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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 27, 2004

media activities

The Associated Press' piece on Duke's rich history and Xavier's historic Elite Eight appearance brings to mind an important question:

To what extent does the media report news? And to what extent does the media make news?

From reading the AP's article, one gets the sense that during Saturday's media activities, Xavier's players were barraged with questions about Duke's past tournament successes, the Blue Devils pedigree, and the Dukies favorite status. They were also asked leading questions about how it felt to be in the Elite Eight for the first time and whether the Musketeers have the experience to win tomorrow.

I can only imagine these questions subtly erode Xavier's confidence, making it more likely that the media storyline, "tourney-tested Duke vs. neophyte Xavier," becomes Sunday's reality.


April 5th, 2004

Connecticut vs. Oklahoma State for the NCAA Men's Division 1 Championship.


Great Players Make Great Plays

John Lucas, ladies and gentlemen.


I've Seen Enough

Win or lose, St. Joseph's is legit.

The Hawks deserved the 1 seed, Jameer Nelson earned Player of the Year honors, and Delonte West is a bona fide NBA prospect.


Lucas

playing (with the same enthusiasm, but) much better this half, as are his teammates.

Delonte West is dynamite.


The Cowboys

Start the second half with a 12-2 run. Impressive.

That being said, save Lucas, Oklahoma State hasn't played with the confidence or cohesion of St. Joe's.


Oklahoma State

Comes out of the gate with energy, enthusiasm and a healthy dose of confidence.

Should be a good game.


Connecticut (9 of 11 from behind the arc)

Ben Gordon is playing with the maturity he lacked last year.

Emeka Okafor, as always, is finding a way to drastically alter the game's course. Today it is on defense.

Rashad Anderson has been deadly from outside.

The supporting cast is running a finely-tuned offense. Jim Calhoun has done an exceptional coaching job this year.

I'm looking forward to a Connecticut-Oklahoma State final.


Dad's Not Worried

Nor should he be. Connecticut will soon thrash Alabama. Mark Gottfried's club has had a nice run. But it'll soon be over, as Okafor, Gordon and Co. send the Tide packing. Of Alabama, CNN/SI's John Donovan writes,

This Alabama basketball team is different. It is, in fact, like no Alabama basketball team ever. These guys don't hold to any kind of form. These guys don't know that they're simply not supposed to be here.

They're about to find out. This game will be over mid-way through the second half, if not earlier.


Left Unsaid

Phil Mushnick of the New York Post wrote this about a CBS graphic that said Xavier's Romain Sato was majoring in French:

Left unsaid was that Sato is from the Central African Republic, where the official language is French.

Another plug for Romain's website, http://www.starinanylanguage.com/.


They Said It

"I would rather be considered the favorite since it means that we have won in the past, but that has no ramifications on if we can win in the present. Our team does not look at ourselves as favorites. As long as we
understand it internally, we have no control over what the external world says."
-- Duke's Mike Krzyzewski

"When I was at Xavier, I used to tell Phil [Martelli, Saint Joseph's coach] all the time my favorite team in the A-10 was us, my second favorite was Saint Joseph's. Since watching tapes Saturday, I remember why. They play exceedingly hard. I think, again, they're in many ways what college basketball is supposed
to be, not all about what you look like in layup lines."
-- Wake Forest's Skip Prosser

"If you can coach at Indiana, you can coach at Auburn. I don't think Mike's ever going to get a fair chance at Indiana. He's not Bob Knight. That's his only flaw."
-- Former NBA and Auburn player Charles Barkley, on the possibility of Hoosiers Coach Mike Davis going to work at his alma mater


Thoughts on Tonight's Games

Back from the bar...

