Yeah, Another NCAA Tourney Post

Ok, I promise this is the last NCAA tourney post for a while. I mean it. Well, at least for a week. So is your bracket looking good? Didn’t think so. Well at least you’re not Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis, who on the CBS studio set makes a prediction a day that has made him look like Art Schlicter was providing him with his choices. Seth says Syracuse will be national champs. Oops. Seth says a number 1 seed will go down by the first weekend. Nope. Seth says Pacific will beat Washington. Ouch.

The best college basketball expert is The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy. He is great during Sporting News Radio’s coverage of the tourney, which makes me wonder why ESPN has not offered him a job. Having said that, DeCourcy took Wake Forest as his overall champ, so feel better about your pool. I fell under the bus on Wake Forest, also, but fortunately I just had them going to the Final Four. My other 3 choices were Illinois over North Carolina and my upset team in St. Louis, Michigan State. Add Louisville to join them, as how I look at it now.

The team I wrote would be the upset team of the tourney, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, just continues to add intrigue, as they will face Illinois. UWM’s coach, Bruce Pearl in 1990 was caught up in a recruiting altercation with Illinois when he was an assistant at Iowa. He taped a recruit from the Chicago Public Schools, Deon Thomas, admitting he was offered money and a Chevy Blazer to play in Champaign. The fall-out from this ended up with Illinois being put on probation and Pearl being blackballed by some in his profession, because they felt it was unethical to tape a recruit. In the great expose of college basketball recruiting, Raw Recruits by Alexander Wolff and Armen Keteyian, it discusses the sleazy world of trying to obtain players from Chicago at the time and how you had to pay to get them. Pearl and current Illini coach Bruce Weber, who was an assistant at Purdue at the time, refused to break the rules, so they had trouble getting top players from the Windy City. Now 15 years later, they face each other with a trip to the Elite 8 on the line.

Weirdest Seperated at Birth in 2005 Tourney: Washington Coach Lorenzo Romar looks like <a href=”http://www.planet-familyguy.com/characters/index.php?b=2
“>Cleveland, Peter’s friend on the Family Guy.

CBS’ Gus Johnson does a spectacular job of evoking the excitement of the game, during his play-by-play. While Packer and Vitale are the big names of college basketball color men, Bill Raftery is the guy that all the rest try to aspire to. Who would have ever thought a guy who sounds like Snagglepuss would be the quintessential announcer in college basketball. So pound the puppies, with a straight up man to man and send it in big fella, but do it with a kiss. Hey, the guy’s got onions.

Cincinnati/Kentucky game was the most physical battle I think I’ve ever seen in college basketball. I mentioned in my post before the game that the team who shot the least 3 pointers would win, as the RCA dome is a terrible place to put up long-range shots. Kentucky shot only 12 and made 7, while the Bearcats made 7 also, but it took 26 attempts to do it. During the six tourney games in Indy, teams hit only 59 of 187 from behind the stripe. I think a great statistical study would compare the percentage of 3 point shots in Domes versus regular auditoriums.

Some quick thoughts: Kentucky’s Rajon Rondo is the best NBA point guard prospect, despite being just a freshman.— While Dee Brown is on all the magazine covers and Luther Head has the best stats, it’s Deron Williams who’s the best player on Illinios. He one of those rare players who plays the game at his own speed.— Southern Illinois would have beaten a lot of teams going to the Sweet 16, but having to face Oklahoma State in Oklahoma City was too much for them to overcome.— North Carolina has looked unstoppable in it’s first 2 games and it’s bracket looks pretty sweet with 5th seeded Villanova the highest seed left in the Syracuse region.

10 thoughts on “Yeah, Another NCAA Tourney Post

  1. 1.  Well, I didn’t call’em all but I did call NCSU over Uconn, that one didn’t surprise me – State, with their intricate offense, suffered more from the lack of continuity created by frequent injury and illness this season than many times did or would.

    With the key players healthy and rolling, they can literally beat anybody and that includes North Carolina, to whom they lost a well-contested battle a few weeks back.

    I do still pick UNC over NCSU/Wisc (a tossup in my book). Duke will have to improve on this weekend to beat MSU, but I think they will do just that, but lose to the UK/Utah winner.

    Washington/Louisville, hard to argue with the majority opinion that these are the best teams in their region.

    I picked Illinios in their region, still going with them.

    I still have Illinois winning it all, although I am rooting for UNC (or NC State).

    Marvin Williams would be the superstar of 90% of the teams in the country and doesn’t start for his – that’s just freakin’ amazing.

  2. 2.  Oh, yeah, and I’m glad Cincy lost – I know how much their players are anxious to get back to class. Gotta uphold Bobby Huggins’ “perfect” graduation rate.

