Category Archives: Basketball

The Madness of March 15th: Game-by-Game Recaps from the First Day of Tournament Action

The most wonderful time of the year has finally arrived for sport fans alike. The Madness officially began yesterday and it did not disappoint. In this quick piece I’ll go over the outcome of every game, some of the top performers, and the many reactions on social media. Without further ado, lets jump right in.

10Oklahoma Sooners 78 – 7Rhode Island Rams 83 (OT)

The first game of the day was a nail-biter to the very end. E.C Matthews buried a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left in overtime to put the Rams up 5 and they never looked back. Rhode Island shot a cool 39% from deep (11/28) on the afternoon and had 4 different players with double digit scoring totals. Trae Young, the nation’s leading scorer, led the way for the Sooners with 28 points but Rhode Island’s guards pestered him all game forcing Young into 6 sloppy turnovers. This loss marks the 13th defeat in the past 17 games for the Sooners while the Rams have won a March Madness game for the second straight year.

14Wright State Raiders 473Tennessee Volunteers 73 

More like Wrong State, haha, why is nobody laughing? This was the most lopsided game of the day by far. Regardless, this was the most successful season the Raiders have ever had in D1 but they were no match for the high-powered Tennessee team. Lamonte Turner poured in 19 points and dished 9 assists to pace the way for the Volunteers.

13NC-Greensboro Spartans 644Gonzaga Bulldogs 68

This game had legitimate “busted bracket” potential for a while. The score was tied 64-64 before Zach Norvell Jr. drained a go-ahead 3 with just 20.8 left on the clock. The Zags have been labelled as a trendy sleeper pick by some pundits so a loss here would have been an epic disaster. Jonathan Williams was the offensive catalyst for Gonzaga putting up 19 points and 13 boards in a winning effort. The scrappy Spartans held the 9th best offense in the country to just 68 points but they could not close down the stretch.

16Pennsylvania Quakers 601Kansas Jayhawks 76

History was not made on Thursday as it was business as usual in the 1 v. 16 matchup. The Jayhawks faced a 10 point deficit early in the first half but once they grabbed the lead they never surrendered it. Devonte Graham, the Big 12 player of the year, was a beast in this one dropping 29 points, 6 boards, and 6 assists for Kansas. Shockingly, the Kansas starters were responsible for 72 of the 76 points scored in this one which means bench play has to be a cause for concern for the rest of the tournament.

15Iona Gaels 672Duke Blue Devils 89

Another game that was never particularly close. The Blue Devils come into the tournament as one of the odds-on favourites to cut down the nets and they looked like worthy competitors in this match-up. Freshman Marvin Bagley III was his exceptional self with 22 points (on 71% shooting) and 7 rebounds in this one. Grayson Allen (16 points, 9 assists) also successfully managed to have social media talking about his performance instead of a dirty play. This was a good first step for a team looking at much bigger things.

11Loyola-Chicago Ramblers 646Miami Hurricanes 62

This game was a perfect example for why the tournament is called March Madness. After Lonnie Walker IV missed a free throw with 9 seconds left, the Ramblers’ Donte Ingram buried a deep 3 at the buzzer to push Loyola-Chicago onwards. This was their first tournament appearance in 33 years and they did not disappoint as that finish will be etched in the minds of fans for years to come. The end of this game was a bigger adrenaline rush than seeing those three dots pop up after you sent the “you up?” text at 2 A.M.

12South Dakota State Jackrabbits 735Ohio State Buckeyes 81

The upset that never was. Despite the best efforts of Mike Daum (27 points, 6 rebounds) the Buckeyes were too much for South Dakota to handle. The Buckeyes launched a ridiculous 40 3-balls in this contest and had 3 players that topped the 20 point plateau. Keita Bates-Diop had 24 points and 12 rebounds for the 5th seeded Buckeyes who now get to face Gonzaga in the round of 32.

9North Carolina State Wolfpack 838Seton Hall Pirates 94

There were 66 total free throws taken in this high-scoring affair. Khadeen Carrington put up 26 points for the Pirates while Desi Rodriguez also chipped in 20 off of the bench. The game’s leading scorer was Allerik Freeman from NC State who had 36 points and was 6/8 from deep. Seton Hall led wire-to-wire and were able to withstand any runs the Wolfpack had in them. Their formula for success was ball security (only 7 turnovers) and efficiency at the free throw line (31/39).

16Radford Highlanders 611Villanova Wildcats 87

This was basically a shootaround for the top scoring offense in the nation. Villanova dominated this matchup start to finish and shot a ridiculous 59.6% from the field. Every one of the Wildcats starters hit double digits in points as Jalen Brunson led the charge with 16. A dominant debut for one of the favourites in the tournament.