Georgia Tech 72, Nevada 67

--Nevada got several quality looks in the closing minute, but couldn't score when it counted. Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt coached a tremendous game and is winning over folks 'round these parts. Kirk Snyder, Nevada's star, struggled in the second half, going 2 for 12. Similarly, Todd Okeson went for 1 for 10 in the final 20 minutes. A shame, as the Wolf Pack were two spurts away from advancing to the Elite Eight.
Game Ball Goes To Marvin Lewis for scoring 23 points after B.J. Elder went down with an ankle sprain.

Kansas 100, UAB 74

--The Jayhawks are more experienced and athletic than the Blazers -- and it showed. Kansas played their best basketball of the season. The Blazers never really had a chance, seeming listless at times. Bill Self is a winner wherever he coaches.
Game Ball Goes To Wayne Simien, of course. A monster night. 30 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Duke 72, Illinois 62

--The Fighting Illini hung around admirably, but were never able to get the defensive stops - and defensive rebounds - necessarily to seriously threaten the Dukies in the second half. J.J. Redick made a couple of timely buckets down the stretch, Shelden Williams was a force inside and Luol Deng was sensational when it counted. Even Shavlik Randolph impressed.
Game Ball Goes To Luol Deng for scoring 18 points on 7 for 11 shooting and making all his free throws. He stepped up to replace Chris Duhon's missing production.

Xavier 79, Texas 71

--As expected, the game of the night. The Musketeers played well as a team, defended with occasional quickness and responded to numerous Texas spurts. Credit Thad Matta for advancing Xavier to the school's first Elite Eight. Credit Rick Barnes with losing another big game.
Game Ball Goes To Romain Sato for scoring 27 points and going 14 for 17 from the free throw line. For his performance, I'll plug his new website, http://www.starinanylanguage.com/, a site which reminds us that Sato speaks six different languages, English, French, Gkadiri, Sango, Swahili and Yakoma.


Think college 'ballers shouldn't be paid?

From the Associated Press:

The starting point guard for Kentucky's basketball team has withdrawn his 2003 Southeastern Conference championship ring from an Internet auction site.

Cliff Hawkins, whose Kentucky career ended Sunday when the Wildcats lost to Alabama-Birmingham in the second round of the NCAA tournament, put the ring up for sale on eBay on Tuesday. He withdrew it two days later, after the bidding had surpassed $3,000.

"It was a mistake," he said. "I don't know what I was thinking. I have removed the ring from eBay. In no way did I intend to offend or embarrass the great fans of Kentucky.

Nothing but sympathy for Hawkins. Sure, his maneuver cheapens Kentucky's SEC championship. But the NCAA's failure to acknowledge college sports as a cash cow and recognize and reward student-athletes for their contributions places many players in precarious financial positions.


Gone

Perry Clark, fired after consecutive losing seasons at the University of Miami. The Hurricanes failed to qualify for even the Big East tournament this year.

Sports is a business. Letting people go is not the pleasurable part of the business.


Friday, March 26, 2004

Off to the bar

to watch the games. I'll post my thoughts on tonight's games when I return.


Kansas and Xavier

Playing well. Wayne Simien is having himself quite a game. Romain Sato is producing, big time, for the Musketeers.

UAB, looking to make a comeback, even as I get the sense that the Blazers are simply over-matched. Texas, staying close. Brandon Mouton's play tonight defines "senior leadership."


From the guy who told you Gonzaga

was going to win the tournament.

Comes another ridiculous - and hopeful - prediction; Duke will be the third No. 1 seed to fall.

Seth Davis is a great analyst. But he's proven to be quite a poor prognosticator. Lets see if his luck changes...


Tonight's Best Game

Should be Xavier vs. Texas.

Unless Shelden Williams gets in foul trouble or J.J. Reddick gets injured mid-game, Illinois won't be able to keep up with Duke. Georgia Tech is bigger, stronger and much more athletic than Nevada. (That being said, I'm rooting for the underdog). Finally, UAB vs. Kansas may be close, but I doubt either squad is Final Four-bound.

The Musketeers are hot. Texas is a point guard away from contending for the national title. Rick Barnes is a better coach than Thad Matta, but Barnes never seems able to win the big games...


