ESPN analyst Dick Vitale puts Michigan, Indiana, Florida and Louisville as his top four teams in college basketball.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Notes Written While Being Rebooked:
*Dick Vitale has called college basketball games for 34 seasons. He'll turn 74 in June and lives a wonderful life chasing his grandchildren with his wife, Lorraine, in southeastern Florida.
When people ask Vitale how he maintains his boundless passion for college basketball, this is what he tells them:
"Games like the Michigan-Indiana game Saturday night (in Bloomington)," Vitale said. "It's has all the makeup you could want from a game. Two monster teams, great individual players, an unbelievable atmosphere and first place in the best conference (Big Ten) in the country on the line. I can't wait."
*Vitale identified two keys to the game: "Indiana needs a monster game from (center Cody) Zeller," he said. "He has to be dominant in the paint. They need to go to him. The other thing is how Indiana defends Michigan's backcourt (Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.). They're the best backcourt in the country and they can really control a game with their speed and ability to make plays."
*No word on the line for the game yet, but Jeff Sagarin's power ratings favor Indiana by nearly 5 (3 ½ for the homecourt advantage) and Ken Pomeroy's analytics have it IU 76, Michigan 70. I'll guess the number will be closer to 3.
*Games like this bring out the celebrities: Vitale is traveling with tennis guru Nick Bollettieri. Two-time American League home run champion Jose Bautista and his Toronto Blue Jays' teammate Adam Lind will accompany ESPN play-by-play voice Dan Shulman.
NBA Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes, who is 84, will attend the game as will Jonathan Martin, one of the nation's top political writers from Politico.com
*Here's one other Assembly Hall visitor to remember: Theo Pinson.
Dave Telep of ESPN.com rates Pinson the seventh best prospect in the 2014 high school class. He's a 6-foot-6 wing from Greensboro, N.C. who will be taking a look at Tom Crean's program.
*Vitale puts Michigan and Indiana on his list of the four best teams in the country. The other two?
"Florida and Louisville," he said.
Even though the Cards have slipped from the Top 10 while losing three of their last four?
"Absolutely," Vitale said. "Two of those games were heartbreakers that could have gone either way. Louisville can still play with anybody."
*Remember what Kentucky coach John Calipari said about Kyle Wiltjer, his sophomore forward, after the Wildcats nearly blew their first SEC road game at Vanderbilt?
He said that every team in the SEC was going to watch video of Wiltjer's dreadful defense and attack him. He said that if Wiltjer didn't pump up the adrenaline that Calipari would not be able to play him.
Wiltjer responded with his worst game of the season against Texas A&M, failing to score in 19 minutes as the Wildcats were upset at home. Since then it's been nearly impossible to criticize Wiltjer's play.
Over the last five games, Wiltjer has averaged 16.4 points, making nearly 52 percent of his field-goal attempts, including 11 of 29 from the three-point line (37.9 percent).
*What happened to Purdue, losers by 37 to Indiana Wednesday?
Others will dwell on the loss of Robbie Hummel and other top players over the last two seasons. But here is another factor that Matt Painter has not been able to overcome:
The loss of two major legacy recruits. Two of the top five freshmen in the Big Ten have major ties to Purdue, but are playing elsewhere. One is Michigan freshman Glenn Robinson III, whose father, Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson, was a teammate of Painter's at Purdue. The other is Michigan State freshman Gary Harris, whose mother, Joy (Holmes) Harris, scored nearly 1,800 points for the Boilermakers.
Robinson is averaging 12.1 points for the Wolverines, while Harris is giving the Spartans 12.7 per game.
*Who better to make a Super Bowl prediction than former Green Bay Packers star Paul Hornung, who was on his way to New Orleans Thursday for several Super Bowl appearances?
"Baltimore," Hornung said.
But the San Francisco 49ers are favored?
"I know," Hornung said. "I like Baltimore. I think Joe Flacco (the Ravens' quarterback) has been tremendous during the post-season. I really like the way he's playing."