Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Duke to help Truck Bryant get ready to play

Truck Bryant broke a bone in his foot before the Sweet 16, an injury many believed would cost him the remainder of the tournament.

Not so fast.

You see, after West Virginia clinched the regional title, Truck told AOL Fanhouse that he would be ready to play in the Final Four. The plan is to use an orthotic to help take some of the pressure off the bone in his foot. According to Truck, he cannot make the injury any worse than it is, so the question is his ability to play through the pain.

Did Truck get the ice from Duke too?
(photo credit: Globe & Mail)

And if he can, his addition can only help the Mountaineers. Bryant would be just the second point guard on the roster, and against a team like Duke -- a team that defends well in the half court and makes it difficult to get high percentage shots -- he becomes just that much more valuable.

In fact, its not a stretch to say that Bryant could very well end up being the difference in this game.

Which makes it all the more ironic that the place he went to get this orthotic was Duke, and the man making it was a Duke doctor and, as you can imagine, a Duke fan.

How do you define irony?

To his credit, Coach K wasn't the least bit upset.

"We should take care of those kids," he said. "If they come up with an orthotic or whatever, and Duke is the one [that makes it], you should do that."

This may all end up being a moot point anyway. Bob Huggins said Bryant is "very doubtful" to play.

Continue reading...

2010 Final Four Previews: Michigan State Breakdown

Over the next two days, we will be taking a team-by-team look at the Final Four.


Star: Right now, the moniker of go-to player has to be bestowed upon Durrell Summers. Summers has worlds of talent, but for whatever reason -- a lack of focus, inconsistent intensity -- Summers did not live up to that potential this season. But in the tournament, Summers has been a different player. He has been aggressive, he has knocked down jumpers, and he has been the best scorer for a Michigan State team that needs a star with Kalin Lucas out. He averaged 20.0 ppg in four games in the regional, earning Midwest MOP while knocking down a number of important shots. I don't know if there is anyone else on the Michigan State roster capable of taking a game over.

Durrell Summers has been the catalyst for the Spartans.
(photo credit: CSN)

Unheralded Hero: Delvon Roe has been nothing short of a warrior for Michigan State during this tournament run. The kid has the knees of a 75 year old offensive lineman -- he's currently playing with a torn meniscus -- and at least once a game comes up limping after it gets it. He isn't playing big minutes (20-25 a game) and he isn't posting big numbers (5.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg), but the simple fact he is playing through the pain is a feat in and of itself, and no doubt inspiring to his teammates. Did I mention he has a torn meniscus?

How they got here: If Butler had the most difficult trip to the Final Four, Michigan State had the easiest. And the most exciting. In the first round, the Spartans jumped all over New Mexico State in the first half, but the Aggies made it interesting at the end, missing three attempts at a three to force overtime in a game that is marred with an officiating controversy. In their second round game against Maryland, Kalin Lucas popped his achilles late in the first half, but Michigan State was able to extend their lead. Maryland made a run in the final four minutes, taking the lead, before Korie Lucious hit a three at the buzzer for the win. Northern Iowa gave Michigan State a run in the Sweet 16, leading by seven at halftime, but Michigan State turned on the defense down the stretch, holding UNI without a field goal for the last 10:22 of the game while Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan hit big shots down the stretch. Sparty beat Tennessee to advance to the Elite 8, winning when Raymar Morgan hit a free throw with just 1.8 seconds left on the clock.

Three reasons they can win it all:
  1. Tom Izzo: Duh. The guy is the best in-game coach in the country. Period.

  2. Experience: Michigan State may be without Kalin Lucas, but this is still an experienced group of kids that played in the Final Four last year. None of the other teams in the Final Four can say that. Coach K is the only coach that has been in the Final Four recently, taking Duke there in 2004. Anyone can sit there and talk about this just being another game, but thats before you take the court in front of 70,000 people and a national television audience.

  3. Winning close games: Some may call the Spartans run to the Final Four lucky. It may be (see below). But there is also something to be said for being a "winner". I've said this numerous times on this blog, but winning is a skill. It is a mindset. Yes, they may have won all four of their games in the final minute, but they still won them. The Spartans made the plays and got the stops they needed to get to be at this point. Say what you will about officiating and last minute plays, but it was the Spartans that forced New Mexico State into three contested shots to force overtime. It was Green and Lucious that created the buzzer beating jumper against Maryland. It was Michigan State that got stops for the last 10 minutes against Northern Iowa, and Lucious and Morgan that made the big shots down the stretch. It was Green that found an open Morgan who drew the foul against Tennessee. At some point, a reoccuring coincidence becomes a trend, and its not coincidence that MSU is alway successful in March an no coincidence that they won four games this March.

Three reasons they won't win (beyond the obvious Kalin Lucas injury):
  1. Statistically, they may be the worst Final Four team ever: The Wall Street Journal crunched some numbers, and, well, I'll let them explain:
    Judging by how many points Michigan State beat its first four tournament opponents by, 13, the team is the worst to make the Final Four since 1985, when the tournament switched to its current format.
    In comparison, Butler beat their first four opponents -- which included a #1 and #2 seed, MSU beat a #12, #4, #9, and #6 seed -- by 31 points. The average or the previous 104 Final Four teams was 55 points. They won on two game winning shots, one missed game-tying shot, and was tied with Northern Iowa with 90 seconds left.

  2. Is Korie Lucious a point guard?: More specifically, can he fill the shoes that Kalin Lucas have left empty? Not necessarily as a scorer either. I think we can all agree -- and even Tom Izzo and Lucious can admit -- he isn't the player that Lucas is, and that is not meant to be a knock at all. Lucious can shoot and he can create going 1-on-1, but he has had issues turning the ball over when running the point. He is going to go up against a couple tough defenses this weekend. Will the Spartans be able to execute?

  3. Durrell Summers is consistently inconsistent: Summers in an enigma. The guy has the tools to be a pro, but the consistency of a manic depressive. Through four games in this tournament, he has been sensational, averaging 20.0 ppg while hitting 53.3% from three and earning the Midwest Region MOP. The four game before that? He averaged 7.3 ppg while hitting just 10-29 from the floor. He has attempted one more three pointer (30) in the tournament than he did field goals (29) in the four games before the tournament started. Which Summers will show up?

Continue reading...

2010 Final Four Previews: Butler Breakdown

Over the next two days, we will be taking a team-by-team look at the Final Four.


Record: 32-4, 18-0 (Horizon)

Star: Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack have been the 'guys' for Butler all season long. Hayward seems destined to be a first round pick when his Butler career is all said and done, as he is a 6'9" guard that can do it all. Mack is your prototypical power point guard, a 6'3" rock that isn't afraid to take and make a big shot.

If Butler wins the title, these are the four guys that will lead them.
(photo credit: Pictures Depot)

Unheralded Hero: Ronald Nored, and to a lesser extent Willie Veasley as well, is the guy that sets the tone for Butler defensively. One of the best perimeter defenders in the country, Nored spends his time bodying up an opponent's best back court player. For a team that relies as heavily on tough half court defense as Butler does, Nored is as important to their success as either Hayward or Mack. Overall, Butler has a very good group of role players. It is a group of guys that know what they mean to this team, embrace their role, and understand their limitations.

How they got here: Butler probably has the most impressive path to the Final Four. In the first round, Shelvin Mack scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half as Butler overcame a 33-27 halftime deficit as they beat UTEP 77-59. Murray State gave the Bulldogs more of a fight in the second round, but Butler made a late run to take the lead and forced a turnover on the Racer's final possession as they held on for a 54-52 win. In the Sweet 16, Butler knocked off #1 seed Syracuse, forcing the Orange into a slow start and using a 10-0 run in the final five minutes to hold on for a 63-59 win. Against Kansas State in the Elite 8, the Bulldogs shut down the Wildcat's talented back court for much of the game, dominating the glass against a bigger, more athletic team and again using a late surge to win the game.

Three reasons they can win it all:
  1. Defense: Butler is the kind of team you hate to play. They aren't trying to turn you over offensively. They don't overwhelm you with their athleticism. Everything they do on the defensive end is designed to take you out rhythm; to keep you from getting where you want to go offensively. That's why they are giving up just 56.5 ppg in the tournament. The Bulldogs can do it in a variety of ways, tailoring their defense to your strengths offensively. For example, Kansas State runs an offense heavy with ball screens, so Butler jumped every ball screen with their post defender. Butler is a well-prepared, well-coached team on this end of the floor, and they are going to make running offensive sets a nightmare. Ronald Nored's ability to make life a living hell for Korie Lucious may be the determining factor in this game.

