Articles By David Fox

All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/13-coaches-rise-2015-ncaa-tournament
Body:

The NCAA Tournament will be the moment in the spotlight for previously unknown players and tiny schools across the country.

 

This is also a big moment for coaches. It’s no secret that NCAA Tournament success plays a big role in how coaches move up through the ranks from low-majors to mid-majors to high-majors. One Tournament win can make a career.

 

The following are the young coaches who are poised to make names for themselves whether or not they win in this year’s field. If your program is getting ready to make a coaching hire (hello, Alabama and DePaul fans!) these might be some of the names to watch this week.

 

Will Brown, Albany

The 43-year-old has been at Albany for 13 seasons, taking the Great Danes to their only five NCAA Tournament trips in school history. He’s currently riding a three-year streak in the field. One oddity: Albany is doing this almost entirely through the America East tournament. The Great Danes haven’t won a conference regular season title since 2006.

 

Bryce Drew, Valparaiso

His father was an institution at Valpo, and Bryce is the most famous player in school history. The 40-year-old has won three Horizon League regular season titles and two conference tournament titles in his four seasons at his alma mater. Will Bryce stay at Valpo like his father or will he follow brother Scott into a power conference?

 

Jerod Haase, UAB

Haase has never won more than 20 games in a season or finished higher than fourth in Conference USA, but he’s a former Kansas and North Carolina assistant. That will get him some looks.

 

Jim Hayford, Eastern Washington

Hayford cut his teeth in the Division III ranks before landing at Eastern Washington four seasons ago. The Eagles won 26 games this season, a school record, and reached their first NCAA Tournament since 2004. Hayford’s team has only two seniors playing major minutes — and one of them is not national leading scorer Tyler Harvey. Hayford could be in for a huge 2015-16 before moving up through the ranks.

 

Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa

Gregg Marshall’s name is floated for every high major coaching position, and now Jacobson could join his Missouri Valley rival as one of the most in-demand coaches if the Panthers can advance. Jacobson led Northern Iowa to an upset of Kansas on the way to the Sweet 16 in 2010. His team now is playing the role of favorite as a No. 5 seed.

 

Steve Masiello, Manhattan

The Rick Pitino disciple was as target for job openings last season when South Florida hired Masiello following the Jaspers’ 25-win season and NCAA appearance a year ago. Masiello was eliminated from consideration for the job when it was revealed he never graduated from Kentucky as indicated on his résumé. Manhattan allowed Masiello to return if he completed his final three credits for his degree. He did, and Manhattan returned to the Tournament as a play-in seed. The omission might make some schools wary, but two Tournament trips in four seasons and the Pitino pedigree — Manhattan has ranked in the national top 30 in turnover rate in each of the year three years — will make him a hot target again.

 

Marvin Menzies, New Mexico State

Menzies has taken New Mexico state to the NCAA Tournament five times in the last six seasons, but this season was the first in that span that the Aggies actually won the WAC regular season title. Menzies interviewed for the Colorado State job in the past and was mentioned for the Texas Tech post.

 

Archie Miller, Dayton

Like his brother Sean at Arizona, Archie is a superstar in the making. This season may have been his best coaching job — and this is after Miller led Dayton to wins over Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford on the way to the Elite Eight in last year’s Tournament. Dayton’s frontcourt was decimated this season by injuries and off-court issues — the Flyers have no regulars taller than 6-foot-6. And yet Dayton went 23-7 overall and 13-5 in the Atlantic 10. He’ll be a top target for high majors.

 

Leon Rice, Boise State

Boise State is making its second appearance in the First Four under Rice, but these are also the Broncos’ first at-large bids to the Tournament in school history. The Broncos have won at least 20 games in four of five seasons under the former Gonzaga assistant, and this season might have been the best coaching job of Rice’s tenure. Boise State has been without Anthony Drimic for all but seven games this year, but the Broncos managed to win 15 of their last 17 games to get into the field.

 

Andy Toole, Robert Morris

He’s 34 years old, and he’s already been a head coach for five seasons. And a successful one at that. Toole has led Bobby Mo to two Northeast Conference regular season titles, but this is his first NCAA Tournament trip. Toole also presided over the biggest win in school history — a 59-57 win over Kentucky in the NIT in 2013. 

 

Russ Turner, UC Irvine

The former Mike Montgomery assistant has made UC Irvine relevant in the Big West. The Anteaters are playing in the first NCAA Tournament a year after winning their first Big West regular season since 2002. Turner, 44, has won 20 games in each of his last three seasons at Irvine. 

 

Brad Underwood, Stephen F. Austin

Underwood is 61-7 as a head coach with one NCAA Tournament win under his belt. His teams certainly have an identity, too. The Lumberjacks’ press has finished in the top 10 in turnover rate in each of the last two seasons. This year’s team has been a better offensive squad. Underwood is a former junior college coach who broke into the college ranks under Frank Martin at Kansas State and South Carolina.

 

Mike Young, Wofford

Young has been at Wofford for 12 seasons, reaching the NCAA Tournament in four of the last six. He’s turned Wofford into a regular Southern Conference contender in those dozen years. His teams generally like to slow the pace and play disciplined basketball under the 51-year-old Virginia native.

Teaser:
13 Coaches on the Rise in the 2015 NCAA Tournament
Post date: Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, Overtime, News
Path: /college-basketball/butler-dog-shames-its-mascot-after-butler-blue-barfs-court
Body:

Butler dog-shamed its own mascot Tuesday after Butler Blue III vomited on the court of Madison Square Garden before a Big East tournament game last week.

 

Butler Blue represents Butler as the Twitter account to follow for the Bulldogs in our and this is exactly why:

 

If you missed it Thursday, Butler Blue vomited on the court before the Bulldogs’ game against Xavier. We have no scientific basis for this, but we assume it was the most viral moment featuring dog barf.

 

 

 

Butler lost to Xavier 67-61 in overtime.

Teaser:
Butler Dog Shames its Mascot After Butler Blue Barfs on Court
Post date: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 12:19
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, News
Path: /college-football/maurice-clarett-blasts-academic-athletic-culture-wake-chris-borland-retirement
Body:

Opinions are plentiful regarding San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland’s decision to retire from the NFL at age 24 citing concerns of the potential for debilitating head injuries.

 

One voice the rose above the din was that of former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett.

 

In a series of tweets from @ReeseClarett13, the freshman star of the 2002 national champions was critical of coaches athletic programs that usher athletes through what he calls “nonsense degrees” to keep them eligible.

 

The criticism comes not only amid the Borland retirement but at the same time of a involving bogus classes for athletes and widespread fraud in the Afro-American Studies major.

 

Here is what Clarett Tweeted on Tuesday morning:

 

 

 

Clarett rushed for 1,237 yards and 18 touchdowns for the 14-0 Buckeyes who upset Miami for the national title in 2002. His path to stardom was derailed when he was dismissed from Ohio State for receiving improper benefits before his sophomore year.

 

Clarett attempted to enter the 2004 NFL Draft but had to wait until 2005 when he was drafted in the third round. After he was cut by the Denver Broncos, Clarett was jailed for three-and-half years after a police chase in 2006.

 

Now living in Columbus, Clarett has taken on an .

Teaser:
Maurice Clarett Blasts Academic-Athletic Culture in Wake of Chris Borland Retirement
Post date: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 12:01
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/who-are-best-coaches-2015-ncaa-tournament
Body:

Just as a sprint is different from a marathon, winning in the NCAA Tournament is different from winning during the regular season.

 

Seeding, luck, clock management and style of play all seem to be magnified during March Madness. And all of it could be undone because of another team's 3-point shooter.

 

Granted, many of the best coaches in the game tend to win big in March just like they do in January and February. Some, though, have a knack for upsets or being upset.

 

As your filling out your brackets, perhaps this will be a useful tool in breaking down the coaches you might trust the most in this year’s field.

 

We’ve ranked all 68 coaches in the 2015 field based solely on their performance through the years in the NCAA Tournament. We looked at at wins, Final Fours and championships but also how often they performed against higher or lower seeds.

 

Mid-major coaches who tend to give higher seeds trouble in the Tournament were given credit. Power conference coaches who lost repeatedly in upsets were docked.

 

1. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke (82-26, 11 Final Fours, four national championships)

These are strange times for Duke. Two of the last three NCAA Tournament trips have ended in first-round losses to Mercer and Lehigh. Duke haters understand this: We can hold that against him and still think Coach K is the best Tournament coach out there. Krzyzewski has four more Final Four appearances than any other active coach (Rick Pitino and Roy Williams) and 19 more Tournament wins than any other active coach (Roy Williams). 

 

2. John Calipari, Kentucky (43-14, five Final Fours, one championship)

When was the last time time Calipari suffered a major upset in the NCAA Tournament? He had a seventh-seeded Memphis team that lost to a No. 10 seed Arizona State in 2003 and a No. 2-seeded UMass team that lost in the second round to No. 10 seed Maryland in 1994. That’s about it.

 

3. Tom Izzo, Michigan State (42-16, six Final Fours, one championship)

Izzo has taken Michigan State to the NCAA Tournament in 17 consecutive seasons entering this year, and he’s reached at least the Sweet 16 a dozen times in that span. The times that his teams have lost early, they’ve lost as a No. 10 seed twice, as a No. 9 and as a No. 7. The only time he’s been a part of a bona fide first-round upset was to the No. 11 seed George Mason team that reached the Final Four in 2006.

 

4. Rick Pitino, Louisville (50-17, seven Final Fours, two championships)

Last year’s loss to Kentucky was the first time Pitino had lost in the Sweet 16 in his career. He’s won national titles at two different schools and taken Providence to the Final Four. His second national title in 2013 is bookended by losses to Kentucky and Calipari in 2012 and 2014. 

 

5. Roy Williams, North Carolina (63-22, seven Final Fours, two championships)

Roy’s last two trips stalled in the round of 32, but those teams were seeded sixth and eighth. At Carolina, Williams is 3-0 in the Sweet 16 and 2-0 in the national title game. The last major upset for Williams was to 11th-seeded George Mason in 2006. 

 

6. Bill Self, Kansas (36-15, two Final Fours, one championship)

Since losing to Bucknell in 2005 and Bradley in 2006, Self is 23-7 in the Tournament, including the 2008 national title.

 

7. Steve Fisher, San Diego State (25-13, three Final Fours, one national championship)

Fisher started his career with a 6-0 run to the 1989 national title when he replaced Bill Frieder at Michigan. Fisher the coached the Fab Five in two Final Fours in 1993-94. More recently, Fisher has taken San Diego State to the Sweet 16 — as would be expected for teams seeded fourth (2014) and second (2011). Fisher was also on the losing end of the first No. 15 seed reaching the Sweet 16 when Florida Gulf Coast upset his seventh-seeded Aztecs in the second round in 2013.

 

8. Larry Brown, SMU (19-6, three Final Fours, one national title)

Brown is riding a six-game winning streak into this year’s NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, that streak started in 1988. 

 

9. Thad Matta, Ohio State (23-12, two Final Fours)

Outside of those two Final Fours, Matta has had a No. 1 seed stall in the Sweet 16 against Kentucky and a No. 2 seed stall in the Sweet 16 to Tennessee.

 

10. Sean Miller, Arizona (14-7)

Miller is 8-3 in the Tournament since arriving at Arizona. He’s reached the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight in each of his last five trips to the to the NCAA Tournament at Zona and Xavier. One oddity: He’s 0-2 against Thad Matta, coach of his potential second round opponent this season.

 

11. Shaka Smart, VCU (7-4, one Final Four)

Smart took VCU from the First Four to the Final Four in 2011, but the Rams are 2-3 in the Tourney since. VCU lost to 12th-seeded Stephen F. Austin last season.

 

12. Bob Huggins, West Virginia (27-20, two Final Fours)

Huggins took West Virginia to the 2010 Final Four, upsetting No. 1 seed Kentucky along the way. From 1997-2002, Cincinnati was a top-three seed six teams and failed to reach the Sweet 16 five times during that span. Only one of those teams had an injured Kenyon Martin.

 

13. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin (20-13, one Final Four)

Wisconsin went to the Final Four last season, but before that Ryan-coached teams were eliminated by lower-seeded teams in three of their previous four Tournament appearances including by Ole Miss in 2013, Butler in 2011 and Cornell in 2010.

 

14. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State (6-10, one Final Four)

Losing to a No. 8 seed and a No. 12 seed in two of the last three trips, but those losses were to Kentucky and VCU. In between, Marshall took a ninth-seeded Wichita team to the Final Four before losing by 4 to eventual national champ Louisville.

 

15. Jay Wright, Villanova (13-11, one Final Four)

Wright’s first five trips to the Tourney with Villanova ended in the Final Four, an Elite Eight and two Sweet 16s. Nova hasn’t made it out of the first weekend since. The Wildcats twice lost as No. 2 seeds to No. 10s in the second round to 2014 UConn and 2010 Saint Mary’s.

 

16. Tony Bennett, Virginia (5-4)

Just watch: If Virginia doesn’t make it out of the first weekend, this will be the year detractors start to say he can’t win in the Tournament. It happened to Bo Ryan, and it will happen to Bennett. Taking Washington State and Virginia to the Sweet 16 is still awfully impressive.

