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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, February 19, 2005

Open Thread: Today's "Bracket Buster" Games

Use this thread to comment on today's "Bracket Buster" games.


Open Thread: Today's Other Games

Use this thread to comment on today's non-"Bracket Buster" games.


completed!

-- Dick Harmon of the Deseret (UT) Morning News praises University of New Mexico athletic director Rudy Davalos for standing up to ESPN. When the WWLIS called to ask Harmon to move the start time of the Lobos' 7 pm Monday game against the nationally ranked Utah Utes to 10 pm, Davalos said thanks, but no thanks. He and the the rest of the MWC's athletic directors are unhappy with ESPN's failure to promote the network's telecasts of the conference's Monday night games.

-- The Boston Globe's Mark Blaudschun pens a must-read about Boston College's Sean Williams. Including a second paragraph that sets up the great article that follows.

It is not what Williams has done, it is what he might do. What he is expected to do. What people hope he will do, especially in a program that arguably has never had anyone like him.

-- The indefatigble Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette suggests the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay will make the NIT Tournament if the Phoenix win all three of their remaining regular-season games. I agree, if only because Demovsky makes a persuasive case based on RPI data, schedule results, and historical precedent.

-- It took me a day, but I finally came to grips with the fact that ESPN's Mark Simon decided to write -- and praise! -- Florida's Anthony Roberson in his weekly edition of "College Hoops Extra." Try as I might, I can't erase from my mind Roberson's selfish play at the end of last season...More importantly, Simon (as usual) uncovers a most interesting statistic. Texas Tech may be the nation's most able and balanced passing ballclub; Bobby Knight's club has seven players who average better than an assist per game AND have positive assist to turnover ratios. Also, I noted that (for the first time?) Simon's column appeared in the "More from ESPN.com" rotation. Is our good friend moving up in the world of college basketball punditry?

-- Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl suggests Division I wannabes study the Buffalo model: have the fan base to support an elite program, gain admission to a conference and hire a good coach. Also via Grant Wahl, a link to poems by Duke guard J.J. Redick.

-- Wahl's SI colleague, Stewart Mandel, argues Pacific, Wichita State, Southern Illinois, Vermont, Old Dominion, St. Mary's, UW-Milwaukee, and Davidson could surprise a club or two in the NCAA Tournament. Not so sure about Wichita State after their third loss, but the others make a solid seven.

-- Fox Sports' Frank Burlison hands out the hardware. He joins the chorus of those who belive Salim Stoudamire is current a first-team All-America.

-- More from the Mainstream: Mike DeCourcy of Fox Sports is up with Hits & Misses and his Mailbag. Tony Mejia of CBS SportsLine projects the Field of 65. Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated this weekend likes Boston College over Syracuse, Illinois over Iowa, Oklahoma State over Texas Tech, Oklahoma over Kansas State, Cincinnati over UAB, Pacific over UTEP, Vermont over Nevada, Florida over LSU, Wake Forest over Duke, and Pittsburgh over Villanova. Andy Katz of ESPN heaps praise upon Tubby Smith and the University of Kentucky. While his Bristol buddy, Dick Vitale, uses the term "wacky" to describe the SEC. Finally, Gregg Doyel of CBS SportsLine pens a piece on his Top 10 weekend games.

-- Jay Bilas of the WWLIS asks if the 2004-2005 season is Billy Donovan's best coaching job. Yes. Though I would argue it is also his only coaching job. Bilas also comes out of left field to suggest -- and I am not making this up -- that the Pac 10 may only receive two bids. Sure, Arizona State, UCLA and Stanford haven't done much to help themselves of late, but it is highly unlikely that at least one of the three will not notch a few big victories during the remainder of the season and the conference tournament. My money's on UCLA (RPI: 34), in no small part because the Bruins' schedule might enable Ben Howland's club to notch a road victory against Notre Dame on February 27th.

-- ESPN's Pat Forde on Boston College. Who knew Rick Pitino calls Al Skinner by his old nickname, Bunny. Hehe.

-- Info on tickets to the America East tourney here.

-- Andrew Joyner of the Charlottesville (VA) Daily Progress and Patrick Stevens of the Washington Times cover the final days of the Gillen era at Virginia.

-- Bruce Weber: Fear not hope.

-- Phil Chardis of the Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer suggests Jared Dudley, Ryan Gomes, Jeff Green, Chevy Troutman, and Marcus Williams are the five players most indispensable to their Big East teams.


more progress...

-- Unlike the rest of college hoops nation, Roy Williams isn't looking forward to a game between North Carolina and Kansas in the NCAA Tournament.

"I don't know if I could handle it. I really don't. This may sound corny...but for me personally that would be the worst moment of my life. I love people at both places."

I can understand why Williams would prefer to avoid such a game. But sooner or later, his Tar Heels will play Self's Jayhawks. Maybe not this year. Maybe not next. But before "Benedict Williams" retires.

-- Jim Calhoun is (again) among the finalists for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Here's hoping this is the year. Two decades ago, nary an individual in America could have predicted Calhoun's success at Connecticut.

-- Rob Miech of the Las Vegas (NV) Sun suggests UNLV's 93-91 overtime victory over San Diego State is the seventh best comeback of all time. The others?

10. Pacific 64, Utah State 63 (Feb. 12, 2005)
9. Vanderbilt 75, North Carolina State 73 (March 21, 2004)
8. North Carolina 96, Duke 92 (OT) (March 2, 1974)
6. Duke 98, Maryland 96 (OT) (Jan. 27, 2001)
5. North Carolina State 69, Pepperdine 67 (2OT) (March 18, 1983)
4. New Mexico State 117, Bradley 109 (Jan. 27, 1977)
3. New York University 70, Ohio State 65 (OT) (March 24, 1945)
2. Kentucky 99, Louisiana State 95 (Feb. 15, 1994)
1. North Carolina State 80, UCLA 77 (2OT) (March 23, 1974).

-- Former Georgetown coach Craig Esherick has applied for the coaching job at New Mexico State. Cough, cough. One need not look much further than JT3's success with Esherick's players to realize that while Craig may be an average recruiter, he is a below-average head coach. New Mexico State Athletics Director McKinley Boston should instead interview Josh Pastner and Nolan Richardson.

