CBSSports.com Ranks 16 Best Teams of All-Time — Let the Debate Begin

Posted by EJacoby on February 22nd, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

With an upcoming four-part show coming on the CBS Sports Network that will highlight the 16 greatest teams in college basketball history, the guys at CBSSports.com decided to put together their own lists for fans to see. You can see their full ballots laid out here, as voted by Jeff Goodman, Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander, and Jeff Borzello. The show is still a month away from broadcasting, but the discussion has already begun. To make things easier for you, we’ll give a rundown of the consensus rankings they chose, along with some trend analysis about their selections.

See above for a readable spreadsheet of the CBS rankings. By consensus, the guys rated the 1968 and 1973 UCLA teams as the two greatest teams ever. Hard to go wrong there, as both teams were National Champions as part of the Bruins’ streak of seven consecutive titles. The ’73 team went undefeated in Bill Walton’s junior year, while the ’68 team lost just one game in Lew Alcindor’s junior year, a game midway through the regular season against Houston at the AstroDome in which Alcindor was recovering from an injury. The Bruins got their revenge that season by blowing out Houston in the Final Four by over 30 points en route to the title.

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Morning Five: 08.17.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 17th, 2011

  1. Boom.  That explosion you just heard coming from South Beach and nearby environs had nothing to do with Texas A&M, Mike Slive or Mark Emmert.  No, it was Yahoo Sports’ Tuesday release of a penetrating and ultimately damning piece exposing a long-term, sustained pattern of NCAA lawlessness, “some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs.”  While the majority of the allegations and claims made by currently imprisoned Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro involves the football program, former Hurricane head coach Frank Haith, former assistants Jorge Fernandez and Jake Martin, and current senior basketball player, DeQuan Jones, were all named as having benefited or been involved in some capacity (click the links on their names to see the specific allegations and evidence against them).  Notwithstanding the mess that new Miami coach Jim Larranaga has now stepped into down in Coral Gables, all three of Missouri (Haith), Western Kentucky (Morton), and Marshall (Fernandez) must all be wondering what kind of damage control they’re going to need to employ in order to keep the NCAA from roosting on their doorsteps.  Haith has already denied any allegations relating to Shapiro, for whatever that’s worth.  Certainly the NCAA is already on its way to south Florida, and depending on what else they uncover, Hurricane basketball could be in serious trouble (although not nearly to the extent of the football team).
  2. From the last-thing-on-anyone’s-mind department at the U, there was also a Tuesday announcement that DePaul freshman guard Shane Larkin, the son of former Cincinnati Reds baseball star Barry Larkin, is transferring to Miami to be closer to home (Orlando) because of an unnamed medical condition.  Since he already took part in summer coursework and preseason practices at DePaul before the Blue Demon team went to France this month, he’ll either have to sit out the 2011-12 season in Coral Gables or apply for and receive a medical waiver from the NCAA to play this year.  Larkin is already taking some heat from those who believe his “condition” is a mere smokescreen so he can get out of Chicago without penalty, but given what’s going on at Miami right now, he may want to reconsider.  Undoubtedly new head coach Jim Larranaga, whose program cannot help but feel some of the heat and fallout from this scandal, would be happy to have him on the court this coming season.
  3. We alluded yesterday to the fact that the vast majority of the top players in the Class of 2012 remain uncommitted.  Jeff Goodman points out that this is an anomaly in an environment where kids have usually been locked and loaded to a specific school for quite a bit of time at this point.  Whatever the reason for this year’s weirdness (15 of last year’s top 25 were committed at the same point), Goodman is correct in noting that the coming months of September and October will be an all-out war among schools trying to impress the top prospects with on-campus visits in the hopes of getting a verbal and, subsequently, a John Hancock during the November 11-17 signing period.
  4. Horrible story from down south this week involving a Sun Belt and Southland Conference referee who apparently committed suicide after learning that his wife had been murdered at their home in Houston.  Troy Raymond, a long-time NBA and college basketball official with a good reputation for his on-court skill set, was found in a hotel room in New Orleans on Friday only a few hours after his wife’s strangled body was discovered a few hours west.  There appears to be much more to this story, though, as CBSSports.com reported that his wife had recently asked him for a divorce and that at least one conference had recently informed him that he would not be brought back to officiate next season.  You hate to speculate as to what might have happened because two lives are already gone and assuredly countless others impacted, but let’s cross our fingers and hope against hope that it wasn’t the unthinkable.
  5. Last week we thought that Swiperboy, a/k/a Tennessee forward Renaldo Woolridge, had decided to hang up his microphone for good, but according to his blog in a post called “You really thought I was done?”, he now claims he was misinterpreted.  The new story is that his upcoming mixtape, Zazzzle, will in fact be his last; but, he has no plans to give up rapping and he expects his first studio album “Crossover” to drop in stores next spring.  Say what you like about Swiperboy, but he’s already got down the dramatic essence of becoming a hip-hop superstar — always leave them wanting more.  He also seems to enjoy rapping about his environment, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, although what America (and RTC) really wants to hear is a “Hit ‘em Up” missive on his former coach, Bruce Pearl.  For now, we’ll have to settle on his new single, “Teach Me How to Dooley,” a song dedicated to Derek Dooley, UT’s head football coach [ed note: is that pool located at Pearl's house currently for sale?].

