Friday Skull Session

By Jason Priestas on March 16, 2012 at 6:00a

It wasn't always pretty, but the Buckeyes have a date in the round of 32, thanks to a career night from Deshaun Thomas.

His 31 points, which included a scorching 13-straight midway through the second half, were the 4th-most by a Buckeye in a tournament opener and his 12 rebounds made him the first Big Ten player to have a 30/10 game in the tournament since Juwan Howard did so all the way back in 19941.

Thomas' production was needed as big man Jared Sullinger had an uncharacteristically cold night, going 4-14 from the floor for 12 points, although he did pull down 11 boards. Something just seemed off with Sullinger all night, but Matta indicated things would be fine by Saturday when the Buckeyes take on #7 Gonzaga at 2:45pm.

"I'm not worried about him. Walking down [to the press conference], he knows there are things he can do and will do. Without a doubt, he'll be ready to go Saturday."

While Matta does not appear to be worried about Sullinger, he did bring up something that's plagued the team for much of the season: their tendency to make runs and then relax after building a lead. That approach cost the Buckeyes dearly against Wisconsin last month at the Schott and we saw it again last night against the Greyhounds.

Luckily, Loyola's eagerness to foul -- the Greyhounds had three players with four fouls each just two minutes into the second half -- and Ohio State's ability to cash in at the line to the tune of 81% (21-26), helped keep the game out of reach2.

Greyhound coach, the colorful Jimmy Patsos, took the loss in stride.

"I said press, but don't foul. We were fouling," he said. "Their friends probably Twittered them and told them not to listen to Coach Patsos."

AARON, MEET KEVIN. KEVIN, MEET AARON. Prior to today, Thad Matta's team played in four late-starting games in the previous seven days, with a travel schedule that reads: Columbus to Chicago Indianapolis, back to Columbus, pause for a day and then off to Pittsburgh. Oh, the players also had to take final exams.

Let's hope they get the rest they need today because they'll face a hot-shooting Gonzaga team that likes to run Saturday at approximately 2:45pm.

The #7 Bulldogs absolutely annihilated #10 West Virginia 77-54, holding the Mountaineers to 33% shooting from the field. Meanwhile, Gonzaga shot 56% from the floor including a blistering 53% (9-17) from downtown. Every time West Virginia looked like they might chip into Gonzaga's lead, hot shooting from Mark Few's team would plant a sour expression on Bob Huggins' face3.

Pacing Gonzaga was freshman guard Kevin Pangos, who finished with 13 points on 5-7 shooting, including 2-4 from downtown. Pangos also finished with five assists to just one turnover, so you can imagine that Aaron Craft fell asleep watching film on the electric guard.

This will be Ohio State's first-ever meeting with Gonzaga (the Bulldogs are 2-3 against the Big Ten in the tourney) and it should be a good one as both teams have athletes and enjoy a quick pace if it presents itself. Matta seems to be looking forward to it, saying Gonzaga will present a challenge.

Riddle me this, stat sheet.Matta: "Fortunately for us, DT kept his foot on the gas."

"They're playing as well as any team I've seen all year," said the coach, who's not necessarily one to go Bob Knight and publicly drool over an opponent as a means of motivating his own team (see also: Holtz, Lou).

The TNT crew was so impressed with Gonzaga's performance that they actually posed the question of who would win between a #2 seed and a #7 seed with both teams playing their best. Charles Barkley went a step further and called a win for the Bulldogs over the Buckeyes. This was great for a few minutes because Barkley != college basketball analyst, but then I was reminded of Barkley calling Kentucky over Ohio State last year and then I was like "DAMN YOU, BARKLEY."

GOOD THING THE BIG EAST GOT NINE BIDS. Although we're just a year removed from UCONN winning it all, the dirty little secret of the last half decade of NCAA Tournament action is that the Big East is chronically overrated.

Two years ago the conference sent eight teams to the tourney and six of them were bounced in the first two rounds. #3 Georgetown, #6 Notre Dame, #6 Marquette and #9 Louisville didn't manage to win a game, while #2 Villanova and #3 Pittsburgh were knocked out of the second round4.

