With the NCAA tournament wrapped, we have almost three weeks until we know precisely who is going to the NBA and who is returning to school. Another couple of weeks after that, and we should have a final tally of which recruits are going to which schools.
1. Four No. 1 seeds advance: For just the seventh time since 2000, all four No. 1 seeds advanced out of the first weekend of the tournament. Last season, No. 8 seed Butler upset Pitt in the round of 32 thanks to a last-second free throw from Matt Howard. In 2010, it was Ali Farokhmanesh hitting a big three to lead No. 9 Northern Iowa to an upset of Kansas.
Plenty of intriguing themes figured to gather with the teams dancing in St. Louis: the Ohio Bobcats want to become the latest mid-major long shot to reach the Final Four; North Carolina State is making the most of its first NCAA appearance in six years; Kansas survived Purdue's upset bid to advance to its fifth Sweet 16 in the same span; and of course, there's the inevitable "Roy Williams left Kansas" angle. All of that was pushed to the background, however, with 10:56 left in top-seeded North Carolina's win Sunday over Creighton.
In this, the craziest of all bubble seasons, no one around the cutline is completely safe. This year, more than any other, you could see a slew of misses from national projections. Too many mediocre teams to fill too many available bracket slots mean it's anyone's guess what the committee will do. Here's my guess after the 1 p.m. games, where St. Bonaventure's nabbed the A-10 title and pushed an at-large team out of the field:
UPDATE (4:24 p.m.): Committee chair Jeff Hathaway disclosed some surprising and potentially telling information, saying the 37 at-large teams have already been picked, and adjustments would be made for auto bids. That appears to be good news for Xavier, a team that still potentially has two games left to play. If one win doesn't change X's position vis-à-vis being in the current top 37, that likely means they are in, for now. It seems unlikely that the Musketeers would need the auto bid to make it.
ATLANTA -- The final memorable moment from a dramatic doubleheader at the ACC tournament came not in front of thousands of roaring fans with the clock running down. The Philips Arena floor saw plenty of those on Saturday, as No. 4 North Carolina snuck past NC State 69-67 and No. 17 Florida State outfought No. 6 Duke 62-59. No, this moment took place in the quiet Florida State training room about 45 minutes after Seth Curry's desperate game-tying attempt just bounced off the rim.
ATLANTA -- When North Carolina State beat Virginia 67-74 in the ACC quarterfinals Friday, Mark Gottfried and his staff had less than 21 hours to prepare for No. 4 North Carolina and play itself off the NCAA bubble. Here's an inside look at the Wolfpack's preparation:
ATLANTA -- Just how nerve-wracking was NC State's 67-64 ACC quarterfinal win against Virginia on Friday afternoon? NC State athletic director Debbie Yow decided she couldn't bear to watch, instead choosing to pace the hallways of Philips Arena while relying on her husband William for updates via cell phone.
When former North Carolina State stars Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta were ejected from their alma mater's basketball game last Saturday for verbally abusing referee Karl Hess, the pair joined Muppet Show ticketholders Statler & Waldorf and the cartoon crows Heckle & Jeckle on a short but illustrious list of heckling tag teams.
My biggest annual complaint with BracketBusters is that the games between the best teams are set for TV purposes and/or geography rather than what most helps the teams in their quest for NCAA tournament bids. Generally speaking, the games become net losses for the mid-majors, with the losing team often being hurt (or completely KO'd) more than the winning team gains in profile cred.
One game is usually just that -- a single data point in a team's overall resume. Bad nights happen, which is why small-sample bias exists (and should be ignored). Sometimes, though, a result is so shocking that it hints at something more to come.
If brevity is the soul of wit, what more humorous way is there to recap a summer of college hoops happenings than a Twitter-themed state of the CBB union? Forget those annual previews already coming out. It's football season and no one has time for all those words, especially when they'll be outdated the instant UConn shoehorns three more top-five recruits onto its roster.
The last time North Carolina had this much NBA talent returning, the season was 2004-05, and there was little doubt that the ACC was the best conference in the land. UNC and Duke were both No. 1 seeds that year, as they could very well end up this March. But the ACC of seven years ago had depth. Its third powerhouse, Wake Forest, had Chris Paul at point guard and was ranked No. 1 in the nation that November. Its fourth power, Georgia Tech, had the core group back from a trip to the '04 national title game. In N.C. State it had a sleeper Sweet 16 team, led by Julius Hodge, and even on the roster of the last-place team, Florida State, there were two future NBA players, Von Wafer and Al Thornton.
Butler is in its second straight national title game, which is as likely as your housecat finishing first at the Westminster Dog Show. Coach Brad Stevens and Butler are a special, amazing, once-in-a-lifetime story. It is certainly not fair to say "Hey, if Butler did it, then why can't (insert school name here) do it, too?" You simply can't expect any school to make two straight championship games ...
This part of the season's final week is always fun, as major-conference bubble teams sit and watch and hope smaller-conference teams don't hose them. There are fewer bid thieves than usual this season, but the next couple of days will have some tournament results worth watching:
These lists are not mere compilations of all-time bests in their respective sports but all-time bests at quickening the pulse and evoking a visceral response from those fortunate enough to have witnessed their artistry.
ATLANTA -- Dave Odom was sitting at courtside, enjoying his first ACC Tournament since leaving Wake Forest after a 12-year run in 2001. He was watching his friend and former foe from Maryland work the sidelines, and he said, "No one is better with his back against the wall than Gary Williams."
North Carolina State University women's basketball coach Kay Yow, who won more than 700 games in nearly four decades of coaching, died Saturday after a long struggle with breast cancer, the university said.
One of the biggest misconceptions about college basketball -- usually perpetrated by college football fans -- is that the regular season means nothing. Maybe in late February and early March there are some important games as teams vie for the last few NCAA tournament bids. But November? December? Meaningless.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- It's the afternoon of North Carolina State's first day off since practice began on Oct. 12, and Gavin Grant is sitting on his bed, ready to hit play on a DVD. There's a row of movies on top of his dresser -- including Shottas, a famed gangster film from his native Jamaica -- and other discs are scattered about the spartan environs of the apartment he shares with forward Brandon Costner on the top floor of The College Inn. But Grant's viewing option on this Thursday is a low-budget, local production: one-camera footage of the previous day's Wolfpack workout.
It has been quite a week for the N.C. State football coaching staff. Last week, the Wolfpack had three commitments, led by three-star linebacker Dwayne Maddox. A week later, N.C. State boasts eight -- including five-star standout Brandon Barnes and four-star quarterback Mike Glennon. The Pack is back, at least on the recruiting trail.
On Friday, Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma was asked about the challenges of playing against N.C. State, a senior-led team that was getting extra motivation from the valiant battle its coach, Kay Yow, was fighting against Stage 4 breast cancer. "Their season is going to end sometime," he said. "If not tomorrow, then Monday or next weekend."