Posted on: March 6, 2012 3:40 pm

What-to-know conference previews: ACC

The Atlantic Coast Conference tournament has been owned by Duke for most of its recent history, as the Blue Devils have won the championship in 10 of the last 13 seasons. North Carolina won back-to-back in 2007 and 2008, and Maryland defeated Duke in 2004. Overall, it’s been a Tobacco Road monopoly, with only eight of the 58 tournament championships won by a team besides Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest. 

Things don’t look likely to change this season, as North Carolina and Duke head into Atlanta as the odds-on favorites to win the title. However, there is still plenty on the line when it comes to NCAA tournament ramifications. With North Carolina’s win over Duke last weekend, the Tar Heels now have the inside track towards a No. 1 seed. The winner of this tournament will likely get a top seed. Florida State is fine, Virginia should be good with one win, and Miami (Fl.) and North Carolina State are firmly on the bubble.

The top four seeds receive a bye in the quarterfinals, and it doesn’t seem like a team from the lower half of the conference has the chops to win four games in four days and get the automatic bid. Duke vs. UNC, round three? It’s possible.


No. 8 Maryland vs. No. 9 Wake Forest: Both teams have had few bright spots this season, with the Terrapins having won just four of its last 14 games. Wake Forest didn’t do much besides beat Boston College, although the Deacons’ win over Loyola (Md.) to start the season looks solid after last night. Maryland won the first meeting.

No. 5 North Carolina State vs. No. 12 Boston College: NC State absolutely needs two wins to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Wolfpack are 0-8 against the top 50 of the RPI, and therefore need to beat Virginia in the quarterfinals. Boston College’s win over Florida State in February looks like an anomaly.

No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech: Both teams have been competitive throughout the season, and Clemson has actually won five of its last seven games to end the regular season. Virginia Tech has seen nine of its losses since the start of 2012 decided by five points or fewer. This one could be close.

No. 6 Miami (Fl.) vs. No. 11 Georgia Tech: Another bubble team facing a must-win, Miami (Fl.) has two really good wins over Duke and Florida State, but not much else. The Hurricanes were swept by North Carolina State, and likely need to reach the semifinals to get a bid. Georgia Tech is playing in its home city; will it matter?

-- Jeff Borzello

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 6, 2012 3:29 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 3:48 pm

After win, Calhoun shows a side we've rarely seen

Calhoun was in high spirits and reflective of himself and this team following Tuesday's win. (AP)

By Matt Norlander

NEW YORK — He had a slight hitch in his gait, but he lifted himself up onto the platform, plunked himself down at the podium and let out a five-minute ramble session that was vintage Jim Calhoun -- in the good way. The 69-year-old UConn coach is feeling better, improving by the hour it seems. Calhoun looked happy to be back at the Big East tournament, where his team has now won six straight games, but just has thrilled to win a game and get comfortable in his coaching skin again.

“I feel like I couldn’t pull the trick, like I was exhausted, because you saw me on the sideline [today],” Calhoun said, joking that he couldn't avoid the postgame presser, as he did during UConn's Senior Day Saturday after the team won against Pitt.

There were some stock questions to Ryan Boatright and Jeremy Lamb about last year’s incredible championship Big East run, which also began against DePaul, but today’s UConn win was about Calhoun getting back into his swing slowly but eagerly. Unlike the win against Pittsburgh, Calhoun had the energy and was ready to engage, to pontificate, to the media about his team, his life, this season. He even stopped in the bowels of Madison Square Garden after the big press conference to give a television interview before his SID whisked him away back to the seclusion and cool-down of the locker room.

Eight days after surgery to repair nerve damage in his back, Calhoun has clearly had time to reflect on the part of the season that affected him the most — the eight games he did not coach in (the Huskies were 3-5 in that stretch). He joked about not needing a cane anymore, and what a good thing that is, lest he smack a ref or two with it. He also went big-picture.

