Final Four Weekend Approaches …

As the Final Four games approach, it is interesting to look back on the tournament form a perspective other than the games themselves.  ESPN had its bracket challenge contest this year where people picked the full brackets.  There were 18,797,075 entries in that contest and from that mass of entries only 657 of them had the Final Four predicted correctly.  In case your calculator battery is dead, those correct prognostications amount to 0.0035% of the total entries.

One other meaningless fact from the Final Four is that Oregon coach, Dana Altman, and South Carolina coach, Frank Martin, both had the head coaching job at Kansas State in the past.

  • Dana Altman was at K-State from 1990 to 1994; it was his first head coaching assignment at the collegiate level; the Wildcats made the tournament once under his guidance.  His overall record there was 68-54 but his record in conference games (the Big 8 at the time) was an unimpressive 19-37.  Since his days at K-State, Altman went to Creighton from 1995 until 2010 and used his success there to land the Oregon job from 2010 until now.  Since coming to Oregon, Altman’s teams have won 21 games or more in each season.
  • Frank Martin was at K-State from 2007 to 2012; like Altman, it was his first head coaching assignment at the collegiate level; the Wildcats made the tournament four years out of the five Martin was at K-State including one trip to the Elite 8.  His overall record there was 117-54 and his record in conference games (the Big 12 by this point) was 50-32.  Martin took the South Carolina job in 2012; this is the first of his teams there to make the NCAA tournament.

If there is some sort of link between the other two coaches in the Final Four – – Mark Few and Roy Williams – – I have not been able to discern it.  The only sort of link I can find for Mark Few is that he graduated from Oregon in 1987 but that was well before Dana Altman arrived in Eugene, OR.

The headline over Bob Molinaro’s column today reads:

“Is there a better bet than UConn women to win it all? That’s doubtful.”

Well, here are the betting lines as of this morning:

  • UConn wins the women’s national championship:  – 1050
  • Anyone else wins the women’s national championship:  +550

(Frankly, I am surprised the odds are that low.)

For tonight’s semi-final game in the women’s tournament, the line for UConn/Mississippi State is:

  • UConn – 21 vs. Mississippi St. (150)
  • Money lines are UConn – 4750 and Mississippi State +2375.

To answer Professor Molinaro’s rhetorical question from that headline above, the only things I can think of that are more likely than a UConn championship are outside the sports realm such as:

  • A senior White House official will say something dumb in the next week.
  • Democrats in the Congress would vote against a cure for cancer if it were discovered by Ivanka Trump.
  • You get the idea…

Switching attention to the NBA for a moment, there has been a sort of forced “debate” over the past several weeks in print and on sports radio about who should be the NBA MVP for this season.  As usual, the “debate” really comes down to different people having different criteria for what the “Most Valuable Player” is.  Consider:

  1. If you think that the MVP for a season is the best all-around player, then the NBA should just award it to LeBron James every year until such time as he is not clearly and conspicuously the best all-around basketball player on the planet.
  2. If you think that the MVP for a season is the best player on the team with the best record, please be quiet until you know which team has the best record at the end of the season and then the choice will be rather obvious.
  3. If you think that the MVP should be the player with the best stats for this year, then Russell Westbrook is your man because it looks as if he will average a triple-double for the season.  That has not happened since Oscar Robertson did it back in the 1960s.  Recognize, however, that the Thunder – despite Westbrook’s heroics – are probably not going to win 50 games for the year.
  4. If you think the MVP should be the player who led his team to a very good record for the year (better than 50 wins and maybe even better than 60 wins) but may not be as good all-around as LeBron James, then Kawai Leonard and James Harden come into the discussion.  [Aside, I think there is a real and serious debate to be had regarding those two players and this award.]

The problem with the “debates” that have been ongoing is that the creator/moderator of the debate never addresses the criteria that will be considered.  That results in people talking past one another usually in escalating volume levels which illuminates nothing.

Come to think of it, that description summarizes just about everything coming out of the US Congress today and for the past 10 years or so.  No one ever sets up a “debate” to argue about “MVC” or” Most Valuable Congressthing”.  If anyone ever does that, I think that I will move myself to a cave in the Andes in Patagonia.

Finally, I cited a headline from Bob Molinaro’s column in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot above.  Here is a comment from within that column for your cogitation:

“Word play: So Mets reliever Jeurys Familia gets a 15-game suspension under MLB’s domestic-violence policy. Anybody else see the irony of a player named Familia being accused of domestic violence?”

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