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Who’s Got Next? DeAndre Daniels Commits, Duke Spotlight, Rodney Purvis and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on June 10th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a bi-weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Twice a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

The DeAndre Daniels saga is finally over. After committing and then de-committing and then setting up different decision dates and not following through on them, Daniels let everyone know where he will play college basketball. Where, you may ask? Well, that may be the most surprising thing that’s happened is his whole recruitment. Class of 2012 shooting guard Rodney Purvis (#7) also spoke out on a couple of his recent visits and many other top prospects talked about their new lists. And speaking of Purvis, why will he be attending the same camp as North Carolina star Harrison Barnes this weekend?  You can find out that and more in this edition of Who’s Got Next?

What They’re Saying

You Have to Think Calhoun Will Be Back Now

  • Senior DeAndre Daniels on why he committed to Connecticut: “I chose UConn because I thought it was the best fit for me, just their style of play, and just how they develop their wing guys. And just how he makes his guys better.” On head coach Jim Calhoun possibly returning: “[Calhoun said] I don’t have to worry about him not being there. He said he’ll be there.”
  • Junior Archie Goodwin (#19) on his list and when he will commit: “Kentucky, Baylor, Arkansas, Memphis, Tennessee, UConn, Missouri along with a lot of others including Louisville and Georgia. I’m definitely going to [sign] later.”
  • Junior Devonta Pollard (#40) on his offers and what he’s looking for: “Mississippi State, Georgetown, Ole Miss, North Carolina State, LSU, Alabama and Kentucky… a place where I can go and be comfortable, where I can play and be successful.”
  • Junior Perry Ellis (#10) on who he’s considering: “I still am considering all six teams (Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Memphis, Oklahoma, and Wichita State), as well as Duke now.”
  • Sophomore Malcolm Hill on his Indiana visit and the schools who are recruiting him: “They have a nice campus, it’s a good environment and I saw that they have good study habits. I really like the practice facility a lot. The other schools that are looking at me are Ohio State, Xavier, UCLA, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Providence and Tennessee.”
  • Sophomore standout Isaiah Lewis on what he’s looking for in a school: “The fan base… academics, that’s an important part. I want to see where coaches play me. I really want to go to college playing point guard.”
  • Freshman shooting guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes on his list: “Arizona, North Carolina State, Texas, Oregon and a couple of other schools.”

What Rodney Purvis is Saying

Rodney Purvis talked a lot about recent visits. (Credit: HighSchoolHoop)

Class of 2012 shooting guard Rodney Purvis (#7) recently wrote a player blog for ESPN RISE in which he said some interesting things. Take a look below.

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Morning Five: 01.18.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 18th, 2011