-- Ohio State on Friday suspended junior forward Matt Sylvester one game for unsportsmanlike conduct. Anybody care? Didn't think so.

-- Is Jay Bias...er...Bilas paid to hype College GameDay matches? Yes. (Mississippi State over Kentucky?!?!!)

-- Howie Stalwick of the Madison (WI) Capital-Times pens the first of many post Dick Bennett would-be retirement announcement profiles of Tony Bennett. The younger Bennett comes across as honest...and unprepared for the media scrutiny that will follow his dad's retirement.

-- Reading between the lines, I conclude Tom Noie of the South Bend (IN) Tribune believes that despite Providence's troubles, Ryan Gomes has improved his NBA stock by returning for a senior year of college basketball. I hope so, but am skeptical.

-- Less than 48 hours after he had an emergency appendectomy, Miami coach Frank Haith will depart on a private jet to tonight's game at Virginia Tech. I'm glad Haith is feeling well enough to coach against Seth Greenberg.

-- University of Nevada head coach Mark Fox believes Vermont should receive an NCAA Tournament bid even if the Catamounts today lose to his Wolf Pack. I agree. More importantly, Fox is quoted in an article by Jeff Pinkham of the Burlington (VT) Free Press. Guess who else is cited in Pinkham's piece? None other than the blogosphere's own Ken Pomeroy!


in progress...

-- A few months back, I suggested the Lakeland (FL) Ledger's Corey Long read "Bringing Down the House" on his flight out to Vegas. The result? (Though I can't find his original blog post describing the trip,) Corey couldn't stop reading "The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions" and enjoyed his flight out West.

Without further ado, today's recommendation: Anything by Malcolm Gladwell. In particular "The Tipping Point" and "Blink." "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" is probably the most thought-provoking and perspective-altering book I have ever read. Last night, speaking at Politics and Prose, a Washington, DC bookstore, Gladwell made "Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking" sound equally as good. Readers who'd like to hear Gladwell's theses applied to sports should begin, however, by reading Malcolm's interview with Jeff Merron of the WWLIS.

-- The Washington Post suggests Charlotte' Bobby Lutz will be a hot commodity at season's end. Pourquoi? He has led his 49ers to four NCAA Tournaments in six seasons. And with Charlotte (18-4, 9-2 Conference USA) playing its best basketball of the year, look for the 49ers to make a splash in the NCAA Tournament.

-- Dan Raley of the Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer Reporter notes Dick Bennett's announcement regarding his upcoming retirement has added a bit of intrigue to today's Washington-Washington State game. Even as Andy Katz yesterday reported Tony Bennett is already (and prematurely?) telling recruits he will be his pop's heir apparent on the Wazzu bench.

-- How low will the NCAA selection committee go? Could Memphis make the cut with an RPI in the high 60's or low 70's? Only time will tell.

-- More from the Washington Post: Bracketology. (Syracuse, Chicago, Austin, and Albuquerque Regionals).

-- Heh.

Penn State (7-17): Can a Big Ten program really be this bad for this long?

-- Minnesota's Dan Monson believes Michigan State is "the most underrated team out there." He's wrong. Try...Arizona. In the preseason, pundits acknowledged Arizona had the talent to make a Final Four run, but questioned Salim Stoudamire's attitude and leadership abilities. Now that Salim has established himself, not only as the nation's best and hottest shooter, but also as the 'Cats team leader, it is increasingly hard to justify keeping Lute Olson's club out of the Top 10.

-- The always enjoyable and rarely off-target Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette floats a trial balloon; Chevon Troutman for Big East Player of the Year?

Troutman's statistics make him worth of such consideration. A 6-foot-7 senior forward from Williamsport, Troutman is first in the Big East in field-goal shooting (60.7 percent), second in offensive rebounds (3.45 per game), tied for sixth in rebounding (7.9) and seventh in scoring (16.8).

Troutman has been spectacular over the past month, averaging 19.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while shooting 63.3 percent from the field in a seven-game span.

In a world without Craig Smith and Hakim Warrick, yes. In the real world, no. For better or for worse, Troutman lacks the (regional and) national cache to win conference POY honors.

-- Joe Kay of Associated Press writes up the reaction to Jihad Muhammad's Muslim faith on the Cincinnati campus.

-- Rarely do I find the lead of the day in a game preview. But today was such a day.

Maryland has proven it can beat ranked opponents. The unranked foes are another story.

True.

-- The Associates Press' Susan Haigh writes up the Connecticut Ethics Commission's decision to publicly release portions of the consultant contract between Nike and University of Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun. Contract compensation numbers, however, will remain private.

-- From bad to worse, the Pierre Pierce saga. Prosecutors yesterday filed tougher charges against the former Iowa basketball star in connection with his alleged assault last month of a former girlfriend. The new charges, which supersede six previous counts filed last week, include two counts of first-degree burglary, one count of assault with intent to commit sexual assault and one count of fourth-degree criminal mischief. Terrible. Sad. Unfortunate. Unnecessary. Just a few of the adjective's I could use to describe Pierce's (potentially) heinous behavior.

-- Louisville guard Taquan Dean has mono, but will continue to play through the end of the season. To a healthy recovery.

-- Clark Kellogg of Yahoo Sports (online) identifies six "Games of Note:" DePaul at Marquette, Georgia Tech at Florida State, UCLA at Stanford, Memphis at Southern Mississippi, Utah at Air Force, and Florida at LSU. The Washington Post's "Game of the Week" is Wake Forest at Duke.

-- The AP's Keith Parsons suggests Wake Forest's success is due to the mentality of its bench. Taron Downey, Trent Strickland, Chris Ellis and Kyle Visser see themselves as -- and often contribute like -- starters for Skip Prosser's club. Parsons also makes Downey out as a class act.

As a sophomore, he started all 31 games and led the Deacons to their first ACC regular-season title since 1962. He scored 10.1 points a game, made 86 percent of his free throws and led the team in assists.

But the next season, he lost his spot in the lineup, thanks to the arrival of Paul, a can't-miss freshman. Yet Downey never sulked and never complained while his playing time steadily decreased, and now he's determined to make the most of his final season, even as a role player.

