Monday, March 31, 2008

After the Second Weekend

As usual, this year's NCAA Tournament has been entertaining. For the first time in my life I have successfully selected all of the Final Four teams. Coincidentally, this is the first time ever that all four #1 seeds have reached the semifinals. I have North Carolina playing UCLA in the final, with North Carolina proving victorious and providing coach Roy Williams with his second national title.

Albeit, this will be his first title with his team. You may remember that he won his first championship coaching a team made up of players recruited by the previous coach Matt Doherty.

Really, I don't buy into the theory that Williams was coaching another man's team. Yes, he didn't recruit those players, but he coached them to the championship. I've only mentioned this for one reason. In 1998 Tubby Smith became the first black coach to win a championship. He won the title in his first year at UK, and he was the first black coach to lead the Wildcats. The problem was that no one could mention his accomplishment without hearing, usually coming from a UK fan, "It was Pitino's team!"

Actually it wasn't. Pitino's team was defeated by the Arizona Wildcats in 1997. Tubby's teams won it all in 1998, beating Duke, Stanford, and finally an impressive and talented Utah team. Smith inherited a team which, over the previous two seasons, had lost six players to the Association. Nevertheless, rabid and unrealistic Kentucky fans believed that only a national championship would due. During the tournament UK came back from deficits of 17 to Duke, 10 to Stanford, and they trailed Utah by 10 at the half. It takes great coaching to motivate and engineer double-digit comebacks against quality teams. Pitino was struggled coach the Celtics to mediocrity. I'm sure that he wasn't coaching the Cats to a championship all the from Massachusetts. (This also applies to Mike Davis and IU's 2002 Final Four run.)

Now that I have that out of my system I'll get back to the 2008 bracket.

The West was my best region. I only missed two picks, and both were related to UCONN. I picked the Huskies to advance to the Sweet 16; instead they were dumped in the first round. The Midwest was my worst region, thanks to Villanova, Siena, and Davidson. Kansas was the only thing I correctly picked from that region, but I loved watching Stephen Curry and Davidson. I'm glad that this young man will be playing college ball next year.

In IU basketball news, it is quite humbling when a second year D-1 basketball coach turns down the Indiana position. Tony Bennett has evidently chosen to remain at Washington State as opposed to take over in Bloomington. That really hurts. It has many folks in Hoosier Nation seething, but I can't blame the guy. Right now IU does not look like a plum job. At the moment IU is dysfunctional, and it may be a long road back to glory.

Sigh.

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