inkling there'll be an upset, but won't put myself out on a limb)

6:09PM- A sea of powder blue at the RBC Center - that's weird. Well, not really, considering they take it over when they play NC State.

6:12PM- Carolina runs out to a 7-0 lead. Hansbrough jumps the passing lane and dunks it to start the surge. The Mount looks shell-shocked early on.

6:15PM- Old footage of Mt.St.Mary's coach Milan Brown playing for Howard during his college days. Ironically, he was the player of the game as his team lost to, yes, you guessed it, Carolina.

6:18PM- The Mount has started to settle in and have cut it to a 17-12 score.

6:19PM- One thing that I will give Tyler Hansbrough - he is a master at drawing fouls that...aren't fouls. And I'm not in the minority in saying that.

6:22PM- I have a feeling the Oklahoma-St.Joe's game - I did pick OU - might provide another nail-biting moment or two.

6:30PM- Carolina is getting to all of the loose balls and, also, seems to be getting all of the calls. I'm not biased, or anything.

6:33PM- I hear a whistle, and the foul isn't against Mt.St.Mary's. Am I hallucinating?

6:34PM- One and One for the Heels already. 9:51 to go in the first half, Carolina up 10.

6:35PM- Siena off to a roaring start in Tampa. Exactly the type of start the Saints were hoping for.

6:40PM- The Mount can't be too disappointed with the scoreboard thus far. It's been an up and down game and they only trail by 12.

6:42PM- Longar Longar exhibiting his athletic ability. A beautiful finger roll and the Sooners maintain the slimest of leads.

6:48PM- Carolina starting to flex their muscles. This team, however you slice it, can score in bunches and demoralize the opposition in the process.

6:49PM- Jump ball won by Psycho T. Nothing new, except for the fact that he puffed his chest out after winning it from a 6 foot 2 point guard. Hmmmmm....

6:55PM- Mount St.Mary's with 40 points at the 2 minute mark in the first half. Ol' Roy can't be happy with that....

6:58PM- ...although he'll be happy with 60 points at the break. 60-41 Tar Heels.

7:00PM- For as much flack as Billy Packer receives - some of it is self-inflicted - he is as insightful as any color man in the business.

7:02PM- Luckiest man in college hoops tonight? Tim Brando, who is calling the games in St.Petersburg. The first two, as we documented, were instant classics. Tonight's Siena-Vandy game is on the fast track to classic status, as well.

7:07PM- Vanderbilt really needs A.J. Ogilvy to break out of his elongated slump. He's showing signs of that tonight, filling up the stat sheet as we near halftime in Tampa.

7:09PM- Siena hits a huge three as the half ends extending their lead to 46-34.

7:11PM- We haven't touched on the Oregon/Mississippi State game in Little Rock. Oregon is playing with a purpose, something they haven't done losing 6 of 9 before the Pac 10 tournament, where they lost in the quarterfinals.

Three Pt Field Goals: Oregon-7 MSU-0. Hence the Halftime score of 38-28, UO.

7:20PM- This game in Raleigh is resembling a bad NBA game. Up and down - not in a good way. Bad passes that resemble a soccer match crossed with a volleyball game. Shot selection has left much to be desired, too.

7:24PM- The fighting Joe Lunardi's (Joey Brackets picked SJU to win in this 6-11 game) are starting to fade into basketball oblivion tonight. After keeping it close for about 10 minutes of the first half, the Sooners have seized control and lead by 20.

7:27PM- Marcus Ginyard just blew a dunk. I mean, really blew it. He had a WIDE OPEN path to the rack and came up short on a basic dunk. Rejected by the rim! I'm laughing here in the Drive & Dish studios.

7:29PM- Time to pull the starters, Roy. You're up by 29. Call off the dogs.

7:31PM- I think Billy Packer just called a travel on Hansbrough. He really did!

7:35PM- Second half starting in Tampa. Can the Saints continue their torrid shooting in the second half? I'd lean towards "no."

7:41PM- Vandy getting out and playing the passing lanes. When they do that, they should handle this team.

7:43PM- Keegan Bell showing a little versatility for the Commodores. He might be the offensive spark that this team needs. Lead cut to 50 to 43.

7:45PM- Jamont Gordon having an absolutely brutal game so far. Five points on 2 of 10 shooting. If he heats up, the Ducks better look out.

7:47PM- Phil Martelli's Hawks have made a nice little comeback to trim the lead to nine. Oklahoma's inability to convert from the free throw line has aided this St.Joe's comeback.

7:48PM- Technical Foul, Kevin Stallings. His team down ten, with 12:28 to go in the game and he's t'ed up. Not a good call, coach.

7:50PM- A common theme throughout today has been the slickness of the playing surface. The NCAA logo at midcourt at all of the sites has been the main culprit to this problem. It's as though they're playing this game on one of Lifetime Fitness's worn and dilapidated courts.

7:54PM- Coach Stallings' is on the verge of being tossed. You just don't pull a Larry Eustachy when your team is down 10 in the second half.

7:55PM- Shots are starting to fall for St.Joe's, and with plenty of time left in the second half. Perhaps I will be eating "crow," at the end of this one.

7:56PM- There goes Tasheed Carr, who will foul out with 7 points for St.Joe's. The lack of depth will eventually catch up with St.Joe's, who are in a world of foul trouble.