  2. Poise: You would probably never believe that this team has just one senior on it. This team just doesn't get rattled. In each of their last three games, the Bulldogs have had an opponent make a late run on them to take the lead -- Syracuse did it twice -- and on all three occasions, Butler was able to answer and win the game. That is impressive.

  3. The comforts of home: I'm not buying the whole 'home court advantage' angle that's being played. Michigan State, West Virginia, and Duke all travel well and have much bigger fan bases. The game isn't played in Hinkle. And Butler playing in Indianapolis isn't exactly Kentucky playing in Lexington. That said, the advantage Butler is going to have playing at home is that they get to sleep at home. They get to be on a normal schedule and have a normal routine. For anyone that has traveled -- be it for work, for a sporting event, etc. -- they can attest that living out of a hotel room is never ideal.

Three reasons they won't win:
  1. Final Four experience: Bobby Huggins has been here before. So has Coach K and Tom Izzo. They know what to expect -- the media crush and the increased attention -- and they know how to handle it. Brad Stevens has never been here. In fact, the biggest stage his teams have even played on was probably last weekends Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games. That is going to pale in comparison to what he and his players face this week.

  2. Matt Howard's fouls: Its been a problem all season long. Howard just always seems to be in some sort of foul trouble. And don't be fooled, Howard is a very important piece to this puzzle. He rebounds the ball, he defends, and he's good for about four or five buckets on the offensive end. He is one of the only players on this roster that is capable of banging on the block with the biggest of the bigs, assuming he is able to stay on the court.

  3. Shooting: Threes. As we all know, it is the great equalizer. Generally when talking about a mid-major advancing or a cinderella making a run through the tournament, it has something to do with a great shooting performance out of the underdog. Butler just isn't a great shooting team this season. A large part of that has been Gordon Hayward's drop off -- he's down to just 29.5% on the season after shooting 44.8% as a freshman. Granted, this team doesn't rely on their shooting -- its defense and the ability to make plays down the stretch. But the Bulldogs don't get many offensive rebounds, and thus won't get many second chances, especially against a team like Michigan State. When they get opportunities, they need to capitalize.

Continue reading...

URI gets robbed, UNC goes to the NIT Final

The NIT is what it is.

The NIT.

I don't know how many people were watching the semifinal game last night between UNC and URI, but if you were you got to see an entertaining, if ugly, game. I'm not going to get into the details because, well, its the NIT, but the play everyone is going to be talking about came in the final seconds in overtime.

And it wasn't a buzzer beater.

UNC was up 68-67 with a five second difference between the shot clock and the game clock. URI opted not to foul, forcing a tough jumper from Larry Drew. Drew missed and Lamonte Ulmer corralled the rebound. As he started to go up court, it looked as if he was tripped from behind by Will Graves.

Take a look:

As Fran Fraschilla says (and give him credit for ripping the officials), intentional or not, a trip is a foul. Make your own conclusions, but based on the video it seems fairly obvious to me that Graves tripped Ulmer.

Can you imagine the uproar if this happened in the NCAA Tournament? And we all thought Duke was the team that got all the calls.

Anyway, UNC moves on to the NIT Finals on Thursday night against Dayton. If they win, they will become the first team to win an NIT title the year after winning the NCAA championship.

Give Roy Williams credit. With everything his team has been through this season, its obvious these kids haven't quit playing.

Continue reading...

Wednesday Morning Dump

- ESPN analysts answer the burning questions about the Final Four

- Tubby, Jamie Dixon, Tom Izzo, Oregon. Your guess is as good as mine.

- What he said

- Does home-court advantage matter in the Final Four

- Who is the most important player in the Final Four

- An interesting idea for the Final Four

- A team-oriented Final Four

- Final Four likabillity index

- Toledo hires former Wisconsin-Green Bay coach

- Holy Cross fires head coach after just one season

- Rick Pitino is getting a contract extension from Louisville

- Jerome Allen, the current interm head coach at Penn will stay and remove the interm tag

- Adam Zagoria gives us some recruiting updates

- Andy Glockner explains why Tom Izzo is hands-down the best coach in the country

- Jeff Goodman brings up a very very interesting point

- A ticket scandal at Butler? That has to be a first

- Former Indiana player to stand trial for fraud charges

- J'Mison Morgan is no longer part of the UCLA program

- Duquesne reinstates forward Bill Clark

- The anatomy of a coaching rumor

- Mississippi State denied appeal in Renardo Sidney case

- IUPUI is forced to vacate wins

- Texas-Pan American gets hit with two years probation

- Hometown hosts will decrease city revenue

- What is next for coach Cal and the Wildcats?

- Must read

- Mid-major progression: George Mason got there, now Butler is trying to win it all

- Oh God, not this guy again

- Somebody clearly got a bit over-confident with their Final Four picks

Continue reading...

UTEP hired Tim Floyd, but the question is why

I have no idea what UTEP is thinking with their hiring of Tim Floyd.

Before I get to the obvious, let me just say this: Floyd embodies what is wrong with college basketball. Remember the "5-8 rule"? The rule that stated a coach could not award more than five scholarships in one season and no more than eight in two seasons? Well, that rule was commonly known as the "Tim Floyd rule" in coaching circles.

Tim Floyd was hired by UTEP today.
(photo credit: ESPN)

How did Floyd earn that distinction?

By over-recruiting. During his four year run at Iowa State that saw the Cyclones win 20 games for three straight seasons and reach the tournament three years in a row, Floyd constantly recruited over players he had already given a scholarship too. He would then run off the excess recruits before the school year began.

He has the player's best interests in mind. Right.

Then there is the whole USC fiasco. I think we are all well aware of the OJ Mayo situation that USC is currently dealing with. Floyd allegedly gave an envelope full of cash to OJ Mayo's handler -- Ronald Guillory -- while Mayo was playing for USC. Guillory is about as unsavory a character as you are going to find in the college basketball world. He got Fresno State's Tito Maddox and USC's Jeff Trepangier in trouble in 2000 for receiving extra benefits. He was the mystery man that showed up in Floyd's office when the Trojans were recruiting Mayo.

Floyd resigned from USC last summer as a result of these allegations. Both Floyd and USC are still awaiting their punishment from the NCAA for those violations.

And this is the guy that UTEP hired.

Remember what happened last time a program hired a coach still under investigation by the NCAA? I think Indiana fans do. Kelvin Sampson got in trouble at Oklahoma for making illegal phone calls to recruits. He then did the same thing at Indiana. The Hoosier's program still hasn't recovered from that.

I don't know Tim Floyd. As far as I know, he could be a changed man. I don't think that there is any debate that the guy can coach, either. He turned around both Iowa State and USC during his tenure at each school.

But at what cost?

USC was on the brink of becoming one of the great stories of the '09-'10 season before they withdrew from all postseason consideration as a result of Floyd's conduct.

This is the guy that UTEP hired.

Can't say that I understand it.
Continue reading...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

St. John's hires Steve Lavin

Its not too difficult to figure out that St. John's was looking to make a splash when hiring their new head coach.

They basically offered everyone. Billy Donovan turned down $3 million a year. St. John's AD Chris Monasch couldn't convince Paul Hewitt, and his family, to leave Atlanta. Seth Greenberg passed. Al Skinner didn't fit the bill. Fran McCaffery went to Iowa instead of St. John's. Kevin Willard went to Seton Hall to clean up that mess instead.

Today, the Johnnies finally hired a coach, inking Steve Lavin to a six-year deal worth somewhere around $9 million. Yes, that Steve Lavin. The one that has been an ESPN analyst since 2003. Fans are certainly excited about the hiring, and NYC media members seem optimistic as well.

Steve Lavin is going from ESPN analyst to St. John's head coach.
(photo credit: Getty Images)

As I said, St. John's wanted to make a splash with this hiring. They wanted the media and the fans to be talking about it, and they succeeded. Steve Lavin is a big time name and a face people will recognize, but whether or not he is a big time coach deserves to be questioned.

