NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.20.12 EditionPosted by Brian Goodman on March 20th, 2012
The NCAA Tournament is here and there’s more news, commentary and analysis than any of us can possibly keep up with. To make things a little easier, we’ll bring you a list of daily links gathered about teams in each of the four regions all the way through the Final Four.
- Ever since Bob Knight was dismissed, Indiana has struggled on the court and even had some problems off the court. In his fourth season as the Hoosiers’ head coach, Tom Crean has helped alleviate those issues, as he has Indiana back in the Sweet Sixteen since 2002.
- Kentucky head coach John Calipari and Indiana head coach Tom Crean are friends off the court. That is why Calipari is no fan of facing Crean on the hardwood. Friendship, you see, messes up competitive fire.
- ESPN analyst Dick Vitale believes that if both Kentucky and Baylor advance to the regional final, the Bears could pose a legitimate challenge for the Wildcats. Vitale believes that Baylor has the athletes to match Kentucky athletically.
- Xavier senior center Kenny Frease put up a career night against Lehigh when the Musketeers needed him most. If Frease can put up another fantastic night against Baylor, Xavier is going to be a tough out.
- Fans and media aren’t the only ones caught up in great performances by major talent among the mid-major ranks. It was recently revealed that in 2010, Baylor coach Scott Drew and then-Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl allegedly contacted Ohio‘s D.J. Cooper about transferring, which would constitute NCAA violations if the allegations are true. It will be interesting to see whether the subject is raised during Baylor’s media session this week.
- Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde opines that even if North Carolina guard Kendall Marshall returns to the fold for a potential regional final, the odds are stacked heavily against the Heels.
- The Tar Heels’ aren’t the only team from the state recovering from some health concerns. N.C. State will face Kansas Friday, and C.J. Williams and C.J. Leslie are recovering from fatigue. The severity isn’t even comparable to North Carolina’s situation, but a few days of rest will be especially helpful to the Wolfpack.
- Basketball Prospectus’ C.J. Moore breaks down how Kansas topped Purdue on Sunday, from Elijah Johnson‘s fortitude to Bill Self‘s halftime adjustments.
- There are already two coaching vacancies in the Big Ten, and Ohio coach John Groce could fit the bill at either Nebraska or Illinois after the season. Groce’s Big Ten connections, when combined with his team’s head-turning performance this postseason, make him appealing to the Cornhuskers. Nebraska is a tough job, but with a heavy commitment to hoops, Athletic Director Tom Osborne could find a catch.
- Bo Ryan and Jim Boeheim have known each other and have been friendly with each other for a long time. Both veteran coaches served together for years on the board of directors for the National Association of Basketball Coaches. One would assume that friendship will go to the wayside for Thursday’s showdown between Ryan’s Wisconsin squad and Boeheim’s Syracuse team.
- Not many teams in the country have the luxury Syracuse has in bringing players of the caliber of Dion Waiters and James Southerland off the bench. Both Waiters and Southerland enter Thursday’s game with Wisconsin averaging 15 points over the first two games of the tournament.
- Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin believes that since his team’s December 10 brawl with Xavier, they have been “on a mission to define what Cincinnati basketball is all about.” Right now, the Bearcats are all about their first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2001.
- Cincinnati lost back-to-back National Championship games to Ohio State in 1960 and 1961. While this is a historical fact, it is going to take a while for the players to be well-versed in the history that exists between the two schools.
- It’s interesting that Ohio State and Cincinnati have not met on the hardwood since 2006. The two schools met on December 16, 2006, when the Buckeyes topped the Bearcats 72-50 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
- Improved bench play has been a key for Florida‘s success in the tournament. Mike Rosario, Scottie Wilbekin and Cody Larson gave the Gators solid minutes all weekend, which bodes well for the entire rotation as it gets ready to play Marquette.
- Marquette‘s lineup flexibility, boosted by the return of big man Davante Gardner, makes the Golden Eagles an incredibly challenging team to prepare for.
- The Big Ten catches plenty of criticism for its sluggish pace, but Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo says his team is comfortable playing at any tempo, especially a faster one as could be the case against Louisville.
- The usually-confident Rick Pitino characterized some of his coaching experience as humbling, which isn’t exactly the first descriptor that comes to mind when you think of the seasoned Louisville coach. Pitino says his rough years in the NBA, in addition to a couple seasons in Louisville plagued by injuries to important players, have given him reason to appreciate every positive moment.
- Florida will face a test unlike very few it has taken this season when the Gators square off against Marquette. Averaging 21 points and 10.5 rebounds last weekend, Marquette forward Jae Crowder is showing why he was selected as Big East Player of the Year over West Virginia’s Kevin Jones.