BOZICH | Monday Muse: Has the NCAA been soft on North Carolina? Heels or Zags?
Has the NCAA been soft on the North Carolina basketball program? Another 2018 pre-season poll puts UK and U of L in its pre-season Top 25. Time for the Monday Muse.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- This is not the national championship game that I predicted. I will not win any office pools. Warren Buffett does not need my telephone number.
I had North Carolina losing the final game to … Arizona. (I prefer to blame it on Allonzo Trier and Lauri Markkanen.)
But in my final AP college basketball Top 25 ballot, I had Gonzaga ranked second and North Carolina fourth. Does that count?
How about my pre-season poll? Well, North Carolina was there, ranked third behind Duke and Villanova.
Gonzaga? I was certain the Zags had lost too many important pieces. They made my ballot at 14, which was precisely where Mark Few's team began the season in the AP pre-season poll.
On to the Muse, which returns to its preferred Monday launch after a two-week Tuesday relocation.
1. Why Isn't North Carolina's Seat Hotter?
An overnight envelope bound for the father of a University of Kentucky recruit came open with cash inside and the next thing you knew the Wildcats were looking for a new coach and sitting out the NCAA Tournament for two seasons.
Hookers and strippers made multiple visits to the basketball players' dorm at the University of Louisville, and the Cardinals took themselves out of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, cut several scholarships and now await their moment in front of the NCAA Infractions Committee.
The Indiana basketball staff took text messaging to the next level of recruiting, and the Hoosiers sacked Kelvin Sampson in the middle of a 24-4 season, exited the NCAA Tournament in the first round and stumbled into three of the darkest seasons in program history.
There is evidence the NCAA is not a do-nothing organization.
Except when the subject is Michael Jordan University.
The North Carolina basketball program has danced through a web of bogus classes and gift grades, fraudulent activity that spits at the core academic mission of any university, and the Tar Heels have not missed a dribble.
See Monday night's NCAA championship game between North Carolina and Gonzaga for details.
"Swirling innuendo," is what CBS Sports play-by-play man Jim Nantz called the UNC scandal Saturday night during the network's brief mention of the disturbing activities that have yet to put North Carolina basketball in the NCAA pokey.
The NCAA is allegedly continuing its investigation in Chapel Hall, but odds are that the second shooter on the grassy knoll will be apprehended and prosecuted first. Michael Powell of the New York Times pulled the scandal into perspective in this fine column.
The school has not denied all the shenanigans. But to many, its defense can be interpreted like this:
This was not a problem for the basketball program, it was an issue for the entire university. If Jimmy Fiddlesticks can cut the same corners as Rashad McCants, how is this an advantage for Roy Williams' basketball program.?
Butt out NCAA. Let the school handle it.
The school has handled it -- all the way to back-to-back NCAA championship games.
2. The Championship Game Numbers
Final numbers on Monday night's game:
Ken Pomeroy: Gonzaga 79, North Carolina 75; Zags' win probability is 65 percent.
Jeff Sagarin: Gonzaga favored by 1.75 points.
RPI: The NCAA-designed Ratings Percentage Index is not designed for game predictions but it suggests that the two best teams in America are NOT playing in the championship game.
North Carolina is ranked fifth, behind Villanova, Arizona, Kansas and Kentucky. The Zags are three spots behind, also trailing Duke and Louisville. So, advantage, Tar Heels.
Las Vegas: The Tar Heels opened as 2-point favorites minutes after their semifinal win over Oregon. The number dropped to 1 ½ 50 minutes later and has stayed there.
Dr. Bo: Gonzaga 77, North Carolina 74. I'm worried about UNC point guard Joel Berry, especially matched against Nigel Williams-Goss on Berry's wobbly ankles.
3. Early 2018 Hoops Rankings
A week ago, I shared the first early predictions for the 2018 college basketball season. Louisville and Kentucky were both parked in the top four, which is precisely where I would expect both programs to be parked next November when the new season tips.
The Internet will be flooded with more projections by Tuesday afternoon. The Sporting News could not wait.
Ryan Fagan ranked Kentucky third, behind Arizona and Duke. Louisville did not make his top four. The Cardinals are sixth, trailing Kansas and Michigan State.
Here's your link. But remember: there are still NBA early entry decisions to make, transfers to flee and recruits to sign. Kentucky will be in the top five because the Wildcats are always in the top five. But Rick Pitino’s team should be in the discussion, too, especially if Donovan Mitchell puts his NBA plans on hold for another year.
