First, some quick thoughts on Day 2 and the first game of Day 3:
I have UConn going to the finals in my bracket, but I was sure rooting for Albany last night. Anyone who was rooting for UConn during that game better have a family member on the Huskies. You knew Albany probably wasn't going to be able to hang on, but it sure was fun when they hit that three with the shot clock running down to go up 10, and then the jumper to go up 12. Since I didn't watch the Georgetown/Princeton game in '89 live, this is the closest I've ever been to feeling like I was watching a #1 seed go down (with a close second going to the Western Carolina/Purdue game in 1996).
Bradley, Texas A&M and Air Force should reinforce a lesson: Always bet on the teams that just barely made the tournament. The teams that get killed all week long ("How can you pick that team over Cincinnati!?"). Those are the teams that always come out with a chip on their shoulder and that you really don't want to play in the first round. I thought Kansas was going to have enough firepower to hold of Bradley, but youth got served last night. Two straight first round defeats do not, however, preclude Bill Self from consideration for Coach of the Year awards. They also do not knock him out of the list of Top 5 head coaches in college basketbal.
Murray State and George Washington are going to be teams to watch out for in the tournament for years to come because of the coaches. Little teams can pull off upsets with one really good player (like Bryce Drew from Valpo in '98 or the duo from Vermont last year), but those teams settle back into irrelevancy as soon as those players graduate. The teams that are upset threats year in and year out are those with coaches who know how to set the right game plan. So far in this tournament, the coaches that most personify that characterization are Mick Cronin of Murray State and Karl Hobbs of GW. Both coaches are bundles of energy, jumping all over the court so much that you get excited everytime the camera pans to them. And lower seeded teams need to have a ton of energy to put on the kind of pressure, force the amount of turnovers, and grab the amount of loose balls that they need to beat teams with superior talent in the half court. Cronin specifically changed his team's attitude from a half-court team to a running team as they headed into the conference tournament specifically to prepare for that first round game. His team was big enough to pound the Ohio Valley in the half court, but they were not going to pound UNC. Meanwhile, Karl Hobbs has created a team of seemingly interchangeable parts that all exude his type of energy. I expect both of these teams to be upset threats in the near future, and as long as they can hang onto their coaches.
And on that note, expect to soon see the first previews for the 2007 season. As promised, this site will begin to have tons of in-depth analysis for the '06-'07 season, and it's going to start in the next few days. First up will be the smaller conferences, with the power conferences not covered until after the tournament. I don't want to judge any conference until all of its teams are done playing. Anyway, stay tuned, and remember that comments and suggestions are strongly encouraged - leave comments on the blog or e-mail me through the link in the upper-right part of the page.