In realignment politics, college basketball programs are the constituents with less cash, and therefore the constituents with little-to-no juice. They are forced to operate within the conference framework that football has wrought -- and football does not care about the quality of any other sport. All of this short-sighted gerrymandering is bound to have a serious effect on the hoops landscape.
Gloria Allred is filing a defamation suit against Jim Boeheim on behalf of Bobby Davis and Michael Lang.
Twenty-five seasons have elapsed since college basketball added the three-pointer, and still, there is no consensus on the optimal way to defend it.
A New York State Supreme Court justice dismissed Friday a defamation lawsuit against Syracuse University and its longtime head basketball coach, Jim Boeheim.
BOSTON -- The game wasn't supposed to unfold this way. Syracuse was the deeper team. The longer team. The tougher team. The more unified team. But as whistle after whistle pierced the TD Garden air, the fouls first handcuffing stars and then turning rotations into rubble, unexpected things began to happen.
If you like Cinderellas, you've come to the wrong Elite Eight. Five of the top eight seeds remain, and when Florida's your cuddly underdog, you know this is a big-boy bracket. Mix in arguably seven of the game's top 10 coaches (with the outsider, Scott Drew, in his second regional final in three seasons) and there are a lot of talking points, both on the court and on the sidelines.
BOSTON -- Twenty minutes after the loss, Wisconsin sophomore guard Josh Gasser sat in a folding chair in the Badgers' locker room at TD Garden. Hands clasped together as if praying, head down, still fully dressed as if there was more basketball to play. When he looked up to answer a question, his eyes were swollen because he had probably been crying and his voice gurgled up from his throat, as if he was suffering from a nasty cold. "One or two more stops,'' said Gasser. "One or two more shots to fall.'' And this is what a one-point loss in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament looks like.
BOSTON -- Like an incredible restaurant meal you once had that's never quite as good or the first kiss that never again carries that same kind of magic, Ohio State's national TV rout of Duke in late November remains the Buckeyes' unrepeatable ideal. The offense was devastating and exquisitely balanced, the defense comprehensively smothering, the lasting impression one of title-contending validation.
Crazy upsets? Freak injuries? Dramatic comebacks? What else could happen?
At the start of Jim Boeheim's postgame news conference after Syracuse's victory over Kansas State last Saturday, the moderator informed the media that the win had moved Boeheim into a tie with John Wooden on the alltime NCAA tournament wins list. Boeheim flashed a bemused smirk and remarked that Wooden did in 10 seasons what he's done in 29.
The first weekend of the NCAA tournament is about upsets, buzzer-beaters and TV cameras finding players' moms in the stands. The second weekend is about finding the true championship contenders and TV cameras finding coaches' wives in the stands. So now that we have applauded the Lehigh Engineers for performing a Krzyzewskectomy on the tournament, let's get to the top order of business: Making sure the best team doesn't win.
PITTSBURGH -- With a brilliant 50-point second-half showcase Saturday afternoon that reminded the nation exactly why they were a No. 1 seed and arguably the nation's best team all season, the Syracuse Orange also created some fair questions.
PITTSBURGH -- The game ended early Thursday evening, like the 108 that came before it, in which a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament was matched against a No. 16. It ended with players from North Carolina-Asheville in tears on television and players from Syracuse poker-faced and posturing, as if they knew all along that it would turn out this way, when in fact for a very long time it seemed possible that it would not.
The first time J.P. Primm wore a real basketball uniform, it was the maroon and white of the Dickson (Tennessee) Middle School Dragons. He was just a sixth-grader and he made the school's "varsity,'' playing alongside little boys a year and two years older. For this, they gave him a sweet set of polyester to wear and all the pride that goes with it. "It had my name on the back,'' said Primm Wednesday. "And people actually came to the gym to watch us play.''
Is your brain scrambled from trying to decipher all those names and all those seeds and all those brackets? Fear not. Your resident Hoop Thinker has arrived in the nick of time. Let's take a spin through the four regions and see what comes to mind.