Developing...

Gene Keady to leave Purdue for the University of San Francisco?

A step down for the legendary coach, yes. But into nicer weather and a kinder (alumni-booster-student) climate. The administration at Purdue has been rumored to favor Keady's retirement.

But Keady wants to keep coaching. Maybe taking the job in San Francisco is a gracious way to move on?


If I had two million dollars...

Bad Move: I wouldn't use it to buy out the contract of Perry Clark and in his place name Mike Jarvis head coach at the University of Miami. The Hurricanes can do better than that. Josh Pastner, anyone?

Good Move: Matt Doherty interviewing with James Madison for a head coaching gig. I'm no fan of Doherty, but most every coach can find an appropriate home. JMU might be a good fit for the former Notre Dame and North Carolina coach -- and vice versa. James Madison would get a big name, better recruits and more credibility from the pundits.


Out on Saturday

Phil Taylor argues Alabama will lose to Connecticut on Saturday. He's right.

John Donovan believes the Crimson Tide have as good a chance as anybody. He's wrong.

Connecticut is too big, too quick and, most importantly, too confident to lose to 'Bama. Unless Gordon has an off game, Saturday's result won't ever be in doubt.


Off Topic: A Shout Out to Blogger Support

Too good to pass up. If only Microsoft Support and Sprint Support were as kind or funny...

From: "Blogger Support"
Subject: Re: Inclusion in "Feel like browsing"
To: "Yoni Cohen"

Hi Yoni,

So, you want to be a Blog of Note? No soup for you! Kidding. We kid because we love. Here's the deal with Blogs of Note: We treat it very casually and try not to take requests or do anything that would turn it into a chore. In fact, only a few undisclosed employees even have editorial access to that part of the front page. That way, new Blogs of Note remain a happy discovery, not just for you but for us too. It's like when you find money in the pocket of an old jacket. Nice!

Seriously though, thanks for dropping us a line about your blog. You may one day be a Blog of Note, but we prefer to leave that up to chance. It keeps things interesting around here.

Sincerely,
Blogger Support

Original Message Follows:
------------------------
From: "Yoni Cohen"
Subject: Inclusion in "Feel like browsing"

Hey-

Great tool. Very helpful. Thank you!

I just started a blog on college basketball and the NCAA Tournament. Figure it is very timely. Thought you might be interested/able to include the site in Blogger.com's "Feel like browsing" section on the left sidebar.

There are but a very few sports blogs of note and the tournament's of huge interest now ("March Madness"). Thanks for your time and consideration!

Yoni Cohen, yoni.cohen@rcn.com


Thoughts on Tonight's Games

Back from the bar...

Connecticut 73, Vanderbilt 53

--Did the Commodores ever have a chance? Sure, Kevin Stallings' club had a couple nice spurts, but there was never any doubt that Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor and Co. were headed towards the Elite Eight.
Game Ball Goes To Ben Gordon for scoring 20 points, grabbing nine boards and dishing out five assists.

Alabama 80, Syracuse 71

--Although Gerry McNamara finished with 24 points, Syracuse's star did so on 6 for 14 shooting. Save one second-half segment, McNamara could never find the bottom of the net during the game's critical moments. Hakim Warrick played well, but the Orangemen didn't have the firepower to keep up with Earnest Shelton, Chuck Davis, and Kennedy Winston. Alabama's balanced attack solved Syracuse's zone.
Game Ball Goes To Chuck Davis for scoring 17 of his 19 points in the second half, shooting well (8 for 12) from the floor and playing nearly the entire game (38 minutes).

St. Joseph's 84, Wake Forest 80

--A well played and exciting match that went to the team with more heart and experience, St. Joe's. Jameer Nelson and Delonte West demonstrated exceptional chemistry while the supporting cast made timely shots and played solid defense. Chris Paul's inexperience showed, as did Phil Martelli's frustration with his team's occasional carelessness.
Game Ball Goes To Tyrone Barley for contributing 34 huge minutes and going 4 for 6 from behind the arc. Barley played good defense and was tremendously helpful as a kickout option for Nelson and West.

