Archive for the ‘college basketball’ Category

I have to say it has been one fun month of March Madness.

Ramblers. Sister Jean. Retrievers. Buffalo spanking Sean Miller’s team. Eric Musselman’s daughter.

Yeah, a pretty fun NCAA Tournament, even if I’ve been to the store three times to buy red ink.

There are actually people below me in the bracket pool, which defies all logic. Only thing dumber would be deciding not to call a timeout when there are 11 seconds left in a four-point game with a Final Four berth on the line.

Late for dinner reservations, Leonard Hamilton? And wow, surly and rude when asked a legitimate question in the postgame interview. Just imagine how rude the Florida State coach is to reporters when he isn’t on camera.

Pretty funny the next day to see Coach K call timeout with Duke down five with the same amount of time left.

Earlier in March, Virginia trailed Louisville by four points with 0.9 seconds left and won the game in regulation. There is a reason why you don’t quit in a two-possession game.

Heck, I covered a game where San Diego State led UNLV by 10 points (a four-possession game) with under 20 seconds left and collapsed like a deck of cards in a tornado. Yep, the Aztecs didn’t win. They lost in overtime.

But enough about collapses, how about Loyola-Chicago becoming America’s Team?

Best part of this story is that the NCAA Selection Committee was going to shaft these Ramblers if they didn’t win their conference tourney.

We would have never heard of Sister Jean, the youngest 98-year-old in Chicago history. Heck, she’s more alive than some people half her age.

And how about that Kansas State shot that was 99.9 percent in the hole and somehow came out? You just know Sister Jean was in on that one.

The Ramblers won their first three games by a combined FOUR POINTS. That is pretty amazing clutch play from a bunch of guys none of us ever heard of prior to this month.

Then they whipped Kansas State to get to the Final Four.

Think of this, the Ramblers have defeated teams from the ACC (Miami), SEC (Tennessee) and Big 12 (Kansas State) on neutral courts. You know, the type of programs that would never play a road game at Loyola-Chicago.

The Ramblers won a national title back in 1963. Guess we might hear a little about that this week.

Oh yeah, can’t forget the Retrievers of UMBC.

The first time a 16 seed has defeated a 1 seed finally occurred and it was a major league beat down. UMBC (which stands for University of Maryland Baltimore County) rolled to a 74-54 victory over Virginia, the top-seeded team in the entire tournament.

UMBC went viral in a way like never before. Heck, I tried to order that outstanding piece of Retrievers wall art to hang in the fabulous three-story mansion and the poor UMBC bookstore is drowning under thousands of orders.

It might be next basketball season by the team they fill my order.

But what an amazing accomplishment and you have to admit it is kind of fun to say “Retrievers” instead of Eagles or Wildcats.

Oh yeah, Wildcats. So fun to watch Buffalo — BUFFALO! — totally wallop Miller and his Arizona squad.

Meanwhile, Musselmann is surely cussing somewhere about now, still steaming that his Nevada team went down to the Ramblers.

But after Sister Jean, his cool 8-year-old daughter Mariah is the second-best person we learned about during March Madness.

It is serious time next weekend when Villanova plays Kansas and Michigan plays Loyola-Chicago but you never know what Sister Jean has in store.

Just saying don’t be surprised if Loyola-Chicago is playing for the national title on April 2.

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I wonder how breaking down half the NCAA Tournament teams on Selection Sunday while providing content to millions of people around the country will equate to filling out my bracket.

Guess we will find out later if I win a March Madness bracket for the eighth time in my life but at least I’m off to a good head start.

Heck, I know two of my Final Four teams … know of a 12 seed that will beat a 5 … and know that Loyola-Chicago won at Florida this season.

And can’t forget the best nickname in college basketball — “Dauminator.”

Man, I would like to patent that one in case the guy becomes an NBA player.

Anyway, I am ahead of the curve at FLM and hopefully won’t go down swinging once the games begin.

So who do I have winning the South and West regions? Well, you will have to give some love to one of the clients that doesn’t scrub off my byline.

Hey, these are my first two bylines since making the super smart move to FLM.

Of course, some of you will now use this stellar info to fill out your own bracket. Hmmmmm … OK, I will post since I’m not a selfish kind of guy.

