Defend That, Digger! The Epic edition

As promised, we get one final version of the most popular segment on this site. It should be a great one. Here is how good the "Worldwide Leader" was with all their Big East love: None of their 12 "experts" predicted more than one Final Four team correctly. Everyone had Kansas there. Sure, it was a safe pick, but should someone have at least gone out on a limb and picked Ohio state or something? None of them got Butler either, with Syracuse and Kansas State the popular picks there. Diamond Leung even picked Pittsburgh. Apparently he didn't realize that any team with a loss to Indiana is ineligible for the Final Four. Doug Gottleib, a guy that I would be surprised if he even knows what a basketball is, went straight chalk with his picks of all four #1 seeds making it. Nevermind that such a thing has only happened once since seeding started. Our pal Digger had only one of his Final Four teams reach the Elite Eight.

Then there is Seth Davis. Mrs. T-Mill pointed out last night that he is making an appearance in Indy this weekend for a question and answer session somewhere. I am half tempted to show up and ask how he manages to have a college basketball analyst's job while being functionally retarded. I am tempted to replace this feature with a new Seth Davis feature. At least Digger gave us some grudging respect after the first couple of rounds.

Ultimately, I cannot fault Digger too much because he was very complimentary after each win. Yes, he predicted us to lose all three games, but honestly he was playing the percentages after the Siena game. For now, Digger is off my list and Gottleib and Davis are on it.

That said, we must have one final Defend That, Digger for the year. Yes, I am aware the Big East has a team in the Final Four, but it is a team that is most like a Big Ten member among the 16 team league.  Don't believe me? West Virginia has played excellent defense in this tournament, holding its first three opponents under 60 and a dynamite Kentucky team under 70. They have balanced scoring, no true superstar who is above everyone else, and they share the ball well. Honestly, I like West Virginia. It is frustrating that we don't get another shot at them because I want to see if they can figure out how to stop JaJuan Johnson. If this game is all about matchups we are a bad matchup for them. Unfortunately, so is Duke.

The rest of the Big East was embarrassing. For all the love they received, they kept finding new ways to embarrass themselves by showing how overrated the entire conference was. Let's review, shall we?

Exhibit A: Ohio 97, Georgetown 83 - It was an absolute joke that a team with 10 losses got a 3 seed. So what if Georgetown beat Duke? They lost to South Florida and Rutgers. They couldn't even stop a MAC team from nearly cracking the century mark against them. Word of advice, Hoyas: Next time try to at least show up when you're invited to the NCAA Tournament. Although I thought Georgetown was a six seed at best, I certainly didn't see them losing to Ohio. The Bobcats had no NCAA chance whatsoever before the MAC tournament. Instead, they delivered the worst first round loss by a top 3 seed in NCAA history. Defend That, Digger!

Exhibit B: Old Dominion 51, Notre Dame 50 - Can we please stop treating this like it was some incredible upset? The Monarchs had beaten that awesome Georgetown team earlier in the year, so they had a chance coming in. Then Luke Harangody, allegedly an All-American, completely crapped the bed. No All-American should ever be held scoreless by a CAA team for 39 minutes. I hope he enjoyed that last layup that only made the score closer instead of doing the smart thing and batting it out for a very necessary 3-point attempt. It was like watching Notre Dame's decision making on the final play of their game against Purdue in 1999. Defend That, Digger!

Exhibit C: St. Mary's 75, Villanova 68 - This game really should have been St. Mary's vs. Robert Morris. Here is what I don't get. Villanova was basically the same team as Purdue without Robbie Hummel, only they never had him. In fact, I would argue that JJ is a huge upgrade over Antonio Pena.  He is definitely ahead of Mouphtaou Yarou, but the Wildcats were given a #2 seed and we were downgraded to a 4. This was a case of a team being seeded solely based on last year's tournament performance. Defend That, Digger!

Exhibit D: Butler 63, Syracuse 59 - I don't want to hear it, Syracuse fans. Yes, Onuaku was hurt, but so was Robbie for us. We went the exact same distance in this tournament and we didn't have the luxury of playing a 16 seed to start. if you get to use the injury excuse, then so do we. I thought Syracuse would be fine with the way they handled Gonzaga, but what everyone neglected to talk about was how well Butler matched up with them. To those that actually know the game of basketball, Butler is perhaps the most perfect team to face Syracuse's zone. They are smart, patient, fundamentally sound, and they share the ball extremely well. You attack a zone by being a team in every sense of the word. Butler never faltered, while it was Syracuse who fell apart by playing an absolutely terrible final four minutes. Butler had all the tools to beat Syracuse and they used them. I think it would have been a great game even if the Orange had Onuaku. Remember, Butler shot the three poorly in that game. If they had shot it well, as they normally do, it would have been even worse. I still like this Syracuse team and they impressed me int he first two rounds, but they absolutely fell apart in this game. For a team that prides itself on discipline and patience, that's not good. Defend That, Digger!

Exhibit E: Xavier 71, Pittsburgh 68 - This was one of the best games of the second round, but it had to be mentioned because another overseeded Big East team went down to a mid-major. Xavier is not your ordinary mid-major though. They have now been to three straight Sweet 16's. Pittsburgh played them tough, but they still didn't live up to their seed. Defend That, Digger!

Exhibit F: California 77, Louisville 62 - This wasn't so much a win as a mercy killing. Louisville didn't bother to show up for the first five minutes and left early to miss the last five. Other than that, it was a  great game. Defend That, Digger!

Exhibit G: Wake Forest 81, Texas 80 - This one isn't so much for Digger as it is for Gary Parrish. Remember when there were only four unbeaten teams left with Purdue, Kansas, Kentucky, and Texas? I do. I remember because Gary told us how Purdue had no chance since we didn't have "elite" talent. He also said that the national champion was definitely coming from those three teams. How about that, Gary? Texas went to down in the first round to a team that Purdue handled quite easily. Go Home, Gary! (Although I do give you credit for saying we should make the Final Four next year.)

Exhibit F: Northern Iowa 69, Kansas 67 - Kansas succumbed to rule #1 if you want to avoid an upset: Never let the underdog dictate the pace. Duke did the same against us, but used their superior talent in the end to triumph. Kansas never did. This was most impressive for Northern Iowa because they never trailed and Ali Farokhmanesh has gigantic balls of steel. This is why we shouldn't have taken Kansas seriously. They lacked the fortitude to step up and dominate when they knew they had the talent to do so. This is why Duke beat us, while Kansas lost to Northern Iowa. Defend That, Digger!

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