7:58PM- Blake Griffin is a manchild in every sense of the word. He makes even the most innocuous play - a block after a foul is called - look magnificent.

8:00PM- Longar Longar displays some of that, in the same situation, blocking a shot into the second row. None of this matters, however, as the lead has been cut to five. 61 to 55, OU, 4:36 to play.

8:01PM- Superstars have carried the mail for some teams today. Stephen Curry had 40 earlier in the day, and Jack McClinton of Miami put up 38....without getting a double-figure effort from one of his teammates. Charles Rhodes of Mississippi State is continuing this trend, scoring 28...the only player on his team with double figures.

Both of those teams were victorious. However, Mississippi State only leads by one about halfway through the second half.

8:05PM- Blake Griffin has been a difference-maker down the stretch for Oklahoma tonight. With the Hawks threatening, Griffin has taken over with three consecutive scores putting his Sooners safely ahead by eight with 1:13 to go. Not over yet, however....

8:12PM- It's been surprisingly easy for the Siena Saints tonight. They haven't once trailed tonight, and are on course for one of the easier 13 over 4 wins in recent memory. (to say the least)

8:15PM- Oklahoma putting the finishing touches on St.Joe's. You have to commend the Hawks for not folding the tents early in the second half, as they easily could have. If ever a team was a "reflection of their head coach," St.Joe's would be exhibit A.

8:17PM- A good one brewing in Little Rock. Two evenly matched teams playing an evenly matched contest. Oregon was unconscious early, and can't seem to buy a basket now. 63 to 58, Bulldogs, with 4:31 remaining. 33 for Charles Rhodes.

8:20PM- Speaking of putting a bow on things: Siena is on the verge of renaming Tampa Bay as "Upset City." Final score Siena-83 Vanderbilt-62.

8:31PM- Time is starting to run out on Oregon and the career of Malik Hairston. From ballyhooed recruit to being labeled as a "college bust," to recovering and making the most out of his senior year, Hairston's career has been filled with trials and tribulations. He goes out with 22 points and a lot of respect from this blogger.

8:35PM- I would be remissed if I didn't mention Maarty Leunen and his importance to Oregon Ducks basketball the past four years. He's a true student-athlete, and is the poster boy for college basketball purists like myself.

8:41PM- Final Score: Miss State-76 Oregon-69. Could this be Ernie Kent's swan song as the head coach at Oregon?

8:43PM- Is there a college basketball player that's as out-of-shape as Indiana's DeAndre Thomas? He also is a bit of a scatterbrain too.

8:46PM- Eric Gordon trying to post up shot-blocking machine Steven Hill? I know Dan Dakich is a lame-duck coach, but come on....

8:46PM- Speaking of which, Dakich is T'ed up 4 minutes into the game. Another coach with good intent, just a poor way of carrying out that intent.

8:52PM- Louisville and Boise State are underway in the fourth and final game today in Birmingham. Somebody get the defibrillator ready for Verne Lundquist. He's the one doing the true "marathon" today.

8:55PM- Indiana trying to establish D.J. White early. They've passed on several open looks from the outside to feed it down low. I like the strategy. They've always got Eric Gordon in their back pocket to kick it back out.

9:01PM- Sometime I wonder how DeAndre Thomas ever got a D-1 scholarship...

9:05PM- D.J. White just picked up foul numero dos. Having to rely on the aforementioned Thomas for post defense - especially against a team with as much size as Arkansas - isn't a good proposition for the Hooisers.

9:09PM- Clemson got off to a flying start against Villanova and are up 12 to 7. It's still early, and Villanova is - as has been stated before - calming down and playing their style of basketball.

9:18PM- UT-Arlington out to a 6 to 3 lead early on in Little Rock. The Southland Conference champion Mavericks aren't going to win tonight - but will put up a much better fight than Mississippi Valley State did last night.

9:26PM- Billy Packer and Dick Vitale actually agree on something. In reference to Indiana University's announcement that they will construct a search committee for a replacement to Dan Dakich. They both think - right on the money too - that the timing of this announcement is "horrendous."

9:28PM- Halftime score: Arkansas-37 Indiana-30. Eric Gordon has been ice-cold and D.J. White was in foul trouble. All in all, the Hoosiers are lucky to be down only 7.

9:33PM- The style of Louisville resembles that of Boise State..but the talent doesn't, and that is reflected on the scoreboard: Louisville-44 Boise State-31 at the break.

9:33PM- If this were a real marathon, I'd be at about the 20 mile point. It's a good feeling to think about what you accomplished - 20 miles - but the last 6.2 are the most daunting.

9:42PM- With Villanova trailing 39 to 25 late in the first, the Cats have decided to mix it up a little bit with some pressure.

9:45PM- Nearing halftime in North Little Rock, Memphis has kept it's distance from UT-Arlington. Like I said before, the Mavericks will put up a better fight than MVSU.

10:12PM- Everytime Indiana seems to be making some headway, Arkansas sets the Hooisers back. 53-47 IU with 10 to go.

10:13PM- Where is Eric Gordon?

10:14PM-There's another three, this time from Arkansas' Sonny Weems. This would be a perfect time for Mr.Gordon to show up.