 

Following is my South Region breakdown:

http://www.gwinnettprepsports.com/sportsxchange/ncaa-tournament-south-region-breakdown/article_480d812c-1a80-5b6f-a60a-6c4784b946fc.html

 

Here is my West Region breakdown:

http://www.gwinnettprepsports.com/sportsxchange/ncaa-tournament-west-region-breakdown/article_2eca781e-421d-5f3c-8321-b53ea1b6d218.html

 

A few other comments:

–Kentucky coach John Calipari complained that his team was sent to Boise. Coach Cal said he had to ask his players what state Boise is in.

I don’t know, it seems 59-year-old Calipari should know his state capitals by now.

–Kansas coach Bill Self is willing to play a game in Wichita.

Funny, he has repeatedly turned down opportunities to play Wichita State during his 15-year tenure. Hoping the Shockers’ fans root hard for the Jayhawks’ opponents.

–Who saw San Diego State making the field after the team looked dead in the water in February? The Brian Dutcher-coached Aztecs reeled off nine straight wins and draw a Houston team that last won an NCAA tournament game in 1984.

Pretty sure Hakeem Olajuwon isn’t suiting up for the Cougars on Thursday.

–Wait, USC isn’t part of the NCAA tournament field but Arizona State and Syracuse are? Wow.

Louisville, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Saint Mary’s and Middle Tennessee also were left on the outside and Davidson’s victory in Sunday’s Atlantic 10 final knocked out Notre Dame. Baylor coach Scott Drew says the tourney should be expanded to 96 teams and my first thought is ‘Would Saint Mary’s and Middle Tennessee be the among the last four in?’

–Middle Tennessee athletic director Chris Massaro made the following statement on Twitter: “The deck is stacked. How do we collect Quadrant 1 home wins?”

Easy solution, Chris. Schedule 18 games against the Big 12 next season. Go 8-10 and you’re in.

–Can’t forget this: South Carolina might not be in the field but the Gamecocks are still “America’s Team” until somebody eliminates Duke. Perhaps a second-round game against Rhode Island could be just the tonic.

Let me start with a little perspective — Boise State hasn’t had an NBA draft pick this century and has never won an NCAA tournament game.

Pretty much lets you know how the school rates in the tradition department.

But that draft pick drought is about to end because there is no longer any question that Broncos forward Chandler Hutchison will hear his name called in June’s draft.

The discussion of how high is one for after the season. But just know NBA teams are going to love the tape they view of Hutchison’s school-record 44-point performance against San Diego State on Saturday.

Hutchinson carried the team all night and made 15 of 21 shots, including 7 of 10 from 3-point range. He banked in two 3s, displayed mid-range ability, and repeatedly gained separation while driving to the hoop.

He carried himself like the best player in the building, which was a good thing as Boise State had to survive a last-second 3-point miss to notch an 83-80 victory over the Aztecs.

Making it more impressive is that San Diego State is one of the best teams Boise State will play this season. It also doesn’t hurt that NBA scouts are well aware of the Aztecs’ reputation for playing stellar defense.

This game will be the one where a few NBA teams say “We’ve got to get that kid” and a few others will take him off their bubble and determine he is draft-worthy and a few others will move him higher up their draft boards.

Scoring 44 points on 21 field-goal attempts demands attention from NBA personnel directors.

Look, Hutchison’s performance on Saturday could be tabbed the top moment in Boise State’s basketball history. Did I mention the Broncos have never won an NCAA tournament game? (Oh, I did … 0-7 is the record).

The school’s media guide says the Broncos have had just four NBA players in program history. Also, NBA draft records show just six picks from the school, the last being Roberto Bergersen in 1999.

The most notable NBA player from Boise State is Chris Childs, the point guard who averaged 6.9 points in 541 games over nine seasons from 1994-2003.

The previous school record for points of 42 was set by Ron Austin way back in 1971. The most-recent 40-point outing was in 1979 by Carl Powell and Hutchison’s performance marked only the fourth time a Boise State player reached 40.

It certainly was the best performance I’ve seen live by a Boise State player since I moved from Paradise (San Diego) to Paradise Junior (Boise). The previous best effort was a game I covered in 2013 when Derrick Marks scored 33 second-half points and 38 overall in a victory over Colorado State.

Oh yeah, some Boise media types actually were floating the idea Marks would get drafted and I cringed. As in where is the perspective? But yeah, many of them were also stunned when a Boise State quarterback named Grant Hedrick didn’t get selected in the 2015 NFL draft.

