NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Kentucky vs North Carolina

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In a Final Four overrun by fresh faces, North Carolina is the one old hand that maneuvered through all the minefields to make it to Glendale, Ariz. Luke Maye’s 18-footer from the left wing with 0.3 seconds left lifted the top-seeded Tar Heels to a 75-73 win over second-seeded Kentucky for the South. Continue reading “Heels head to Final Four on Maye’s last-second hoop”

Oregon Ducks Kansas Jayhawks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tyler Dorsey scored 27 points and Dillon Brooks added 17 as Oregon knocked off top-seeded Kansas 74-60 on Saturday night to reach the national semifinals for the first time since 1939. The game was played at Sprint Center, less than an hour from Allen Fieldhouse, the home of the Jayhawks, but the… Continue reading “Oregon derails Kansas, lands first Final Four trip since 1939”

Purdue faces tough road vs. top-seeded Kansas

In a stereotypical big vs. small clash, the small is actually favored as No. 1 seed Kansas “hosts” No. 4 seed Purdue in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. It’s listed as a neutral-site game, but Sprint Center is less than an hour from Allen… Continue reading “Purdue faces tough road vs. top-seeded Kansas”

Notre Dame's Zach Auguste (30) celebrates after making a foul shot with time running down in the second half of an NCAA tournament second round college basketball game against Northeastern, Thursday, March 19, 2015, in Pittsburgh. Notre Dame won 69-65 to advance to the third round. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

“Bubble Team” is a term that gets heavy use starting around mid-February and peaks on Selection Sunday every year, when the NCAA Selection Committee has to decide which of the teams who have no chance of winning a title had a ‘good enough’ season to be included in the Big Dance, a.k.a. the NCAA Tournament.

But the importance of Bubble Teams is negligible, and once the first weekend of the tournament tips off, dubbed ‘March Madness’ primarily because of the massive amount of games and unexpected upsets in the opening days, nobody thinks about “Bubble Teams” any more. At that point, a team is either in or not, and there’s any team left out just has a ‘burst’ bubble.

But there is a phenomenon which occurs annually in the NCAA tournament which gets little coverage but is far more important in the overall basketball scheme of things, and that is the fact that individual players can go from (relative) obscurity to national prominence in a few games. Some have gone from regional stars to NBA first rounders with a stratospheric performance in the tournament. Recent examples include Steph Curry and Kemba Walker, both who were considered to be having solid collegiate seasons but landed themselves on the NBA radar following their highlight reel games.

So, who in this year’s tournament may take themselves from a solid college player to a possible pro career? It’s hard to predict, but consider that a player doesn’t have to land in the NBA to get paid to play, and players who play at the highest levels of foreign leagues make significant salaries as well. Playing well in the annual NCAA Tournament is creating a ‘sizzle reel’ that can be sold to teams overseas pretty easily, especially if the player has the size to compete in the post.

As the games continue through the first weekend, we may start getting some names shaking out that qualify, but guys like Zach Auguste (PF, 6’10”, Junior) for Notre Dame is a player who was barely ranked as a Top 100 player coming out of high school, and yet played toe-to-toe this season against the likes of likely one-and-done and potential #1 pick Jahlil Okafor and took on a deep UNC big man lineup by himself. A deep run for Notre Dame could be just the ticket to set up Auguste for a pro look.

Other players, like Wisconsin’s center Frank Kaminsky is already considered an NBA prospect, but most analysts have him as a mid-to-late first rounder. If Wisconsin makes a deep run, which is likely, scouts and national media will get a better look at Kaminsky’s multiple offensive moves in the post and ability to stroke the deep ball.

I love watching some players come into their own during tournament time; normally, it’s not that the player suddenly arrives at March Madness and turns into a superstar; the fact is generally, those players were already having stellar seasons but weren’t getting national recognition and weren’t playing in front of a national audience. You’d think that playing against Duke and other high majors, and being the son of a former NBA player would have put Steph Curry more on the NBA radar, but leading his Davidson team deep into the tournament with spectacular performances are what suddenly made the pros start paying attention. Click here for more information

I’d love to do follow up pieces on this during the tournament and start seeing who emerges. While it may be someone who college basketball fans already know, it could just as well be someone whose school doesn’t play on national television all season.

Stay tuned.

NCAA tournament 2014

ST. LOUIS (USBWA) – In an effort to better serve writers covering NCAA tournament games, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association is partnering with the NCAA and the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) to provide liaisons assigned by APSE to assist media coordinators with media-related issues at NCAA men’s tournament sites.