10:15PM- Clemson and Villanova locked in a fight. Clemson has cooled off and Scottie Reynolds is starting to fire up.

10:18PM- Arkansas has by far been the more aggressive team, and the free throw discrepancy illustrates that.

10:28PM- You never really get the feeling that Indiana is in this game. Down ten with 4:15, IU is showing little sense of urgency.

10:31PM- In Tampa, Clemson is getting all they can handle from Villanova, who has done a great job of neutralizing the Trevor Booker and James Mays. 48-47 Tigers with about 12 minutes to go.

10:33PM- D.J. White looks like he is cramping up. He's got three fouls, and with him on the bench, IU has been lifeless inside. The senior is fighting for his collegiate life.

10:34PM- This is a classic SEC vs. Big 10 matchup, basketball style. 1)Both teams have talented athletes, but Arkansas has more. Would DeAndre Thomas be on any SEC roster? I'm serious about that.

10:43PM- Louisville made mince meat of Boise State tonight. The Broncos had to be emotionally spent after winning a triple-overtime thriller to earn this NCAA Tournament birth.

10:44PM- Eric Gordon's brief career at Indiana will end tonight with a 8 points on 3 of 15 shooting. Yikes.

10:48AM- Final score: Arkansas knocks off Indiana, 86 to 72. Indiana's loss drops the Big 10's spotless first round record to 3 and 1.

10:54PM- I get the same vibes from the 5/12 game in Tampa as I did with the IU/ARK game. It's still a 63-55 game, but it seems as though Clemson has accepted defeat.

10:57PM- The NCAA Tournament is memorable in more ways than just on the court. Here's a prime example of that. UT-Arlington's Rog'er (pronounced Roge-ear)Guignard just hit a three. And if you're curious - it's hour 11 of the liveblog and I'm sure you are - he isn't French Canadian.

11:00PM- Approaching the 12th hour of coverage, I'm starting to melt down almost as fast as Clemson is against Villanova(That was a joke....I LOVE doing this)

11:01PM- An interesting sidebar to these final two games - one that is out of hand and another that seems like it is - Which one will get done first? 7 minutes to go in a blowout (UM-UTA) or 3:30 in a "nailbitter"(CU-VU)?

11:04PM- I guess I should have known picking Clemson to advance a few lines in my bracket was a mistake. The Tigers are shooting a 43% from the FT line - shouldn't surprise me - since D&D's very own Trashtalk Superstar harped on their mental toughness all year....

11:07PM- Important technical foul of the day - this time from Villanova's Jay Wright....

11:08PM- And of course, Clemson sends Terrance Oglesby to the line and makes 'em both...huge swing in this game

11:08PM- CU gets the ball and an open look from Oglesby, which rattles out...could have put the Tigers ahead by one.

11:10PM- Tim Brando and Mike Gminski are still very lucky men.

11:10PM- And a foul from Mays, his fourth....Booker already out....serious foul trouble for CU, now down by 4 with 2:25.

11:12PM- Clemson getting clutch free throw shooting from their two best - Oglesby and K.C. Rivers. TIED at 66!

11:13PM- Oh my, James Mays fouls out on a ticky tack call 17 feet from the basket. The Tigers are going to have to win it without their two best big men. Can Raymond Sykes save the day?

11:15PM- Not to be (as of now). Oglesby and Sykes go for a screen and roll and the ball tips off of the hands of Sykes...who bowls over a VU player trying to get the ball.

11:16PM- 1:14 to go, 70-66 Villanova, with the ball and the game squarely in their hands. It looks as though Jay Wright won't be the goat of Philly, after all.

11:18PM- The shots aren't falling now for Clemson, as another three goes in and out...Nova fans starting to celebrate...

11:21PM- Final score: Villanova-75 Clemson-69.

11:25PM- There goes one of my Round of Eight's been messy in Mark Bucket's version of Bracketville.

11:40PM FINAL BLOG ENTRY- It's been a long and enjoyable day. Today was a little more entertaining than yesterday, offering a few close ones. From the opening tap in Birmingham to the last free throw in Tampa, we had you covered here at Drive & Dish.

I hope today was as enjoyable for you as it was for me.

Look forward to doing it again tomorrow, starting with Duke and West Virginia at 1:10PM CDT.

Until then, enjoy the madness!

Belated Bucket Blogging- Mark Goes for the Gold

By Mark Buckets

I, Mark Buckets, have a confession to make. I apologize for being late "to the dance." In this case, I missed out on the first half of the first session of today's "Liveblogging Super Marathon."

You're probably asking yourself, why would he be late to this marathon?

The reasons must remain confidential - I can assure you that it was a worthy excuse - for fear of serious repercussions.

Anyway, let's get to this, as the second half begins in Tampa.

12:43PM- Snow warning here in Chicago. Not only that, but it's a lake effect snow warning. Good thing I don't have to drive while liveblogging. That wouldn't be pretty.

12:45PM- Drake looks extremely out of snyc against the more athletic Western Kentucky Hilltopers. Nothing is coming easy for Drake.

12:46PM- Another contested three pointer for the Bulldogs. They just can't seem to get any good looks. Kudos to the WKU defense.