-- Jeff Latzke of the Associates Press rewrites Dennis Dodd's column for CBS Sportsline. Not. Very. Original.


Friday, February 18, 2005

completed!

-- Just when I was about to observe Fred Barakat had gone missing around these parts and google his highness to see what the ACC's associate commissioner had been up to, this happens. You. Must. Click. This. Link.

-- Michael Lewis of the Salt Lake City (UT) Tribune looks at and behind Utah's numbers, quotes several conference coaches to the effect that the Utes are "built" to go deep into the NCAA Tournament, suggests a high seed is critical to Utah's fortunes, and reminds us Giac's club has faced the third-weakest schedule among ranked teams.

-- Eureka! Now I know why Nate Robinson is a near-lock to leave early for the NBA. (Or run for political office).

-- The Greensboro News & Record informs readers of Duke, North Carolina, Maryland and Wake Forest's ACC opponents through 2008. I'm glad Duke will play Maryland and North Carolina twice a year, but won't such an arragement serve as a disadvantage to the Dukies in conference play? Wouldn't they rather play Clemson and Virginia Tech...er...Miami twice a year?

-- The Wilmington Star News' Andrew Jones tells readers he is a moneymaker.

I wrote a column two weeks ago suggesting that Duke would likely split its final 10 games of the regular season. At the midway point, the Devils are 2-3 with games at Georgia Tech, St. John's and North Carolina and home dates with Wake Forest and Miami remaining.

-- Eric Olson of the Durham (NC) Herald-Sun explains why Fire Marshal Kenneth Crews is an unpopular figure on campus. Hint: No. More. Bonfires. (After. Games.)

-- CBS SportsLine's Dennis "Just for Men" Dodd (compare pictures here and here) pens today's must-read, a wonderfully honest column on JamesOn Curry. I love watching Curry play.

-- While his CBS SportsLine colleague, Gregg Doyel pens an equally dishonest piece on Lute Olson. Sure, the Silver Fox may have gone a bit overboard in criticizing East Coast Bias, but it is more or less a coach's role to hype his team and his conference before the NCAA Tournament. ACC coaches are guilty of so doing every spring...and fall. Remember Bruce Weber's criticisms of Dick Vitale earlier this season? No worse than Olson's. The difference? Olson's nickname for Vitale -- Dukie V -- was several years back catchy enough to be adopted by the Maryland, North Carolina, Syracuse, etc. faithful.

Was Olson wrong to compare Salim Stoudamire's numbers to those of J.J. Redick and Gerry McNamara. Nope. Dick Vitale had gone on national television and declared Redick perhaps the best shooter of all time. Olson wanted to set the record straight and, in so doing, remind the pundits Salim deserves consideration for national player of the year honors.

P.S.: Just because Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl agrees with Gregg doesn't mean either is correct.

P.P.S: Grant claims pundits care little about who wins games. Suggesting he doesn't consider Notre Dame alum Digger Phelps a pundit. ESPN's Jeff Shelman, your thoughts?

Unfortunately, fans think that the writers who cover teams care about their success and they wish ill on their rivals. While that is certainly true with some writers, I think most beat writers do their best to remain impartial. Most care more about their Marriott points and frequent flier miles than they do the outcome of games. I've covered four different D-I programs as a beat writer and I can honestly say I didn't really care how any of them did. You spend so much time with these people, that it's difficult to really root for them. More than once I've wanted a team I cover to lose just to get the season over with.

-- A reader emailed to inquire if I thought Iowa State was worthy of an NCAA Tournament bid. But who cares what I think when Bill Self is praising the Cyclones and suggesting Tasheed Carr, Rahshon Clark & Co. deserve to go dancing?

-- Props to Doyel, however, for dribbling a very interesting note. The powers that (may)be at Virginia hope to replace Pete Gillen with Michigan's Tommy Amaker, George Washington's Karl Hobbs, former St. John's coach Mike Jarvis or former Ohio State and Philadelphia 76ers coach Randy Ayers.

Several thoughts. (1) Why anyone would think of hiring Mike Jarvis (!?!?!) when Josh Pastner is available is beyond me. (2) If Karl Hobbs leaves George Washington, he should give himself an easier set-up than Virginia. (3) What exactly makes Tommy Amaker a hot commodity? (4) After the Abe Keita scandal, why anybody would hire Mike Jarvis when Nolan Richardson is available is (also) beyond me.

-- Bill Koch of the Cincinnati Enquirer profiles Bearcat walk-on Ryan Patzwald. Not quite a member of any all walk-on clubs, Ryan is nonetheless inspiration for 5'11" guys everywhere.

-- The Iowa Presidents' Council on Athletics approved a new athlete code of conduct. Better later than never.

-- Jason Franchuk of the Provo (UT) Daily Herald raises a fun but irrelevant question.

Is it a good thing to put two or three teams in the NCAA basketball tournament, even if they all first-round flop? Or is it best, as what seems likely right now with dominating Utah, to put the league's reputation into one very good team?

Discuss.

-- If you don't have a soft spot in your heart for Belleville, Illinois, you've never been to Belleville East High School...On a college basketball related note, Belleville (IL) News-Democrat staff writer David Wilhelm writes up Bruce Weber's call to Phil Martelli. Packer: Martelli as Vitale: Weber?


in progress...

-- Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer debunks several rumors about North Carolina State's Ilian Evtimov. The Wolfpack's forward (1) does not plan to graduate this year, give up his final year of college eligibility and play pro basketball in Europe next season, (2) is as mobile as he was last season, and (3) is not, statistically speaking, critical to the Pack's success.

-- NCAA President Myles Brand is scheduled to testify in the Michael Jackson child-molestation trial...er...Bobby Knight "zero tolerance" behavior trial...Props to the Indianapolis Star for filing a Freedom of Information suit to gain access to the Indiana University report that led to the firing of Mike Davis...er...Bobby Knight.

-- Virginia Tech upset Duke, undermining the Blue Devils' bid for a No. 1 seed and affirming that second-year Hokies floor general Seth Greenberg should be the ACC Coach of the Year for leading Virginia Tech to a 6-6 conference record. Few pundits expected his club to finish anywhere but last in the league.

