(Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports)
I had a dream. I had an awesome dream. With apologies to Lionel Richie (who thinks playing games in the park is an awesome dream), I woke up this morning (editor's note – Friday morning) with the knowledge that for the second straight year Duke would lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The dream that I had included Seth Curry struggling and Mason Plumlee getting in foul trouble. So I am going to watch the first round game against Albany and live-blog it. I know that live-blogging has been usurped by Twitter and it isn’t something I have tried before, but I am going to give it a shot.
I don’t know much about Albany, but like most small conference teams, they are guard-oriented. They will need a lot of luck to win and Charles Barkley just dismissed the Great Danes to talk about Wisconsin-Ole Miss. Now he is going off on Harvard for graduating kids (no mention of the cheating scandal that caused them to lose their top two players). More nonsense about student-athletes… OK, I am ready for the game to start. By the way, this will be an experiment for me since I almost always watch games on the DVR on mute. I am not used to listening to the nonsense, but maybe things have improved.
Jay Bilas is a pitch man now? Is there anything that guy can’t do? I think I am done commenting on the ads. In the pre-DVR days, I used to watch the ads during the tournament and I still remember the Northern Exposure promos and “Like a Rock” Chevy ads from 1991. I didn’t like ads then, and now that I can skip them, they can be jarring.
We are headed to Philadelphia for this “second round” match up. How can it be the second round if neither team has played yet? I guess Albany received a bye past the first round. America East, represent! The Great Danes were third in the regular season, but were able to avenge a sweep against regular-season champion Stony Brook in the conference tournament. They were probably close to a 16-seed. I didn’t see Duke as a top seed even if they won the ACC tournament, but they have received a pretty decent match up for at least the first round.
Coach Will Brown says that no one thinks Albany can win. I do, Will, I do!
Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore, and Reggie Miller are my opponents. The Danes are short and their center is named Puk. No heights or collegiate years are listed on CBS. A lot of empty seats in Philly. The Danes can’t even get the ball close to the 3-point line in the first possession. Seth Curry hits a 3-pointer, so he is done for the day, right?
16:00 mark. Duke is super aggressive defensively and has advantages in size and outside shooting. I am not going to back down from my prophecy, but the Great Danes are going to start knocking down a lot of shots. Maybe Reggie Miller will let me know that shot making is important. The fact that Mason Plumlee isn’t doing much in the post gives me a fairly good indication that he is no more of a pro than his brother, Miles. Nice play by the Danes in their last possession before the first TV timeout. We need more of that.
12:00 mark. I don’t like it when coaches take a timeout just before the TV timeout. It’s just more ads and I haven’t been sold by any of these products. It may have been a “smart” timeout by Coach Brown, but couldn’t he have waited one possession? Duke keeps hitting 3-pointers and feeding Plumlee for openings around the paint. The Danes are going to have to tighten up and get some easier baskets in transition. To their credit, the Blue Devils are not the type of team to take the pedal off the metal. It looks like my ability to pick shockers has been off all week. I predicted the Cavs would beat the Heat on Wednesday… that was pretty close. I don’t think Reggie Miller has any sense of humor. The skills needed to be a player who is a good interview are much different that being an announcer. When these guys are players, any bits of humor are played up. As an announcer, people need to find new angles to describe other people playing. I really don’t think a person needs to have played in the NBA to be a good commentator (or play-by-play person). Curry is ruining my dreams. His dad was a Milwaukee Buck for a short time, so you’d think he’d listen to my subconscious.
8:00 mark. Albany is getting some quality shots. They have missed some bunnies that would make the score a bit closer. You’d think that Duke would be able to put the ball in the post and let Plumlee work, but that doesn’t seem to be the Blue Devil plan. After the initial intensity of Duke’s pressure defense, the Blue Devils have backed off a little and the Danes are able to take advantage for those quality shots. Duke is making 75% of their shots, so they should have a bigger lead. They will cool off eventually.
