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Tag:Jeff Goodman
Posted on: March 7, 2012 3:51 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 3:56 pm
 

It's not last year, but UConn has tourney magic

UConn's come-from-behind overtime win against West Virginia set up a quarterfinal showdown with Syracuse. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Goodman

NEW YORK - Two down, three to go. 

It's already begun, with people tossing around the name "Kemba" after the UConn Huskies have reeled off two wins in the Big East tournament. It's in reference to last year's ridiculous run to the tourney crown, but this isn't the same team. Jim Calhoun knows it and so do veterans like Alex Oriakhi, who was around for last year's memorable five victories in five days. 

That team was fun to watch. 

This team is a complete enigma. 

"We're just taking it one game at a time," Oriakhi said after the 71-67 victory. "It's been a tough year." 

The Huskies were down nine points with less than four minutes remaining against West Virginia on Wednesday afternoon before Shabazz Napier did his best Kemba Walker impression -- going off in the second half to rescue UConn. He went for 22 of his 26 points after the break. 

"It was looking ugly," Oriakhi added. 

Now Calhoun, who has led his team to three straight victories since returning from back surgery, should be able to breathe easy when the NCAA Selection Committee unveils the bracket on Sunday. It would be difficult to imagine a scenario that doesn't have UConn in the field. 

"I'm so proud of this team," Calhoun said. 

For what? 

This group has earned the 2011-12 title of "Ultimate Underachievers." The Huskies have a pair of likely lottery picks in Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb, in addition to a few more guys that could well be playing in the NBA one day. Sure, their Hall of Fame coach missed 11 games this season and freshman guard Ryan Boatright sat out two separate occasions due to an NCAA investigation.  

"No excuses," Calhoun said. 

UConn will face Syracuse in the quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon -- and a win against the Orange will bring more questions about a repeat of last season. 

"There's no magic," Calhoun said. "It's just us." 

Napier showed why he's the most important player on the UConn roster on Wednesday. He brings the consistent toughness to the table that's clearly lacking with Drummond and Lamb. 

"We already felt like we're in the tournament," he said after the win. "We're trying to prove to ourselves. It's all about us." 

The interesting aspect now for next week becomes whether the Huskies can pull of the upset of the Orange and move up to an 8-9 seed in the NCAA tournament. 

Just imagine a matchup in the round of 32 between UConn and, say, a Kentucky or North Carolina. 

But once again, we're starting to get ahead of ourselves -- just as some were doing at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. 

"It way too early," Oriakhi said. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves." 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:09 am
Edited on: March 9, 2012 10:29 am
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Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:17 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 11:23 pm
 

Tiny Dancers: Detroit

Talk about validation for Little Ray. 

Everyone questioned Ray McCallum's decision to spurn the big boys -- UCLA and Arizona included -- to play for his dad in the Horizon for Detroit. 

However, the father-son duo just got the Titans into the NCAA tournament after an upset over top-seeded Valparaiso in the hostile confines of the 5,000-seat Athletics-Recreation Center. 

The win got Detroit into the Big Dance for the first time since 1999 and also snapped a five-game losing skid against the Crusaders.

McCallum finished with 26 points, six rebounds and five assists in the semifinal win over Cleveland State and had 19 in the victory against Valpo. 

But this team has more than just Little Ray. Senior guard Chase Simon helps on the perimeter and the Titans have a couple of legitimate bigs in LaMarcus Lowe and Eli Holman, the Indiana transfer who comes off the bench. 

Ray McCallum and his father led Detroit to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999. (US Presswire)

Player to know: Ray McCallum - Little Ray opted to play for his dad despite having offers from plenty of high-major programs. The sophomore point guard had a terrific season, averaging 15.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4 assists per game this season. He's led the team in scoring, assists and steals both years in college. 