Fab Melo will miss the NCAA tournament because of a broken transcript. Syracuse is calling it an "eligibility issue," but various news outlets (including The New York Times and ESPN.com) say it involves academics. Melo missed three games earlier this year for the same reason. Evidently, Melo's academics are so bad that he isn't allowed to miss three weeks of classes to play in the NCAA tournament.
This is the time of the year when everyone can channel their inner Dick Vitale. Just make sure not to startle your co-workers if you start yelling, "Awesome, baby!"
Here's a quick roundup of Saturday's slate of college hoops:
You are a hardcore college basketball fan. You don't want palaver and platitudes, clichés and coachspeak. You want to know what people who are in the know really know. You want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the hardcore truth.
Here are a few thoughts from Saturday's slate of college hoops:
Syracuse should have the decency to at least pretend this is complicated. It's maddening. The Orange set up in their 2-3 zone on every possession, regardless of score, situation or who is on the floor, and opponents are baffled. The Syracuse zone seems to feature five men and 27 arms. It may be the story of this college basketball season, but it is a short story.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Scoop Jardine sat on a couch in the Syracuse locker room. In one of the best games of the college basketball season, his Syracuse team had just beaten Georgetown 64-61 in overtime and Jardine had changed into a shirt that may be a collector's item someday. Like, in three months.
In the past week I've spent 25 hours charting tape of Syracuse's 2-3 zone, which means I've heard announcers say some version of "you can't settle for long jump shots" enough times to make an auto-tuned compilation, if I were so inclined. Jim Boeheim's zone always gets analyzed, because it's central to the Orange's identity, but this season it's particularly discussion-worthy. It's the most efficient defense Boeheim's had since per-possession data has been tracked (2003-present), and it's forcing far more turnovers than any Syracuse zone during that era.
Kansas-Missouri, the so-called "Border War," has been one of the truly special rivalries in college basketball. That's why the Tigers' 74-71 victory on Saturday night felt so bittersweet. Beginning next season, Missouri will compete in the SEC, meaning that Saturday's game was the last scheduled meeting to take place in Columbia. They will play again in Lawrence on Feb. 25, and possibly a third time in the Big 12 tournament. Beyond that, however, the future is uncertain.
A few thoughts on Saturday's crop of college hoops:
The undefeated Murray State Racers were confronted with a most precarious predicament last Wednesday night. They trailed by nine points with just under 13 minutes remaining in their game at Morehead State. The 6,000-plus fans who packed Ellis T. Johnson Arena stood on their feet, anticipating their team was about to hand its Ohio Valley Conference rival their first loss.
A few thoughts on Saturday's crop of college hoops:
This is the time of year when you start seeing a lot of RPI numbers being thrown around. It can be hard to figure out which ones are worth paying attention to. Not to worry. Your resident Hoop Thinker is here to help.
Picking All-Americas is relatively easy; you just select the best players, who most often come from the best teams. Choosing a coach of the year is more difficult, as one must consider candidates from multiple standpoints -- how good is their team, how much has it exceeded preseason expectations (from polls and statistical projections), and how responsible is the coach for building that team? To ignore the recruiting and talent-evaluation processes that went into assembling contenders would be silly; getting players, in college hoops, is half the battle.
Are we already at the midway point of the 2011-12 college basketball season? Are those seed lines and brackets coming into view? Before we ready ourselves for the home stretch to March Madness, here are my awards for the best and worst -- and everything in between -- from the first half of the season.
SI's Luke Winn and Seth Davis assemble their midseason All-America teams
Five quick thoughts after No. 1 Syracuse jumped out to a huge lead and held off No. 20 Marquette 73-66 at the Carrier Dome on Saturday ...
A college basketball season is rarely what we expect it to be. Preseason consensuses can seem comical by January. Our SI preview issue from November 2010 had Duke and Michigan State 1-2, but instead, '10-11 was the Year of Kemba and Jimmer, and Butler and VCU, and no one really saw it coming. This November's SI preview had North Carolina on its national cover, back when the Tar Heels were considered a no-doubt No. 1. There was no Missouri in our top 10, or Indiana or Georgetown in our top 20 (or anyone else's), but those teams now look like high NCAA tournament seeds. In just two months, the landscape has shifted in unexpected ways, justifying New Year revisions to our October presumptions. This Season Reset confronts the new realities of 2011-12.