 

17. Scott Drew, Baylor (8-4)

The last three NCAA trips, Baylor has gone to the Elite Eight twice and the Sweet 16 once. Of Baylor’s all-time NCAA Tournament wins only three of them don’t belong to Drew.

 

18. Mike Anderson, Arkansas (7-6)

Getting to the Tournament has been an issue for Anderson. Once there, his style works well. He led UAB to a Sweet 16 and Missouri to an Elite Eight.

 

19. Archie Miller, Dayton (3-1)

His first two NCAA Tournament games were upsets of No. 6 Ohio State, No. 3 Syracuse and No. 10 Stanford. His team was seeded 11th.

 

20. Bob McKillop, Davidson (3-7)

His three NCAA wins were during a Stephen Curry-led run to the Elite Eight in 2008, but ask Marquette, Louisville or Ohio State if they want to see a No. 13 or 14 seed Davidson in the first round.

 

21. Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa (2-2)

His four NCAA Tournament games have been decided by an average of 4.25 points per game. Both of Jacobson’s wins were in a trip to the 2010 Sweet 16, including an upset of No. 1 seed Kansas.

 

22. Rick Barnes, Texas (21-21, one Final Four)

Barnes hasn’t been to the Sweet 16 since 2008, but it’s not because his team is losing in egregious upsets. The problem has been Texas teams being seeded 11th (2015), seventh (2014), 11th (2012), eighth (2010) and seventh (2009).

 

23. Tom Crean, Indiana (9-7, one Final Four)

Crean’s non-Dwyane Wade teams are 5-6 in the Tourney, including a No. 1 seeded Indiana that lost in the Sweet 16.

 

24. Steve Lavin, St. John’s (11-7)

Lavin reached the Elite Eight once and Sweet 16 four times at UCLA. In the middle of all that the Bruins also lost to Detroit in a 12-5 upset. In Lavin’s only NCAA appearance since 2002, St. John’s lost to No. 11 seed Gonzaga in the first round.

 

25. Dana Altman, Oregon (5-10)

The ledger has five first-round exits, but one trip to the Sweet 16 with Oregon and a 12-5 upset of Florida while at Creighton.

 

26. Matt Painter, Purdue (8-7)

Painter has never really had a full deck in the NCAA Tournament at Purdue, leading to two Sweet 16 appearances in six trips. Purdue has been eliminated by a No. 1 seed three times under Painter.

 

27. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma (14-15, one Final Four)

Kruger is a standout coach during the regular season, but the Tournament is a different story. He’s riding a four-game NCAA losing streak, including last year’s exit against No. 10 seed North Dakota State. He’s been to the Sweet 16 just once since taking Florida to the Final Four in 1994.

 

28. Mark Gottfried, NC State (8-10)

Gottfried’s best Tournament runs haven’t been cheap. His 2012 NC State team upset No. 6 seed San Diego State and No. 3 seed Georgetown on the way to the Sweet 16. His 2005 Alabama team upset No. 1 Stanford and No. 5 Syracuse on the way to the Elite Eight. He also had a second-seeded Alabama team lose to No. 10 seed Kent State in 2002.

 

29. Chris Mack, Xavier (4-4)

He’s not Sean Miller or Thad Matta, his predecessors at Xavier, but Mack took a No. 10 seed to the Sweet 16 in 2012 (with an assist from No. 15 Lehigh upsetting Duke) and upset a No. 3 seed Pittsburgh in 2010.

 

30. Tommy Amaker, Harvard (4-4)

Amaker took 10th-seeded Seton Hall to the Sweet 16 and scored an out-of-nowhere upset of third-seeded New Mexico in 2013.

 

31. Mark Turgeon, Maryland (5-5)

Turgeon took Wichita State to the 2011 Sweet 16 where the Shockers were bounced by George Mason. He went 3-4 in the Tourney at Texas A&M.

 

32. Fran McCaffery, Iowa (2-6)

McCaffery’s two Tournament wins are first-round upsets over No. 8 Ohio State in 2009 and No. 4 Vanderbilt in 2008 while he was the coach at Siena.

 

33. Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State (4-3)

Hoiberg’s biggest NCAA win was as a No. 7 seed over a No. 10 Notre Dame in 2013. Otherwise, Iowa State has lost to two eventual national champions (2014 UConn and 2012 Kentucky).

 

34. Mike Brey, Notre Dame (6-11)

Brey hasn’t been to the Sweet 16 since 2003. His teams have been bounced by double-digit seeds in five of his last six trips, including 2010 Old Dominion and 2007 Winthrop, the latter coached by Gregg Marshall.

 

35. Cliff Ellis, Coastal Carolina (8-9)

Ellis has taken South Alabama, Clemson, Auburn and Coastal Carolina to the Tourney and reached the Sweet 16 three times. One of those teams was a No. 1 seed upset by Ohio State in the regional semifinal.

 

36. John Thompson III, Georgetown (8-9, one final Four)

Thompson went to the Sweet 16 and the Final Four in his first two NCAA appearances at Georgetown. Since then, he’s gone 2-5 with all five losses coming to double-digit teams. That record is egregious, but in context, there’s a bit of bad luck at play. Those losses have included Florida Gulf Coast, which also beat San Diego State that year, a Final Four-bound VCU, and a Stephen Curry-led Davidson. 

 

37. Mark Few, Gonzaga (15-16)

Detractors will get on Few for never reaching the Final Four, but six of his last eight teams have been seeded seventh or lower. It’s not his fault you’re picking a bad bracket. That said, he had a No. 1 seed that failed to get out of the first weekend against Wichita State in 2013, a No. 3 seed that lost to a sixth-seeded Texas Tech team in 2005 and a No. 2 seed that lost to a 10th-seeded Nevada in 2004.

 

38. Mike Davis, Texas Southern (7-6, one Final Four)

Davis has a career in reverse. He took Indiana to the national title game in 2002 and then lost a play-in game at UAB for a No. 12 seed and a second play-in game with Texas Southern for a No. 16 seed.

 

39. Steve Alford, UCLA (7-8)

Last year’s trip to the Sweet 16 was Alford’s first since 1999 at Missouri State. The Bruins defeated two double-digit seeds to get there, which is only important because three of Alford’s previous four NCAA losses were to double-digit seeds.

 

40. Dave Rose, BYU (4-7)

Rose took BYU to the Sweet 16 in 2011, but he’s also 0-3 as a No. 8 seed and 0-1 in Dayton for the First Four.

 

41. Larry Krystkowiak, Utah (1-2)

In two appearances at Montana, he led a 12-5 upset of Nevada in 2006 and lost by 11 to No. 1 seed Wisconsin by 11 in 2005.

 

42. Brad Underwood, Stephen F. Austin (2-1)

In one NCAA appearance, Underwood led 12th-seeded SFA to a 77-75 upset of VCU before a loss to UCLA in the second round.

 

43. Mark Fox, Georgia (2-4)

Both of Fox’s NCAA wins were in his first three seasons at Nevada in 2005 and 2007. The best team of his career — No. 5 seed Nevada in 2006 — lost to 12th-seeded Montana, a team led by current Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak.

 

44. Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss (1-1)

In his lone NCAA appearance, the Rebels and Marshall Henderson upset No. 5 Wisconsin and lost to No. 13 La Salle.

 

45. Rick Byrd, Belmont (0-6)

The closest Byrd came to his first NCAA Tournament win was as a No. 15 seed in a 71-70 loss to Duke in 2008.

 

46. Mike Young, Wofford (0-3)

All three appearances have been at Wofford, including a mere four-point loss to a fourth-seeded Wisconsin team in 2010. With Wofford’s slow pace, he’ll get an upset one of these days.

 

47. Ed Cooley, Providence (0-1)

His lone Tourney appearance was a two-point loss to No. 6 seed North Carolina last season.

 

48. Steve Masiello, Manhattan (0-1)

The Jaspers gave Louisville all it could handle last season. Was that a case of knowing the Rick Pitino system inside and out?

 

49. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State (1-5)

Ford’s lone Tourney win was in an 8-9 game against Tennessee. Ford has lost twice to double-digit seeds.

 

50. Marvin Menzies, New Mexico State (0-4)

Menzies has been to the NCAA Tournament five times and has won the WAC regular season only twice. That math has to count for something.

 

51. Will Brown, Albany (1-4)

The lone win was in last season's play-in game for a No. 16 seed over Mount St. Mary’s

 

52. Leon Rice, Boise State (0-1)

Rice is making his second appearance in a play-in game after losing to Sweet 16-bound La Salle in 2013.

 

53. Johnny Jones, LSU (0-2)

 

54. Bryce Drew, Valparaiso (0-1)

 

55. Ron Hunter, Georgia State (0-1)

 

56. Edward Joyner, Hampton (0-1)

 

57. Fran O’Hanlon, Lafayette (0-2)

 

58. Larry Shyatt, Wyoming (first appearance)

 

59. Bobby Hurley, Buffalo (first appearance)

 

60. Chris Holtmann, Butler (first appearance)

 

61. Andy Toole, Robert Morris (first appearance)

 

62. Jim Hayford, Eastern Washington (first appearance)

 

63. Ross Turner, UC Irvine (first appearance)

 

64. Larry Davis, Cincinnati (first appearance)

 

65. David Richman, North Dakota State (first appearance)

 

66. Bill Coen, Northeastern (first appearance)

 

67. Matthew Driscoll, North Florida (first appearance)

 

68. Jerod Haase, UAB (first appearance)

Teaser:
Who are the Best Coaches in the 2015 NCAA Tournament?
Post date: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/must-follow-twitter-accounts-each-68-ncaa-tournament-teams-2015
Body:

First, our sincere condolences for anyone who isn’t able to sneak away from work on Thursday or Friday to take in one of the greatest days in the sports calendar.

With 16 games, 32 teams to follow in one day is tough enough with multiple screens but perhaps impossible with the boss looking over your shoulder.

Athlon Sports will do what it can to help you follow each team in the field with these Twitter accounts for every team in the NCAA Tournament.

For a bird’s-eye view, we’ve also included 16 must-follow national accounts to aid your viewing experience.

And of course, even if you did call in sick, we’d urge you follow these accounts for insight on every team.

 

The Sweet 16

 

@MarchMadnessTV: CBS’ official account with video of every key play
@SethDavisHoops: CBS, “Sharpie” czar
@GoodmanESPN: Jeff Goodman, ESPN
@GaryParrishCBS: Gary Parrish, CBSSports.com
@RobDauster: Rob Dauster, NBCSports.com
@MattNorlander: Matt Norlander, CBSSports.com
@NicoleAuerbach: Nicole Auerbach, USA Today
@KenPomeroy: Ken Pomeroy, kenpom.com
@JayBilas: Jay Bilas, ESPN
@ClarkKelloggCBS Clark Kellogg, CBS
@bubbaprog: Tim Burke, Deadspin, GIFs and screen grabs
@BrianHamiltonSI: Brian Hamilton, SI.com
@FranFraschilla: Fran Fraschilla, ESPN
@JasonKingBR: Jason King, Bleacher Report
@ESPNDanaOneil: Dana O’Neil, ESPN.com
@CBSSportsCBBCBSSports.com, memes and such

 

