For true college basketball junkies, March Madness means two things: the games, and the games behind the games.
The first refers to the NCAA tournament. The second refers to the annual coaching carousel that picks up steam around the second week of the tournament.
I'm not one of those who report on every twist and turn of the coaching searches, but I must say it is fun trading gossip with people who think they know things. So I burned up the phone lines the last couple of days to see what I could find out. I'll start you off with my breakdown and predictions of the Sweet 16. Then I'll give you my, ahem, informed speculation as to what you can expect on the coaching front.
As always, in both cases, any similarities between my predictions and the actual course of events is strictly coincidental.
A lot of people are going with the Panthers based on the absence of Spartans point guard
There was a very unusual stat in the first half of the Buckeyes' second-round game against Georgia Tech:
It's an old-fashioned Big Ten battle, but in this case the absence of Lucas is too much for Michigan State to overcome. Remember, the one time these teams played during the season, the Buckeyes won by seven in East Lansing -- and that was with a healthy Lucas.
If you like smart, fundamental, efficient, team-oriented offensive basketball, this game is for you. Still, I think Butler is going to be a little overwhelmed. The Bulldogs have done well to win 21 straight games, but they didn't do much outside the Horizon League. Butler lost to Minnesota, Clemson and Georgetown on neutral courts, and they fell at UAB by 10 points. Nor is Butler as good an outside shooting team as most people believe.
The Musketeers are not used to playing teams with a guard tandem that is as good (if not better) than theirs, but that is what they're facing in Kansas State. Xavier's
As Syracuse moves along, it is going to be harder to envision the Orange winning games without
The Big Red are a great story, but the Wildcats are a great team. I was extremely impressed with the way Cornell shredded Temple and Wisconsin in its half-court offense, but Kentucky is different from those teams in two important ways. First, the Wildcats are much bigger, stronger and quicker up front, which means Cornell center
Have you ever seen an 11 seed make the Sweet 16 and generate so little buzz? The Huskies were very impressive against Marquette and New Mexico last week, and they present a tough matchup for West Virginia, especially now that the Mountaineers have lost their starting point guard,
The Boilermakers are not as good an offensive team as they were with
The Gaels are going to face the same challenge as Northern Iowa with respect to maintaining their mental edge, but they have a bigger problem -- literally. While Richmond and Villanova had gaping holes in the middle, leaving them defenseless against
This is a scary matchup for the Blue Devils, especially since the Bears would have a de facto homecourt advantage in Houston. Duke's problem this season has been the fact that it rarely gets all three of its Big Three clicking at the same time. The Blue Devils won't beat Baylor if
Let's start with Georgia Tech coach
If Hewitt turns down the job as I expect, where does St. John's go next? It's hard to say. The school had shown some interest early on in Virginia Tech's
Two other names that have been bandied about for St. John's are Cornell's
Donahue and McCaffery could still find themselves in the mix at Seton Hall. Hofstra's
Moving out west, there is a ton of buzz about what Oregon is going to do -- or more specifically, what uber-alum
It should surprise no one that Oregon is reportedly interested in Gonzaga's
At the end of the day, a lot of people believe Oregon could end up with Texas A&M's
As for Iowa, I was told that the school inquired about Dayton's
But the sleeper job is DePaul. While it is largely considered to be one of the worst jobs in the Big East, I am told that the school has been throwing around some outlandish salary figures in hopes of attracting a big name. I'm talking upwards of $3 million per year. If DePaul is really able to pay that kind of scratch, then they will find that a lot more people have interest than widely assumed.
Stay tuned, Hoopheads. The carousel will be moving pretty quickly the next few weeks.