The Tournament Field Is Set…

The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee has adjourned for the year leaving us with about 24 hours of moaning and wailing regarding teams that got snubbed – or were poorly placed in the bracket.  I did not see nearly as much college basketball in the late part of the season as I normally do – because I was out of the country for a little over 2 weeks – so I have even less interest in the who got snubbed question than I normally do.  [Aside:  Normally, I do not care about it much at all.]  However, three schools that are often cited as “Snubees” are:

  • Louisville
  • Oklahoma St.
  • USC

With regard to Louisville, one of the arguments made is that every loss suffered by the Cardinals this year was to a team that is in the tournament.  OK; that means they have no bad losses on their résumé; at the same time, Louisville lost 13 times this year meaning they have shown they are not quite as good as a whole bunch of teams already in the field.  Oh yeah, and then there is that recent NCAA decision to strip Louisville of its 2013 championship …

I saw Oklahoma St. lose to Kansas last week and there was no doubt which was the better team on the floor.  Add that showing to the fact that the Cowboys lost 14 games this year and I reach a point where I wish them well in the NIT.  [For the record, they play Florida Gulf Coast in the first round of the NIT later this week.]

USC did finish second in the PAC-12 and lost 11 games for the season – which is not great, but it is better than the records posted by Louisville and Oklahoma St.  However, they are only 6-5 since February 1st and they have lost to Arizona and UCLA twice each in that stretch.  The Trojans have the strongest case of the three here – – but it is hardly something that would cause me even a minor case of agita let alone generate outrage to see them out of the tournament.

Since I mentioned the NIT above regarding Oklahoma St., the tournament will involve 32 teams and will incorporate some interesting rule changes.  Presumably, these are rule changes that someone in the NCAA rules hierarchy thinks could be incorporated into college basketball one of these days.  So, let me comment on them.

  • The three-point line will be moved back 20 inches to the distance that it is in International play.  I like this change; I think the three-point line is too close to the basket.
  • The free throw lane will be widened 48 inches to the NBA width.   I have no problem with this, but I also see no need for it.  When the NBA widened its lane – twice – the reason was to keep Wilt Chamberlain from dominating the game as much as he did.  College basketball has not had that problem recently.  Oh, and by the way, the officials never call 3-second violations in the smaller lane so, what is the point here?
  • Games will have four 10-minute quarters instead of two 20-minute halves.  Bonus foul shots will come on the 6th foul of each quarter.  The timing change means two extra buzzer-beater shots per game.  The number of fouls a team can commit before entering the bonus is doubled.  I do not like this change.
  • When a team gets an offensive rebound, the shot-clock will reset to 20 seconds instead of 30 seconds.  You know what this rule will insure?  There will be more mistakes made by shot clock operators.

Tiger Woods finished second – one stroke back – in the Valspar Championship yesterday.  Golf writers and the folks who count the money for the PGA are ecstatic; Tiger Woods changes the public’s interest in golf in a hugely positive way.  Moreover, the public acts on its perceptions.  Out in Las Vegas, Tiger Woods was listed at 100-1 to win The Masters 10 days ago; this morning, his odds have dropped to 10-1 and according to the Westgate Superbook, more money has been wagered on Woods than on any other player potentially in the field.  Remember, he finished second in the tournament last weekend not first…

It appears that Jake Arietta has found a home in MLB for the next 3 seasons.  Surprisingly, he signed a 3-year deal worth a reported $75M with the Phillies.  I say that is surprising for two reasons:

  1. The Phillies are rebuilding but are not yet “rebuilt”; Arrieta is 32 years old.  It will be interesting to see how he fits in once the Phillies have finished their reconstruction.
  2. Arietta is a Scott Boras client.  The Phillies and Scott Boras have done very little business since the year that JD Drew sat out and played independent league baseball rather than sign with the Phillies.  That was back in the mid-90s…

I have often said here that there is not much NBA stuff that is interesting before March 15th.  Last weekend was an exception to that statement; the Houston Rockets rode a 17-game winning streak into Toronto to take on the Raptors who happened to lead the NBA East at the time.  The result was a 3-point win for the Raptors in a game that did not have the urgency of a playoff game, but it had the same intensity.  There are 1230 NBA regular season games; perhaps, 15 of them are as good as the Rockets/Raptors game was last weekend.  You do not have to be a math major to look at those numbers and recognize that buying season tickets in the NBA is not a good deal.

Finally, here is a comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Dubuque assistant women’s basketball coach Justin Smith was hailed as a hero for rushing up from his seat and slamming on the brakes of the team bus after the driver passed out while going 70 mph on a Kentucky freeway.

“Basketball purists can’t decide whether to call it a textbook fast brake — or getting a much-needed stop.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………