NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.20.13 EditionPosted by WCarey on March 20th, 2013
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.
- Even though his team will be playing close to home this weekend in Lexington, Louisville coach Rick Pitino stressed that there is no homecourt advantage in the NCAA Tournament.
- Colorado State big man Colton Iverson will be a load for Missouri to handle in the post. Iverson enters the NCAA Tournament averaging 14.7 points and 9.8 points per game.
- The stunning upset loss to 15-seed Norfolk State in the last season’s NCAA Tournament is not on the minds of Missouri as it prepares for this season’s event.
- Though he is just a freshman, star Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart provides the Cowboys with much-needed toughness and leadership.
- Michael Berk of KGW NewsChannel 8 in Portland believes Oregon should use the national outrage over its 12-seed to its advantage as it prepares for its Round of 64 match-up with Oklahoma State.
- It seems as if the nation fell in love with Saint Louis during its victorious Atlantic 10 Tournament performance, so now the Billikens are working hard to ignore distractions and remain focused as they get ready for their first game against New Mexico State.
- New Mexico State guard Terrel de Rouen‘s competitiveness and tenacity has allowed him to recover from a torn ACL suffered last season to become a key player for the Aggies in his sophomore season.
- While in preparation for its Round of 64 game against Valparaiso on Monday, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo dismissed assistant coach Dane Fife from the building as Fife’s wife was preparing to give birth to the couple’s second child. Fife’s wife, Blair, gave birth to a daughter Tuesday morning at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing.
- The more Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin watches tape of Creighton standout Doug McDermott, the more impressed he is with the All-American junior. Cronin said of McDermott, “He can single-handedly beat you. He can get on a roll and give you 30 or 40 any night.”
- Mindful of last season’s loss to 15-seed Lehigh, Duke understands that it cannot afford to overlook 15-seed Albany in this season’s NCAA Tournament.
- Gonzaga forward Elias Harris has had an outstanding four-year career in Spokane. The senior is hoping that he will finish his Gonzaga career playing in the Final Four.
- The reality at times of Pittsburgh’s past weak performances in the NCAA Tournament often puts coach Jamie Dixon on the defensive. He loathes the suggestion that his teams have underachieved in the Big Dance, “We’ve won a lot of games in the Tournament. Only five teams have been to more Sweet Sixteens than we have. They don’t give you byes into the Sweet Sixteen.”
- Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall had modest goals for this season – to win 20 games and possibly sneak into a postseason tournament. Luckily for Marshall and the Shockers, his team was able to surpass both these goals and earn a bid to the NCAAs.
- Wisconsin guard Ben Brust commented on the high possibility that Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson will talk trash to him and his teammates during Friday’s game by saying, “I don’t even know how to talk trash. I think I’ve learned throughout my years, in one ear and out the other and just let my play do the talking.”
- Kansas State guard Shane Southwell can give the Wildcats a scoring punch from the perimeter, but he has struggled with consistency as of late. The junior guard is looking to find a rhythm to give his team a boost in the NCAA Tournament.
- Guard play is going to be a major factor in Wednesday night’s First Four match-up between La Salle and Boise State.
- There has been some national talk about Arizona potentially being an upset victim in the Round of 64, but the Wildcats are trying to avoid that talk as they gear up to face Belmont on Thursday.
- Harvard freshman guard Siyani Chambers has made an immediate impact for the Crimson. The point guard was named Ivy League Freshman of the Year and was placed on the league’s all-Ivy first team.
- After being considered a bubble team for much of the latter part of the regular season, Iowa State guard Korie Lucious and the rest of the Cyclones are “happy to still be playing this time of year.”
- Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch writes that Ohio State‘s Tournament fate hinges on defensive dedication. The Buckeyes have defensive standouts Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott on their roster, but they are going to need their other players to step up.
- Kansas senior starters Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Kevin Young, and Jeff Withey are all well aware of the stakes as they get ready for their final run in the NCAA Tournament.
- North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he was “confused” and “stunned” that the Tar Heels were given an eight-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Williams thought the Tar Heels were going to get a better seed following a strong finish to the regular season a run to the ACC Tournament title game.
- Villanova coach Jay Wright was doubting himself during his team’s slow start to the season. After early losses to Alabama, La Salle, Columbia, an NCAA Tournament berth seemed like merely a dream for the Wildcats. The team regrouped admirably from the slow start and finished the season with 20 wins – including victories over Louisville, Syracuse, and Georgetown.