Lavin lucked into the UCLA job. Its as simple as that. Jim Harrick was fired in November of 1996, and his two lead assistants -- Mark Gottfried and Lorenzo Romar -- had already taken other gigs, The Bruins then turned to Lavin, who at that point was an unproven assistant.

He wasn't terrible at UCLA. He went to five Sweet 16's in seven years. He made the Elite 8 in his first season. He twice put together the No. 1 recruiting class in the country (1998, 2001), signed seven McDonald's All-Americans, and has sent seven players to the NBA.

But therein lies the problem.

With that much talent coming through his program, the only year he was able to advance beyond the Sweet 16 was his first year in 1997, when he was hired a week before the season started. 1997 was also the only time UCLA finished better than third in the Pac-10 during his tenure. They were sixth in the conference his last two seasons, including a 10-19 debacle in 2003.

There is no questioning Lavin's persona -- he's great with the media, he is a people person, he even has a smoking hot wife. The guy just oozes charisma.

He's also a California guy with connections up-and-down the West Coast. Anyone that is going to have any kind of success at St. John's has to be able to recruit New York City and the tri-state area. The amount of talent that comes out of the region is impressive, but the politics of recruiting NYC can also be daunting.

How is Lavin going to establish connections with the city's AAU and high school programs?

For Lavin to be successful at St. John's, he needs to do two things. He needs to hire an assistant that is an x's-and-o's kind of guy -- that was the biggest criticism of his tenure at UCLA -- and he needs to hire a New York guy to recruit.

He basically has a year to do it as well. St. John's has nine scholarship seniors, which is a good thing and a bad thing. It means that Lavin will be coaching a team with experience and maturity, which is just about all you can ask for at a new program.

But it also means he is going to be in a whole lot of trouble if he cant recruit. Nine scholarships is a lot of spots to fill.

I know St. John's is far from the program it was in the 80's, or even in the late 90's. But there is something to be said for New York City's college basketball team. They play in Madison Square Garden. There is history there. Its not crazy to think that this program can be rebuilt.

But for Lavin to do it, he is going to need a quality staff around him. As it is, St. John's is putting a lot of faith in a guy that hasn't coached in the last seven seasons -- which is equivalent to the experience he has as a head coach -- and who has held just one head coaching job where he wasn't overly successful.

This could turn out great for St. John's, but it could also end up being a very expensive mistake.
Continue reading...

Mascot Madness: Round of 32 (Midwest and West)

One of the great things about March Madness is that there are so many small-name teams that you have never heard of playing on the big stage. What makes this so great is that with 314 possible contestants, we are bound to have a handful of interesting nickname/mascot combinations in the tournament year in and year out.

After all, isn't that what you look forward to the most? Spending Thursday afternoon watching The same old plain-Jane blue-and-white Kentucky Wildcats battle The silver-green-and-red Highlanders of East Western Poly Tech State?

It is common knowledge that we here at BIAH are the leaders in unnecessary college basketball information. Since we have this 64-team bracket in-front of us, we decided to try and determine the best mascot in March Madness.

Each day we will reveal a new portion of our bracket, leading up to the Championship game on April 5th, when we determine the best mascot in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

Round of 32 (Midwest and West)

Midwest Bracket

#1 Kansas Jayhawks vs. #9 UNLV Runnin' Rebels

The only #1 seed to advance to the second round faces off against Yosemite Sam's rifle club. This game turns into target practice for the Rebels. All jays, hawks and jayhawks in the Midwest are shot on sight. The feathers are saved and used for Las Vegas showgirl pasties.

Winner - #9 UNLV Runnin' Rebels

#4 Maryland Terrapins vs. #5 Michigan State Spartans

It is King Izzo and his legion of Spartans versus the Under Armour Ninja Turtles in an epic second-round battle. The Spartans scream "THIS IS SPARTA!", to which the Terrapins reply "WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE!" Master Gary has taught his team well, and the "heros in a half-shell" defend the mighty Spartan attack. The turtles use their patented "double-buzzer-beater" to squeak out a close victory over the much stronger, more aggressive Michigan State team. Terps win, and do indeed protect this house. King Leonidis is forced to do the "Greivis Shimmy".

Winner - #4 Maryland Terrapins

#3 Georgetown Hoyas vs. #11 San Diego State Aztecs

Whatever a Hoya is, it's unable to do any damage to the mighty Aztec nation. The black-and-red natives scalp the entire Young Republicans Club then proceed to march down Pennsylvania Avenue protesting against immigration laws.

Winner - San Diego State Aztecs

#10 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. #15 UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos

"Gaucho" is such a kick-ass word. It sounds eerily similar to the first name the Marx brother and it is also a style of bizarre women's fashion. The Yellow Jackets face a team of cowboys for the second straight round, but as it is a well-known fact that once a bee stings, it loses it's stinger and is unable to sting again, eventually dying. Gauchos prosper and move on to the Sweet Sixteen.

Winner - #15 UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos

West Bracket

#9 Florida State Seminoles vs. #16 Vermont Catamounts

Seminoles are native to only a few portions of Florida, while the Catamounts (or mountain lions) can be found in a wide-range of habitats across North America. FSU shows an inability to perform in a neutral wilderness, and thus the Mary-Jane mountain lions pull off back-to-back upsets to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

Winner - #16 Vermont Catamounts

#4 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. #12 UTEP Miners

This one is over quickly when Cornelius Vanderbilt purchases all the diamond mines in West Africa. Derrick Caracter bolts, the labor union disbands and all the miners die from malaria. The Commodores are able to replace miners with trained chimpanzees and avoid the recession.

Winner - #4 Vanderbilt Commodores

#6 Xavier Musketeers vs. #14 Oakland Golden Grizzlies

Methinks a man with a fancy sword stands little chance against a metallic ursine. The X-men hang around for a while, swinging back-and-forth on a chandelier, before one paw swipe rips off the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and pencil-thin mustache of D'artagnan, the loyal Muskie mascot. The Grizz lumber into the Sweet Sixteen.

Winner - #14 Oakland Golden Grizzlies

#10 Florida Gators vs. #15 North Texas Mean Green

Alligators are mean and green, but we all know everything is bigger in Texas. Tim Tebow goes door-to-door in hopes of converting the opponents to Gator-dom, but is unsuccessful. Whatever this mean green thing is, it's nasty. Not even a lineup including Teddy DuPay, Jason Williams, and Joakim Noah can stop the Mean green team formerly known as the Eagles.

Winner - #15 North Texas Mean Green

Next Round: Sweet-16

Midwest Bracket
#4 Maryland Terrapins vs. #9 UNLV Runnin' Rebels
#11 San Diego State Aztecs vs. #15 UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos

West Bracket
#4 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. #16 Vermont Catamounts
#14 Oakland Golden Grizzlies vs. #15 North Texas Mean Green

Up Next:
Round of 32 (East and South)
Continue reading...

Cole Aldrich announced his intentions to declare for the NBA Draft this season, surprising, well, no one.

Aldrich will leave Lawrence with very little fan fare. After a great sophomore season and with the expectations that he, and the entire Kansas team, had coming into this season, the Jayhawks fizzled out in the tournament's second round and have already become somewhat of an aftethought. As a team, it was a disappointing finish to what was a pretty phenomenal season for Kansas. A Big XII regular season title, a Big XII tournament title, and the No. 1 overall seed is impressive no matter what round your season ended.

But Aldrich himself had a bit of a disappointing year.

Coming into the season, everyong knew that the big fella could defend the rim and rebound the ball, and nothing he did throughout the year did anything to change that sentiment. His 9.8 rpg and 3.5 bpg speak for themselves.

Where Aldrich did have question marks were on the offensive end of the floor. Could he be a go-to scorer in the post? And this year, he wasn't. His scoring dropped to just over 11 ppg. Granted, some of that had to do with the emergence of players like Xavier Henry and the Morris twins; Sherron Collins saw his offensive output take a hit as well simply because the Jayhawks didn't need the scoring.

But it is still a an issue scouts will have when looking at Aldrich. Is this a guy that is only going to be a defender and a rebounder, or will he be an offensive threat as well.

Regardless, Aldrich is going to be a top 10-15 pick, finishing a career that saw him win a national title, a slew of Big XII titles, and earn some all-americans considerations.