Take it from a guy who spent eight seasons watching NFL practices, Hedrick would’ve needed the NFL draft to go back to 17 rounds to have a chance to be selected.

You know, let’s not even discuss Kellen Moore.

The same media folks were stunned a basketball player named James Webb III didn’t get picked in the 2016 NBA draft. Well, I covered nearly 20 of Webb’s games at Boise State and I never once said the following to myself: “Hey, there’s a future NBA player.”

Webb plays for the Delaware 87ers. And if you have to be a minor league hoops player, at least having your team called the 87ers is pretty cool. Beats playing in Lithuania.

In other words, I’ll tell you the real deal. Saturday night at Taco Bell Arena was the very first time I’ve seen a Boise State player that caused me to say, “Now that’s a future NBA player.”

Chandler Hutchison will without a doubt be selected in the NBA draft. And perhaps he will become the fifth Boise State player to suit up for an NBA game. Maybe he ends up playing a decade in the NBA. Who knows?

What I know is that as of Saturday night, Hutchison is etched in the books as one of the top Boise State players ever. And the night he torched San Diego State for a school-record 44 points will still be talked about in 2071. 

So I haven’t done Weekly Links in a while but the night before Thanksgiving seems like a perfect time.

It is a little bit foggy outside and I sure have no interest in hitting up any retail stores that think “Black Friday” started two, three or four days before FRIDAY.

Plus, it is also a good time to talk about turkeys.

Oh, I think I spelled Chargers wrong … um, yeah, turkeys equal Chargers.

You can upgrade that to buffoon if we bring Dean Spanos into the conversation.

But bad news for all San Diegans, I see the Turkeys defeating the Dallas Cowboys in their first Thanksgiving game since 1969.

People knew Dallas would miss Ezekiel Elliott during his girl-punching (allegedly) suspension but it appears that the team’s true MVP is left tackle Tyron Smith. The Cowboys have allowed 12 sacks during his two-game injury absence and Smith might sit out Thursday too.

Since you can’t double-team both Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, common sense dictates that Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott will be running for his life a few times.

Don’t tell anyone I picked the Chargers … of course, the proof is in the stellar preview: https://www.scoresandstats.com/previews/football/NFL/-chargers-vs-cowboys-preview-and-predictions/220578/

 

I had one goal when I got the national preview assignment for the Apple Cup showdown and that was this: To get into print that Washington State and Washington played to a 5-5 tie in 1900.

No typos there … a 5-5 football game. Now that is crazy.

Of course, I’m the same guy who covered the first 11-10 score in NFL history in 2008 when the Pittsburgh Steelers kicked a late field to defeat the Chargers.

But who has ever seen a 5-5 football score?

Funny thing about this game is that it is Washington State playing for a berth in the Pac-12 title game. Washington can only be spoilers. If the Huskies win, Stanford gets the berth.

That means Washington is currently only the third-best team in its division and fourth best overall in the Pac-12. And coach Chris Peterson is getting a bit touchy that some people aren’t thrilled that the very well-paid coach isn’t going to have his team in the conference title game.

But there was a moment in a press conference this week that defies all logic and it pertained to the Huskies scoring 10 points in the final minute to defeat Utah.

Q: Was that finish Saturday as exciting a finish as you’ve been a part of?

ME: Apparently, the media person never heard of the Fiesta Bowl between Boise State and Oklahoma.

Wow … here is the stellar preview:    http://www.espn.com/ncf/preview/_/id/400935330

 

The Iron Bowl is Saturday and Auburn needs a victory over Alabama to keep alive its College Football Playoff hopes.

Seems odd that a two-loss team can still have an opportunity to be one of the last four teams standing but there are different rules for SEC teams than the other leagues.

Kind of like nobody wants to make SEC commissioner Craig Sankey mad in case they want to take an athletic director’s job at an SEC school sometime. Or risk receiving a phone call from an irate Nick Saban.

The Tigers are currently No. 6 and if they beat Saban’s Crimson Tide, they would face No. 7 Georgia (one loss) in the SEC title game. You can kind of see what is on the horizon.

An Auburn win in the SEC title game gets the Tigers in as the No. 4 seed in the CFP. And a Georgia win just may get the Bulldogs in at No. 4 because then they split two games with Auburn.

That means the loser of the ACC title game between Clemson and Miami is in line to get shafted. So is Wisconsin unless it is 13-0. Being 12-1 with the loss to Ohio State isn’t going to do it for the Badgers.