Bubble Watch is back! And while it's awfully early to make concrete judgments about many individual teams, there are some definitive trends from nonconference play that will significantly shape the real bracket you see in March:
A lot of people who are not college basketball fans -- or even sports fans in general -- have been talking about Syracuse basketball the last three weeks. This, of course, is for all the wrong reasons. But there is a parallel story in play that has been obscured by the Bernie Fine scandal -- namely, that this is the best team that Syracuse has had since Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara led the Orange to the NCAA championship in 2003. Imagine, if you will, what it will be like if the Orange return to the Final Four. That won't just be a sports story, it will be a news story. Fine's specter will hover everywhere in New Orleans that weekend.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- After a lengthy delay following Jim Boeheim's unexpected mea culpa in the wake of the latest Bernie Fine developments, Billy Donovan strode to the podium in the Carrier Dome last Friday and took questions from a handful of reporters. He spent nine minutes or so dissecting his Gators' efforts in a 72-68 loss to the Syracuse Orange, but really no matter what he said, it was going to be subjugated by the evening's bigger theme.
Three men accuse Bernie Fine of abuse decades ago. Who knew about the allegations and when? Anderson Cooper reports.
Bernie Fine, who served as the assistant basketball coach at Syracuse University for 35 years, was fired in November over allegations that he sexually abused boys. Here is a timeline of the developments in the case:
Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim has apologized for statements he made about child sex allegations against his former assistant coach.
Three men have come forward accusing Syracuse Univ. assist. basketball coach Bernie Fine of abuse.
ESPN's Mark Schwarz was sitting inside a satellite truck on the campus of Penn State when an unfamiliar number popped up on his cellphone. It was early evening on Nov. 11, a frigid night in State College, Pa., and the reporter was about to make his way toward the Old Main on campus, the site of a candlelight vigil and a moment of silence in support of the alleged victims in the child sex abuse scandal. Schwarz looked down at his phone. The area code was 315, for central New York.
It is not uncommon for outstanding athletes to succeed later in life, but it is rare for teammates, literally playing side-by-side, to be in the spotlight almost half-a-century later. But such is the case with two old boys from Syracuse, who were roommates as freshmen, went on to become the starting backcourt, saw their lives diverge after college, and now, at an age when most men have retired, are facing two very different but very painful challenges in the professions they've chosen in the places they love.
Mike Lang, who accuses Bernie Fine of molesting him for a ten-year period beginning in 1982, speaks with CNN.
A second man who has publicly accused a former Syracuse University coach of molesting him told CNN's AC360 on Tuesday that he was speaking out so that no other children would be hurt.
Former Syracuse coach Bernie Fine will face a second investigation stemming from his alleged sexual abuse of boys.
It's hard to believe we're already dealing with another child molestation case at a high-profile college athletic program, but Syracuse clearly did the right thing when it fired Bernie Fine on Sunday night. It is important to remind ourselves that from a legal perspective, Fine is innocent until proven guilty, and he is entitled to his day in court. But three accusers have now stepped forward, and we also have that stomach-turning phone conversation between one of the alleged victims and Fine's wife. A college basketball program is not a court of law, and there is simply no way Syracuse could KEEP Fine on its payroll in the face of mounting evidence.
"The Penn State thing came out, and the kid behind this is trying to get money. He's tried before. And now he's trying again. If he gets this, he's going to sue the university and Bernie. What do you think is going to happen at Penn State? You know how much money is going to be involved in civil suits? I'd say about $50 million. That's what this is about. Money." -- Jim Boeheim, two weeks ago
NEW YORK -- Might as well get it out of the way before discussing Syracuse's 69-63 win over Stanford in the NIT Season Tip-Off final, since it's hard to write a column about the Orange without acknowledging the dark-and-uncertain case of Bernie Fine. On Black Friday in 'Cuse country, in the Town of DeWitt, across the street from the home of head coach Jim Boeheim, multiple police agencies raided the home of Fine, the 65-year-old assistant who has been on administrative leave for eight days during an investigation into accusations that he sexually abused two former team ball boys.