Best of luck to you, Cole.

Continue reading...

Blogger Bracket Challenge

We know that every living breathing organism on the planet has drafted up a bracket this week and we here at BIAH thought it would be interesting to see just how smart the blogosphere and related media experts are. We invited a handful of the brainiest college hoops brains to take part in our first ever BIAH Blogger Bracket Challenge.

After every session we will update you, our faithful readers, with a top-5 and a not-so-top-5, so you can see just how smart/dumb we are.

Here is where we stand after day 6:

There is only one person left who picked a national champion that is still alive. That honor goes to #21 theupsetblog, who picked West Virginia to win it all. There are also ten people who still have teams eligible to make them some points, so this thing is definitely not over yet. But for a majority of us "basketball brainiacs" our brackets are officially busted.

1. PurdueBBallBlog 1 - P. Pete - 24/32 - 11/16 - 5/8 - 1/4
2. 24. - M. Haupt - 20/32 - 7/16 - 5/8 - 2/4
3. SJP2442 1 - S. Patrick - 23/32 - 9/16 - 5/8 - 1/4
4. MarcoSTF - M. Anskis - 21/32 - 9/16 - 5/8 - 1/4
5. Jameson of B/R - J. Fleming - 22/32 - 10/16 - 4/8 - 1/4

25. RobDauster99 1 - R. Dauster - 20/32 - 7/16 - 4/8 - 0/4
26. BleacherReportTimC - T. Cary - 25/32 - 8/16 - 2/8 - 0/4
27. STF (Assist-Beadle) - E. Angevine - 22/32 - 6/16 - 1/8 - 1/4
28. Boise State FTW - K. Lee - 20/32 - 7/16 - 1/8 - 0/4
29. RTMSF 1 - R. McClure 20/32 - 5/16 - 0/8 - 0/4

Continue reading...

John Wall cleans windshields too

No words I can put together will describe the ridiculousness of this...

Continue reading...

Storylines from the Final Four

The five story lines you are going to be sick of hearing by Saturday: I know I wasn't the only one that was sick of hearing about Omar Samhan's chatty press conferences and how Kentucky and Cornell were redefining race relations with a single basketball game in the week before the Sweet 16 started. Which stories will be beaten to a pulp this week?

  1. The comparison of Butler and the movie Hoosiers: Yeah, yeah, yeah, we're guilty of it already, I know. But it is just too easy! I mean, the connections between Butler and both Hickory High -- the fake state champion -- and Milan High -- the real state champion -- are uncanny. Small schools, Hinkle Fieldhouse, etc.

  2. Duke's return to the Final Four is a conspiracy: The Blue Devils ran through the weakest region of the tournament, advancing as the only #1 seed in the Final Four. They were on the receiving end of a couple of beneficial calls in their Elite 8 game as well. Connect the dots, and it can only be a conspiracy to get Duke back to the Final Four for the first time in six years. Right?

  3. Tom Izzo is god: Never bet against Tom Izzo in the tournament! Six Final Fours in 12 years! Greatest coach ever!? Yes, Tom Izzo is a fantastic coach. I'm not denying that. But come Saturday you are going to be done reading about it.

  4. Parity and madness: When a mid-major is involved in a Final Four with two five seeds, of course the "parity" of college basketball and the "madness" of March is going to be discussed at length. But keep in mind, Duke and West Virginia are two of the five best teams in the country. Michigan State and Butler were both top 10-15 teams in the preseason. Michigan State's seed no longer matters in March, and Butler was underseeded as a five and has won 24 straight games and 32 on the season. You can't do that if you are not a very good team.

  5. Butler is hosting the Final Four: Yup, Butler is in Indianapolis. The Final Four is in Indianapolis. Not only is Butler the first school to play in the Final Four in its home city since UCLA in 1972, they are also hosting it. Not hosting in the sense that the games are being played in Hinkle, but hosting in the sense that they are throwing the party; Butler is responsible for coordinating a lot of the behind the scenes stuff that happens.

The five story lines that won't get enough play: The story lines listed above are the obvious stories. That's not all that is going on in Indy this week.
  1. Nolan Smith and his dad: Nolan Smith lost his father, Derek, when he was only eight years old. Derek was playing for the Washington Bullets at the time, and the story of Nolan's path to Duke is pretty inspiring. Derek played college ball for Louisville, and in 1980 he helped lead the "Doctor's of Dunk" to an NCAA title. In Indianapolis, where this year's Final Four will be played. Nolan scored 29 points in the Elite 8 game, including seven straight lat in the game that helped seal the win.

  2. Joe Mazzulla and his taste for Dukie(s): In 2008, before he injured his shoulder, Joe Mazzulla was the starting point guard for a West Virginia team that advanced to the Sweet 16. In getting there, they upset #2 seed Duke, and Mazzulla went bananas, finishing with 13 points, 11 boards, and 8 assists. Mazzulla's shoulder looked as healthy as it has all season long last Saturday against Kentucky, and with Truck Bryants foot situation still being figured out, it looks as if Mazzulla is going to get a lot of minutes on Saturday night.

  3. Where are the NBA Draftees?: Believe it or not, there are not a ton of great NBA Draft prospects in this Final Four. Gordon Hayward and Devin Ebanks are likely going to go somewhere in the mid-to-late first round when they eventually leave school. Kyle Singler and Kalin Lucas may both end up first rounders as well. Then there are guys like Kevin Jones, Jon Scheyer, Da'Sean Butler, Raymar Morgan, and a slew of fringe prospects. But no one in this draft class looks destined to be an all-star, which is interesting because talent is usually the biggest determining factor in the NCAA Tournament. In the last 41 years, the only team that didn't have three guys make it to the league was Syracuse in 2003, and they had Carmelo Anthony.

  4. Bob Huggins the hero?: We are so used to hearing about how bad Bobby tHuggins is. Whether it is graduation rates or players getting in trouble with the law or Huggs himself getting in trouble with the law, Huggins and his team is usually the villain. Not this season. For the second straight game now, the majority of the country without a dog in the fight will be pulling for Huggy Bear and West Virginia. That should tell you just how much the country as a whole hates John Calipari and Duke.

  5. How long is Brad Stevens going to be at Butler?: The guy just took Butler -- Butler -- to the Final Four. He is only 33 years old (and looks like he is 20). I'm sure he is already all over the national radar of the AD's at the major conference schools. I mean, the guy can clearly coach his ass off. He gets his team to play hard and play defense and he recruits above his conference affiliation. Big Ten schools wanted Matt Howard. Gordon Hayward was a bit of an under-the-radar prospect but was still a coup for Stevens to land. Shelvin Mack is from Lexington. Is he the next Mark Few, or will he go the route of the Keno Davis's and Jeff Capel's of the world and look for a power conference gig?

Continue reading...

Mascot Madness: Round of 64 (South)

One of the great things about March Madness is that there are so many small-name teams that you have never heard of playing on the big stage. What makes this so great is that with 314 possible contestants, we are bound to have a handful of interesting nickname/mascot combinations in the tournament year in and year out.

after all, isn't that what you look forward to the most? Spending Thursday afternoon watching The same old plain-Jane blue-and-white Kentucky Wildcats battle The silver-green-and-red Highlanders of East Western Poly Tech State?

It is common knowledge that we here at BIAH are the leaders in unnecessary college basketball information. Since we have this 64-team bracket in-front of us, we decided to try and determine the best mascot in March Madness.

Each day we will reveal a new portion of our bracket, leading up to the Championship game on April 5th, when we determine the best mascot in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

Round of 64 (West)

#1 Duke Blue Devils vs. #16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions
Didn't a golden lion save Narnia in that bad-ass children's movie? I'm pretty sure he did. In fact, I'm pretty sure he was killed, then came back to life and destroyed all the forces of evil. What was the last cool thing a blue devil did? Surf on-top of band members during a TV timeout? Every mascot does that. Hell, I'd give the Cameron Crazies better odds of defeating Golden Lions than the actual blue devil.

Winner - #16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions

#8 California Golden Bears vs. #9 Louisville Cardinals
The only "golden bear" that these cardinals could stand a chance against is Jack Nickalaus, (the original golden bear) and I'd still not want to wager any money on it. The 80+ year-old duffer could KO a cardinal from 130 yards out with a pitching wedge. This fact makes the Louisville the weakest mascot in the field by far. It's all Cal in this one. Golden Bears are still picking cardinal feathers out of their paws.