  3. 3.  You went to Iowa, didn’t you? I could tell by your take on the Deon Thomas situation. Let’s just say I wouldn’t necessarily have described it the same way.

    *The fall-out from this ended up with Illinois being put on probation and Pearl being blackballed by some in his profession, because they felt it was unethical to tape a recruit.*

    Not to mention illegal to do so without the recruit’s consent. The NCAA found no merit to Pearl’s claim. Depending on who’s telling the story (Deon Thomas for example), Thomas didn’t admit to anything, and claims Pearl badgered him until he just said “yeah, whatever” to get Pearl to shut up. I’m not saying either version is correct, but there appears to be as much evidence for Thomas’ position as anyone’s, and he certainly has nothing to gain from sticking to his story (fwiw, he still hates Bruce Pearl). And the backlash from the coaching fraternity wasn’t so much for what he did to Thomas, but what he did to Jimmy Collins, who still hates Pearl’s guts.

    I have Illinois winning it all. Washington and Michigan State in the final four. Unfortunately I had Kansas in the championship game, but the Wake and UConn losses pulled me off life support. I have UWM in the sweet sixteen, but I think the Illini will be ready for their press. The only other decent upset I had was Vermont over ‘Cuse, but I think a lot of people had that. Arizona could really help me by beating OSU, as well.

  4. 4.  Not to mention illegal to do so without the recruit’s consent.

    I should say illegal in most states. Apparently that may not be the case in Iowa.

  5. 6.  Bill, I realize there are some bias issues on my part, but I’m really speaking to what had been going on at Illinois under Henson. Chicago public schools like King had coaches who demanded payment just to talk with their players. In Raw Recruits, I seem to remember Purdue coaches talking about how they couldn’t go after these players because they wouldn’t pay to play. Bob Knight had a long-time feud with Henson because of his perception that there was cheating going on there.

    Current Illini coach Bruce Weber is good friends with Pearl, so I’m not saying the questionable recruiting stuff is going on under his watch or his predecessor, Bill Self. Pearl spent a long-time in the coaching wilderness and I’m happy for his second chance, considering he never committed any recruiting infractions himself.

    I also took Illinois to win it all and have no ill will towards them since they got rid of Lou-doo. I also have Michigan State in the Final 4, so we are looking at things similarly. It’s hard to see North Carolina losing, after how they played the first 2 rounds, but the reason I had the Tar Heels losing to the Illni was I figured the Roy Williams jinx would somehow continue.

    In regards to the Tupper article, it’s a real good piece on the past history, except the one missing part that the NCAA was so interested in going after Illinois because so many schools had turned in info about them doing things illegally. I’m not saying the NCAA handles things well, but they usually go after programs they have been contacted about from multiple sources. (see UNLV, the whole SEC and SWC football conferences) There was never a charge of illegal recruiting allegations pointed at Pearl that I know of, besides the Thomas charge, which seems on the surface to be vindictive, rightfully or not.

    Oh and the “questions” that the Daily Illini reporter was asking were really sleazy. Illinois is a great school, but I guess the only really good j-school in the state is Medill at Northwestern.

  6. 7.  Of course, I’m biased as well. I went to Illinois for law school. But the Bruce Pearl thing has an extra dimension for me that makes it more personal. I graduated from UC Riverside in 1995. We upset Cal State Bakersfield that year to get into the D2 tournament. We got to the finals. We had a 22 point lead in the first half and an 18 point lead at halftime. We lost by 11. The other team? Southern Indiana, coached by Bruce Pearl.

    That was the only week in my four years at UCR that anyone paid any attention to UCR athletics.

  7. 9.  1989 in the Maui invitational. It was a couple of years before I started at UCR, and I wanna say Iowa was number 4 at the time, but it’s hard to find any information on that game. I think UCR canned a ton of threes. I remember seeing a guy on campus once with a t-shirt that commemorated the game.

    Coincidentally, UCR just hire a new coach yesterday. A guy who hasn’t coached in six years, and was an assistant under Paul Westhead at LMU. He recruited Kimble and Gathers. He plans on playing the same style. The fan base (what there is of it) is not happy. Personally, I wanted Josh Pastner or Cameron Dollar.

  8. 10.  Scott: re: the UC/UK game…Jay Bilas had a great line, “The meek may inherit the Earth, but they’re not getting a rebound in this game.”

    Bilas was surprisingly good in the ‘booth’. It’s to be expected I guess that MShapiro and the folks at Bristol wouldn’t recognize talent when they see it; after all, Vitale is the franchise.

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