Mar. 25, 2017
"The Stack" 3-20-17
The Stack saw our consecutive days with a blog post end yesterday by accident. I meant to get a blog post out with Sunday’s picks, but it just never happened. Probably a good thing too. The picks would not have been good. They would have been Michigan, Kentucky, Kansas, Baylor, UNC, Rhode Island (tossup really with Oregon), Duke and UCLA. OK, so maybe it would have been better than I thought. We have reaction to Sunday’s games and more so let’s get right to it and see what is in “the stack” for today, Monday, March 20th:
Sunday NCAA Tournament reaction
The number one story on a Sunday filled with them has to be that #2 seed Duke lost 88-81 to #7 seed South Carolina in the East Region. Duke had a ten point lead in the first half and had a seven point lead in the second half only to see South Carolina go on an offensive flurry and scoring spree in route to putting up 65 points. They outscored Duke 65-51 in the second half. The NCAA Tournament produces upsets every year and Duke has been on the wrong in end of that plenty of times. They’ve lost to #15 seed Lehigh as a #2 seed. They’ve lost to #14 seed Mercer as a #3 seed. That’s part of the charm of the NCAA Tournament. But South Carolina won this game in large part because they fed off the home crowd. It felt like a home game for South Carolina. I’m not sure if higher seeded team deserves that in the second round. Gonzaga had to play a game on Saturday in front of what seemed like a hostile crowd, because of all the Northwestern fans that attended, but that game was at least played in Salt Lake City and not say Chicago. Duke certainly could have played better. Coach K could have coached better. Give South Carolina credit as well, because they played a really good game particularly in the second half. However, you would be hard pressed to tell me that the atmosphere in that game wasn’t a major factor like it was Friday night when South Carolina came back on Marquette.
In other games on Sunday, it shouldn’t have come to anyone’s surprise that #7 seeded Michigan took down #2 seed Louisville. Louisville had a lead in the second half and went into an offensive drought, something that we have seen time and time again with them. Michigan took advantage and eventually won 73-69. Michigan has a lot of momentum on their side from the Big Ten Tournament championship and they carried that into this weekend. Eventually it will end, but against an inconsistent Louisville team, it isn’t surprising. #3 seed Baylor took down #11 USC in a good game. #1 Kansas beat #9 Michigan State 90-70. #1 seed UNC had to fight the whole game against #8 seed Arkansas. They were trailing for most of the second half though by trail I mean by anywhere between one and four points. Arkansas is a talented team, but UNC eventually pulled away. #3 seed Oregon had to fight, scrap and claw their way to a win over #11 Rhode Island 75-72. It should not be surprising that Rhode Island nearly won this game. Perhaps they should have. #3 seed UCLA took down #6 seed Cincinnati. #2 seed Kentucky beat #10 seed Wichita State 65-62 in a highly contested defensive game. Wichita State wanted revenge, but Kentucky was able to hang on. They haven’t really shown me a whole lot so far.
The Sweet 16 field is set and games resume on Thursday. The East Region is a bad draw with the top two seeds, Villanova and Duke, knocked out. We haven’t see any overtime games so far in the tournament. No last second shots to win. The first two days had a lot of good basketball, but nothing all that memorable. Saturday and Sunday were definitely different. Now we have a tournament. A lot of brackets have been broken, but hopefully people still watch despite the likes of Villanova and Duke being knocked out. At least college basketball still has UNC, Kentucky and UCLA. Too bad they are all in the same region and only one will advance to the Final Four. We’ll talk plenty more about the NCAA Tournament again on Thursday and talk more about the awful officiating we have seen in the tournament so far.
College basketball head coaching news
The college basketball head coaching carousel is going full circle. Indiana fired head coach Tom Crean, because they have unrealistic expectations and should have taken the red and white glasses off to realize that Crean had to deal with many injuries this year. Washington fired Lorenzo Romar which makes sense given the bad record Washington has had in recent years, but with so many top recruits verbally committing to Washington for next year, does it really make a lot of sense to send him packing and potentially lose these recruits? Washington has since announced the hiring of Mike Hopkins as their new head coach. Hopkins was the head coach in waiting at Syracuse as an assistant to Jim Boeheim, but he took the job at Washington and then Syracuse announced an extension for Boeheim. Funny how all of the works. Brad Underwood went one and done at Oklahoma State taking the job at Illinois. Not sure if that is a lateral move or a step down. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Not sure if Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall will go to Indiana. Hope he doesn’t. There is no doubt there will be more head coaching news here in the coming days.
Coming up Tuesday or Wednesday: Reaction to top stories and headlines in sports