Oklahoma State 63, Pittsburgh 51

--The Cowboys found a way to score against the vaunted Pittsburgh defense. The Panthers, however, struggled mightily against Oklahoma State's tight coverage. Tony Allen was sensational, as was John Lucas (senior), yelling from the sidelines. After being held to 30 percent shooting from the field in the first half, Oklahoma State hit 16-of-25 shots in the final 20 minutes.
Game Ball Goes To Tony Allen for scoring a game-high 23 points on 8 for 14 shooting. The Oklahoma State forward also blocked three Pittsburgh attempts and went 6 of 6 from the free throw line.


Thursday, March 25, 2004

Yeah, right.

CNNSI's Stewart Mandel writes that tonight's St. Joe's-Wake Forest game will feature the nation's two best guards, Jameer Nelson and Chris Paul.

Chris who?

Just kidding. Wake's Chris Paul (14.9 ppg, 5.8 apg) is a solid point guard. But his resume doesn't compare to that of Player of the Year Jameer Nelson. Nor is he as talented as a host of other college point guards.

"I wouldn't trade him for any point guard in the country," Wake coach Skip Prosser said of Paul.

Uhhh...Skip, you're an idiot. (Notice how well Xavier is doing this year?) I'd trade Paul for Nelson, Chris Duhon, Devin Harris, and a couple others.


Ugh.

Southern Mississippi just tapped former Iowa State frat boy Larry Eustachy as head coach.

Eustachy's a schmuck.


Pitt Strikes Back

The folks at Pitt Sports Blather make a wealth of arguments as to why the Panthers will beat the Cowboys. Consider it a CounterPunch to my entry, "The Case Against Pittsburgh."

They also have an amusing segment responding to Bob Ryan's morning column. I couldn't resist.

Coaching Stories
Greg Doyel at CBS SPortsline does a comparison on Dixon and Sutton -- how the road to becoming a head coach has changed over the years, and how that effects the style of coaching. Worth reading.

This piece comparing the two coaches is more superficial.

And of course a piece on Coach Sutton. Since the story is from Boston, and they apparently are still not sick of the phrase, the title includes 'Cowboy Up' in it. Stop it.


The Winner of Alabama vs. Syracuse

March Madness!



Big Blue?

Ryan over at the "Heels, Sox & Steelers Blog" uses a mathematical model to predict who'll win Sweet Sixteen match-ups. His model estimates a team's probability of winning based on team free throw percentage, field goal percentage, steals per game, rebounds per game and assist-to-turnover ratio.

His results vary little from my predictions (as I actually believe Texas is going to win, but picked Xavier for sentimental reasons): UConn, OSU, Syracuse, St. Joe's, UAB, Ga. Tech, Illinois and Texas.

Then again, that's why maybe we shouldn't let computers pick the BCS. Illinois over Duke? In my dreams.


Sweet Sixteen Predictions

Vanderbilt vs. Connecticut
(Thursday, March 25)

--Okafor's looking healthy. Calhoun's a competitor. Stallings and Co. will be overwhelmed by the Huskies.

Pittsburgh vs. Oklahoma St.
(Thursday, March 25)

--The Cowboys play tough defense, efficient offence and will wear down the Panthers in an exciting back-and-forth duel.

Alabama vs. Syracuse
(Thursday, March 25)

--Not enough choices, as both of these teams are mediocre. Syracuse, by virtue of their hard to solve zone.

Wake Forest vs. St. Joseph's
(Thursday, March 25)

--Suck it, Billy (Packer). Jameer Nelson, Delonte West and the crew will find a way to out-score the Deamon Deacons. Expect a lot of hussle from the Hawks.