-- The State of New Mexico will name a southern New Mexico highway after Lou Henson. Sweet.

-- The Dallas Morning News' Brad Townsend looks forward to "Bracket Buster" Saturday and suggests the SEC's weakness will prevent Kentucky from securing a No. 1 seed.

-- The Maui Visitors Bureau found the Maui Invitational to be worth $10 million to the local economy.

-- Rana Cash of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution finds North Carolina State repositioning itself for an NCAA Tournament bid, notes Maryland focused on Shelden Williams rather than J.J. Redick in the Terps recent victory over the Dukies, and finds Coach K upset at Daniel Ewing for picking up three technical fouls in the past five games.

-- More good news for Dan Monson. The NCAA granted Adam Boone's appeal for a sixth season of eligibility. The 6'3" guard has not played since undergoing surgery to repair a torn right biceps tendon on October 7.

-- The Albuquerque (NM) Journal reported UTEP and New Mexico have agreed to a four game series starting this fall. The teams last played in 2000 before the Lobos left the Western Athletic Conference to join the Mountain West.

-- Savannah State coach Ed Daniels should have seen his dismissal coming after a 0-28 season.

-- Seton Hall Coach Louis Orr suspended swingman J.R. Morris for academic reasons.

-- Best wishes to Miami coach Frank Haith after his Thursday appendectomy. May he recover...in time for Saturday's game against Virginia Tech.

-- A Flip Saunders sighting! Hello, Ryan.

-- Ian Crosswhite is no longer in the crosshairs. He's gone, dismissed by Ernie Kent & Co. from Oregon's basketball team.

-- The normally reliable Tom Coyne has an off day for the Associated Press. His lead:

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey doesn't want the Fighting Irish getting comfortable. He wants them to have edge.

-- The ACC released the conference's basketball rotation through 2008. Maryland is guaranteed home-and-away matchups with Duke each of the next three seasons.

-- Jay Bilas doesn't think very highly of Arizona.

-- More evidence the John Brady era is coming to a close at Louisiana State.

-- New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay, understanding a weak schedule this year cost his Lobos a chance at an NCAA Tournament bid, has wisely promised to play tougher opponents in the future.

-- Via Greg Wallace of the Birmingham (AL) Post-Herald. Heh.

Lately, ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale has become something of a caricature of himself, an ambassador of college basketball who clearly has his head buried in the sand when it comes to college hoops' real issues.

Take his comments on Kentucky freshman point guard Rajon Rondo, for instance. Before Kentucky's victory over Florida last Tuesday, the shiny-headed analyst offered the Lexington Herald-Leader an unsolicited assessment of Rondo, who has emerged as one of the league's best point guards.

"If he stays four years, he could be the best Kentucky point guard in 20 years," Vitale said. "He should forget any thought of the NBA and stay four years. The passion and pageantry of college basketball, why give it up?"

A better question: with the lucrative early-entry NBA draft culture spinning as fast as ever, why stay? Or, as LSU Coach John Brady said when relayed Vitale's advice - "What's Dick smoking?"

-- Fun with lawsuits, Obie-style. Here's hoping the defense brings in the booster who made out with the Buckeye player in front of her husband to testify.

-- Steve Rivera of the Tucson Citizen notes the Oregon Ducks have become one of the Pac 10's quickest -- if not winningest -- teams. Am I the only pundit looking forward to Malik Hairston's sophomore year?

-- Marlen Garcia of the Chicago Tribune finds Phil Martelli advising Bruce Weber and the Fighting Illini to "forget all the hogwash" about needing a loss and win the rest of their games. Well said. But I still hate Martelli for his comments about Lute Olson and Arizona several years back. The snowstorm...you (must) remember.


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Team Tease

-- Bob Condotta pens a must-read piece for the Seattle Times, noting Lou Campanelli's response to Dick Bennett's criticisms of Pac 10 officiating, finding Rob Evans on the hot seat at Arizona State and praising Jay John for bringing life to Oregon State.

-- Gene Frenette of the Jacksonville (FL) Sun suggests Sunshine State buyers beware. Sure, the Gators have been impressive of late. But come March, Billy Donovan's club -- nicknamed "Team Tease" -- is sure to flop.

--- Former Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel didn't consider his $6,400 wager on the men's NCAA basketball tournaments of 2002 and 2003a "bet." This and more from Gene Johnson of the Associated Press here.

-- The blogosphere has notched its second Associated Press voter. Say hello to Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire (MA) Gazette. Maybe Matt knows who is the odds-on favorite to replace Steve Lappas at the University of Massachusetts. (Not Pete Gillen, pretty please).


NCSU -> NCAA

-- Behind a big game from Chuck Davis and an extended press that stifled the Razorbacks' offense, Alabama yesterday defeated Arkansas. The Crimson Tide are America's second most mysterious team.

-- The first? The Maryland Terrapins. Who were yesterday crushed -- yes, crushed -- by North Carolina State. Ken Tysiac of the Charlotte (NC) Observer writes up Ilian Evtimov's big game, but notes the Wolfpack must win three of four against a schedule that includes No. 4 North Carolina and No. 5 Wake Forest to reach the .500 mark in ACC conference play.

-- Jim Thomas of the Torrance (CA) Daily Breeze profiles UCLA diaper dandy and Ben Howland lucky charm Jordan Farmer. If the Bruin point guard plays as well this week as he did last, the smart money is on UCLA to make the NCAA Tournament.

-- The Marin (CA) Independent-Journal's Dave Albee pens a kind piece on Jim Saia and family, sympathizing with Saia's journey and long-term aspirations. Here's thinking that Saia has done an above-average job
leading the Trojans to an 8-12 record since Henry Bibby's dismissal.


hall of shame?

-- Tim Froberg of the Green Bay (WI) News-Chronicle takes a look at Benito Flores, UWGB's leading scorer and rebounder. Here's hoping the NCAA grants his appeal and provides Flores another year of eligibility. Since Flores was 21 when he was a member of the Dominican Republic team that participated in the Pan Am Games, the NCAA has declared Flores a senior after only three years of college basketball.

-- Dick Vitale is one of eight new members of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays Fan Wall of Fame. Ugh.

