Weekend one of the NCAA Tournament is in the book. Here are some thoughts and observations after first and second round games.
Best player: It's hard not to make a case for Sherron Collins. The Kansas guard scored 57 points and dished out 10 assists in his two games and controlled tempo in both contests. He and his sidekick Cole Aldrich needed their "A" games as they received little support from their running mates against North Dakota State and Dayton. But, overall, I'm going to give the nod to Blake Griffin. Griffin led Oklahoma to wins over Morgan State and Michigan and, in the process, endured a dirty foul and numerous bumps which ended up in bruises. His game returned to the form we saw earlier this season. That makes OU a definite Final Four contender. (I'd still love to see a Griffin-Hansbrough match-up in a Final Four semi between the Sooners and North Carolina.)
Best game: In a tie, the dueling overtime games on Friday night were great fun. So, let's say Siena's win over Ohio State and Wisconsin beating Florida State. Honorable mention should go to Missouri-Marquette.
Biggest disappointment: It has to be Wake Forest. The Deacons were #1 at one point in the season and beat North Carolina and Duke. Yet, Wake faded to a four seed and then lost to Cleveland State in the tourney.
Jimmy Chitwood award: Let's give it up for Ben Woodside of North Dakota State. The kid got most any shot he wanted against Kansas, went toe-to-toe with his more heralded rival Collins, scored 37 points and almost helped the Bison pull off the round one upset.
The Dick Vitale "they didn't deserve to be here" award: Arizona, a 12 seed from the Pac-10 who many felt should not have been in the tournament. The Wildcats are now in the Sweet 16 after beating an over-seeded Utah team and Cleveland State.
Team to watch: Connecticut. After losing to Syracuse in the 6-OT thriller in the Big East Tournament, the Huskies looked good in convincingly beating Chattanooga and Purdue.
Funniest commercial: The Axe spot with the dude with the, shall we say, sweating problem is weird but laugh-out-loud funny.
Most-anticipated 3rd round matchups: Syracuse-Oklahoma, Villanova-Duke and Missouri-Memphis. And, of course, can Kansas play well against Michigan State after losing by 13 at MSU back on January 10?