A former ball boy has accused Syracuse basketball assistant coach Bernie Fein of inappropriate touching.
The associate men's basketball coach at Syracuse University on Friday called allegations that he inappropriately touched two boys starting more than 20 years ago "patently false in every aspect."
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Just two weeks after Penn State was rocked by a child sex-abuse scandal, Syracuse police said they were investigating child molesting allegations against a longtime assistant basketball coach at Syracuse University.
Syracuse University's associate men's basketball coach Bernie Fine was placed on administrative leave Thursday over a charge made by a man in 2005 of inappropriate contact that allegedly had occurred years before, and because of a newly reopened police investigation into the matter.
It will be hard to regard the forthcoming Big East season as anything but a deathbed vigil. I don't say this because of the literal demise of league founder Dave Gavitt during the offseason. I say this because Pitt and Syracuse announced that, beginning in 2012, they're leaving for the ACC.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- As Jim Boeheim pulled his GMC truck into a parking space and fed coins into a meter, I told him that I couldn't believe what a beautiful day it was. The sun was out, the air was crisp, there was not a cloud in the sky. Not exactly a normal occurence in a place where freezing winters are followed by rainy summers.
CLEVELAND -- The Buzz is a dance, but it cannot be choreographed. The Buzz is well-documented, but it cannot be done on cue. It is a series of movements so spontaneous, and so nakedly joyous, that its eponymous performer is not even conscious of his own actions when the spirit strikes. "You can tell by watching my performance," Buzz Williams said, his voice long hoarse, "that I have no idea that I'm doing it. Or that I know what to do when I'm doing it."
Many people who will watch the NCAA tournament this week are just tuning in to college hoops for the first time this season. Real hoopheads like us, however, have been locked in since the start of practice in October. Nothing we see over the next three weeks is going to surprise us. We've trained ourselves to expect the unexpected.
NEW YORK -- To hear Kemba Walker tell it, he knew exactly how the last 18 seconds against Pittsburgh would play out before he even left the Connecticut bench.
The first week of conference tournament season is for mid-major madness, and this season has obliged with a ton of regular-season champs getting trapdoored into the NIT by feisty underdogs. The second week is for the bigger boys, with seeding and selection situations sorting themselves out nationwide.
If bracket life were 100 percent objective, San Diego State would be a No. 1 seed this week. Losses by Duke and Syracuse caused a thorough re-evaluation of the top two seed lines and yielded some fairly interesting results. The chart to the right lists the 1-seed candidates in RPI order.
PITTSBURGH -- It's best, when covering college basketball, not to let your opinion of a team be swayed too much by one game, one half or one stretch. These are teams of collegians that can look terrific one week, awful the next. I suspect this is why national writers (myself included) are so bad at filling out NCAA tournament brackets. Despite our best efforts, we assign too much meaning to the marquee games we see firsthand -- mostly because we've been sent to cover those games and write about what they mean.
NEW YORK -- What we learned from Tuesday's Jimmy V Classic -- No. 8 Syracuse's 72-58 win over No. 7 Michigan State, and No. 4 Kansas' 81-68 win over No. 13 Memphis -- at Madison Square Garden:
Because he was in such demand by the media, Kemba Walker was the last man to board the UConn bus following the Huskies' 84-67 win over Kentucky in the championship game of last week's Maui Invitational. Walker scored 90 points in the Huskies' three wins, which included a semifinal upset of then-No. 2 Michigan State, making him the easy choice for tournament MVP. But for all the cheers he heard inside the Lahaina Civic Center, the best ovation was yet to come.
A certain college hoops marathon began early Tuesday morning in Memphis, where the AP poll's most freshman-dependent team narrowly avoided being upset by the ACC's worst squad from last season. Of the four headliners from the Tigers' top-ranked recruiting class, one was the leading scorer (highly entertaining point guard Joe Jackson), one was underwhelming (shooting guard Will Barton), one fouled out in 14 minutes (power forward Tarik Black), and one had been kicked off the team three days earlier (small forward Jelan Kendrick).