-- Senior Donald Perry has left Indiana University. He wasn't much of a contributor for the 2004-2005 Hoosiers.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

get out of jail?

-- Caulton Tudor of the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer suggests that if North Carolina State fails to make the NCAA Tournament this year, Herb Sendek will be coaching for his job next season. He makes a persuasive argument, however, that if the Wolfpack don't finish strong enough to get back to the NCAA Tournament, Sendek should resign. (Unless Herb could get the NCAA to ok a fifth year of eligibility for Julius Hodge, I agree).

-- Kelenna Azubuike's dad was yesterday sentenced to four years in prison on convictions including bank fraud and wire fraud. The bad news for the Kentucky Wildcat: Pops is going to prison. The good news: His dad's trial behind him, Kelenna should no longer feel pressure to declare early for the NBA and (immediately) help the family with legal fees. Tubby may therefore have Azubuike around for another year.

-- During the weekly Pac-10 coaches' conference call, Washington State coach Dick Bennett declared his intent to retire at the end of either this season or next. Too bad. Despite both Gonzaga and Washington's success, Bennett has managed to bring the Cougars back to respectability. But more interesting than his surprise announcement were his thoughts on the Pac-10 conference.

He never has cared for the Pac-10's standard Thursday-Saturday game rotation, insisting instead that a weekend pairing would be more conducive to classroom commitments and easier on everyone travel-wise.

Nor has he been a big fan of league officiating, which leans toward the excessive side in making calls. "Obviously, I'm having trouble with Pac-10 officials," Bennett said after Saturday's game at Oregon, a 69-66 loss. "I'm used to Big Ten officiating, where they let kids decide the game."

-- Daniel Horton practiced with the Michigan Wolverines on Tuesday and should be back in the lineup for Sunday's game against Indiana. Just the break for which Mike Davis was looking.


Steve Lavin's Hair

-- Wednesday's Must-Read: As usual, Tom Luicci's column for the Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger. (Which reminds me - oh, the shame! - that I on Monday forgot to link to Dick Jerardi's must-read column for the Philadelphia Inquirer). I will, however, neither summarize nor comment on Luicci's excellent piece with the hope that, in so (not doing), I will encourage you to read his work for yourself.

-- Jerardi is today up with his Field of 65. As is Blogger Matt (here and here).

-- Dave Albee of the Marin (CA) Independent-Journal devotes 963 (!) words to Steve Lavin's hair.

-- My apologies to Joel Connelly of the Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer. He yesterday emailed to note the reason he left both Lorenzo Romar and Mark Few off his Valentine's Day greeting card list; he hoped to avoid jinxing either.


on coaches...

-- Don't look now, but South Carolina is back on the NCAA Tournament bubble after yesterday upending Kentucky in Columbia. The Wildcats' loss shouldn't come as too big a surprise; the Gamecocks nearly upset Kansas in Lawrence earlier this season.

-- Writing for the Pittsburgh (PA) Tribune-Review, Joe Bendel finds the same folks who got off the Panthers' bandwagon following consecutive home losses getting back on after Jamie Dixon's club swept Syracuse. Why the resurgence? Two words. Chevon Troutman.

-- The folks in Phoenix aren't too happy with Rob Evans. Will the Sun Devils at season's end lose Diogu and fire Evans? Only time will tell.

-- Roger Brown of the Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer fans the Randy Wittman to Indiana flames.


an unlucky number?

-- Dan Raley of the Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer notes that the Pac 10 isn't getting any older. Last season, 13 of 50 starters were seniors. This year, 13 of 50 starters (again) are seniors. Raley also gets Lorenzo Romar on record as all but assuring Nate Robinson will skip his senior year and enter the NBA Draft. Sigh.

-- Reader C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Post speaks to Memphis coach John Calipari about the mass exodus from Conference USA to the Big East. Who knew Cal had a few years back advocated CUSA invite several Big East squads to join Memphis' conference?

-- Brian Koonz of the Danbury (CT) News-Times recaps Connecticut's luckier than all hell victory over Providence. Who knew the Friars would choke at the end of both regulation and the first overtime? Even as Tim Welsh's stock dropped, however, Ryan Gomes' rose. It is hard to pin either the loss or the Friars' troubles on Gomes, a stud who last night scored 37 points. (After yesterday's game, I've revised my opinion of Ryan).

-- The Gainesville (FL) Sun's Kevin Brockway finds the gang that doesn't like to pass preparing for a game against Alabama. Florida's resurgence has been among the least-reported stories of the 2004-2005 season.


that's deep

-- The Detroit News' Dave Dye writes up Michigan State's deep bench and Tom Izzo's 11-man playing rotation. Coaches around the country, it turns out, are calling the Spartans coach to inquire about how the experiment is affecting player fatigue.

-- More good news for Dan Monson? Isaiah Dahlman may be a diaper dandy.

-- Iowa coach Steve Alford yesterday rejected an appeal by Pierre Pierce to reconsider his dismissal from the Hawkeye basketball team. Good.

-- Gavin Keefe of the Manchester (CT) Day finds Connecticut searching for a go-to-player. The Rashad Anderson plan hasn't quite panned out.


about the RPI

-- Mike Allende of the Everett (WA) Daily Herald notes Tim Floyd is already working hard to rebuild USC. Think Pete Carroll has given him a few pointers?

-- Jeff Pinkham of the Burlington (VT) Free Press finds the Vermont Catamounts keeping their head up after a loss to Boston University.

-- The Daily Pennsylvanian's Michael Gertner writes that while parity is the name of the game in this year's Ivy League, the conference is up five places from last year's final RPI rankings.

-- David Brown of the Northwest (IL) Herald argues the RPI is unbalanced. Pourquoi? His Fighting Illini are ranked No. 5. I tend to agree. To date, Illinois has been far and away the best team in college basketball.


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Blogger Ate My Post

This morning. And I was too frustrated to post even a sorry (!) message.

Sorry folks. Same time, same place, tomorrow morning.


Monday, February 14, 2005

Open Thread: Big Monday

Your comments on today's games?


Indiana (!?!?!)

Joe Lunardi's latest edition of Bracketology includes Indiana as among the "last four out."

