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NCAA Tournament Daily Breakdown March 21

Good thing football is king in Austin

Here’s a look back at Sunday’s excitement in the NCAA tournament:

Best Finish

Arizona’s win over boneheaded Texas was the day’s best finish. I know everybody is shocked, but Rick Barnes led another team that fizzled out in March. Based on mid-February commentary, Texas appeared to be a super team that nobody could beat, despite their record. Now they’re done. Jordan Hamilton called an inexplicable timeout after coming down with the rebound and about 10 seconds remaining and the Horns up two. Then the Longhorns were called for a five second violation on the inbounds to turn the ball over. But the insanity wasn’t done, as Derrick Williams decided to win a game late offensively instead of blocking a shot as he made a shot while being fouled to tie the game. Of course, he then completed the three point play. Texas was unable to score and the Wildcats move on to face North Carolina.

Best Performance – Team

Ohio State: The Buckeyes were all over George Mason early and often in their 32 point blowout yesterday. The Buckeyes made 16 of 26 three point shots as David Lighty made all seven of his attempts from long range. This team won’t be beaten by anybody if they can’t stop the perimeter shooting. I haven’t heard anybody talk about wanting to be “this year’s George Mason” since this game finished.

Best Performance – Player

Kendall Marshall: This freshman point guard is special. Marshall led the Tar Heels up and down the court all day dishing 14 assists while scoring 13 points and he even pulled down 5 rebounds. The Tar Heels might be able to go as far as their freshmen take them and Marshall is the key running the point.

What’s Happening to the Big East

With the Notre Dame loss to Florida State, the Big East only has two teams remaining and those teams only made it by beating fellow Big East teams. What looked like a dominating conference that might place up to 7 or 8 teams into the Sweet 16, collapsed due in part to injuries, teams peaking too soon, and just bad matchups. Connecticut and Marquette, the 9th and 11th place finishers during the regular season, are the only teams remaining. Maybe there was an advantage to playing in the opening round of the Big East tournament after all.  

Sweet 16 Conference Breakdown:

ACC – 3 (Duke, UNC, FSU)
Big East – 2 (UConn, Marquette)
Mountain West – 2 (BYU, SDSU)
SEC – 2 (Kentucky, Florida)
Big Ten – 2 (Ohio State, Wisconsin)
Big 12 – 1 (Kansas)
A-10 – 1 (Richmond)
Pac 10 – 1 (Arizona)
Colonial – 1 (VCU)
Horizon – 1 (Butler)

Coaches Who Made the Most $$$

Shaka Smart of Virginia Commonwealth continues to lead his Cinderella Rams to upset after upset. Despite being deemed not worthy enough of a tournament invite by most (read: ESPN) talking heads, the Rams are now the only team with three wins in the tournament as they head to San Antonio. The 33 year old coach is sure to have an opportunity to coach at a higher level after this season. Where might he go and how much could he get? Those two ACC schools (NC State and Georgia Tech) have to have him on the radar and could Smart go home to Milwaukee to replace Buzz Williams if he leaves Marquette? Williams is also in the name your price for the job you want group.

Coaches Who Will Have a Little Pressure on them Next Season

Rick Barnes and Mike Brey were the flavor of the week, depending on the week during February. Both of their teams, Texas and Notre Dame were expected to make long runs in the tournament and not making it past the first weekend is sure to bother the fans and alums. It probably a good thing that they both coach at football crazy schools since these early flameouts will most likely be forgotten after the first play of the spring football games at each school.

Coach With His “Us against the World” Speech Ready

John Calipari: Nobody gives this speech better than the “eternal underdog” Cal. From his time at UMass to the Nets to Memphis and now poor old Kentucky, Calipari will find every possible angle and prediction to paint his team as the most underrated, underappreciated, underestimated team of all-time. Against Ohio State, Cal gets to use his favorite play in his playbook and he better. For the first time in a while, Cal and his team are really undermanned for this moment. Calipari has never pulled off an upset based on seed in the NCAA tournament; he gets another chance against the Buckeyes.