The Vitals:

  • Record: 22-13 overall, 11-7 in Horizon
  • Most recent tournament appearance: 1999
  • We’re thinking: 14
  • KenPom ranking: 131
  • Sagarin ranking: 133
  • RPI: 136
  • Best wins: Cleveland State, Butler (twice)
  • Worst losses: UIC, Youngstown State
  • Notable stat:  Ray McCallum is in his third head coaching gig. He was 126-76 in seven seasons at Ball State, spent four years at Houston (44-73 mark) and is in his fourth season at Detroit. 

-- Jeff Goodman

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 6, 2012 10:35 pm
 

Casey, Harvard players celebrate tourney berth

By Jeff Goodman

Tommy Amaker had to take the call on the other line -- and who could blame him. 

"It's Coach K," Harvard's head coach said just moments after his team earned its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1946 via Penn's loss at Princeton. 

Of course, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was calling his former player and assistant coach to offer his congratulations. 

"It's exciting," Amaker said on his team's automatic berth. "No question about it." 

And how are his players celebrating?

"Some of them have mid-terms tomorrow," Amaker said. 

Others, like Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, were officiating intramurals. 

"We kept our routine like normal," Casey said. "People kept coming over and giving us the score of the Penn game. We got back to our room and started playing Call of Duty." 

Then they found out the final score -- and the players rounded up and ran through the floors yelling and screaming. 

"I'm so pumped," Casey said. "This is a huge reason why we all came here." 

Amaker has pulled off one of the most impressive turnarounds in the country since getting fired at Michigan and taking a job that many began to question his sanity. Harvard was a graveyard job. The last time the Crimson had even finished over .500 in the Ivy was back in 1997. 

I covered every Harvard home basketball game for a few years in the mid 90s -- and Lavietes Pavilion was basically dead. Now the Crimson have become a hot ticket around these parts, selling out home games. Harvard earned a share of the Ivy League crown last season, but lost to Princeton in a one-game playoff. This time the Crimson won the league title outright and, more importantly, have earned a trip to the Big Dance. 

"It's unbelievable for the seniors," Casey said. "They were the first recruiting class for Coach Amaker. They deserve it." 

I remember the day Casey committed to Harvard. He said he was going for the education and to make history, with the intent of taking the program back to the NCAA tourney. 

He and his teammates have done just that. 

"I'm almost speechless," he said. 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:43 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 10:43 pm
 

Tiny Dancers: Harvard

A year ago, Harvard lost to Princeton on a last-second shot in a one-game playoff. 

It appeared as though the Crimson might again be forced to play a winner-take-all contest, this time against Penn. However, the Quakers lost Tuesday night at Princeton, which meant that Tommy Amaker's team will make its first NCAA appearance since 1946. 

Harvard got an automatic bid rather than having to sweat it out on Sunday. The Crimson went 12-2 in the Ivy and had a couple of impressive wins this season - including a victory over Florida State back in November down in the Bahamas. But there were a pair of league setbacks to Penn and Princeton that put Amaker & Co. on the bubble. 

Now Harvard is able to celebrate -- by studying for mid-terms on Tuesday night. 

The Crimson are a balanced group. 

Kyle Casey leads the team at 11.3 points per game. Senior big man Keith Wright is at 10.7 points and shooter Laurent Rivard is next at 9.7 points. The starting backcourt of Brandyn Curry and Oliver McNally combines to average a shade over 15 points per contest. 

But that's what makes Harvard dangerous. These guys are unselfish, share the basketball and defend. 

After losing in a playoff last season, Tommy Amaker steered Harvard to its first NCAA tournament since 1946. (US Presswire)

Player to know: Kyle Casey - The junior forward led a balanced team in scoring at 11.3 points per game and he's the most talented guy on the team. Athletically, he can match-up against guys from bigger leagues. Casey played much of last season with a broken foot, but he's healthy and finished the season averaging 15.5 points over the final four games. 

