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Did Kansas provide the biggest choke job this tournament?

Mar 28, 2011, 9:45 AM EDT


Yes. Yes they did.

/files story and closes lid on laptop.

Kansas loss to Virginia Commonwealth, not to take anything away from the Rams, was the biggest choke job in this tournament, and it ranks up there among some of the biggest choke jobs in tournament history.

Less than 24 hours after Butler downed Florida to earn its second consecutive trip to the Final Four, I thought it was the Gators who would be most admonished for failing to capitalize on a golden opportunity. Instead, the Jayhawks were eager to earn that distinction, falling to a much lower-seeded team for the fourth time in seven seasons.

In addition to KU, here are the four (plus one) other big time missed opportunities seen this tournament:

  • Louisville – And not just because I had them winning the Southwest, but because the region was wide open even with the Jayhawks standing in their way in the Sweet 16. This regular season may have been Pitino’s best coaching job, but the Cardinals couldn’t even get off the ground this tournament.
  • Duke – I refuse to believe that the return of Kyrie Irving disrupted the chemistry of this team. Five players are on a basketball court per team, so one can make a huge difference. Irving’s one-on-one skill set should have made the Blue Devils the favorites in this field, as both Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler are experienced and wise enough to not pout when they’re not getting theirs. Duke was unable to weather the Derrick Williams stormfront, and it doomed them.
  • Xavier – Entering the tournament as just one of two teams to reach the last three Sweet 16s, the Musketeers looked lifeless for much of their short-lived tournament appearance. The Musketeers pride themselves on playing their best basketball come March, but Marquette outplayed them in every facet of their first round basketball game.  It was odd to see, and very uncharacteristic of a proud program.
  • Scoop Jardine –  We’ve already elaborated on it, but while most of the Orange players should be ashamed for their play against Marquette, they still were in position to win down the stretch…and then Scoop Jardine Trying to Play Hero happened.  If you followed this team closely through the winter you sort of saw this coming. Could this team be better off without him?
  • This Guy – Just look at my bracket. I came in dead last in each of the high-stakes pools I participated in. Eff me, right?! Oh well. March is still great.

Nick Fasulo is the manager of Searching for Billy Edelin. Follow him on Twitter @billyedelin.

  1. LPad - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    Did you even watch the games before writing this article? Every single one of these teams had legimate reasons for losing that had nothing to do with choking.

    Kansas lost because VCU was quicker at every position and because they struggle at times against zone (example their games against Colorado). Kansas’ strength is the Morris brothers and the fast pace they play at. Hard to play fast against a team quicker than you. VCU being quicker than KU is an example of the parity in college basketball.

    Louisville lost against a team that plays the same exact style. In fact the Morehead coach is good friends with Pitino and often seeks advice from Pitino. Hence, his team was very well prepared for Pitino’s press and matchup zone. Also, Knowles missed the last 6 minutes of the game with an injury. And third, Morehead had the most talented player on either team. Another example of the parity in college basketball.

    Yes, making Irving the starting point guard did affect Duke’s chemistry. Not because he isn’t talented, but because he doesn’t have any experience. He’s a freshman point guard with only 10 games of experience before the tournament. Last year Schyer was the point guard. As a senior he was able to get Singler and Smith involved in the offense in big games. As a freshman, Irving didn’t have the experience needed to be able to do that, which is why Singler and Smith had bad games. Duke started their offense in the second half thirty feet from the basket in the second half. An experienced point guard prevents that from happening. Let’s not forget that Momo Jones went off on Irving in the second half as well. Probably because he plays freshman level defense. One more thing Irving was not the best one-on-one player in the field. Both Kemba and D Williams are better one-on-one players right now. In a few years Irving may be better.

    Xavier didn’t choke either. They got beat by the better team. Believe it or not, Marquette is good and they can make life very difficult for guard oriented teams.