Sweet 16 Schedule:

Thursday March 24th:

(3 West)Connecticut vs. (2 West) San Diego State on CBS at 7:15 EDT

(3 Southeast)Brigham Young vs. (2 East) Florida on TBS at 7:27 EDT

(5 West)Arizona vs. (1 West) Duke on CBS at 9:45 EDT

(8 Southeast)Butler vs. (2 East) Wisconsin on TBS at 9:57 EDT

Friday March 24th:

(11 East)Marquette vs. (2 East) North Carolina on CBS at 7:15 EDT

(12 Southwest) Richmond vs. (1 Southwest) Kansas on TBS at 7:27 EDT

(4 East)Kentucky vs. (1 East) Ohio State on CBS at 9:45 EDT

 (11 Southwest)Virginia Commonwealth vs. (10 Southwest) Florida State on TBS at 9:57 EDT

NCAA Tournament Daily Breakdown March 20

Here comes Butler again

Here’s a look back at Saturday’s excitement in the NCAA tournament.

Best Finish

The San Diego State and Temple game went to two OT’s, but the Pittsburgh and Butler game easily takes the honors. Butler coach Brad Stevens drew up another brilliant end of game play to give the Bulldogs the lead. But the two subsequent fouls on each team and the drama surrounding those calls overshadowed Stevens’ coaching. Should those calls have been made? The first one was Butler’s Shelvin Mack definitely impeding Gilbert Brown as he was going to attempt a half-court shot. The following foul in a tie game with no chance of a 90 foot made shot, was questionable. But at the end of the day, you can’t make contact and Jamie Dixon shouldn’t have had anybody on that foul line. A John Chaney coached team goes to overtime, because he never had his players on the foul line when his players were shooting for that reason.

Best Performance – Team

Brigham Young: Everybody was picking Gonzaga to beat BYU last night, but The Jimmer and his teammates had other plans. Gonzaga guard Marquise Carter had a career high 24 points against St. John’s on Thursday, but didn’t even score a point against the Cougars. As for the Cougars offense, they shot 14-28 from three point range and shot 52.5% overall. It didn’t matter that the Bulldogs won the battle of the boards by 11, 34-23. All of that resulted in a 22 point win for BYU.

Best Performance – Player

(Tie) Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker: Was there any doubt? These two should share the national player of the year award and last night’s performance is why. The Jimmer went for 34 points and also dished 6 assists as Gonzaga had no answer defensively for the Cougars sharp shooting. Kemba scored 33 and had 6 rebounds and 5 assists as Connecticut beat fellow Big East member Cincinnati last night. It’s too bad that the only way these two could face off would be in Houston on the Monday night. Or that could just be what this season deserves. Honorable mention to Kentucky‘s Brandon Knight who scored 30 against West Virginia.

Best Performance – Player on Losing Team

The Beard, Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen went out with a tremendous performance against Wisconsin. He had 38 points on 13-22 shooting, but went 6 of 8 from three point range. The only blemish on his performance was that missed free throw in the final ten seconds that could have helped tie the game. Pullen is a special college player who probably won’t have a long NBA career due to his size. He’ll be hard to replace not only for K-State, but for college hoops in general.

What’s Happening to the Big East

Notre Dame is now the conference’s last hope to send more than two teams to the Sweet 16 next week. If the Irish lose to Florida State tomorrow night, then the only Big East teams to advance past this weekend would be the winners of the two Big East matchups. This was unthinkable when the tournament started but injuries (Georgetown), collapses (Villanova), peaking too soon (St. John’s), and March Madness (Louisville) thwarted the chances of this formerly (last week) mighty conference.

Coach Who Made the Most $$$

Chris Mooney of Richmond heads to the Sweet 16 as a 12 seed after the Spiders beat Morehead State yesterday. Rumors are already rampant that the Princeton grad will be a top target of the two ACC schools that have openings, Georgia Tech and North Carolina State. Based on his experience and the expectations at each school, Tech looks to be the better fit due to not being on Tobacco Road with Mike and Roy. Mooney could get overwhelmed, like others, in Raleigh.  

Coaches Who Will Have a Little Pressure on them Next Season

Ben Howland and Jamie Dixon worked together at Northern Arizona and then again at Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, because of where he coaches, UCLA’s Howland will have pressure to make at least the Sweet 16 every year. Dixon will have to answer questions about annually coming up short in March until he reaches a Final Four. While not under the same scrutiny as his mentor, Dixon will have the stigma of an underachiever until he guides his team to that final weekend.

Worst Host City

Hello, Tucson, you have the NCAA tournament in town this week. The fans in the desert didn’t show up and there were over 3,000 empty seats for yesterday’s session. Evidently exhibition baseball is more compelling in Arizona this time of the year. None of the other host cities had attendance problems.