MidwestEast

1. Kentucky: @KyleTucker_CJ, Kyle Tucker, Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal

16. Hampton: @Hampton_MBB

16. Manhattan: @nybuckets, John Templon, nycbuckets.com

1. Villanova: , VUHoops.com

16. Lafayette: @LafayetteHoops

8. Cincinnati: @bkoch, Bill Koch, GoBEARCATS.com

9. Purdue: @jppalmCBS, Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com

8. NC State: @RyanTice, Ryan Tice, The Wolfpacker

9. LSU: @RandyRosetta, NOLA.com

5. West Virginia: @Blue_GoldSports, BlueGoldSports.com

12. Buffalo: @BobbyHurley11, Bobby Hurley, coach

5. Northern Iowa: @CarsonTigges, Waterloo-Cedar Falls (Iowa) Courier

12. Wyoming: @rpgagliardi, Robert Gagliardi, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle

4. Maryland: @TerrapinNation, Scott Greene, TerrapinSports.com

13. Valparaiso: @NWIOren, Paul Oren, Northwest Indiana Times

4. Louisville: @MarkEnnis, Mark Ennis, cardchronicle.com

13. UC Irvine: @mamadoundiaye14, Mamadou Ndiaye, college basketball's tallest player

6. Butler: @ButlerBlue3, Butler's canine mascot

11. Texas: @kbohls, Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman

6. Providence: @friarblog, FriarBlog.com

11. Boise State: @IDS_Southorn, Dave Southorn, Idaho Statesman

11. Dayton: @KevinKuwik, Dayton assistant

3. Notre Dame: @PeteSampson_, Pete Sampson, Irish Illustrated

14. Northeastern: @GoNUathletics

3. Oklahoma: @ryaber, Ryan Aber, The Oklahoman

14. Albany: @PeterHooley12, Albany guard

7. Wichita State: @GoShockers

10. Indiana: @insidethehall, Alex Bozich, Inside the Hall co-founder and editor

7. Michigan State: @joerexrode, Joe Rexrode, Lansing (Mich.) State Journal

10. Georgia: @ChipTowersAJC, Chip Towers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

2. Kansas: @mellinger, Sam Mellinger, Kansas City Star

15. New Mexico State: @mrudi19, Las Cruces (N.M.) Sun News

2. Virginia: @WhiteysWorld365, Whitelaw Reid, Charlottesville (Va.) Daily Progress

15. Belmont: @BelmontMBB

WestSouth

1. Wisconsin: @FSKPart3, Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin center

16. Coastal Carolina: @GoCCUSports

1. Duke: @LauraKeeley, Laura Keeley, Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer

16. North Florida: @OspreyMBB

16. Robert Morris: @BCT_AChiapazzi, Beaver (Pa.) County Times

8. Oregon: @TheOregonDuck, mascot

9. Oklahoma State: @jjhelsley, John Helsley, The Oklahoman

8. San Diego State: @sdutzeigler, Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union Tribune

9. St. John's: @SJUCoachLavin, Steve Lavin, coach

5. Arkansas: @BobHoltADG, Bob Holt, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

12. Wofford: @WoffordMBB

5. Utah: @tribkurt, Kurt Kragthorpe, Salt Lake Tribune

12. Stephen F. Austin: @CoachBradSFA, Brad Underwood, head coach

4. North Carolina: @_andrewcarter, Andrew Carter, Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer

13. Harvard: @THCSports, The Harvard Crimson

4. Georgetown: @CasualHoya, SB Nation

13. Eastern Washington: @EWUAthletics

6. Xavier: @CoachChrisMack, Chris Mack, coach

11. BYU: @drewjay, Jay Drew, Salt Lake Tribune

11. Ole Miss: @NativeFlash22, Marshall Henderson, former player

6. SMU: @BillNicholsDMN, Bill Nichols, Dallas Morning News

11. UCLA: @DufresneLATimes, Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times

3. Baylor: @OurDailyBears, SB Nation

14. Georgia State: @GaStCoachPardue, Claude Purdue, assistant coach

3. Iowa State: @TravisHines21, Travis Hines, Ames (Iowa) Daily Tribune

14. UAB: @UAB_MBB

7. VCU: @timpearrelltd, Tim Pearrell, Richmond (Va.) Times Dispatch

10. Ohio State: @clubtrillion, Mark Titus, former Ohio State walk on

7. Iowa: @PatHarty, Pat Harty, Iowa Press Citizen

10. Davidson: @StephenCurry30, Stephen Curry, former player

2. Arizona: @ghansen711, Greg Hansen, Arizona Daily Star

15. Texas Southern: @TSUMBB

2. Gonzaga: @SRJimm, Jim Meehan, Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman Review

15. North Dakota State: @NDSUmbb


 

Teaser:
Must-Follow Twitter Accounts for Each of the 68 NCAA Tournament Teams in 2015
Post date: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/who-are-potential-candidates-replace-anthony-grant-alabama
Body:

Moments after Florida dispatched of Alabama in the SEC tournament, Gators coach Billy Donovan launched into a full-fledged defense of Anthony Grant’s job status at Alabama.

 

Grant is a former Donovan assistant, but the Gators coach claimed he wasn’t biased in his blunt assessment that Alabama letting go of Grant would be the “biggest mistake.”

 

“Let’s put it this way: Alabama better hope he comes back,” Donovan said.

 

Alabama disagreed and parted ways with Grant on Sunday. Grant arrived at Alabama with high expectations after his tenure at VCU that saw the Rams upset Duke in the NCAA Tournament in 2007, but those results at the mid-major level didn't carry over to the SEC.

 

Grant went 117-85 in six seasons at Alabama, reaching the NCAA Tournament once in 2012. The Crimson Tide brought in highly touted prospects during Grant’s tenure but struggled to translate recruiting successes into wins due to off-court issues, transfers or injuries.

 

Alabama has won one NCAA Tournament game since reaching the Elite Eight under Mark Gottfried in 2004. While Alabama basketball is hardly the draw of Alabama football, the Crimson Tide are in a position where they must play catch up with a rising Auburn program under Bruce Pearl.

 

Here’s a quick look at potential candidates for the vacancy in Tuscaloosa.

 

Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

Updated, March 24, 2015

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com reported to be the head coach once his NCAA Tournament run is complete. Marshall would be a home-run hire, and one Alabama may need to keep up with heavy hitters like Bruce Pearl and Ben Howland entering the league in the last two seasons. Marshall has turned Wichita State into one of the nation's premier programs, leading the Shockers to 30 wins in each of the last three seasons, including a Final Four in 2013 and a 35-1 season in 2013-14. Marshall also led Winthrop to seven NCAA Tournaments in nine seasons. He can be abrasive, but he's a proven winner who coaches with an edge. Just the sort of thing Alabama would need to catch up to the powers in the SEC.

 

Steve Prohm, Murray State

In four seasons at Murray State, Prohm has coached a team that went 31-2 in 2011-12 and another that won 25 in a row en route to a 27-5 record in 2014-15. He unearthed point guard Cam Payne out of Memphis two years ago and watched him develop into a pro prospect. He’s an Alabama graduate and former student manager. Hard to find a more logical fit.

 

Michael White, Louisiana Tech

White turned down Tennessee last season to return to Louisiana Tech, where he’s 81-23 the last four years. White has won three regular season conference titles with the Bulldogs but had never made the NCAA Tournament. With the core of his team leaving, now is the time for the 38-year-old White to make a move. He’s a former Ole Miss guard who spent seven years on the staff in Oxford.

 

Richard Pitino, Minnesota

The younger Pitino was an early name in the rumor mill despite only two seasons at Minnesota. The Gophers won 25 games and the NIT last season before slipping to 6-12 in the Big Ten. The 32-year-old is three years into his head coaching career, but he’s served as an assistant for Billy Donovan (as Anthony Grant did before going to VCU) and his father.

 

Rick Stansbury, Texas A&M assistant

Stansbury can win in the SEC. That much is certain. Stansbury reached the NCAA Tournament six times in an eight-year period at Mississippi State. (Slight problem: Stansbury, 55, coached 14 total years in Starkville). When Billy Kennedy added him to the staff at Texas A&M, the Aggies started assembling a top-10 recruiting class.

 

Philip Pearson, Georgia assistant

It’s not unheard of for an SEC school to hire an assistant coach. Pearson has Alabama ties. He graduated from Alabama in 1993, played under Wimp Sanderson and David Hobbs, and went to high school in Montgomery. The 44-year-old as a longtime assistant under former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried at Murray State and with the Crimson Tide.

 

Archie Miller, Dayton

The younger Miller may be the hottest name in the coaching carousel this season after taking the Flyers to the Elite Eight last year and an undermanned team to the Tournament this year. We include him here because he’ll certainly be on the wish list for Alabama fans, but unless the Tide show a major commitment to the basketball program, Miller could find a better situation at dozens of other major conference programs. Miller is also at a program where he doesn’t have to leap at the first power conference program that comes calling.

Teaser:
Who are the Potential Candidates to Replace Anthony Grant at Alabama?
Post date: Monday, March 16, 2015 - 15:26
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/big-march-madness-question-who-will-beat-kentucky
Body:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — If Willie Cauley-Stein were not a Kentucky basketball player, he’d try to find a way to the arena where Kentucky is playing its next game.

 

“If I was people in the world, I’d want to see it,” Cauley-Stein said. “Be in the presence of history.”

 

After Kentucky’s 78-63 win over Arkansas in the SEC tournament championship game, every game is history. At least in a way Kentucky is comfortable acknowledging.

 

Every other step of the way earlier this season was a piece of the puzzle. Now that Kentucky, the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, has its SEC regular season and tournament titles, it can start talking championship. Or the six games that separate the Wildcats from a title and 40-0. 

 

Cauley-Stein is right on two fronts: If Kentucky loses, it is history. If Kentucky wins, it’s a piece of legendary run.

 

The question now is if anyone is people in Kentucky’s world, as Cauley-Stein might put it.

 

Kentucky rolled over Arkansas in an SEC championship game like it was just another November or December opponent. This wasn’t a conference championship game. It was a formality.

 

For brief stretches Sunday, Kentucky looked vulnerable to a run. Arkansas played solid defense, and Kentucky’s offense looked out of sorts for a few possessions. At those points Arkansas was merely starting to chip away at double-digit Kentucky leads. The Razorbacks never had anything less than a nine-point deficit in the second half.

 

Kentucky stymied the SEC Player of the Year Bobby Portis for 13 points on 3-of-7 shooting. Before the title game, there was a faint hope that maybe this would be an interesting matchup, if for no other reason than entertainment purposes.

 

An entertaining matchup it was not. It was another Kentucky rout, so routine that Kentucky as is custom after a conference tournament championship.

 

“We’re not done yet with the nets,” forward Karl-Anthony Towns said.

 

Seven Division I teams have gone undefeated in NCAA history and none since Indiana in 1976. A shorter season meant the Hoosiers “merely” had to go 32-0. Kentucky is 34-0, the third team to go to the NCAA Tournament with 30 or more wins.

 

One was 1991 UNLV, a team that lost in the Final Four to Duke, the other was 2014 Wichita State in the round of 32 to Kentucky. The UNLV team caught a Duke program on the front end of two national titles. Wichita State lost to some of the key players on this Kentucky team.

 

This question of Kentucky has been asked hundreds of times this season. What will it take to beat this Wildcats team?

 

To this question, Towns sighed, shrugged and said: “I don’t know. I definitely won’t tell any secrets.”

 

Andrew Harrison has heard about 40-0 for two seasons. Last year’s Kentucky squad was talked about as a 40-0 contender. The 2014 Wildcats lost 10 games before the NCAA Tournament.

 

The 2014 team was plenty flawed. What would it take to beat this team?

 

“I don’t know to be honest,” Harrison said. “We have to not play with energy. They’d have to make some 3s, make some tough shots.”

 

The bracket is here, so Kentucky knows the teams it might have to face on the way to perfect:

 

• Kentucky’s Sweet 16 opponent may be a pressing West Virginia team, seeded fifth. The Wildcats handled a pressing Arkansas team twice, defeating the Hogs by a combined margin of 32 points. Arkansas doesn’t press as much as  West Virginia, but it didn’t matter against Kentucky. The Wildcats turned the ball over nine times in each game against the Hogs.

 

• As has been established since November, taking the ball inside on Kentucky’s length is foolhardy. A team may need to hit a ton of 3s to compete. That’s how Ole Miss did it, going 9-of-17 in an overtime loss on Jan. 6. Potential Sweet 16 opponent Maryland is in the top 60 in 3-point shooting and the top 70 in the rate of its field goals coming via the 3-point line (38.2 percent). The real test will be potential Elite Eight opponent Notre Dame, the No. 2 team in offensive efficiency on KenPom. The Irish lead the nation in effective field goal rate and make 39.2 percent of their 3s.

 

• Florida and Georgia have been able to disrupt Kentucky’s passing in matchups this season. The Gators gave Kentucky a scare by grabbing 15 turnovers to 12 assists. Georgia held Kentucky to eight assists on 25 field goals in a scare in Athens. Kentucky leads the nation in defensive assist rate, but at No. 3 in that category is Wisconsin, the No. 1 seed in the South region and a potential Final Four opponent.

 

• We should also under Calipari. This team may be Cal’s best free throw shooting team. Even the big men are shooting around 70 percent from the line. Fouling won’t help.

 

Meanwhile, Kentucky claims that it’s not playing the best game it possibly could. The pieces for the Wildcats, they say, haven’t all come together.

 

“It’s going to be amazing when it happens,” Towns said. “I don’t think we’ll reach where we can be as a team at all (until then). It’s going to be amazing when it comes together.”

Teaser:
The Big March Madness Question: Who Will Beat Kentucky?
Post date: Monday, March 16, 2015 - 12:31
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/12-upsets-watch-first-round-ncaa-tournament
Body:

The endgame of the NCAA Tournament is to crown a champion, but let’s face it: The first four days are all about the upsets.

 

The Valpos, Florida Gulf Coasts, Mercers, Lehighs and Bucknells are as much a part of the March Madness fabric as title-winning greatness.

 

If you’re picking a bracket or just trying to figure out the powers that will topple on Thursday and Friday, here’s our guide to the best potential upsets.

 

No. 12 Buffalo over No. 5 West Virginia

Buffalo has never made the NCAA Tournament, but could the Bulls go 1-0 in their first trip? Buffalo didn’t seem intimidated when it led Kentucky 38-33 at halftime early this season or when it played at Wisconsin in Madison. The Bulls have won eight in a row while West Virginia has dealt with injury issues to its best player, point guard Juwan Staten.

 

No. 10 Indiana over No. 7 Wichita State

Indiana was one of the last teams into the field, but that doesn’t mean the Hoosiers aren’t capable of the upset. Indiana lives by the 3, and Wichita State isn’t the same team that went to the Tournament with a 34-0 record last season.