Anyway, Alabama and Auburn should be a good game and here is the stellar preview: https://www.scoresandstats.com/previews/football/NCAAF/-alabama-vs-auburn-preview-and-predictions/220799/

 

Lonzo Ball and De’Aaron Fox squared off for the first time as NBA players on Wednesday night and their matchup was a draw.

Fox got to walk off the floor with a smile as the Sacramento Kings posted a 113-102 victory over Ball’s Los Angeles Lakers. But the statistical matchup favored Ball.

Ball had 11 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and four turnovers, while Fox had 13 points, three assists and five turnovers.

Their first matchup received a lot of attention because of the way Fox terrorized Ball in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last March when he scored a career-best 39 points. That performance paved the way for Fox to rise all the way up to the fifth overall pick. Ball, of course, was selected second.

I have a sneaky suspicion that Fox will be the better NBA player. Check back with me in 2023.

Anyway, this was the stellar preview that was published before the game was played: https://www.scoresandstats.com/previews/basketball/NBA/-lakers-vs-kings-preview-and-predictions/220583/

 

Can’t do a weekly links without this quick mention. Kansas is playing Oakland on Friday — that’s the Golden Grizzlies, not the Raiders — and a player named Jalen Hayes will be making his season debut for Oakland.

You see, Hayes received a four-game academic suspension from the NCAA for not making “satisfactory progress toward a degree” after he received a 2.5 in a class in his major last spring when Oakland requires a 2.8.

Oh, but Hayes is slated to graduate in December. Sounds like he is making a lot of progress toward his degree, doesn’t it?

But the same group of people who closed their eyes to academic fraud at North Carolina — a money-making school — penalized the star player from a lower-echelon university. Quite the joke — and count Kansas coach Bill Self among the folks who think the situation was poorly handled.

“They get him back,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said of Hayes. “He was ineligible the first four games for a screwy academic rule.”

Screwy academic rule says it all. Thanks, Coach.

Here is the stellar preview:    https://www.scoresandstats.com/previews/basketball/ncaab/oakland-vs-kansas-preview-and-predictions/220737/

Steve Fisher has retired as San Diego State basketball coach and it certainly is the right time for his departure.

His final team wasn’t all that good — 19-14 to snap a streak of 11 straight 20-win campaigns — while playing in a Mountain West that was mediocre at best and now firmly entrenched as a one-bid league when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.

Several times this season, I tossed out social media comments that it would be Fab Five Fish’s final season. It just had that feeling about it.

Longtime assistant coach Brian Dutcher — one of the most genuinely nice people in college basketball — takes over the program.

Fisher, 72, went 386-209 in 18 seasons with the Aztecs and posted 12 20-win seasons and led the program to eight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a string of six straight.

Making six straight NCAA Tournament appearances was surreal for a program which was among the worst in the nation when Fisher was hired.

Remember, I was covering that awful program when Fisher was hired and he was far from the preferred target.

I broke the story that then-Utah coach Rick Majerus interviewed for the job and Majerus was close to taking it a few days later before he said no. Fran Fraschilla also was offered the job (nope, I didn’t break that one) as was then-Gonzaga coach Dan Monson (yep, broke that one and was waiting at the airport for his Sunday night flight to arrive and when he didn’t come out of the jet way, I knew that was a problem for San Diego State).

At that point, then-athletic director Rick Bay turned to Fisher, who was desperate to get back into college coaching. He had been fired at Michigan a few years earlier and I still remember how stunned I was upon meeting him that he had gray hair in 1999, just a few years after having a full head of brown hair while coaching the Wolverines.

The Aztecs were putrid in his first season and went 5-23 and then Fisher booted five inherited players off the team to free up scholarships.

Two seasons later, led by junior-college transfer Randy Holcomb, the Aztecs made the NCAA Tournament. Credibility had arrived for a program that previously had none.

Eventually, the 20-win seasons became an annual thing but there was still the matter of the program having ZERO NCAA Tournament wins. And you really don’t have a program if you’ve never won an NCAA Tournament game.

Finally, the Kawhi Leonard-led Aztecs had the best season in program history in 2010-11 with a 34-3 mark — a season that will still be the best in school history in 2117 if the world exists.

San Diego State finally got that elusive NCAA tourney win by beating Northern Colorado and eventually lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national champion Connecticut. The Aztecs also topped 30 wins when they went 31-5 in 2013-14 and again reached the Sweet 16 before falling to Arizona.

