BOZICH | Monday Muse: Legends Crash in NCAA Tourney; My Twitter Poll faux pas
It's been a difficult NCAA Tournament for coaching legends. My premature Twitter poll. Buddy Hield's trip from 2-star recruit to player of the year. Time for the Monday Muse.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Oh, Tony.
Less than 24 hours after watching Virginia protect a second-half lead as if Dale Brown, not Tony Bennett, was in charge, there's no other way to start the Monday Muse than Syracuse 68, Virginia 62.
Let's get to the videotape.
1. Who's Coaching That Team?
I believe that reasonable people will agree that if you make a list of the 10-to-15 top coaches in college basketball, the names Tom Izzo, Bob Huggins and Tony Bennett would crash that list.
Izzo shows up at the Final Four every other April. Huggins has proven that he can beat you with his recruits, your recruits or five guys from the Rec League.
Coaches like Rick Pitino have described Bennett as one of the rising stars in the game. He has the Coach of the Year awards to prove it.
Here is what Izzo, Huggins and Bennett just did in the 2016 NCAA Tournament: Burp.
Lost to a No. 15 seed (Middle Tennessee State) with a team many expected to win the national title (Izzo, Michigan State).
Lost to No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin with a team that finished ahead of Oklahoma in the Big 12 (Huggins, West Virginia).
Lost to No. 10 seed Syracuse while blowing a 15-point lead in the final 9 ½ minutes (Bennett, Virginia.).
Oh, Tom. Oh, Bob. Oh, Tony.
Imagine if John Calipari had done any of those things at Kentucky. Or Tom Crean at Indiana.
It can happen to Dale Brown. It can happen to Tony Bennett. It can happen to anybody. I'd ask you to remember that moving forward. But it wouldn't matter.
2. The Bozich Jinx -- Undefeated, Untied, Unscored On
Here's how confident I was that Virginia would ensure that America celebrated a Jim Boeheim-Free Final Four:
At halftime, I posted this poll on Twitter: Who will Virginia play in Houston?
My apologies, Virginia fans.
I picked North Carolina to upset Houston in the 1983 NCAA Final Four, but I've been dealing with a fierce losing streak since leaving Albuquerque.
Of course, more than 500 of you voted -- and 15 percent got it wrong by going with Notre Dame.
We can all blush together. Ready? One, two, three ... go.
3. Syracuse In The Tournament -- Not A Fan
How could you let this happen? America was counting on you to give us that Syracuse-free Final Four.
Now we must endure an entire week of Boeheim making faces and giving snippy answers about the NCAA violations percolating around his program.
Trust me, he'll try to play the Victim Card.
The truth is that Syracuse got a tremendous and undeserved gift with an invitation to the tournament. You're talking about a team that lost 13 games, including five of its last six. Add in the NCAA rules nonsense and the Orange should have been watching Monmouth or Valparaiso.
You're talking about a team that lost to Georgetown, St. John's and Florida State.
Maybe Roy Williams and North Carolina can save the NCAA from the embarrassing stain of a program with NCAA issues from winning the national title.
Ooops. Never mind.
4. Buddy Hield Recruiting Profile
Buddy Hield of Oklahoma has been the best player in this tournament. He should win the Wooden Award as well as the Associated Press college basketball player of the year.
Just like the recruiting gurus predicted, right?
Let's find out. I checked Hield's recruiting profile at four services. Here is what I discovered:
ESPN: Hield did not rank in its Top 100. He was No. 20 at shooting guard, behind Fred Thomas (Mississippi State), Melvin Johnson (VCU) and Montay Brandon (Florida State).
SCOUT: Hield earned two stars and was not ranked nationally.
RIVALS: If these numbers have not been upgraded, Rivals is the clear winner because Hield was given four stars and ranked No. 86 in the nation.
247 SPORTS: Only two stars, the No. 147 prospect overall and the No. 37 shooting guard.
Are you sure you want to continue paying for that recruiting subscription?
5. The Final Four Resume
The four teams arrive in Houston with 31 combined defeats. North Carolina and Villanova won conference regular season titles. Syracuse and Oklahoma did not. Only North Carolina won its league tournament.
They have a combined nine McDonald's all-Americans -- six at North Carolina. Oklahoma will be the only team in Houston without a single McDonald's all-American.
No problem. The Sooners have Mr. 147 -- Buddy Hield.
The 31 combined defeats are 13 more than last season. It's the most combined defeats by Final Four teams since 2011 when UConn, Kentucky, Butler and VCU arrived with 36.
6. The Kruger Kronicles
Another reminder of how daunting this NCAA Tournament thing really is. Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger has done many remarkable things in his coaching career.
He's the first guy to take five programs -- Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV and Oklahoma -- to the NCAA Tournament. He pushed Florida all the way to the 1994 Final Four. He's got Oklahoma in the 2016 Final Four with mostly three-star recruits.
But take another look at Kruger's NCAA Tournament resume between the 1994 Final Four in Gainesville and the 2016 success at OU.
Kruger made the tournament 11 times in 17 tries. His teams were knocked out in the first game five times and in the second round four times. He never advanced past the Sweet Sixteen.
And I think Kruger is a tremendous coach.
7. Rick Stansbury to WKU
Hiring a basketball coach at Western Kentucky is a tricky proposition. Recruit an up-and-comer and he's gone as soon at he makes a solid run in the NCAA Tournament.
See Darrin Horn, Dennis Felton, Ralph Willard, Clem Haskins and Gene Keady for details.
Make the wrong call and interest quickly evaporates as the program struggles for recognition in a state dominated by a pair of superpowers.
See Ray Harper, Ken McDonald, Matt Kilcullen and Murray Arnold.
Rick Stansbury was named WKU's 10th coach since 1979 on Monday. Only Haskins, an alum, has stayed as long as six seasons.
Maybe Stansbury will give the program success and stability. He's 56 and a Kentucky native who understands the potential of WKU basketball.
But Stansbury's NCAA Tournament record is less than overwhelming -- six appearances in 14 seasons at Mississippi State. His teams won four games and never advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, something Horn and Willard achieved in Bowling Green.
8. Kentucky Derby Top Five
The NCAA Tournament has kept my focus away from the Kentucky Derby, but I know people who know the best 3-year-olds for the first Saturday in May.
Here is my early top five: 1. Destin; 2. Nyquist; 3. Mohaymen; 4. Mor Spirit; 5. Cupid.
Nothing outlandish there. But after looking at my NCAA Tournament bracket, there's no reason to take any more chances.
9. Summer of Cubs
I offer the following quote without editorial comment. It comes from Brittany Arrieta, the wife of Chicago Cubs' pitcher Jake Arrieta, winner of the 2015 Cy Young Award.
The Cubs are featured on one of the regional editions of the SI Major League Baseball preview and appear to be the consensus pick to win the World Series.
Apparently, the franchise is prepared for the moment, according to Brittany Arrieta, who said this to SI writer Tom Verducci:
"Now that Wrigley is getting its beautiful renovation, I have heard there may be plans in place if we ever won the World Series that we would sleep there because the city would be so hectic."
10. POLL RESULTS
Should professional athletes be able to bring their children to the locker room every day?
Yes – 19.5 percent
No – 80.5 percent.
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