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yoco :: College Basketball
(a sports weblog) news and commentary on men's college basketball and the ncaa tournament

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Saturday, March 13, 2004


Are up! As is Pitt, over UCONN.


Will hopefully be coming soon (though Free Blogger does not enable pictures) -- before the tournament begins with the 64/65 play-in game.

For now, reflect on Cincy's Conference USA title. Huggins' thugs, at it again.

A Silver Haired Offer

ESPN is reporting that the University of Arizona has offered Lute Olson a five-year contract extension.

Olson, if you remember, recently re-married and hinted he might soon retire. (For her part, his new wife, Christine, attempted to quell the rumors and told Lute bluntly: "No way in the world are you going to retire because of me.")

Yet the offer is nearly insignificant in discussion's about Olson's retirement date. It's no secret that opposing coaches scare potential recruits away by hinting Olson might not be at the U of A for their senior year. With a long-term contract in hand, Coach is able to assure recruits - and their parents - he'll be with them through thick and thin.

Today's Thoughts

--The Huskies are playing Stanford tough. Are they "legit" and therefore a much better team than their upcoming seed (8-10) will suggest? If I were the opposition, I'd hope to avoid a match-up with Washington in the first round.
--Florida's in the SEC Finals. Ok. But the Gators won't be in the Elite Eight.
--How will Georgia Tech respond to today's loss to Duke?
--Justin Davis appears healthy for Stanford. How will his return impact team chemistry? He sure makes their bench deeper...

A Devil of a Defense

Year in, year out, Duke knows how to run down the clock. With eight minutes remaining, Coach K's squads spread the floor and work the clock down to the last ten to fifteen seconds before setting up their offense.

Other teams respond poorly, and the Dukies prevent comebacks.

Year in, year out. No other coach teachers the "prevent offense" as well as Coach K.

Back to the Georgia Tech-Duke game.

Don't Hire Dukie V as a Consultant...

If I were an Athletic Director, I'd call (or "V-Mail") Dukie V for advice -- to learn what course of action I ought not take.

Steve Lavin, Mike Jarvis and Matt Doherty are not in the same league as Nolan Richardson...

Q: With some high-profile jobs open (St. John's and UNLV), why don't we hear the name of the most available high-profile coach (Nolan Richardson) as a candidate? -- Chris Pope (Camden, Arkansas)
VITALE -- I hear Richardson's name popping up strong, maybe at Houston to replace Ray McCallum. He could be back. There are a host of other guys waiting for jobs. Names like our ESPN's Steve Lavin, Lon Kruger, Mike Jarvis, Matt Doherty. The coaching carousel should be spinning this offseason.

"A Tough Out"

In today's Boston Globe, Bob Ryan writes of the Eagles as "a tough out."

Indeed. Led by Criag Smith, among the Big East's most underrated stars, the Eagles are as physically tough as any team in country. I hope they draw some ACC blood before the Sweet Sixteen.

Confessions of a Dissapointed Wildcat

I'm a huge University of Arizona fan, always have fan, always will be.

But after watching Washington dismantle Arizona tonight, I can no longer in good conscience describe my beloved 'Cats as Sweet Sixteen bound. Or (wishfully) complete my bracket with Olson's squad as champs.

Arizona doesn't play team defense, doesn't play team offense and rarely displays productive emotion. Hassan Adams has improved tremendously and matured -- as an individual player. But Shakur's freshman leadership is not Jason Gardner's, much less Mike Bibby's. Channing Frye is as impressive (and limited) as always. Further, the big guy gets less touches as a result of disorganized offensive sets.

As for Salim...A shooter, yes. A leader, no.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Color Commentary: Flying Dangerously Low

CNNSI just posted a Friday afternoon update to the site's bubble watch. My thoughts:

-- A wise man earlier predicted that Air Force's inclusion in the NCAA Tournament would be good for ratings and that the selection committee will act accordingly. Profit motive aside, Air Force's resume might be too thin.
-- If both Air Force and Washington get bids, expect to see one or two articles by the "online pundits" (to your left) questioning the diminishing importance of the Ratings Percentage Index. RPI/RIP?
-- "St. Louis, a longshot coming into the week, put itself back in the mix with an upset of Memphis..." Damn Skippy. I went to school in St. Louis -- but don't expect to find the Billikens dancing in March.
-- Richmond is listed as a bubble team IN the tournament. Let's hope so. I think they're good enough for a first-round victory.
-- "Their bubbles have burst: Iowa State, Georgia, Virginia, Iowa." True.

Buffalo Hunting

Bracketology, YoCo Style.


Colorado (18-10) -- Today's loss to Texas Tech effectively eliminates the Buffs' tourney hopes. Although the Buffaloes amassed a strong 10-6 record in the Big 12, they did so without beating conference stalwarts Oklahoma State, Texas and Kansas. Wins over Oklahoma and Texas Tech stand out over their last 10 games, but splitting the series with Missouri and losing to Richmond (a bubble team itself) bode poorly for Colorado. On Selection Sunday, the committee will look past a respectable RPI to the lack of an impact pre-conference victory.

May-be Next Year

Sean May and Co. will have to wait until next year to crown themselves ACC Tournament Champs. Jack's 17-footer in the final seconds lifts Georgia Tech over UNC (as predicted) and into a re-match with Duke. The Yellow Jackets are going places.

Roundup Bonus: Bob Ryan has a gem on the Boston College Eagles in today's Globe. Led by Craig Smith and Uka Agbai, the Eagles continue to get quality minutes from Jared Dudley, an unheralded prospect who signed with BC in the late summer.

"[Dudley] was basically in the same position I was in when I came here," says Craig Smith (22 manly points and 10 even more manly rebounds). "He came with people not really knowing who he was and wanting to surprise people."