 

No. 11 Texas over No. 6 Butler

Texas is a power conference team that underachieved this season but is hoping to hit the reset button in the NCAA Tournament. We wouldn't promise a run like Kentucky had last season, but the Longhorns have talent. Texas has plenty of bigs while the Bulldogs are perimeter-oriented. If Texas can summon something in the postseason, this would be a good opportunity to do it.

 

No. 13 UC Irvine over No. 4 Louisville

Louisville may have been overseeded at a No. 4 since the Cardinals haven’t been quite the same without point guard Chris Jones. In this matchup, they’ll try to drive at the basket against the tallest player in college basketball in 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye. The Cardinals already can’t make 3s, so this game against the biggest big man may be problematic.

 

No. 15 Belmont over No. 2 Virginia

Picking a 15 over a 2 is a risky proposition, so proceed with caution. If Virginia isn’t vulnerable to Belmont, the Cavaliers are vulnerable to somebody. The Cavs are averaging 15 turnovers in the last four games, an average magnified by their tempo. Justin Anderson is 0-of-6 from the field in two games since his return from injury. Meanwhile, Belmont is a 3-point shooting machine, raking fourth nationally with 48 percent of its shots coming from 3.

 

No. 12 Stephen F. Austin over No. 5 Utah

Stephen F. Austin is dangerous again after upsetting VCU last year. SFA has lost one game since Nov. 25, and the Lumberjacks rank fifth in the nation in turnover rate on defense. On offense, they move the ball efficiently with assist on 65 percent of their field goals this season. Utah has faded since its hot start, going 3-4 in its last seven. The Utes haven’t defeated an NCAA team since Jan. 4 against UCLA. 

 

No. 13 Eastern Washington over No. 4 Georgetown

Georgetown might not escape the upset bug again. The Hoyas have faced VCU's havoc, Dunk City and Steph Curry in their three upsets and now will face the nation’s leading scorer in Tyler Harvey. The Eagles can’t defend worth a lick, so they’ll try to push the tempo and hit 3s.

 

No. 10 Davidson over No. 7 Iowa

Can Iowa keep up with Davidson on offense? The Wildcats are a top-10 offensive team and can launch 3s prodigiously. Iowa is generally a pretty good offensive team under Fran McCaffery, but the Hawkeyes rank outside of the top 200 in 3-point and 2-point percentage this season.

 

No. 12 Wofford over No. 5 Arkansas

This will be a battle of tempo. Wofford’s best hope is to slow the pace — the Terriers rank No. 316 in that category. If Arkansas can push the tempo, all bets are off. That said, Hogs’ star Bobby Portis is 4-of-21 with six turnovers in his last two games.

 

No. 14 Georgia State over No. 3 Baylor

Georgia State lost five games in the Sun Belt, which isn’t a great sign for a team with plenty of major conference talent in R.J. Hunter, Kevin Ware and Ryan Harrow. Baylor can be unpredictable, but history says trust Baylor as No. 3 seed. The Bears have reached the Elite Eight in their last two trips to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed.

 

No. 11 BYU over No. 6 Xavier

BYU has to defeat Ole Miss in the First Four before it reaches the field to face Xavier, but the Cougars seem like the better pick to beat Xavier. BYU is a high-scoring team led by Tyler Haws, a top-10 scorer nationally. Xavier is a pretty nondescript Big East team that struggles in the half court. If BYU can limit turnovers, this is an even matchup.

 

No. 10 Ohio State over No. 7 VCU

If Briante Weber were healthy, this would be a nightmare matchup for Ohio State. Then again, if Weber were healthy, VCU wouldn’t be a No. 7 seed in the first place. Ohio State has one of the nation’s top freshmen in D’Angelo Russell but no KenPom top 30 wins.

Teaser:
12 Upsets to Watch in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament
Post date: Monday, March 16, 2015 - 11:20
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/our-best-advice-picking-your-2015-ncaa-tournament-brackets
Body:

The day after Selection Sunday is not a great time to get caught up on the college basketball season.

 

As you start to fill out NCAA Tournament brackets for your pools, Athlon Sports did some of the homework for your basketball cram session. March Madness is unpredictable, and we expect it to be again.

 

But there are some tried and true trends in the Tournament, and we’ll break them down here.

 

These are our favorite rules for picking our brackets, along with some of the examples from this year’s field.

 

Advance all the No. 1 seeds (and maybe all of the No. 2 seeds)

 

A No. 1 seed has never lost in the round of 64. We have little doubt it will happen one day, but you’re more likely to wreck your bracket by advancing a No. 16 seed. The No. 2 seeds have been more vulnerable in the last two seasons than ever before. Two No. 2 seeds lost in 2012 and No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast advanced all the way to the Sweet 16. If you must drop a No. 2 before the Sweet 16, do your homework.

 

This year? It’s still foolish to touch the No. 1 seeds in the first round. Two of the matchups for No. 2 seeds will at least make us think. Virginia struggled with turnovers late in the year, and its best player is still battling back from injury. Belmont launches 3s as well as anyone in the country, but the Bruins were the No. 3 team in their own league. In the West, Arizona faces a Texas Southern team that defeated Michigan State and Kansas Stat earlier in the year.

 

Drop at least one No. 1 or a No. 2 in the round of 32

 

In the last five Tournaments, 11 of the 40 No. 1 or No. 2 seeds lost before the Sweet 16. Only once in the last five years have all the No. 1 seeds advanced to the Sweet 16. As for the No. 2 seeds, their matchups with 7-10 seeds are against are talented but streaky teams, capable of knocking off a top seed on a quick turnaround. The 7-10 seeds in particular are interesting: Wichita State, Indiana, Michigan State, Davidson, VCU and Ohio State. All of these teams have the goods to knock off a No. 2 on a good day.

Our picks for vulnerable top-two seeds: Gonzaga, Kansas, Virginia

 

Don’t fall in love with upsets

 

Wichita State, Butler, VCU and George Mason in the Final Four are all memorable. So is Florida Gulf Coast’s run to the Sweet 16 two years. Still, don’t get too caught up trying to look smart by advancing a double-digit seed to the Final Four. Of the last 56 Final Four teams, 46 were top-four seeds, and four of the seven who were not top-four seeds were No. 5 seeds. 

 

Butler, VCU and George Mason and last year’s ninth-seeded Wichita State are memorable because they're outliers. After No. 7 UConn and No. 8 Kentucky reached the national final last season, there might be a temptation to advance more lower-seeded teams to the Final Four. UConn caught fire with an other-worldly performance from Shabazz Napier, and Kentucky was a talented team that underachieved all year. Proceed with caution.

 

Don’t go chalk all way the Final Four

 

Statistically, advancing every higher seed every round might not be a bad idea, but what’s the fun in that? Only once have all four No. 1 seed advanced to the Final Four. Want to know if your Final Four is risky or too safe? Add up the seeds of your Final Four. The median for the last 20 Final Fours is 14. If the seeds for your Final Four add up to 10 or fewer, you’ve picked a safe Final Four. If the Final Four seeds add up to 20 or more, you’re picking the kind of Final Four that has happened only three times in 20 years.

 

The real upset potential starts at the No. 5 seeds

 

Advance some double-digit seeds to the Sweet 16, but keep track of how many. The 2011 tournament was the only time in the last 11 years four double-digit seeds have reached the Sweet 16. Three double-digit seeds in the second weekend is probably a good rule of thumb.

 

Since the field expanded in 1985, the No. 4 seed wins 79 percent of the time. That drops to 63.3 percent for the No. 5 seed, 65.8 percent for the No. 6 and 60.8 percent for the No. 7.

12-5 Upsets We Like: Buffalo over West Virginia, Eastern Washington over Georgetown, Wofford over Arkansas

11-6 Upsets We Like: Dayton/Boise State over Providence, BYU over Xavier

10-7 Upset We Like: Davidson over Iowa, Ohio State over VCU

 

Pay attention to extreme free throw numbers

 

Expect closer games in the NCAA Tournament. That means free throws will play a critical role. If you’re on the fence about a team, give free throw numbers a look. Avoid falling in love with teams that can’t hit free throws.

Key teams with high free throw percentages: BYU, Oregon, Notre Dame, Wisconsin

Key teams with low free throw percentages: Louisville, Michigan State, VCU, West Virginia

 

All that talk about bubble teams? Forget it

 

We spent the last six weeks talking about bubble teams. Time to stop paying them any mind, especially bubble teams from major conferences. Teams had trouble clinching a Tourney bid because they couldn’t win consistently. Teams from major conferences had chances all year to prove they were Tourney teams and didn’t do it until the last week of the season. Knock them out early. The exception: Bubble teams from mid-major conferences. The inclusion of VCU and George Mason in recent years were criticized ... until they reached the Final Four.

Bubble teams to avoid beyond round of 32: Georgia, Indiana, Ole Miss, St. John’s, UCLA

 

Use caution with teams that faded since February and early March

 

Are teams tired? Was there a major personnel change? Was there an injury? Did opponents catch up? In any case, we don’t like teams limping into the Tournament, no matter what they did from November through January. On the flip side, give credit to teams that got better as the season went along.

Teams that faded: Iowa, Oklahoma State, Utah, VCU

Teams that improved through the season: Baylor, Boise State, BYU, Davidson, Oregon

 

Find balance on offense and defense

 

Defense wins championship is a football saying. Don't let it take over your bracket. The key to winning in March is balance on both sides of the court, especially for teams that can play multiple tempos and styles. The last 10 national champions ranked in the top 20 in both of Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive and defensive rankings. Steer clear from advancing teams to the Elite Eight or Final Four if they have a great offense and questionable defense or vice versa.

The teams around the top 20 in both this season are: Arizona, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Northern Iowa, Utah, Villanova, Wichita State

Good offense, bad defense: BYU, Davidson, Indiana, Iowa State, Notre Dame, Oregon

Good defense, bad offense: Louisville, San Diego State

Teaser:
Our Best Advice to Picking your 2015 NCAA Tournament Brackets
Post date: Monday, March 16, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/kentucky-wildcats-skip-cutting-down-nets-after-sec-tournament-championship
Body:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kentucky skipped the tradition of cutting down nets after it won the SEC tournament championship Sunday.

 

Instead, team managers cut down nets after Kentucky’s 78-63 win over Arkansas and brought it to the locker room — in one piece.

 

 

 

“Those aren’t the nets we’re really looking to cut down,” center Willie Cauley-Stein said. “It’s part of the process for us winning and everything, but we’re looking for something bigger. We’re looking to cut down a couple more nets in the (NCAA) Tournament).

 

The team claimed the SEC tournament championship trophy and thanked the fans on the podium but rushed to the locker room with ladders still set up around the nets.

 

The gesture may be especially interesting for Cauley-Stein, a junior on Kentucky’s team who has never cut down nets as a member of the program. Kentucky missed the NCAA Tournament when he was a freshman. Florida won the SEC tournament when he was a sophomore. And last year, when Kentucky went to the Final Four, Cauley-Stein was unable to climb the ladder to during the ceremony due to an ankle injury.

 

A pre-meditated act, a statement or an act of forgetfulness, who knows?

 

“I didn’t even know we were supposed to do it,” freshman point guard Tyler Ulis said.

 

Karl-Anthony Towns wore the net around his neck in the postgame and echoed his fellow big man Cauley-Stein.

 

“We’re just not done,” Towns said. “We’ve got more to do. We’re not done yet.”

Teaser:
Kentucky Wildcats Skip Net Cutting After SEC Tournament
Post date: Sunday, March 15, 2015 - 17:56
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/surprise-surprise-kentucky-wildcats-can-shoot-free-throws
Body:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ever since Memphis missed critical free throws in the 2008 national championship game against Kansas to send the game to overtime — a game and title the Jayhawks eventually won — free throw shooting has been under the microscope for every John Calipari team.

 

All that talent and the great equalizer often has been the free throw line.

 

On this year’s team, the line may be Kentucky’s secret weapon.

 

Kentucky is 49-of-58 from the free throw line in two SEC tournament games, boosting an already respectable rate of 72 percent from the line.

 

It’s no coincidence that Calipari’s national championship team of 2012 is also his best free throw shooting team of his time at Memphis and Kentucky. That team shot 72.3 percent from the line. This year’s team is two-tenths of a percent behind.

 

If free throw shooting at some point becomes the determining factor in Kentucky’s bid for a 40-season, Calipari can thank peer pressure and family pressure around his top two big men.

 

Kentucky isn’t a top-100 free throw shooting team just because its guards are shooting around an 80 percent clip — that’s where Aaron and Andrew Harrison are — it’s because Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein are factors at the line.

 

Towns doesn’t just shoot well for a big man. He shoots free throws well for anyone. The 6-11 freshman shoots 81.1 percent from the line, better than either of the Harrisons and second only to prodigious jump shooter Devin Booker (82.8 percent).

 

For Towns, this was ingrained since the third grade. Towns was always tall for his age, and his father wanted to make sure the free throw shooting wouldn’t be the liability it is for so many other big men.

 

“My dad seeing how tall I was always wanted to make sure I was good at shooting free throws,” said Towns, who is 11-of-11 from the line in the SEC tournament. “I just constantly practiced shooting free throws. I always knew at my height I would be fouled. Every day I work on my free throws.”

