Blog Entry

NCAA tournament recap (Friday)

Posted on: March 21, 2009 1:03 am
Edited on: March 21, 2009 3:27 am

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It was after midnight here in the eastern time zone and two games were in overtime, causing Greg Gumbel to frantically guide the nation from one site to the next, back and forth, and that's the way I like my NCAA tournament!

Back in Boise ...

Let's get you back to Dayton ...

Over in Boise ...

It was like a rollercoaster ride via television.

Just a fun, fun reason to stay up late.

Anyway, here's a rundown of Friday's NCAA tournament action ...

Story of the day: The Big Ten split a pair of games decided after midnight. Wisconsin beat Florida State 61-59 in overtime about two minutes before Ohio State lost to Siena 74-72 in double-overtime. Of the seven Big Ten schools (Michigan State, Ohio State, Illinois, Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota) that received bids, just four (Michigan State, Purdue, Michigan and Wisconsin) survived the first round.

Game of the day: With apologies to Wisconsin (and Trevon Hughes, he of the game-winner against FSU), the best game was the Siena game that featured 10 extra minutes and so many clutch shots I thought Bill Raftery's head was going to explode. First, Kenny Hasbrouck made a free throw to force overtime. Then, Ronald Moore made a 3-pointer to force double-overtime. Then, Moore made another 3-pointer to create the final margin and send the Saints to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season despite a 2-5 record against BCS-affiliated schools during the past calendar year. Seriously, the Saints have exactly two victories over BCS schools in the past calendar year, and both came in the NCAA tournament. Last March 21, Siena beat Vanderbilt in the first round. This March 20, Siena beat Ohio State in the first round. In between, the Saints were 0-5 against BCS schools, losing to Villanova, Pittsburgh, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Tennessee.

Upset of the day: A No. 13 seed (Cleveland State) dominated a No. 4 seed (Wake Forest), rendering all those pros on Dino Gaudio's roster useless in an 84-69 thrashing. Now, there's a good chance at least two (and perhaps three) of those pros will turn pro, and, man, this sure was a wasted opportunity for Wake Forest as a whole and Gaudio individually.

Predictable star: North Dakota State's Ben Woodside, best known for getting 60 against Stephen F. Austin, went bananas against Kansas . He made 13 shots and finished with 37 points, leading KU coach Bill Self to call him the best guard the Jayhawks have faced all season. If you're wondering, a list of other guards the Jayhawks have faced includes Jonny Flynn (Syracuse), Kalin Lucas (Michigan State), Willie Warren (Oklahoma), and A.J. Abrams (Texas). So that's some nice praise for Woodside, and perhaps a consolation prize in an 84-74 loss.

Unpredictable star: Taj Gibson is Southern California's leading scorer, a guy who made 59.2 percent of his field goal attempts in the regular season. So he's good, no question. But nobody expected him to finish 10-of-10 from the field in a 72-55 win over Boston College because he had never finished 10-of-10 from the field in a win over (or loss against) anybody.

-- Three random notes --

1. Two of the four non-BCS schools to receive at-large bids advanced to the second round, and both were from the Atlantic 10. The Dayton Flyers beat West Virginia 68-60 for the school's first NCAA tournament win in 19 years . The Xavier Musketeers beat Portland State 77-59 to improve to 22-0 when leading at halftime.

2. People always talk about how good finishes can lead to great career opportunities for head coaches, but it works for assistants, too. Two guys who could benefit this year are USC assistant Bob Cantu and Texas A&M assistant Scott Spinelli, both of whom advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament and have natural ties to mid-major jobs currently open. Cantu's strong recruiting has helped USC make three straight NCAA tournaments for the first time in school history. He grew-up 30 minutes from, and once worked at, Cal Poly, which fired Kevin Bromley this week. Cantu should and will be among the leading candidates to be the Mustangs' next head coach. As for Spinelli, he's also known as a strong recruiter, one with extensive east coast ties. He graduated from Boston University, which should make him a legitimate candidate to replace Dennis Wolff, who was fired last week.

3. The Big 12 finished 6-0 in the first round thanks to Friday wins by Kansas, Oklahoma State and Missouri. That means 18.8 percent of the schools still alive in the NCAA tournament are affiliated with the Big 12. Also worth noting is that the Big 12 is 11-1 in first-round games the past two seasons, 14-2 in first-round games the past three seasons. So my advice is to never again pick against the Big 12 in first-round games. Consider that your bracket tip of the day.

Final thought: Congratulations to Arizona.

That was an impressive victory.

It was fun to watch.