- We noted yesterday of the friendship between VCU coach Shaka Smart and Akron coach Keith Dambrot. On Sunday evening, Dambrot’s wife posted a picture of the Zips’ coach on Twitter where he is wearing a black VCU t-shirt that includes their popular chant “You Don’t Want To Go To War With The Rams.” When asked about the picture, Dambrot noted, “When I’m not rooting for the Akron Zips, I’m rooting for the VCU Rams.”
- Michigan coach John Beilein was pretty firm Tuesday when he stated, “No matter what happens in this NCAA Tournament, we are moving forward.” Judging by the regular season performance of the Wolverines, it would be hard to argue with his point.
- With guard Jordan Adams out with a broken foot, UCLA coach Ben Howland said on Selection Sunday that he will be making plenty of adjustments to the Bruins’ game plan that should cater better to their available personnel.
- Minnesota forward Trevor Mbakwe has picked up two early fouls in the team’s last two games and Golden Gophers coach Tubby Smith said that if Mbakwe does the same thing against Florida on Friday, he will once again be sitting for the remainder of the first half.
- Florida seniors Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario, and Erik Murphy are the team’s top three scorers and they are going to need to find more consistency if the Gators want to advance deep into the NCAA Tournament.
- San Diego State coach Steve Fisher, who turns 68 on Sunday, confirmed that he plans on returning for a 15th season with the Aztecs and his 34th in college basketball in 2013-14, and perhaps more.
- The most impressive thing about Georgetown point guard Markel Starks‘ emergence is the fact that he has finally grown up. The once immature freshman and sophomore has blossomed into a mature junior who has proven he is plenty capable of running the controls of the Hoyas’ offense.
- Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com writes that while Indiana coach Tom Crean has quickly become one of the most disliked in coaching circles, his ability to return the Hoosiers to national prominence has made him the toast of the town in Bloomington.
- Last season, NC State celebrated wildly when its name was announced on Selection Sunday. This is not last season, as the Wolfpack were expecting to hear its name called. After an inconsistent season that saw the team finish fifth in the ACC, the 2013 NCAA Tournament could be seen as a last chance as seniors Richard Howell and Scott Wood will graduate and juniors C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown are expected to leave school early for the NBA.
- UNLV has six players on its roster that have never played in or sat on the bench for an NCAA Tournament game and these Rebel newcomers are eager to live out their dreams when they play California in the Round of 64 on Thursday.
- California point guard Justin Cobbs has grown comfortable in his role as the team’s point guard and second leading scorer. The Bears are going to need Cobbs to perform well in both roles if they are going to pull the upset over UNLV on Thursday.
- Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams did not play an important role on last season’s Elite Eight team, but as a sophomore, he is a very integral part of the Orange attack as it preps for another potential deep run.
- Butler coach Brad Stevens takes time to celebrate every NCAA Tournament appearance, as he recently said, “You can’t take the NCAA bid for granted. I don’t care if you are at Butler. I don’t care if you haven’t been there in 30 years. I don’t care if you’re at Carolina or Duke. It’s never a given. You have to earn it.”
- Bucknell forward Mike Muscala was lightly recruited as a 6’9″ scrawny forward, but he was always quite gifted fundamentally. Once at Bucknell, Muscala bulked up considerably and he is now one of the most productive big men in the country.
- Davidson enters the NCAA Tournament as winner of 17 straight games. While the Wildcats breezed through Southern Conference play, coach Bob McKillop believes his underdog team will benefit from its experiences in early season match-ups against New Mexico, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Gonzaga, Charlotte, Richmond, and Duke.
- Illinois coach John Groce has a positive outlook and his Illini are recharged as they are set to open play in the NCAA Tournament on Friday against Colorado. The Illini are definitely a team to keep an eye on, because with wins over Gonzaga and Indiana, they have shown they can certainly pull an upset.
- Pacific coach Bob Thomason decided last spring that this season – his 25th – would be his last with the program. Thomason’s reward for his service to the school – a trip to the NCAA Tournament and a Round of 64 game against Miami on Friday. Thomason said of his retirement gift, “I’m not going to sit in a rocking chair anyway. The guys couldn’t give me any better gift than this. It’s fantastic.”