 

Cauley-Stein maybe needed some extra prodding.

 

He was a 37 percent free throw shooter as a freshman, then improved to 48.2 percent as a sophomore. He’s now shooting nearly 60 percent as a junior.

 

“We work on it. And we talk a lot of trash,” Aaron Harrison said. “He took it to heart. Willie’s improved a lot and for Karl, it’s just easier.”

 

Kentucky’s four big men, Towns, Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles and Dakari Johnson, are shooting a combined 68.6 percent from the line. That’s not great, but it’s better than at least a dozen NCAA Tournament at-large teams shoot as a team.

 

If Kentucky’s size wasn’t imposing enough, now not even the free throw line can put a dent in the Wildcats’ armor.

 

Calipari's Best FT Shooting Teams Since 2002
TeamRatePostseason
2012 Kentucky72.3National champion
2015 Kentucky72.1?
2011 Kentucky71.0Final Four
2009 Memphis69.0Sweet 16

 

Calipari's Worst FT Shooting Teams Since 2002
TeamRatePostseason
2008 Memphis61.4National runner-up
2007 Memphis62.1Elite Eight
2003 Memphis63.5NIT
2013 Kentucky64.2NIT

 

Teaser:
Surprise, surprise: The Kentucky Wildcats Can Shoot Free Throws
Post date: Sunday, March 15, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/watch-albany-stuns-stony-brook-late-3-clinch-ncaa-bid
Body:

Poor, poor Stony Brook.

 

The Seawolves latest attempt to reach their first NCAA Tournament ended in the most cruel way.

 

Albany’s Peter Hooley hit a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left to give the Great Danes a 51-50 win in the America East championship game to clinch and NCAA bid.

 

The shot may be the wildest of March Madness regardless of what happens in the NCAA tournament. A jumper from Ray Sanders hit the top of the backboard, and Albany tipped the ball out to the perimeter where Hooley could make the game-winning shot.

 

Take a look:

 

 

 

For Stony Brook, this the latest miss in the program’s hunt for its first NCAA bid. Since 2010, Stony Brook has won the America East regular season title three times and reached the America East championship four times. The Seawolves have come up empty each time.

 

Here is the complete sequence that broke Stony Brook’s heart:

 

Teaser:
Watch: Albany Stuns Stony Brook with Late 3 to Clinch NCAA Bid
Post date: Saturday, March 14, 2015 - 14:48
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/watch-out-sec-bruce-pearl-shaking-your-league-again
Body:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Auburn may be staring down the most lopsided final score in the SEC tournament. If that’s the way Saturday’s semifinal plays out, it will be the most one of the meaningful blowouts in the history of Auburn basketball.

 

Kentucky and Auburn might be one of the biggest conference tournament semifinal mismatches in the country, but Auburn has already made its statement.

 

With an epic LSU collapse Friday, the Tigers left the door open for Auburn in the SEC quarterfinals. Coach Bruce Pearl and the Tigers busted through, defeating LSU 73-70 for Auburn’s second win over an NCAA contender in two days. Auburn upset Texas A&M 66-59 a night earlier, potentially sending the Aggies to the NIT. 

 

After winning four conference games all season, Auburn has won three SEC tournament games in three days.

 

Certainly, LSU gave Auburn a gift with a spectacular meltdown in the final minutes. LSU led by eight with 2:45 to go before Auburn went on an 11-3 run to tie the game with regulation.

 

It was also easy to see Pearl’s team rocketing ahead of SEC foes making incremental progress.

 

LSU may be the most talented team in the league not named Kentucky. Auburn is has a better roster than ... Missouri and Mississippi State? Yet all of LSU’s pro prospects couldn’t help the Tigers hit shots at the end, decide the proper time to foul or not to foul or prevent yet another series of end-of-game gaffes.

 

When a perfect play needed to be run, Auburn ran it.

 

Down 3 in the final seconds of regulation, Cinmeon Bowers set the screen for KT Harrell, the leading scorer in the SEC, to hit an uncontested 3 to tie the game at 64.

 

 

“I make KT look real good,” Bowers said. “I told him I’m going to get this screen for you to get a good shot. ... It’s going to be cash every time.”

 

Now, Auburn’s future as a factor in the SEC is just as certain as Harrell’s game-tying shot.

 

Just look around at the trajectory of teams around the SEC. Kentucky will be on top as long as John Calipari is there. Florida went 16-17, but that’s probably an aberration. 

 

The next tier of the SEC is wide open. Vanderbilt and Alabama are treading water. Missouri, Mississippi State and South Carolina are perpetually rebuilding.

 

Texas A&M will add a top-five recruiting class next season. LSU will add two five-star prospects. But Auburn just beat those last two teams, and the Tigers beat both of them with a vastly inferior roster. Auburn has only one regular taller than 6-7. The Tigers are playing guys who were at New Mexico State and Niagara last season.

 

In the last two games of the SEC tournament, Auburn has played greater than the sum of its parts. That’s not something many SEC teams can say.

 

If Pearl has found a way to lead this team to wins over A&M and LSU in two days, what is he going to do when he has players?

 

That’s coming. Auburn already has a top-15 recruiting class when its head coach couldn’t recruit until late August due to NCAA sanctions stemming from his time at Tennessee.

 

In the short term, Pearl’s not talking about potential miracles against Kentucky. He’s called them the biggest, most physical team he’s seen in his career. His team is woefully undersized in comparison, even moreso with the absence of 6-8 forward Jordon Granger, who will miss the game after he was ejected for throwing a punch in a scrum against LSU.

 

In the only meeting between Auburn and Kentucky this season, the Wildcats won 115-75, a game decided when Kentucky took a 30-4 lead to start the game.

 

A competitive game on its own would be a major victory for Auburn, but it won’t be the last.

 

“(We’re) just trying to get Auburn relevant, for us to be a factor,” Pearl said. “The way our kids play hard, the way they don't quit, and the way they believe in each other, they're making some history.”

Teaser:
Watch Out, SEC, Bruce Pearl is Shaking Up Your League Again
Post date: Saturday, March 14, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketballs-best-players-every-height
Body:

College basketball, especially this time of year, is all about mismatches.

 

In general, that means a power forward with quickness or a big guy who can step out to take a 3.

 

With 351 teams in college basketball, the sample size leads to size mismatches between a 5-foot-8 guard and a 7-6 center. And we’re not kidding. This is a a year ago.

 

That leads us to the Tall-America team, a collection of the best players at every height from a 5-7 point guard to a 7-6 center.

 

For sake of consistency, we used only the heights provided on school rosters for this season. We’re not ignorant to schools adding an inch or two to each player, but we also don’t have exact heights from the NBA Draft.

 

5-7 

Christopher Anderson, San Diego

Anderson does what you’d hope for a 5-7, 150-pound point guard. He dished out 197 assists and grabbed 58 steals. Anderson finished his career 9.2 points, 5.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

 

5-8

Saah Nimley, Charleston Southern

Nimley — whose Twitter handle is @CantGuardNims — had a career year as a senior, averaging 21.2 points per game to lead the Big South.

 

5-9

Nic Moore, SMU

The Mustangs have had their personnel issues this season, but Moore, the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, has held it together. The Illinois State transfer averaged 14.4 points and 5.3 assists per game.

 

5-10

Stefan Moody, Ole Miss

Moody transferred from FAU to junior college to Ole Miss, where he’s become a clutch performer for a Rebels team en route to the NCAA Tournament. Moody averaged 18.8 points per game in conference play and shot better than 90 percent from the free throw line.

 

5-11

Phil Forte, Oklahoma State

One of the Cowboys’ Big Two, Forte rounded out his game from just a 3-point jump shooter. He’s still hitting nearly 40 percent for his 3s, but he’s doubled his production from inside the arc to average 15.5 points per game.

 

6-0

Yogi Ferrell, Indiana

Ferrell played as a freshman for the 2012-13 team that spent much of that season ranked No. 1. His last two teams haven’t had the record of his rookie season, but Ferrell has stood out through some difficult times. He was seventh in the Big Ten in scoring (16 ppg) and fourth in assists (five per game).

 

6-1

Tyus Jones, Duke

Jones took over the point guard spot manned by senior Quinn Cook and met all expectations for a national championship-contending Duke team. Jones is in the top 40 nationally in offensive rating, and his clutch play in the second half led Duke to a come-from-behind win over North Carolina on Feb. 18.

 

6-2

Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga

Pangos is averaging a career-low 11.6 points per game, but he’s having one of his best years. Credit that to the best supporting cast he’s had at Gonzaga. The senior is sixth nationally in offensive rating and a career-high five assists per game.

 

6-3

Kris Dunn, Providence

Dunn is arguably the nation’s must underrated player. He’s overshadowed by teammate LaDontae Henton’s 20 points per game, and he doesn’t play on a glamour team in a glamour league. Dunn averages 15.5 points of his own and leads the nation in assist rate at nearly 50 percent and ranks fifth in steal rate.

 

6-4

Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

Hield is leading the Big 12 at 17.4 points per game, winning the first Big 12 Player of the Year award for the Sooners since Blake Griffin in 2009. Hield topped 20 points in a Big 12 game eight times.

 

6-5 

Jerian Grant, Notre Dame

The representatives for 6-foot-5 may be the most loaded group in the country. Utah’s Delon Wright, Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell and BYU’s Tyler Haws were all considered here. The nod, though, goes to Notre Dame’s high-scoring guard who averages 16.9 points per game and leads the ACC in assists (6.6).

 

6-6 

Justin Anderson, Virginia

Anderson returned from an eight-game absence in the ACC tournament against Florida State, going scoreless in 12 minutes. When healthy, Anderson has been the MVP of the 29-2 Cavaliers, averaging 12.8 points per game and ranking in the top 50 nationally in offensive rating.

 

6-7 

Stanley Johnson, Arizona

Johnson has had his trouble finishing around the basket at times this season (a 3-for-19 performance against Utah), but he still leads the Pac-12 champion in scoring at 14.1 points per game while averaging 6.6 rebounds.

 

6-8 

Montrezl Harrell, Louisville

This is another loaded height with Iowa State’s Georges Niang, LSU’s Jordan Mickey and Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle all representing for 6-foot-8. Harrell, though, can’t be dismissed as the pick. Harrell has an imposing offensive game that’s only getting more dangerous as he’s able to stretch the floor. Harrell is averaging 15.7 points per game and 9.5 rebounds.

 

6-9 

Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse

Christmas is one of the most improved players in the country. After failing to average double figures in his first three seasons, the former role player is averaging 17.5 points and nine rebounds for the Orange this season.

 

6-10

Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga

The most offensively productive Kentucky player is one who had to transfer to find playing time. Wiltjer’s game has been a perfect fit for Gonzaga as the junior has averaged 17.1 points per game, buoyed by 61 3-pointers by the forward.

 

6-11 

Jahlil Okafor, Duke

Okafor has been exactly what was promised for the post presence who could be the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Okafor is second in the ACC at 17.4 points per game, sixth nationally in effective field goal rate and eighth in offensive rebound rate. He’s neck and neck with our seven-footer for National Player of the Year.

 

7-0

Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin

Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein is also listed at 7-foot, but we have to go for Frank the Tank. Kaminsky burst onto the scene last season and has been even better in 2014-15, averaging 18.4 points per game and 8.1 rebounds. He’s always been a effective 3-point shooter, but he’s improved his jumper to 41 percent from long range.

 

7-1 

Ben Lawson, Western Kentucky

The Brit is a defensive specialist for the Hilltoppers, averaging 3.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots in 18.8 minutes per game.

 

7-2 

Isaac Haas, Purdue

The freshman Haas may have lit a fire under 7-foot center A.J. Hammons, who had a career year for the Boilers. Haas wasn’t so bad himself, averaging 7.9 points and 4.2 rebounds.

 

7-3 

Boris Bojanovsky, Florida State

The Slovak is averaging 5.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game for the Seminoles.

 

7-6

Mamadou N’Diaye, UC Irvine

The tallest player in college basketball for two seasons averaged 11.1 points and five rebounds per game in an injury-shortened season.

 

Christopher Anderson image courtest of Brock Scott. Mamdou N'Diaye image courtesy of UC Irvine.

Teaser:
College Basketball's Best Players at Every Height
Post date: Friday, March 13, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/secs-bubble-has-popped-let-murray-state-take-its-place
Body:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Let’s get weird, NCAA selection committee.

 

In one day, the SEC lost probably one and perhaps two teams in consideration for the NCAA Tournament. Texas A&M lost 66-59 to an Auburn team that won four SEC games all year. Ole Miss lost 60-58 to a South Carolina team that won six league games.

 

If the Aggies and Rebels are a representative sample of the bubble, send the lot of them to the NIT.

 

This is not picking on Texas A&M and Ole Miss in particular, but let’s entertain that they’re typical of the bubble. These two just happened to lose in one place in one day and in sloppy and spectacular fashion.

 

Texas A&M won’t go to the NCAA Tournament. Ole Miss, by virtue of beating Arkansas and Oregon on the road this year, might.

