It’s almost over. With the morning, afternoon and evening sessions in the books, this is the last batch of games in the hectic first two days of the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State, Michigan State, Wake Forest, Florida State and Wisconsin are among the teams in action. If you missed the earlier games, click the live links in red.
* I’m hoping to see a lot of the Ohio State/Siena game, so I can get a better look at B.J. Mullens. Before he’d even stepped foot on the OSU campus, Mullens was a top candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in the ’09 Draft. I’d seen him play in high school, so I knew why: he’s a 7-footer with a mean streak who’s athletic enough to hold his own in a run at Rucker Park, and can also stroke threes. Think Mehmet Okur with young legs. But Mullens’ stock has dropped. He didn’t start right away for Thad Matta (who might just be trying to keep him in school for as long as possible), and for the season averaged only 20 minutes per game (8.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg). In the Big Ten tourney, Mullens never played more than 15 minutes in a game. His best stat line all year was a 19-point, 8-board, 3-block effort against UNC-Asheville, and he’s only taken one three all year, so he hasn’t even been able to show the one thing that really sets him apart from a lot of big-man prospects. Is Mullens the next DeAndre Jordan? Or is he a beast in hiding?
* OSU/Siena tipping off, and Dallas Lauderdale is starting in what everyone thought a few months ago would be Mullens’ spot. Lauderdale is just funny-looking. He’s only 6-8, but his arms seriously go down to his knees, so he cover as much area as a 7-footer. Plus he’s got male-pattern baldness and an old-man’s face, so he looks a good seven years OLDER than Greg Oden.
* William Buford, OSU’s “other” star freshman, gets a dunk on the break. The Buckeyes lead 8-3, with all of buckets on dunks or layups. They’re killing Siena’s defense and getting the shots they want.
* With the game tied at 8 apiece, CBS switches to the start of Florida State/Wisconsin. I’m guessing I have to watch this game because it’s being played in Boise; none of the games going on in this last set really have any West Coast ties beyond that. If I let somebody at CBS know that my sister got her master’s degree from Cleveland State, will they let me watch CSU/Wake Forest instead?
* After FSU runs two pick-and-rolls and end up with an alley-oop and a layup on their first two possessions, Bo Ryan quickly takes out two of his starters on the next whistle. No time to mess around, right? “The Grinch” is giving those kids a verbal beatdown right now.
* Checking the rosters, Wisconsin has a guy named Morris Cain (sounds like Nicolas Cage‘s next movie character) and a guy named Wquinton Smith (that’s just ‘hood). I went to Wisconsin’s athletic site, and it turns out the name is pronounced “Quinton.” SO WHAT THE EFF IS THE “Q” FOR?
* It took the announcers almost eight minutes to start telling the story of Wisconsin’s Marcus Landry, who is famously married with three kids. “He’s not living the typical college lifestyle,” one of them says. “He’s not on Facebook!” the other jokes. Are you sure? I know plenty of dudes with multiple kids who spend too much time on Facebook. Wisconsin is up 10-5 and we’re almost halfway through the first half.
* FSU leads by one with five minutes left in the half. This is your classic physical Big Ten game, only FSU doesn’t want to play that way. As you can see from some of the athletes they have like 7-foot freshman Xavier Gibson (who just threw down a vicious tip dunk), they’d like to get out more and run.
* Freshman Chris Singleton hits back-to-back threes to put FSU up by seven. (I’ve been flipping between this game and Celtics/Spurs for the last few minutes; it’s tied up with three minutes left in Kevin Garnett‘s return.)
* (The Celtics pulled it out. They were up two with under 10 seconds left when Big Baby hit a baseline J and the Spurs announcers sounded like they wanted to take a walk in the middle of the lake. Mike Finley hit a three with about one second left, but the C’s were able to get it inbounds safely and end it.)
* Cleveland State is beating Wake Forest 39-30 at halftime; Michigan State is up 11 on Robert Morris at the half, and Florida State is up 12 on Wisconsin at the break. Ohio State and Siena just started the second half, with OSU up seven.
* Every time I look up, Lauderdale is getting an uncontested bucket inside or making a defensive play. Then he just grabs Siena’s Danilo Gallinari-looking big guy and slammed him on the ground, which the announcers compared to the Blake Griffin incident from yesterday. The refs are looking at the video to see if it should be a flagrant; it doesn’t look THAT bad if you take away how the kid flopped around like a fish after hitting the ground. They decide to call it a regular foul.
* Florida State leads 31-27, five minutes into the second half. If they ever make a movie about FSU coach Leonard Hamilton, he’d definitely be played by Charles S. Dutton. The question is, who would play Michael Jordan when they have to cover Hamilton’s Wizards stint, where MJ supposedly considered putting a walkie-talkie on the bench in order to feed him instructions during games?
* Wisconsin takes the lead after a three and a layup, as FSU has gone 0-for-5 from the field this half. This game isn’t bad, but why aren’t we getting Cleveland State/Wake Forest? You’ve got a 13-seed ahead by nine on a 4-seed — a team that was at one point ranked No. 1 in the country — and it’s well into the second half. Isn’t that a no-brainer?
