The Greatest Day Ever

How you doin'?

Today marks the real beginning of the NCAA Tournament and one of my favorite days all year. The upsets, the overtimes, the buzzer-beaters, the Cinderellas… It all starts today.

Here what I’ll be watching:

6 Murray St. vs. 11 Colorado St.
Are the Racers for real or have they been the benefactors of a dreadful schedule? Has Colorado State been “tested” against a tough MWC schedule or are they as mediocre as their record would indicate? We’ll get the answers today and hopefully see Isaiah Cannon put on a show.

Early Exit Artists
Will the Louisville Cardinals and Vanderbilt Commodores continue their trend of high seeds and early exits? Logic tells you that with Louisville being the Big East tournament champs and Vanderbilt taking the SEC tournament title over #1 Kentucky this should be a no-brainer. My gut still tells me to trust neither win as a given against tough first round opponents.

Is Kentucky Still Kentucky?
After steam-rolling through the regular season, the Wildcats looked anything but dominant in the SEC tournament. Was that a result of a lack of motivation or a sign of regression? We might not get a full answer against an over-matched WKU squad, but it will be interesting to see if the Cats start strong.

There’s just no equivalent to the excitement of knowing you’re going to see so many games that mean so much for each team’s players, coaches, and fans. It’s the NFL playoffs turned up to 11. It’s the NBA playoffs, if the players cared. It’s March Madness and it knows no peer.

Live, from the SEC Tournament

Welcome to the EJSIC’s Live Coverage of the SEC Tournament. I’ll give you updates as the night progresses.

7:15 – Florida vs. The world in here tonight. Kentucky fans making their preference heard.

7:38 – By the way, if anyone ever offers complementary parking, decline. Gonna be an effing 30 walk later on……

7:41 – Florida playing like garbage. They’re in easily with even a close loss, but a blowout could leave them sweating it on Selection Sunday.

7:48 – Boynton against the world.

7:51 – Boynton, Parsons, and Walker have 41 of Florida’s 45 points. BTW, no cowbell for MSU tonight. I’m told that’s a football only concept.

8:10 – Tension is rising in the stands. Some drunk guy just spilled the lady behind me’s $5 bottle of water. Meanwhile, Florida has clawed back to within 10.

8:21 – My 2 good buddies that are Florida fans scalped 2 tickets right in the middle of the Miss St section. Sucks for them. That’s a rowdy bunch.

8:25 – I believe there is something stuck in Dan Werner’s throat…..”chokin on a splinta”

8:35 – Well, that turned out to be a good ending. Florida saved face with a close finish. Put both these teams in the Dance.

Flask is empty. This sucks……

SEC Tournament: Day 1

Opening Day Report from Nashville

Well folks, day 1 is in the books, and quite frankly, it couldn’t come soon enough for the conference. The games today were, um…….ugly. To say the least. To be fair, only 2 of the 8  teams to play on Thursday have any shot at playing in the NCAA tournament, but this was not a good commercial for the conference.

The day started off with a bang, as South Carolina exploded out to an 18 point lead. The media was stoked. Downey/UK part 3 headlines were being written all along media row. But then something happened: South Carolina decided not to play the final 13 minutes, and ended up losing an ugly game by 5, 68-63.

What followed was a game that I don’t think anyone thinks was enjoyable, as Tennessee toyed around with LSU just enough to give their fans a bit of hope, before finally putting them away, 59-49.

The night session began with a Florida/Auburn matchup that pitted a team desperate for a win to increase their NCAA tournament chances, against a coach desperate for a win to save his job. Somehow, this game was close throughout, despite Florida outplaying the Tigers for the vast majority of the game. The scrappy Tigers kept clawing back from multiple 10+ point deficits, led by the excellent play of Frankie Sullivan. But it was no use, as Florida proved to be too much behind Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus, both of which recorded more than 20 points in Florida’s 78-69 victory.

The nightcap was nothing to write home about. Both Georgia and Arkansas were extremely athletic, but not very skilled or disciplined. I left at half time to enjoy some of the finer things in life, but I’ll get to that later.

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EJSIC @ the SEC tournament

That’s right. Yours truly has been dispatched to provide up-to-the-minute updates live from the site of the 2010 SEC tournament at the “whatever-they’re-calling-it-now-that-the -Sommet-Group-failed-to-make-payment Center” in Nashville, TN. EJSIC will be your first stop for the sights, sounds, and even smells (if I can find a way to capture them on my phone) of the 2010 installment of the UK Invitational.

To get things started, here are the 3 biggest story lines heading into the tournament, and the 3 things I’m looking forward to the most:

Tournament Story Lines:

1. Will the runaway-train that has been the 2009-10 version of the Kentucky Wildcats continue their resurgence with a tournament title? The obvious favorites going in to the event, it will be interesting to see if the C-A-T-S CATS CATS CATS will be able to continue to build on their 29-2 (14-2) record by capturing the tournament championship. THE most talented team in the country (IMO), the Cats have been dominant at home, but have proven to be shaky away from Rupp Arena, including losses at Tennessee and against the fightin’ Devon Downey’s, as well as close games against Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, and Auburn. It will be interesting to see how this freshman dominated team will perform in what will be the first college tournament situation for most.

Can anyone derail DeCuz and the UK crazy train?

All that said, make no mistake about it; Nashville will become Lexington south this weekend, just as it is whenever UK comes to town.

2. Bubbles bursting. It is my opinion that none of Florida, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State will make the Big Dance without a win in this tournament, and it is shaping up to be elimination Friday, with potential Tennessee/Ole Miss and Florida/Miss St matchups.