But let's not pretend that 84-71 win over Utah somehow proves the Wildcats "belonged" in the NCAA tournament, because "belonging" in the NCAA tournament and having the ability to win a game in the NCAA tournament are two totally different things. Understand, whether somebody "belongs" in the NCAA tournament should be based on their body of work on Selection Sunday, and Arizona's body of work, in the opinion of most who objectively look at this stuff, wasn't worthy of inclusion. It just wasn't. But the Wildcats were included anyway, and then paired with Utah in the first round, at which point many (if not most) picked them to advance because their players are better than Utah's players.

Now they'll probably beat Cleveland State, too.

The bracket has opened up for them.

And I honestly couldn't be happier for Russ Pennell.

He's a great dude who deserves good things.

But regardless of what happens going forward, let's be clear about something: Nothing will ever prove that Arizona "belonged" in the NCAA tournament because everything that happens after Selection Sunday is irrelevant to the question of whether Arizona belonged or did not belong. Again, whether a team belongs should be based on a team's body of work on Selection Sunday, meaning Arizona's win didn't prove the Wildcats belonged as much as it proved they were capable of winning a game once included.

Which makes them like Florida.

Or Baylor.

Or Davidson, even.

None of those teams belonged in the NCAA tournament based on their bodies of work.

But could any of them have beaten Utah on a neutral court?

Yes, of course.

Category: NCAAB

Since: May 14, 2007
Posted on: March 22, 2009 1:02 pm

NCAA tournament recap (Friday)

SkyHawk09 posted: "the ACC's validity was not in question because a mere one bubble team qualified, and Maryland won its game and will probably win again today." did that turn out again? Oh, yes...Maryland and Greivis the Leafblower got CRUSHED!

And Villanova was "exposed" all as a ravenous squad that blew out UCLA by 20...and if they continue with that intensity, they'll steamroll Duke, too...

Since: Mar 12, 2007
Posted on: March 22, 2009 8:44 am

NCAA tournament recap (Friday)

Huh?  Are you popping Nodoz as you wrote that piece?  It barely made sense.  Arizona does not "belong" in the NCAA tournament?  Your definition of belonging or not belonging is a bunch of gunk.  Especially since you failed to define it coherently.  The teams that "belong" in this tournament were decided by the selection committee...period!  If your opinion is they should not have been included so be it.  But to say they didn't belong no matter how many games they win is ludicrous.  The selection committee had to choose 65 teams based on "their" criteria.....not yours!  Your criteria doesn't matter, and neither does mine or anyone else's.  The people on the selection committe are the ones burdened with that chore. 

If you want to split hairs though, let's do that for a moment.  Why doesn't Arizona belong?  Because of their record?  Because they faltered towards the end of the regular season?  You pointed out part of the criteria should be based on the body of work.  Let's look at that body of work:
1.   Arizona had zero losses to teams under .500  How many other teams in the tournament can say that?

2.  Arizona beat Weber St (2009 Big Sky Champion)

3.  Arizona beat Kansas (2009 Big 12 Champion)

4.  Arizona beat Gonzaga (2009 West Coast Champion)

5.  Arizona beat most recently Utah (2009 Mountain West Champion). 

6.  Of the 33 teams Arizona played, 17 had records with 20 or more wins.

7.  Arizona has played more of the RPI top 50 than anyone in the NCAA Tournament:  17




Arizona went out and chose a tough schedule and did quite well considering. 


Need more proof they "belong" Gary due to their body of work?  Arizona beat ranked teams UCLA and Washington.  Still not convinced? 


How about this one....of Arizona's 13 loses, all but one those 13 teams are either in the NCAA tournament or in the NIT.  Shows to me they lost to high quality basketball teams the selection committees believed belonged in the tournament and the selection committee recognized.


All-in-all, why go after Arizona Gary?  Could it be they are a western school?  Could it be you were confused, and mixed up Arizona with another school that didn't "belong".  Or could it simply be you haven't done your research and are quite ignorant of all the facts of all the teams in the NCAA?  Believe it or not, all of us do not know everything about all the teams in the tournament.  I didn't see you forecasting Cleveland State's win over Wake Forest after all.


Arizona belongs....period.  Now wake up and "learn" the facts!


Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: March 21, 2009 3:17 pm

NCAA tournament recap (Friday)

Well, Nova answered their own questions about how they will perform. Congrats, 'Cats, represented the Big East quite well today. Buh-bye UCLA. Sorry to see you go, Darren Collison. It's a shame you never won one, even though you were oh so close. Good luck at the next level to all UCLA players not returning.