Last year, the conference sent a record 11 teams to the tournament, but only two survived to the Sweet 16. Those two teams finished 9th and 11th in the Big East regular season.

With nine teams dancing in 2012, Thursday's action did little to reverse this trend as the league went 3-2. I already discussed the mugging West Virginia took at the hands of Gonzaga and defending champion UCONN fell to #8 Iowa State 77-64, with Jeremy Lamb's blown dunk at the buzzer encapsulating the 2011-12 Huskie campaign.

Hand it to #3 Marquette for handling business against #14 BYU, but #4 Louisville earned a close 69-62 win over #13 Davidson and #1 Syracuse, playing without Fab Melo, survived a 72-65 scare from #16 UNC Asheville, thanks in large part to some friendly officiating.

Keep all of this in mind when you're worrying about Gonzaga.

B-1-G! B-1-G! B-1-G!. Three of the Big Ten's six seeds were in action Thursday with all three earning comfortable victories to advance to the second round.

Aside from Ohio State's win over Loyola, #4 Indiana hammered #13 New Mexico State 79-66 in a game in which freshman big man Cody Zeller tied the Big Ten NCAA Tournament record with six (!!) steals and #4 Wisconsin pretty much just Wisconsin'd #13 Montana 73-49 behind Jordan Taylor's 17 points and six assists.

Three games. Three wins. Average margin of victory: 18.7 points.

The SEC also went undefeated on Thursday (2-0), so we may want to hold off on that chant for a bit.

On the overall excitement scale, the opening day didn't deliver with just two of the 16 games featuring final margins of five points or less. If Gus Johnson isn't back and calling the 2013 tournament, we're going to have a problem.

HOW'S YOUR BRACKET? YEAH, MINE, TOO. Matthew and his mattlaff bracket is currently tied with six others for the lead in the 11W Tournament Challenge, having called 15 of 16 games correctly.

The winner will get a signed copy of Sports Illustrated with Evan Turner on the cover and you can help us keep the good stuff coming by contributing to our fundraiser. There is not one, but two pushes/challenges taking place right now, with Alex spearheading a movement to get every visitor to give $1 today and reader buckeyefanatic generously agreeing to chip-in $100 for each Ohio State tournament win.

Many, many thank yous to everyone that has already donated. While it's looking like we won't hit our goal, we believe we'll still be close enough to hire a beat writer (we'll just have to cut back on some travel), so every little bit between now and 4/1 helps.

DIVERSIONS: Bowl predictions in March? Okay... Muschamp picked up a new ride... Famous Football Songs of the Southwest Conference... The SEC is hosting a "Beach Fest", which can only mean one thing: OMG, Spurrier shirtless... Tip times for all of Saturday's games... The B1G still dominates wrestling... Because he's Jack Nicholson and you're not... John Glenn's wingman... Wish more Amazon reviews were this helpful.

  • 1 Amazingly, that game is still in the books as it occurred during a season that wasn't ultimately set on fire by Ed Martin.
  • 2 The 46 to 23 rebounding advantage didn't hurt either. Nor did Willie Bu's two late bombs that delighted everyone with Ohio State -18.
  • 3 I know he has baggage, but in a weird way, I like Huggy Bear. As such, Huggins angry and glaring from the bench is one of the best things ever.
  • 4 Play-in games or not, it will be a long time until I start calling the round of 64 the second round.

Comments Show All Comments

Rooster Buckburn's picture

Starting to wonder about the 'this team will only go as far as Buford carries it' thinking. If Thomas shows up like that each game. . .

DetroitBuckeye's picture

That has been my thoughts for a while now, when Thomas plays like he did last not all we need is for sully and buford to just be ok 12-15 each.

Rooster Buckburn's picture

Thomas wants to be a first rounder this summer when he makes his jump to the Association - and he's playing like it now

FutureBuckeye's picture

Geez, I was not aware of finals this week to go along with all of the traveling. I can't imagine how exhausted some might feel at this point. But, I have a question, & this goes for any sport athlete. How do they keep up with class if they travel so much? Especially basketball because they could have games during the week outside of the state.. Does the teacher give them notes to keep up? It baffles me how much athletes keep up with their grades during the season.

