View Full Version : March Madness 2011

Toto Battung
03-15-2011, 06:19 AM
Is this the year for Ohio State? Maybe Kansas? How about Pittsburg or Kentucky? Will Duke repeat? And San Diego State?

03-21-2011, 12:04 PM
March Madness Sweet 16

Ohio St vs Kentucky
Marquette vs North Carolina

...Duke vs Arizona
Connecticut vs San Diego St

Kansas vs Richmond
VCU vs Florida St

Butler vs Wisconsin
BYU vs Florida

Take your pick! :D

03-22-2011, 09:32 AM
i think kansas and duke will be the 2 #1 seeds in the final four. ohio state gets ousted by UNC in the regional finals. final four will be duke-unc and kansas-BYU (jimmer!). butler beats wisconsin in the sweet 16 but falls to jimmer in the regional finals.

i would love to see jimmer advance to the finals but they just don't have enough guns to bring down kansas. duke beats arizona handily. san diego state beats uconn. duke beats san diego state in the west regional finals in a thriller.

duke beats kansas for the title in a rematch of the 1991 final. the devils were a very good team without kyrie irving and now with him back, they just have too many weapons.

ang dami nang nabago from my original bracket actually. i had pitt and purdue advancing but they're gone now.

03-22-2011, 09:58 AM
BYU ako. Jimmer Fredette ang lupit nung kamay pagbumitaw.

03-22-2011, 12:48 PM
the duke-michigan match was a dandy down-the-wire affair. michigan could've at least tied it with that floater -- can't recall by who (douglass or tim hardaway's son -- sheesh! i'm that old!) -- but i thought a stronger to-the-goal drive would've evened the score or possibly an and-1.

duke probably came into the game llamado. i just didn't expect michigan to put up a very good fight, although at this stage in the contest, expect some surprises like gonzaga and UCLA falling by the wayside. anyway, on to the next round vs. arizona!

03-22-2011, 04:49 PM
I'm picking Duke to win it all, especially with the return of Irving for the NCAA tournament, who sure looks like the #1 pick in the NBA draft this June.

03-22-2011, 07:33 PM
I think Duke will for for back to back. They have solid first five in Irving, Nolan, Singler and Plumlee twins. Plus, you have Seth Curry. Also, Coach K would want to surpass his coach for the most wins in NCAA.

Let's go, Duke!

03-23-2011, 10:50 AM
I am wishing for a UNC fairy tale finish but I would not mind also if BYU and Fredette will have their magical run of their own.

I think UNC will surprisingly win the East, I have Kansas in the Southwest, BYU in the Southeast, and Arizona down West.

03-25-2011, 11:34 AM
florida beats BYU 83-74 in overtime. fredette fiinished with 32 points, 3/15 in the 3pt.

i haven't seen this kid play. does he play like jj reddick?

03-25-2011, 12:12 PM
Oh well, there goes Duke, as they lose to Arizona in the Sweet Sixteen. The West Final is gonna be a darn good game, UConn vs. Arizona, featuring star point guard Kemba Walker, and potential top 5 pick Derrick Williams.

03-25-2011, 12:14 PM
mali-mali yung bracket ko. uconn beats san diego state. BYU ousted by florida. duke fails to defend title, falls to arizona. but at least butler's leading wisconsin and if they hang on at least i get one result correct.

03-25-2011, 12:51 PM
good riddance, duke.

march madness indeed.

03-27-2011, 09:52 AM
Butler and UConn are the first two teams to advance to the Final Four this season. Kemba Walker is a fun guy to watch, but I like his teammate Jeremy Lamb more as an NBA prospect, he's a 6-5 wing player with a 7+ wingspan.

03-28-2011, 05:41 AM
VCU upsets Kansas. Any chance that Joey Rodriguez kid has some Filipino blood in him?

03-28-2011, 07:16 AM
Final Four is now set, with VCU and Kentucky completing the cast. Hmm, I like Kentucky to win it all, unless Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb explode and score a ton of points to lead UConn to victory.

03-28-2011, 11:35 AM
hoping for a VCU cinderella ending.