12Davidson Wildcats 735Kentucky Wildcats 78

Wildcat-ception saw Kentucky fail to score a 3-pointer in a game for the first time since 1988, but they still managed to pull out the W. The boys in blue dominated the foul line (26/32 compared to Davidson’s 14/17) which was the biggest difference in an otherwise tight game. Kevin Knox was the game’s leading scorer registering 25 points on the stat sheet while Jon Axel Gudmundsson was Davidson’s top threat with 21 points. Davidson has not won a tournament game since the 2008 Steph Curry run.

14Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 603Texas Tech Raiders 70

This is the first tournament win for Texas Tech since 2005 and they did it mainly on the back of senior guard Keenan Evans. He had 23 points for the Raiders and has seemingly been flying under the radar compared to other star players in the field. The Lumberjacks kept the game close for the majority of the contest but were simply outmatched by the guard play of the Raiders.

11San Diego State Aztecs 656Houston Cougars 67

Rob Gray was arguably the best player on any court during Thursday’s matchups as the senior guard put up 39 points to propel the Cougars to their first tournament win since 1984. Gray laid in the go-ahead bucket with just 1.1 seconds left in the game while San Diego’s buzzer beater heave would not go. If Gray keeps this up for the rest of the tournament the Cougars may be that annual lower seed that sneaks their way into the Elite 8.

9Alabama Crimson Tide 868Virginia Tech Hokies 83

Freshman point guard Collin Sexton was the player of the game for the Crimson Tide in this contest. Down 43-41 at half, Sexton scored 21 of his 25 points in the second stanza to will Alabama to a victory. This game saw 10 lead changes but Alabama was able to roll with the punches before pulling away late. It was another unfortunate loss for Virginia Tech who now only have one tournament win since 1997.

13Buffalo Bulls 894Arizona Wildcats 68

This game didn’t just bust my bracket, it eviscerated it. The Bulls were able to hound Arizona’s bigs all game long while handily winning the 3-ball battle (Bulls were 15/30, Arizona 2/18). This was a colossal failure for Arizona who was pegged as a legitimate Elite 8 contender in large part due to the presence of star freshman Deandre Ayton. He still had 14 points and 13 boards in the loss but the Bulls stingy defense really kept him under wraps. The defensive side of the ball was the biggest difference of the game as Arizona looked absolutely lost on D against the speedy Bulls squad. The Buffalo backcourt dominated with Wes Clark and Jeremy Harris chipping in 25, and 23 points respectively.

11St. Bonaventure Bonnies 626Florida Gators 77

Egor Koulechov, who sounds more like a KGB sleeper agent than a college basketball player, was the focal point of the Gators offense on Thursday night. The lanky Russian import led the game with 20 points on 8/17 shooting. The Bonnies just could not hang in the second half but they should be proud of what they accomplished this season nonetheless. It was the defense that really did it for the Gators as they had 11 steals and forced 18 Bonnies turnovers.

14Montana Grizzlies 473Michigan Wolverines 61

It is unfortunate that this was the last game of the day because I have a feeling it put many viewers to sleep. The Big-10 Champions are able to say they moved on although the win failed to inspire much confidence offensively. Charles Matthews was the hero for the Wolverines as he dropped 12 of his 20 points in the first half while the game was very much up for grabs. The Grizzlies simply just fell apart in the second half getting outscored 30-19 and shooting a paltry 25% from the field (7/28). The Wolverines were one of the hottest team’s coming into the tournament and they managed to survive a poor start to this game. They need to be better against Houston in the next round.

Throwback Thursday: NBA Players in College

Credit: (Feb. 2, 2015 – Source: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)

To look for the future stars of the NBA you typically need not look any further than the NCAA. With March Madness kicking off today I though I would take a look back at the current stars of the NBA when they were in college.

James Harden, Arizona State (2007-09)

Who is this guy? Burgess pointed out to me that without his beard that Harden used to kind of looks like Ludacris.

Image result for ludacris

Hard to argue with that. Read more

March Madness for Dummies

My favourite month of the year is here and that’s because March Madness is finally here. I’ve recently dropped out of high school after a bit of March Madness of my own with the CWDHS Falcons and our OFSAA run. Now I have a ton of free time and with it I have been filling my days watching college basketball. This has made me a bit of an expert (?) since I’ve been following the storylines leading up to the tournament. So I decided to create a guide for casual college basketball watchers, or even people that just fill out a bracket in their office pool that lose to Susan from sales every year. Dammit Susan!

Read more

Contest Alert: Bench Life Sports March Madness Bracket Challenge

If you’re looking for a March Madness bracket pool to join look no further! The boys at Bench Life Sports have started a group on The rules are pretty standard: one bracket per entrant, $10 entry fee, whoever’s bracket is the best will win the whole pot. The winner will also receive a custom Bench Life t-shirt that is currently being designed by our top-notch team of graphic designers.

