In order to prevent carpal-tunnel-by-scrolling, we’re breaking up the Madness blog into sections. After Memphis, LSU and Texas A&M advanced earlier, here’s the next set of games…
* There’s like 200 people in the stands for this Purdue/Northern Iowa game. It looks like a Memphis Grizzlies home game. Purdue is up 20-8 midway through the first half; the Boilermakers are leasing studio apartments in these kids’ shirts.
* Maybe Northern Iowa is just bad, but Purdue looks really good right now. They’re playing D, they’re running, and this is all without star Robbie Hummel (0-4 FG) having scored a point yet.
* Notable stats from the earlier games: LSU’s Marcus Thornton had 27 points, five boards and seven assists in the win over Butler; Bryan Davis had 21 points and eight boards in A&M’s win over BYU; and Memphis’ Roburt Sallie dropped 35 points on 10-of-15 threes in the win over Cal State-Northridge.
* CBS cuts from Purdue to the start of Maryland/California. It sounds like Kevin Harlan is on play-by-play, and right away invents a word when he says UM’s Greivis Vasquez is “startlingly” talented. Or maybe that is a word, I don’t know.
* Maryland is up 10-3, and Cal can’t throw it in the ocean. Jamal Boykin is throwing up bricks that resonate through the whole arena.
* Scoreboard check: North Carolina is up 19-14 on Radford, Chattanooga is up 8-6 on UConn, and Purdue is leading Northern Iowa 32-20 at the half. In this game, Maryland leads 16-12.
* After Jerome Randle hits a three for Cal, Harlan throws it to the commercial break with this: “Jerome, Jerome! He knows how to sing the nylon song!” What?
* Coming back from the break, Randle goes behind-the-back, splits a double-team like Rodney Stuckey was doing to the Rockets last night, and drops a floater. “The handle for Randle!” Harlan screams. He loves this kid.
* Maryland leads by three, but Vasquez is on the bench with two fouls and they’re starting to turn the ball over too much.
* Randle goes lefty in-and-out that cracks his man’s ankles and gets to the rack for a finger roll. Why didn’t I watch Cal play more often this year? Randle is becoming my favorite player of the day. Meanwhile, Boykin is still struggling. He had a wide-open putback and somehow missed it.
* Looking at Cal’s roster, they have a kid named Max Zhang, a 7-foot-3 freshman from China. It says he went to a school called, “Number 4 Yantai High School.” Mike Montgomery has to put him in at some point; unfortunately, it says here Zhang hasn’t played in a game since late-January.
* Jordan Wilkes checks into the game, son of former Lakers great Jamal “Silk” Wilkes. Kid looks EXACTLY like his dad, only he’s a 7-foot behemoth and he’s wearing a Rip Hamilton mask that looks too tight for his face. Maryland is up 30-27 with two minutes left in the first half.
* Scoreboard check: North Carolina is up 53-34 on Radford at halftime, UConn is up 35-17 on Chattanooga late in the first half; and Purdue is up 42-34 on Northern Iowa midway through the second half.
* Just a few months ago, one of my colleagues said junior guard Eric Hayes was Maryland’s best pro prospect. I haven’t noticed him do anyting today, but let’s say he’s actually good, and let’s say Vasquez comes back next year. How good would Gary Williams‘ squad be if he can land Lance Stephenson? (Lance is apparently down to Maryland, St. John’s and Kansas.) Even if you think Lance is overrated, he’d bring an element to the Terrapins that they don’t have currently, a guy who can slash to the bucket and strong-arm kids at his position.
* Maryland is up 34-31 at the half. Washington/Mississippi State is scheduled to tip-off in an hour, so it’s time for my Subway run …
* And we’re back. Purdue won, UConn is up by 40, Carolina is up by 38 and Maryland just went on a 9-0 run to go up by 10.
* Two things while I was out: At the Subway by my apartment, there was definitely some green sh*t on the roast beef. BEST-case scenario, that’s leftover meat from a St. Patrick’s Day promotion. I do not like green eggs and roast beef. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am. Then, when I stopped by the corner store for candy and drinks, I asked the dude behind the counter if he took cards. “Like, food stamp?” he said. OK … I get that it’s the middle of the day and I’m wearing a hoodie and sweats, but I’m still deciding to be mad about that one.
* Maryland’s Dino Gregory gets a follow dunk that reminded me of KG‘s famous double-clutch, down-by-the-knees follow dunk when he played for Minnesota. Cal can’t hit a three and (6-for-21 last I checked) and Maryland is capitalizing off their turnovers. It’s 74-59 with four minutes left, and CBS is getting ready to cut to the start of UW/MSU.
* So I guess Kevin Harlan is calling this game, not the Maryland game. So who was that guy who sounded exactly like Harlan?
* I’m saying this as a Seattleite who’s been watching Isaiah Thomas since he dumped 52 points on my alma mater (Franklin H.S.) in the state tournament: If you haven’t seen him yet, watch this UW game. He’s like Nate Robinson without the dunks but with a higher basketball IQ.
* Five minutes in, Thomas and Jarvis Varnado, the two guys used to hype the game, are on the bench. Neither is in foul trouble, but Varnado is clearly having trouble with Jon Brockman‘s strength inside.