"It's an emotional time, it’s been a different kind of season, but through it all, somewhat by separation, I realized how much I cared about these kids. … It’s my job, but also my love, and that’s why I came back to my basketball team.”

The 81-67 win over No. 16 DePaul doesn’t mean much, but Calhoun’s outlook and health does. Tuesday’s victory was No. 34 for Calhoun in the Big East tournament, putting him second all-time on that list, passing Georgetown’s John Thompson.  Calhoun spoke to the media while former Husky Caron Butler huddled with the team in the locker room on the other side of the building.

“I think if you feel you can do anything, just being a fresh voice coming back, then I owed it to them if I could get back,” Calhoun said. “And I did. And obviously the last two games have been very fulfilling.”

Three teams -- Vandy, Nova  and UConn -- played 21 games top against RPI 100 teams this season. It's why UConn could computer-number its way into the field, should it fall to West Virginia Wednesday. But all those challenges, the No. 1 schedule strength in the country, Calhoun said he now sees why UConn’s underperformed and had a letdown of a season to date.

“We didn’t have time to build up our confidence, as I look back,” he said.

If only for a day, week or month, this Calhoun is as thankful for the job he has -- and the time remaining with it. Granted I've not been to 1/50th of the press conferences as the beat writers for the Huskiies, but this side of Calhoun seemed rare to me. To be safe, I asked a few of those writers if they'd ever seen Calhoun like this before:

“I have great respect, generally speaking, the way you (the media) treated me and my family" he said. “Almost to a man and woman, you showed me and my family a great deal of respect through this, and I really appreciate that.”

The writers said they couldn't remember a time where Calhoun ever collectively thanked the media like that. Not after the skin-cancer treatments, not after the prostate surgery. He'd never been so grateful for everything following a game like this.

UConn’s not in the field yet. I don’t think beating DePaul squarely gets the Huskies in with such a token win. In basketball terms, today had no upside and all downside. But in coaching terms, Calhoun’s presence and improved energy means a lot to his team, the program, UConn’s fans. But now it's clear to see his post coach still means the most to him -- as much now as ever.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 6, 2012 2:06 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 10:02 pm

Poppin' Bubbles: Do-or-die in league tourneys

Seton Hall kept its at-large hopes alive with a dominant win over Providence in the Big East first round. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

It truly is do-or-die time for bubble teams. With a loss, they will be left to sit on the sidelines until Selection Sunday, anxiously awaiting the committee to announce their fate. With a win, they get to keep boosting the profile and also stay squarely in the forefront of the committee’s collective mind. With the Big East and Atlantic 10 tournaments getting underway on Tuesday, several bubble teams have work to do.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.


Connecticut: The Huskies, with their quintet of top-50 wins and terrific strength of schedule, seem to still be in pretty good shape. What they couldn’t afford, however, would have been a loss in the first round to DePaul. Jim Calhoun’s troops obliged, cruising to an easy win over the Blue Demons. Connecticut improves to 6-8 away from home, which doesn’t look as bad anymore. The Huskies will play fellow bubble team West Virginia on Wednesday. The winner will be locked in, the loser will sweat until the selections. 

Seton Hall: The Pirates likely had to win two Big East tournament games to get into the NCAA tournament (or at least feel remotely comfortable about it), and they accomplished the first step of that task on Tuesday. Seton Hall overcame a slow start to throttle Providence over the last 20 minutes. Next up for the Pirates is a battle with Rick Pitino and Louisville. Can Seton Hall survive a loss there? Depending on what else happens around the country, they might not be able to. A win would certainly help.

The Flyers still have a extremely strange profile, but they also have at-large hopes after taking care of business against George Washington in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament. In the quarterfinals, Dayton will get Xavier for the third time this season. It's a huge bubble game, as both teams need a win and neither team might be able to overcome a defeat. The Flyers have three very good wins over Temple, Saint Louis and Alabama, but four sub-100 losses makes things difficult.