Winner - #8 California Golden Bears

#5 Texas A&M Aggies vs. #12 Utah State Aggies
We've got the Texas nerds up against the Utah nerds. I'm gonna go out on a limb and pick the aggies in this one. The Utah Aggies that is. The nicknames might be the same, but Utah State's mascot is scary-looking. I will look past the fact that it has no correlation to agricultural sciences whatsoever.

Winner - #12 Utah State Aggies

#4 Purdue Boilermakers vs. #13 Siena Saints
Siena calls themselves the saints, but fail to mention that "saints" is short for "saint bernard". I like dogs, but I don't like liars. I'll take the sledgehammer-wielding railroad workers in this one.

Winner - #4 Purdue Boilermakers

#6 Notre Dame Fightin' Irish vs. #11 Old Dominion Monarchs
I think this one already took place. It was a couple hundred years ago. I think Mel Gibson was there, right? No? well you get the point anyways. I feel like I should never bet against an irishman in a fight, but monarchs are in-charge of entire kingdoms, so....yea. Plus, nobody actually enjoys South Bend, Indiana, not even "Touchdown Jesus". The Monarchs win, take over the irish countryside and ship the losers off to the New World.

Winner - #11 Old Dominion Monarchs

#3 Baylor Bears vs. #14 Sam Houston State Bearkats
Sorry SHSU, but you can't make up your own animal and hope to get away with it. Your mascot is neither bear, nor cat. Nor did your university make an attempt to spell it correctly. Strikes 1, 2 and 3. But for you who actually care about animal science, you will be happy to know that the bearcat is most closely-related to the binturong, a nearly-endangered species of badger-esque civet located in Southeast Asia. The scent of Binturong musk is often compared to that of warm buttered popcorn and cornbread. The best part is that I didn't make that up at all. Unfortunately, SHSU decided to be cute and spell "bearkat" with a "k".

Winner - #3 Baylor Bears

#7 Richmond Spiders vs. #10 St. Marys Gaels
This might be one of the best match-ups of the first round. I'm terrified of spiders but they make for a unique mascot. Gaels are a small group of scotch-irish people from the mideivel times (no, not that medeivel times). The irish were good at getting rid of snakes, not spiders. Plus, there is a significant ammount of letdown from the fact that I thought "gaels" refered to a strong gust of wind. That would have won it for them. They also would have been better off being called "the Fightin' Samhans". Richmond wins, which makes UFC middleweight champion Anderson "The Spider" Silva very very happy.

Winner - #7 Richmond Spiders

#2 Villanova Wildcats vs. #15 Robert Morris Colonials
If you've been following along this entire time, you've realized that Wildcats don't stand a chance in this tournament. Colonials are amongst one of the weakest human mascots in this field. But, fortunately for them, they take on the weakest overall mascot in the tournament. Bobby Mo turns all former wildcat territory into "New Pittsburgh". It makes the lost colony of Roanoke look like Manhattan.

Winner - #15 Robert Morris Colonials

Next Round:
#8 California Golden Bears vs. #16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Grizzlies
#4 Purdue Boilermakers vs. #12 Utah State Aggies
#3 Baylor Bears vs. #11 Old Dominion Monarchs
#7 Richmond Spiders vs. #15 Robert Morris Colonials

Up Next:
Round of 32 (Midwest and West)
Continue reading...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tuesday Morning Dump

- Izzo's recruiting pitch: "If you come to East Lansing and stay all four years, I garauntee you a Final Four"

- Does anybody want to coach St. John's?

- Izzo to Oregon rumor is false

- Gus Johnson stepped his game up for the post-season (as always)

- A great list on March Madness fashion statements

- Mike DeCourcy details the four players who have stepped their game up the most

- The committee is happy with the way things turned out

- Seton Hall introduces Kevin Willard as new head coach

- Central Florida hires ex-Marshall coach Donnie Jones

- Louisiana-Lafayette hires Bob Marlin

- Roy Williams likes Duke to win it all

- LSU guard Bo Spencer gets suspended indefinitly

- The Vegas numbers for the Final Four

- Cole Aldrich is going pro

- Derrick Caracter is going pro

- Hassan Whitside is going pro

- Herb Pope is going pro

- Golden Bear guard D.J. Seeley is transferring

- Let's meet the judges for this year's college slam dunk contest

Continue reading...

2010 AP All-Americans

The three AP All-American teams have been released. The second and third teams are a little weird -- the second team is entirely comprised of guards, while the third team is all forwards:


  • G - John Wall, Kentucky
  • G - Evan Turner, Ohio State
  • G - Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
  • F - Wes Johnson, Syracuse
  • F - DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky

  • G - James Anderson, Oklahoma State
  • G - Greivis Vasquez, Maryland
  • G - Sherron Collins, Kansas
  • G - Jon Scheyer, Duke
  • G - Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia

  • F - Greg Monroe, Georgetown
  • F - Damion James, Texas
  • F - Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
  • F - Darington Hobson, New Mexico
  • F - Cole Aldrich, Kansas

Now, with the exception of John Wall and Evan Turner, I see a valid argument against the other three first teamers. Scottie Reynolds -- and Villanova -- really struggled down the stretch, culminating in a tournament performance that didn't do Reynolds career justice. Wes Johnson spent much of the middle of the season slowed by injuries. DeMarcus Cousins played 23.5 minutes per game.

While those are all legitimate points, who do you put over them?

James Anderson scored a lot of points, but he didn't get his team anywhere. Sherron Collins didn't need to score as much as he did last season, and his numbers took a hit. Greivis Vasquez, Da'Sean Butler, and Jon Scheyer both had terrific seasons, but were they nore deserving than Reynolds or Johnson? The answer to that question likely depends on whether you live in ACC or Big East country.

As far as DeMarcus Cousins is concerned, playing 23.5 minutes per game should only increase his All-American candidacy in my opinion. He averaged 15.1 ppg and 9.8 rpg in just 23.5 mpg, sharing a front court with Patrick Patterson, Daniel Orton, and Perry Stevenson. He was the most unstoppable force in college basketball this year, and he deserves to be recognized for it.

The only other oddity I see on this list is Luke Harangody, who sat out most of the stretch late in the season when Notre Dame was at their best. This may verywell be a lifetime achievement award, something that is well-deserved, but robs guys like Ekpe Udoh or Devan Downey or any of the other talents out there or some national recognition.

Continue reading...

Mascot Madness: Round of 64 (East)

One of the great things about March Madness is that there are so many small-name teams that you have never heard of playing on the big stage. What makes this so great is that with 314 possible contestants, we are bound to have a handful of interesting nickname/mascot combinations in the tournament year in and year out.

after all, isn't that what you look forward to the most? Spending Thursday afternoon watching The same old plain-Jane blue-and-white Kentucky Wildcats battle The silver-green-and-red Highlanders of East Western Poly Tech State?

It is common knowledge that we here at BIAH are the leaders in unnecessary college basketball information. Since we have this 64-team bracket in-front of us, we decided to try and determine the best mascot in March Madness.

Each day we will reveal a new portion of our bracket, leading up to the Championship game on April 5th, when we determine the best mascot in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

Round of 64 (West)

#1 Kentucky Wildcats vs. #16 East Tennessee State Buccaneers

All the illegal recruiting in the world can't save Calipari's squad from an good-ole-fashioned rape-and-pillage. Kentucky might have basketball history but what they don't have is anything interesting in terms of mascot, nickname, colors or logo. ETSU has awesome colors (black/yellow/blue), a cool mascot, and a ferocious logo. ETSU wipes out Kentucky, including the capturing of all the team's potential draftees. Calipari is forced to walk the plank.

Winner - #16 East Tennessee State Buccaneers

#8 Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. #9 Texas Longhorns

A Demon Deacon is the weakest type of demon out there. I mean, a deacon possessed by the devil? Oh No!, what are we to do? He will surely steal all the money from the church collection box! What is the "Demon Deacon" suppose to do when a full-grown longhorn is charging him down? Ex-communicate him? The only thing getting ex-communicated is the deacon's head from his body. Longhorns drive out the crazy-church-goers with ease.