* UW’s Venoy Overton jumps on Bulldogs’ PG Dee Bost and steals it from him, but lands out of bounds. Then Overton gets called for a foul when he fights through a screen by throwing the guy trying to set the screen. I love that kid. He’s another Franklin HS product, the quintessential Quakers ballplayer: little guard, quick as hell, plays aggravating defense, his jumper is OK, and he’s got 49 tattoos. We’ve already got Jason Terry and Aaron Brooks in the League, Venoy at UW, and Peyton Siva is headed to Louisville next year. OK, I’m done bragging.
* Both teams are having trouble against the other’s defense; it’s tied up at 10 apiece at the 11:50 mark. Overton is making life hell for MSU’s point guards, and Brockman is controlling the glass, but UW is giving up some inside buckets. Varnado just picked up his second foul and goes to the bench.
* UW’s Quincy Pondexter gets a dunk, and Elston Turner hits a three to make it 19-15 Huskies. Turner’s dad played in the NBA in the 1980s. Scoreboard check: Maryland won by 13 over Cal.
* Stats from the second round of games: Greivis Vasquez put up 27 points and six boards for Maryland; Wayne Ellington scored 25 and Tyler Hansbrough had 22 for UNC; E’Twuan Moore scored 17 and Robbie Hummel had nine points and 12 boards for Purdue; and Hasheem Thabeet had 20 points and 12 boards for UConn in their blowout win.
* Huskies go up 10 after a steal and fast-break layup by Thomas. He’s smiling and pumping up the pro-UW crowd in Portland.
* Pondexter is the best player on the court right now. With 2.8 seconds to go before halftime, he drove left and got a right-hand runner to go, plus the foul. The free throw put UW up by 11 at the break, with Pondexter scoring 15 points. MSU is shooting 8-for-26 from the field.
* Watching Greg Anthony in the CBS studio makes me wish UNLV was good again. Here’s a question: How does Tim Floyd keep landing All-American recruits at USC that inevitably cite his NBA coaching experience as a major factor in their decision, yet Lon Kruger isn’t pulling guys into UNLV? Floyd wasn’t any less terrible in the NBA than Kruger was, right? And it’s not like Vegas doesn’t have warm weather and girls who could star in a re-make of “That Scene” in He’s Got Game.
* Back for the second half. MSU starts off trying to feed Varnado inside, but Brockman is bodying him up and not letting him get good shots. Meanwhile, MSU keeps losing track of Pondexter right at the rim; he got an open dunk and just made a layup to put UW ahead 44-27 as Rick Stansbury gets a timeout. I’m starting to get taunting calls and e-mails about the Jarvis Varnado Hype Train I started a few months ago.
* Brockman is a BEAST. He just grabbed his 10th rebound, got bumped in mid-air and hit the ground HARD, then popped right up and sprinted downcourt. Like reader “SayItAintSo” said the other day, Brockman is the real-life Paul Bunyan.
* Varnado is starting to get frustrated, complaining to the refs about Brockman’s physical play inside, then picking up his fourth foul at the 14:18 mark and heading to the bench. Last I checked Varnado has two points, three boards and a block or two, while Brockman has seven points and 11 boards.
* Down by 16 with 10:30 left, Stansbury puts Varnado back in with four fouls. Too soon? I expect the Huskies will go right to Brockman to try and get Varnado out of there, and on the other end, flop like Vlade if Varnado ever bumps into you.
* Romero Osby with a nice follow dunk. I’ve been telling people to check for Osby since I saw him in high school, but he hasn’t done much of anything in his freshman year.
* One of MSU’s guards lost his shoe in the middle of a play, and when he stops to put it back on, UW’s Justin Dentmon leaves him alone to go trap the guy who has the ball. Bad decision to go for the shoe right then, and smart move by Dentmon to utilize the trap when the man with the ball had no one to pass to.
* Varnado makes his first good offensive move of the day, ducking under Brockman for a layup. The UW lead is still 14 with under seven minutes left. Seeing as they’ve shown a replay of Brockman’s WWE-style bump like 15 times, I’m assuming that it’ll make “One Shining Moment.”
* Kevin Harlan just said Jon Brockman has recorded his “59th double-double of the season.” I was gonna clown him for the mistake, but considering I watched the entire Maryland/Cal game mistakenly calling some other announcer Kevin Harlan, I’ll shut up.
* Since we’re all going to be bombarded with ads for CBS shows over the next few weeks, I need the readers’ opinion. Which of the following shows are worth it for me to check out: “The Amazing Race,” “Criminal Minds,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “The Mentalist,” Numb3rs,” and “The Unit”? I haven’t watched any of them before. And keep in mind I’d have to cut into my regular lineup of “Rock of Love Bus,” “For The Love of Ray J,” “I Love Money,” “Law & Order” reruns and everything that’s on OnDemand.
* With about 2:30 left and Washington up by 16, this one’s pretty much over. My bracket is perfect so far, but I did pick Purdue to beat UW in the next round. From what I saw today, the Huskies looked better, but both teams can play some ridiculous defense and I think it’ll be close either way. And I’m 83 percent sure that Venoy Overton and Purdue’s Chris Kramer will get into at least a shoving match.
* Final stats from UW’s 71-58 win: Pondexter had 23 points and seven boards; Brockman had 10 points and 15 boards; Thomas shot 3-for-15 for nine points; and Varnado finished with seven points and five boards.