Thursday, March 23, 2006

I Like Mike

Indiana's season came to a screeching close when IU's offense played about as well as it could play, and Gonzaga was just better. I don't see this Hoosier squad winning that game very many times out of ten, unless DJ White is playing.

I don't have time to talk much, as I have an insane amount of work to do in my last few days on the job, but I did want to post about the new Indiana Head coach, whoever it is.

Ben has a good letter up to send to Rick Greenspan about the hiring process, and he also links a similar letter from Ryan G.

It seems pretty likely that Steve Alford will not be the next coach of IU, which is especially great after seeing the Hawkeyes failed to get a crucial rebound and let Northwestern State drill a game-winning three in the first round.

There are rumors that there are two candidates interviewing for the job, and who knows who they are?

I wouldn't be super-happy with Randy Wittman (who seems the most likely IU-legacy coach) but he'd be okay, I imagine.

There are rumors of Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Mark Few, Rick Majerus, and Tom Crean, all of whom I'd be perfectly happy with. But I'm not sure any of them will actually come.

But the guy who may actually want the job, and who I actually am rooting for, is Mike Montgomery. His Stanford teams regularly dominated more talented Arizona and UCLA teams, and by the time he left for the pros, the road to the PAC-10 championship always ran through Paolo Alto.

I'll have a ton more to say about this last season when life settles down, but that may not be until June.

As for the remaining 16 teams in the NCAA, I still like UConn, but I'm rooting for West Virginia.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Final Cbba Poll

1. Gonzaga
2. Memphis
3. Duke
4. Connecticut
5. Villanova
7. George Washington
8. Iowa
9. Boston College
10. Florida
11. Texas
12. North Carolina
13. Illinois
14. Tennessee
15. Pittsburgh
16. Nevada
17. West Virginia
18. Kansas
19. Louisiana State
20. Georgetown
21. Bradley
22. Washington
23. Marquette
24. Oklahoma
25. Bucknell

This, of course, is insane. I've been assessing these by a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately metric that I assume most polls use, and I think it's rather ridiculous to have polls after Championship week, when most teams must lose, and the really good ones don't care all that much (they've got a lock on a NCAA bid after all) while mediocre ones (such as Syracuse) play their best week of the year.

I actually think Gonzaga is not a great team, and has almost no chance to get to Indy, but they are my number. It is all a foolish consistency that I will have to change next year.

Friday, March 10, 2006

I Love March!

I loved watching Gerry McNamara have a great Big East tourney to propel Syracuse. I loved seeing that Don Chaney had one more big win in him knocking off George Washington. I'd totally love to see Charlotte win the A-10, but wouldn't mind seeing Xavier or Temple get the bid either.

This afternoon, I'd sure love to see IU knock off UW, and I think Indiana will match up well if Marco plays smart and doesn't pick up any dumb fouls.

Go Hoosiers!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Championship week!

Which I love! Can't get enough of. My wife asked me "who's playing" and I respond South Alabama versus Western Kentucky, and she looked at me like I've finally gone over the edge, caring about two teams she's never even heard of, why on earth would I have a stake in it?

Besides the fact I love to watch championship level college basketball games, I also picked South Alabama in the preseason to come out of the Sun Belt way back when in November, when many picked Western Kentucky, which looked pretty good until last night.

I also picked the other winners last night; Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Horizon champs) and Oral Roberts (Mid-Continent champs). So, it was a good night.

The other night I saw Gonzaga win over Loyola Marymount, and while I was rooting for Gonzaga (for also being a preseason pick and to not shrink available at-large bids in case IU flames out against Wisconsin), I gotta say I was unimpressed. The only reason they won that game (besides the missed lay-up at the end) was that they got every single call they could get down the stretch. LMU got homered, but it really bodes ill for the Zags. They've got the ranking, but they do not look like a #1 seed at all.

South Alabama looked mighty impressive, playing with energy and poise, showing good awareness in transition and some nice halfcourt sets. I guess the major problem for them is that the hot shooting they had going hasn't been around for most of the season. But they could be a major problem in the first round if they can keep rolling.