12:47PM- Over in Birmingham, Tennessee is getting all they can handle from American, leading the Eagles by two early in the's a game worth keeping an eye on (and of course D&D will do that for you)

12:49PM- In Little Rock - a game in which most of the country is missing out on - Miami has inched back and is in a dog fight with St.Mary's. A 6-0 run has put the Hurricanes equal with the Gaels, 33 apiece.

12:51PM- In a game that has garnered most of the early attention - and rightfully so - Gonzaga is taking it to Davidson up eight in the second half. The Bulldogs have been in control most of this game, and are showing no signs of letting up. Davidson better be careful - GU smells blood.

12:52PM- Right on cue, Tennessee goes on an 8-0 run and takes the lead guessed it, 8. Ridiculously athletic starting five count: Tennesesse-5 American-1

1:00PM- This is unreal. American is staying in this game behind the three point shot. They're within four, with a little under 5:30 to play. Don't count them out.

1:03PM- Whenever Bruce Pearl experiences any kind of strain - off the court, but especially on it - the Drive & Dish staff collectively smiles.

1:11PM- The Eagles aren't going away quietly. And get this: American is outrebounding 18!

1:31PM- Looks as though Davidson's gonna overcome a bit of a deficit and beat Gonzaga.

1:33PM- Adam Morrison looking on at the RBC Center...a bit dejected

1:33PM- One of Drive & Dish's favorite - he caught our eye in torching Duke - Jack McClinton has put up 33 as Miami is on line to put away St.Mary's. This is a dangerous team going forward.

1:36PM- Tim Brando just called Klayton Korver....Kyle Korver...again

1:44PM- OOOOOvertime at the St.Pete Times Forum. (A wonderful venue, by the way.)

1:53PM- What a thriller in Tampa. You think Duke relies on the three too much? Drake has lived (erasing a huge second half deficit) with the three. Lead extended to four here in Overtime.

1:58PM- Some questionable calls here in overtime - the refs letting almost everything go - except for the phantom "charge" in regulation to give Drake new life.

1:59PM- WKU's Boris Siakam fouls Josh Young with the game tied - 30 seconds to go and Drake basketball.....Darrin Horn can't believe it.

2:00PM- I ask you this: who, from Cameroon, is named Boris?

2:03PM- Drake to the line for two after a huge series of rebounds....

2:04PM- We're tied at 98! Darrin Horn wants a timeout, another shot for Drake's Jonathan Cox.

2:05PM- Who would have expected Western Kentucky to outshoot - percentage wise - Drake from behind the arc? Tyrone Brazelton has put on a clinic, going for 33.

2:06PM- Second shot on the way for Cox...and it's GOOD! 99-98. Timeout Drake!

2:06PM- If you're WKU, you've got to get the ball in the hands of Brazelton. The guy has been lights out all day. Courtney Lee comes to mind as the man you want, but I saw Brazelton gets it...

2:07PM- Rogers get it...and drains the three..My god...WKU wins 101-99 in OT. I'm speechless.

2:08PM- Both teams combined to make 30 three's, a new...NCAA...Tournament......RECORD

2:10PM- CBS just cut to the UMBC pep band in anticipation of their game vs. Georgetown. EVERY piece of the band was decked out, head to toe, in Retrievers gear. Not impressed? They all were wearing gold and black face paint, billowing out beautiful basketball music. PROPS, BALTIMORE-COUNTY.

2:32PM- The Retrievers hanging tough early against Georgetown 21-17. Their 2-3 matchup zone was probably the only defense to throw at Georgetown. They are, in fact, overmatched physically at almost every position on the floor.

2:37PM- Butler starting to heat up. Drive & Dish - especially Mark Buckets - is a huge supporter of the Bulldogs. One thing we both agree on - Trashtalk Superstar and I - is that they are the most fundamentally sound team in the field.

2:38PM- Splash. Butler goes up eight with yet another three ball, this time from Pete Campbell, who is 4 of 6 from behind the arc.

2:45PM- Coach K press conference over on ESPNEWS. Apparently, he experienced flu-like symptoms and had a 104-degree fever during the game last night. I'm sure his team's performance didn't assist in his recovery.

2:50PM- Halftime score at the BJCC: Butler-47 South Alabama-30. It's raining threes, as Butler has filled up 8 of 17 from long range.

Butler Bob has to be happy with that first half performance.

2:52PM- Smile Greg Gumbel! You're on candid camera! I guess he had something stuck in between his incisors as I spotted him wiping his mouth before going on the air.

2:54PM- Halftime in Raleigh. UMBC hanging tough with the Hoyas, down 34-22. Big three by Summers at halftime extending the lead to 12 as time expired.

3:04PM- A.J. Price of Uconn came down awkward on his left knee as he went up for a layup. He immediately went down in a heap of pain and had to be carried off the court. He is perhaps more important to this team than Hasheem Thabet, although in different ways.

3:10PM- Interesting tidbit: Butler is 23-0 when leading at the half. That's gotta concern USA fans, for sure.

3:11PM- Look on the bright side, Jaguar fans....Your team just scored the first four points of the half on Butler turnovers. They've gotta exert their style, up the tempo and get back in the game.

3:41PM- On paper, this wave of games looked weak. Par to course, nothing has really changed that assertion. Butler, Texas and Georgetown all in control.

