Thursday, March 15, 2007
A&M is the sexy pick this year like BC last year, and Ok State the year before. Penn, of course, is the Ivy League representative. I don't know when an Ivy team last won a NCAA tournament game, but it's been quite a while. Penn's a surprisingly fast-paced, athetic team, but they are quite likely to get more than they bargained for with Texas A&M.
Join RUTS after the first set of games are done after the jump for a glimpse into the game of Acie Law IV.
Texas A&M #3 South Region:
Conference Big 12
Location College Station, TX
Coach Billy Gillispie (since 2004)
Arena Reed Arena
Record 25-6 (13-3)
NCAA Appearances 7
NCAA Record 4-8 (.333)
Last Bid 2006
Last Win 2006
Penn #14 South Region:
Conference Ivy League
Location Philadelphia, PA
Coach Glen Miller (since 2006)
Arena The Palestra
Record 22-8 (13-1)
NCAA Appearances 22
NCAA Record 13-24 (.351)
Last Bid 2006
Last Win 1994
As a disclaimer, I was born at the University of Pennsylvania hospital in Philadelphia back in 1975. My father went to dental school at Penn. My mom taught in their nursing school for a few years. Oh, and I'm moving from Denver to Philly in a few months. So yeah, I'm not biased at all. Still, the Aggies are favored by 13.5 points in this game, and I took them in a six-team parlay.
You have to love a good old-fashioned gambling conflict of interest.
Game time is approximately 3:10 ET, so make a sandwich, crack open a beer, and leave your predictions in the comments!
We're off and running, as CBS finally switched us over to this game from the Georgetown / Belmont contest. It's already 7-0 A&M, with 14:30 left in the first half. Penn hits a three, and the Quakers are finally on the board. I'm also happy to report that we're being treated to The Greatness That Is Gus Johnson!
Penn is shooting 1 for 12 from the field right now, but luckily for them, they're only down 10-3. It's reminding me of the start to BC / Texas Tech. Very poor offense, but nobody's really pulling away yet.
11:57, first half. Texas Aggies 10, Penn 3.
Penn is now 2-for-14 from the field, and A&M is still only up six. This is the type of thing that #3 seeds look back upon with disgust as they're watching the second round from home. Tough floater in the lane for Penn, and the lead is down to four.
Apparently, Acie Law has had quite enough of this nonsense. He drains a long three pointer and follows that with a quick layup. Offensive wizard Justin Reilly is keeping Penn in the game, however. He had six field goals for the entire season coming into the game, but has four points this afternoon.
6:54, first half. Texas Aggies 16, Penn 11.
A&M is taking control now. Penn is practically powerless to stop anything near the basket and still can't get anything to fall on the offensive end. It's not that A&M is doing anything particularly special on defense, despite them being the second best opposing FG% team in the nation. Penn's missing a lot of wide open shots.
That said, Dominique Kirk picks off a lazy pass at the top of the key and coasts for a layup. That results in a timeout for the Quakers, who are now on the verge of getting blown out. Coach Miller couldn't even wait four extra seconds for the television timeout.
4:04, first half. Texas Aggies 26, Penn 13.
Looking at the other scores, we're still searching for our first upset. Washington State is up 12 on Oral Roberts -- that's the game that so many people thought would be the biggest upset in terms of where the teams were seeded.
TV timeout, same score. The esurance cartoon girl is still hot.
We learn that Joseph Jones always leaves the court before halftime because "he has a sensitive stomach" and the trainers always have the Pepto Bismol ready for him. This is the most interesting thing that has happened in the game so far. Hasn't Immodium reached College Station, Texas yet? Does he have to poop? Does he have to vomit? Can't someone get a microphone in the Aggie locker room?
Half Time. Texas Aggies 31, Penn 18.
A&M isn't as impressive as Penn is craptastic. The Quakers are 8 for 27 from the field, and most of their baskets have come on some insanely tough attempts by Ibrahim Jaaber. A&M is leading on the basis of their size and athleticism. That's not an indictment of any sort, just a fact. Let's just say that they're not playing well enough to beat an equally athletic team, and I wouldn't be thrilled if I had them in my Final Four based on this 20 minutes of basketball. If you subscribe to the theory that Penn can't shoot 30% for the entire second half, perhaps they have a chance to hit a few three's and get back into it.