Big Ten Tourney about to start. I hope Davis can get his guys pissed about the loss at Wisconsin, and take it to a thin Badger squad. Here's a hope that they get the ball to Marshall Strickland in scoring position. He's not only been IU's most efficient scorer, but the one who has played the best in clutch situations.

Go Hoosiers!

Monday, March 06, 2006

CBBA poll & What Happened Last Week 2/27-3/5

1. Connecticut
2. Villanova
3. Gonzaga
4. George Washington
5. Memphis
7. Ohio State
8. Duke
9. North Carolina
10. Illinois
11. Texas
12. Tennessee
13. West Virginia
14. Pittsburgh
15. Louisiana State
16. Iowa
17. Georgetown
18. Florida
19. Nevada
20. Washington
21. Oklahoma
22. Boston College
23. Marquette
24. Kansas
25. UAB

Also Rating V for Vendetta:
Air Force, Bradley, Bucknell, Florida State, George Mason, Hofstra,
Missouri State, Northern Iowa, Texas A&M, Wichita State

What Happened last week

1. Memphis L at UAB, W v. Houston
2. Duke L at FSU, L v. UNC
3. Connecticut W at South Florida, W v. Louisville
4. Villanova W v. St. John's, W at Syracuse
5. Gonzaga W v. San Francisco, W v. San Diego
6. George Washington W at St. Bonaventure, W v. Charlotte
7. Texas L at Texas A&M, W v. Oklahoma
8. Tennessee L v. Kentucky, W at Vanderbilt
9. Pittsburgh L at West Virginia, L v. Seton Hall
10. UCLA W at California, W at Stanford
11. Ohio State W at NU, W v. Purdue
12. West Virginia W v. Pittsburgh, L at Cincinnati
13. North Carolina W v. Virginia, W at Duke
14. Georgetown L at South Florida
15. Illinois W at Minnesota, W at Michigan State
16. Oklahoma W v. Oklahoma State, L at Texas
17. Louisiana State W at South Carolina, W v. Mississippi
18. Iowa W v. PSU, W v. Wisconsin
19. Florida W v. Georgia, W at Kentucky
20. Nevada W v. San Jose State, W v. Fresno State
21. Missouri State W v. Creighton, L v. Northern Iowa
22. Marquette L at Louisville, W v. Providence
23. Washington W at Arizona State, W at Arizona
24. Boston College W v. Wake Forest, W v. Virginia Tech
25. Wichita State W v. Indiana State, L at Bradley

Also Receiving Votes:

Air Force, W at Colorado State
Bucknell, W v. Army, W v. American
George Mason, W v. Georgia State, L v. Hofstra
Kansas, W v. Colorado, W at KSU
Michigan, L v. Indiana
Michigan State, W v. Wisconsin, L v. Illinois
North Carolina State, L at Wake Forest
Northern Iowa, W v. Missouri State, L v. Southern Illinois
UAB, W v. Memphis, W v. Marshall
Wisconsin L at MSU, L at Iowa


Florida State W v. Duke, W at Miami
Hofstra W v. Virginia Commonwealth, W v. George Mason
Southern Illinois W v. Evansville, W at Northern Iowa, W v. Bradley
Texas A&M W v. Texas, W at Texas Tech

I was wrong

I didn't watch the game, and the Hoosiers got a big one on the road against Michigan.

I'm very, very happy to be wrong, but now I'm worried that I have to not watch Indiana's big games in order for them to win.

How it'd happen? Evidently is was a very ugly game. It looks like Daniel Horton was on fire, but noone else was hitting for Michigan, the Hoosiers actually held their own on the boards (31-31) and it was tied late when Dion Harris made a stupid foul to give IU the lead, and then IU just hit free-throws to close out the game. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Tommy Amaker is the worst coach in the Big Ten. But maybe Michigan is just a place for great athletes who like to make stupid mistakes when the game is on the line.

What is with ESPN and the UNC-Duke game? They had it covered on both networks, with Cameron Crazy-Cam, and that's all they talked about all night long. Um, yeah, they're both ranked and all, but this isn't the frickin' Superbowl. It's like they care a lot more about this game than the rest of March. At least Jay Bilas mentioned the Hoosier win as being the game that was probably most important for any team.

