Thursday, March 17, 2011
Behind The Scoreboard
Best story is Memphis
If you have not been hit already by the fever which always accompanies “March Madness,” you probably just haven’t recognized it yet as a serious malady. And you are probably in a very small minority. But don’t go beating yourself up about the slow start, it is our intent to keep you informed.
So that it will not be dwelled on later, let’s get the bad news out of the way first. There has already been one high-profile casualty at the top of the madness. The head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks, John Pelphrey, was fired on Sunday. The coach was in his fourth season and had a winning record overall, however, he and the Hogs had not made the NCAA field for the last three years. In a conference of a lesser magnitude (and reputation), he might have been kept.
And a little more bad news. I know that there are a lot of fans out there who are fairly fuming over the “passover” of their favorite teams, like Alabama. The chairman of the NCAA Selection Committee, Gene Smith, tried hard to explain just how equitable the process is, but I am not sure that everybody bought it.
Anyway, playoff life goes on and it is true that there is no way that this column can cover everything which happened in the past weekend. All the automatic bids had been decided on Saturday with the exception of four. The usual format was expanded by three teams (from 65 to 68). The chairman explained this move as a result of parity.
The Ohio State Buckeyes claimed the number one overall seed, beating out Kansas. Ohio State is the number one seed in the East Regional, Kansas in the Southwest Regional, Duke in the West and Pittsburgh in the Southeast. There are many who thought that one of those slots should have gone to North Carolina.
The best story of all of this is the saga of the Memphis Tigers – up and down season, a ton of criticism, heroes emerging, heroes vanishing, but returning when it mattered the most. They made a real statement in picking up another C-USA title and grabbing the automatic bid after a year off. And now it is the Arizona Wildcats versus the Memphis Tigers, 4 and 12 in the West Regional on Friday. You just have to pull for these guys. Wouldn’t it be just too, too awesome if they ended up meeting Kentucky in Houston on April 2?
The Big East has the most horses in this race (11) outdistancing the SEC by six (five). Ole Miss and the Tide didn’t make the cut but they go on in the NIT.
And most of us will just disregard the comment by Charles Barkley that the SEC is not a very strong conference. It escapes me, but did Sir Charles ever win an NBA championship?
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