Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Shockers Abound on First Thursday

b-ballAnd, I don’t mean just Wichita State, which has proven yet again — as if we shouldn’t have already known — how nice it is to have a senior, tourney-tested backcourt.

Especially when, like Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, the guards are really good and mesh with each other like gears on a Ferrari.

And, yeah, there’s Little Rock and the Whiffenpoofs. But more about them, and other stuff, after this public service announcement.

Which is in response to The Most Shocking Phenomenon of The Whole Opening Day of the Dance.

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After Kentucky throttled Stony Brook in its opener, setting up that delicious Round o’ 32 battle with the Hoosiers, several Wildcat players were severely perplexed by the absence of the Big Blue Nation in Des Moines.

I mean, really, what is up wit dat?

Is Kentucky not famous because “its fans travel?” Any distance. Anywhere.

During the Yale game, the TV kept showing a Big Blue Fan in the stands. But that Eli W against Baylor was in Providence, as in Rhode Island. Which is not Iowa.

The BBN always finds its way to Nashville and Knoxville and Columbia and Louisville. Does its compass not point northwest?

So, Cats fans, listen up. Here’s the FYI.

The route to Des Moines is simple. I mean, really simple. You don’t even need a TripTik. After you find your way onto the interstate out of Lexington, that would be I-75 toward Cincy, there’s just one more left turn.

When you get to I-80, take a Louie going west and get off when the signs say, “Des Moines Exit.”

That’s it.

If you’re going from Louisville, take I-65 north to Indy, then hang that right onto I-80.

Don’t let your team down Saturday. Apparently, plenty of Hoosiers did find their way to the Corn Belt to root for the Crimson & Crean over Chattanooga. And they’ll be in the house for sure.

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Yo, Andy Enfield, yeah you, the coach at Southern Cal.

Just a tip for the future.

When the other team has the ball out of bounds under its own basket, have at least one of your guys check the opponent standing right under the hoop.

That way, you know, you might not lose a tourney game on a wide open last second layup.

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Back to the Kentucky situation for a second.

Before the game, UK AD Mitch Barnhart complained about the long way the Cats (and their fans) had to travel for the tourney opener.

It was whining, of course. But not without some legitimacy.

I read somewhere this morning, that the five schools which traveled the furthest (farthest?) for their openers, all lost. Including Seton Hall, whose players had heavy legs and were smacked about by Gonzaga.

The Zags, by the by, have won a tournament game eight years in a row.

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It seems that Yale coach James Jones has an award he bestows every game titled The Brick.

It goes to the player who takes the worst shot of the encounter.

The runaway winner in the Eli’s upset over Baylor was Nick Victor. Who, if you were watching will certainly recall, airballed a FT in the final seconds which miss could — and should — have cost the Whiffenpoofs the game.

But . . . and it’s a big BUT . . . he made the play of the game, in the same time frame, when he drew a charge from Bears’ star Taurean Prince. Then made the game clinching catch on a long inbounds throw right before the buzzer.

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Seems to me the most underseeded school so far — other than Wichita — is Arkansas Little Rock.

I mean, the Trojans W over the Boilermakers yesterday was their 30th of the season. Against only four Ls.

And not really an upset, one guy’s opinion.

Purdue is a team totally devoid of personality. And a point guard. The Boilermakers have one of the best bigs in the country, and, during UALR’s late game comeback, he never touched the ball.

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Saturday’s Round of 32 games are zestier than usual.

Of course, in my neck of the woods, we’re all salivating over UK vs. IU.

But, the slate overall is unusually competitive, because the lower seeded schools that advanced are better than usual.

Little Rock has a legit shot against Iowa State. Wichita vs. Miami to start the day is a killer matchup. Gonzaga vs. Utah could be a donnybrook.

And, Duke, one guy’s opinion, is vulnerable, in a game between two of them academic schools.

— Seedy K