* With eight minutes left FSU is up five and Toney Douglas is heating up; he’s got 18 points and is looking to close this out. Meanwhile, Cleveland State is up by FOURTEEN on Wake and they still haven’t switched over. I don’t get it. You’ve also got Ohio State leading by two with two minutes left.
* CBS finally switches to Ohio State/Siena; Buford is at the line trying to extend OSU’s three-point lead with 1:18 to play. He bricks the first, makes the second, and Siena can’t get anything on the other end. Has Mullens even played? (Just checked the box score, and Mullens has eight points off the bench.)
* Mullens checks in and gets fouled, then misses both free throws. Siena’s Kenny Hasbrouck hits a three on the other end to make it a one-point game with 47 seconds left. Ohio State’s Evan Turner misses a J, and Hasbrouck gets fouled while his layup just rims out. Down one, eight seconds left: Hasbrouck misses the first and wets the second. Timeout.
* Ohio State has the ball and has to go full court. Turner spins into the lane and gets a great look, but misses, then the rebound is batted out to P.J. Hill, who misses a three at the buzzer. Is this the first overtime game of the Tournament? I think so.
* Back to Wisconsin/Florida State, where the Badgers take the lead on a three with two minutes left, then FSU gets it right back. Meanwhile, Cleveland State is up by 17 with 2:30 left, and Siena is up four in overtime.
* Back to Ohio State/Siena; OSU cuts the lead to one, then Hill blocks a shot and hits two free throws to give the Buckeyes the lead.
* Back to FSU/Wisconsin, and Jason Bohannon hits a MONSTER three with about 50 seconds left and the shot clock on 0.5 seconds to put the Badgers up two.
* Back to OSU/Siena; Siena takes the lead on free throws with 1:50 left. This is like whoever is in the control room is literally flipping channels and we’re just at their whim. Cleveland State basically has it wrapped up, but I’d at least like to see the final buzzer and the celebration.
* Back to FSU/Wisconsin; Douglas going to the line with a chance to tie it up with 36 seconds left. (Michigan State just beat Robert Morris.) Douglas ices the free throws. Wisconsin works the ball around the perimeter, then Bo Ryan calls timeout with something like 17.6 on the game clock and 17 on the shot clock.
* Back to OSU/Siena; Buckeyes up one with a minute left, and they get a steal …
* Back to Wisconsin/FSU; Badgers can’t get Bohannon a good look, so Jordan Taylor misses a three and it’s going to overtime. (Cleveland State is a final; Wake is done.)
* Back to OSU/Siena; Mullens just make two big plays, scoring off an inbounds play and saving a loose ball to keep OSU in possession. Hill is at the line with nine seconds left and OSU up by one. He hits them both, and Siena needs a three, and Ronald Moore drops one. Jon Diebler gets off a three at the buzzer that looks good but misses, and it’s double-OT. “How good is this?” Raftery is amped.
* Tied up with just over a minute to go, Douglas knocks down a three for FSU. “Let him go!” one of announcers yells. “LET! HIM! GO!” Douglas has 26 points.
* Wisconsin cuts it to one, and Florida State is milking the clock. Douglas misses a step-back three, and Ryan calls timeout with seven seconds left.
* Back to OSU/Siena, where it’s tied with two minutes left in the second overtime. Hasbrouck air-balls a runner, and OSU’s Hill saved it from going out of bounds, right to a Siena player. However, they don’t realize the shot clock didn’t re-set, and turn the ball over. Now the refs are reviewing whether Hill actually had control of the ball, which would give Siena the ball back … They change the call to say Hill was out of bounds when he tried to save it.
* Back to Wisconsin/FSU, and Travon Hughes drives and throws up a TOUGH layup that goes in, and he’s fouled with 2.0 seconds left. Hughes makes it, putting Wisconsin up two, and FSU gets a timeout.
* Back to OSU/Siena, 35 seconds left, tied up, and Siena’s Moore is at the line. He misses the first, makes the second.
* Back to FSU/Wisconsin, FSU is coming out of the timeout and has to go full-court. The announcers of course start talking about Christian Laettner and Grant Hill. Bad baseball pass gets tipped, and Douglas can’t get a shot off in time. Wisconsin wins it, the third 12-over-5 upset of the Tournament.
* OSU/Siena: Turner ignores a wide-open Mullens and gets a tough layup to put OSU up one, then Moore comes down and drills ANOTHER huge three to give Siena a two-point lead with 3.9 seconds left.
* Last chance for the Buckeyes, again having to go fullcourt. Inbound to Hill, passes back to Turner, and he misses a running jumper just inside the arc. Siena wins.
* OK, that was intense. Let’s check the stats: Bohannon scored 16 to lead Wisconsin, while Douglas dropped 26 for Florida State; Cedric Jackson put up 19 points, seven boards, eight assists and three steals in Cleveland State’s upset over Wake; Edwin Ubiles had 20 points for Siena, and Evan Turner had 25 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for Ohio State in the loss; and Goran Suton posted 11 points and 17 boards in Michigan State’s win over Robert Morris.
* Basketball overload? I was almost there. Two days in a row sitting in front of the TV for 10-12 hours a pop can drain even the biggest fan. But after the games that just ended, I’m all kinds of ready to get back into it tomorrow … just without the keyboard.