Welcome back to latest edition of BracketRacket, the one-stop shopping place for all offbeat NCAA tournament needs. Today’s rundown kicks off with a shooter talking about defense, and includes a jolting experience in the West, the most-tweeted team and celebrities at Madison Square Garden.
KERR ON ARIZONA’S D
Steve Kerr was a sharpshooter at Arizona, hitting an astonishing 57 percent of his 3-poitners for the 1987-88 Arizona team that went to the Final Four.
So as this year’s NCAA tournament winds toward the Final Four, BracketRacket caught up with the now-TV analyst to see what he thought about this year’s Wildcats team.
So what did he want to talk about? Defense, of course.
“They’re extremely long and athletic,” said Kerr, an analyst during the NCAA tournament for Turner Sports and CBS since 2011. “And they’re very well-coached. They don’t give up anything easy.”
But wasn’t just Kerr’s alma mater he wanted to talk about. Some of the nation’s best defensive teams during the regular season are still alive in the bracket, which is hard to not notice.
“There are some teams that can really lock you down defensively and least vulnerable to the upset,” Kerr said. “That’s why I like Florida, Michigan State and Arizona. Those are the three best defensive teams.”
All three made it to the Elite Eight. Seems Kerr knows what he’s talking about.
Players, coaches and fans in town for the West Regional in Anaheim, Calif., got quite a jolt between games Friday night.
Try a magnitude 5.1 earthquake.
The quake, reportedly centered near La Habra, happened just as Kentucky was putting the finishing touches on its win over Louisville and Michigan State was holding off Virginia to reach the Elite Eight.
For many, it was their first time having the ground beneath them move and, yes, it was quite unsettling.
“Just experienced my first earthquake. Let’s just say I never want to experience that again.” Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell said via Twitter.
If the rumbler was a precursor to what we can expect when Arizona faces Wisconsin on Saturday, we can’t wait.
CELEBRITIES GALORE AT MSG
Madison Square Garden is the site for NCAA tournament games for the first time since 1961, so of course it was a hot ticket among celebrities.
Spike Lee was there, of course, and AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen saw him sharing a laugh with former Georgetown coach and TV analyst John Thompson before the UConn-Iowa State game, noting how much smaller JT2 made the director/basketball fan look.
Steve Mariucci, a friend of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, was there in a Spartans jacket and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stopped by to shake hands with former UConn coach Jim Calhoun before the opening game.
And, being that it was Michigan State, Magic Johnson was at the Garden, too.
Dayton has been the surprise of the NCAA tournament so far, blowing up brackets by taking down Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford.
It’s no surprise, then, that the Flyers have been the most tweeted-about team of the tournament so far, with nearly 60,000 tweets http://bit.ly/O6Ki3Q heading into the Sweet 16 – more than 20,000 more than the next closest team, Kentucky.
The data hasn’t been updated yet, but we’re guessing Dayton has only increased its lead after reaching the Elite Eight for the first time since 1984.
SWEET (16) MUSIC
Poor Iowa State. The Cyclones haven’t been given a whole lot of credit for their deep run into the bracket and now their hometown is getting dissed for having the worst music.
CBSSports ranked the Sweet 16 teams based on musical pride http://cbsprt.co/1jM2KJC and, not surprisingly, Los Angeles (UCLA) held the No. 1 spot with a musical resume that includes The Doors, The Beach Boys, Motley Crue, Snoop Dogg, Van Halen and Guns N’ Roses.
Ames’ claim to fame, according to the rankings, is being the home of punk band Modern Life is War and something called Leslie and the LY’s, which is apparently an Internet sensation.
With today’s BracketRacket skipper being a fan of metal music, it should be noted that Slipknot also hails from Ames, though, since it’s metal music, that probably wouldn’t affect the rankings at all.
A few quick-hitters from the NCAA tournament:
Time-lapse of the Final Four floor being put together: http://cbsprt.co/1m4xB5u
Because it’s Seinfeld. Has to be The Contest vs. Marine Biologist final, right? http://foxs.pt/1iDgp6Y .
Iowa State’s Dustin Hogue making sure everyone knows it’s him, hair style: http://bit.ly/1i2oeAL
A Michigan cheerleader not too happy with Jordan McRae’s celebration: http://deadsp.in/1k20Jt2
Dayton’s Devin Oliver got a shoutout from President Barack Obama and now he and his teammates get this: http://bit.ly/1jFROS0
The Miami Heat were in town and the Bad Boys were honored after halftime, but Detroit Pistons fans were just as interested in the NCAA tournament games involving Michigan and Michigan State.
AP Sports Writer Larry Lage says cheers rang out at The Palace of Auburn Hills during a break in the second quarter after the halftime score in Indianapolis showed the Wolverines leading Tennessee. The final score – Michigan 73, Tennessee 71 – brought out more cheers even though the Pistons were behind 92-60 early in the fourth quarter.
Many fans bailed on the NBA blowout early, possibly to get home so they could see Michigan State play Virginia, and the video board inside the arena invited fans to stick around to watch the Spartans in the in-arena bar.
STAT OF THE DAY
For the first time since 1982, all four games in one day of the regional semifinals were decided by five points or fewer.
In ’82 it was Houston over Missouri by a point, Villanova beating Memphis State by four in overtime, Boston College by four over Kansas State, and eventual champion North Carolina getting past Alabama in a five-point game.
Michigan, Michigan State, Connecticut and Kentucky won their games Friday night by a combined 14 points.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“He doesn’t talk to me right now. He’s not helping me. He’s trying to do his thing.” – Dayton coach Archie Miller on advice he’s received from his brother, Arizona coach Sean Miller.
At New York City
UConn 81, Iowa State 76
Michigan State 61, Virginia 59
Michigan 73, Tennessee 71
Kentucky 74, Louisville 69
At Memphis, Tenn.
Dayton (26-10) vs. Florida (35-2), 6:09 p.m.
At Anaheim, Calif.
Wisconsin (29-7) vs. Arizona (33-4), 8:49 p.m.