Kansas Has Elite 8 Gift-Wrapped, Will Need to Keep Focus Early On

After just one day of games — sorry, I refuse to count the play-ins — the 2011 NCAA Tournament has already featured a ton of excitement.  The coverage has been brilliant, there have been games decided on last-second lay-ups, another decided a last-second three-pointer, and upsets that were nearly impossible to forecast.  Despite having not played a game, the Kansas Jayhawks should be drooling.

The most surprising upsets on Thursday were No. 13 Morehead State defeating No. 4 Louisville and No. 12 Richmond knocking off No. 5 Vanderbilt.  Upsets happen and should be expected, so what was so special about these two games?  Both came via the Southwest region.  In fact, both will directly impact Kansas, assuming they get past their first game cupcake on Friday and either No. 9 Illinois or No. 8 UNLV.

When most of you filled out your brackets, you probably had Louisville and Vanderbilt advancing to the round of 32.  Others may have anticipated one upset, but chances are there are few people out there who predicted a Morehead State-Richmond match-up in the second round.  Although anything can happen in the NCAA Tournament, common sense has to come into play.  With that in mind, the Jayhawks had to be thinking Lousiville or Vanderbilt in the Sweet 16 (yes, teams look that far ahead regardless of what they say).  Now they will play neither.

The real task for Kansas now will be taking things one day at a time and not focusing their attention down the road.  Morehead State and Richmond both won their games for a reason — both are obviously quality teams.  However, they were both low seeds for a reason.  The Jawhawks were already a heavy Final Four favorite entering the tournament.  Their path became that much easier on Thursday.

CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV Doing Fantastic Job with March Madness Coverage

We’re midway through the first day of the 2011 NCAA Tournament and the quality of games has been fantastic. We’ve seen a four seed get upset by a 13 seed, and there has been game-winner after game-winner after game-winner at the buzzer. You really can’t ask for much more in terms of having exciting, competitive games in March Madness.

What must really be commended is the new setup for the games schedule. For the first time I can remember, they decided to stagger the start times. There’s generally a good 15 minute difference between the time one game starts and another one does, which means we no longer have to miss really good endings. As long as the games aren’t taking too long — which they haven’t — the staggered start times allows viewers to see the final 10 minutes of pretty much every single game.

As if that’s not enough, having all games broadcast simultaneously is a dream for cable and satellite TV holders. In the past, a March Madness tournament package was offered and if you wanted to see all the games you had to pay a significant charge (and sometimes the game you wanted to watch still wasn’t accessible). Now, all games are available at no extra charge. And as a bonus, it’s extremely convenient to locate the games on DirecTV.

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Video: Brandon Knight Shot to beat Princeton with Two Seconds Left

Kentucky freshman Brandon Knight grew up on Thursday, rebounding from an 0-7 start to the Wildcats’ first-round tournament game against Princeton to make the winning shot. He was playing so poorly coach John Calipari had to bench him, but at least he let his stud have the final shot and it paid off.

Between Knights running layup with two seconds left to Morehead State’s Demonte Harper’s three-pointer to upset Louisville and Matt Howard’s game winner for Butler, it has been one exciting first day of the tournament. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Demonte Harper Three-Pointer Sinks Louisville, Lifts Morehead State

Just like that, the Madness has already been put back into March. The college basketball world hadn’t even begun talking about Matt Howard’s buzzer-beater before the first contender had fallen.  After a shocker on Thursday afternoon, Rick Pitino and his Louisville squad are going home.  The Morehead State Eagles live to play another day.

No. 13 seed Morehead State defeated No. 4 seed Louisville by a score of 62-61 on a last second three-pointer to pull off the first major upset of 2011.  After the game, Eagles coach Donie Tyndall told reporters he knew the ball would be going to senior guard Demonte Harper if his team was within one or two points.

Despite previously going 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, Harper delivered in a huge way.  He banged down what ended up being the game-winning shot to send the Cardinals packing.  Louisville was believed to be an Elite 8 contender at the very least, and a Final Four candidate by many.

The real challenge for Morehead State now will be coming down from their high, as they await the winner of Vanderbilt and Richmond.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski

Butler Advances on Matt Howard Buzzer-Beater (Video)

Butler wasted no time bringing us the first dramatic finish of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Despite charging all the way to the National Championship game last year, the Bulldogs were given little respect heading into their matchup with No. 9 seed Old Dominion. In fact, a couple of analysts picked Old Dominion as one of their teams to watch for this year’s tourney.

Butler put that talk to rest when they defeated Old Dominion, 60-58, Thursday afternoon on a last-second layup with the scored tied at 58-all. Here’s the Matt Howard buzzer-beater layup video, courtesy of Mocksession:

We see that play so often in college basketball.  Old Dominion played perfect defense on the Bulldogs, but they forgot to box out. Give Howard credit for getting the ball out of his hand quick enough to beat the clock.  Can Butler make another historic run? Probably not.

Watch March Madness Online for Free

CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV are teaming up this year to ensure every single game in the 2011 NCAA Tournament is televised. That means if you have cable or a satellite dish, you can watch any game going on at any time on one of those four stations.

The other good news is that March Madness on Demand is being offered once again for free. Just go to the MMOD site and launch the application which brings up a sweet looking interface (pictured above). From there, you get to choose what game you want to watch. This system is a heck of a lot better than the days where you had to wait “in line” before you finally got to watch a game online.

The other nice thing about March Madness on Demand this year is that the application is available on iPhones, iPod touches, and the iPad. It’s truly amazing to think of how far things have come from the days of needing CBS to take you from site to site to now being able to control what you watch at home, on your computer, or even on your phone.

How about let’s give it up for technology and the way its perfected our ability to consume March Madness to the fullest!

Expert NCAA Tournament Bracket Picks by Doc Brown

If Doc Brown is going to stick his reputation behind his NCAA tournament bracket, then you know it has to be legit. Doc dominated during NFL season against the spread and straight up, and is bringing his wisdom and knowledge to you in the form of NCAA picks. Here’s the deal though: there’s a reason they call it March Madness — bad teams pull upsets, good teams get knocked out — and it drives you mad! So don’t get upset when everything doesn’t go according to Doc’s plan, but just know a lot of careful and thoughtful analysis went into the picks.

If you want to know understand the formula, it’s simple. The Doc took a look at the college basketball matchups and used variables such as strength of schedule, Adjusted Offense and Adjusted Defense statistics by Ken Pom, and overall college statistics for a clearer look at these teams. The Doc likes teams that have size to go far, and teams that have explosive scoring to pull upsets. But of course no matter how much analysis you put in, you’re going to get a lot wrong, so don’t stress when your brackets fall apart.

Anyway, here are Doc Brown’s NCAA tournament picks, and you can compare them to Del’s picks which were posted on Tuesday (and don’t forget to join the LBS March Madness pool for free to win some cool prizes. Enter here)

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