 

Every year we do the same thing. We identify a dozen or so halfway decent teams, call it the bubble, and those that don’t fall all over themselves against an Auburn or South Carolina in a conference tournament claim the last bids in the NCAA Tournament.

 

The selection committee needs to shake things up.

 

Every precedent says Murray State won’t be in the field. The Racers played one RPI top 50 team and lost to that team by 27. That’s the only NCAA Tournament they’ve faced all year.

 

No one on Selection Sunday will be surprised if Murray’s name isn’t called. When Murray doesn’t go to the tournament, selection committee chair Scott Barnes won’t have to go on TV and explain why.

 

No one will pity Murray State because those are the breaks.

 

In the last two weeks, I’ve watched Murray State in the Ohio Valley tournament, and I’ve watched Texas A&M and Ole Miss in the SEC tournament in the last two weeks.

 

I’d rather see more of Murray State.

 

Instead of rewarding Murray State’s 25-game win streak that came to an end on a 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left in an Ohio Valley final, the committee will pick among flawed major conference bubble teams.

 

Even if Texas A&M and Ole Miss are out of the field, there are still plenty of teams like Texas A&M and Ole Miss still playing — Indiana, Purdue, UCLA and Georgia for starters.

 

And some unnamed school that makes South Carolina coach Frank Martin ill to see in the field.

 

“I’m not going to use school names because it makes me sick to my stomach,” Martin said. “Texas A&M gets beat today with a leading scorer in the conference (Danuel House) not playing. And all of the sudden they’re no longer an NCAA tournament team? Yet there’s a team that everyone has in from a different conference and they got beat last game of the season by a lot of points. Yet’s OK for them, but it’s not OK for our guys?”

 

We could take guesses at the team making Martin sick. Maybe it’s St. John’s, who lost 105-68 to Villanova in its last regular conference game. Or Ohio State, which lost 72-48 to Wisconsin. Maybe it was some lopsided conference tournament score.

 

The team he’s referring to doesn’t really matter.

 

We’re talking about a Texas A&M that turned the ball over 19 times and trailed by double figures in the second half to Auburn.

 

Or we’re talking about an Ole Miss team that turned the ball over 21 times and shot 30 percent from the field in a game it absolutely could not lose.

 

“We have had a hard time handling the pressure of games when things went bad for us,” A&M coach Billy Kennedy said.

 

Said Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy: “The inability to make a play has cost us.”

 

Sure, they both lost Saturday, but those aren’t trends I want Tournament coaches to admit.

 

Even in its last game, a loss, Murray State hit 11 3-pointers, scored 88 points and shot 33-of-68 from the floor. Let’s see more of that.

 

Teams like Ole Miss and Texas A&M have shown us enough. Perhaps Georgia has as well. The Bulldogs’ best two wins of the year are over Ole Miss. At least by drawing South Carolina, Georgia can show us it can beat the No. 11 seed in its own league, something the Bulldogs didn’t do during the regular season.

 

“How do you know the middle of the pack SEC is good? How do you know the middle of the pack Big Ten is good?” Prohm said after the Ohio Valley tournament. “Everybody just starts with an RPI number. That’s not fair. Watch the teams play. A team wins 25 in a row, there’s no question that team belongs in the Tournament. It shouldn’t even be up for debate. I’m not saying it’s a 10 seed (we deserve), but if it’s a 12 seed, a 12-seed play-in game, we definitely are deserving.”

 

And it’s not just Georgia or Ole Miss taking up valuable space in the NCAA Tournament.

 

Iowa lost to Penn State in the Big Ten tournament and will likely stay in the field despite doing nothing of note since early February. The Hawkeyes beat North Carolina in December, swept an OK Ohio State team and beat Maryland in early February. Since then, Iowa has lost to Northwestern, Minnesota and Penn State.

 

St. John’s lost to Providence by 17 and may still be in the field. 

 

And Murray State isn’t the only low-major that should find its way into the field,  regardless of the conference tournament. 

 

If Stephen F. Austin loses in the Southland tournament, the Lumberjacks are out, too. They’ve lost once since Nov. 24. They won their league by two games and neat VCU last year in the tournament.

 

North Carolina Central is 16-0 in the MEAC, won its league by four games and outscored league opponents by more than 15 points per game.

 

On the , Gary Parrish suggested a tweak to the system.

 

Teams from traditional one-bid leagues win their regular season in dominant fashion get into the 64-team bracket, regardless of their conference tournament results. The conference tournament champion, in the case of the OVC, play in the first four.

 

The selection committee doesn’t even need to go that far.

 

Just take Murray State as an at-large. Or Stephen F. Austin or North Carolina Central if need be. Other arms of the NCAA ignore precedent all the time, why not tournament selection committee?

 

Don’t think of it as breaking the rules, just making new ones.

 

Photo courtesy of Tab Brockman, Murray State Athletics

Teaser:
The SEC's Bubble has Popped: Let Murray State Take its Place
Post date: Friday, March 13, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-expert-poll-how-can-game-be-fixed
Body:

College basketball seems to be in a state of crisis.

 

The sport is fading into a niche market with only March Madness able to capture widespread national attention.

 

The reasons are many: The sport lacks the stars power it did when players stayed in school for four years. Defenses have free reign, deflating scoring totals and slowing the game. Timeouts at the end of the game grind momentum to a halt in the final minutes.

 

All of these are popular topics to improve the game. But which is the No. 1 thing our panel would fix?

 

Athlon Sports College Basketball Expert Survey

 

Question 4: What is the No. 1 thing that could be done to improve college basketball?

 

VotesChange
8Reduce the number of timeouts
5Implement baseball-style draft rules
3Require players to stay two seasons rather than one
2Shorten the shot clock
2Enforce no-contact rules for the defense
1Limit official reviews by time
1Start the regular season later
1Reform NCAA investigation process
1Ban timeouts during play
1"Teach guys how to shoot"
1Make officiating a full-time job under NCAA
1Widen the lane
1Eliminate one-and-done

 

• If you’re keeping track of the trends: nine of the responses had to do with timeouts, nine had to do with reforming the NBA draft rules and six had to do with the flow of the game.

 

• A note on “baseball-style draft rules:” This refers to the rules in college baseball where a player can go pro out of high school, but if he enrolls in college, he can’t enter the draft again until after his junior season.

 

• Our panelists expanded on this more than anything else we asked. Here are their responses:

 

• “Streamline the last few minutes. That would include fewer timeouts for a team per game, and eliminating the 60-second period after someone fouls out, which is just adding more timeouts.”

 

• “I would definitely get rid of one-and-done and try to implement the baseball rule. That would be ideal. If not, at least require two years of college ... And time outs should be cut back to four total but no more than two in the last two minutes.”

 

• "Limit officials to two minutes for a video review with an actual timer. Can't figure it out by then? Stick with the original call. Reviews take far too long and kill any momentum.”

 

• I'd like to see one-and-done become two-and-done. It would change the nature of recruiting in a good way and enhance the relevance of the academic side of things. In concert, I'd like to see the NBA draft opened up to players who want to turn pro out of high school. Let the NBA figure out what to do with those kids. No one should have to go to college. No one does now, but there isn't a compelling enough alternative.”

 

• I love the idea of baseball-style draft rules but I think the most realistic thing to improve the game is fewer timeouts. I’d like to see coaches have just three timeouts in the second half.”

 

• Change one-and-done to two-and-done. Great players staying even one more season would have a trickle-down effect on the quality of the game, because great players make those around them better. My close runner-up would be for USA Basketball to get more involved in skills clinics, which it has already begun to do. Nothing against legitimate AAU coaches and tournaments, but less summer games and more skills development camps, with an emphasis on ball handling, passing, blocking out, setting good screens and shooting mechanics, would improve the game as much as anything could.”

 

• “The college game is being watered down by lack of talent. I'd change the NBA one-and-done rule to the baseball rule where players can either declare out of high school or stay three years in college.”

 

• “Hire a bunch of former FBI guys to be NCAA investigators.”

 

• The best thing for college basketball would be de-emphasizing AAU, but that won't happen. So I'd say reducing number of timeouts.”

 

• “If the NBAPA would cooperate, sign me up for baseball-style draft rules. Including the no-declaration. If you’re a high school senior or college junior, NBA is free to draft you, but there’s no guarantee you sign.”

 

• “Get the NBA to eliminate age-limit rule. Let high school stars go directly to the NBA. College basketball was at its best when the game trended toward upperclassmen, not one-and-dones. Sure, the best ones will leave. But there's more overall talent in amateur basketball today than ever. College hoops would thrive with upperclassman-oriented teams.”

 

• “The baseball-style NBA draft rule. Would help the game locally and nationally. Lack of stars hurts it nationally. And fans of the passionate programs are robbed of the chance to watch guys grow up in their programs. You no longer see guys climb up the scoring lists.”

 

• “Coordinate all officials under the same umbrella, pay them more and make sure they work less.”

 

• “Enforce no-contact rules. Defense has too much power.”

 

• “Fix the timeout rules. Take at least one away (I'd remove two), and eliminate live-ball timeouts (especially called from the bench when the defense has the offensive team stuck. That's insane.)”

 


More than two dozen college basketball experts from throughout college basketball media participated in the Athlon Sports survey conducted in late February and early March this year.

 

All were notified their individual responses to our six questions would not be revealed on AthlonSports.com, but they were free to post their responses to their own sites, on their broadcasts or to their social media outlets.

 

The panel was comprised of:

 

, WDRB Louisville

, Sporting News

, Blue Ribbon

, ACC Network/Fox Sports Network

, Sporting News

, Washington Post/NBC Sports

, Yahoo! Sports

, ESPN

, USA Today

, ESPN

, ESPN

, Chicago Sun-Times

, College Basketball Talk

, Kansas City Star

, Sports on Earth

, NCAA.com

, Sporting News

, CBSSports.com

, CBSSports.com

, SI.com

, Detroit Free Press

, SI.com

, Virginia Daily Press

, Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader

, Blue Star Media

, SI.com

Teaser:
College Basketball Expert Poll: How Can The Game Be Fixed?
Post date: Thursday, March 12, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/8-slumping-teams-avoid-your-2015-ncaa-tournament-bracket
Body:

Earlier, Athlon Sports looked at the teams that are surging into the NCAA Tournament.

 

This is the flip side. These are teams that are limping their way into the field, provided some of them making at all.

 

For whatever reason — cold shooting, injury — these teams will be in the field but perhaps in name only. The teams you may have liked at one point of the season are giving off clear warning signs.

 

Pick them in your bracket at your own risk.

 

Indiana

Given the roller coaster of Indiana basketball this season, maybe a great postseason is in the works for the Hoosiers. Indiana was 15-4 on Jan. 22 and has gone 4-8 since. The defense in the last three games, in particular, has been dreadful, allowing 1.16 points per possession against Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan State.

 

Kansas

The Jayhawks expect Perry Ellis back for the NCAA Tournament. Make no mistake: That’s huge for their prospects. The junior forward has been carrying KU for the latter portion of the conference schedule. Even with Ellis, though, Kansas flashed some warning signs in losses to Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Kansas State, plus sluggish games against TCU and Texas. Kansas won its 11th consecutive Big 12 title and will be seeded well, but unless the Jayhawks do something great in the conference tournament, stay away.

 

Oklahoma State

At one point in February, Oklahoma State had defeated Baylor twice and Kansas once. Since Feb. 14, the Cowboys are 1-5 including two losses to West Virginia and losses to TCU and Texas Tech. Oklahoma State doesn’t have a ton of scoring depth and one of those options (Phil Forte) is prone to awful days from 3-point range.

 

Ole Miss

The Rebels are sliding off the bubble and may well find their way into the NIT if they can’t win a game or two in the SEC tournament. Since Feb. 25, Ole Miss lost at home to fellow bubble team Georgia and a Vanderbilt team that’s not going to get an at-large bid. The Rebels also lost by 10 on the road to LSU. Stefan Moody has been great at getting to the free throw line and converting when he’s there (35-of-37) in the last four games, but he’s shot 6-of-31 from long range during the same span. Live by the 3, die by the 3.

 

Texas

The Longhorns closed the regular season with victories over Baylor and Kansas State in what were essentially must-win games. Before that, Texas had underachieved all year with two four-game losing streaks contributing to a 6-10 Big 12 record at one point. Is Texas finally delivering on its potential or still a team to avoid?

 

Texas A&M

Like Ole Miss, Texas A&M is flirting with disaster if it can’t win in the SEC tournament. Unlike the Rebels, the Aggies don’t have as many quality wins — A&M swept the series against LSU whereas Ole Miss beat Arkansas and Oregon on the road and Arkansas on a neutral court. Texas A&M went from reasonably safe to losing nailbiters to Florida and Alabama.

 

Utah

The Utes were one of the best turnaround stories in the sport, and when Utah was 21-4, it was easy to get overly optimistic. The last three weeks of the season may have brought things down to Earth. Arizona completed a season sweep of Utah, and the Utes let a lead slip away in a 77-68 loss to a Washington team that won only five Pac-12 games all year. After Utah finished 2-3 in the Pac-12, watch the Utes carefully.