UAB vs. Kansas
(Friday, March 26)

--The Blazers are feeling confident. Kansas under-achieved before the tournament. It'll take Bill Self another year or two to really have the Jayhawks running his sets.

Nevada vs. Ga. Tech
(Friday, March 26)

--Sorry, Cinderella. Jarrett Jack, B.J. Elder and Co. are too quick and Paul Hewitt's a bright coach.

Illinois vs. Duke
(Friday, March 26)

--I'd like to predict otherwise, really. But Duke is the 800 pound gorilla -- and the Fighting Illini lack a big man to get Shelden Williams into foul trouble.

Xavier vs. Texas
(Friday, March 26)

--A sentimental pick. Texas has all the ingredients for a national championship run -- save a point guard. Romain Sato goes nuts for a career game as the Musketeers cruise.


Ahead of Tonight's Game

I'll draw your attention to a note by USA TODAY's Malcolm Moran:

Most alarming stat for a title contender: Connecticut's 61.4% mark at the free throw line.

It is the most perplexing issue around a program that has long established attention to detail as a high priority. Emeka Okafor: 51.5%. Josh Boone: 42.6%. And the most alarming — point guard Taliek Brown: 52.1%.


Connecticut vs. Vanderbilt

The Husky Blog preview.

Another Husky Blog update on today's game here.


Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Barkley Calls Auburn Out

From the Associated Press:

Auburn's best-known name in basketball, Charles Barkley, said the Tigers should hire a black coach to replace Cliff Ellis.

"It's time for Auburn to step up to the plate. It would do so much for the state of Alabama," Barkley, a black native of Leeds, said in an interview published Wednesday in The Birmingham News.

Auburn interim President Ed Richardson said the university is "looking heavily" at hiring a minority coach.

Hard to disagree with the "Round Mound of Rebound." The Tigers are past due for a black coach.


They Said It

"I don't think Montana was a better team than Florida."
-- Florida's Anthony Roberson, after the Gators' first-round loss to Manhattan.

"You know what the problem is? Most people in Philadelphia don't know how to use a computer."
-- St. Joe's Phil Martelli, after a majority of voters in an ESPN.com poll said the Hawks would not reach the Final Four.

"It feels as if somebody took your life away almost. This is all I've got, basketball. We can't play anymore."
-- Gonzaga's Adam Morrison, after the 'Zags lost to Nevada.

"If it's Julia Roberts, I'd remember the first time I met her, or if it were Elle MacPherson. But I don't know the first time I ever met Rick's butt."
-- North Carolina's Roy Williams on recollections of Texas' Rick Barnes.


Jay Leno's

Comments on the NCAA Tournament format:

The way it works, first you start with 65, then one by one people are sent home until there is only one left...I'm sorry. That's our coalition in Iraq.


An Original Thought

If you've gotta take a break tomorrow, skip the Syracuse-Alabama game.

The 'Cuse shouldn't have gotten this far. But even I picked 'em to be in the Sweet Sixteen because their first round opponent was miserable and their second round foe highly overrated.

The Tide don't have enough offensive weapons and don't play defense particularly well.

Neither team will be in the Final Four.


Why he gets paid

Bill Simmons goes nuts. But as usual, he's money:

Sure, we're used to good teams self-destructing in March (like Kentucky). But is the coaching situation worse than ever, or is just me?

What about Bob Huggins nearly falling asleep in crunch time in the first round? The Richmond coach hoarding his timeouts as Wisconsin went on a 87-2 run? The list was endless. It was like Isiah Thomas had been hired as a consultant for 20 of the 64 teams.

It's the little things. Coaches calling two timeouts on the same possession to set up one shot. Teams not sticking with what's working -- like G-Tech abandoning their deadly press and letting BC back in the game. Teams that can't adjust on the fly -- like Gonzaga, who kept calling Blake Stepp's number when he clearly didn't have it. Poorly prepared teams that can't even get off a good shot in the final 10 seconds -- like N.C. State running a game-ending pick-and-roll 35 feet from the basket against Vandy.