If you haven’t figured it out, 30-win seasons aren’t supposed to be accomplishments achieved by the San Diego States of the college basketball landscape.

Last season’s final hurrah was not a good one for Fisher but he certainly elevated the program to heights nobody foresaw. Dutcher has been his right-hand man for all of those 18 seasons so the program philosophy won’t change.

The challenge for Dutcher is to have last season’s subpar campaign be an aberration. Once programs like San Diego State fall back into being just another mid-major program in a poor basketball league, it becomes harder to rise back up. Isn’t that right, UNLV?

But know this: Dutcher steps into a far better situation than the one Fisher inherited. The days where nobody cared that San Diego State even had a basketball program seems like centuries ago.

It was a good run for Steve Fisher but good for him to recognize that it was time for him to depart.

They played college basketball’s national championship game on Monday night and it was a foul-fueled disaster.

Referees Mike Eades, Verne Harris and Michael Stephens apparently thought we tuned in to watch them blow their whistles.

The trio of officials prevented either team from developing a flow in the second half before North Carolina played better down the stretch to register a 71-65 victory over Gonzaga.

The championship is the sixth in Tar Heels’ history and the school will certainly cherish it after losing to Villanova in last season’s title game.

But nobody is going to remember this game as a classic, primarily with the referees calling 44 fouls.

Gonzaga’s chances of winning were diminished when freshman 7-footer Zach Collins was saddled with his fourth foul and eventually fouled out. Losing Collins was a blow with center Przemek Karnowski going 1-of-8 from the field and missing close-range shots like that tall awkward fourth grader in the elementary school league.

However, the Zags also sabotaged their own chances with 14 turnovers while North Carolina committed just four. Gonzaga simply didn’t do enough to win, shot just 33.9 percent from the field and unraveled in the final 90 seconds.

The Tar Heels also had trouble dropping the ball in the ocean as they shot just 35.6 percent from the field and went 4-of-27 from 3-point range.

North Carolina guard Joel Berry II scored 22 points and was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. He was just 9-of-33 shooting in the Final Four, which should give you a pretty good idea about the lack of quality performances in Monday’s title game.

Tar Heels forward Justin Jackson missed all nine of his 3-point attempts while scoring 16 points on Monday.

Gonzaga was in the NCAA Tournament title game for the first time ever and its season finale will prompt mixed memories down the line. But make no mistake, a 37-2 campaign is a terrific accomplishment.

Bulldogs coach Mark Few got the Final Four monkey off his back and recently passed 500 career wins. He’ll eventually make the Hall of Fame.

North Carolina coach Roy Williams is already in the Hall of Fame. Amazingly, he was won more national titles (three) at North Carolina than legendary Dean Smith (two).

Who knows — maybe the result would have been different if the refs had not taken over and gone whistle crazy.

Then again, probably not, the officials were just as poor for North Carolina.

The Tar Heels (33-7) finished the game better than the Zags and deserved their title. But none of us will remember the 2017 title game fondly.

Somehow it is already time for the NCAA Tournament championship game. Seems like the season just started.

Time flies way too quick these days but I won’t spend too much time dwelling about that as I do know why you are here.

You haven’t forgotten that it was me who nearly hit the final score of last year’s game on the head.

While the so-called experts were all falling over themselves to pick North Carolina, I not only selected Villanova as the winner but I almost nailed the final score on the head.

The final score was Villanova 77, North Carolina 74. My predicted score was Villanova 77, North Carolina 73.

Here is the proof: http://www.reuters.com/article/bkc-villanova-northcarolina-preview-idUSMTZEC443VZQAB

Not easy to predict a college basketball score, let alone nearly hit both ends of the NCAA title game.

Perhaps it is those 16 years as an award-winning college basketball beat writer helping in a cause like that. Perhaps it is just nothing but blind luck.

That said, the big tilt between Gonzaga and North Carolina is just hours away. I wrote the national preview on Sunday and I came up with the winner and final score you have been waiting to see.

So did I pick the veteran North Carolina team that has several players back from the team that lost in last season’s title game? Or did I pick all the Gonzaga transfers who have their school in the national title game for the first time?

Either way, I think it will be a terrific game … I think it will be close down to the final minutes … may even come down to another dose of late-game heroics (don’t forget Kris Jenkins’ game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer last season) … I can see the postgame scene in my head and I have decided upon the winner and the final score.