But at 11-10 and lacking a road win of any significance, the Hoosiers (RPI: 90) can only be considered an NIT bubble team.

Update: During halftime of Syracuse-Pittsburgh, ESPN's talking heads suggested -- collectively -- that Indiana was likely to receive an NCAA Tournament bid. Has everyone in Bristol drunk tainted water? Or am I missing something?


off topic: the list

Middle school all over again.

I failed to receive an invitation to the least exclusive party ever: Michael Jackson's trial.

The list of those slated to testify includes Kobe Bryant (!), Elizabeth Taylor, David Blaine, Ed Bradley, Nick Carter and relatives of Marlon Brando. And they said Court TV was a bad idea.


Guilty!

Michigan point guard Daniel Horton pled guilty today to his girlfriend's charge of domestic violence.


the elephant in the room

Given the number of readers who have noticed the CBS SportsLine scoreboard in my blog's left sidebar and subsequently added the same to the sidebars of their own blogs (here, here and here, for example), it might be time to learn what CBS SportsLine thinks of such a practice...

Full Disclosure: (1) I too copied the scoreboard from another blogger, Evan Brunell of Fire Brand and the "Most Valuable Network."
(2) Astute readers will notice the "Tip Jar" atop the Mighty MJD blog. I did, for the record, contact the blog's owners and receive permission to add it to yoco :: college basketball.


Players by College

The one and only Paul Katcher (he of Seinfeld fame) emails with a link to a valuable resource.

A database of NBA players searchable by college. Enjoy!


I'm so rarely right...

In his "Week in Review," CBS SportsLine's Gregg Doyel suggests Memphis is back on the bubble.

Smile. On January 16th, I. Told. You. So.


cup of joe

-- ESPN Vice President Burke Magnus may hire Tom Brennan to work at the WWLIS after the Vermont coach retires at season's end, or so suggests Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune. Sweet. Bye-bye Jarvis (or Majerus). Hello Brennan.

-- Joe Scott is a genius. First, he turns around Air Force. Second, with his Princeton Tigers struggling after blowing multiple second-half leads, Scott steps out of the box and orders the scoreboard to continue to read "period 1" in the second half of Saturday's game against Columbia. The result? Princeton 63, Columbia 53.

-- Newsday's Joe Gergen reports that Isiah Thomas -- author of the must-not-read book "8 Plays for Winning the Games of Business and Life," published despite Thomas' bankrupting of the CBA -- and 32 other NBA scouts were in the (other) house that Jim built to witness Connecticut-North Carolina. (Mike DiMauro of the New London (CT) Day, however, writes that there were 32, not 33, total scouts at yesterday's game. Who among them, I ask Trey, is correct?)

-- The New York Times' Pete Thamel pens another good piece, reminding readers why this blogger likes the revised RPI better than the road-neutral RPI.

The weekend had two examples of how the changed RPI formula has helped midmajor programs. Vermont lost at Boston University. But because B.U. is ranked in the top 50 of the RPI and the loss came on the road, Vermont did not slide in the ranking. Wichita State lost Saturday at Bradley. But because the MVC had a strong showing in out-of-conference play, Bradley has an RPI inside the top 100, which means a loss to it in conference, especially on the road, is not lethal to a team's overall RPI.

"The new weighted R.P.I. has helped everyone in our league," Wichita State Coach Mark Turgeon said in a telephone interview yesterday. "In past years, we'd have three teams with an R.P.I. over 230, which meant six games against them. Now there's only one team over 200, which makes a real difference."

Although the new formula has helped Missouri Valley Conference teams, which play a lot of road games against tough opponents, it has hurt teams like Pittsburgh, which loaded up on a buffet of lesser teams at home earlier in the season. The Panthers (17-4) are ranked in the top 20 in the news media and coaches polls, but they have an R.P.I. ranking of 47 because of their light nonconference schedule, which included a home loss to Bucknell.

-- Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post leads a thoughtful article on Duke-Maryland with a few notes about the Gary Williams-John Gilchrist relationship. In other words, Gary will today receive from John a few sugar candy hearts, one of whom, I imagine, will instruct the Maryland coach to "fax me." (Why do people purchase those candies, anyway? Not for the taste...)


silly press corps

-- Mike Garafolo of the Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger notes UCLA has lost five of eight, the Big 12 might receive only four Tournament bids, and Holy Cross is running away with the Patriot League. He also proposes a new practice drill. Heh.

Tell the players they're up by 10 with 30 seconds remaining. Then see if they can win the game. After Chicago State turned a three-point triumph into a three-point defeat in the final 1.9 seconds of its Feb. 5 game against Missouri-Kansas City, two more teams entered the race for most embarrassing loss of the season. On Saturday, San Diego State led UNLV 81-71 with 28.5 seconds remaining, only to lose by two in overtime. Later that night, Utah State had No. 24 Pacific on the ropes, up 61-53 with 27 seconds left. Final score: Pacific 64, Utah State 63.

And one more blogworthy excerpt. Dennis the Menace, indeed.

Georgia coach Dennis Felton said last week that he's tired of people referring to his team as "dirty." Okay, Dennis. Does "terrible" work for you? The Bulldogs are still reeling from the Jim Harrick era and, at 1-10 in the Southeastern Conference, have been the conference doormat this year.

-- Northern Iowa coach Greg McDermott yesterday signed a contract extension through the 2010 season. The Des Moines Register writes that "McDermott's new contract calls for continued raises that will pay him a base salary of at least $250,000 by the 2008-09 season." Big money for a mid-major conference coach. But not enough to keep McDermott in Cedar Falls if his Panthers play their way into the Sweet 16, as UNI's athletic Rick Hartzell would like to believe.

-- North Carolina yesterday notched a big road win over Connecticut. The first-half Huskies, however, looked like a club that could make a run come March. Particularly if Marcus Williams continues to develop into one of the country's best guards. (Though his seven turnovers against the Tar Heels were costly. As Neil Amato of the Durham Herald-Sun suggests).

-- Mo Rocha! Zach of the New Bedford (MA) Standard-Times (circulation: less than my blog. pay: more than the same) suggests that because the North Carolina Tar Heels have yet to maximize their potential in half-court sets, they are an unlikely bet to the win the NCAA Tournament. He's right.