Weird stat: Only two attempted free throws in the first half.
Okay, we're back for the second half of this mess. Texas A&M clearly has their strategy -- pound the ball inside and dare Penn to stop it. It's resulted in two easy baskets for the Aggies. Penn is holding their own, however, and they've cut the lead to 11 with 18:00 left. At some point, Penn has to make some outside shots but they've shown absolutely no ability to do so. They're not acting like they're out of it, though.
It's a three pointer! A successful one! Justin Reilly hits the three for Penn, and the lead is down to 8. They trade an A&M free throw for a two-pointer on the other end, and the Aggie lead is 7. That's an 8-1 run for Penn. A&M looks a bit scrambled on offense, and Penn will have two free throws when we get back from commercial. It's a game, folks.
15:31 remaining, Texas Aggies 35, Penn 28.
At some point, Penn need to prevent A&M from lobbing the ball into Joseph Jones from the wing. May I suggest slipping some Dulcolax in the A&M water supply? There's another basket from Penn, and it's only a four point deficit. The referees aren't really doing Penn any favors right now, calling a few suspicious fouls on the Quakers. Acie Law hits two foul shots, and the lead is six. Mark Zoller hits a three on the other end, using every piece of the rim on the way down. Needless to say, the crowd is Officially Into The Game. Penn makes a hustle play on defense, and Ibrahim Jabber gets the old-fashioned three point play for the Quakers! We're tied, bitches! Penn has erased the 15 point lead.
Penn is playing their balls off right now, there's no other way to say it. Jabber hits a double clutch shot from four feet, and Penn leads by two! And I feel! More! Exclamation points coming!
11:42 remaining. Penn 39, Texas Choke Artists 37
Joseph Jones puts A&M back ahead by jamming the absolute hell out of two offensive rebounds. Bonus points for not crapping your white shorts in the process, sir. A&M has come out of the timeout with a purpose, and they're now up four after a pair of free throws. They've substantially turned up the heat on defense as well, forcing Penn to take a wild shot after being stuck with the ball 35 feet from the basket with six seconds on the shot clock. Does Penn have another run in them?
Acie Law cruises to an easy layup and hits another floater in the lane. A&M is on a 10-0 run, and Penn has to call a timeout. They do exactly that. Their offense is completely flustered right now, and they're launching shots with absolutely nobody near the basket for an offensive rebound. Gus Johnson breaks out the inevitable awful pun of "Texas A&M is always happy to have the Law on their side", then cackles at himself as we fade into commercial. At least he thinks it's funny.
7:28 remaining. Texas Aggies 47, Penn 39.
Courtesy of Zoller, Penn finally gets on the board after a nearly 6:00 drought, but gives up an easy layup to That Lithuanian Guy on the other end. Zoller hits another turnaround for Penn. Acie Law is just a little bit quicker than the Penn players, as he picks up a loose ball near the basket and earns a trip to the free throw line. Gus Johnson correctly notes that A&M has been faster to the loose balls all day. It's probably resulted in a ten point difference, especially in the first half.
5:29 remaining. Texas Aggies 49, Penn 43.
BREAKING NEWS! Gus reads a CBS Evening News promo and tells us that exercise can help prevent you from catching a killer(!) disease. That's some hardcore science, yo.
Meanwhile, Penn's not going anywhere, as Mark Zoller hits a runner to cut the lead to five. A killer sequence follows for Penn, however. A running shot along the baseline is succeeded by a dead-perfect three pointer by Dominique Kirk. Timeout, Penn. It's not over yet, but it's damn close.
3:54 remaining. Texas Aggies 55, Penn 45.
Zoller gives Penn some life as he goes end-to-end for a layup, but Acie Law does his best Allen Iverson crossover imitation and leaves the Quaker defense with their shorts around their ankles. Still a 10 point lead with 3:03 left.
Penn's still trying, but they're not getting any traction as A&M still leads by 11 with 1:37 left.
The comments seem to have disappeared again. I'm not sure why. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to chime in, though. It's an awful feeling to do a live blog without any audience participation, and you guys have been tremendous.