    How can you choke to a team that beat you in the regular season? Marquette is not a good matchup for Syracuse. They had already beat them in the regular season and have played them very well since moving to the Big East. Also Scoop Jardine didn’t choke. NCAA already said he didn’t commit a backcourt violation. And he has made shots like the shot he took against Marquette throughout his career. Most recent example, the way he played down the stretch against UConn in the Big East tournament to send the game into overtime. Boeheim called the pick and roll, Jardine used to take the three. Blame Boeheim if you got a problem with the play. Also Triche was hurt. Marquette’s D was preventing Syracuse to get the ball to Rick Jackson, Joseph wasn’t effective in the second half and Syracuse needed a quick basket. In fact, if you go back to the Butler loss last year in the tournament, you’ll notice Boeheim called the same play twice for Rautins in that game. So blame him and stop acting like Jardine is the sole reason they lost that game. There’s a running theme in the Xavier and Syracuse game… it’s Marquette is a good team that can ruin half court offenses.

    Given that you finished last in each pool you participated in maybe it isn’t the teams, but your knowledge of basketball. Seriously, if you take a good look at all of these games each result is perfectly understandable.

  2. Nick Fasulo - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    thanks for reading! let me know what you think the 5 biggest choke jobs of the tournament were, because clearly i was completely off base.

    • cintiphil - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:52 PM

      No you were right on. They all choked. Especially Kansas.

  3. diamondduq - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    Really?!?! How can Kansas be the biggest choke job of the tournament? Are we forgetting the EPIC FAIL of the Big East?!?! At least Kansas made the Elite 8! What did Pitt do? ND? Georgetown? Louisville? St. Johns? How hard is it to get half your teams to the 2nd weekend? Especially when you’re, if you believe the media, the hands down best conference in college hoops and you have 11 teams in the tournament! Really Nick, they are by far the biggest choke of the tournament and they don’t even get a collective mention?

    • mostdiggity - Mar 28, 2011 at 6:35 PM

      kansas loss BY FAR incurred the highest cost associated with winning or losing a game in the tournament. when ALL other number one seeds were eliminated, that cost factor escalated. the opportunity cost must have been astronomical, but i aint got the time…

  4. LPad - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    How about you prove you know what you’re talking about?

    How about you explain why moving a national player of the year candidate from the point to the 2 and replacing him with a freshman point guard with 10 games of college experience (and no conference play experience) at the beginning of the tournament doesn’t disrupt chemistry? The team played over 20 games with a different point guard.

    Explain why Smith couldn’t have stayed in a role he excelled in and why Irving couldn’t play the 2.

    Explain why Knowles (Louisvile best player) being unable to play in the last six minutes of a close game. Didn’t give Louisville a lower margin of error.

    Explain how “Scoop played hero” on a play that Boeheim called in a timeout and has went to throughout his coaching career. You say they should have gave the ball to Waiters okay. Then blame Boeheim he called a play for Scoop not Waiters.

    Explain how two teams could choke to Marquette in back-to-back games. Ever consider that you’re underating Marquette and their ability to disrupt halfcourt teams. Why are teams choking to Marquette?

    Does a choke still occur if a ref makes a bad call like in the Syracuse game? If so, did Texas choke?

    Explain why these teams are choking and not just losing. Why did Duke choke? Why did Xavier choke? Why did Kansas choke? Why did Florida choke? There’s a difference between losing and choking. How do you define it.

    One more thing explain why you a supposed basketball expert finished last in each pool you participated in.

    • Dug - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:27 PM

      LPad (Lady Pad?)

      Explain why you don’t write for a living. Explain how you butchered the English language in such a short piece. Explain how you profess to know so much, yet actually know so little. Your tome is nothing more than opinion. You are no expert. You are just a guy with a different opinion.

      Wrong, though it may be, it is yours and you own it.

      • LPad - Mar 28, 2011 at 4:49 PM

        No Dug, the L doesn’t stand for Lady. But, thanks for the personal attack and letting us know you’re a sexist.

        Actually, I do write for a living and I do my job very well. I doubt you write for a living because you would have easily realized I knew how to write by how well-organized my posts are. I made a few mistakes in a quick blog post, but whatever. I’m busy I got things to do. Maybe, I’ll proofread next time. Maybe, I won’t. Either way, I conveyed my message concisely and it isn’t your place to be the grammar police.

        But since you taking a personal interest in my opinion, how about you give me yours? What do you think? Other than that I’m a girl and so I don’t know what I’m talking about.

        Go on, explain why you or the author of this article thinks that at least five teams choked in the tournament. I say at least because if someone thinks Xavier choked, there must be at least ten teams that choked. Then, explain why they choked because I seriously doubt Xavier choked in the first half of their game against Marquette.