Anyway, I do agree that the Big East is vastly overrated. They are a good conference, but for the media to drool over them as much as they do, it's not really justified. Yeah they send a lot of teams to the tourney, but as Jason says, they don't perform well in the big dance.

Lastly, I am very excited for the game Saturday. The guard matchup will be fun to watch as they both play differently. If Zags shoot as they did yesterday, it will be tougher than originally thought. Of course, I have te Bucks advancing. Btw, does anyone know when Ohio plays Michigan?

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

The Bobcats take on ttun at 7:20 ET on TNT.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

jedkat's picture

^^^ First paragraph, yes. It amazes me whenever I hear the "it takes too much time away from school for football players" argument in regards to a playoff or whathave you.

I mean if the bball team can travel, practice, study, and matriculate (I really just used that?) than surely it MUST be too difficult for a fball team. bitch pleaze.

Now the arguments I've seen so nicely put out on here regarding the physical toll the games take on the atheletes I can get on board with, but the "it takes too much time away from academics"? "BUSTED!" (for my fellow NYers who hate those bob's discount furniture commercials".

"Can we please stop the message board fighting? I really can't stand the message board fighting..."

"No. You're an idiot, and your posts are terrible."

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Not to mention every lower division of CFB having a playoff system.  They obviously manage somehow.

Class of 2010.

AcrossTheField11's picture

Its gotta be tough but I personally have found that its way easier to be efficient and effective with task(s) at hand when I have a loaded schedule.  You just get stuff done when your time is crunched and I'm sure that's what these guys do.  Also, big Kudos to Aaron Craft on enrolling in the pre-med program.

Time and change will surely show how firm they friendship... O-HI-O.

buckeyedude's picture

Game ball to Thomas. Incredible game, young man! That is the shooting I've been hearing this kid was capable of. It helps take pressure off of Sully. I look for Jared to have a big game vs. Gonzaga.

Barkley the Mark May of college b-ball. Buckeye hater...



Denny's picture

Chuck is nowhere near Mark May levels of derp. The guy knows shootyhoops, without a doubt.


baddogmaine's picture

Thoughts on Thursday.

First, my bracket is in tatters because I forgot a basic rule of predicting: never take a team dependent on centers who stink. Pound for pound Stutz (Wichita State) and Kilicli (West Virginia) are always going to be among the weakest guys on the floor, no matter what their stats say. West Virgina had so many other problems I'm finding it impossible to remember why I liked them. And WSU lost not because Stutz missed a 3-pointer but because he couldn't hit 3-footers. The Shockers made their come back with him on the bench - that's where he should have been at the end.

It's rarely right to say that referees decided a game. I have refused to accept that for any of the Buckeye's losses or narrow escapes - the officiating was bad but bad both ways. It's hard to watch the end of the Syracuse game and not think a fix was on. It wasn't just that the refs missed an obvious goaltending by the Orange - OBVIOUS; it wasn't just that they called a phantom lane violation that turned a missed front-end into two Syracuse points (the rule is when the ball leaves the shooter's hand, not when it hits the rim, isn't it?); but that out of bounds call inside a minute had all the earmarks of a rigged ballot. For the sake of the integrity of the tournament let us hope none of those zebras calls another game - or learns to make their bad calls more subtley. I feel really bad for Asheville.

In the other big game of the day the Buckeyes proved that if a team that is much better and bigger than another makes its free throws it doesn't actually have to be better. Unfortunatelyy, they also showed that the way to beat the Buckeyes has not changed - frustrate Sullinger who will lose his poise and willingly get blocked repeatedly (4 for 14 has unfortunately become a too-often experience with him), and let WB fire at will (until his two threes at garbage time he was a WB-usual 3 of 9 with 3 turnovers). Of course if Thomas can get 30 the other things don't matter. But Gonzago won't let Thomas go for 30, and probably can play defense without committing 24 fouls. I have OSU moving on but I have to agree with the commentators that a loss would not be a big upset, given how both teams played on Thursday.

Baroclinicity's picture

I live in WV, and thus have been forced to watch WV hoops (you can't get away from it... it's everywhere, like a drifting fart).  Kilicli is a hack.  Someone last night tried to tell me he was going to play in the NBA.