The liaisons are all sports editors of dailies in cities where NCAA tournament games are played. They will serve in an advisory capacity at each tournament site, working with the media coordinators in the following areas:

1. Assisting with seat assignments that are within NCAA guidelines to ensure that a deserving entity doesn’t get overlooked. The USBWA recommends that full consideration is given to a publication/website that is committed to covering the sport or a team throughout the season. The liaisons are serving as consultants only. The NCAA makes the final call on all seat assignments.

2. Monitoring the postgame cooling-off periods after games to assure that time limits are adhered to.

3. Providing pool reporters when needed. The USBWA will continue to appoint pool reporters at each site, drawing primarily from officers, board members and past presidents. In the event a suitable USBWA member is not available, the APSE liaison would be asked to assign the pool reporter.

The USBWA worked with Dave Worlock, director of media coordination and statistics for the NCAA, and Gerry Ahern, vice president for content, USA Today Sports Media Group, to form the partnership.

“We received valuable input from APSE on some important issues over the past year,” said USBWA President Kirk Wessler, sports editor and columnist at the Peoria Journal Star. “APSE’s involvement with providing NCAA tournament site liaisons is a great example of how our three organizations can work together to help solve a common dilemma.”

Here are the sports editors who are serving as liaisons for the NCAA men’s tournament this year:

FIRST ROUND (March 18-19)
• Dayton: John Boyle, Dayton Daily News

• Buffalo: Lisa Wilson, Buffalo News
• Milwaukee: Mike Davis, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
• Orlando: Roger Simmons, Orlando Sentinel
• Raleigh: Steve Ruinsky, Raleigh News and Observer
• San Antonio: Gary Newsom, San Antonio Express News
• San Diego: Todd Adams, UT-San Diego
• Spokane: Joe Palmquist, Spokane Spokesman-Review
• St. Louis: Roger Hensley, Cameron Hollway, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

REGIONALS (March 27-30)
• Memphis: David Williams, Memphis Commercial Appeal
• Anaheim: Todd Harmonson, Orange County Register
• New York: Jason Stallman, The New York Times
• Indianapolis: Ronnie Ramos, Indianapolis Star

By James Blackburn

San Diego State

West Regional Semifinals- 2011 NCAA Sweet 16 matchup
Connecticut wins 74-67

Box Score

Game Recap/Thoughts

1st Half

• UConn is getting only one shot every trip early in the 1st. half – State is doing a great job on the boards.
• Leonard picked up his 2nd foul with a un-sportsmanlike technical 4 minutes into the game – had to be taken out – we will see how this effects State the rest of the half.
• UConn is shooting contested shots – poor shot selection.
• San Diego St. is getting whatever it wants on the offensive end. Going inside out.
• SDSU is getting in foul trouble early – they have 2 guys with 2 fouls each with over half of the 1st half remaining.
• UConn is going one-on-one too much – not a lot of movement. State on the other hand is running a lot of good sets.
• Leonard is back in with 9 minutes left.
• UConn is using a lot of clock on the offensive end – having to take bad shots to beat the shot clock
• SDSU loves to run the floor – they are doing a good job in the half-court too. SDSU is also doing a great job of entering the ball to the post.
• SDSU’s big’s do a great job of passing out of the post.
• UConn closed the half on a 19-5 run because of State’s turnovers and the fact that UConn is starting to run their sets and shooting better shots.

2nd Half

• SDSU goes to Leonard for the 1st play.
• UConn is setting ball screens for Walker and letting him create.
• UConn should start denying the post entry pass or double the post – SDSU is able to get the ball to their big’s way too easily and once they get the ball, they have space to operate.
• SDSU just took the lead with 13 minutes to go in the game – going inside out and UConn is settling for poor shots and doing too much one-on-one and not running the play.
• UConn’s freshmen are taking some quick shots early in the offense.
• UConn takes a timeout after some recent sloppy play, resulting in SDSU 4 point lead.
• SDSU is losing the mental battle this game – Franklin picked a un-sportsmanlike technical with 9 minutes left for a shoulder bump after a time out.
• The game is starting to get chippy and the refs are calling it tight.
• Game is full of runs by both teams – UConn is on a 9-0 run right now, mostly by Walker, with Leonard on bench with 4 fouls.
• UConn has no answer for SDSU’s post players.
• Big 4 point play for SDSU’s Gay with 3:45 remaining. Big momentum swing.
• Lamb with a big steal to secure the win for UConn.
• UConn is just the 2nd team to beat San Diego State all season, the other one being BYU.

Scouting Reports


Kemba Walker (G, 6’1”, JR)

Strengths: shifty- can get to the lane/rim at will- changes speeds well. Moves well with out the ball. Great shooter – has NBA 3 point range. Can shoot off the catch, off the screen, and can create his own shot – very good form. Gets good elevation on jumper. Plays hard and plays a lot of minutes – well conditioned – never came out of the game. Dived on the floor for a steal. Good anticipation on defensive end. Explosive scorer – can score in bunches when he gets going. Good body control in air. Array of offensive moves in his arsenal – loves to pump fake and step in to mid range jumper. At his best when isolated at the top of the key and is given freedom and space to create. Gets to the FT line at a high rate.