In the only competitive game, San Diego is surprising Uconn at the half, 34-29.

3:45PM- Jessie Sapp with the take down of the tournament. He literally pulled a UMBC player by the jersey and threw him to the ground. Should have been an intentional foul.

3:54PM- Gotta say I'm pretty disappointed in Austin Peay's performance today. Texas has just steamrolled them today. Not even close.

3:55PM- Butler well on their way to a victory. Looking ahead to the second round matchup with Tennessee, it's the classic good guy v bad guy game. I think you can put two-and-two together on that one.

3:56PM- San Diego continues to scortch Uconn from the mid range. The popular idea to attack a team with a big man is to do...just that. Today, however, USD has done a great job of drawing him out and kicking it around for the open shot.

4:02PM- Butler ends USA's misery and wins by 20. This was probably the most impressive performance of the tournament to date.

4:03PM- Am I the only one that misses Brad Sham in Westwood One's NCAA Tournament studios? I can't get into Tommy Tige's helter-skelter, can't-understand-what-your-saying schtick.

4:09PM- Not having much to cheer for today - the Austin Peay fan contingent belts out the "LET'S GO PEAY" chant. Ahhh yes, some comic relief.

4:11PM- Spencer Ross of Westwood One should work for the Greater Austin Tourism Board. During a prolonged timeout, the angelic play-by-play man raved about how great Austin is. That may be true, but what about Clarksville, TN?

4:13PM- Update from Tampa: Uconn has made a run and cut the USD lead to one. It would be poetic justice if Uconn were to lose this game as the heavy favorite. If you'll recall - and if you're reading this blog, you do - Uconn beat Duke as a huge underdog for the 1999 National Title. (That game was at Tropicana Field and this one is at the St.Pete Times Forum.)

Speaking of which: Why was that Final Four the final basketball game at the Trop? I guess that concrete facade - which was a huge complaint amongst players as a poor shooting backround - isn't pretty enough for the NCAA.

Trashtalk Superstar adds:

Mark Buckets said:

"1:33PM- Adam Morrison looking on at the RBC Center...a bit dejected"

Adam Morrison was looking on, but I wouldn't say that he was looking dejected. I'd say he was looking baked (as usual).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

NCAA Tournament Liveblogging-It's Go Time!

By Mark Buckets

The time is upon us. Drive & Dish's staff have filled out their respective brackets after two consecutive nights of brainstorming and a season full of basketball viewing pleasure.

Here we are, at 10:45AM, here on Thursday, March 20th, 2008. We're mere moments from the beginning of a month-long odyssey of epic proportions.

Think that's a bit over the top? A case of hyperbole?

Try again. There is nothing in the world of sports that generates the passion of the NCAA Tournament.

Drive & Dish lives for today.

Over the next four days, Drive & Dish will continue it's all-consuming coverage of the NCAA Tournament.

Tomorrow, I, Mark Buckets, will attempt to complete the blogging version of a "Super Marathon."

From 11 in the morning til deep into the night - with a couple of bathroom breaks in between and some time to stretch - I will be plugged in to the NCAA Tournament.

It's time.

10 minutes to go. Tick, tick, tick, tick......

11:03AM- It's past 11:00...and I'm staring at the weathered face of CBS 2 Chicago's Rosanne Telez. I guess they aren't going to network coverage until around 11:10. At least the Westwood One radio coverage begun on time.

11:04AM- Speaking of which, Mark Champion of Westwood One sounds a heck of a lot like Illinois' Brian Barnhart. It's erieely similar.

11:08AM- March Madness on Demand has generated quite a buzz. From those in the office to people elsewhere, CBS did everyone a favor in making these games free to view. Thank god I signed up for VIP access. Took me about a minute to log in to MMOD with the VIP feature. Thinkin' ahead there, Markie.

11:12AM- CBS is on the air and Clark Kellogg is already dropping poetry. You know it's go time when you hear that.

11:14AM- Underrated aspect of NCAA basketball on the radio: Ted Robinson is back again for another year. Robinson was behind the microphone during the Bryce Drew miracle shot. It still gives me chills when I hear it.

11:17AM- CBS will take the nation to the Verizon Center to tip off their coverage of the NCAA Basketball Championship. The bands are cued up, the crowd is buzzing - those that are there, it's a late arriving crowd - and everyone is ready.

11:19AM- Speaking of chills, CBS' opening montage of tourney moments still freezes me to the bone.

11:20AM- I'm loving the NCAA Tournament pins that the coaches have always sported. Sharp

11:21AM- We are UNDERWAY and Xavier pounds it inside for a 2-0 lead. Not the kind of start the Bulldogs needed.

11:22AM- Sundiata Gaines with the BLOW BY. The Georgia senior needs to have a huge game today for them to have any chance of an upset.

11:23AM- Don't know if it's just my computer, but the audio isn't working on my MMOD. Please fix this....please

11:25AM- Dave Bliss comes up about 2 feet short on a fade away. The shot wasn't even altered. He needs a Trashtalk Superstar pep talk to take it up strong! He needs a little talkin' to...

11:27AM- Bulldogs struggling to guard the three....I've counted three open three's - one of which XU has made - in the first 5 minutes here...

11:27AM- We are underway in Omaha!