Saint Joseph's:
The Hawks have a lot of work to do in order to get an at-large bid, but they are still alive after holding off Charlotte in the second half. Next up is a rematch with St. Bonaventure, which beat Saint Joseph's last week and really hurt the Hawks' at-large hopes. If SJU wants to hear its name called on Selection Sunday, it needs to beat the Bonnies and then probably also beat Temple in the semifinals. 
The Crimson will not have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday, and they certainly won't have to sweat a one-game playoff on Saturday. Princeton beat Penn in the regular-season finale, meaning Harvard clinched the outright Ivy League championship for the first time since 1946. Harvard is going to the NCAA tournament.

Everyone else:
With Harvard getting the automatic bid, there is no chance the Ivy League gets two bids to the NCAA tournament. For yet another time this season, it seems power conference teams on the fence are continuing to luck out. The bubble hasn't shrunk yet. 


Proponents of mid-majors:
As I mentioned in the prior sentence, the bubble hasn't shrunk yet. What that means is that we haven't seen the mid-major conferences get any extra bids as a result of a surprising tournament champion. We almost saw it happen in the Missouri Valley, where Creighton had to hold off Illinois State, while Murray State barely escaped Tennessee State in the Ohio Valley. Moreoever, with Penn losing tonight, there's no chance that both Harvard and the Quakers get a bid. Throw in the fact that Oral Roberts, Iona, Middle Tennessee and Drexel all lost in their conference tournaments, and we're on the path to seeing a plethora of middling power-conference teams get a bid -- and very few potential upset picks in the first round. It could make the NCAA tournament slightly less exciting on the first two days. 

More College Basketball coverage
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 that the NCAA is continuing to research the situation. 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:45 am

Two UK Wildcats headline Wooden Award finalists

By Gary Parrish

The 15 finalists for the Wooden Award were announced Tuesday.

They are:
  • Isaiah Canaan (Murray State)
  • Jae Crowder (Marquette)
  • Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
  • Marcus Denmon (Missouri)
  • Draymond Green (Michigan State)
  • Kevin Jones (West Virginia)
  • Kris Joseph (Syracuse)
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky)
  • Damian Lillard (Weber State)
  • Scott Machado (Iona)
  • Doug McDermott (Creighton)
  • Austin Rivers (Duke)
  • Thomas Robinson (Kansas)
  • Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
  • Tyler Zeller (North Carolina)
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 6, 2012 10:55 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 11:56 am

Adidas unveils new uniforms for postseason

By Jeff Borzello

Apparently Adidas isn’t superstitious when it comes to not changing things heading into the postseason.

On Tuesday morning, the company revealed new uniforms for Baylor, Louisville and Cincinnati for the upcoming tournaments.

At first glance, the Cincinnati and Louisville ones are pretty solid. Louisville has the metallic gray that everyone seems to be wearing these days, although the stripes on the shorts don’t really fit what “Cardinals” do. Cincinnati’s stripes on the shorts make sense, since they’re the “Bearcats” and all, and the black-on-black jersey and shorts look is nice.

And then we have Baylor. I would say it's a disaster, but some people like the really, really bright colors. So I'll say it's tough to look at for a long time. I personally prefer a hint of neon when it comes to uniforms. Either sneakers or socks -- but not the entire thing in a monochromatic neon. 

First of all, they look like they glow in the dark. I’m not sure if it’s a neon green, highlighter yellow, or something else. The Bears also have the stripes on the shorts, which in this case probably helps onlookers not gouge their eyes out. The best part? The neon socks and shoelaces. That really ties it all together.

Which new uniform do you think is the best?

Update: Apparently Baylor also had a black uniform released today (per a comment below). And it's awesome. Seriously. Check out the alternate here

Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:25 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 11:19 am

What-to-know conference previews: WAC

Mark Fox was the coach and Nick Fazekas the star last time Nevada was positioned to make the NCAA Tournament.