Sam Miguel
03-28-2011, 01:14 PM
Virginia Commonwealth, Butler, Kentucky and Connecticut have found their way to the Final 4, the second straight year for Butler. All four Number 1 seeds are out.

I have to hand it to the coaches of these four schools, especially Butler and VCU. These are the newer coaches who use advanced statistical tools as an integral part of their game preps. How I wish Philippine schools would do the same. It's not like Butler and VCU are huge schools pouring millions into their basketball programs, and they have proven you don't really have to in order to succeed. The biggest problem with Philippine college coaches, with the possible exception of Norman Black, Franz and Dindo Pumaren and John Flores (before), no one takes the time to study the game in-depth anymore. All you need is video and your own computer and a notepad. Any college coach worth his salt should be doing this, and yet very few take the time nor have the inclination to do so. Former pros are even worse, thinking they friggin' know it all, and can operate "on instinct".

Sam Miguel
03-28-2011, 01:24 PM
First Four to Final Four: VCU stuns Kansas 71-61

From Yahoo! Sports

SAN ANTONIO (AP)—Move over, Butler. Virginia Commonwealth is crashing the Final Four.

Two weeks ago, the 11th-seeded Rams so doubted they would get a NCAA tournament invite that they watched Cartoon Network and went out for burgers instead of watching the selection show. Now, all of America will be watching them in the Final Four.

The 11th-seeded Rams are heading to Houston, and final No. 1 seed Kansas is heading home after the biggest March upset in years.

VCU stunned the Jayhawks 71-61 on Sunday, becoming just the third 11th seed to make the Final Four. The Jayhawks had been the last top seed standing, but what looked like an easy path to the final weekend ended in a stunning collapse.

Eighth-seeded Butler, you’re promoted to a favorite next week. VCU is the trendy underdog pick this year.

“Once again we felt like nobody really thought we could win going into this game,” said VCU coach Shaka Smart, the budding star of the tournament. “Our guys have done a phenomenal job of putting all the doubters aside, all the people that didn’t believe in us, and going out to do their job.”

VCU guard Joey Rodriguez counted one of Kansas’ vaunted Morris twins— Marcus or Markieff—as one of those many doubters. During a pregame captains meeting with officials, Rodriguez said one of the brothers offered him some parting words: “The run ends here.”

“We’ll see,” Rodriguez shot back.

The Jayhawks saw all right.

VCU players, hoisting their Southwest regional champion trophy, poured into the temporary bleachers where VCU’s widely outnumbered fans sat in an Alamodome that was otherwise colored in Kansas blue and white.

VCU had sold out its allotment of 1,000 tickets in San Antonio after advancing farther than any Rams team in school history. The weekend before in Chicago, VCU had so many leftovers that Purdue fans scooped them up.

Jamie Skeen led VCU with 26 points, and as the final seconds ticked down, heaved the ball from the free throw line into the stands behind the opposite backboard. His teammates on the bench, who spent the final minutes with locked arms to hold each other back, finally spilled out onto the court, grinning ear to ear.

Kansas players walked slowly off the court. Several, including Markieff Morris, cried.

“Probably the best game they played ever,” Markieff said. “Probably the best game ever as a school tonight. We let them. We let them beat us.”

Smart was guided from one interview to another wearing the cut-down net around his neck. The cheers for VCU were only interrupted for guard Brandon Rozzell, who stood at midcourt as the crown serenaded him with an impromptu “Happy Birthday.”

The celebration even carried to other arenas. In Newark, N.J., where Kentucky was playing North Carolina, the crowd erupted when the public address announcer broadcast the final score from Texas.

“Anything is possible,” he told the arena.

It’s George Mason all over again, and VCU had an even tougher Final Four path than their tiny conference brethren in 2006.

The Rams needed five wins to go from First Four to Final Four. Along the way, they toppled the Pac-10’s Southern California, the Big East’s Georgetown, the Big 10’s Purdue, the ACC’s Florida State and now the Big 12’s Kansas.

They’ll pick on someone their own size next: Butler.

The Jayhawks? All they did was bully smaller teams to get this far. Kansas never apologized for coasting through a favorable bracket that served up schools seeded 16th (Boston University), ninth (Illinois) and 12th (Richmond).