4:00 mark. Big dunk from Plumlee and a nice block from Kelly. The fact that Albany is consistently getting good shots (but missing many of them) would not give me confidence if I had Duke in the Final Four. Duke is still winning handily (keeping the score within 10 points). It appears that Buffalo Wild Wings read my article and supports my ideas for expanding the tournament. I wish I liked BWW more.
Halftime. It is encouraging that the Blue Devils are getting in some early foul trouble. The Duke bench could probably beat Albany, but I’d like the Great Danes chances better. It’s nice that Duke was forced to take a timeout as Albany shaved the lead down to eight points. Great Danes gaining confidence – a note that Reggie reinforces. Duke comes back and finishes the half by pushing the lead back to nine. Albany is competing, but they will need an ’85 Villanova second half to pull off the upset. I figured I’d spend a few words on Coach K during halftime. I don’t particularly like him. I respect the way Duke plays hard, but I get the sense that Coach K believes that he is developing “young men” rather than basketball players. I guess that is what he has to believe and probably what most coaches think, but I think it is basketball first and the rest (including education) later. He seems pretty sanctimonious as well. I don’t dislike Duke, but I find what I know about Kzyzrewski makes me think I wouldn’t like him much if I knew him. By the way, I don’t have a problem with CBS using the TNT NBA guys for analysis. They have excellent chemistry. I’d like to see Doug Gottlieb with them. Are these Gator players on the UPS commercial getting paid? I hope they don’t get suspended.
16:00. The Dane coaching staff believes in the power of clapping. A lot of claps to emphasize points. I am going to have to try that. Albany is not able to take advantage of Duke’s weak rebounding. Duke with a nice period of scoring. At this point of the game, I often like to play a game which I’ve described elsewhere. I think the Blue Devils only need to score 13 more points to get to 60 and this game is officially over. Albany will not score 27 more points in this game. It’s a little prediction game that sometimes I get right (unlike this bold prediction).
12:00. “Eyes behind the back of his head,” says Len Elmore. Would that be in the front of his head? The confidence and sweet passing that the Danes showed off before the half seems to have disappeared. The Devils are pressuring the ball more and putting the game away. I am starting to listen more to the announcers to their detriment. Seth Curry not getting enough credit? That’s just silly. Ryan Kelly has a pretty looking jumper.
8:00. Albany consistently gets into the paint, but they are unable to convert. This doesn’t seem to be a designed defense by the Blue Devils, even if it is effective. Albany starting to get in foul trouble as well. They seem to be unable to get the lead into single digits. Albany has cut down on the turnovers, but Reggie has not mentioned anything. They are getting shots off, which is a step in the right direction. It’s a shame this game isn’t 20 minutes longer. I have to give Plumlee credit as well. He might not be a dominant low post player, but he is able to slide to get open and has good hands. I wonder if a team has ever won with a -24 margin in field goal percentage.
4:00 Mike Black looks like he hurt his finger just before the eight-minute timeout. That will not help things. Wait, are we sure that peanut butter beats nougat? Duke breaks the 60-point barrier and this game is over. Or maybe not – Albany keeps the game within 10 points with an easy basket. And the lead is down to eight. I am becoming a Twitterer with these short updates. Nothing is better than a tweet that says, “Aw, sweet pass, dude!” or similar. They are very informative. The last four minutes are going to take 30 minutes of real time. This is where the DVR is the best.
Final four minutes. Seth Curry is the dream breaker. Looks like Albany is going to break 60 points, which proves I don’t know what I am talking about again. Plumlee gets fouled, but he shows that he is not in the NBA yet by not complaining to the ref. In college, that is the coach’s job. In the pros, everyone complains. Plumlee will need to improve his free throw stroke in the pros as well. With 23 seconds left and down 12 points, Albany calls a timeout. Reggie says it is a nice move to get the bench a chance to play. The bench stands there as the clock runs out. Live the NCAA experience, Great Dane bench! Sometimes you just have to give up your dreams. I have.
Perry Missner is a college basketball enthusiast who writes for RotoWire along with several other fantasy outlets. He welcomes your comments on Twitter at @PerryMissner or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org