11:28AM- UGA starting to settle down and they have taken a 9-8 lead.

11:30AM- Love the low-pitched howl from the Michigan State cheerleaders. Intimidating as hell for the other team.

11:32AM- Sloppiness in Denver between Michigan State and Temple. Did you expect anything different?

11:33AM- ALERT ALERT ALERT: Gus Johnson just dropped a Pepe Sanchez reference. I love the tournament.

11:35AM- Audio not working on MMOD. This is disturbing, since I don't care for Gus Johnson (an understatement) or Len Elmore.

11:38AM- Kansas runnin' and gunnin' to a 13-3 lead over Portland State. The Vikings seem overwhelmed by the big stage, thus far.

11:39AM- The struggles of Drew Neitzel have been well-documented this year. He continues to struggle today, against the ferocious defense of Temple. Fran Dunphy knows how to coach "D."

11:40AM- Michigan State giving Temple a little taste of their own medicine.

11:42AM- Temple busts out the 1-3-1 zone. Not used to seeing that from the Owls. Since MSU has gone big, it's a good way to contain the lane.

11:44AM- Flipping over to ESPNEWS during the break, and I stumble upon American U Coach Jeff Jones. The former UVA head man did a great job with limited talent - to say the VERY least - this year.

11:50AM- Ten minutes to go in Denver and Michigan State leads Temple by a score of....12 to 11

11:51AM- In D.C. UGA has recovered and actually is up by six. If they happen to win today, I assure you they will be coined "America's Team" by more than one media outlet, if they already weren't already.

11:55AM- There's strong: And there's there's Raymar Morgan strong.

HIGH NOON- UGA hanging on to a 3-point lead over XU.

12:01PM- Apparently Drew Naymick will be getting his P.H.D. according to Gus Johnson. I guess he's a better student than a basketball player. (Naw you think?)

12:05PM- There isn't a harder worker - during the game - in college basketball than Drew Neitzel. Always moving, always working for an open shot. You've got to wonder if he has any legs left.

12:09PM- UGA up 35-26 on Xavier at halftime. The Bulldogs continue to get it done.

12:10PM- I was afraid of this when I picked Temple to upset Michigan State. The Owls have gone ice cold, and have been prone to scoring droughts at times this year. I guess I figured Michigan State would follow suit.

12:19PM- Halftime score: Michigan State-35 Temple-26. Both teams starting to warm up a bit towards halftime. Good thing, we were on pace for a 45-40 showdown.

12:30PM- I feel like changing my phone service to AT&T. I don't know why.

12:32PM- Xavier a little hesitant to put the three up. They're shooting 36% from 3 today.

12:33PM- Drew Lavender still looks a little slow after that ankle injury he sustained earlier in the year...He is obviously not at the top of his game.

12:35PM- Georgia looking supremely confident early in the second half. They're "not just happy to be here."

12:37PM- Halftime numbers from Denver: Temple's Dionte Christmas has taken a page out of Roy Hibbert's book and hasn't scored in the first half. The Owls need to get him on track to have any comeback chance.

12:41PM- MSU starts the second half with an easy dunk. An ominous sign for Temple.

12:42PM- Along that theme, an open three for the Spartans. Temple appears frustrated here early in the second half.

12:43PM- MMOD update: Did the Kansas/Portland State game begin yet? The feed has been awfully slow (and it's not my computer.)

12:46PM- Xavier trying like hell to make a run. Every time the Muskies string together a couple of baskets, UGA matches with a bucket or two of their own.

12:50PM- Perhaps I spoke too soon. Georgia is racking up the fouls and Xavier continues to chip away. Lead down to 4, 46-42.

12:53PM- Drive & Dish Fashion Update: As if the NCAA hasn't slapped their logo everywhere, they've gotta do it on the team jerseys....We don't approve..

1:00PM- Georgia showing frustration that I haven't seen since before the SEC Tournament.

1:01PM- Bam, UGA with the awnser. They've been up to the challenge so far. 49-42 Dawgs.

1:03PM- I know Sundiata Gaines splits the high screen better than more everyone, but he's gone to the well a little bit too often. Steal, easy transition dunk and XU is back to within 3.

1:05PM- The shots aren't falling for the Dawgs and Xavier is making them pay. A six point swing and the Musketeers have taken the lead, 52-49.

1:06PM- What an entertaining basketball game. This has the making of a tournament classic, to say the least.

1:07PM- All quiet on the western front in Denver. Michigan State has seized control and should walk to an easy win. I knew that Temple pick was a reach.

1:09PM- Kansas holding serve against Portland State. It's your typical #1 seed that shoots 60% and swarms the 16 seed. Incredible balance from the Jayhawks.

1:12PM- Xavier starting hunker down on defense and pressuring like they've done all year. Georgia better be careful not to let this one slip away.

1:13PM- It seems that Dave Bliss (4 fouls) complains more than an Italian soccer player after a foul. Dennis Felton put him down on two seperate occassions for his raw attitude.

1:14PM- The second wave of games should provide a few competitve matchups, led by the 6-11 game between Purdue and Baylor. I'm also interested to see how Kent State matches up with UNLV. Marquette and Kentucky will be a barn-burner.

