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NCAA Tournament – Day One, Southeast Region

Sean Keane Madness

There were sixteen games on Thursday, and only sixteen different commercials that ran in constant rotation on the various networks. If you’ve found yourself inexplicably singing, “Napa Know-How! Napa Know-How!” this is the reason why. After a while, you don’t even think of the products, and instead ask yourself things like:

  • “Is it wrong that I find the daughter in that Subaru commercial hot?”
  • “Could a State Farm agent transform broadcaster Ian Eagle into Gus Johnson?”
  • “Why doesn’t Hanes digitally remove that Hitler mustache from Michael Jordan’s face?”
  • “Is the “Walk on the Wild Side” Hewlett Packard commercial any worse than when Lou Reed did a scooter commercial?

Speaking of overplaying, the Southeast region saw all 16 of its teams compete on Thursday. Out of those sixteen, only four will survive the weekend and advance to New Orleans. They also win a continental breakfast with Harry Connick, Junior, and a rowboat tour of the levees led by a shotgun-wielding Sean Penn. So there’s quite a bit at stake here.

#1 Pittsburgh 74, UNC-Asheville 51
A 16-seed has never beaten a 1-seed, and it didn’t happen here, either. Pitt displayed domiannce on rebounding, defense, and in the incredible whiteness of their band:

Pitt band

#2 Florida 79, #15 UC Santa Barbara 51

This was no ordinary 2-15 battle; it was a showdown between two of the most acclaimed party schools in the nation. And on St. Patrick’s Day, no less! Florida played a excellent game from the start, while the Gauchos played like they’d done a bunch of Irish Car Bombs in the locker room. Having visited Isla Vista, I wouldn’t be that surprised if they had. Florida had ten more rebounds, protected the ball better, and even made more free throws. Meanwhile, their 5-for-19 performance on threes showed that the Gauchos feel victim to something that’s befallen many UCSB students over the years: too many ill-advised shots.

#3 BYU 74, #14 Wofford 66

Jimmer Fredette scored 32 points, the the BYU Cougars held of a feisty Wofford team by eight. Wofford remained defiant in the loss. Wofford guard Jamar Diggs said, “We’re going to go back home, watch the game tape, have a couple beers, and then have sex with our girlfriends. Or anyone we want. We’ll probably drink a bunch of coffee afterwards, too. So long, suckers.”

#4 Wisconsin 72, #13 Belmont 58

Wisconsin scored 33 points in their previous game, and looked to be on their way to a similar outcome by scoring eight points in the first ten minutes. Thankfully, they started making a few shots afterward, but by then, America had turned to one of the other three games that featured actual offense. Perhaps this is an intentional strategy by Wisconsin, who don’t want to play exciting basketball lest they induce heart attacks in their cheese-eating, stroh’s-swilling fans.

This game also introduced the world to reserve forward Mike Bruesewitz, who looks like what would happen if Chase Budinger and Robin Lopez had a child, and that child was later turned into a vampire:

Mike Bruesewitz

#5 Kansas State 73, #12 Utah State 68

While the high seed normally wears white in these battles, Kansas State took the court in grey-and-purple jerseys that looked like camouflage on TV. Perhaps their strategy was to literally hide behind screens and surprise ball handlers who thought they had a clear path to the basket. Or they thought the game was going to be played in a tropical rain forest. Utah State kept it close, but ultimately failed to be all they could be, as did my bracket, in which I incorrectly picked Utah State to pull an upset for the second consecutive year. You’re dead to me, Aggies!

#11 Gonzaga 86, #6 St. John’s 71

Adam Morrison was so proud of his old team pulling the upset, he burst into tears. He also cried because nine months ago, he was playing for the world champion Lakers, and now he’s working as a janitor at an arena in Denver.

#7 UCLA, #10 Michigan State

It felt a little bit like the movie 300: the Spartans were hopeless underdogs, yet battled back to a close defeat, and Kalin Lucas tried to kick UCLA’s Malcolm Lee into a pit of death early in the second half. While Coach Tom Izzo and Michigan State had earned a first-round “W” for the last five years, their comeback fell short this year, and it was an “L” to the Izzo.

#8 Butler 60, #9 Old Dominion 58

Somehow, Old Dominion was favored in this game, even though Butler scrapped their way to the national title game last year. This one was tied up until the final second, when Matt Howard tipped in a rebound to win at the buzzer. Howard, who abandoned last year’s enormous t-shirt, looks like an Andy Samberg character and wears a knee brace, along with a crazy Iverson-style sleeve over most of his right arm. He’s a wristband and a small beer gut away from being a YMCA regular. Butler plays Pitt next round, and Pitt can’t be happy about that, if only for the inevitable, “The Butler Did It” headlines that would follow an upset loss.

Matt Howard