3. Who is SEC POY? The case for Devon Downey over either of John Wall or DeMarcus Cousins was a strong one after ‘lil Carolina’s upset of then #1 UK, but it has become increasingly difficult to ignore the team’s late season slide. However, Downey may have thrust himself back into consideration, after a 26 point performance last week at the dump that is Memorial Gym. With a deep tourney run, and perhaps another upset of Kentucky should they beat ‘Bama on Thursday, things could get interesting.

Things I’m Looking Forward To:

Bruce Pearl is a show unto himself.

1. Vandy fans. I was at the SEC/Sun Belt Classic in mid-December, which showcased MTSU vs. Tennessee and Vandy vs. Western Kentucky at the same venue as the SEC tournament. Vandy fans showed why they were the joke of the SEC by managing to attract **maybe** 200 fans to a game in their hometown. Meanwhile, WKU had 6-8 thousand, and were a raucous bunch. No one would have guessed they were the team 4-3 heading in and Vandy was the team nationally ranked. Well Vandy fans (or as I like to call them, “Alabama football fans“), here’s your chance to redeem yourselves. I don’t expect any more than 400 of you, so don’t disappoint me.

2. A live view of “Dermal Soul Glo I’ve heard stories, but I want to see for myself if Bruce really does glow.

3. Demarcus Cousins. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this ticking-time-bomb’s explosion all year. If this kid played in the ACC, he already would have been involved in brawls with Chas McFarland and Ryan Reid, and having the opposing fans get a hold of your phone number would be a weekly ordeal. But even in a league as physically flaccid as the SEC, Cousins has been driven to temper tantrums and dirty plays numerous times. If he’s gonna flip out, and he will eventually, I just want to be there to see it.

I’m also looking forward to some “pity” beers to be bought for me by those feeling sorry for me, in my North Carolina t-shirt, although I don’t expect Kentucky fans to be overly willing to support my cause…………..dafunk…………….out.

Got a question, an angle you’d like me to cover at the tourney, or some hate-filled garbage to spew???? Shoot me an email at, and I’ll get back to ya ASAP.

EJSIC’s SEC Review & Preview

After a dismal showing in 08-09, the SEC was justly rewarded with a paltry 3 participants in the NCAA tournament. When you factor in that one of those teams got in solely by winning the SEC Tournament Automatic Bid, you’d be hard pressed to find a worse overall year for the league in recent history.

With a year of disappointment behind them, 09-10 has been billed as a big rebound year for the SEC. An influx of new coaches and new talent, combined with a slew of veteran all-conference players returning to school, means expectations have risen significantly. With the out of conference portion of the schedule behind them, how have the teams of the SEC fared versus those expectations to date? As you might expect, the results have been mixed.

Team Assessments:

Alabama – Like many teams in the league, the Crimson Tide have anointed a new leader for 09-10. New Head Coach Anthony Grant brings a great pedigree and a record of success to Alabama. His skills as both a motivator and tactician have been on display in the Tide’s wins over Baylor, Providence, and Michigan. However, things haven’t exactly been “coming up roses” for Bama basketball [That's a really bad reference to the Rose bowl right there. It's how I "Roll"], as the Tide have yet to secure an “NCAA resume” win. All of their 4 losses have been to quality opponents (Cornell, FSU, Purdue & K-State), but quality losses will only get you so far. Alabama will need to perform very well in the SEC (probably needing 11 plus wins) in order to get into the big dance. Anthony Grant has talent to work with in Mikhail Torrance and JaMychal Green to go along with a guard heavy roster, but you have to wonder if it will be enough in year one.
Non-conference Grade: B | Postseason Projection: NIT

No, that's not a girl with a mustache. That's John Pelphrey's meal ticket.

Arkansas – John Pelphrey is starting to feel the heat in Fayetteville. Forced to suspend 5 players following an incident in a campus Fraternity house involving allegations of rape, the Razorbacks have struggled mightily out of the gate. Embarrassing losses to the likes of Morgan State, East Tennessee State and South Alabama have dug a substantial hole for the Hogs heading into conference play. At 7-8, with no wins of note on their resume, even the NIT may be a stretch at this point. There is hope, however, as the Razorbacks have returned All-SEC caliber PG Cortney Fortson to the line up. Fortson, combined with sharp-shooter Rotnei Clarke and potential NBA 1st rounder Mike Washington, could be enough for the Hogs to make a run in the SEC. One thing’s for sure there will be zero margin for error going forward.
Non-Conference Grade: D- | Postseason Projection: None

Auburn – Poor Jeff Lebo. The guy is a decent coach, but he seems doomed to get sucked into the black hole that is Auburn basketball. Despite the recent University investment in a new arena and practice facility, you have to think that no one cares less about their basketball program in the SEC than Auburn Tiger fans. Considering the overall commitment to basketball in the conference, that’s saying a lot. This season’s version of the basketball Tigers bears a close resemblance to those of year’s past. Under-skilled and under-manned, the Tigers have lost to Missouri State, UCF, Troy, and Sam Houston State, while compiling an non-compelling 9-6 record. One bright spot for the Tigers is their balanced scoring, as they have 4 players averaging more than 13 points per game. That said, Auburn is going to struggle in league play. Here’s hoping the Tiger’s Administration gives Lebo the opportunity to use the coming facility improvements to his advantage on the recruiting trail.
Non-conference Grade: D | Postseason Projection: None

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