Thursday, March 14, 2013
Behind The Scoreboard
Turning to the NCAA
On the heels of the secondary schools’ state titles being decided across the country, the collegiate season is now gearing up to extend the excitement of roundball watching.
The NCAA men pretty much wrapped up their regular season conference runs on Sunday (March 10), and began preps for their individual tournament titles, most beginning on Tuesday.
All of you know how enamored I am of anything SEC, but the Big Ten’s rumbles definitely caught my eye and interest this past weekend. The Indiana Hoosiers had been in and out of the number one spot for a few weeks. We explored the fact that Gonzaga may have been overlooked in the top 25 for not being named number one. Well, that was rectified this weekend when the “Zags” were recognized as number one overall with their greatest record on the planet at 30-2 and the third team in the NCAA to run the tables in their conference at 16-0. The only other two teams to claim the same feat are Norfolk State of the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference (MEAC) and University of Memphis of Conference USA (CUSA). The Tigers are on their fourth mark of sweeping the CUSA slate (three under coach John Calipari and one under Josh Pastner). The Tigers’ record of 26-4 and a 25 ranking in the top 25 and a 21 rank in the Coaches’ Poll will place them in the NCAA playoff numbers.
The Big Ten game on Sunday between number two Indiana Hoosiers and Michigan Wolverines was definitely reminiscent of the Bobby Knight-led Hoosiers who won 11 Big Ten titles and three national titles. Knight, a controversial figure at times, did not play out his career as a Hoosier. Some of you probably remember a few chair-throwing antics that didn’t play all that well with the Hoosier hierarchy. Incidentally, Coach Knight has penned a book (memoir, perhaps), “The Power of Negative Thinking.”
Each and every season, the question comes up about who or which team should or shouldn’t be a member of the field of 65. It has happened again this year. For the second time in the history of the NCAA, a college has slipped the surly bonds of playoff rules and ducked under the radar. Liberty University, under coach Dale Layer of the Big South Conference, defeated Charleston Southern in the title game on Sunday and grabbed the automatic bid with a 15-20 (6-10) record. The other team entering the tournament with 20 losses was Coppin State back in 2008. Coach Layer said his team would probably be seeded 16 and play out of Dayton. The coach, responding to the query if his team was the worst to ever enter a national playoff, stated, “Don’t know. We are in.”
Generally there is always a good humor story attached to these playoffs and this one happened on Sunday at the finals of the Missouri Valley Conference. Prior to the game a $50,000 prize was offered to the fan who could make a lay-up, a free throw, three-pointer and a half-court shot. Alex Permann took the challenge, made the lay-up, the free throw and the half-court shot but forgot the trey, with all the fans and the announcer yelling at him. Permann was celebrating all over the place until the organizers made him aware that he couldn’t claim the 50K. Anyway, they reached a compromise by giving the shooter a lifetime pass to the conference championship, four VIP passes to next season’s shootout, plus a three-day hotel stay. Permann said the “moolah” would have been better but the compromise worked for him.
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