-- As may be Skip Myslenski of the Chicago Tribune. He too doubts Carolina's promise. What, by the way, gives with today's coverage of the Tar Heels? Roy Williams' club goes on the road and beats a likely Sweet 16 club, only to be hammered in the national press?


Miles Roby

-- The Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy notes Siena coach Rob Lanier is on the hot seat.

-- ESPN's Pat Forde reviews the week in his must-read minutes. Forde gets bonus points for including the extraneous photo of Ashley Judd, but loses my respect for suggesting Kentucky vs. Louisville is a better rivalry than Duke vs. North Carolina (or Maryland). His notes on Steve Fisher are dead-on. Where you aware the former Michigan coach is 1-11 in overtime games as the San Diego State's floor general? Forde also devotes a few solid paragraphs to Pacific's come from behind victory over Utah State, a win that is worth at least a one-seed bump in the NCAA Tournament. Finally, I suggest you bookmark Forde's notes on picking a bracket. I'll be returning to his column come March.

-- Don't look now, but DePaul has won eight of nine. My flavor of the week to replace Lute Olson at Arizona, (if and) when the Silver Fox (not to be confused with Walt Comeau of Richard Russo's "Empire Falls") retires? Dave Leitao.

-- Michael Marot of the Associates Press pens the worst lead of the day.

The Indiana Hoosiers understand the stakes. With six Big Ten games remaining, they need three wins to finish with a winning conference record and likely in the top half of the Big Ten standings. It may take even more wins to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

Does Marot believe a 14-13 Hoosiers squad has any chance at an NCAA Tournament bid? Is he crazy? If by "may" he means "will," then maybe not. But if by "may" he means anything less than "will," then yes.

-- Save USC, every Pac 10 team deserves an invite to the either the NCAA or the NIT. Or so Oregon State's upset of Washington (more here) has me believing. The Beavers' David Lucas remains the best player of which you've never heard. And Jay John, his OSU club 9-1 at home, continues to make the case for conference coach of the year honors. As of this morning, he's got my vote.


the wind beneath their wings

-- Reader Michael earlier reminded me that Dayton yesterday beat La Salle without shooting a single free throw. An impressive feat that, I imagine, occurs quite infrequently in college basketball. Cool, no?

-- Andrew Joyner of the Charlottesville (VA) Daily Progress writes-up the local mini-meme; Virginia is making an attempt to salvage its season. Well, don't say Pete Gillen didn't go down fighting. (Agggh! Last night's I dreamt the University of Massachusetts decided to replace Steve Lappas with Gillen...Can I get a v-chip for my dreams?)

-- In Atlanta, North Carolina State defeated Georgia Tech, leading one prominent pundit to ask if the Yellow Jackets are worthy of an NCAA Tournament bid.

-- Andy Katz of the WWLIS writes up Jared Dudley's progress in 2004-2005. Dudley's points, boards and intangibles are up from 2003-2004. And he, more than any other Eagle, is responsible for Boston College's success.

-- Jay Bilas of the Eastern Sports Programming Network doesn't understand folks' fascination with the Princeton offense. But his argument that too many teams run Pete Carril's scheme without the right personnel would be more persuasive if he gave an example or two.


Michael Tranghese

-- Mike Harrington of the Buffalo (NY) News writes up Syracuse's inside-outside Warrick-McNamara combo, the nation's best. But he agrees with my earlier assessment that for the 'Cuse to return to the Final Four, Jim Boeheim must find a third scoring option.

-- Nathaniel Whalen of the Tinley Park (IL) Daily Southtown gets Big East commissioner Michael Tranghese to go on record and all but eliminate a central pundit talking point.

"In my five years in the (NCAA Tournament selection) committee, never, ever was a word spoken about the number of teams from a conference," Tranghese said. "You're not supposed to talk about it. Your charge is to find the 34 best teams and I have been assured that if our seventh, eighth, ninth or 10th teams are among the 34 best in the country, they'll be treated fairly."

-- Mark Tupper of the Decatur (IL) Herald & Review, himself a blogger, notes that Illinois, while tremendous, is not perfect. Hey Tupper, I know John Gasaway is taken, but won't you be his valentine?

-- Josh Hirsch of the Daily Pennsylvanian suggests to his readers that despite a 10-game winning streak, Penn is an unlikely bet for a NCAA Tournament first round upset. Pourquoi? The Quakers have yet to play 40 minutes of high-level basketball, often counting on one or two spurts to ice games against Ivy League foes.


02/27: UCLA @ Notre Dame

-- Minneapolis Star Tribune beat writer and ESPN columnist Jeff Shelman, himself a blogger, and the South Bend (IN) Tribune's Tom Noie pen pieces on Notre Dame's NCAA Tournament hopes. But I may be the only pundit in America who has already declared the UCLA Bruins' February 27th trip to South Bend as a must-watch game. The match will likely decide which of the two clubs goes dancing in March.

-- Rocky Mountain Low. Is Patton on the hot seat? Only time will tell.

-- Awww, shux. Boston College is all but guaranteed a loss at Syracuse. Why? ESPN has decided to pick up the game. The only other time the Eagles appeared on national television? You guessed it, for the Notre Dame game.

-- Joe Connelly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer leaves Lorenzo Romar off his Valentine's Day greeting card list. Grmph.

-- The Charleton Gazette's Doug Smock notes Marshall's recruits are having a tough year. Plagued by injuries, they have been less their productive in their final year of high school.


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Does Georgia Tech deserve an at-large bid?

The Yellow Jackets played in last year's Final Four, beat Wake Forest in January, and are currently ranked 39 in the RPI.

But what about Georgia Tech's 2004-2005 season suggests they are worthy of a bid to the NCAA Tournament? Certainly not today's loss to North Carolina State. Even with B.J. Elder, Paul Hewitt's club continues to struggle in the ACC.


Has the fat lady sung?

Over at the Phog Blog, Jeremy Chrysler posts a must-see video of Quinn Snyder attempting to rally his troops (a couple years ago) with a rendition of "Eye of the Tiger."