This season, I had the sports package up here (I live in Canada) and all the late-night west coast games were the MWC and the WAC. Why no Pac-10? I finally understand this whole "east-coast bias" idea. I couldn't get a Pac-10 game to save my life, and there were many that I would've loved to watch.

Anyway, Nova (4th place in the big east, by the way) dismantled UCLA today. Read into that what you will, but 1st day struggles (a la 'Nova, Pittsburgh, Louisville) do not necessarily mean the team is not as good as advertised. See what Villanova did today as a perfect example.

Great games in the late slate last night, finally some drama. Hopefully some of today's games will be better than the Nova-UCLA game was. Good luck to all and enjoy the dancing!

Man, I suck at gambling...........



Since: Mar 21, 2009
Posted on: March 21, 2009 2:57 pm

Most overrated conference

How about the ACC?  This continues to be the most overrated, top heavy conference consistently year after year.  2-4 this year in the first round - Let's see if Duke and Carolina can make it out of the second.

Since: Mar 21, 2009
Posted on: March 21, 2009 2:25 pm

NCAA tournament recap (Friday)

 Oops. Sorry. I got Santa Clara confused with St Marys. Was Santa Clara any good this year?

Since: Mar 21, 2009
Posted on: March 21, 2009 1:32 pm

NCAA tournament recap (Friday)

Several comments about Arizona not belonging in the tournament based on their "Body of work" - San Diego St (and others) were more deserving. How about Dec, 10: Arizona 69-San Diego St 56. Is that part of the "Body of work"? Oh wait! I forgot. It's not just the "Body of work" - it's the "Body of work" AND "When".

There is also this: Nov 25: Arizona 69 Santa Clara 66. (Got to admit, I don't remember that.) I wonder if that's part of the "Body of work."

What's sort of puzzling to me is the selection committee used the "Body of work" concept to justify their selection of Arizona. Now a lot of "real experts" are using the concept to show that Arizona should not have been selected. Guess these other "experts" know more than the selection committee - at least in their own minds.



Since: Mar 18, 2007
Posted on: March 21, 2009 12:55 pm

NCAA tournament recap (Friday)

Yeah I caught that too.  The national sports media will NEVER give the B10 props.  They hate the  grind it out style that WINS come NCCAs time.  ACC can have the October challenge for all I care! 

Since: Jun 19, 2007
Posted on: March 21, 2009 11:38 am

NCAA tournament recap (Friday)


I think you use the term BCS far too liberally in relation to many of the Big East schools.  For example, since BCS refers only to NCAA Bowl Championship Series football conference, you cannot consider Villanova a "BCS" school for several reasons.  First, the BCS television money is not distributed to the basketball only schools.  Secondly, while it is true the Big East receives more television money than the A10 or conference USA, it is spread among more teams (16) and it is not distributed equally.  For example, Marquette and Depaul are basketball only teams (as is Villanova, Providence, and Notre Dame).  Honestly I'm not sure what other sports these teams participate in, but some of them are not full participants in that they only participate in some sports (Mens and Women's basketball and possibly baseball and softball), however the level of participation directly relates to the amount of money they receive from the conference.  Also, my understanding is that the BCS money is limited to football particpants only, so only those 9 schools split that with a large percentage going to the BCS bowl participant.

So, most of the basketball only schools are on more of a level with the Non-BCS schools monetarily.  Which is to say that a school like Memphis (who gets the largest percentage of the conferences small television revenue) would probably make a lot more money than Villanova or Providence.  The conference affiliation may make them part of a power conference, but that doesn't always translate into a finacial payout. 

Since: Dec 6, 2006
Posted on: March 21, 2009 11:32 am

Enough with the Big 10 bashing

Why must you make a point that "only 4 teams remain" of the big ten's initial 7 in the touranment.  Yes, we all know that you and all the pundits hate the Big Ten this year (as well as all of the other years).  Who do you always LOVE??  The mighty ACC . . .who has only 3 teams left of the initial 7,  who has the highest seed to fall (Wake Forest) in not even making a game of it, and who had two high seeds upset by two teams from . . . THE BIG TEN (Michigan over Clemson and Wisconsin over Florida State).  Pointing out how great the Big 12 is doing in this tourney is appropriate, but if you are going to criticize a conference, criticize the conference that truly is wetting the bed, the ACC. 



Since: Mar 9, 2009
Posted on: March 21, 2009 11:22 am

NCAA tournament recap (Friday)

This  is your best article so far Gary. I guess you are like a lot of the top seeds. It takes you a half maybe three quarters of a game to get it going and shake off the rust. I look forward to some more of your insite. 

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