1:20PM- After a slow start, Michigan State has been as impressive as they've been all year (on the road/neutral) today against Temple. As is common knowledge, this is a team that is built for the tournament.

1:21PM- A physical game in D.C. Both teams playing up-in-you-grill D. Especially XU.

1:29PM- 65-61 XU. Georgia needs a bucket bad with a little over a minute to go.

1:30PM- Woodbury rattles one out that would have cut it to one....foul inside, Georgia's Butler to the line.

1:31PM- Corey Butler missed the front end of the one-and-one. An 81% FT shooter and he clanked it. Xavier goes down and knocks down 2, sealing it.

1:33PM- This loss will mark the end of a solid career for Sundiata Gaines. He's one of Dennis Felton's original recruits - and he didnt transfer despite a lot of turmoil.

1:35PM- Fighting to the final whistle, Dennis Felton urging his team to play defense despite the game being completely out of hand.

1:36PM- Final score: Xavier-73 Georgia-61. The score is in no way respresntative of how close this game actually was.

1:37PM- Action has begun in Anahiem. This game offers a ton of storylines, one of which involves Tom Crean and his rumored desire to get the Kentucky job.

1:43PM- Lazar Hayward has been all over the court early on. The beauty of his game is that he can play four positions....and play most of them well.

1:49PM- I'm a firm believe in Marquette's ability to make deep run this year. If they get by Kentucky, Stanford will likely be waiting....but I am big believer in guard play over post acumen.

Stanford's backcourt is a huge question mark as well, especially against a lightning-quick Marquette guard trio.

Drive and Dish Fills Out NCAA Brackets

After pulling yet another impromptu all night meeting/brainstorming session, the editorial board of Drive and Dish has emerged with its NCAA Tournament brackets filled out in their entirety.

Hours were spent in heated debate. Scouting reports were pondered, poured over and internalized. Individual player and team matchups were examined, discussed and dissected.

Arguments may have occurred. Feelings may have been hurt. Punches may have been thrown. Computer screens may have been smashed. Authorities may have been called. Officers may have intervened. Drive and Dish editorial board members may have been taken away, shirtless, in the back of a Crown Victoria patrol cruiser. Misdemeanor assault and battery charges may have been filed. Certain Drive and Dish editorial board members may have spent the night in jail. The same editorial board members may or may not have dropped the soap in the jail shower and been forced to get in touch with their "feminine sides." Trashtalk Superstar may have helped certain Drive and Dish editorial board members out, but disappointed police, by neglecting to press charges (hey, a little fighting is no big deal to me -- it's water under the bridge). Certain Drive and Dish editorial board members may or may not be featured on a future episode of Cops (again, shirtless, of course).

Anyway, after a couple of long nights, we've got our brackets all filled out.

And thus, we present Drive and Dish's official 2008 NCAA Tournament brackets (click on brackets to enlarge):

Mark Buckets

* Asterisks denote games about which the respective Drive and Dish contributor feels less than certain about his predicted winner (and might be inclined to change his pick, were it not prohibited by the editorial board of this blog).

Trashtalk Superstar

*Trashtalk Superstar adds:

1.) I picked Kentucky over Marquette in the first round, but believe that Marquette should (and probably will) win that game. However, I think that Kentucky will give Marquette a tough time and I don't think that Marquette will have a long Tournament shelf life.

2.) I picked Villanova over Clemson, but believe Clemson to be the better team. However, Clemson's point guard shoots under 50% from the free throw line. And should Clemson find itself locked in a close game, the fact that Clemson's primary ball handler can't be relied on to make his free throws presents a major weakness that opponents can exploit (especially in the final minutes of the game).

3). West Virginia is capable of beating Duke. I wouldn't be surprised to see Bob Huggins' Mountaineers upset the Blue Devils if the two teams meet in the second round (although I picked Duke to win that hypothetical game in my bracket).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

CBS TV Coverage Map for Thursday's NCAA Tournament Games

Note (3/17/09):

This post is from 2008. Due to the heavy traffic this old post has received over the last few days, Drive and Dish feels the need to make clear that this post is old and contains no information pertinent to CBS television's coverage of the upcoming 2009 NCAA Tournament.

Original Post:

Awful Announcing has found -- and revealed -- CBS's TV coverage map for Thursday's NCAA Tournament games.

Follow the link to Awful Announcing link for individual coverage maps of Thursday's opening round games (Awful Announcing has four separate coverage maps in PDF format).

Damn ... There Goes Our CBI Brakcet

Less than one day after Drive and Dish published our inaugural CBI Bracket, our bracket is shot to Hell.

Houston and Old Dominion beat Drive and Dish projected winners Nevada and Rider, respectively. I didn't know anything about ODU or Rider this year, but -- in our all night meeting of the Drive and Dish editorial board -- Mark Buckets went to the wall for Rider. So I deferred to him, considering the fact that I hadn't seen either Rider or Old Dominion play this year.

Old Dominion beat Rider 66-63. Then, to add insult to injury, Houston further trashed our bracket by squeaking out a one point win over Nevada, 80-79. In fairness, Mark Buckets had picked Houston to beat Nevada, but I overruled him because Nevada has the seven foot JaVale Magee (a potential NBA first round draft pick), and because Houston is coached by Tom Penders. I decided that Drive and Dish would officially predict Nevada to beat Houston.