For challenge entry DM one of us on Twitter to discuss payment options and we’ll share the password and invite you to the private group.

Twitter handles:

Cheers and happy Madness!

What would an NBA Playoff reform look like?

As an avid listener of the BS Podcast, Bill Simmons has been calling for an NBA playoff reform for years. This potential change that’s linked to in the ESPN tweet above has been thrown around for a couple of years now.  The idea is that the NBA would eliminate Conference seedings and determine playoff spots with just the 16 best teams. If we’re being honest I don’t hate the move. Read more

The Cavaliers Wild Trade Deadline

In: Jordan Clarkson, George Hill, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., “Heavily Protected” 2nd round pick

Out: Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Derrick Rose, Iman Shumpert, Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, 2018 first-round pick, 2020 second-round pick

That amount of turnover in player personnel would be significant if it were a full offseason’s worth of changes, but it’s actually just what the Cleveland Cavaliers managed to do yesterday in about an hour total prior to the NBA’s trade deadline. It’s kind of ridiculous how one team could steal the deadline so dramatically, but they did, and obviously it was LeBron’s team that was behind it all.

Here’s a quick recap of the deals themselves and the implications that come along with them. In brackets are the times that the deals were first announced by Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.

Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and the Cavaliers 2018 1st round pick in exchange for Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson (12:05pm):

The first WojBomb to drop. The key player (Thomas) the Cavs received in the Kyrie Irving deal is gone after suiting up for just 15 games in a Cavs uniform. Thomas never looked like himself in Cleveland, and he appeared to be one of the main sources behind the infighting with this team.

Channing Frye has had his moments in recent years as a solid off the bench shooter, but he is 34 and not very relevant anymore. Both Thomas and Frye are unrestricted free agents come seasons end.

The Cavs get younger and more athletic in picking up Clarkson and Nance. Both attributes that they hope will help improve their awful, 29th ranked defensive rating.

From a Lakers perspective, this can really be boiled down to them dealing Nance and Clarkson for a 1st round pick and cap space to gun for a superstar(s) in free agency. This is because I can’t see a reason why they’d be interested in re-signing either of Thomas or Frye to an extended deal.

Rodney Hood and George Hill to Cleveland; Joe Johnson, Iman Shumpert and a 2nd round pick (CLE via MIA) to Sacramento; Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose (to be waived) to Utah (12:58pm):

By far the biggest deal of the day. At this point players were being thrown around like ping pong balls at a Friday night beer pong tournament. One of these guys is currently injured and has been basically all season (Shumpert), two will likely – or are – going to being waived (Rose and Johnson) and Jae Crowder simply has a new home. As for the Cavs, they get a veteran point guard in Hill that should help defensively and he is set to make $18 million through 2019-20 (ouch). They also get probably the most impactful player in the trade (not saying much) in the form of Rodney Hood. Hood’s pretty fragile when it comes to injuries, but I guess he can add a decent scoring punch from the wing,. He’ll probably start too.

Dwyane Wade to Miami in exchange for a “heavily protected” 2nd round pick (1:06):

This to me seems like nothing more than an act of goodwill towards Wade from the Cavs front office. Their return was almost non-existent, but they essentially clear a roster spot, clear some cap-space and get a little younger in the process while Wade likely gets to sail off into the sunset with the team he’s built up a Hall of Fame worthy resume with. Definitely the feel good deal of the deadline.

Verdict: The Cavs improved but the American media is still infuriating

Why do we constantly give these talking heads the time of day? They think that in a snap the Cavs are the team to beat again? They can’t be serious. It appears that their main arguments are that “they brought in guys that are comfortable in their roles” and “they got rid of the drama in the locker room”. I’d like to see some results on the court before we get ahead of ourselves. Again, they’re role players, not impact stars. This is not in the same universe as a Kevin Love acquisition. Who’s to know right now what happens with this team?

“But it’s LeBron James’ team, they’re always a threat”. Well I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but he’s been there all year, they haven’t played good basketball and are 6.5 and 7.5 games back of the Raptors and Celtics. Certainly not his fault, but it is a reality. So why are they being vaulted to the top automatically? I honestly don’t have an answer. Sure, I’ll admit that by the looks of things they have improved their roster. But “best in the east”, “100% better” and “Eastern Conference favourites again” is excessive. Never would I have thought guys like Hill, Hood, Nance Jr. and Clarkson could shift the landscape of the NBA. I had to contain my laughter typing that.

I’m a salty Raptors fan right now, I hate how they’re constantly disrespected. Shannon Sharpe actually called them the “baby dinosaurs”. I also hate the Celtics, but they’re still better than the Cavs too. Bottomline, if you’re a Cavs fan just chill out, or get a George Hill jersey so I can laugh at you, because the Raptors are still making the finals with or without Bruno Caboclo. Book it.  

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