  1. Illinois freshman forward Jereme Richmond sought to put to rest rampant rumors surrounding a possible transfer by releasing a statement on Monday that, despite some personal issues that caused him to miss two practices last week, he will remain “an Illini for life.”  He also sat out the Wisconsin game over the weekend after driving to Madison from his Waukegan, Illinois, home rather than taking the team bus from Champaign with the rest of the players.  Like many freshmen, Richmond has found the college game much more difficult than anticipated — his minutes and offensive output have dropped since Big Ten play began (in part due to a nagging Achilles injury), but he’s certainly capable of producing (8/5) for Bruce Weber in limited minutes.  He just needs to keep his head up and continue to work hard; his time will come.
  2. The Nike Hoop Summit team was announced over the weekend, with Kentucky and Duke as the big winners.  This team will face the World Select team on April 9 in Portland, and generally tries to choose the ten best high school seniors in America.  The complete list: Anthony Davis, Michael Gilchrist & Marquis Teague (Kentucky); Austin Rivers & Quinn Cook (Duke); Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse); Tony Wroten (Washington); Bradley Beal (Florida); James McAdoo (UNC); Adonis Thomas (Memphis).
  3. Jeff Goodman describes the current state of Sean Miller’s Arizona Wildcat program in year two of its rebuild.  Everybody knows from his time at Xavier that the guy can coach, but despite the Wildcats’ current 15-3 overall record (4-1 in the Pac-10), he’s still lacking the across-the-board talent that Arizona teams in years past became accustomed to.  At one time in the mid-2000s, for example, UA had produced more current NBA players than any other collegiate program in America.  With the hope that super-soph Derrick Williams returns for his junior season and a top recruiting class featuring point guard Josiah Turner from Sacramento on the way, Miller believes that Y3 of the renaissance in the desert could be the season that gets the Wildcats back into the national consciousness.
  4. Seth Davis’ Hoop Thoughts discusses the Trevor Mbakwe and Wesley Witherspoon situations from last week, as well as what will happen with Missouri’s Tony Mitchell and of course a host of other interesting notes.  We gave our opinion on the Mbakwe situation a few days ago, and it appears that Tubby Smith’s analysis  came down in a way similar to what we thought (big mistake, but learn from it).
  5. It’s not often that you’ll read a rival school write so fondly about a place where its basketball program took it on the chin to the tune of a 7-52 (.119) record the last half-century, but this piece from Steven M. Sipple discusses how much he’ll miss visiting Allen Fieldhouse as a member of the press corps for Nebraska basketball after the Huskers move permanently to the Big Ten next season.  But that’s what happens when you’re a football school playing a basketball game — you refer to things like “charm” and “fun” while getting waxed over and over again.  We dare say that Husker fans won’t find the Big House or Horseshoe quite so endearing if they win 12% of their games there over the next 60 years.
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Morning Five: 12.28.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 28th, 2010

  1. The NY Daily News published an exclusive interview with Seton Hall star Jeremy Hazell, who, as you all have heard by now, was shot by a robber on Christmas night near his home in Harlem.  He describes in detail how the robbers approached him and how he pushed one and ran for his life before feeling the piercing bullet enter his side below his armpit and how he waved down a passing FDNY ambulance to get timely treatment from the paramedics.  Talk about the Christmas spirit!  This is a frightening story and we wish Hazell nothing but the best on his recovery, and if that means he doesn’t play again this season, we don’t think anyone would blame him.
  2. Marquette freshman guard Reggie Smith is transferring away from Buzz Williams’ program in a bit of a surprising twist, as the young player had started in five of MU’s games this season yet was apparently chafed at a perceived lack of playing time.  He was averaging 1.4 points in just under ten minutes per game, but clearly neither he (nor his stepfather) thought that was enough a mere six weeks into his playing career.  This is also the second year in a row that Marquette has lost a freshman at the semester break — last season Jeronne Maymon transferred to Tennesssee in December.
  3. Speaking of midseason transfers, BIAH has a pretty good rundown of who those key players are and how they’re doing thus far since becoming eligible.  The winners so far: Kansas’ Josh Selby, USC’s Jio Fontan and Creighton’s Gregory Echinique.
  4. Jeff Goodman does us the service of breaking down the six power conferences heading into the new year.  There’s an awful lot to like and agree with here, but for the sake of contrarianism, we’d probably have gone with Georgetown in the Big East at this point.  RTC is majorly crushing on the Hoyas.
  5. Last night’s big Connecticut-Pittsburgh game turned out to be a dud for the most part with the Panthers handling the Huskies (while we’re at it, check out how Pitt’s Ashton Gibbs gets open off of screens), but this little jewel of a memory passed along from the UConn Hoops Blog reminded us when and how the rivalry began between these two basketball powerhouses.  Khalid El-Amin’s mastery (and bombast) was the difference way back in 1998, so c’mon readers, let’s help them out by locating the specific photo of KEA they’re requesting.
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Morning Five: 11.10.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 10th, 2010