And then there was Dayton, who did something I've never seen before: At the end of regulation and OT against DePaul, they ran the exact same play -- setting up for a game-ending 3 from the corner when they only needed two. It was insane. Two game-winning shots from a combined 46 feet. Unbelievable.

Brilliant. Analysis of that quality is why he gets paid. Its also why I often post messages that heavily borrow from other sources. Because they're money.


Makes You Wonder

Another gem from the Sports Guy:

All right, if I name my first son "Dee Brown," wouldn't that increase his chances of becoming a star athlete by about 2500 percent?


About Time

An avid reader recently alerted me that ESPN's Sports Guy finally penned an amusing column about the NCAA Tournament. As I noted earlier, his pieces on college basketball have been few and far between (and mediocre).

But yesterday's column is a keeper.

After running through a slew of poor coaching decisions, Bill Simmons lays it on heavy:

Top teams don't have two or three NBA-ready guys anymore ... it's a mishmash of inexperienced guys and seniors not good enough to skip to the NBA. In other words, college coaches actually have to coach. Few of them can. And every year, they get exposed a little bit more.

More of my reaction, to come. For now, I'll leave you with the question everybody's been asking:

How many more times do we have to see the Microsoft Office guy celebrating in that commercial? 500? 1000? 10,000? Give me a rough estimate so I know whether to hang myself or not.


All-Americans & Tournament Success

The Associated Press today announced first and second team All-Americans. Couldn't agree more with the writers' selections.

First Team: Connecticut's Emeka Okafor, St. Joe's Jameer Nelson, Mississippi State's Lawrence Roberts, Stanford's Josh Childress and Providence's Ryan Gomes.

Second Team: Wisconsin's Devin Harris, North Carolina State's Julius Hodge, Oregon's Luke Jackson, Texas Tech's Andre Emmett and Gonzaga's Blake Stepp.

Of the country's top ten players, only Okafor and Nelson will be playing in the Sweet Sixteen. Superstars do not an NCAA success make.


Good Move/Bad Move

Good Move: Texas A&M hiring Billy Gillispie as head coach. In two years, Gillispie turned around a miserable UTEP team, going from 24 losses in his first season to 24 wins in his second. Billy's a rising star in the coaching profession and his team played hard in losing their first-round NCAA Tournament game. He'll be a significant improvement over Melvin Watkins.

Bad Move: Houston hiring Tom Penders as head coach. The current broadcast analyst is 1) overqualified for the job after coaching at the University of Texas for a decade, 2) perhaps not ready for the big time, having left George Washington University in 2001 citing "burnout," and 3) not necessarily going to run a clean program, as he was suspected of releasing player's grades to the media at UT and failing to prevent his players from making unauthorized long-distance calls at GW.


The Case Against Pittsburgh

A friend of mine believes Pittsburgh is headed for a national championship. Further, he argues that if the Panthers beat Oklahoma State, they become the odds-on favorite to cut down the nets in San Antonio.

Yeah, right.

1) Pittsburgh is coached by Jamie Dixon, a rookie. No first-year coach has won a national championship in at least twenty years. I don't care if Dixon spent seven years as a child model, he doesn't have the experience to lead the Panthers to the promised land.

2) Their leading rebounder, forward Chris Taft, is a 6-10 freshman. Inexperienced front lines are rarely a good bet to go the distance in the NCAA Tournament.

3) Free-throw shooting. As a team, the Panthers make 65 percent of their free throws. Only one starter, Carl Krauser, shoots 'em better than 75 percent.

4) Offensive production. Sure, Pitt plays great defense. But you get the feeling that sooner or later, a team will have a good night against the Panthers. Page and Co. won't be able to respond; the team's star has been in a shooting slump of late, and Krauser, the club's key drive-and-dish guy, is foul-prone and may be unavailable during the game's critical stretch.