 

VCU

You’ll be tempted to pick VCU on name recognition and the Rams’ NCAA Tournament seed. Beware! The Rams lost the linchpin of the havoc defense, Briante Weber, on Jan. 31 and finished on a 5-6 slide. VCU had defeated only one KenPom top 100 team without Weber.

Teaser:
8 Teams Slumping Their Way Into March Madness
Post date: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-expert-poll-who-are-best-announcers
Body:

March Madness is upon us, which means a healthy dose of quick channel surfing ... or switching among live streams, if that’s your thing.

 

Either way, you’re counting on a broadcast team to deliver the goods on the moment — the exact situation, what it means and what each team might be likely to do.

 

The third in our series of questions for our college basketball expert survey deals with the sport’s top television broadcasters.

 

We asked more than two dozen college basketball experts in the media to name their top three play-by-play announcers and their top three color analysts. Like our poll of the top three coaches Monday, we did not ask our panelists to rank the announcers, simply to name a top three. Nor did we ask for broadcast duos.

 

Nevertheless, one broadcast duo was an overwhelming No. 1 in our voting.

 

Athlon Sports College Basketball Expert Poll

 

Question 3: Who are the top college basketball announcers?

 

Play-by-playVotesColorVotes
Dan Shulman, ESPN19Jay Bilas, ESPN22
Sean McDonough, ESPN11Bill Raftery, CBS13
Ian Eagle, CBS6Dan Dakich, ESPN10
Gus Johnson, FOX/BTN5Fran Fraschilla, ESPN9
Mike Tirico, ESPN5Doris Burke, ESPN5
Dave Pasch, ESPN4Clark Kellogg, CBS3
Dave Flemming, ESPN3Dick Vitale, ESPN3
Kevin Harlan, CBS3Stephen Bardo, FOX/BTN2
Verne Lundquist, CBS3Bill Walton, ESPN2
Jim Nantz, CBS3Shane Battier, ESPN1
Brent Musburger, ESPN2Dan Bonner, ACC Network1
Brad Nessler, ESPN2Sean Farnham, ESPN1
Marv Albert, CBS1Seth Greenberg, ESPN1
Adam Amin, ESPN1Andy Katz, ESPN1
Rece Davis, ESPN1Jon Sundvold, ESPN1
Mark Jones, ESPN1  
Dave O'Brien, ESPN1  
Jon Sciambi, ESPN1  
Joe Tessitore, ESPN1  

 

• ESPN’s No. 1 team of Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas ran away with the voting. Bilas appeared on 22 of 25 ballots, and Shulman appeared on 19 of 25. Hard to imagine a single announcing team in any sport being as universally respected.

 

• Ian Eagle was the top-voted play-by-play analyst from CBS/Turner, the broadcast partner of the NCAA Tournament, yet Jim Nantz is on the call for the Final Four. Perhaps our panel thinks of Nantz more as an NFL or golf announcer whereas Eagle is a full-time voice on college basketball.

 

• Speaking of the Final Four, Bill Raftery was a strong No. 2 among color analysts. Raftery will be on the Final Four call this year with Nantz and Grant Hill. Raftery, who has trademark calls of “Onions!” and “with a kiss,” will replace Greg Anthony while he serves a suspension.

 

• One response: “Jay Bilas, Clark Kellogg and, in a sick, twisted sort of way, Dan Dakich.” 

 

• This was a tough year for ESPN’s Dick Vitale, as he was taken off a Duke-North Carolina game for the first time in his career. Some of our panelists still have a soft spot for the iconic Dickie V: “Dick Vitale, like the Beatles, in a category all his own.”

 

• One respondent had a tough time narrowing the field for play-by-play announcer: “This is difficult. I think Dan Shulman is terrific. I like everything Gus Johnson. Jim Nantz adds real gravitas, and Kevin Harlan is a favorite.”

 

• We knew anecdotally that ESPN’s Doris Burke had the respect of her peers. She finished with more votes than Clark Kellogg, Dick Vitale and Doug Gottlieb.

 

• Marv Albert is best known for his NBA work, but he is a play-by-play broadcaster for CBS/Turner in the NCAA Tournament. “at 100 Marv will still be great.”

 

• We didn’t ask about the top sideline reporters. Should we have?

 

• One of our panelists who answered other questions in the survey declined these two, citing a “conflict of interest.”

 


More than two dozen college basketball experts from throughout college basketball media participated in the Athlon Sports survey conducted in late February and early March this year.

 

All were notified their individual responses to our six questions would not be revealed on AthlonSports.com, but they were free to post their responses to their own sites, on their broadcasts or to their social media outlets.

 

The panel was comprised of:

 

, WDRB Louisville

, Sporting News

, Blue Ribbon

, ACC Network/Fox Sports Network

, Sporting News

, Washington Post/NBC Sports

, Yahoo! Sports

, ESPN

, USA Today

, ESPN

, ESPN

, Chicago Sun-Times

, College Basketball Talk

, Kansas City Star

, Sports on Earth

, NCAA.com

, Sporting News

, CBSSports.com

, CBSSports.com

, SI.com

, Detroit Free Press

, SI.com

, Virginia Daily Press

, Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader

, Blue Star Media

, SI.com

Teaser:
College Basketball Expert Poll: Who are the Best Announcers?
Post date: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/8-teams-surging-march-madness-2015
Body:

Sometimes winning in the NCAA Tournament is more about who has the hottest team rather than the best team.

 

Take, for example, last year’s national finalists. UConn and Kentucky did nothing during the regular season to indicate they’d be championship contenders before catching a hot streak in the postseason.

 

A few of the teams with momentum we know all too well — Wisconsin, Duke, Villanova and of course this year’s version of Kentucky.

 

Instead, here we'll highlight some of the teams further down the bracket, if they’re on a mock bracket at all at this point.

 

These eight teams have already caught fire late in the season and may have what it takes to continue their hot streaks into the conference and NCAA tournaments.

 

Baylor

The Bears were 6-6 in the Big 12 on Valentine’s Day before winning five of their last six during the regular season, the only loss in the road in overtime to a desperate Texas team. Some of the wins were a little lightweight — Baylor played Big 12 No. 10 seed Texas Tech twice in the final six. But Baylor also beat Iowa State on the road and Kansas State and West Virginia at home. Guard Taurean Prince is averaging 19.5 points per game off the bench in this span.

 

Boise State

The Broncos did plenty of damage to their at-large hopes in a two-week span during the holidays, losing to Loyola (Ill.), Utah State and Wyoming amid a four-game losing streak from Dec. 23-Jan. 10. A dismal non-conference schedule and a loss to Fresno State in February didn’t help, either. Still, Boise State may have saved itself by winning 14 of its final 15, including a season sweep of San Diego State.  Senior Derrick Marks, who is carrying the team solo since Anthony Drimic was hurt in December, will try not to let this moment slip away.

 

BYU

The Cougars were 7-5 in the West Coast Conference on Feb. 5, but rebuilt their NCAA resume thanks to eight consecutive wins, including a 73-70 win at Gonzaga to finish up the regular season. Kyle Collinsworth picked up his sixth triple-double of the season in the WCC semifinal against Portland. If he can pick up one more in the NCAA Tournament, he’ll break the career record set by LSU’s Shaquille O’Neal.

 

Cincinnati

The Bearcats helped their case for NCAA Tournament inclusion in the final week of the season by defeating Tulsa 56-47 on the road and Memphis 77-65 at home. After back-to-back narrow losses to Tulane and Xavier in February, Cincinnati won five in a row to clinch bye in the American tournament. Not bad for a program that’s been under interim coach Larry Davis since December.

 

Davidson

Bob McKillop has his most dangerous team since Stephen Curry was on campus. The Wildcats closed the regular season with nine consecutive wins to claim the Atlantic 10 regular season title in only their first year in the league. Davidson is a machine on offense, averaging 1.21 points per possession during the nine-game winning streak. During that span, Davidson is making 11.3 3-pointers per game at a 41-percent clip.

 

Maryland

The Terrpains started the season 14-1 with the only loss coming to Virginia. The Terps finished the regular season on a seven-game win streak to clinch the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament. Maryland has been excellent on the defensive end, highlighted by holding Wisconsin to 0.96 points per possession in a 59-53 upset of the Badgers on Feb. 24.

 

Oregon

Dana Altman earned Pac-12 coach of the year honors after his team surged through the end of the season. The Ducks won nine of their last 10 after a 90-56 loss at Arizona on Jan. 28. During that span, Oregon defeated Utah and potentially knocked Stanford out of the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks perhaps already played their way into the field, but they could help their seeding if they can beat both Utah and Arizona on the way to an automatic bid.

 

Vanderbilt

The Commodores aren’t an at-large candidate, but they have the potential to wreak havoc in the SEC tournament. Vandy has won their last five and eight of their final 10. The only losses have come by a combined six points in overtime (Tennessee) or on the road (Florida). The Commodores have been torching opponents from 3-point range, averaging 11 3s per game at a 50.9 percent rate. If the ‘Dores can defeat Tennessee in their tournament opener, Vanderbilt could be a nightmare matchup for Arkansas, Ole Miss or Georgia. The latter two are trying to stay in the field.

Teaser:
8 Teams Surging into March Madness 2015
Post date: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-expert-poll-which-coach-rise
Body:

College basketball coaches are always in a process of becoming.

 

Every coach in the profession is looking for the next milestone. Well, every coach except for Mike Krzyzewski.

 

If you follow the sport closely, you probably have an opinion on the best coach without a national title, the best coach without a Final Four, the best coach outside of a power conference, the best coach under 40, or whatever the case may be.

 

If your school is close to making a coaching change, maybe you’re especially interested in the coaches who are on the rise.

 

For the second part of our college basketball expert survey, we asked a panel of more than two dozen college basketball experts who they believed was in the process of becoming one of the best in the profession.

 

The results were somewhat surprising from multiple angles. Some of our panelists reached into the low-major ranks to respond. Some reminded us that even coaches who reached the Final Four still have things to accomplish before they reach the top of the mountain.

 

Athlon Sports College Basketball Expert Poll

 

Question 2: Which coach is early in his career now but will be considered a top-10 name in the next decade?

 

VotesSchoolCoach
5Archie Miller, Dayton
4Shaka Smart, VCU
3Tony Bennett, Virginia
3Dan Hurley, Rhode Island
2Chris Holtman, Butler
2Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State
2Sean Miller, Arizona
1Chris Collins, Northwestern
1John Groce, Illinois
1Larry Krystkowiak, Utah
1Matt Langel, Colgate
1Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
1Cuonzo Martin, Cal
1Tim Miles, Nebraska
1Steve Prohm, Murray State
1Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics
1Brad Underwood, Stephen F. Austin
1Will Wade, Chattanooga
1Michael White, Louisiana Tech

• The nature of the question was up for interpretation for many of our panelists — “early in his career” and “top-10” coach are flexible designations. We have coaches from Colgate and Chattanooga listed here along with three coaches who have already reached a Final Four and a number of coaches already at power programs. Sean Miller has coached for 11 total seasons, six at Arizona. That’s early in a career when compared with lifers like Krzyzewski.

 

• It’s interesting that Sean Miller wasn’t the top Miller on the list. The younger brother Archie Miller took Dayton to the Elite Eight last season and has the Flyers in NCAA contention despite a ton of in-season roster turnover. That said, don’t read too much into that. In all likelihood, much of our panel either already considered Sean Miller a top-10 coach or a guy who’s not “early” in his career.

 

• That one vote for Boston Celtics coach and former Butler head man Brad Stevens came with this comment — “when he when he returns to college, as he inevitably will.”

 

• A number of coaches showed up on both this list and our best coaches in the game today poll — Sean Miller, Tony Bennett, Shaka Smart and Fred Hoiberg. 

 

• Rhode Island’s Dan Hurley received three votes. His name should look familiar — he’s the brother of ex-Duke star Bobby Hurley and son of Hall of Fame high school coach Bob Hurley. Dan Hurley is making his own mark, leading massive rebuilds at Wagner and Rhode Island in just five years as a head coach.

 

• Think of the journey for Butler coach Chris Holtmann. He wasn’t a full-time head coach until December when his boss, Brandon Miller, officially left his post to deal with health issues.

 

• Also on the list are a few names that are about to move out of low-major ranks into the mid-majors include Chattanooga’s Will Wade (a former Shaka Smart assistant), Louisiana Tech’s Michael White (who was interviewed for the Tennessee job last season), Stephen F. Austin’s Brad Underwood (who is 59-7 as a head coach) and Murray State’s Steve Prohm.

 

• The most surprising name on this list? Matt Langel. The 37-year-old has been at Colgate for four seasons, taking over a seven-win team the year before he arrived. The Red Raiders went 12-6 for its first winning record in the Patriot League since 2002-03.

 


More than two dozen college basketball experts from throughout college basketball media participated in the Athlon Sports survey conducted in late February and early March this year.

 

All were notified their individual responses to our six questions would not be revealed on AthlonSports.com, but they were free to post their responses to their own sites, on their broadcasts or to their social media outlets.

