BOZICH | Five NCAA Tournament Storylines That Won't Go Away - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Five NCAA Tournament Storylines That Won't Go Away

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – You want the winner of the NCAA Tournament?

I'll give you that. (Could have told you in November – or you could have told me. It hasn't been a state secret.)

You want Five More Storylines for the 2015 NCAA Tournament? Let's count them down.

5. Getting to March should not be taken for granted.

Don't believe me? You'd better.

Ask Billy Donovan. Or Kevin Ollie. Or Jim Boeheim. Or John Beilein.

Think about this: Four of the last eight programs to make the NCAA Final Four aren't playing in the 2015 tournament. I'm not talking about Mercer or Florida Gulf Coast or Chump Squad U.

I'm talking about Florida (Donovan), Connecticut (Ollie), Syracuse (Boeheim) and Michigan (Beilein). One Hall of Famer (Boeheim), another certain Hall of Famer (Donovan) and the defending national champ (Ollie).

It's something for you to consider before you rage at your favorite coach (talking to you, Indiana fans), even though I don't expect that to happen.

4. There will be a line of athletic directors waiting to offer a coach making $200,000 about $2 million to fix a sagging program if a guy can simply win a game or two this week.

What other industry makes hiring decisions like that?

Exhibit A: Andy Enfield. His Florida Gulf Coast team upset Georgetown and San Diego State in the 2013 tournament. Those two wins convinced Southern California that Enfield was the guy to make the Trojans a factor in the Pac-12.

USC just finished a 3-15 conference season, a one-game improvement over 2014.

Enfield is not John Wooden. Or Pete Carroll. He's just a guy who won two NCAA Tournament games at Florida Gulf Coast and has a photogenic wife.

Exhibit B: John Groce. His Ohio University team toppled Michigan and South Florida before losing in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2012 tournament.

Groce just completed his third season at Illinois. He's won one NCAA Tournament game. His Illini are bound for the NIT. They will play Alabama. The Crimson Tide have an interim coach. Alabama fired Anthony Grant, who was the hot name six years ago.

This season's most likely candidates to get rich quick: Bobby Hurley, Buffalo and Bryce Drew, Valparaiso.

Hurley played at Duke and has built something out of little in the Mid-American Conference. His Dad was a legendary coach in New Jersey, and he has NBA connections.

Drew is also the son of a coach, a former first-round NBA pick and a guy who made a game-winning shot that is replayed every March.


Remember their names.

3. Everybody will cook up a mostly bogus list of teams Most Likely to Beat Kentucky.

Most people who make these lists won't really believe them. But it will translate into a teaser headline to help generate clicks. Sports Illustrated did it. The New York Times did it.

I'll play along, too. Here is my list:

1. Wisconsin; 2. Arizona; 3. Duke; 4. Notre Dame.

The End.

But I'll go ahead and say it: None of those teams will beat the Wildcats.

I'll repeat that to ensure there is no confusion: Kentucky will win the 2015 NCAA championship.

2. There will be a string of stories about why Kentucky is bad for college basketball – or why another team winning the title will be good for the game.

They've been percolating all season. John Calipari finds every one of them -- and it appears to fuel his press conference passion. Some are Straw Man Specials. You know the themes:

Too many one-and-dones (even though the Wildcats start a junior and two sophomores); the two Final Four appearances by John Calipari-coached teams that have been vacated by the NCAA; the Wildcats' talent edge is borderline unfair and more.

One showed up on my Twitter feed not long ago, posted at Forbes.com, which I always considered a financial website. Evidently even Forbes is trying to generate clicks off Calipari's team, too.

Here is the link. It's more of an ode to Wisconsin than a takedown of Kentucky.

1. One loss in March does more to shape a coach's reputation than 14 victories in conference play.

Ask Tom Crean. Won the Big Ten regular season title at Indiana in 2013. Lost to Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen. That's all a chunk of IU fans needed to see to write off Crean.

Ask Mike Brey. He's won 20 or more games in eight of the last nine seasons at Notre Dame. In eight NCAA Tournament appearances, he's been eliminated in the first game four times and advanced to a single Sweet Sixteen.

He couldn't win the big game – until he beat Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams in the ACC Tournament. If you consider winning the ACC Tournament to be a big deal. I do. Too many fans think there are no big games until this week.

Ask Mark Few. This is the 14th consecutive season Few has directed to the NCAA Tournament. But the Zags have exited on the first weekend five consecutive seasons. In fact, Few has advanced to two Sweet Sixteens and zero Elite Eights.

America does not believe in the Zags. That is why.

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