The Panthers will soon play in the team's third straight Sweet Sixteen. Congrats to Pittsburgh. But the University hasn't been to an Elite Eight since 1974. A streak I'd argue is unlikely to be broken against Oklahoma State.

Pittsburgh has never won a national championship. There's a first time for everything, but even if the Panthers get by the Cowboys, don't expect the Panthers' first to come in 2003-2004.


Monday, March 22, 2004

Not too shabby

Bob Ryan pens a nice column on those heart-breakers at Boston College.

Congratulations to Al Skinner, Craig Smith, Jermaine Watson, Jared Dudley and all of the Eagles on a tremendous 24-win season.

Best of luck, Uka.


I know a blog. And you, Eric Wilbur, are not writing a blog.

Call it what you want, but Eric Wilbur's rants and raves on random subjects do not a blog make.

That being said, Boston.com's "Sports Blog" expresses a frustration I share:

Well, that does it. I’ve torn my bracket sheet in two, crumpled it up, and made a nice little score into the waste basket across the room, which is more than those tools at Kentucky could muster...UAB? This was a team that wasn’t supposed to get by Washington in the first round...I’m surely not the only one with bracket boo-hoos today. If yours is near perfect, then I’d like to congratulate you and tell you that your walking on water thing was pretty cool too.

Know a friend who predicted UAB over Kentucky, Vanderbilt in the Sweet Sixteen and Gonzaga over Nevada? Beat them until they cry -- they deserve it.

I laughed at my Syracuse buddy who picks the Orangemen to win the tournament every season. Might I remind you, he’s still in the game. I am not.

Right. I placed the 'Cuse in the Sweet Sixteen. That being said, we all have a friend who annually picks Syracuse (or Arizona) to win it all. Mock them (after Syracuse loses in the Elite Eight)-- they deserve it.


Charlotte vs. Georgia Tech?

Think about it.

Kansas - playing in its second home, Kansas City's Kemper Arena - squeaked by an average Pacific squad.

Charlotte, on the other hand, upset a hot Washington team and beat a talented, deep and well-coached Kentucky club.

Georgia Tech, on the other hand, faces tourney Cinderella Nevada, no doubt a little intimidated to be joining the elite in the Sweet Sixteen.


Connecticut, Sitting Pretty

Jim Calhoun has to be smiling.

Stanford's gone. N.C. State's gone. Maryland's gone.

Gordon and Okafor's road to the Final Four goes through an over-achieving Vanderbilt club that is mediocre away from home.

Then through a battle-tested - and battle-scarred - Alabama team with limited offensive firepower or an over-achieving Syracuse squad that relies heavily on one (maybe two) players to score.


Processing...

Thursday's through Sunday's games.

Comments to come.


Sunday, March 21, 2004

In other games...

Pitt wins, as does Kansas.

Luck fails to strike twice for the Ocean.


UAB!!!

UAB! UAB! UAB!

That was huge. HUGE.


The Ocean

up early. But Kansas is playing in Kansas City.


Freije

Had a great game for Vanderbilt. Credit the Commodores and Coach Stallings for a tremendous comeback against Julius Hodge & Co.

Also, Illinois and Oklahoma State advance.


A High-Scoring Affair

Wisconsin and Pittsburgh, shooting well in Milwaukee.


Ugh.

BC loses, after flirting with victory.

Georgia Tech-Kentucky will be quite a game.

In other games, Illinois & Oklahoma State cruise.


Craig Smith, Second Half Cameo?

For the Eagles to win, they'll need Smith to produce in the second half. Wonder what kind of schemes Al Skinner has up his sleeve to get the big fella the ball.

In the first half, the Eagles were able to keep it close thanks to Dudley and Watson. But the problem with counting on second-chance points and outside shooting for BC became apparent at half's end, when BC was having trouble deciding on which offensive set to run.

That is to say, the Eagles were having success trying to get the ball down low and, after failing, improvising an offense. Once Skinner decided to make improvisation the norm, the Eagles struggled.