Weaknesses: over dribbles, good FT shooter- but tends to drop his hands after follow through – causes him to miss, he needs to hold his follow through. Goes to his right most of the time – needs to improve left – even though he did show the ability to use his left this game.

Overview: Better at the off guard than at PG – more of a scorer than a play-maker. Tweener – some NBA scouts/GM’s will question how much Walker can contribute at the NBA level because of size. The guy can play – he is a competitor and a winner – had a terrific game tonight – showed off his full arsenal and ability to score the ball in a variety of ways. He wants the ball in clutch situations and when the game is on the line. He comes from a good program and a good conference. The Big East is known for producing good NBA players. He would be a solid top 15 pick in my opinion.

Roscoe Smith (F, 6’8”, FR)

Strengths: Ability to shoot the 3. Long and athletic – gets off the ground quickly. Still raw in the post – but showed a nice drop step. Good rebounder. Had a nice back door cut in 2nd half – and had a nice reverse acrobatic finish.

Weaknesses: needs to get stronger in the upper body – opponents post players get deep position on him – results in foul trouble.

Overview: Highly touted freshman – was a Jordan All-American. A player to keep an eye on – still raw in many areas, but I see a lot of potential in him. The NBA is in his future.

San Diego State

Kawhi Leonard (F, 6’7”, SO)

Strengths: Good rebounder. Can face the basket, put ball on floor and attack the basket, can advance the ball up the court with the dribble after securing the rebound. Active and physical player, strong – constantly moving – full of energy. Good enough ball handler to bring ball up the court and initiate the offense. Underrated passer. Attacks the basket hard – explosive going to his right. High release on shot.

Weaknesses: Prefers to go to his right – needs to improve left hand. Needs to improve shooting – extend range (shooting less than 30% from 3 this year). Slow release on set shot. Needs to improve shooting overall.

Overview: Got a technical foul 4 minutes into the 1st half because he was talking to the opposing players – it was his 2nd foul – had to come out (1st technical of his career). Body is NBA ready – solid effort tonight – scored, rebounded, and assisted. Should be a solid role player in the NBA.

Hey, if you like this kind of basketball coverage, do yourself a favor and sign up for the newsletter, which is free for basketball lovers.

By Marcus Shockley

Seth Greenberg NCAA Tournament

From all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth that erupted on Selection Sunday this year, you’d think that the very fabric of justice had been ripped asunder by the NCAA Selection Committee. Analysts, writers and coaches ranted about the inclusion of certain ‘bubble’ teams and the exclusion of other teams and said that this year, the committee “got it wrong”. Even Jay Bilas, a fantastic basketball analyst who I greatly respect, lashed out at the selection committee members.

A gaggle of writers angrily shouted their frustrations over Twitter, claiming that the committee had no justification for their actions and that they had no idea what they were doing. Several prominent radio personalities launched their Monday morning shows with tirades against the selection committee’s choices. Said Mike Greenberg, “this is the first year where you hear the experts just flat out say, ‘they got it wrong’.” Whereas in past years, it seemed that the experts might have some slight disagreements with the committee, this year they were simply saying that the teams that were picked should not have been in the Big Dance.

Not one of these writers or experts, not even the aforementioned and highly esteemed Jay Bilas, seemed to notice the reason for the sudden change. Why would there suddenly be so many experts stating that the selection field was so wrong, when for decades they’ve been proved right?

Why, indeed.

Could it be that none of these media personalities want to share the truth? After all, their bosses, the corporate television networks supported by ad revenue, need for the tournament to matter, so it’s not like they can tell us the real problem with all of this.

Why, exactly, are we arguing over whether one ‘bubble’ team got a tournament invitation over another, when everyone knows that these teams won’t be around for long? Why do the experts point to a team with ‘x number of wins over Top 50 teams’ or ‘had two quality wins’. Really? Since when did a win or two over a Top 50 (not Top 10, not even Top 20, but Top 50 ) somehow make a team qualified for anything other than the NIT? Everyone knows that the reason they are saying ‘Top 50’ is because they may have beaten a team that was, at one point in the season, ranked at a very arbitrary number 35 or 45.

The tournament is busted, and the hard truth is that none of these ‘bubble’ teams deserve a bid. We as fans have fretted for years that the NCAA committee would push for expansion until they broke the Law of Diminishing Returns, the same law that causes sagging NBA regular season ratings and weeks of subpar NBA player performances.