Now Fox is at Georgia and Fazekas is playing professionally in the Philippines.

But Nevada -- with a different coach and different star -- is back.

The Wolfpack finished the regular season with a 25-5 record and won the WAC title by three games. They've only lost twice since Nov. 25. They only lost one league game -- to Idaho in early February. And yet, still, Nevada probably needs to win the WAC Tournament to ensure a spot in the NCAA Tournament because David Carter's team is 0-3 against the Top 50 with an RPI in the 40s. That's not awful, but it's not great either. So the Wolfpack would be wise to win three games in Las Vegas, cut nets and relax. Anything short of that could make for a stressful Selection Sunday.

New Mexico State is the No. 2 seed this week.

Nevada beat the Aggies twice this season by an average of six points.



Schedule: Wednesday through Saturday in Las Vegas

Title game: Saturday at noon ET


  • Deonte Burton (Nevada)
  • Olek Czyz (Nevada)
  • Vander Joaquim (Hawaii)
  • Preston Medlin (Utah State)
  • Wendell McKines (New Mexico State)

Conference RPI: 12 rating: 12

Sagarin rating: 13

NCAA tournament locks: None

NCAA tournament bubble teams: Nevada

Last NCAA tournament appearances

  • Utah State: 2011
  • Boise State: 2008
  • Idaho: 1990
  • New Mexico State: 2010
  • Hawaii: 2002
  • Nevada: 2007
  • Fresno State: 2001
  • San Jose State: 1996
-- Gary Parrish
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Gary Parrish, WAC
Posted on: March 6, 2012 7:44 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 7:47 am

Wakeup Call: Oh, what a night that was

By Matt Norlander

Dikembe Mutombo's nephew played in last night's SoCon final. I'm keeping this GIF forever. The Nate Wolters GIF below is also going to get repeated use.

Who said it: Mitt Romney or Mr. Burns? // Dog spends almost two months in the wild, reuinites with owner. // You'd better watch Jon Stewart on Rush Limbaugh. // More details on the iPad 3 ...

★ The Big East tournament begins in a few hours. I'll have a column on the tournament up in a little bit. You should read Dana O'Neil's though, because it's better.

★ We have follow-up stories on the Syracuse drug violations -- or possible violations. Here's what the school and its AD had to say.

★ More on how Syracuse has known about this and is/has investigated the violations in the past/currently.

★ Read up on Davidson's double-OT win last night. All four titel games were great -- theirs was the best. Can we get your thoughts, Dikembe?

★ College hoops is down? Riiiiiight. Consider last night's events, then know that UNC-Duke Saturday was the highest-rated ESPN hoops game in four years.

RUN SMC shirts are pretty dope.

★ Oh, wow, is this a terribly sad story out of Northwestern State.

★ With Jimmy Patsos in the NCAAs, you absolutely must read this piece on him by Kyle Whelliston. Trust me -- very much worth the 12 minutes.

★ Tues-day Truths! Tues-day Truths! Tues-day Truths!

★ Just how poorly was the MAAC final attended?

★ This lengthy Mike DeCourcy Q-and-A with John Calipari got a lot of great pub yesterday, as it deserved. Candid Cal, as always.

★ Read Luke Winn on the connection at Creighton that's helped the 'Jays become what they are.

★ Incredibly creepy Anthony Davis snowman.

★ Who gets the URI job? Here are some names you may not have heard tossed out there yet.

★ Someone needs to ask Mike Krzyzewski if he's expecting to coach the 2016 Olympics.

► This only needs to be watched for the first minute, but what a cool minute it is. See Michigan root for Ohio State.

♬ We're going with the Davidson theme this morning, since the school is back in the NCAAs for the first time since Steph Curry left. Live's "Pillar of Davidson" is off their multi-platinum so-'90s album "Throwing Copper." To be honest, I was shocked I had this in my iTunes, but I guess it's not that bad. A slow brew.

Category: NCAAB
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