Winner - #9 Texas Longhorns

#5 Temple Owls vs. #12 Cornell Big Red

I am well aware that the mascot for Cornell is a giant bear, but I need to address the Big Red. Did you ever have Wrigley's Big Red gum? I did. It was awful. It tasted like curry power. Probably the worst gum I've ever had. Now If this was the #12 Cornell Juicy Fruits, then it's a totally different story. But because of my disdain for Wrigley's Big Red, I just can not see them advancing. Plus, Owls are pretty cool. They can swoop down and pick up a full-grown fox in one try. Plus they do that cool thing where they spin their heads around like the exorcist. Owls chew up Big Red and dispose of them in a big, red, chewy owl pellet.

Winner - #5 Temple Owls

#4 Wisconsin Badgers vs. #13 Wofford Terriers

Badgers are quite possibly the most underrated carnivore in the animal kingdom. I would never want to cross paths with one of those things. I'm a big fan of terriers, but let's be realistic here, no mother wants to tell their son that the family dog was ripped to shreds by a hungry, rabid badger. I'm sorry if I had to go there. Nothing can save the little monopoly dogs from becoming badger-food.

Winner - #4 Wisconsin Badgers

#6 Marquette Golden Eagles vs. #11 Washington Huskies

These Golden Eagles aren't actually golden, nor are they actually eagles. They only exist because the university was under the impression that "The Warriors" was not an appropriate college mascot. That's super-lame, and so is their eagle coated in goldflake paint. There's nothing better than letting your husky back in the house, only to find a nice golden eagle carcass on the front-step. Huskies advance.

Winner - #11 Washington Huskies

#3 New Mexico Lobos vs. #13 Montana Grizzlies

Grizzly Bears are the largest land mammals in North America. A grizzly would clearly destroy any normal animal inferior to it in stature. But the Montana Grizzlies are facing the Lobos of New Mexico. Not wolves, but lobos, and not Rebecca Lobo either. Ok, they are wolves, but they are Mexican wolves. Which just so happen to play in New Mexico. Wait, shouldn't they be called the New Mexico Lobos Nuevos? Either case, that firey New Mexican spirit is too much for grizzly bears recently coming out of Big Sky hibernation.

Winner - #3 New Mexico Lobos

#7 Missouri Tigers vs. #10 Clemson Tigers

Ahh the age-old question: who wins in a tiger fight: a tiger or a tiger? Tony the Tiger is a great role model towards kids, but I don't believe he attended either of these collegiate institutions. Clemson's logo is that stupid paw-print. Missouri wear's uniforms that say "Mizzou", and that is pretty ballsy. (Imagine Syracuse uniforms saying 'CUSE? Ballsy, right?) Anyways, the tiger with balls beats the stupid tiger paw print.

Winner - #7 Missouri Tigers

#2 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #15 Morgan State Bears

Simple. Mountaineers have guns. Bears don't. Mountaineers like to shoot bears. Bears don't. Mountaineers like to eat bear meat and use bear skin for clothing, bears don't. The hill-people advance after a routine day in the outdoors.

Winner - #2 West Virginia Mountaineers

Next Round:
#9 Texas Longhorns vs. #16 East Tennessee State Buccanneers
#4 Wisconsin Badgers vs. #5 Temple Owls
#3 New Mexico Lobos vs. #11 Washington Huskies
#2 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #7 Missouri Tigers

Up Next: Round of 64 (South)
Continue reading...

Tom Izzo's in the Final Four, and Durrell Summers is dominating. Who'da thunk it?

He did it again.

Tom Izzo has led the Spartans to the Final Four.


Six times in last 12 years (he's been to the tournament 13 consecutive seasons). Do you realize how crazy that is? For more than a decade, Tom Izzo has averaged a Final Four every other year. There are coaches whose entire career is made with one trip to the Final Four. Izzo's been there six times.

Perhaps the most impressive part is that Michigan State has rarely been a favorite in his time there. Michigan State isn't Duke. Of the 13 tournament trips, only three times have the Spartans been a one seed, and only once were they a two. Each of those four seasons, Michigan State made the Final Four.

With this season's run to the final weekend, Izzo has now reached the Final Four twice as a five seed. Here is a quick look at Michigan State's odds of making a Final Four each season and their eventual finish. crunched the numbers, and based on the seeds he has received, Izzo should have been to 1.8 Final Fours.

Well what about this year?

This year's run is no doubt the most unlikely.

The injuries speak for themselves. Kalin Lucas -- the team's star and last year's Big Ten player of the year -- has missed the last two and a half games with a torn achilles tendon. Delvon Roe is playing with a torn meniscus in his knee. Chris Allen has a sprained the arch of his right foot. Yet this team has been able to squeak out win after win in the tournament, winning four games in the Midwest Regional by a combined 13 points.

They needed the help of a lane violation in the final seconds to hold off New Mexico State. They needed a last second three from Korie Lucious to beat Maryland after blowing a nine point lead in the final two minutes. They needed an impressive defensive performance to hold off a scrappy Northern Iowa team to win a "blowout" by seven points.

And then there was Tennessee.

Tennessee came out with guns blazing. The Vols scored 26 points in the first nine minutes of the game, knocking down six consecutive threes as Tennessee looked poised to run Sparty out of the gym. And while Michigan State was able to weather that early storm, the Spartans still spent much of the first half and the early second half trailing Tennessee.

That changed when JP Prince went out after trying, and failing, to draw two charges in the span of three seconds, picking up his third foul in the process.

Tennessee was up 47-42 at that point. On that same possession, Durrell Summers knocked down a three coming off of a screen. After Wayne Chism hit a three of his own, Chris Allen buried another three. Bobby Maze missed a quick three before Summers hit an 18 footer, and the foul. After hitting the free throw, Michigan State would go up 51-50, scoring nine points in 1:10.

Sparty would eventually push the lead out to 59-51 before Tennessee made their comeback, an 11-2 run capped by a short jumper from Brian Williams that put Tennessee up 62-61. The two teams would trade baskets with Summers eventually breaking a 66-all tie with 2:52 left on the clock.

Michigan State wouldn't hit another shot from the field the rest of the way, and after Williams followed up a miss with a dunk, Scotty Hopson drew a foul with 12 seconds left. He made the first free throw, but missed the second, leaving the game tied at 69. Michigan State didn't call a time out off the rebound -- just like they didn't call a timeout with 6.6 on the clock against Maryland -- and eventually, Draymond Green found Raymar Morgan wide open under the basket. Morgan drew a foul (we talk about the foul here) with 1.8 seconds left, hit one of the free throws, and Prince missed a heave at the buzzer.

The guy that was the most impressive in this game -- and in the tournament as a whole -- has been Durrell Summers. Summers was struggling all season long. The only thing consistent about his game this year was that he was inconsistent. Some nights he would play like a possible first round draft pick, other nights you would forget that he was on the team.

The first round Big Ten tournament loss to Minnesota was one of those forgettable nights, as he finished just 1-5 from the field for four points.

But in the tournament, Summers has been a difference maker. Yesterday, he scored 21 points, and everyone was important. He scored 10 points early in the game to keep MSU close when Tennessee had that hot start. He hit two key jumpers when Prince went to the bench, sparking a 17-4 run. And his three with 2:52 on the clock gave Michigan State a 69-66 lead.

All told, Summers averaged 20.0 ppg and was named the Midwest Region's MOP.

In this tournament, Summers seems to finally be realizing just how good he can truly be. And with the injuries that have plagued the Spartans of late, he has become just that much more important of player.

I wonder if his turnaround had anything to do with the two hour meeting he had with Izzo right after the Big Ten Tournament?

Whatever the reason, its clear that this Spartan team is playing as well as they have all season long.

Maybe his message is finally getting through.

Continue reading...


I don't know much about Marshall Plumlee.

He's the third Plumlee, I know that. I also know he's just about as long and athletic as the other two.

I don't know a damn thing about Jacob Lawson. A quick google search tells me he is a 6'7" forward in the class of 2011. My professional opinion? Someone give the kid a scholly. How many people can do this:

Continue reading...

Monday Morning Dump

Light dump this morning. We'll have something up this afternoon.

- Tyler Smith is doing well out in Turkey.

- Yup, Duke is back in the Final Four

- The kid had a perfect bracket heading into the Sweet 16, and didn't get a single Final Four team right.

