Wednesday February 23rd, 2005

CLICK HERE FOR PART I OF SETH DAVIS' HOOP THOUGHTS

• If I were to do a pre-NCAA tournament stock report, I'm afraid I'd have to advise you to sell Louisville. The Cards came into the season with questions at point guard because Taquan Dean is essentially a two-guard playing the one. Dean averages just 2.6 assists per game, and now it turns out he'll have to play out the year with mononucleosis.

• I realize it's unrealistic for power conferences to adopt this, but I really like the way some non-major leagues select their postseason tournament sites (or in some cases, the championship games) based on what happens during the regular season.

• To hone in on Illinois' weaknesses is to truly pick at nits, but the Illini were outrebounded by Iowa 36-21 Saturday. If Illinois does lose a game, it will be because the Illini were overpowered up front.

• You can add Oklahoma point guard Drew Lavender to the list of players who mysteriously found their game after being yanked from the starting lineup. Lavender came off the bench last week for the Sooners' wins over Nebraska and Kansas State. He had 29 points in the K-State win and made the game-winning circus shot following an end-to-end dash in the final seconds.

• Last week, I mentioned that Kansas swingman J.R. Giddens wasn't having a good season. Here's what I mean: The 6-foot-5 sophomore shot 1-of-11 from 3-point range. Meanwhile, even though he's long, fast and athletic, Giddens did not shoot a single free throw. On the season he is 12-of-18 from the line. (That is not a typo.)

• For weeks, all Lute Olson wants to talk about is how Salim Stoudamire is a much better 3-point shooter than J.J. Redick. Then, as Grant Wahl pointed out in his mailbag last week, Arizona's sports information director, Richard Paige, emailed some reporters comparing the 3-point percentages of Stoudamire, Redick and Gerry McNamara. (Paige, you should know, is a huge Radiators fan, so he's quite cool.) After Stoudamire scored 22 points in Arizona's win over Oregon, Ducks coach Ernie Kent said, 'Salim is the best shooter in the country. That kid at Duke is not." Isn't this getting a little bit silly? Can't we just agree they're both great shooters and move on?

• Touching on the coaching carousel: Looks like Kansas State coach Jim Wooldridge and Nebraska's Barry Collier are on their way out at their respective jobs. As I reported on CBS over the weekend, Fran Fraschilla has spoken with Tulsa AD Judy MacLeod about that school's opening. Fraschilla enjoys his TV work (and he's very good at it), but this is one of the few jobs that would interest him. I believe that Kansas assistant Tim Jankovich and Pooh Williamson, the current interim coach, will also be strongly considered for Tulsa. Meanwhile, former Georgetown coach Craig Esherick has put his name in the Tulsa-ring and has also applied at New Mexico State for the chance to succeed the retiring Lou Henson. Don't be surprised to hear Nolan Richardson's name surface in connection to the New Mexico State job as well.

• I also believe Mike Davis will not survive at Indiana if the Hoosiers don't make the NCAA tournament. Regardless of who the coach is next season, the Hoosiers will be better, because those freshmen can really play. People still mention Steve Alford's name for IU, but Alford will be fortunate to keep his own job at Iowa at this point.

• For sheer rebounding strength and ability to finish around the basket, I don't think any player can beat LSU forward Brandon Bass.

• You're not sleeping on Georgetown freshman Jeff Green, are you? If so, it's well past time to wake up.

• Princeton has to be one of the more undermentioned disappointments of the season. The Tigers are in sixth place in the Ivy League with a 3-6 record.

• Chris Taft can't possibly still be thinking about the NBA. Can he?

• If you're a bubble team right now, it's more important to beat teams you're supposed to beat than to notch big upsets.

• You could do worse than suggest that Charlotte senior guard Eddie Basden is your player of the year in Conference USA.

• Maryland's problem in two words: emotionally inconsistent.

• Syracuse guard Josh Pace has always been one of my favorite players, but he has been strangely inconsistent the last month. He had no points in 30 minutes during Syracuse's loss to Pitt on Feb. 14. He'd better un-slump fast, because without that third scoring option the Orange are sunk.

• You may not realize how important it is that Duke has walk-on forward Reggie Love, a former football player, healthy and back in the fold, but it's huge. Now the Devils have a legit eight-man rotation.

• If you polled coaches and asked them who their favorite referee was, I'll bet Steve Welmer would finish in the top five. I'm pretty sure that's a good thing.

• Reason No. 1,431 why I love Washington's 5-foot-9 guard Nate Robinson: Having faced regular chants over the years of "Gary Coleman" from Oregon fans, Robinson showed up for their game wearing a T-shirt that read: "I'm What Willis Was Talking About." You go, Nate!

Now I know how it feels to be a bubble team on a downslide. Trailing the readers by a whopping three games heading into last week, I took a commanding three-game lead on Mike Pavis of Bethlehem, Pa., heading into the final few games, only to see Mike come back to tie me by successfully picking Nevada over Vermont, LSU over Florida and Villanova over Pittsburgh. Thus, I am still three games behind with three weeks to go.

Think you can burst my bubble? Then email your predicted scores for the following 10 games. Include a few sentences explaining your pick in the featured game. Also include your full name, your hometown and your favorite Radiators song. And you know what I say about that last part: If you don't have one, get one.

Featured game: Arizona at Washington

Other games: Kentucky at Alabama Louisville at Memphis UConn at Pittsburgh Stanford at Oregon Virginia Tech at N.C. State Georgia Tech at Miami Oklahoma State at Kansas Florida at South Carolina Villanova at Georgetown

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