- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

This edition of the NCAA tournament has officially choked on chalk. No upsets. No drama. No fun.

Welcome to March Mundaneness.

For the first time in NCAA tournament history, top-three seeds were a perfect 24-0 in the first two rounds, meaning all 12 advanced to the Sweet 16.

“Chalk city,” quipped Connecticut‘s Jim Calhoun, who stopped just short of admitting he was bored while restlessly watching first-round games during his Thursday night hospital stay.

Favorites won every game Sunday and seven of eight Saturday; that lone weekend “upset” was No. 5 seed Purdue ousting No. 4 seed Washington in the West Region.


Sure, the Big East confirmed what everyone already knew with its dominating display. American provided 30 minutes of fun against Villanova. Siena provided 35 against overall top seed Louisville. But there have been only two truly engrossing games out of 48 thus far, and that’s a terrible ratio.

Siena’s Friday night fight with Ohio State was a true gem for the few who stayed up past midnight to watch the Saints prevail in double overtime 74-72. And Gonzaga’s second-round victory against Western Kentucky on a coast-to-coast, driving bank shot by freshman Demetri Goodson with less than a second remaining was also good value.

The shot was almost as entertaining as watching Hilltoppers coach Ken McDonald chase down and curse out the officials before shaking Mark Few’s hand. You stay classy, Ken.

Sweet six for Dixon

Pittsburgh‘s Jamie Dixon improved his career record to 161-45 when the Panthers pushed past Oklahoma State 84-76, matching N.C. State’s Everett Case (1947-52) for the most victories collected by a Division I coach in just six seasons.

Dixon will have the chance to claim the record outright when the Panthers meet No. 4 seed Xavier on Thursday in Boston.

Hair care

Memo to Oklahoma State’s Marshall Moses: That squirrel pelt you’re wearing on your head looks ridiculous.

The most aggressively unattractive trend in hoops haircuts since Pervis Ellison had the stack fade in 1986, the half-hearted attempt at a mohawk is an aesthetic nightmare.

All-first weekend

The best performances of the tournament’s first two rounds:

A.J. Price, Connecticut - The senior guard averaged 23.5 points, 5.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds as the Huskies cruised to the Sweet 16.

Sherron Collins, Kansas - The final link to last year’s national champion averaged 28.5 points and five assists as the Jayhawks reached Indianapolis.

Roburt Sallie, Memphis - The reserve guard had a coming-out party against Cal State Northridge and made 13 of 19 3-pointers in the first two rounds.

Blake Griffin, Oklahoma - Everybody’s All-American averaged 30.5 points and 15 rebounds as Oklahoma advanced in the South Region.

Cole Aldrich, Kansas - His triple-double against Dayton (13 points, 23 rebounds and 10 blocks) showed the Jayhawks sophomore is a force to be reckoned with.

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