Look ahead to Sunday:

Remember About the Gus Johnson Special:

Gus surely will be involved in another buzzer beater this weekend and there are two games to choose from. First will be George Mason and Ohio State at 5:15 EST on Sunday and that will be followed by Marquette and Syracuse. One of those games is GUARANTEED to have a great ending. I’m offering a free subscription to my blog to anybody who doesn’t get their money’s worth out of those two games on Sunday.

Schedule:

(7 East)Washington vs. (2 East) North Carolina on CBS at 12:15 EDT

(8 West)Michigan vs. (1 West) Duke on CBS at 2:45 EDT

(8 East)George Mason vs. (1 East) Ohio State on CBS at 5:15 EDT

(5 West)Arizona vs. (4 West) Texas on TNT at 6:10 EDT

(11 Southwest)Virginia Commonwealth vs. (3 Southwest) Purdue on TBS at 7:10 EDT

(11 East)Marquette vs. (3 East) Syracuse on truTV at 7:45 EDT

(9 Southwest)Illinois vs. (1 Southwest) Kansas on TNT at 8:40 EDT

(10 Southwest)Florida State vs. (7 Southwest) Notre Dame on TBS at 9:40 EDT

Ranking the NCAA Men’s Hoops Major Job Openings

Wooooooooo! Pig! Soooooey!

There are many factors that go into making a college coaching job better than another. Sometimes it can just be based on timing, as schools change administrations, conferences, or upgrade facilities. The biggest factor, however, is the total commitment by the administration and the fan/alumni base. It’s that commitment that can make or break the non-elite coaches.

1. Arkansas

The Hogs are the most recent national champion in this group. This is a program with a tremendous amount of success starting with Eddie Sutton in the 1970’s and followed by Nolan Richardson’s 40 minutes of Hell-era. Since Richardson, Stan Heath and John Pelphrey have only made 3 NCAA tournaments in 9 seasons and Arkansas hasn’t been a major player nationally.

The expectations are higher in Fayetteville than many places and for good reason. Since Bud Walton Arena opened before the 1993-94 season, the Razorbacks have been in the top 10 nationally in attendance 11 of 17 seasons it’s been open. They play in the extremely weak SEC West where football reigns supreme. The only other traditionally good SEC West basketball school is LSU and they are going through worse times in Baton Rouge than Arkansas. There’s no reason why Arkansas can’t be the class of the SEC West given their tradition and competition.

If the SEC is a five or six bid league annually, then Arkansas should be in the running for one of the spots competing right behind Kentucky and Florida. That leaves three or four spots for the ten remaining teams. Arkansas shouldn’t be taking a back seat to any of the remaining teams as long as they have the right coach. As a school that has been to 3 Final Fours and has one championship since 1990, more is expected from this program. The right hire here and the Hogs could be national powers again in the near future.

2. North Carolina State

If the rumors are true, then Sidney Lowe should be unemployed shortly after his midday meeting with AD Debbie Yow. The word is that NC State will be offering upwards of $3M per season to the next coach to compete on Tobacco Road against the heavyweights of college basketball.

The tradition of this program has taken a hit over the past 20 years, but the passion of the fan base remains rabid. Many forget, but there are only a handful of schools that have more national championships than the Wolfpack’s two in 1974 and 1983. Their rich history spans decades with successful coaches like Everett Case, Norm Sloan, and Jim Valvano. But with only six NCAA bids since 1989, the prestige of the program has taken a hit, both locally and nationally and this hire can go a long way to restoring the success in the program.

Like the SEC, the ACC is typically a five or six bid league annually. That usually leaves four bids for the ten teams behind Duke and UNC every March. There’s no reason why NC State should be behind football schools Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. They also have a better tradition and history of success than Virginia and Wake Forest. They belong with Maryland in the next tier below UNC in the ACC.

Duke is different animal. They are in a special situation where they might have the best coach ever in college basketball. The key question that the new head coach needs to know is: How much longer will Coach K be at Duke? Once Coach K leaves Duke, that will open up the competition for the #2 spot in the ACC behind UNC. With the right coach, the Wolfpack could easily fill the void that Duke will leave when Coach K leaves. If this happens within the next 3-5 years, this new coach should benefit.