The Vitals:

  • Record: 26-4 overall, 12-2 in Ivy
  • Most recent tournament appearance: 1946
  • We’re thinking: 10 seed
  • KenPom ranking: 37
  • Sagarin ranking: 35
  • RPI: 43
  • Best wins: Florida State, St. Joe's
  • Worst losses: Fordham, Princeton
  • Notable stat:  The Crimson earned its first national ranking in program history this season. Harvard was ranked No. 22 in the AP Poll at one time. 

-- Jeff Goodman

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 6, 2012 4:12 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 5:10 pm
 

CBS 16: Why winning a title is mandatory

Patrick Ewing and Georgetown were dominant in 1985, but its loss to Villanova separates it from greatness. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Goodman

You can't be elite without a ring. 

That was my take when putting together my list of the Top 16 teams in the history of college basketball. 

There were some terrific teams that didn't cut down the nets. UNLV in 1991 immediately comes to mind. The defending national champs returned just about everyone and became the first school since Indiana State in 1979 to enter the NCAA without a blemish. But that group -- which was ultra-talented with Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony and Anderson Hunt -- isn't worthy of a spot on the CBS16 because it couldn't get past Duke in the national semifinals. 

Ditto for the 1975 Indiana team that was shocked by Kentucky in the regional title game. The Hoosiers went into that one at 31-0, but didn't have a healthy Scott May and couldn't get past the Wildcats. 

Patrick Ewing's Georgetown team in 1985 was dominant. The Hoyas were the clear-cut favorites after winning the national title the previous year, but wound up being upset by eighth-seeded Villanova. How about the Phil Slamma Jamma Houston group in 1983 that had Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Ojajuwon, but lost to N.C. State in the national title game?

All phenomenal teams, but none belong in this exclusive club because winning the national title should be a prerequisite to being included on the CBS16. 

We're talking about the best of the best -- and that means you've got to hang a banner in order to justify this honor. I don't care how talented the team was, or what they did in the regular-season. If you didn't perform when it mattered most, you just aren't worthy. 

That's why John Wooden's UCLA teams in 1967, 1968 and 1973 all made the cut. They hung banners. Ditto for Indiana's 1976 squad, the last team to run the table. 

I even went with Florida's team in 2007 over that UNLV team back in 1991. 

It sounds nuts because the Runnin' Rebels had more talent and were superior in the regular-season, but what's ultimately meaningful is how they fared when it was all on the line. 

The Gators won the national championship. UNLV, which stomped on opponents throughout the season, did not. The Runnin' Rebels lost to Duke, 79-77, in the Final Four. 

Regular-season success certainly has its value, but let's face it: People remember who climbed the ladder and cut down the nets. 

Those are the ones that belong on the CBS 16. 

More:

-- Transcendence is key in being the best

-- The case against modern-era teams

-- Our ballots for the top 16 teams of all time
 

CBS Sports Network will be celebrating the 16 greatest college basketball teams of all time in the upcoming, four-part series, "16." Our CBS Sports panel of experts has voted, and on March 19 and 20, you'll be able to see which teams make up our list. You can help us celebrate your favorite team by sending us your tweets -- use the hashtag #CBS16 -- or leave your comments below. Then, look for your content as we'll work to incorporate the best submissions into the series.

You can also chime in on Facebook: 
Eye on College Basketball or CBSSports.com 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 6, 2012 1:51 pm
 

Financial planners separate in Shabazz situation

By Jeff Goodman

I've gotten several inquiries regarding the story that Gary Parrish and I wrote on Shabazz Muhammad last week and the relationship between his family and a pair of financial planners. 

Many assumed that the pair - North Carolina-based Benjamin Lincoln and New York-based Ken Kavanagh -- were working together. 

That's not the case. 

In fact, the two men have never met or spoken to one another. 

This is two separate instances with Lincoln paying for a couple of unofficial visits for Muhammad and his father, Ron Holmes, and Kavanagh donating to the Dream Vision summer program that is run by Holmes and Clay Williams. 

Sources have told CBSSports.com that the NCAA is continuing to research the situation. 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 6, 2012 12:43 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 12:52 pm
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com