4. Georgetown Buying LegacyCoach.com Approach
I think Georgetown is having a difficult time recruiting its next basketball coach.
Why wouldn't they? Attendance is way down. The Hoyas haven't been nationally relevant for nearly a decade. The Washington Wizards have become the most popular basketball show in the District of Columbia
Don't forget that Georgetown fired John Thompson III, the son of the man who made the Hoyas a cultural and hoops force in the 80s and 90s -- John Thompson II.
If you fire the Godfather of the program, you'd better find a replacement that the Godfather can love. Word is that Mike Brey of Notre Dame and Shaka Smart of Texas were not interested.
No wonder Patrick Ewing has moved to the top of the list. Before he became an NBA Hall of Famer with the Knicks, Ewing brought Georgetown the 1984 national title and Final Four trips in 1982 and 1985. Ewing gave the Hoyas credibility -- and apparently wants to do it again.
Ewing has learned to coach as an assistant in the NBA, which makes him more qualified than Clyde Drexler was at Houston or Chris Mullin at St. John's.
Sound like the best option to me.
5. Marques Bolden, Anyone?
How much time did you invest last spring fretting about where Marques Bolden, a five-star center, was going to play college basketball?
Checking your Twitter feed. Studying the message boards. Following the hissing contest between Duke and Kentucky fans. Feeling silly today?
After failing to play a single minute in Duke's final three games, Bolden, a 7-footer, is rumored to be leaving Duke at the end of this academic year. He averaged less than 7 minutes and 2 points per game. (The link.)
His next destination?
No need to check your Twitter feed. He's a Texas kid so SMU, TCU and the Texas Longhorns are stirring the most love.
6. Kevin Keatts Makes His First Statement at N.C. State
I've never considered the North Carolina State coaching job one of the 20 best in college basketball. You spend too much time watching nearby Duke and North Carolina celebrate national titles.
I know N.C. State won championships in 1974 (David Thompson) and 1983 (Lorenzo Charles) but the record also shows that NCAA problems percolated around the school in the aftermath of those celebrations.
N.C. State usually has to recruit a coach on the rise -- and few have been rising faster recently that former U of L assistant Kevin Keatts. He's from the neighborhood, moving from UNC-Wilmington to Raleigh to compete with Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski.
Score one for Keatts. He's already landed his first commitment, convincing Lavar Batts, a four-star guard, to flip to N.C. State from VCU, which lost coach Will Wade to Louisiana State. (The link.)
7. What Makes Dick Vitale Dick Vitale
You've probably read enough Dick Vitale stories to get you through the next 17 college basketball seasons, but I'd highly recommend making time to read just one more -- this one by Bryan Curtis of TheRinger.com.
Vitale, the most gracious network media person I've ever known, invited Curtis to live in his world for several days, including one night at his mammoth home in Sarasota, Fla. Curtis delivered a terrific profile on what motivates Vitale to keep going and going and going at 77.
8. More Love For DeAngelo Brown
DeAngelo Brown had a very good but not great senior season at the University of Louisville. Like the rest of his defensive teammates, Brown did not play the way the Cardinals needed him to play in the final three games, losses to Houston, Kentucky and Louisiana State.
The NFL does not fret three-game losing streaks. The NFL frets measurables. Brown has them. He was ranked the 12th best defensive line prospect at ProFootballFocus, despite his surprising omission at the Senior Bowl. He projects as a nose tackle because his massive size should enable him to occupy two blockers.
9. Play Ball
I've been reading Major League Baseball magazines since January. I can't let the season begin without filing predictions that will make everybody question my reading comprehension skills.
National League division champions: East Washington; Central Chicago West Arizona.
Wildcard: St. Louis, Los Angeles
MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona; Cy Young Clayton Kershaw; Los Angeles; Rookie of the Year, Dansby Swanson, Atlanta.
American League division champions: East Boston; Central Cleveland; West Houston.
Wildcard Toronto, Texas
MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles; Cy Young Chris Sale, Boston; Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge, New York
WORLD SERIES: Cubs over Red Sox.
10. Poll Results
You were right. I was wrong.
I questioned whether this collection of teams would hold a solid TV audience Saturday night at the Final Four in Phoenix. I considered it the least inspiring Final Four since … well, since everybody started obsessing about television ratings.
Wrong. According to Turner Sports, the ratings were the second best in the last 23 years. You said you would watch in my on-line poll last week. You did.
Will you watch the 2017 NCAA Final Four without any strong local connections?
Yes -- 75.8 percent.
No -- 24.2 percent.
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