Friday, March 03, 2006

One Final "It comes to this"

IU's win over an undermanned-yet-feisty Purdue squad has put it back in contention for a NCAA bid. A win at Michigan (1:30pm, Saturday) would mean the Hoosiers were in.

My guess, Michigan wins. I don't like it, and I hope I'm wrong, and it would mean that I was wrong about at Michigan being one of the few road games Indiana would steal this season. But here is why:

1) It's at Michigan.
It's been a friendly arena for Indiana to win in the last few years, but this year Michigan hasn't imploded, and is in fact a decent team. Especially at home. Throw in this year's Big 10 road difficulties, and on the road is the last place you want to be when you desparately need a victory.

2) It's senior day for Michigan.
I know that is was senior day for Purdue as well, but there's no doubt that Purdue is the worst team in the Big Ten. And Purdue's four seniors (Matt Kiefer, Gary Ware, Bryant Dillon, & Matt Carroll) are just not game-changers like Michigan's three scholarship seniors are (Daniel Horton, Chris Hunter, Graham Brown).

3) Michigan is made to destroy Indiana
The Wolverines specific advantage, offensive rebounding, is Indiana's biggest weakness. IU's going to have a hard time getting defensive stops, as even tho Michigan doesn't shoot well, they'll just rebound and try again until they score just like they did at Assembly Hall. Also, this is going to probably keep IU's best rebounder, Marco Killingsworth, in foul trouble and off the floor for much of the game.
On defense, Michigan has a variety of athletic bigs to throw at Marco and keep the Hoosiers out of the paint. Unless IU comes out on fire from long-range, and can get the maize-and-blue scrambling to cover shooters, it's going to be hard to get anything going to the basket.

I think IU would have a reasonable chance (50-50) of taking advantage of the sloppy ball-handling and weak outside shooting of Michigan if they were at least at a neutral site. But they aren't, and I think it's a very long shot indeed for Indiana to upset Michigan on Senior day.

So what does this mean? Well, IU will fall to 8-8 in the conference, and be in 7th, and have to pick up two wins in the Big 10 tourney to get an at-large bid. That'll mean beating the #10 seed (Northwestern, most likely) and upsetting whoever gets the #2 seed, which will probably be Iowa. Indiana hasn't fared well against Iowa in the Big 10 tournament, but I actually bet that could be a pretty good draw for Indiana.

So, even if IU doesn't win this weekend, and in fact gets blown out, I counsel my fellow Hoosiers to remain calm and realize that all is not lost yet.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Meanwhile, there's a game to play

There's a lot of talk about the upcoming coaching vacancy for Indiana. The ESPMSM may be getting the idea (very slowly) that Alford may not be a lock for the IU job. After sending up the Alford-wanters, the Big Ten Wonk gives voice to the cooler heads in his Wonk Back section today.

Frank Burlison at Fox Sports reports that Mike Montgomery is interested in no college job, thank you very much. But you can't believe anything coaches say until they sign the dotted line.

This article hits some of the points of making about the decline of Hoosier Basketball happening before Davis even took over. Although I would respond to the particluar point that Pat Ewing Jr. was a player we wanted to keep, while kicking Sherron Wilkerson out of the program was one of the best things Bob Knight ever did. But otherwise, the points are valid.

Meanwhile, there's a game to play!

Indiana can go a long way towards clinching a NCAA berth with a win tonight at Purdue. A win at Michigan would frankly look even better, and getting both would probably mean that the Hoosiers would return to "lock" status. But the way the game was played the first time around completely favored the Boilermakers, and there's no reason to think it won't be another very ugly, very slow game. I'm betting it could really go either way, and be pretty close at the end. If IU hits some great shots down the stretch will they be able to come away with a win. It's too bad that the worst team in the Big 10 is also our big rival, and if Marco steps off the bus with 2 or 3 fouls, that might demoralize the Hoosiers enough to throw the game.
But I would be happy if they got this one or the Michigan game, and then picked up one or two W's in the conference tourney, and hopefully the slection committee would be happy, too.