Oklahoma State

Dominating all aspects of the game against Memphis.


Non-factors

With Agbai and Smith non-factors early on, Al Skinner has to be happy that Boston College only trails by one, 24-23.

That being said, coach has to be concerned that the Eagles haven't been able to set-up their inside game.


Tech controlling the pace

but Dudley is finding a way to keep the Eagles close.

Boston College really struggling to solve the Yellow Jackets half-court pressure.


Illinois, Vandy

Up early.

Both teams are in my Sweet Sixteen, for what its worth (with Mississippi State out).


Xavier > Mississippi State?

Lionel Chalmers has been H-U-G-E. Twenty-six points and counting.

The Bulldogs are outrebounding the Musketeers, but have shot rather poorly. Xavier up 75-63.


A Neutral Court?

Today's contest against Pacific marks Kansas' 99th game all-time at Kemper Arena in Kansas City.

Kemper opened in 1974.

You do the math.


They Said It

Ahead of today's Boston College-Georgia Tech game, potentially an "Instant Classic."

"I never really cared for the ACC hoopla. I've been in the Big East and I've loved the Big East since I was a kid. We proved enough that we can play against any team in the nation."


Enough about what I EXPECT to see...

Here's a run-down what I HOPE to see happen tomorrow.

12:10 pm. Xavier #7 vs. Mississippi State #2 in Orlando, FL

The Musketeers stay hot. Romain Sato dominates as Timmy Bowers struggles. Lawrence Roberts plays a great game, the sole bright spot for Mississippi State.

2:15 pm. Boston College #6 vs. Georgia Tech #3 in Milwaukee, WI

Craig Smith leads BC to the promised land. Al Skinner coaches the game of his life, as Jarrett Jack, B.J. Elder and the Yellow Jackets put up a great fight. The Eagles a close game, with their tough defense making the difference down the stretch.

2:20 pm. Memphis #7 vs. Oklahoma State #2 in Kansas City, MO

Eddie Sutton's club gives Memphis more than they can handle. Sean Banks plays well, but the Cowboys' unheralded players light it up from outside and overwhelm the Tigers.

2:30 pm. Illinois #5 vs. Cincinnati #4 in Columbus, OH

Bob Huggins is rewarded for graduating his players. Cincinnati's graduation rate, historically abysmal, has improved tremendously in recent years. I was told. In message board discussions on ESPN. If that's true, Cincinnati wins. Otherwise, Dee Brown leads the Self-less Illini to the Sweet Sixteen. Pun intended.

2:40 pm. Vanderbilt #6 vs. North Carolina State #3 in Orlando, FL

Herb Sendek lives to coach another year. The ACC's tough and Sendek doesn't deserve to be fired. Julius Hodge plays well and the Wolfpack win. Vandy is overwhelmed away from home.

4:45 pm. Wisconsin #6 vs. Pittsburgh #3 in Milwaukee, WI

The Big East wins again. What the heck, why not some regional love? The city of Pittsburgh has little else going for it.

4:50 pm. Pacific #12 vs. Kansas #4 in Kansas City, MO

The ocean wins another. Ryan Gomes is vindicated and the country embraces a second Cinderella.

5:00 pm. UAB #9 vs. Kentucky #1 in Columbus, OH

Tubby Smith demonstrates his coaching prowess, again. Coach never gets the love the faithful afforded Rick Pitino, making the favorite Wildcats easier to root for.


Billy Packer

The CBS analyst matriculated at Wake Forest.

On Thursday, the Deamon Deacons play the St. Joseph's Hawks.

Can you guess which team Billy expects will win?


ESPN can do better than that

Ray Ratto has a ho-hum column on Nevada's recent success.

Given that the Wolf Pack is the Cinderella du jour, a more informative, inspiring and amusing piece was expected. Sigh.

I, for one, would love to learn more about coach Trent Johnson.