Simply put, the NCAA wants to add as many games as possible, because they think that will create more product and more revenue. If they push too far, like the NBA and MLB have done, they will stop making significant revenue growth and won’t realize it until the ratings are halved and stadiums for early round games are marginally filled. This isn’t a doomsday scenario; this is exactly why teams in the NBA play to arenas that have more empty seats than a kazoo concert. For every packed house in the NBA, there are 20 that aren’t, and why the NBA started actually kicking around the idea of contraction earlier this year.

But this isn’t about the NBA and how poorly they handled the expansion of their season; it’s about how the NCAA committee is doing it to the college game.

The NCAA tournament needs to cut some of the invitations, not expand. I don’t expect them to; I expect them to continue down the path of silly business, making only slight gains in revenue growth, until 10 or 20 years from now, there are more than 96 teams in the tournament and the lowest seed has a .500 record from a low major conference. I realize that the college game I love will be gone; This week’s selection hammered it home.

The tournament should be slashed to 48 or 50 teams. Maybe, 54. But at least 14 berths should be axed now. I don’t want to hear any more braying about bubble teams. Those teams shouldn’t be in the NCAA tournament. None of them.

You want to get into the NCAA tournament? Do this:

  • Win your conference regular season OR your conference tournament
  • If you don’t win your conference, have at least a 75% winning percentage
  • If you have a 75% winning percentage, you’d better have a decent SOS against teams with an RPI higher than 45 for the ENTIRE SEASON
  • Don’t have double digit losses. If you do have double digit losses, you’d better win your conference tournament.

I am so sick of hearing about the coaches who might lose their jobs because they don’t make the tournament. You want to make it better for them? Cut the number of teams that get in, don’t increase it. If you continue to increase it, it becomes so easy to get in that not making the tournament is a sure bet to get fired; after all, even mediocre teams and coaches get in, right? If you decrease the number of invitations, the bar is set high enough that not making the tournament for a couple of years is not grounds for immediate dismissal.

Spare me the bubble teams. Just send them to the NIT where they belong and actually might accomplish something.

Hey, if you like this kind of basketball coverage, do yourself a favor and sign up for the newsletter, which is free for basketball lovers.

NCAA Tournament Tickets Charlotte

The NCAA Tournament will be jamming in Charlotte for the 2011 bracket, with Duke, UNC and Tennessee all descending on the Queen City. Be sure to check out the latest ticket prices before you head down to the arena, it’s going to be mayhem. North Carolina playing anywhere in the state is a massive draw, followed only by the Duke fan base. These two schools alone will pack downtown with their fans.

Duke Basketball

As a basketball fan, have you ever wondered why ESPN, Fox Sports and other media outlets talk so much during the college basketball season about how many teams a particular conference is going to put into the NCAA Tournament? Sure, we all know there are bragging rights, of a sort, on the line between conferences, but from a basketball analysts perspective, doesn’t it seem much more likely that they would be trying to figure out who is better between Duke and Syracuse as opposed to how many teams the Big East is putting in the tournament versus the ACC?

Ah, but there is a reason, but since the analysts have forgotten (or never realized) that the reason the number of teams is important isn’t common knowledge at all, they never mention it.

As usual, it is all about the money.

Conference payouts from the NCAA Tournament is based on ‘money units’, a term that can be described as every game played by a conference team. So every time a team wins and plays another game, the conference earns another money unit. This system means that if a team gets an NCAA bid, that brings in one money unit to the conference even if the team gets bounced in the first round. It also means that winning the title brings in no money units. In other words, the ACC had already made all of the money it was going to as soon as Duke advanced to the NCAA championship game this year.

The payouts also have a component that calculates a large chunk of the money based on the past six years performance. That means the ACC will benefit in next year’s payout from the 2005 and 2009 runs of UNC and the 2010 run of Duke. It also attempts to prevent single game losses have a larger effect on year to year payouts.

So who’s the top dog when it comes to money made from this method? Not surprisingly, it’s still the ACC, and despite what analysts have tried to tell fans about the league being down, the ACC has dominated the money rankings for a long (as in decades) time. But it’s not really surprising when you consider that the ACC has won 10 of the last 29 NCAA titles. Yes, the ACC is still the king of college basketball, just as the SEC is the king of college football. In fact, it’s even more impressive when you consider that unlike college football, there actually is a playoff that the ACC has to win through in order to garner that gaudy 34.4% of the national titles stat. In fact, only twice since 1978 has the ACC gone back to back years without at least one team in the Final Four. Sure, UNC was a powerhouse during that entire stretch, but consider that NC State, Duke and Maryland also won titles and Georgia Tech made a Final Four appearance as well. And the NCAA tournament makes more money for television networks than any other sport and you understand the magnitude of what the ACC has managed to do, and you also see why the NCAA is so keen on adding games.