 

The panel was comprised of:

 

, WDRB Louisville

, Sporting News

, Blue Ribbon

, ACC Network/Fox Sports Network

, Sporting News

, Washington Post/NBC Sports

, Yahoo! Sports

, ESPN

, USA Today

, ESPN

, ESPN

, Chicago Sun-Times

, College Basketball Talk

, Kansas City Star

, Sports on Earth

, NCAA.com

, Sporting News

, CBSSports.com

, CBSSports.com

, SI.com

, Detroit Free Press

, SI.com

, Virginia Daily Press

, Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader

, Blue Star Media

, SI.com

Teaser:
College Basketball Expert Poll: Which Coach is on the Rise?
Post date: Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/fashion-police-ncaa-bans-crop-tops-oversized-facemasks
Body:

What did Shawn Oakman ever do to the NCAA?

 

The  banning “crop tops” and “non-standard/overbuilt facemasks.” Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman in a few games last season had both.

 

A player wearing a crop top tucks the bottom of the jersey into his pads, exposing the stomach. The overbuilt facemasks refer to those with four or five bars across and/or several diagonal bars across the front of the facemask. 

 

Players with a crop top will cost their teams a timeout when they leave the game to fix their jerseys.

 

The NFL banned the same facemasks last season.

 

In other words, say goodbye to Ezekiel Elliott’s belly button and DeForest Buckner’s Bane look.

 

This is not allowed...

 

This is also not allowed.

Teaser:
Fashion Police: NCAA Bans Crop Tops, Oversized Facemasks
Post date: Monday, March 9, 2015 - 19:25
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oklahoma Sooners, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-football-bob-stoops-lead-silent-demonstration
Body:

If there’s a way to make a positive out of an awful situation, University of Oklahoma athletics is doing the work.

 

The Oklahoma campus was rocked Sunday evening and Monday when a video of fraternity members chanting racial slurs surfaced. The university .

 

Football and basketball players, joined by coaches Bob Stoops and Lon Kruger, demonstrated outside of the athletic facility this morning

 

“It’s something that should concern everyone,” . “It’s not just athletics.”

 

 

While the condemnation of such nakedly racist behavior should be expected rather than applauded, let’s give credit to the Sooners for this peaceful show of solidarity. Emotions easily could have spilled over — and to a degree they did in .

 

Striker eventually apologized for the outburst via teammate Charles Tapper.

 

Striker joined his teammates for a silent march from the practice facility on campus. Oklahoma athletics posted a video of the protest today on its official web site.

 

 

 

 

The repercussions of this incident are unclear, but at least one recruit announced he would de-commit from Oklahoma. Mesquite (Texas) North Mesquite offensive tackle Jean Delance announced he’d re-open his recruitment.

 

 

Teaser:
Oklahoma football, Bob Stoops Lead Silent Demonstration
Post date: Monday, March 9, 2015 - 18:14
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/dummies-guide-march-madness-2015
Body:

This college basketball season has been one of mixed emotions.

 

We’ve celebrated the careers of legends Dean Smith and Jerry Tarkanian while mourning their passing. We watched Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Philadelphia’s Herb Magee celebrate their 1,000th win. We’ve watched day-in and day-out greatness at Kentucky.

 

Yet we’ve also watched another Hall of Fame coach see his legacy tainted and the future of the program thrown into doubt due to NCAA violations, and Jim Boeheim wasn’t alone in dealing with off-court issues when programs should be gearing up for postseason.

 

Amid all of this, March Madness and the unpredictability of tournament season is here. Remember, at this point last season, Connecticut was on no one’s radar as a national championship contender. Neither was Kentucky. A series of upsets, though, led us to UConn winning a national title. Madness, indeed.

 

For any fan just getting into college basketball in time for championship week and office pools: What took you so long?

 

You have some catching up to do. By waiting until the final weeks, you’ve missed a historic season. Every season is historic for one reason or another, so maybe this season will be among the most memorable even before the NCAA Tournament.

 

You may need to catch up a bit, but that’s what you’ll learn here.

 

Kentucky is going for perfection

 

College basketball hasn’t had a story like this since — when, exactly? Kevin Durant vs. Greg Oden in the first year of one-and-done in 2007? The Christian Laettner Duke years? This is the No. 1 story in college basketball as Kentucky tries to match Indiana’s undefeated national championship team in 1975-76. Only five teams since have entered their league tournament undefeated, and only 1991 UNLV could claim to be as divisive. No fan base is more invested than Kentucky’s, and John Calipari may be the only coach to match Mike Krzyzewski as a love-him or hate-him figure in the sport. One way or another, Kentucky will make history in this Tournament — either by becoming the first team to go 40–0 or being on the wrong end of a monumental upset.

 

The Player of the Year race may go down to the wire

 

Maybe it’s for the best that the race for the Wooden or Naismith awards doesn’t get the same hype as the Heisman Trophy. A year after the Player of the Year award was a season-long coronation for Creighton’s Doug McDermott, the sport has a legitimate two-player race between Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky. Both play center for national championship contenders, but they don’t fit the same profile. Okafor, who does his best work around the basket, has been a contender for the No. 1 overall draft pick since he was in high school. Kaminsky, who is more of a threat from the perimeter, was a virtual unknown two years ago. This will be the most heated Player of the Year race since Duke’s J.J. Redick and Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison shared the award in 2005-06. 

 

A Final Four drought could end out West

 

The two best coaches who have never reached the Final Four both reside out West, and both may have their best chance to reach the final weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga’s Mark Few has a 30-win team that may be better than his Bulldogs team that was a No. 1 seed in 2013 or the team with Adam Morrison in 2006. Meanwhile, Sean Miller’s Arizona team recent wrapped up another Pac-12 championship and will enter postseason with one of the best rosters in the nation. Miller has been to the Elite Eight three times in his career, once with Xavier and twice with Arizona. 

 

Mike Krzyzewski reached 1,000 wins and should keep adding more

 

Earlier this season, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski became the first Division I coach to reach the 1,000-win mark, and he has a team that should be able to build upon that total in the NCAA Tournament. He has Okafor anchoring the center spot, but his backcourt of freshman Tyus Jones and senior Quinn Cook may be the most clutch duo in the country. Depth and defense remain an issue for the Blue Devils, so there’s hope for the Duke haters who enjoyed the Devils’ recent Round of 64 losses to Mercer (2014) and Lehigh (2012).

 

Tony Bennett is college basketball’s newest miracle worker

 

Virginia hasn’t been this good since Ralph Sampson played for the Cavaliers, but what’s most remarkable is that the Cavs aren’t doing it with a ton of stars or flash. Virginia has won back-to-back ACC regular-season titles and enters conference tournament season with just two losses. Coach Tony Bennett has done this without a five-star prospect or a McDonald’s All-American and without his top player, Justin Anderson, for the final eight games of the regular season. The style isn’t for everyone — Virginia ranks 349th of 351 team in terms of tempo — but it is effective.

 

Villanova is the best team no one is talking about

 

Villanova has only lost two games yet is flying under the national radar — a bit puzzling for a program that has won a national championship, been to a Final Four in recent years and has a star coach on the bench. The reason? Maybe it’s because the Big East doesn’t get much exposure from ESPN since most its games are on FOX Sports 1. Or possibly because Villanova lost last season as No. 2 seed in the Round of 32. Whatever the reason, don’t hold it against this year’s Villanova team. The Wildcats are in the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, a trademark of teams that go on to win the national title.

 

The Hall of Fame announcement will actually be interesting

 

Speaking of Bo Ryan... the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame probably isn’t something even the most ardent fans spend time pondering, especially during the week of the Final Four. This season, though, the announcement may carry more weight than usual. Active coaches John Calipari and Bo Ryan are on the ballot this year. The announcement of new inductees will be made April 6, the same day as the national championship game. Will one or both be involved? 

 

Off-court issues threaten to mar a great tournament

 

Speaking of Hall of Famers, this has not been a good year for Hall of Fame coaches. Krzyzewski dismissed a player who was later revealed to be facing sexual assault allegations. Syracuse banned itself from the postseason months before the NCAA hammered the Orange and coach Jim Boeheim for a wide range of violations. North Carolina coach Roy Williams has an athletic department embroiled in an ongoing academic scandal that seems to get worse every passing week. SMU coach Larry Brown hasn’t had his best player eligible all season. Kansas’ most highly touted freshman and pro prospect might not play again this season while the NCAA investigates possible contact between his family and an agent. Why don’t we all get back to basketball for a bit.

 

You’re going to get annoyed at officials

 

The NCAA Tournament is the crown jewel of the college basketball season and the only college athletics event that comes close to rivaling football. If that’s the case, then why is the product sometimes so crummy? If you’re just checking in with the sport, be prepared: Officiating is inconsistent, defensive players are allowed too much contact and the end of games take for-ev-er due to too many team and official timeouts. This, unfortunately, is the norm.

 

Power teams will be at home

 

Hope you didn’t expect to tune in to watch Syracuse, UConn, Memphis and Florida in this field. They’re home. Sorry. UCLA and Texas are also flirting with the NIT.

 

Big names will be back

 

In the place of those powerhouses, you should be able to welcome back Larry Brown, who hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1988. Brown’s SMU team was snubbed last season, and now the Mustangs are ready to be in the field for the first time since 1993. Other powers due to be back from long absences: Purdue (2012), Maryland (2010), Utah (2009) and Arkansas (2008).

Teaser:
The Dummies' Guide to March Madness 2015
Post date: Monday, March 9, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-expert-poll-who-best-coach
Body:

If Kentucky and Duke meet in the Final Four or the national championship game this season, the matchup will be between a pair of coaches who have met only twice in their illustrious careers and never in the postseason.

 

It will also be between the top two coaches in the game today, according to an Athlon Sports expert poll.

 

In the last three weeks, Athlon Sports surveyed 26 college basketball experts in the media for a range of topics in the sport. In our first question, we asked simply “who are the top three coaches in the game today.” We did not ask our respondents to rank their coaches (though some did). Each coach named counts as one point in our results. The answers are...

 

Athlon Sports College Basketball Expert Poll

 

Question 1: Who are the top three coaches in the game today?

 

VotesSchoolCoach
23Mike Krzyzewski
20John Calipari
7Bo Ryan
7Bill Self
5Rick Pitino
4Tom Izzo
3Tony Bennett
2Billy Donovan
1 Mark Few (Gonzaga), Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State), Jim Larranaga (Miami), Bob McKillop (Davidson), Sean Miller (Arizona), Shaka Smart (VCU), Roy Williams (North Carolina)

 

• The top two in our poll were overwhelming. Krzyzewski appeared on 23 of 26 ballots, and Calipari appeared on 20 of 26. Not that those two would be bad choices in any year, but we wonder if there might be a bit of recency bias in the response. (And since we said “in the game today,” that makes perfect sense). These top two coaches have been at the top of people’s minds this season in particular with Krzyzewski crossing the 1,000-win mark and Calipari leading an undefeated team.

 

• Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan is a logical coach on anyone’s ballot this season, but consider where he would have been before last year’s Final Four. Ryan has gone from the most underrated coach in the country to royalty in the sport.

 

• It’s worth nothing both Calipari and Ryan are finalists for the Naismith Hall of Fame this season.

 

• Florida’s Billy Donovan received only two votes. Hard to believe we’d get the same response this time last year. He was before the season and . It’s been a rough year in Gainesville.

 

• Give our panel credit for mentions of Davidson’s Bob McKillop and Miami’s Jim Larranaga. 

 

• A few notable names that didn’t appear on anyone’s ballot: Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Michigan’s John Beilein and Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall. Boeheim and Beilein make sense as neither of their teams are going to play in the NCAA Tournament. Marshall is a curious absence considering McKillop, Larranaga and VCU’s Shaka Smart all received at least one vote.

 


More than two dozen college basketball experts from throughout college basketball media participated in the Athlon Sports survey conducted in late February and early March this year.

 

All were notified their individual responses to our six questions would not be revealed on AthlonSports.com, but they were free to post their responses to their own sites, on their broadcasts or to their social media outlets.

 

The panel was comprised of:

 

, WDRB Louisville

, Sporting News

, Blue Ribbon

, ACC Network/Fox Sports Network

, Sporting News

, Washington Post/NBC Sports

, Yahoo! Sports

, ESPN

, USA Today

, ESPN

, ESPN

, Chicago Sun-Times

, College Basketball Talk

, Kansas City Star

, Sports on Earth

, NCAA.com

, Sporting News

, CBSSports.com

, CBSSports.com

, SI.com

, Detroit Free Press

, SI.com

, Virginia Daily Press

, Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader

, Blue Star Media

, SI.com

Teaser:
College Basketball Expert Poll: Who is the best coach?
Post date: Monday, March 9, 2015 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/jim-harbaugh-will-coach-first-base-oakland-spring-training-game
Body:

New Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is a Twitter superstar. .

 

Now, we’ll find out if he can judge a guy should try to turn a single into a double.

 

Harbaugh arrived at spring training in Mesa, Ariz., on Saturday — in uniform — to coach first base for a game against the Los Angeles Angels.

 

Harbaugh and A’s manager Bob Melvin are .

 

The best part of the whole thing? The tall stirrups.

 

Of course.

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
Jim Harbaugh will coach first base for Oakland (for a spring training game)
Post date: Saturday, March 7, 2015 - 13:08

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