3. Utah

The Utes? Yes. The 1998 national runner-ups have a very good tradition that has gone under the radar due to their media market and conference affiliations. But beginning next season, they will be a part of the Pacific 12 conference and there will be an opportunity for major success.

The Utes have a national championship during World War II and also played in three other Final Fours, including 1998. The Utes have appeared in 27 NCAA tournaments and also won the NIT in 1947 when it was still bigger than the NCAAs. In addition, the Utes are tied with Indiana for 11th on the all-time win list with 1651 wins.

The Pac 10 hasn’t been that great in recent years and a good hire should get Utah into the top third of the conference quickly. Only UCLA and Arizona are the traditionally stronger programs than Utah in the Pac 12. The other top programs are very similar in history and success. The Huntsman Center is a very good facility that has hosted the NCAA tournament as recently as 2006 and is bigger than any building in the new Pac 12.

Athletic Director Chris Hill has made two hires since Rick Majerus left seven years ago. Unfortunately, it has only resulted in two appearances in the NCAAs. This is now a good job in a BCS conference now; they appear to want to make a strong commitment, so will they be able to attract the right coach?

4. Oklahoma

Jeff Capel was let go on Monday and it’s now hiring season in Norman. While the Sooners have a solid basketball program, it will always be in the shadow of its perennial top 10 football program. The program has been very good over the past 30 years but competing annually against Kansas and a now stronger Texas makes this job more difficult than the others above on the list. In addition, Bedlam rival Oklahoma State has a much longer and richer tradition of success on the hardwood than the Sooners.

The departure of Colorado and Nebraska tightens up the quality of the conference basketball wise. But there are unknowns about the future of the league and how a conference shift based on football might affect the basketball program. This is a solid job, but not a great job. They will always be clustered in a group behind Kansas in the conference. The resources are there, but the fan base isn’t as passionate as the other schools on this list.

Since Billy Tubbs arrived for the 1980-81 season, the Sooners have played in 23 NCAA tournaments, with two Final Fours, and also two NIT appearances. They made 25 straight postseason appearances from 1982-2006 which was snapped after Capel’s first season. The AD Joe Castiglione is definitely committed to excellence. But will he be able to find that special coach who can lead the Sooners back to the Final Four?

5. Georgia Tech

The Rambling Wreck was an also-ran in the ACC forever before they brought Bobby Cremins into the program in 1981. In the 19 seasons with Cremins, the Yellow Jackets went to 10 of their 16 NCAA tournaments and one Final Four. Recently fired Paul Hewitt went to 5 NCAAs in 11 seasons and lost in the 2004 championship game.

What makes this program somewhat intriguing is the size of the school and their alumni base. Even though they are a traditional football school, Georgia Tech has gotten a taste of success in hoops over the past 25 years and the right hire might be able to reenergize the fan base. This biggest problem facing Tech is similar to NC State, playing in the competitive ACC. Except that they lack the Tobacco Road fanaticism and tradition that State has.

Georgia Tech is an ACC school located in Atlanta. That should be enticing, right? But you start every year playing for third in the ACC and the expectations are generally high. Hewitt got eleven years, but he was given extra time based on his early success. His replacement isn’t going to be guaranteed that kind of support. As with NC State, the timing could be right here. The conference is down across the board, save UNC and Duke, so the right hire could catapult the Yellow Jackets to the top third of the ACC.

6. Providence

Here’s an example of why all big conference jobs aren’t created equal. The Friars were great under Joe Mullaney and Dave Gavitt in the years leading up to the formation of the Big East conference in 1979. Since then, the Friars have struggled to compete against the nationally recognizable conference mates.

Rick Pitino had a short tenure at PC, but took the Friars to their second and last Final Four in 1987. In the decade or so after Pitino left for the Knicks, the Friars became a stop on the basketball coaching ladder as Rick Barnes and Pete Gillen both left PC for the ACC.  Before firing Keno Davis after only three seasons, the Friars were incredibly patient with his predecessor, Tim Welsh. Welsh spent 10 years at PC with only two appearances in the NCAA’s after taking over for Pete Gillen in 1998.

So what is the deal here? The fanbase is terrific as the Friars are essentially the “pro team” in the state capital of Rhode Island during the winter. The problem is that the Big East is ridiculously difficult to compete in now. Ten coaches in the conference have made it to the Sweet 16 or farther. Six have been to the Final Four and three have won NCAA championships.