  1. Today is the basketball version of National Signing Day, inasmuch as the sport has such a thing.  Officially it’s the first day of a week-long signing period, but there’s virtually no drama this year as most of the elite players have already made their collegiate choices (23 of the top 25 players, according to this Sporting News article).  The two biggest names still on the board are 6’8 power forward DeAndre Daniels from Bradenton, Florida, and 6’10 power forward Cody Zeller, from Washington, Indiana (brother of Tyler and Luke).  Daniels is expected to wait until the spring signing period to make his choice but Zeller has scheduled a press conference on Thursday where he will choose between UNC, Indiana and Butler.  Scout has some interesting information available as to which conferences have the strongest aggregate classes thus far, and breaks down the classes for each school within each.
  2. What will a thumping at the hands of the University of Indianapolis get ya?  How about a 5:30 am film session to see in living color all of your mistakes from the night before?  That fate befell Bruce Pearl’s Vols yesterday morning a few short hours after Indy walked out of Thompson-Boling Arena with a 79-64 win.  Obvious joke: did the Tennessee players refuse to acknowledge that it was actually them on the screen when Pearl asked them questions?
  3. This is an absolute must-read from a guy that literally nothing in this sport gets past — Jeff Goodman’s 68 Things to Watch in the 2010-11 Season.  Goodman is one of the few in this business who, when he says something has a good chance of happening, we actually listen.  You should too.
  4. CNNSI came through with its Crystal ball selections from its three primary CBB writers: Seth Davis, Luke Winn & Andy Glockner.  Look at Sexy Seth with the Gonzaga Final Four pick!  There’s a lot of great stuff in this article, so read it, but we’re especially loving Winn’s pick for Surprise Team, Glockner’s choice for Best Player Nobody Knows About, and Davis’ Flop Team.
  5. More exhibition nonsense last night:  Syracuse got its revenge on last year’s nemesis, Le Moyne, 91-48, which clearly means that this year’s Orange squad is a lock for the Final Four since the 2009-10 edition could only muster the Sweet Sixteen.  SU hit 11-16 treys, which addresses one of their key questions going into this season.  Kansas also defeated Emporia State, 90-59, and Purdue beat Midwestern State, 78-58, last night.  As for games that count, the 2kSports CvC continues tonight at the four regional sites of Austin, College Park, Pittsburgh and Champaign.  We’ll have our SYT out later today for those.
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Morning Five: Opening Night Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2010

  1. It’s been 217 days and nights since Duke and Butler thrilled us for two hours on a warm Monday night in Indianapolis, but ladies and gentlemen, make sure that you have your affairs in order because starting tonight college basketball shall be lovingly (re)welcomed into our homes.   For the next 147 days until we convene in Houston on another warm spring night for a championship, our season is back in session.  Twenty-one pending weeks of squeaking sneakers, packed gyms, ridiculous finishes, burgeoning controversies and “fear the beard” chants.  You know us — we’ll be right there from start to finish with the high-quality analysis and coverage you’ve come to expect.  But you know what might be the best part of all?  The silence.  We will not be talking about the BCS, Brett Favre or the LeBron James Nike commercial.  Here you won’t find Randy Moss analysis, Hot Stove rumors or coverage of whatever Phil Jackson/Jerry Buss fracas develops this year. If you want that kind of coverage, we’re quite sure you can find plenty of it elsewhere.  No, we’re happy to put our fingers into our ears and descend back into the college hoops bubble;  and, frankly, we really aren’t all that interested in resurfacing again until April.  Our invitation to join us is open and can be executed at any time — won’t you be our hoops neighbor?
  2. We already know that Washington’s Isaiah Thomas has a lot to say, and he often reaches to his Twitter account to express himself.  On Friday the talented Husky guard went after Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman for his preseason all-Pac-10 selections which did not include he nor any of his teammates (we think Thomas should have been chosen too, actually).  Thomas specifically called out UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt and USC’s Nikola Vucevic as players who shouldn’t have been chosen on the team, which means that there are at least three opponents now on the UW schedule whom he has provided bulletin board material for (Kentucky is the other).  Lorenzo Romar’s Huskies are quickly becoming must-view television this season.
  3. If you consider yourself at all a hoops prognosticator, you need to get over to Vegas Watch this week and submit your preseason picks for the top four seeds in each region of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.  The person who is closest to the actual seed placements on Selection Sunday will win a cash prize, and surely the majority of our readers will be interested in this, right?
  4. Former Cornell guard Jon Jaques writes in his “Blue Chips” blog that UCLA fans shouldn’t be throwing themselves off the nearest rooftops with the news late last week that prep star Quinn Cook committed to Duke despite the obvious need and a promise from Ben Howland that he could have the starting point guard position.  While everything Jaques says is true about UCLA competing in the Pac-10 this season and the deep and rich pool of talent that Howland has at his disposal in Los Angeles, he doesn’t seem to recognize that goals such as finishing second in the Pac-10 and winning recruiting battles are not appropriate analgesics for the Bruin faithful.  That program measures itself not even by Final Four appearances but by championships, and right now UCLA seems quite a few years away from competing for that kind of hardware again.
  5. We rarely like to mention exhibition games because they simply don’t hold much predictive value as coaches experiment with lineups and different sets, but there were two notable events from the weekend.  First, Xavier lost to D2 Bellarmine (Ky) 63-61 on Saturday night as the Musketeer frontcourt laid a giant egg (1o points).  XU of course lost leading scorer Jordan Crawford along with big man Jason Love from last year’s Sweet Sixteen team, so it will take some time for the Musketeers to adjust.  Make no mistake, though; with Tu Holloway outside and Chris Mack on the sidelines, XU will be dealt with this season.  The other notable exhibition news from the weekend involved the first preseason AP All-American ever chosen, UNC’s Harrison Barnes.  Citing a case of what Roy Williams called “freshmanitis,” the freshman wing shot 2-9 from the field for seven lackluster points while committing six turnovers.  Don’t get used to it, though — he may not end up in single-figures again this season.
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Morning Five: 10.18.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 18th, 2010