- Goodman on Tom Izzo

- Apparently Hassan Whiteside has let this NBA stuff get to his head.

- Can Oregon get Turgeon or Tubby?

- I was thinking about putting something like this together. Would have been a pain. Jeff Goodman does it for us.

- Iowa hires Fran McCaffery. Seton Hall to get Iona's Willard?

Charles Barkley does not find your trick shots funny:

Continue reading...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Two games, two controversial finishes

Its a shame really.

On a day that saw two fantastic basketball games, two exciting finishes, and our Final Four filled out, the talk after the games had much less to do with the outcome itself than with how we got there.

It started with JP Prince, who is just 48 hours removed from a game saving block against Evan Turner and Ohio State. On Sunday, it looked like he may have had another, as Prince came from the weak side to help on Raymar Morgan, who had slid behind the Tennessee defense.

Prince went up for the block, and upon replay appears to have gotten all ball. Have a look:

I've now watched this replay at good 12 times, and I think the referees absolutely made the right call. We can debate all day about whether or not Prince made contact, but Brian Williams absolutely did. If Prince wasn't there and Morgan had been able to go straight up, I bet Williams would have been called for a foul anyway.

The fact of the matter is that he came down full force with his left arm from the peak of his jump and knocked the ball loose with his elbow. Whether or not there actually was any contact (which I believe there was), the play just looked funny. It looked like it should be a foul. I'm not defending it, and I'm not saying that it is right, but 99% of the time a foul is going to be called in that situation.

And to be perfectly honest, Tennessee fans, if you want to complain about anything, complain about Scotty Hopson missing a free throw. Complain about someone -- Williams? -- forgetting to guard Raymar Morgan at the rim with under 10 seconds left. That is inexcusable, the kind of dumb, careless play that made people doubt a team with the talent that Tennessee had.

The score was tied with 11 seconds left and Tennessee still had a free throw to shoot. They missed the free throw and didn't guard the guy standing under the basket. Getting mad at the ref for calling that foul is like getting mad at the cop that gave you a speeding ticket when you were going 90 in a 55.

And of course, since the second game of the day was Duke-Baylor, you had to have known that there was going to be some sort of referee conspiracy.

There was.

It is centering around two separate calls. The first was a charge on Quincy Acy. I'm sure you have all seen it by now but here is the video:

This is about as close as you can get when dealing with a charge/block call. Zoubek might have been a little late getting set, but Acy leans in with his shoulder and his elbow on the play. Tough call either way, and far from an egregious error.

Its effect on the game was minimal as well. Let's be clear: Duke did not win this game because of this one call. Duke won because they got 23 offensive rebounds. Duke won because Baylor played as poorly as they have all season defensively. Duke won because they made their threes -- 48% -- and Baylor didn't -- 28%. Duke won because they got four offensive rebounds late in the game that led to three three pointers and one three point play. Duke won because Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer (49 points, 9-16 threes, 3 turnovers) outplayed LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter (34 points, 4-15 threes, 6 turnovers).

Just like Tennessee, the Baylor players decided this game. Not the refs. 21 fouls were called against Baylor, 15 against Duke (Baylor had to foul down the stretch). The only players to foul out were Zoubek and Josh Lomers, and they foul out all the time.

As far as the Jon Scheyer elbow goes, I think it is ridiculous that Acy got a technical foul and Scheyer didn't. I'm not saying Acy deserved one, either, I just don't think it is right to give a T to the kid coming in to defend his teammate and not to the kid that threw the elbow.

Here's the video:

If Scheyer landed that elbow, what happens?

Keep in mind, however, that this game was already decided when Scheyer started throw them 'bows. Tech or no tech, the only people it effected were the gamblers.

Don't let a disagreement with the way some whistles went ruin what was a couple good games.

Continue reading...

Mascot Madness: Round of 64 (West)

One of the great things about March Madness is that there are so many small-name teams that you have never heard of playing on the big stage. What makes this so great is that with 314 possible contestants, we are bound to have a handful of interesting nickname/mascot combinations in the tournament year in and year out.

After all, isn't that what you look forward to the most? Spending Thursday afternoon watching The same old plain-Jane blue-and-white Kentucky Wildcats battle The silver-green-and-red Highlanders of East Western Poly Tech State?

It is common knowledge that we here at BIAH are the leaders in unnecessary college basketball information. Since we have this 64-team bracket in-front of us, we decided to try and determine the best mascot in March Madness.

Each day we will reveal a new portion of our bracket, leading up to the Championship game on April 5th, when we determine the best mascot in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

Round of 64 (West)

#1 Syracuse Orange vs. #16 Vermont Catamounts

This should be listed as the Orangemen vs. the Mountain Lions, but political correctness and animal conservation obviously got in the way. I mean, the Orange? Orange what? Just, the Orange? It's not even "the Big Orange", "the Mean Orange", or "the Fightin' Orange"? It's not even "the Orange Crush", or "the Orange Terror"? That is so lame. I'll give Vermont the pass just because Syracuse' effort is so poor.

Winner - #16 Vermont Catamounts

#8 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. #9 Florida State Seminoles

This matchup does not bode well for Gonzaga on any front. Boring name, boring color combo, recycled logo, old jerseys, you get the picture. FSU has a great color combination, cool uniforms, a kick-ass logo, and an awesome mascot. It's a shame that a Seminole can't ride onto the basketball court before home games and throw a flaming spear at the center circle. That would be sweeeeeet!

Winner - #9 Florida State Seminoles

#5 Butler Bulldogs vs. #12 UTEP Miners

Here is what I know: Miners dig holes, and Bulldogs are not blessed with the proper physical tools or brains to get out of holes. Texas Western advances.

Winner - #12 UTEP Miners

#4 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. #13 Murray State Racers

This is another great match-up. The gold-and-black snobby, old, rich people against the blue-and-yellow jockeys. I've always been a fan of mascots/nicknames involving the racing industry: Greyhounds (Loyola-MD), Thoroughbreads (Skidmore College). Nonetheless, the oil tycoons take this one by purchasing all the jockeys and building a glue factory for the horses.

Winner - #4 Vanderbilt Commodores

#6 Xavier Musketeers vs. #11 Minnesota Golden Gophers

It's a shame the selection committee put this one together so early in the tournament because both have Final Four caliber mascots. Musketeers are usually seen as macho, suave, cutlass-wielding heroes, which is um ... pretty awesome. But they are up against Golden Gophers. It's like a combination of Caddyshack and Mighty Mouse. But I mean this could really go either way. The X-men versus golden puffy-cheeked idols. Xavier wins because of that cool swash-buckling poncho he wears. I remember Mike Tyson wore one like that during fighter entrances. The only thing the Gopher wears is that stupid sweatshirt. Who do you think you are? One of the Chipmunks?

Winner - #6 Xavier Musketeers

#3 Pittsburgh Panthers vs. #14 Oakland Golden Grizzlies

The Panthers play home games at a place called "the Zoo". We all know that zoo animals are mostly lazy and domesticated. Their opponents hail from Rochester, Michigan. But their jerseys say "Oakland", and it's a proven fact that Oakland is a bad, bad city. Domesticated animals don't stand a chance against the Golden Grizzles when they wear their black jerseys. A Golden Grizzly from Oakland might just be the baddest mascot on the planet.

Winner - #14 Oakland Golden Grizzlies

#7 BYU Cougars vs. #10 Florida Gators

Have you even seen a Gator in real life? I got chased off a pond in South Carolina by one back in the day. I must have biked damn near 5 miles before I looked back. Gators will eat anything. They are nasty, nasty creatures. I always sorta thought that Joakim Noah looked like an alligator. I dunno. Anyways, a Cougar wouldn't stand a chance. Not even a good mormon Cougar would.

Winner - #10 Florida Gators

#2 Kansas State Wildcats vs. #15 North Texas Eagles

This is another curious match-up. Wildcats are the most boring mascot animal. Plus no school can actually house a live Wildcat for games, because that would not be safe at all. Plus, can't they be more specific. Aren't most breeds of cat considered wild? Even the "Kansas State Barncats" sounds better than what they have now. But then again KSU's color combo of purple and black is rather awesome. Their opponents, the North Texas Eagles, prefer to go by the nickname "The Mean Green". I'm not really sure if it is official or not. I didn't think it was, but they have it listed on their website, so I'll allow it. If this is some sort of mean, green, bird of prey, then North Texas totally takes it. Plus, I am a big fan of their uniforms.