You can find it here … http://news.lakana.com/sports/preview-gonzaga-vs-north-carolina/109634570

Pretty sure I will hit it exactly this time.

Weekly links … NCAA Tournament style

 

Reminiscing about last week’s NCAA Tournament games and I can’t help but think how fun it was to watch South Carolina defeat Duke.

Of course, it is fun anytime Duke goes home the first week of the tourney but it was especially fun because all the Duke excuse makers were out in full force.

You see, it was somehow unfair for Duke to have to play South Carolina in the state of South Carolina.

But for some reason, it never is unfair for Duke opponents to have to play the Blue Devils in the state of North Carolina. How many times has Duke had two quasi-home games in the NCAA tourney?

Yet somehow it was really unfair for Coach K and his team to have to play in a different state.

Duke couldn’t play in the home state this year because the tournament was pulled from North Carolina due to that weirdo transgender bathroom law.

Do they have guards outside the bathroom checking your gender before you are allowed in? What a dumb law.

Anyway, South Carolina and star guard Sindarius Thornwell outclassed Duke. And Frank Martin outcoached Coach K.

South Carolina became America’s Team for a night as most people around the nation enjoyed watching another Duke early exit.

Go Mercer! Go Lehigh! Go South Carolina!

Isn’t Duke an elite program? Well, elite programs should be able to win anywhere.

End of story.

 

Interesting tidbit I dug up: Wisconsin has won more NCAA Tournament games than anyone else over the past four years.

The Badgers are looking for their 14th NCAA win in that time span when they face Florida on Friday.

Normally, I wouldn’t care who wins a game like this. Especially since my bracket has already met the shredder (thanks, Villanova).

Oh yeah, it was Wisconsin causing my bracket to become full of red ink with its impressive victory over Villanova.

But I now realize it is time for the Badgers to go home. Not their fault but I learned that the slimy politician guy named Paul Ryan is from Wisconsin.

Ryan is the dingbat who is somehow coming up with a worse health care plan than the disaster known as Obamacare (the one time Donald Trump is right). I wouldn’t trust that Ryan clown to correctly put English muffins in the toaster. Heck, my mom calls him a jackass.

Go Gators! Make Paul Ryan have a horrible Friday night.

Here is the stellar preview — http://www.cbssports.com/college-basketball/news/wisconsin-looks-to-keep-run-going-versus-florida/

 

Thursday is the night that all of those Gonzaga fans will become really sad.

The Bulldogs don’t have enough ball-handlers to deal with the “Press Virginia” defense that West Virginia is famous for. The Mountaineers have forced 724 turnovers — nobody else even has 600 — and I see them creating havoc all game long.

Gonzaga also is the team with all the pressure on it. The Bulldogs have never reached a Final Four and even coach Mark Few admitted that the Final Four thing will continue to hang over the program until it reaches one.

Well, I don’t see Nigel Williams-Goss and his teammates even reaching the Elite Eight. I see Gonzaga’s season coming to an end on Thursday.

Here is the stellar preview — http://newsok.sportsdirectinc.com/basketball/ncaab-preview.aspx?page=/data/NCAAB/matchups/g6_preview_19.html

 

 

 

Weekly links out of hibernation …

 

Has it really been 29 years ago since Danny Manning led Kansas to the 1988 national title?

The Jayhawks are usually a high-seeded team that underperforms in March Madness. Think of all that tradition and the high number of great players and then ponder that the school has won just three national championships.

But Kansas was a major overachiever the year “Danny and the Miracles” won the national title. The Jayhawks were a No. 6 seed and weren’t even ranked in the final regular-season Top 25 poll.

The team that was 20-10 entering the NCAA Tournament crashed the Final Four. While everybody else pondered whether Arizona, Duke or Oklahoma would win the title, Manning carried Kansas to the crown. First the Jayhawks beat Duke in the Final Four and then they outlasted Oklahoma in the national championship game.

This famous occurrence is on my mind after writing the Wake Forest-Kansas State preview for Tuesday’s First Four game in Dayton.

Manning is Wake Forest’s coach and he has a long history with Kansas State. And it wasn’t always so memorable. Especially when you close your eyes and imagine this visual:

“One of my first games at K-State, that’s a very heated rivalry, they were throwing live chickens at us,” Manning said on Sunday. “I remember going in there and ducking some live chickens, also some not-so-live ones out of a KFC bucket or whatever.”