While the fans probably want a lifer, the best possible coach for them would be in the mold of a young Pitino or Barnes who are working their way up in the profession. Maybe they can get lucky and that coach sticks around for a few years longer than expected.

Making the Case against the Teams Whose Bubbles Burst

March 14, 2011 1 comment

Maybe Colorado won't play 7 sub 295 RPI teams next year

This isn’t meant as a defense of the selection committee or any of the questionable teams that were selected to the NCAA tournament. In reality, only 50-something teams really deserved to be selected to the 68-team Big Dance. This is about those controversial teams that were left out and the reasons why these schools do not have any reason to complain.

Virginia Tech: Yes, America’s bubble team had its hopes shattered again. For starters, the Hokies were only 9-7 in the 5th ranked conference. They were swept by Virginia (RPI 139) and NIT-bound Boston College, added a bad loss at Georgia Tech, and suffered a crippling season ending loss at Clemson. In addition, they beat FSU based on an overturned game winning basket in the ACC quarterfinals that was debatable. The only top 50 RPI team in the ACC that they beat was Duke.

The Hokies OOC schedule was ranked 180 out of 340. They played 6 teams with RPIs of over 230. They went 2-3 against top 100 teams OOC. How difficult would it be for Seth Greenburg to replace UNC-Greensboro (RPI 297), USC Upstate (313), Mount St. Mary’s (231), and Longwood (320) on his schedule? If he played and beat Virginia NCAA tournament schools like Old Dominion, VCU, George Mason, and Richmond, they would have been a lock for selection.

VCU went 3-6 against the top 50 and Tech was only 2-5. How does a CAA team play more top 50 games than an ACC team? Only cowardly scheduling sent the Hokies back to the NIT.

Colorado: The media would have you think that the Buffaloes survived a gauntlet of difficult games throughout the season. They are wrong. The Buffaloes OOC schedule was ranked 331 out of 340. They only went 10-4 against that group of teams. Their best win was against a bad Indiana (RPI 190). They played 7 teams with a RPI of 295 or more. In games against teams with a RPI of less than 295, they went 13-13. They won half and lost half.

Lowering the RPI threshold, the Buffaloes went 10-13 against the top 150 teams. Is that really at-large material there? Sure, they beat a few good teams, including Texas and Kansas State three times. But it’s not about head-to-head results and a splashy win or two for the selection committee. It’s about the overall profile.

Schools like Colorado have more choices than their mid-major counterparts when selecting OOC opponents. Instead of scheduling better teams, they scheduled gimme games to pad their win total. If they played 7 OOC teams between 100-150 in the RPI instead of 295 and over, they would be headed to the Big Dance. It’s that plain and simple.

Alabama: Don’t let the fact that the Crimson Tide is in the SEC fool you. The SEC West as a standalone conference would have easily been ranked behind every mid-major conference that received an at-large bid. The SEC West is home to Auburn (RPI 255), LSU (224), Arkansas (124), and Mississippi State (119). With 8 games against those schools, it’s no wonder that this team went 12-4 in SEC play. In addition, all of their key SEC wins were against vulnerable teams. Kentucky was awful away from Rupp, going 4-7 in true road games. Tennessee didn’t have Bruce Pearl for their loss to Alabama and were a poor home team all season.

The Tide schedule was ranked 294. They went 8-6 against those teams. The highest RPI of an OOC team that they beat was Lipscomb at 131. Overall, Alabama went 10-11 against the top 200 teams in the RPI. Is that really the mark of a quality at-large team? Have the standards dropped that much? They only had one win OOC against top 200 teams. I rest my case, your honor.

Saint Mary’s: The Gaels were a mid-major “snub” that many in the national media love. The problem is that many talking heads don’t follow the games as closely as you would expect an “expert” would. The issues for the Gaels began back on February 16 in San Diego. That night the Gaels lost to USD on national television by eight. The trouble is that USD won only 4 games against Division 1 schools all season, including the St. Mary’s win, and they have a RPI of 318. This was easily the worst loss of any prospective at-large candidate that made it in front of the selection committee.

In addition to losing in San Diego, the Gaels followed that with home losses to Utah State and Gonzaga. For a mid-major school like St. Mary’s to receive an at-large bid, they have to schedule and win against good teams OOC and take care of business in their own league.

