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.
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.
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 -- 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.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- We came to the Meadowlands, technically, to take in an early-season tournament, but does it matter who wins an early-season tournament if only a few thousand people attend, and it's only broadcast over the Internet? It's possible that news of Vanderbilt's Legends Classic championship will trickle out of this swamp and resonate in the Nashville market after a 64-62 win, but really, Monday night's doubleheader at the Izod Center was relevant because it offered an early opportunity to see three of the nation's best scorers -- one in the undercard, two in the title bout -- away from the spotlight.
When I heard the news that North Carolina State women's basketball coach Kay Yow lost her long battle with breast cancer this morning, I thought of the first feature story I wrote for SI, back in 1993. The piece was about four sets of identical twins in women's Division I basketball, and it presented a logistical nightmare: I had to get from New York to Charlottesville, Va., Raleigh, N.C., and Athens, Ga., for interviews -- and find someone to send a file from San Diego -- all in the space of two and a half days.
It was hard to watch North Carolina State coach Kay Yow walk off the court 21 months ago, after Connecticut ended her Wolfpack's unforgettable 2007 season in the Sweet 16 in Fresno. And it's difficult to hear the news today that Yow is stepping away from coaching for the rest of this season as she continues to fight the breast cancer that has been her on-again, off-again opponent for the last 22 years.
PINEHURST, N.C. -- The way Derrick Morse sees it, the ACC is much stronger than it is getting credit for following a season in which two of its most high-profile teams -- Florida State and Miami -- combined to lose 12 games -- and unlikely conference champ Wake Forest finished as the league's highest-ranked team at No. 18.
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."
Five years ago Gillian Goring was one of the most sought-after women's basketball recruits in the country. A 6-foot-7 center with rare agility and an array of post moves, she could run the floor, shoot the three and catch any pass that came anywhere close to her. Some compared her to Lisa Leslie or Dikembe Mutombo, while Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, who desperately wanted to sign her, called her "the female Olajuwon." The coach who did get her signature could pencil in double-doubles most nights, All-America awards every year and three or four national titles.
It's February, which means the 'Bag has reached the point where we've been on the road long enough that we have no idea where we are in the morning when the alarm clock goes off. Yet, there are indeed benefits to so much travel, not least picking up those little nuggets that you can only learn on the road. To wit:
When I picked up the phone to call a coach whose team had lost nine games in a row and whose job is rumored to be in peril, encountering some prickliness, an excuse or two and an air of despair wouldn't have been a surprise. But I didn't get any of that from Florida women's basketball coach Carolyn Peck, whose Gators are 6-16 and 0-7 in the SEC.