Smith is right, of course. But while Coach Al Skinner has a tremendous eye for overlooked prospects, when will he nab a high-profile recruit?

Going Places: Georgia Tech

38.5 seconds left. Georgia Tech and UNC are tied.

Don't know who is going to win. But Jarrett Jack and Co. have shown me enough over the past couple minutes. They're ready for prime-time.

In the regular season, the Yellow Jackets beat Duke on the road. In the post-season, they'll shock us as well.

The Quick Contrarian

Answering his recent mail, Grant Wahl finds five Top 25 teams vulnerable in the first round: Cincy, NC State, Arizona, Memphis and Southern Illinois.

--Memphis is overrated, but after being upset by St. Louis in the Conference USA Tournament, they'll win at least one game in the NCAA Tournament.
--Arizona doesn't play as a team, but the 'Cats have too many weapons to go down early. Iguodala wants a showcase for NBA talent scouts and Frye dominates smaller opponents.

NC State might lose. Either way, two ACC teams won't get past the first round. Your best guesses?

Afternoon Roundup: Two Print Pundits

----After losing to Kentucky in today's SEC quarterfinal, Georgia's bubble has burst. But earlier this morning, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution commended Dennis Felton and the Bulldogs for a "proud display of senior class."

For all the hits absorbed by this program the last 13 months, the Bulldogs remain a remarkably tough bunch. This season could have, maybe even should have, gotten away from them, but they have 16 wins in the bank and a fighting chance to crash the Big Dance. That's success any way you slice it.

----Dee Brown's a player, but Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun-Times demonstrates a little regional bias when sizing up the NCAA tournament. In a weak Big 10, Illinois should be a 5 or 6 seed rather than a 4 seed.

1. St. Joe's
2. Pittsburgh
3. Georgia Tech
4. Cincinnati
1. Duke
2. Kentucky
3. Texas
4. Syracuse
1. Mississippi State
2. Oklahoma State
3. N.C. State
4. Illinois
1. Stanford
2. Gonzaga
3. Connecticut
4. Wake Forest

Afternoon Roundup: Online Pundits

----Andy Katz weighs in on St. Joe’s as a 1 or a 2 seed. "In our case, there would be an emotional boost of being No. 1," Coach Phil Martelli said after the loss to Xavier.

Tell it to the ‘Zags, who’d welcome a 1 seed with historic enthusiasm and whose prospects improved (marginally) with Duke, Stanford and St. Joe’s recent losses. Having beaten Georgia, Maryland, George Washington, Missouri and Washington, Gonzaga deserves serious consideration. But the team’s two losses (to Stanford in Oakland and St. Joe’s in New York) suggest Mark Few’s club will not compare favorably with other potential top seeds. Kentucky, Mississippi State, Pittsburgh and Oklahoma State might have to lose their respective conference tournaments for a mid-major to make history this Sunday.

----While his colleague, Dick Vitale, says that the loss to Xavier cost St. Joe’s a 1 seed. His picks? Duke, Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Stanford.

Kentucky is a bit of a stretch. While the Wildcats have been hot of late, they’ve been beating up on the SEC’s weaker teams. Their best wins (against North Carolina and Mississippi State) both came in early January.

----Mike Fish argues that conference tournaments are all about the money.

Hard to disagree. Unless you’re Xavier (IN the field of 65 after beating St. Joe’s), Washington (IN), Notre Dame (OUT) or Purdue (OUT).

----ESPN’s Bubble Watch has Florida State among those still in contention for a bid.

Not going to happen. Entering their conference tournament, the Seminoles had lost four in a row. They went 6-10 in ACC Play. Finally, despite assertions to the contrary, the NCAA Selection Committee considers the number of teams from each conference. In a year with the MWC Champ might be an at-large and the PAC-10 may only have two teams in the tournament, the ACC won’t have seven.

----Mike DeCourcy believes the loss to Xavier is a good thing for St. Joe’s ahead of “a six-game season.”

Perhaps. But Xavier exposed the Hawks’ weaknesses and the drubbing no doubt lowered the confidence of St. Joe’s less-heralded contributors.

Be Like Ike

Arizona's State's talented sophomore forward Ike Diogu announced last night that he will return for his junior year rather than enter the NBA draft.

Good for Diogu and Coach Evans. Although a terror down low (22.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg), Ike thought it best to return to the Sun Devils. Rumored to be a likely second round pick, Diogu's decision is nonetheless noteworthy because Arizona State finished a surprisingly poor 10-17 (4-14 in conference) this year and failed to make even the Pac-10 tournament.

One down, one to go for the State of Arizona. We'll see what Andre Iguodala is up to in a couple weeks...

In & Out.

Bracketology, YoCo Style.


WASHINGTON (18-10) -- Turned on the tube to see the Huskies nearly throw-away two months worth of hard work against UCLA in the first round of the PAC-10 Tournament. But after finishing the game on a 13-3 run and defeating the Bruins, Lorenzo Romar's squad deserves a bid.

XAVIER (21-10) -- The Musketeers' demolition of St. Joe's erased all doubts about Romain Sato, Lionel Chalmers, and Anthony Myles. Importantly, Thad Matta's boys also have victories over Alabama and Richmond, bubble teams both.


NOTRE DAME (17-12) -- The Fighting Irish never deserved the respect of Digger & Co. at ESPN. Chris Thomas does not a Big East title contender make. Coach Brey's accumulated few quality wins (Connecticut, Syracuse and DePaul) and one too many unsavory losses (Central Michigan, Rutgers and Indiana).

With respect to my predictions, past performance is no guarantee of future results.