Experts weigh in
The 'Bag hopes everyone is enjoying "Championship Week," a.k.a. Cheap TV Drama Week, a.k.a. "Let's Pump Up Bad Teams as Bubble Teams Week." But here at the 'Bag, we've always been a curmudgeon about the inanity of conference tournaments, and that will probably never change.
The 'Bag is very much fired up for the NCAA tournament, however, and so as we worked the phones with a few top coaches in recent days we asked them a simple question: Aside from your own team, who do you think is the team to beat in the NCAA tournament?
Last year everyone I spoke to said the same thing: Florida (even though the Gators had lost three of four late in the season). But this year the 'Bag heard a range of responses.
Boy, that turned out poorly, didn't it? For all that
One of the reasons
Donovan certainly bought himself a grace period with those two titles, but my guess is he wishes he'd scheduled some tougher games for his young Gators in the non-conference season. Hearing Billy D criticize his players after Florida's loss to Alabama reminded me of the conversation I had with Donovan last year, in which he admitted that recruiting is never an exact science. You just can't predict how chemistry will (or won't) develop, and as a coach you can only influence things so much. Let's see how the Gators look next year before we render a final judgment on the current group, but from the way Donovan talked on Thursday, it wouldn't surprise me to see a transfer or two out of that program perhaps.
Nobody's ever a lock for anything in the NCAA tournament, but I like the Tar Heels' chances for reaching San Antonio if they can continue defending like they did in the final minutes against Duke. Carolina has been a better defensive team in recent weeks, a few hiccups (i.e.,
Good question. What was surprising about Williams' decision to switch on every screen is that it goes against what he's always done, which is to demand that players fight through every screen. (It's one of the few areas where he has always differed from his mentor,
To answer your last question first, I think in most cases you have to give players a second chance when they screw up, and Calhoun has done that with Dyson. In some ways, it probably helped Calhoun that UConn won on the road at Indiana in its first game without Dyson and
I know the third-place matchups look good on paper, Nicole, but trust me: You don't want to see them revived. I also cover soccer, and the third-place game in the World Cup is one of the lamest games you'll ever see (unless one of the teams is the host team, and then it's worth watching). The big thing is this: Teams need to want to win, and third-place games are like a conference tournament game in which one team knows it can lose and still be fine for the NCAAs.
A lot of folks (including the 'Bag) have been pushing for the abolition of the Play-In Game, or at the very least, requiring that the two worst at-large teams have to participate instead. Another alternative I wouldn't mind: If they have to play ball that day in Dayton, why not take the final eight bubble teams (i.e., the at-larges from No. 31 to No. 38) and have them play a quadruple-header in Dayton. Those might actually be some good games to watch, and there would be way more on the line than in most big-conference tournaments.
See you next week.