The Final Four Is Set

After Notre Dame mounted a furious rally to win its regional semi-final game against Wisconsin on Friday night, head coach Mike Brey said that it was destined for Notre Dame to win because it was Good Friday. He added that the regional final was to take place on Easter and that Notre Dame “could not lose” on Easter. It was a clever sound bite; it turned out to be inaccurate. Notre Dame and UNC played an exciting and entertaining game but UNC simply had more good players to deploy than did the Irish. UNC is the only #1 seed to make the Final Four.

Back in early November, Sports Illustrated projected their Top 20 college basketball teams for the season that is about to conclude. With regard to the Final Four teams, here is what they had:

    UNC: Preseason, SI had them ranked #1 in the country and said they had “the nation’s best frontcourt”. That pretty much sums things up…

    Villanova: Preseason, SI had them ranked #8 in the country and based almost all of their optimism on the play of Ryan Arcidiacono. They got that one right too…

    Oklahoma: Preseason, SI had them ranked #12 in the country and pointed to improved play from Ryan Spangler as a key to Sooner success given that they already had “a pair of high-level outside scorers”. Spangler has indeed played very well this year and in this year’s tournament…

    Syracuse: Preseason, SI had nothing to say about the Orange. Hey, three out of four ain’t bad…

UNC will take on Syracuse next weekend. There will be a test you can administer to the folks at TBS who will put together the pre-game show(s). Are the programs on the air for pure entertainment or is there a mixture of journalism and entertainment present? The test will be how seriously and how significantly the folks at TBS address the fact that both UNC and Syracuse are institutions where significant academic fraud has happened. The schools certainly bear plenty of responsibility here but there is more than a truckload of opprobrium to be offered up to the NCAA itself which is still “dealing with” scandals that go all the way back to 2005 in the case of UNC and the potential that fake classes accounted for athletic grades all the way back to 1993. The NCAA and UNC are “still investigating” …

Here is a rather simple fact that the mavens at the NCAA seem not to understand – or if they do understand it they do not acknowledge the gravity of the situation:

    If the penalties that the NCAA hands out for violating any or all of its myriad rules are insignificant when compared to the potential benefits a school can harvest by breaking the rules, then – wait for it – the rules are going to be broken over and over and over again.

What were the penalties imposed on Syracuse? They vacated a bunch of wins in previous years and they had to play 9 early season games without Jim Boeheim on the bench. The “cost” to the university and/or the basketball program imposed here is about as burdensome as a snot drop. So, if a coach or someone on the staff at Disco Tech takes a look at this and does a simple cost/benefit analysis, his logical conclusion should be that breaking the rules is clearly worth it even if it all comes unraveled somewhere down the line.

Enough of that… After the Cleveland Browns signed RG3 to a contract last week, it did not take long for a couple of sports commentators to make clear just what import they assigned to that event.

“The Cleveland Browns just got their next future ex-quarterback, Robert Griffin III.” [Brad Dickson, Omaha World-Herald]

And …

“Robert Griffin III signs as on as the Browns’ latest QB-bust-in-waiting.” [Greg Cote, Miami Herald]

In his column last week in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, Bob Molinaro had this item:

“Maturity issues: Even a fan of LeBron James has to think that his passive/aggressive quotes and tweets are getting out of control. Now he seriously asserts that one day he wants to make the NBA equivalent of a buddy movie with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade, discounting the fact that an off-hand remark like that is tantamount to dissing his current teammates. Off the court, LeBron appears to be shrinking in stature.”

I would certainly agree that LeBron’s commentary there was less than appropriate but I am not sure I would ascribe it to “maturity issues”. I would, however, choose to note that what LeBron did there would be considered “tampering” if done by a coach or a GM or an owner since all of those other players are currently under contract with other NBA teams. The conclusion I draw here is that the NBA rules regarding tampering apply only to people holding the title of coach or GM or owner and not someone who is the de facto coach and Gm of a team.

Finally, Dwight Perry took note of another interesting NFL signing in the Seattle Times last week:

“The Kansas City Chiefs signed Mississippi State track star Tautvydas Kieras, who’s never played organized football in his life.

“Hey, it was either that or sign an ex-Cleveland Brown.”

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

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