  1. It was an eventful weekend across the college basketball landscape as programs began officially practicing on Friday night with spirited Midnight Madness celebrations ranging from Duke’s banner unfurling to Michigan State’s astronaut theme to Pepperdine’s For Whom the (Keion) Bell Tolls…  in case you were busy with football and/or the MLB playoffs this weekend, be sure to check out our BGTD: Midnight Madness Edition from Friday night as well as our postmortem of highlights we posted on Sunday.  And believe it or not, we’re only twenty-one days from game action, folks.
  2. Like everyone else, we were extremely sad to hear that Purdue’s Robbie Hummel had once again ruptured his ACL, an injury that will leave him on the shelf this season.  You can really feel the pain in Jeff Goodman’s article over the weekend where he discusses just how unfair it is that a great kid such as Hummel seems to have such crappy luck.  For Purdue fans, this is also devastating — the Boilermakers rallied after Hummel’s late February injury last year to sneak into the Sweet Sixteen, but even with the experience of playing without him and E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson returning, we just can’t see a Final Four run in this squad.  Hummel will have one more year to play college basketball in 2011-12, but he’ll return to a team gutted by the graduation of those two stars and although hope springs eternal, we have a feeling that these couple of years will ultimately represent unfortunate missed opportunities for Matt Painter and his program.
  3. Speaking of Goodman, here’s his preseason Top 25 (keep in mind Purdue at #2 was prior to Hummel’s injury); here’s Mike DeCourcy’s at Sporting News; and here’s Gary Parrish’s over at CBS Sports.
  4. Seth Davis checks in with his 10 Burning Questions to start the new season, a great read as usual.  Unfortunately, we already know the answer to the second half of #2, but he brings up a good point about Duke managing to duck much of the ubiquitous hatred last season largely because most pundits (and the public) didn’t start taking the Blue Devils seriously as a title contender until the very end of the season.
  5. Friday was Midnight Madness at most places, but it was also the date of UConn and Jim Calhoun’s hearing in Indy with the NCAA Infractions Committee.  Calhoun reported that the meeting took thirteen hours, but he provided no additional details as to its substance (although a 13-hour meeting is no joke).  The NCAA is expected to make a ruling on this issue by December.  Let’s hope for Husky fans that their season is generally going well by then; otherwise, it could be a particularly cold winter in Storrs.
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Morning Five: 07.14.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 13th, 2010