The Gaels only quality OOC win was against St. John’s in Steve Lavin’s coaching debut. They lost to BYU, San Diego State, Vanderbilt, and Utah State. But with only one top 50 win all season, it was tough for the Gaels to overcome their horrible loss to San Diego. They also played 5 OOC teams with RPIs over 240. At the end of the day, the Gaels didn’t beat enough good teams and lost to a really bad one.

Harvard: The case against Harvard became easy when the brackets were announced. Their two best wins were against Boston College and Colorado. They now have a chance at a rematch with both in the NIT.

The message from the selection committee should be clear. Teams need to schedule better to improve their at-large chances and seeding for the NCAA tournament. There are teams that made the tournament with similar records, but their schedules were the difference. Why does 22-10 Kansas State have a 5 seed and 23-10 Missouri have an 11 seed? They are both in the Big 12 with Colorado. It’s the schedule.

The bottom line is that tougher scheduling and avoiding poor losses goes a long way to eliminating a team’s question marks that could burst their bubble on Selection Sunday. Maybe next year Virginia Tech will actually schedule some CAA teams and Alabama will play UAB to decide their fates on the court. Or maybe they’ll play Russian roulette with their tournament chances again.

Road to Selection Sunday for March 13

Done?

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for March 13

Today is Selection Sunday: Finally Home

News and Notes:

It doesn’t look good for Pelphrey to remain as coach in Arkansas.

Paul Hewitt is done as coach at Georgia Tech after being the national runner-up in 2004 and 11 seasons.

Dayton is excited to be playing on CBS in a non NCAA tournament game since 1984.

Josh Harrellson is laying is on the line during his senior season for Kentucky.

The Gators bench was a big factor in their win yesterday against Vanderbilt.

It took a few months, but North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes is playing like the real deal.

Winners:

Automatic Qualifiers:

  • America East: Boston University
  • Conference USA: Memphis
  • MEAC: Hampton
  • Southland: Texas-San Antonio
  • Ivy: Princeton
  • Big 12: Kansas
  • MAC: Akron
  • PAC 10: Washington
  • Mountain West: San Diego State
  • Big West: UC-Santa Barbara
  • SWAC: Alabama State
  • Big East: Connecticut
  • WAC: Utah State

Memphis: The Tigers showed their #tigerblood yesterday by coming back from 62-50 with just over 6 minutes remaining. It appeared that experienced coaching would win out and UTEP would be dancing, while the Tigers would hold their breath for 29 hours. But Joe Jackson stepped up with help from Chris Crawford and led the Tigers back in the hostile Don Haskins Center. While Memphis might not be a major threat next week, making the NCAA tournament during a down season is the mark of a very good program.

Atlantic Ten: The A-10 might have their best case final scenario with Dayton facing Richmond. Dayton’s got the best RPI outside of the top 3 teams and if those 3 are on the right side of the bubble, then Dayton can steal a bid to give the A-10 four bids for the first time since 2003-04. Dayton’s RPI is now 70 so a loss by Richmond might not burst their bubble.

Florida: The Gators look like a 2 seed now and they should be a lock if they beat Kentucky today. If not, they probably drop to a 3 seed, but they’re more dangerous than in most seasons.

Duke and North Carolina: Many feel that the winner of this game will be a 1 seed. I think Duke can get it, but North Carolina might have to win to get a 2 seed. Those top 2 lines are tough and UNC doesn’t have a better profile than Florida, who might still be a 3 seed.

Penn State: It looks like the Lions brought Jerry Sandusky to Chicago. They’ve only given up 81 points in the past 2 games to reach the finals. Is making the finals enough? Grab a coin.

San Diego State: Great performance by the Aztecs as they avenged their only two losses of the season last night in Vegas. This team is deserving of at least a 2 seed, but I’d give them a 1 if Duke loses.

Losers:

Harvard: Tough last second loss to Princeton in the one game playoff at Yale. They are better than at least 5-10 teams that will make it in today. Will they be perceived as good enough by the committee?

UTEP: Tough loss as the Miners blew a 12 point lead with about 6 minutes left on their home court. This team should get better the longer Tim Floyd remains coach.

Alabama: If conference affiliation doesn’t matter and the overall profile is the key, then Alabama is done after losing to Kentucky yesterday.

Virginia Tech: Do you have a coin? Call heads or tails and that’s probably the chances that you hear Seth Greenburg crying to Dick Vitale tonight after being left out again. Remember Seth, if you had played Richmond, VCU, George Mason, ODU, and other Virginia schools, you’re strength of schedule wouldn’t be an issue.