So now our CBI bracket is shot. But aside from Rider and Nevada, two of our other predicted winners from Tuesday night held on to win. So Drive and Dish's projections for the inaugural CBI finals are still a possibility.

Here's a rundown of Tuesday's CBI results, along with a list of CBI games to be played tonight:

Tuesday, March 18

Virginia 66, Richmond 64
Old Dominion 66, Rider 63
Ohio 80, Brown 74
Houston 80, Nevada 79

Wednesday, March 19

Cincinnati at Bradley - 7 p.m.
Miami (Ohio) at Tulsa - 8 p.m.
Valparaiso at Washington - 9 p.m.
Utah at UTEP - 9 p.m.
(All start times are Eastern Standard Time)

According to the Gazelle Group (organizers of the CBI), two of tonight's first-round games will be nationally televised on Fox College Sports. The games on FCS Atlantic will also available on DirecTV channel 669. All tournament games can be seen live online (check the Gazelle Group's CBI website).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

CBI Extravaganza, Baby!

Drive and Dish knows that our readers have been hanging on the edge of their collective seats in anticipation of Drive and Dish's intrepid breakdown of the inaugural College Basketball Invitational (CBI). Drive and Dish talked about the CBI when it's creation was announced back in November.

And we know that loyal Drive and Dish followers have been saying to themselves, "hey, when is Drive and Dish going to break down the CBI?"

Well, the wait is finally over. We present the inaugural Drive and Dish breakdown of the CBI:

But first, here's a team by team breakdown courtesy of the Gazelle Marketing Group, organizers of the CBI.

Drive and Dish would have done our own scouting report on the teams, but the Gazelle Group's breakdown is better than anything we could have come up with (because there are a couple teams participating in the CBI that we haven't seen and know next to nothing about).

But worry not. Drive and Dish's editorial staff convened an impromptu all night meeting in which we did nothing but analyze the CBI bracket. We poured over the teams that we have seen: we analyzed the position by position matchups and we factored in style of play, home court advantage and how the teams had been playing in the last two weeks of the season and in their respective conference tournaments. Plus, we just guessed. So, after hours of intense deliberations, we now present the official Drive and Dish predictions of from our official
Drive and Dish CBI bracket:

Biting into the Tournament.....

By Mark Buckets

....with the help of Coppin State coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell, who makes his third NCAA Tournament appearance tonight. In 1997, Coppin State pulled off - at the time - only the third 15 over 2 upset when the Eagles defeated a B.J. McKie-led South Carolina team.

We'll give the Gamecocks a pass there - they also lost the following year to 14th seeded Richmond - since it was coached by perennial underachiever, Eddie Fogler.

No matter, this is about the play-in game and it's historical significance (or lack there of) and the opportunity presented to the athletes at Mt.St.Mary's and Coppin State.

Opinions vary greatly when discussing the NCAA-deemed "Opening Round Game." To mainstream fans and most of the electronic/print media, this pairing is better known as the "Play-in Game." Fans and media alike find it difficult to believe that this game even exists. Matching two schools - one of which, without fail, is a historically black school - knowing that one will miss out on the bright lights of a full-fledged NCAA Tournament site, is a great shame.

To those who have a vested interest in the money generated from the NCAA Tournament - the school presidents, AD's, coaches and CBS's Corporate Champions - this is just another notch on their gold-plated belts.

These schools - the MEAC and SWAC are prime examples of this - lack the simplest luxuries a middling team from the Big 10 would take for granted. Three assistant coaches with a director of basketball operations (basically a fourth full time assistant)?

Most programs from historically black colleges lack even two paid assistants.

Fully-stocked training tables for Coppin State? Try dinner at McDonald's, day after day....after day...

Charter flights for Mt.St.Mary's? Not in the budget.

This is an argument for a different time, and I am obliged to bring you analysis of the "Opening Round" game tonight at the University of Dayton Arena.

Brent Musberger teams with Steve Lavin as ESPN televises this game for the seventh time - TNN presented the inaugural gathering in 2001 - which tips off at 6:30PM Central Time.

And so, Mark Buckets breaks down Coppin State/Mt.St.Mary's:

This should be a track meet, as both of these teams love to run. Midway through the season, Mt.St.Mary's coach Milan Brown decided to employ an up-tempo game, feeling that his team needed a philosophical change.

After slowing games to a crawl early in conference play, The Mount dramatically altered their pace, garnering a modest amount success.

Coppin State also struggled mightily early in the season losing 11 straight at one point.

Now don't get me wrong - these teams aren't exactly Circ du Soleil- with the basketball - both teams are incredibly sloppy at times.

In the end - and usually in games of this variety - go with the team that has the player who can change the complexion a game in the matter of two or three minutes.

Coppin State's Tywain McKee - who is as quick as most division 1 lead guards - is an explosive scorer who enjoys taking over games, to say the least. His last second shot defeated Morgan State (coached by Todd Bozeman) in the MEAC Tournament Final.

The Eagles are also senior-laden, led by five four-year players who understand what Fang Mitchell expects in them. This general understanding and the sheer athleticism of McKee - and I think that Coppin State will emerge victorious.

There's only one thing to ask now:

First class or coach?