Maryland’s win over California today was really big for the conference. Gary Williams has now won his first round game in nine consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Wow! (And you were told how you should be happy with four first round NCAA Tournament wins in a decade.)
How tough is playing basketball in the ACC? Cal hasn’t had to worry about an NCAA Tournament bid since January. The Bears tied Arizona State for third place in the weak Pac-10 with an 11-7 conference record and 22-10 overall record. As you remember, Maryland entered the ACC Tournament needing to win games to earn a bid to the Big Dance. (…but, not needing to advance to the ACC Championship game as ESPN’s Jimmy Dykes confidently proclaimed multiple times during Maryland’s first round win over NC State).
If Clemson & Florida State can pull through in their tough first round games then the ACC could go a fantastic 7-0 in first round games, further supporting the conference’s annual claim that our 6th-9th place teams should deserve more credit from the tournament committee than we seem to receive. ACCNow has a nice entry about the conference.
As opposed to this afternoon’s games, this evening’s slate may be the best of the four first round sessions. I’ve bolded the games that will be streaming on my computer at home. In fact, I picked the worse seed in each of these four games in one of my brackets.
7:10 – Texas vs. Minnesota
7:10 – Clemson vs. Michigan
7:20 – Villanova vs. American
7:25 – Gonzaga vs. Akron
9:40 – Duke vs. Binghamton
9:40 – Oklahoma vs Morgan State
9:50 – UCLA vs Virginia Commonwealth
9:55 – Illinois vs. Western Kentucky
I’m most interested in the Minnesota vs Texas game tonight in a battle of two coaches from North Carolina – Rick Barnes & Tubby Smith – playing in Greensboro. WOW! This is awesome! If I weren’t sick this week I would have hopped in the car and driven up. These gentlemen’s ties to the NC State job three years ago are well known; and now it appears there is a chance that we may see more of Tubby Smith in these parts as he has emerged as Virginia’s top choice to replace Dave Leitao.
â€œNothing else will happen until we talk with Tubby, and heâ€™s obviously busy right now,â€ one source close to the Virginia search said Thursday. â€œObviously, in the meantime, there will be due diligence done on several other coaches.â€
The Minnesota head coach gave Virginia serious consideration four years ago, before eventually electing to stay at Kentucky. The Cavaliers eventually hired Dave Leitao.
Both parties are in a different place now. Virginia is seeking to make a splash with a big name to replace Leitao, who resigned on Monday, while Smith is in his second season as the head coach at the University of Minnesota.
The Cavaliersâ€™ strong interest in Smith indicates that the school is willing to spend big money on in its next coach.
It’s no secret that one Rick Barnes’ Texas Longhorns is one of our all-time favorite non-Wolfpack programs to support. Barnes has amazingly directed Texas to the NCAA Tournament in EACH of his eleven seasons in Austin. (Tell me more about how ‘great’ it was to go to ‘Five in a row’ and win a grand total of five NCAA Tournament games in those five years?)
This is one of the weaker Texas teams in recent years as the Longhorns are absorbing the premature departures of DJ Augustin and Kevin Durant. This link provides a quick look at this year’s Longhorns.
In an attempt to draw a quick line to NC State, I thought I would share the following quick video. In light of how NC State has stuggled the last few years with the effort and hustle of some players I found this interesting.
It’s NCAA Tournament time, and we can all pull up a chair alongside our basketball team and watch the games on TV. (or with live online streaming on CBS’ website). Here’s a quick look at today’s schedule with my quick comments on each contest. You can click here to see which announcers will be calling today’s games. Discuss below.
BJD Insert - I wanted to give some free publicity to WRAL and Time Warner Cable, for showing HD broadcasts of every single NCAAT game, at no extra charge. WRAL’s broadcast schedule is here. God bless you, WRAL.
Regions: South (afternoon) and East (evening)
#8 LSU vs. #9 Butler, 12:20 PM
SEC Coach of the Year Trent Johnson leading the regular season SEC champs LSU into Greensboro, making the programâ€™s first NCAA Tournament appearance since their Final Four run in 2006.
#1 North Carolina vs. #16 Radford, 2:50 PM
I say UNC in a yawner. Radford says they “are ready for UNC” but I will go with the inimitable philosophical musings of Mike Tyson: “Everyone has a plan until I hit ‘em in the mouth.” Lawson or no Lawson, expect Carolina to roll and for most Tar Heel fans to be unbearable until at least the weekend.
Kansas City, MO
Regions: West (afternoon) and South (evening)
#2 Memphis vs. #15 Cal State Northridge, 12:25 PM
The Memphis Tigers are probably the best defensive team in the country, and thatâ€™s bad news for CS Northridge. They lose in an earthquake.
#7 California vs. #10 Maryland, 2:55 PM
The Greivas Vasquez Show rolls into the NCAA. I’m torn on this one, but I think that Gary Williams sweats this one out.
Regions: West (afternoon) and East (evening)
#8 BYU vs. #9 Texas A&M, 12:30 PM
I have no real opinion on this game except for the fact that BYU is better at taking care of the ball and that usually makes the difference.
#1 Connecticut vs. #16 Chattanooga, 3:00 PM
Lookout Chatanooga, UConn will see your Rock City and blow you out…again. The Huskies eradicated the Mocs in 1995 by a 100-71 final, despite Chattanooga star Terrell Owens. Yes, THAT Terrell Owens.
Regions: West (afternoon) and South (evening)
#5 Purdue vs. #12 Northern Iowa, 2:30 PM
This game will probably be a lot more entertaining than the UNC game. Both teams feature balanced attacks and defenses that are in the upper half of their respective leagues in field goal percentage defense…that sounds like runs in both directions, and a game I would rather see than UNC. Thanks, DirecTV!
#4 Washington vs. #13 Mississippi State, 5:00 PM
Don’t sleep on the Bulldogs. Despite a low seeding, this is a team that can and I think will take down the Huskies. First of all, Miss State is a hot team, they played their way in by winning the SEC tournament. Look for Jarvis Varnado (13.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 4.7 bpg) to have a big game.
As you gear up for today’s games we thought you would find this article interesting to read. What does one have to look forward to if they own March Madness? Perhaps they could become a used car salesman in Las Vegas:
Ed O’Bannon, who not long ago owned March Madness and won just about every college basketball award imaginable following a dream senior season at UCLA, is now a car salesman in Las Vegas. He works for Findlay Toyota, whose founder, Cliff Findlay, just so happens to be a former UNLV player and a huge supporter of the Runnin’ Rebels program. It’s the same program that O’Bannon committed to coming out of Artesia High near Los Angeles in 1990. And before and during halftime of most UNLV home games, you can find O’Bannon, whose No. 31 is retired by UCLA, here on the Thomas & Mack Center concourse, hawking “the official vehicle of the Runnin’ Rebels.”