I love how the first two players captured on camera are entirely uninterested in Snyder's vocal chords...


the no frills edition

Was too busy watching Connecticut-North Carolina to (heavily) comment on the news. But enjoy the day's links.

-- The San-Francisco (CA) Chronicle's Ray Ratto considers the impact Dan Grunfeld's season-ending injury, a torn anterior cruciate ligament, will have upon the Stanford Cardinal. The "Gang Of Eight Plus One" has little room for error in upcoming games against USC, UCLA, and the Oregon and Washington schools.

-- Rick Pitino's wife is a critic of the 2004-2005 Louisville Cardinals. Heh.

-- Mike Zhe of the Portsmouth Herald pens a long article on Phil Rowe's troubles at the University of New Hampshire, arguing that "another shaky season has Rowe on hot seat." Indeed. I think he's done.

-- Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes-up Chris Taft's (many) failings. He also minces no words as a would-be NBA talent scout.

Maybe Taft didn't work as hard as he needed to in the offseason. Or maybe he got caught up in the NBA hype. This much is certain: He looks a lot less ready for the pros now than he did last season.

-- Copley News Service Chicago sports columnist Mike Nadel still hasn't decided if Deron Williams is bound for playing time in the NBA, but he does believe Williams is the collegiate point guard most capable of leading his team to an NCAA Tournament championship.

-- Will Mike Davis' dismissal from Indiana be more or less a public circus than was Bobby Knight's? More, if the Hoosier State Press Association has a say.

State lawmakers are trying to close a loophole in Indiana law that allowed Indiana University's trustees to meet without public notice to discuss basketball coach Bob Knight's fate shortly before his firing.

Bills are advancing in both the House and Senate that would prohibit what critics call "serial meetings" - separate gatherings of less than a quorum to discuss the same subject.

Such meetings are currently permitted under Indiana's Open Door law.

-- Hubert F. Grim III (think he's a local?) of the Staunton (VA) News Leader suggests Virginia may be back on the bubble after beating North Carolina State at home and Florida State and Virginia Tech on the road. With an RPI of 43, perhaps. But at 4-7 in the ACC, I doubt it. Particularly because, to secure a 7-9 conference record, Virginia would have to beat North Carolina State and one of North Carolina (on the road), Maryland (at home) and Wake Forest (on the road). And even then they'd still be less than a sure shot.

-- Despite Arizona State's recent struggles, Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl still believes Ike Diogu is the national player of the year.

-- Following the Hoosiers' victory over the Golden Gophers, the Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal's Rick Bozich believes Indiana can still receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Yes, and pigs can fly.

-- The Las Vegas Review-Journal gets letters!

To the sports editor:

I believe Reggie Theus, currently an assistant under Rick Pitino at Louisville, should be UNLV's basketball coach, not Lon Kruger.

I attended a UNLV game the other day and realized I had forgotten a brown paper bag to wear over my head. Does Kruger want to win? Why have a coach who just collects a paycheck instead of a leader who has Rebel red pumping through his heart?

For those who don't know, Theus was one of the greatest players ever at UNLV and was the catalyst on the 1977 Final Four team. In his 13-year NBA career, he became one of only six players in history to produce at least 19,000 points and 6,000 assists.

Should we all be forced to watch yet another season of losing UNLV basketball? Let's put some pride back in the program and hire a coach who genuinely cares about seeing UNLV win.

Paul Lyons

-- Woah. UNLV overcame a 10-point deficit with less than 29 (!) seconds left in regulation to defeat San Diego State in overtime. More here, here, here and here.

-- Think facilities don't matter? Think again. Playing for the first time at the all-new Agganis Arena, Boston University upset Vermont, putting a chink in the Catamounts' at-large armor.

-- Duke University officials may soon make illegal basketball victory bonfires following the destruction of a few too many benches after a win over North Carolina.

-- Mike Waldner of the Torrance (CA) Daily Breeze argues timing has been everything in Lute Olson's career.

-- Frank Dascenzo of the Durham (NC) Herald-Sun writes Wake Forest must prove they're worthy. (They are). Lenox Rawlings of the Winston-Salem (NC) Journal takes a different tack, suggesting Wake Forest has learned from last year's tournament loss to Saint Joseph's. Offense wins games, but defense wins...

-- Dave Hickman of the Charleston (WV) Gazette notes West Virginia may have played its way back onto the bubble. Wishful thinking. But with an RPI of 64, the Mountaineers aren't entirely out of the running.

-- Former University of Minnesota basketball star "Sweet" Lou Hudson suffered a stroke yesterday. May he recover quickly and return to good health.

-- Gregg Doyel of CBS SportsLine offers the Fighting Illini a few suggestions: stay angry, stay together, stay aggressive (you too, James Augustine), and find more playing time for Rich McBride. In other words, stay undefeated.

-- Rick Snider of the Washington Times notes the best cheer ("No one knows you"), the best sign ("Devil with a blue dress on" alongside a photo of J.J. Redick in a blue dress), and the best fan anecdotes from yesterday's Duke-Maryland game.

-- George Mason, George Fox, what's the difference? More on "Coach Carter" inaccuracies here.

-- In Friday's Daily Word, ESPN's Andy Katz reported a few interesting notes from the NCAA selection committee's two-day meeting this past week. Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest look to be in separate regions. Boston College could play in Worcester, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in Oklahoma City, Arizona State in Tucson, and Kentucky, Louisville, and Cincinnati in Indianapolis.

-- Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes Kentucky is five wins from becoming the first school to notch 1,900 wins. The Cats are 1,895-576-1 all time.

-- Two columns from the Hardin County (KY) News-Enterprise. Adam Pruiett argues Louisville must play with more passion while Chuck Jones suggests Kentucky didn't look like (even) a Sweet Sixteen team in dismantling Georgia on Saturday.

-- Yesterday's scores: Syracuse beat Villanova, Arizona defeated UCLA, Pittsburgh beat Notre Dame, Missouri upset Oklahoma, Texas needed two overtimes (!) to beat Kansas State, and Iowa State surprised Texas Tech. Oh yeah, and Maryland beat Duke.

--John Bohnenkamp of Burlington (IA) Hawk Eye reviews Iowa's victory over Northwestern, a "must-win" game for the Hawkeyes.