With their recruitments over, four elite basketball prospects who will play in Saturday night's Jordan Brand Classic at Madison Square Garden sat down Wednesday afternoon to discuss life as a top recruit. Dion Waiters, an explosive guard from Philadelphia, will attend Syracuse. Reggie Bullock, a bouncy shooting guard from Kinston, N.C., is a Tar Heel-in-waiting. Forward Deshaun Thomas is part of the nation's best class at Ohio State. And Roscoe Smith, a smooth wing from Baltimore, has committed to UConn.
INDIANAPOLIS -- You've heard of The Untouchables, The Incredibles and The Unforgettables.
SI.com caught up with Seth Davis, who's serving as a CBS studio analyst during the tournament, to get his quick thoughts on Thursday night's action.
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- No one can identify for sure when exactly the term "mid-major" became a fixture in college basketball, but the 2006 NCAA tournament -- the year George Mason reached the Final Four -- was clearly its boiling point.
Syracuse's 2003 national championship team is primarily remembered for Carmelo Anthony's dominance in the paint and Gerry McNamara's torrid outside shooting. But as McNamara -- now a graduate assistant on the Orange staff -- is quick to point out, "the last play [to beat Kansas] was Hakim Warrick's block. And what did he do? He came over from the weak side to help."
For true college basketball junkies, March Madness means two things: the games, and the games behind the games.
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- There was a time in early-to-mid February when Wes Johnson's hand hurt so badly he couldn't lift his laptop. During games, "it hurt to tuck my jersey in," he said.
I don't mean to brag (well, yes I do), but I have a pretty good track record when it comes to picking NCAA tournament upsets. And thanks to the wonders of cyberspace, I have documented proof.
In America, 2010, it's not enough just to disagree. We must also be disagreeable.
NEW YORK -- As a Syracuse player, Gerry McNamara won a national championship and two Big East tournament titles. As he points out, they didn't happen in the same year.
Welcome back to college basketball, Mr. and Mrs. Casual Fan. Thanks to that tape-delayed fiasco in Vancouver, you're probably about two weeks later to the party than usual. That's OK. You picked the best possible day to come back to college hoops.
Whenever I run in to my fellow hoopheads on the street, they tend to ask me the same few questions. The most common are:
WASHINGTON -- All night Syracuse sophomore forward Kris Joseph, who played his high school ball at D.C.'s Archbishop Carroll, kept seeing familiar faces in the crowd -- but "guys who obviously root for Georgetown."
Because Syracuse is unexpectedly 22-1 (ranked No. 3 in the country) and we'd like to know why, we've arranged a few minutes of phone time with the coach Jim Boeheim. But not before we've discussed more important topics.
I reached out this week to four NBA scouts for their opinions on the elite players in this year's draft (assuming those players declare for it). They agreed on two points: That this will be a weak draft, and that three players at the top have separated themselves from the pack. Based on their analysis, I am now viewing this as a three-player draft, with a big drop-off thereafter.
What is it about meaningless awards that give our life so much meaning?
PHILADELPHIA -- College basketball is in a state of severe coastal imbalance. West of Austin, Texas, quality teams are scarce: The Pac-10 is barren, and Gonzaga is the lone Pacific Ocean-state school in The Associated Press Top 25. The largest concentration of power is in the Big East, which had four top-11 schools meeting in a pair of games this weekend -- and none of them was Pittsburgh, the league's surprise co-leader at 5-0. To get a sense of life in the nation's deepest conference, I spent Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va., for No. 5 Syracuse's 72-71 win over then-No. 10 West Virginia -- an impressive road effort that the Orange would follow up with a victory at Notre Dame two days later. On Sunday, I was in Philly for No. 4 Villanova's 82-77 win over No 11 Georgetown. Here's what I discovered on the road:
Selection Sunday isn't quite around the corner, but it's definitely on this block. As we get closer to the big day, you'll start to see more references to the RPI, but at this relatively early stage it's hard to figure out just how much attention we should pay to all those numbers. Reading the RPI rankings in mid-January is like reading the voting returns early on election night. Yes, the numbers tell you what trends might be forming, but it's far too early to make a projection.