Clemson: The Tigers don’t have any top 50 wins. Good luck on the bubble.

Texas: The national media still loves the Longhorns, but they shouldn’t be anything higher than a 4 seed.

Arizona: The Wildcats will be the highest seeded Pac 10 school, but they might be in an 8-9 game.

Michigan State: You didn’t expect Sparty to all of a sudden get consistent, did you? Expect them to be done by the end of next weekend.

Brigham Young: The Cougars still can’t shake that they’re not a top team without Brandon Davies. Last night’s convincing loss did nothing to dissuade viewers and most likely, the selection committee. I think they should get at least a 3, but the committee will probably make them a 4 seed at best.

Sunday’s Games: RPI in ()

Atlantic Ten Championship (70) Dayton at (44) Richmond: CBS at 1 EST

ACC Championship (4) Duke at (6) North Carolina: ESPN at 1 EST

SEC Championship (9) Kentucky vs. (7) Florida: ABC at 1 EST

Big Ten Championship (39) Penn State vs. (2) Ohio State: CBS at 3:30 EST

Click here for conference breakdowns on This Week in College Basketball.

Road to Selection Sunday for March 11

Another Garden party for Pitino?

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for March 11

News and Notes:

Lafayette is comfortable as the underdog going into today’s Patriot League Championship against Bucknell.

Depth and defense are driving Louisville’s success according to Rick Bozich.

Here’s a link to the Kansas City Star’s Big 12 tournament page.

Brandon Davies travelled with BYU to the MWC tournament and will sit on the bench during the games.

Kenny Frease tweaked his back and didn’t practice yesterday for Xavier. Coach Mack said that he should play.

The Gators are loose and confident going into their quarterfinal matchup with Tennessee tonight.

Winners:

Colorado: The Buffs got beat K-State for the 3rd time this season and could have sealed their ticket to March Madness. A win over Kansas today would seal their bid. What might work against them is that if they lose, they will be 7-9 in their final 16 games. Pretty mediocre, but that’s what a lot of the bubble looks like.

Connecticut: Solid comeback win by the Huskies complete with an ankle breaking move that led to Kemba Walker’s buzzer beater to win the game. The Huskies could have shut it down early as they trailed by 12 for awhile until they pulled even just before halftime. It should be interesting to see what they have left as they play their fourth game in four days tonight against the Orange. They better hope they don’t go to 6 OT’s in this one, like two years ago.

New Mexico: Better late than never for Steve Alford’s Lobos as they get another shot at BYU and the Jimmer tonight. They might be able to finagle an at-large bid if they win this game and keep it close against San Diego State. It’s possible that they might have to beat UNLV if they play them.

Washington: The Huskies came back from multiple deficits to finally get a win over their in-state rivals last night. This win could get them over the hump on the soft bubble.

Notre Dame: The Irish are looking like a national championship contender and could pass by Pittsburgh or another team for a #1 seed if they win the Big East tournament. They look like Ohio State without Sullinger right now.

Losers:

Pittsburgh: Gary McGhee got his ankles broken as Kemba Walker worked him over and drained the game winning shot as time expired. As long as the selection committee doesn’t overrate the conference tournaments, the Panthers could still be a #1 seed when the brackets are announced. But that 3-3 finish won’t help.

DJ Kennedy and St. John’s: Kennedy tore his ACL in the loss to Syracuse yesterday afternoon and is gone for the season. That means the senior will not be able to participate in the NCAA tournament for the first and only time. It’s a tough break for a quality player who put his ego aside to play a winning role this season.

UAB: Losing in the quarterfinals wasn’t the recipe for a tourney invite for the Blazers. They probably one the wrong side of the bubble since their only good win is over VCU.

UCLA: Nice loss to Oregon. That loss probably moves to Bruins to a double digit seed when the brackets come out. The performance of the team last year and early this year caused a lot of grumbling by the fan base. Losing to the Ducks, who haven’t been really good, can’t help Ben Howland.

Coaches who might be out now: The following coaches might have just coached their last game at their current school last night. Their departure won’t be on their terms: Arkansas’ John Pelphrey, NC State’s Sidney Lowe, Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt,

Colorado State: Last night’s loss to New Mexico probably finishes their at-large hopes. Their only win over a probably NCAA team is just UNLV and that isn’t enough. They lost 5 of 6 to close the season and failed to register a high profile win.