Winner - #15 North Texas "Mean Green" Eagles

Round of 32 (West)
#9 Florida State Seminoles vs. #16 Vermont Catamounts
#4 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. #12 UTEP Miners
#6 Xavier Muskateers vs. #14 Oakland Golden Grizzlies
#10 Florida Gators vs. #15 North Texas Mean Green
Continue reading...

John Flowers does the John Wall

Butler wasn't the only team with an interesting celebration after earning a trip to the Final Four.

West Virginia did the John Flowers Wall dance (:40 seconds):

Bang on em, flex on em, do da John Wall.

Continue reading...

Brad Stevens has hops

Brad Stevens not only looks like a college kid, he acts like one kid.

You see, Emerson Kampen -- a walk-on that's played all of 12 minutes this season -- has started a tradition with Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack. After Hayward and Mack are introduced before, they do a flying-chest bump with Kampen. Pretty standard.

Well, apparently Stevens took a liking to this tradition.

"Coach just came into the locker room after the [Murray State] game and started pointing at me," Kampen says. "So he jumped up and we did it. We did it again after the Syracuse game."

In the waning minutes against Kansas State, Stevens walked down the bench and told Kampen that if Butler won, they would be celebrating in front of everyone.

Well, Butler one.

And the rest is ... on youtube (:35 mark):

Continue reading...

Truck Bryant cleared for the Final Four

Word out of Syracuse last night was that West Virginia's Truck Bryant, who broke a bone in his foot on Tuesday in practice, will be available to go for the Final Four.

Brett McMurphy of Fanhouse broke the story:

Bryant, who broke the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot during practice Tuesday in Morgantown, said he was cleared by team doctors Friday to play in the Final Four if West Virginia advanced.

"I'm in pain, but I'll be fine, Bryant told FanHouse in the locker room after the Mountaineers' 73-66 win over Kentucky. "That's what the shoe is for to keep the pain away. I can't hurt it anymore.

"This is a special time of the year when you have to step up, when you make your name as a team and an individual."
Joe Mazzulla started at point guard last night for West Virginia and played the game on his life. But without Bryant in uniform, West Virginia only had one ball handler available, which created a tricky situation for West Virginia as Mazzulla got into foul trouble and eventually fouled out late in the game.

There's no telling how healthy Bryant will actually be. When 100%, he is a creator and a scorer off the dribble. As good as Mazzulla played last night, having Bryant available as well will only help the Mountaineers.

Continue reading...

Joe Mazzulla's unlikely return to NCAA Tournament hero

I was in attendance at the Verizon Center in DC on March 23rd, 2008, when Joe Mazzulla had 13 points, 11 boards, and 8 assists as seven-seeded West Virginia knocked off second-seed Duke to advance to the Sweet 16.

Which is why I wasn't surprised to see Joe Mazzulla go for 17 points and 3 assists as the Mountaineers knocked off the East Region's one seeded Kentucky Wildcats. The kid can play.

What may have been the most surprising part about last night was that he was even on the court.

Since that Duke game, things haven't exactly gone perfectly for Mazzulla. In July of 2008, he was arrested at a Pittsburgh Pirates game for underage drinking and allegedly assaulting a police officer. Nine months later in April of 2009, he was charged with domestic battery outside of a bar in Morgantown, which led to an indefinite suspension from all team-related activities.

But the suspension didn't matter all that much.

In December of 2008, in what would have been Mazzulla's junior season, he collided with a Mississippi defender, fracturing the growth plate in his left shoulder. His shooting shoulder.

He tried to play through the injury, but the pain was too intense. He sat out the rest of the season after having surgery on his shoulder, a surgery that no basketball player had ever returned from.

There was no guarantee Mazzulla would get back onto the court after surgery.
(photo credit NYDN)

"He didn't know if he would ever play again," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said after the game. "They had never done that surgery on a basketball player. Everybody that our medical staff talked to said, including the guys that are the foremost authorities on those kind of things in the country, if you could avoid surgery, avoid surgery."

Not exactly the ideal life for a college athlete. Two arrests in nine months, an indefinite suspension from all team-related activities, and to top it off a surgery that forces you to do two hours of therapy every day with no guarantee of getting you back onto the court.

"We tried to talk to him a lot," Huggins said after the game. "He came in one day and he had tears in his eyes. He said, 'Huggs, what am I going to do if I can't play?'"

Mazzulla was still trying to overcome this injury at the start the season. He sat out the first game of the year, and once he got back on the court, he spent the early part of the season playing right-handed; Mazzulla is a lefty.

It really limited his minutes. West Virginia couldn't play him late in game -- when they needed his leadership and ball-handling -- because teams would simply foul him and put him on the line.

Now take a step back and think about that. Really think on the kind of leadership that provides. Here's a kid that can't use his left hand, that can't even shoot the ball, and he's out there playing -- defending, setting a screen, diving in for a lose ball -- doing anything he can to help the team win.

And all with one arm.

"He's the un-questioned leader," Wellington Smith told Jameson Fleming after the game.

According to Huggins, Mazzulla wasn't able to shoot left-handed until about a month ago.

Coming into tonight, Mazzulla hadn't hit a three all season long.

In one of the more prophetic moments in this year's NCAA Tournament, Bobby Huggins said this to Pete Thamel on the New York Times during Friday's off-day: "You might see [him shoot] tomorrow. He's playing really well. He's shooting the ball really well. If he makes a couple he could really have a great game."

Eight minutes into the game last night, Kentucky looked like they were poised to run away from the Mountaineers, using an 11-0 run to take a 13-6 lead. Mazzulla knocked down a three that ended the run and held West Virginia over until Da'Sean Butler could catch fire.

Butler would proceed to score 15 points in the last eight minutes of the first half, sparking a West Virginia team that didn't hit a two point field goal in the first half (8-15 from three, 0-15 from two, 4-5 from the line) to a 28-26 halftime lead.

The second half was the Joe Mazzulla show. He scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, with nine of them coming in a 19-10 surge in the first eight minutes of the half that put WVU up 47-36.

Mazzulla scored in a variety of ways, beating Kentucky down the floor in transition (he had one hesitation move in the open court that left John Wall frozen) and breaking them down in the half court.

As Huggins said, all it took was one shot to go down and Mazzulla's went off.

But, as anyone that has watched West Virginia this season, Mazzulla's biggest impact wasn't on the offensive end of the floor. The Mountaineers ran their 1-3-1 zone to perfection last night, daring the Wildcats to shoot from the perimeter (they were 4-32 from three) while forcing them out of a rhythm offensively. Where this zone was going to be dangerous, however, was on the back line. Kentucky has the best big man in the country in 6'11", 270 lb, DeMarcus Cousins.

Mazzulla, who is generously listed a 6'2", 200 lb, plays the back like of that 1-3-1.

And while Cousins went for 15 points and 8 boards -- 6 offensive -- Mazzulla's effort not only limited the touches Cousins was able to get, it frustrated him. He got in Cousins' head. Anyone watching the game could see the arm-flailing, the disgusted looks, and Cousins barking at the refs.

"At one point in the game, he looked at me and said 'Are you serious?'" said Mazzulla. "I said, 'Yeah, I'm serious. You're going to have to punch me in the face for me to get off you.'"

Mazzulla didn't just lead by example.

With eight minutes to go in the second half, there was a sloppy sequence. John Wall missed a three. Butler grabbed the rebound, but his outlet pass to Devin Ebanks was stolen by Wall. Wall tried to dribble through three defenders, turned the ball over, and Butler found Ebanks all alone at the other end. But Ebanks bobbled the ball, losing it out of bounds instead of bring the house down with a dunk.

He was frustrated, but Mazzulla was the guy that reached Ebanks first.

"He told me to move on and forget it," Ebanks said. "He knew I wanted to dunk it so bad. I calmed myself down after I listened to him."

He set the tone defensively, he is the team's leader, and he just so happened to score a career-high 17 points while playing on one shoulder.

That's why he won the East Regional MOP while averaging a gaudy 7.0 ppg and 3.8 apg.

Continue reading...