I am historically bad at picking brackets, but I do it anyways.  I've only picked the winner one time, but to my credit, it was the year Syracuse won with Carmelo, and even though he was great, they were not the sexy pick to win it all... they were a 3 seed if I remember.  Other than that, if you want to make money, look at my bracket, and then pick the opposite.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

In high school hoops, the ball has to hit before entering the lane on a free throw.  In the NBA, it is when the ball leaves the shooter's hand.  According to wikipedia (to my chagrin), NCAA follows the NBA/ FIBA rule that players (other than the shooter) can enter the key when the shot is released; while the shooter has to wait until it hits iron.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

Dean's picture

If you saw the WVU-Syracuse game earlier this season (my roommate is a WVU fan), it ended much the same way, with two absolutely blown calls (one of them a missed goaltending call) essentially giving Syracuse 4 free points in what was something like a 3 or 4 point win - Boeheim allegedly told Huggins after the game, "We got away with one," so at least he was classy enough to acknowledge that they got completely lucky.  Two games like that, though, and I'm on the verge of calling shenanigans.

As for the lane violation, apparently the problem was the guard coming in from outside the three point line - they're not allowed inside the three point line until the ball hits the rim, and he very clearly was halfway to the hoop before the ball got to the rim.

Even without that, though, you take away the missed goaltending call, and give NC Asheville the ball after that out of bounds play, and they're down one, with the ball, with less than a minute to go, and the game may very well have turned out differently.

Kurt's picture

Wisconsin to the Fiesta Bowl?! 

AcrossTheField11's picture

Can Deshaun Thomas keep that up for the next two weeks?

Time and change will surely show how firm they friendship... O-HI-O.

Bam_Childress's picture

I have OSU winning the whole thing, obvi, but its hard to realistically see them win the whole thing if they play like they played yesterday.

5 ft 9 in - 185 lbs - ALL HEART

Mike413's picture

Hello fellow Buckeye Fans,

I am happy we Play Gonzaga....they have a player named Mike Hart.

We all know NO team with a player with that name has ever beaten the Bucks!!



Alhan's picture

Hmmm, you make a strangely compelling argument...

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

btalbert25's picture

I've noticed the Buckeyes get hot on a run, then go cold as well.  I've also noticed they seem to go cold when they pull starters and put Ravenel, Thompson, and Scott into the games.  Pretty early on last night Thad had those guys in the game and it seemed that was the first time things got a little tighter than I would've liked.  Then toward the end of the game Craft and Smith were on the floor and the rest were bench guys with around 4 minutes left I think, then the game got to within 11 I believe.  Thad had to sub Sully, Thomas, and Bufford back in to put things away.

Last night's quality of play didn't bother me too much though.  A lot of key players got a lot of bench time last night it seems and so they didn't have to put in 35-40 minutes of hard fought basketball.  I think we'll see a different team on Saturday.  I was also encouraged with the ease in which they won despite shooting horribly.  They dominated the boards too. 

RedStorm45's picture

"a travel schedule that reads: Columbus to Chicago, back to Columbus, pause for a day and then off to Pittsburgh."

The team had time to travel to Chicago with the big ten tournament going on in Indy? hmm...

D.T. will need to be huge against the Zags.  They have the length inside to contain Sully (and wtf, Loyola held him to 4-14...need to step it up) and shooters on the outside.  Tough matchup.  Wouldn't be surprised either way with the result.  Turnovers and stupid fouls need to go WAY DOWN and I'd like to see a few more assists that lead to easy buckets (stuck on 6 through most of the 2nd half, some late baskets added to the assist total).  Loyola had a lot of easy lay-ups/dunks that mostly came from bad communication and/or bad rotations.  Sully has trouble with any big man who stretches out and shoots the 3 and Thomas has trouble with lateral movement (there's a youtub video of a practice and Spoon and someone else are so much faster at side-to-side drills) and guarding a 4 who likes to post up.  

Squirrel Master's picture

yeah, Thad thought they could use a trip to the Sears tower and a bulls game. Ravenel ate 32 hotdogs!

I think chicago was a typo. Definitely Indy!

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Jason Priestas's picture

Updated - thanks.