Yikes … live chickens landing on the court? … how about people bringing their buckets of chicken and slinging thighs and wings at Manning and his teammates?

That sure doesn’t happen in today’s college basketball world. And you know, I kind of miss the 80s era of college basketball.

Here is the stellar preview — http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/College-Basketball/2017/03/13/Kansas-St-vs-Wake-Forest-NCAA-Tournament-First-Four-preview-prediction/6181489433207/

 

One thing about March Madness is you learn some things you otherwise wouldn’t.

Like where the heck is Mount St. Mary’s? How would they match up with big-time schools?

Or the Pelicans aren’t the only basketball team from New Orleans? We got some Privateers crashing the big dance.

Mount St. Mary’s and New Orleans play each other in Tuesday’s First Four and there is no other time that any of us would even care if they played one another.

The winner gets to move on to Buffalo, where it gets to be trampled by defending-champion Villanova. But regardless, the winner gets to brag that it won an NCAA Tournament game. It will be the second in school history for the winner.

Mount St. Mary’s is located in Emmittsburg, Md. I’m not saying it is a town in the boonies (well, yeah I am) but it is closer to Gettysburg, Pa., than any town in Maryland you’ve heard of. Surely, they talk Civil War more than hoops.

As for the big boys, Mount St. Mary’s started 1-11 this season against a slate that included NCAA Tournament teams West Virginia, Iowa State, Minnesota, Michigan, Arkansas and Bucknell.

New Orleans recorded a road win at Washington State and the fact that the school is in the NCAA tourney is a stunner to the locals, who barely pay attention to the school’s team.

But that’s OK because both the city and university were devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and both have recovered. There were no expectations of the Privateers being part of the NCAA field because they went 10-20 last season. So nice turnaround indeed.

Here is the stellar preview — http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/College-Basketball/2017/03/13/Mount-St-Marys-vs-New-Orleans-NCAA-Tournament-First-Four-preview-prediction/6381489438322/

San Diego might no longer have a NFL team but it gained an impressive new sports legend.

Poway native Kelsey Plum scored an out-of-control 57 points on Saturday to become the all-time leading scorer in women’s basketball history with 3,397 points.

Plum broke the record held by legendary Jackie Stiles — one of the few instantly recognizable names in women’s college basketball history.

Now Plum holds that record and she will raise it to a level that should make it last a long time before her senior season at Washington concludes.

Probably the most enjoyable part of Plum’s scoring spree is she outscored the entire Duke men’s team (50 points) on Saturday.

Coach K is sure to come down with another sore back once that news reaches Durham, N.C.

Plum leads the nation in scoring with a 31.6 average — proof that not all the best players end up at Connecticut.

Oh yeah, someone you know put together a quick story that ended up on this website among others: http://www.scoresandstats.com/breaking-news/basketball/wncaab/washingtons-plum-scores-57-sets-ncaa-womens-career-record/170162/

An interesting tidbit is that former LSU great Pete Maravich is the only Division I player — man or woman — to score more points than Plum. Maravich scored 3,667 points in just 83 games between 1967-70.

That is an incredible 44.2 average over three college seasons. They didn’t let freshman play back then and they also didn’t have a 3-point line.

Maravich would have scored over 5,000 points if allowed to play four seasons with a 3-point line.

The best comment of the day when it came to Plum’s record was made by Boston Celtics’ general manager Danny Ainge.

Congratulations @kelseyplum10 for becoming the best scoring 5’8″ player in UW history. Amazing accomplishment.”

Priceless. You see, the Celtics’ best player is All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas. He happens to stand 5-8 and played for Washington.

Boom.

Back to Plum … she starred in high school at La Jolla Country Day in San Diego County. That is the same small school that produced former Stanford star and WNBA player Candice Wiggins and football player Rashaan Salaam, the former Heisman Trophy winner at Colorado who committed suicide in December.

She also has good athletic genes as her father Jim was a big-time multi-sport star at Helix High – the school that produced basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton and prominent football players Reggie Bush and Alex Smith — and played football and baseball for San Diego State.

Another thing to note is that Plum said she wasn’t feeling very well during Saturday’s monster outing and was eating applesauce during timeouts.

What I take from that is all budding young girls’ basketball players should start eating applesauce. Gallons of it.