        Seriously, find someone who doesn’t think Xavier choked to Marquette to defend.

  5. 1historian - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Kansas choked. They played three teams prior to taking on VCU and romped over all three of them When it came to playing VCU they didn’t have it WHEN IT COUNTED. They closed the gap to 2 but they couldn’t get over the hump because by that time VCU was in charge and was not about to let Kansas back in the game. Kansas choked. I feel sorry for them because I have always liked Kansas basketball, but they choked.

  6. mostdiggity - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    hey nick,

    sorry bout the bad luck. i read your stuff before and you ain’t too far off…

    goddam right you are about kansas. this was a coaching snafu of epidemic proportions! where was his-crazy-ass-Self? did he forget this is MADNESS? how could he have forgotten, since the upsets were in, all tourney long?

    then, he let his players TALK JUNK in a pre-game press conference! in sports, there’s really only one golden fucking rule about winning…NEVER give them another reason to beat you! the selection committee got them there, the morris assholes provided the rest. the committee should be thanked by BBN for seeding kentucky as a 4…what a slap down!

    self didn’t prepare for VCU, it was obvious when the tipoff went OB… as a kansas player sauntered over to the sideline to throw the ball in looking like he was at the beach instead.

    lemme see?

    “how can we beat them, and NOT them us?”

    Do you feel a third grader might say, “hey, throw the ball to those big goons, and they’ll figure it out.”? or would he say, “we are not the same 3-pt team as years past so let’s use this as practice”?

    in kentucky, in north carolina (i’ve lived in each over 20 years)… the VCU game would have been prepared for as if it were the final game, especially knowing how things had been going so far, and the RESPECT they have for all teams they play. their lack of respect ignited the RAMS emotionally, and they are the same age kids, and they do have the talent to play division 1 ball. EVERY player in division 1 AND 2 can play the game pretty well…

    and also, looking at the wonderful opportunity those other upsets had provided for them! then to lose? OH MY! unfuckingforgivable! LMAO!

    but, lemme help save you money next weekend if you are even considering taking UCONN. get some points, because to win that bet you’ll need some. why?

    i understand what you’re thinking and to a degree you’re right. NO defense, not even kentucky’s can stop Kemba. now then and not now. you’re right, he’s a verifiable freak show and show be in the circus and kentucky can’t stop him from getting his 25-35 pts.

    but, in maui, when UCONN smoked KY like a cheap cigar… forget that it happened (well, except as a slight favor to ky as they were embarrassed and see above). in that game, early season ky played six guys after flying to portland and whupping them…then flying to maui for four in a row.. no REST, no reserves to play. theywere just tired and if you are betting man you BETTER watch this game again with this in mind. ky was a full step slower than they are today, and will be saturday. watch them both play louisville for a better comparison of teams. this is kentucky by 6, and only because they refuse to put teams away early.

    but hey NICK i know… you’re a UCONN fan, right? then cheer for them, but keep your wallet safe.

    • mostdiggity - Mar 28, 2011 at 4:38 PM

      hey, plug your keyboard in and let me hear why you say “thumbs down” to the last post.

      sorry but no it ain’t ego… its that i had two distinct thoughtds going on and am curious which part, or both earns your scorn. bust me wide open!

  7. dsims7 - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    With the exception of the first 45 seconds when Kansas was up 6-0, they looked lost and misguided. They closed the gap with a run in the second half, but VCU had rested leggs, took off and never looked back. Even looking at the Kansas bench, they looked sad in the face and the game had like 5 minutes left.

  8. smokehouse56 - Mar 28, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    It always amuses me when some sportswriter, who never ever competed, brings out the “choke” word to describe a loss. It’s their favorite word. Woods loses on the 72nd hole, he “choked.” The Yankees lose Game 7 in the WS, they “choked.” A pitcher loses a no-hitter in the 9th inning, he “choked.” A baseball player goes 0-4 in a big game, he “choked.” US soccer team gives up goal in the 89th minute, they “choked.” Every time a team loses or a competitor has a bad game, they “choke.” Get a life Mr. Sportswriter. You just choked, bigtime.

  9. mostdiggity - Mar 29, 2011 at 1:07 AM

    i personally like:

    an astronomical brain fart immediately followed by a bone jarring panic attack which simulated the effects of drowning due to swallowing a large fractured chicken bone. or something.

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