Maestro's picture

The best kind of nation is a DONATION.

vacuuming sucks

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Thank god somebody showed up to score some points - Brickman Buford appeared to be trying his best to not offering up anything close to productive... horrid shooting, turnovers, fouls, and just plain bad basketball.  Glad to see he finally remembered how to make a shot after the game had been decided.  I hate to bag on a Buckeye but for f@#$-sake, the man just plain sucks a$$ during big games!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

The_Lurker's picture

At Michigan State wasn't big? It's ok to bag on Buford for inconsistency, but you can't say he sucks during big games because that's only true part of the time. I don't know how much Loyola-MD qualifies as a big game, but Buford turned around his 1-5 first half with a 4-6 second half. Again, inconsistent.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Every game at the NCAA is on the big stage in my opinion and the pressure is amped up.  He has had a few great games but for the most part, he is the only senior and is suppose to be the leader of this team, he has been pretty horrid way more than he has been heroic.  I would love nothing better than for him to go out for the rest of the tourney and light it up - but I will not remotely have a glimmer of hope that will occur.  If he does, I will be more than happy to eat all the crow I can!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Seth4Bucks's picture

No love for the back to back 3s that iced the game?

The_Lurker's picture

Frustration with Buford's recent inconsistency can skew the view of his overall body of work sometimes.

In eight NCAA games Buford is averaging 14.1 points, and has been held to single digits only twice (Kentucky last year and Georgia Tech in 2010 - he had nine points in each of those games). He's shooting 40.4% from the field in eight NCAA tourney appearances, with that awful 2-16 against the Wildcats dragging the percentage WAY down (otherwise 45.8%). He's shot less than 40% only twice in the tournament - once as a freshman - and he's put up 17, 18, 18, 16 and 15 in five of the eight - not bad, and certainly not horrid. He also chips in with rebounds, assists and generally good defense.

I'll be the first to say that the WB has been inconsistent, especially this year. Being a senior doesn't automatically make you a leader. There's no magic switch for that. Some guys simply make a better Robin than a Batman.

Nobody hated Buford until the Kentucky game last year. Some of the residual of that, combined with inconstent play while he's been trying to do too much, will have the WB remembered by some in a much harsher light than he should be. And I think that's a shame.

Squirrel Master's picture

not sure you can label this a big game first of all. Secondly, I didn't see many others have good games either. Thomas scored out of his mind but did you see his Ole' style of defense? Thomas should wear a red cape and a funny looking hat if he is going to keep playing D like that.

All in All, they all played piss poor. It had a lot to do with what Loyola was doing also. They were playing nuts!

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

RBuck's picture

I hope to hell the weekend curse has been lifted for good.

Long live the southend.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Eh, a win is a win.  This buckeye team has about 16 different faces (Craft, Buford, Thomas, and Sullinger ON/OFF combinations).  I'm not happy about how they played, but at this point it doesn't matter how they play as long as they win.  Will they have to play better to go deeper in the tournament? Of course.  But the tournament isn't just about who is plays the best game, its about 6 games.  Remember that one year when most talented team in the country blew through the first two rounds and then a bad game hit them in the sweet 16 and they were done? We have to hope that that was our bad game for the tournament.  We have to hope that that was Gonzaga's good game for the tournament.  Play good when you need to and win your games - that's the formula.  Tough matchup next game, need our team defense to be on - that's the most important thing.  Any game that our team can play good defense (and last night was far away from good defense), we will be right there with a chance to win it.  On offense, we have three players that can redeem themselves - Craft, Buford and Sullinger, and one player that needs to establish consistency - Thomas, and a bench full of talent has the perfect opportunity to step up and make an impact.  I'm not going to take pictures of how they do it, just win.

Read my entire screen name....

Squirrel Master's picture

I disagree about Louisville in a close one with Davidson. It really wasn't that close. The score was close but Louisville was handling them quite well. It was less close than Loyola was to OSU. Buckeyes really struggled there.