  1. Of course the biggest news of the summer to date was Monday’s announcement that the NCAA Tournament “First Four” would include four auto-bids along with the last four at-large bids.  Mike DeCourcy got some immediate reactions on the configuration from head coaches Gary Williams, Trent Johnson and Scott Sutton.  Whether politically correct, a compromise, much ado about nothing, or a punt, the two decisions that the NCAA made in the past three months regarding the best thing this sport has to offer shows that they’re listening to the public.  For such a staid institution that has been heavily criticized over the years, this is not a bad thing.
  2. Next year’s DeMarcus Cousins could come in the form of Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney, so circle your calendars for the December 18 debut of the talented big man in the Atlantis Paradise Island Invitational, where the Bulldogs seek to beef up their RPI standing with a possible game (contract pending) against fellow eternal bubbler Virginia Tech.
  3. New England high school basketball talent no longer an oxymoron?  According to this report by Bostonian Jeff Goodman, the long-underwhelming area of talent may be moving forward in much the same way that the Pacific Northwest has over the last five years.  We’ll have to remain watchful on this one.
  4. Wow, this description by John Feinstein on the book he hoped to do about legendary former UNC coach Dean Smith is stifling in its austerity.  Smith’s memory loss problems were publicly broken last week by the Fayetteville Observer, but it was Feinstein’s tales of trying to discuss past events with Smith for his book that really put things into focus.  Sad, sad story.
  5. Tennessee treasure and women’s head coach Pat Summitt’s son, Tyler, will walk on for UT beginning next season.  He had opportunities to play at the Division III level, but he will use his experience as a member of the men’s team to develop what he hopes will one day turn into a coaching opportunity.  The only question we have is whether he’ll try to coach men’s or women’s ball?
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Chatter From the Fourth Estate: NCAA 68

Posted by rtmsf on April 23rd, 2010

If you’re like us today, you’re probably feeling a little bit like you do when you realize that the blue lights in your rear view mirror weren’t intended for you even though you were about +15 over the speed limit.  As the friendly patrolman roars by on your left, that adrenaline-fueled fear of getting a ticket (or worse) melts into a somewhat euphoric state of well-being as you realize that you’ve dodged a terribly unpleasant situation.  We all spent the last two months lying hogtied on the tracks watching the 96-team locomotive steaming toward us, and the surprising (shocking?) news that the NCAA will instead move to only a 68-team scenario feels like Clint Eastwood or Rambo or freakin’ Michael Cera stepped in at the last moment to save the day.  Perspective is everything.

NCAA HQ Can Cancel That Security Detail Now

Yet imagine for a moment if we’d never heard about the 96-team debacle from the inner circles of the NCAA.  Without that particularly bilious perspective to abhor, excoriate, lambaste and dread for months leading up to today, the news that the NCAA was expanding to 68 teams would probably have been met with complete and utter derision across the board.  Four play-in games, pfshaw!  Yet when considered against the alternative, today’s news was met with guarded optimism and in some cases downright celebration.  Was this a brilliant strategem of managing expectations pulled off on us, the unsuspecting public, by the cunning NCAA (probably not), or simply a realization that the organization was treading ever so closely to killing off the goose that laid the golden egg (more likely)?  Either way, the decision is a reasonable and defensible one that we can all live with, so let’s get to the business of reviewing it now and analyzing it to death in coming weeks.

Here’s what some of the best in the business have to say…

Luke Winn, CNNSI – More importantly, it represents a major victory for college basketball. The NCAA did the right thing. While I’d prefer a pure, 64-team format without play-in games, 68 teams is immensely more palatable than 96. The sanctity of the NCAA tournament has been preserved for the time being, and that’s something to celebrate, even if Jim Isch, the NCAA’s interim president, admitted that 68 wasn’t guaranteed to be the format for the entire length of the new TV deal. [...]  Public reaction had to have played at least some role in them settling on 68 rather than 96. The public’s response to the 96 idea was overwhelmingly negative, and I wonder if Isch, Shaheen, CBS and Turner didn’t want to be regarded as the villains who ruined college sports’ crown jewel.  [...]  Eventually, we’ll get back to worrying about how Isch left the expansion door open by saying two words: “for now.” But for now, at least, we can rejoice. The NCAA tournament has been saved.

Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News – Turns out, they were listening. Nobody came out and said the public’s revulsion at the prospect of a 96-team field was a factor in settling on 68, but if you’d loved the idea like chocolate-chip cookies, we’d be talking about a far different NCAA Tournament next March.  It wasn’t at the start of negotiations that someone with CBS/Turner suggested a 68-team tournament would be workable with the dollar amounts being discussed. That came after the general public declared 96 teams to be a product no more appealing than the XFL.  [...]  How should a 68-team tournament work?  That’s fairly obvious. Although it might be most fair to have the teams at the bottom of the field play for the right to be No. 16 seeds, it’s hard to imagine anyone at CBS or Turner Sports, the networks that just agreed to pay roughly $740 million annually to televise the tournament, being thrilled about showing four games that this year might have involved such matchups as Robert Morris-Winthrop or Morgan State-East Tennessee State.  The solution would be to have the last eightat-large teams play for the right to be seeded into the middle of the field—as No. 12s or No. 11s. This season, that might have meant Virginia Tech-Minnesota and Illinois-Florida.  People would watch those games. CBS and Turner saved us from the dread of a 96-team tournament. They deserve something for their money.

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Singler’s Return = Duke #1

Posted by rtmsf on April 19th, 2010

The SCOOP doctor, Jeff Goodman, is reporting that Duke all-american forward Kyle Singler is returning to Durham for his senior year.  A formal announcement from Singler is expected in the next 24 hours, but suffice it to say that good fortune is shining on Mike Krzyzewski and his Blue Devil program in a big way lately.  According to the mock drafts, Singler was projected as a late first-rounder but he has decided that a shot at another national title at Duke is worth more than the guaranteed dollars that he would have received as a new draftee.  He and fellow ACC big man Solomon Alabi were the only two underclassmen in this mock draft projected as first rounders who had not yet declared — will Singler be the only legitimate first round returnee in the college game next season?

Singler Will Be the Top Returnee in America Next Year

Regardless of what Alabi decides, Duke is in tremendous position to defend its title next year.  The Devils lose three regular seniors from its national championship team — Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek — but their replacements are just as talented if not more so in the forms of Kyrie Irving/Seth Curry and the Miles/Mason Plumlee brothers.  The irreplaceable wildcard was always going to be the versatile Singler, but with his return to the Duke lineup Coach K’s team will undoubtedly enter 2010-11 as the #1 team in America with a very good chance at repeating next April.  The team will upgrade its athleticism at the guard positions and among the bigs, and so long as Coach K can find ways to feed and channel the intensity of the Plumlees in the same way as it worked with Zoubek this spring, Duke will be once again be on the grand stage for all of America to hate.  Maybe if we’re really lucky Singler will all of a sudden start attracting random teenage fangirls, begin referring to himself in the third person and use opportune moments during NCAA Tournament games to step on other players’ chests.  If we’re lucky.

Seriously, though, it’s funny how college basketball works sometimes.  Two years ago we had major cognitive dissonance believing that Singler had been considered the equal of UCLA’s Kevin Love when the two were doing battle back in the Oregon high school prep ranks throughout the mid-2000s.  Yet here we sit in 2010 and it is Singler, not Love, who has the chance to make college basketball history with repeat national titles.  We’re certainly not implying that makes him better than Love either then or now, but it’s well beyond what we thought we were getting when the blonde forward came out of Medford three years ago.  And it just goes to show that sometimes it’s better in college basketball to have a stable of pretty-darn-good players who stick around three or four years rather than sicknasty players who you can only keep on campus for one.

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Morning Five: 12.29.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 29th, 2009

  1. Horrible news for Tom Crean’s young Indiana Hoosier team, as leading scorer Maurice Creek broke his kneecap during last night’s game with Bryant and will miss the rest of the season.  Creek is one of the top freshman scorers in America at 17.6 PPG, ahead of other notables such as Kansas’ Xavier Henry (17.2) and Derrick Favors (12.9).  Huge blow to Indiana as it heads into the conference season.
  2. Northwestern landed at #25 in the AP poll for the first time in forty seasons this week.  How awesome is that, especially after all of their injury problems this season?  Nine of their next ten games are very tough matchups for the Wildcats, but we’ll be rooting for them.  This could be the best little-guy story we’ve had in some time in this game if they can stay in the hunt for an NCAA bid this year.
  3. Seth Davis’ annual Jigsaw Man article, and it has nothing to do with Saw VI either.
  4. Jeff Goodman explains why and when the six remaining unbeatens will lose rather soon.  No argument on that point, but specifically, we do think Syracuse and Texas will last longer than what he suggests.  Texas losing at Arkansas is a pretty big reach with as bad as the Hawgs have been this year.
  5. Yeah, conference play begins in earnest this week in the Pac-10, Big East and Big Ten, but it feels a little weird to have meaningful conference games before the New Year holiday.  We’ll be there watching, though.
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