Marshall and Southern Miss: These two CUSA schools were longshots to get an at-large and probably needed to be playing on Saturday to have a chance. Losing yesterday ended that.

Cal: The Bears can’t possibly get in after losing by double digits to USC yesterday, can they? Hope not.

Missouri: The Tigers continue to struggle away from Columbia during 2011. This one wasn’t even close and you have to wonder how close to the bubble they really are. They were 8-8 in the Big 12 and went 1-7 on the road. The wins over Illinois, Vanderbilt, and Old Dominion will probably pull them through.

Marquette and Cincinnati: Hide the women and children. Last night’s games at the Garden were hideous they lost by 25 and 38 respectively. Marquette should be good, but the RPI is still in the 60’s.

Washington State: The Cougars blew a big lead and most likely their scant at-large chances last night against Washington. Now they hope for a NIT bid.

Friday’s Notable Games: RPI in ()

(84) Dayton vs. (21) Xavier: Noon EST

(39) Georgia vs. (85) Alabama: ESPN3 at 1 EST

(38) Illinois vs. (56) Michigan: ESPN at 2:30 EST

(45) Boston College vs. (59) Clemson: ESPN2 at 2:30 EST

Patriot League Championship (226) Lafayette at (81) Bucknell: ESPN2 at 4:45 EST

(49) Michigan State vs. (8) Purdue: 6:30 EST

(16) Connecticut vs. (15) Syracuse: ESPN at 7 EST

(64) Colorado vs. (1) Kansas: ESPN3 at 7 EST

(30) Tennessee vs. (9) Florida: ESPN3 at 7:30 EST

(51) Penn State vs. (12) Wisconsin: 8:55 EST

(66) New Mexico vs. (5) Brigham Young: CBS College at 9 EST

(67) USC vs. (18) Arizona: 9 EST

(65) Virginia Tech vs. (44) Florida State: ESPN2 at 2:30 EST

(19) Louisville vs. (6) Notre Dame: ESPN at 9:30 EST

(28) Texas A&M vs. (14) Texas: ESPN3 at 9:30 EST

Click here for conference breakdowns on This Week in College Basketball.

Petty Comments Are Beneath NBA Commissioner David Stern

March 10, 2011 2 comments

The Commish

Sometimes you just have to bite your tongue and take the high road, especially if you’re the leader of the NBA, David Stern. On Thursday, Stern decided to take to the airwaves to snipe back at Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.

In those comments, Stern insinuated that  Van Gundy might be becoming unhinged, saying that he “seems to be fraying” as a result of his team’s recent poor play. Are these the words that the commissioner of the NBA should be saying publicly about one of the head coaches in the league?

Yes, Van Gundy started the war of words by comparing Stern to some of the dictators of the world when discussing Dwight Howard’s technical foul problems and subsequent suspension. He’s not the first person to use poor judgment when trying to make a point in the heat of the moment and won’t be the last. He surely would have articulated his views better had he taken the time to think about the message that he wanted to send.

This is where Stern is at fault. He had time to listen to, think about, and lead in this situation. When asked about the comments, he should have just said that he was going to discuss the comments with the team ownership and front office and ended it right there. But Stern couldn’t resist, like he’s a Zen Master, to take a swipe at the performance of the Magic and to criticize Van Gundy’s coaching ability.

Van Gundy’s comments were an unfortunate selection of words to articulate built up frustration over policies that many in the league feel that the commissioner determines with little or no input from the players, coaches, and front offices of the league’s teams.

Stern is supposed to be a leader and should be mature enough and thick skinned enough to let Van Gundy’s comments roll off his back. He wasn’t. If Stern isn’t mature enough to take criticism about his policies, how is he supposed to expect his players to take criticism regarding their play and behavior on and off the court?

Stern needed to keep this issue in-house and if he felt the need to punish Van Gundy, then a heavy fine could have been levied. But petty sniping over poorly constructed criticism from an emotional head coach in the middle of a playoff race should be beneath him. Especially since Stern wasn’t even correct in his analysis of how the Magic are playing, the Magic have won 5 of their last 7, with one of the losses in the game Howard missed.

With leadership like this at the top of the NBA, it’s little wonder that players like LeBron and others have such a difficult time dealing with the fallout from their inappropriate comments. Everybody in the NBA has to have the last word. Real mature Comrade, um, Commish.