I am not very concerned about last night. It was right after finals, they were tired and are in Pittsburgh. I also will say Loyola played their asses off. They were going for broke so often. It hurt them overall but it really frustrated the buckeyes. Craft had to deal with first the predator, then the backup who actually was playing well. Then that Orton kid was a complete jackass. He would have stripped craft and butt raped him in the middle of the court if he could. I don't blame them for trying that technique, it did throw OSU off their game. OSU has never had a game like that. They basically trapped the ball handler with 3 guys and left the whole court pretty much open. Many times it caused turnovers, many times it created easy shots for the good guys. It was an U.G.L.Y. game.

I do expect them to brush this off, get refreshed today, go hard tomorrow after the Zags. Gonzaga may have their Sully, they may shoot outside very well but they have yet to face a defense like OSUs. Thomas is showcasing here. Whether he is ready or not, I think he is NBA bound.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Jason Priestas's picture

Eh, I don't know. Both teams maintained similar sized leads throughout the game, but one won by 19 while the other won by seven.

I'm going to keep thinking a #4 beating a #13 by seven points is "close".

Chris Lauderback's picture

I think OSU will get the W but Gonzaga getting 7 is pretty attractive if you don't have principles. 

acBuckeye's picture

Frankly, UCONN got what those dick wads deserved. What a doucherific move by those players stealing the ball when Iowa State was running the clock out. I lose more and more respect for Calhoun every time I hear him open his mouth after his program gets caught doing something illegal.... which is quite often. I know every single big time basketball and football program has dirt on them, but UCONN men's basketball is near the top in my mind when it comes to the most egregious offenders. Calhoun whines and complains that the NCAA has been too harsh on his program, when in fact most believe they got off easy. (Damn, i'm starting to sound like all the Ohio State football-hating derps......)

Not to mention, their national title team last year has to be one of the worst teams to ever win it all. I think our boys would've squashed them. (DAMN YOU, KENTUCKY!!)

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Thomas was spectacular on offense last night, but other than that, it was really just a blah game.  Blah as in it was nothing special.  We didn't really play notably good or notably bad - we just played.  We won pretty much on talent last night.  I hope for a better performance tomorrow - we'll need it against Gonzaga.

Class of 2010.

O-H-I-Owe-U's picture

If we show up and play some tough ass D, I think we can take Gonzags out of their game. WV played really poor defense. C'mon Craft and company. 

Shannon Scott got a lot of minutes last night. Matta getting him ready to face the quickness of Gonzaga guards. I'm hoping Pangos has a cold shooting night like he did in their conf championship game against St Marys.


Run_Fido_Run's picture

Ooops - you beat me to the punch (below).

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I'm concerned about Zaga because of how the Buckeyes have sputtered and/or got lazy at times this season, including last night. But I also feel that we tend to get too caught up in how Buford will shoot, whether Sully will get his shots blocked, etc.

Simply (in my mind), if the Buckeyes play their best caliber defense - very active, disciplined, focused, cooperative - they are the best defensive team in the country, capable of presenting matchup nightmares to just about every offense in the country (except for maybe UNC, Kentucky, MSU, Mizz). Then, when they start wreaking havoc on the opposing offense, the Buckeyes offense will follow, they'll get a few more transition buckets, the other team will get frustrated and impatient, and so forth.

This team is constructed to rebound and play stiffling man-to-man defense. When they forget that, and start thinking of themselves as a freewheeling offensive showcase, they go downhill fast.

Brutus's picture

Was anyone here at the game last night?  I'm just wondering why it sounded like a home game for Loyola.  I get that everyone in attendance who was not an Ohio State fan was going to be rooting for the underdog, but that should have been a home game for the Buckeyes.  Given the way this team has played on the road, I'm hoping that the fans come out in force on Saturday and give this a home game feel. 

I'm usually not a doom and gloom guy, but I've been leery of Gonzaga ever since some of the mock brackets started coming out two weeks ago.  I think this is a horrible match up for the Buckeyes.  Not sure how well Gonzaga plays in the paint, but they are lethal from the perimeter.  And seeings how most teams (with a pulse) seem to go nuts from three against us, this has me worried.  Worried like I was for the Kentucky game last year.  For what it's worth, I have Gonzaga advancing in my bracket, but that's more out of the reverse jinx effect than anything.  Here's to hoping my bracket sucks after Saturday.