NCAA Tournament Musings

With all of the lower seeded teams that won in the first day of the tournament, I expect that the cries for expanding the tournament to 96 teams will take the volume up a notch very soon. With all of the upsets yesterday, I can hear the lobbyists for increasing the number of mid-majors in the tournament polishing their talking points. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is not a science and it is not mathematics; therefore, it is not something that lends itself to a counting mechanism as a validation tool. Yesterday was an aberration; it has been 19 years since that many double-digit seeds won on a single day. So, if in 1991 – - when more double-digit seeds won than yesterday – - the case was inconclusive regarding expansion of the tournament, why is a lesser number of wins yesterday conclusive? Here is a suggestion:

    Sit back. Watch the games. Enjoy the games.

    Worry about this tomorrow… [/Scarlett O’Hara]

Here are a few musings regarding the tournament and how it could unfold or could have unfolded:

    1. When Old Dominion upset Notre Dame in an early game, I started to think about Bob Molinaro of the Hampton-Roads Virginian-Pilot and the torment he would have to go through should Old Dominion and Richmond meet down the road in the tournament. That will not happen.

    2. When Robert Morris lost to Villanova in OT, Bill Raftery said,

    “Robert Morris only lost on the scoreboard.”

    Normally, I think Raftery is one of the very best color analysts out there; but perhaps he can explain to me how in a one-and-done tournament one can lose in a more meaningful way than on the scoreboard. Did he expect the Robert Morris team to try to take hostages after the game to reverse the decision?

    3. In case people are ready to pounce on the Big East as being over-rated this year in the wake of losses by Georgetown (embarrassing) and Marquette (a nail-biter), consider perhaps that this was a season with no dominant team(s) anywhere but the Big East had more of the “better” teams in its conference than any other conference did.

    4. So, who will be this year’s tournament darling? Can anyone be “George Mason” this year? Northern Iowa? Old Dominion? Murray State? Ohio? Someone who will play later today? Nobody? You can’t forget to include “Nobody” on this list…

    5. Here is a prediction:

      Bob Huggins will be named the tournament’s worst dressed coach by acclamation of a panel of fashion critics.

      His only possible competition would come from Bruce Pearl if Coach Pearl showed up in the arena without a shirt and with his torso painted orange – - as he did once before.

    6. I saw a report that John Calipari told Dan Patrick on Patrick’s radio program that freshman guard John Wall “wants to stay in school”. When I read that, I immediately thought that Calipari is absolutely right – - as long as the duration of Wall’s stay in school is until the final horn in his final game in this tournament.

    7. I was impressed by Butler yesterday. I have a hunch that Sienna will win comfortably this afternoon.

    8. I would love to see Wisconsin play Temple in the second round of the tournament. The winner in that game might not score 50 points.

    9. Wake Forest had gone 0-4 in the NCAA tournament under coach, Dino Gaudio, always losing to lower seeded teams. Last night, Wake Forest won – - as a lower seeded team. There is a trend there…

    10. With the score Lehigh 12 and Kansas 4 in the first half, a Lehigh fan displayed a sign saying “David Slew Goliath”. Yes, David did. However, the next time there was a significant break in the action, the score was Lehigh 14 and Kansas 25. Lehigh did not slay Kansas…

The non-basketball burden that Bobby Gonzalez brought to Seton Hall overshadowed the fact that he has a won 20 games four times in his tenure at Seton Hall and has had the Pirates in the NCAA tournament twice. In an opening round NIT game, the Pirates lost by 18 and one of its players was ejected from the game for a “crotch shot” to an opposing player. Gonzalez collected his seventh technical foul of the season in that debacle. And there have been a few off-court antics that bothered the AD who said about the firing:

“Performance and success are not measured solely by wins and losses, but also in the conduct of those associated with the program.”

Imagine if a strict interpretation of that standard began to spread among NCAA schools. Imagine how many familiar sideline faces would be missing from the college basketball scene in about 5 years…

Finally, a word from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

“Barry Bonds’ wife Liz filed for divorce, seeking to make baseball’s embattled home-run king a free agent.

“Hitting him where it hurts, she’s also demanding joint custody of the flax seed oil.”

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

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  • Ed  On March 19, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    You’re being nice for Seton Hall – you left out the player kicked off the team Sunday for being critical of staff and arrested for an alleged home invasion/kidnapping/robbery at gunpoint of 8 people on Monday…

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On March 22, 2010 at 8:57 am


    I did omit the reference to the player who was arrested for charges that are rather outrageous if true. However, I might suggest that the “center of gravity” for the problems at Seton Hall lies closer to the coaches who recruit and then “mentor” players who wind up getting arrested than to the university itself – - unless the athletic directors and admin folks have a “thug quota” that they actively seek to fill.

  • Tony  On March 22, 2010 at 11:19 am

    It’s clear that Robert Morris had a “moral victory”. Which as we all know, counts the same as any other type of victory…

    By the way, Lehigh may not have slain Kansas, but Northern Iowa did. Ouch.

  • Ed  On March 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Those types do reflect on the coach and the school – that is why Gonzo is gonzo…

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On March 23, 2010 at 10:26 am


    I wonder how many brackets were busted when Northern Iowa pulled that upset. My guess is at least 5 million…


    The new AD – - or perhaps the acting AD – - at Seton Hall seems as if he would like to have a slightly higher caliber of student-athlete on the social dimension than was there before. If so, good for him.

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