None of those games tested the Jayhawks, who had been ranked No. 1 this season and had won 11 in row. Then VCU came out and showed it wasn’t just another pushover.

The Jayhawks spent the first half not knowing what hit them.

Kansas (36-3) hadn’t trailed by more than two points the entire tournament. With five minutes left in the first half, the Jayhawks trailed by 17.

Marcus Morris had 20 points and 16 rebounds, and his brother had 13 and 12. They played in disbelief as VCU, which ousted Florida State on 3-pointers on Friday night, used the long ball to bury the Jayhawks early this time.

The Rams hit 9 of their 12 3-pointers in the first half. Kansas trailed 41-27 at halftime and closed the lead to 46-44 with 13:11 left, but a 10-2 VCU run put the Jayhawks right back where they started.

Smart, the 33-year-old whose enigmatic personality has made him a breakout star, was so animated shuffling in front of his bench that officials shooed him back. Another official later served Smart his first technical all season.

Smart said he used that moment as a motivator—though he had to clean up his language first.

“It was basically forget the refs, forget Kansas, this is all about us,” Smart said. “We got to do what we got to do.”

VCU (28-11) is the third 11th seed to crack the Final Four. The last was George Mason in 2006, when that Colonial Athletic Association school stunned Connecticut in its regional final. LSU made it in 1986.

The Rams’ upset guaranteed a Final Four without a No. 1 seed.

Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Duke didn’t even last to the regional finals. Two traditional basketball powers, Arizona and Kentucky, and defending runner-up Butler took care of that.

On Saturday, Smart quoted a line from “Dumb and Dumber” to explain how he felt about his team: “So you’re saying we’ve got a chance?” A day later, he leaned on another old comedy to sum up the Ram’s unlikely run.

“Ever seen the movie ‘Major League?”’ Skeen told reporters. “I can’t say exactly what the guy says. But they get in some situations, and there’s only one thing left to do.

“Win the whole blank thing.”

AP Sports Writer Jaime Aron contributed to this report.

Sam Miguel
03-28-2011, 01:28 PM
Kentucky beats North Carolina 76-69 in East final

By WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Writer

(AP)—Kentucky spent 13 straight springs watching other schools play in the Final Four, a destination college basketball’s winningest program considers its birthright.

At most places, that’s hardly a drought.

In the Bluegrass, it’s a lifetime.

Now coach John Calipari and the Wildcats are two wins away from a national title. Finally.

Brandon Knight scored 22 points and fourth-seeded Kentucky advanced to the Final Four for the first time since their 1998 national title with a 76-69 win over second-seeded North Carolina on Sunday in the East Regional final.

“We got Kentucky back,” senior center Josh Harrellson said. “A lot of people doubted us. A lot of people really didn’t think we’d be the team we are. We really pulled it together as a team, and we’re back now.”

The Wildcats (29-8) will play Connecticut in Houston on Saturday night after turning back a late surge by the Tar Heels (27-10), who erased an 11-point deficit before running out of gas in the final 2 minutes.

DeAndre Liggins added 12 points for Kentucky, including a 3-pointer from the corner with 37 seconds remaining to help lift the Wildcats.

A season after falling a game short of the Final Four behind a roster filled with future NBA stars, the Wildcats are heading to the national semifinals for the 14th time behind Knight’s heady play and Calipari’s relentless energy.

He revitalized the flagging program a year ago behind superstar John Wall. In Calipari’s second season, he delivered on his promise to return Kentucky to glory.

Even if the guy who hired him wasn’t sure this would be the year Kentucky would end its 13-year drought between Final Fours.

“I thought he was building toward it, but I didn’t think this was the year,” Kentucky president Lee Todd said.

It didn’t look like it in January, when the Wildcats couldn’t win a close game. It didn’t look like it in February, when they couldn’t win on the road.

Calipari admitted it didn’t look that way two weeks ago, when his team was relegated to a fourth-seed despite convincingly winning the Southeastern Conference tournament. The powers that be put Kentucky in the same bracket as top overall seed Ohio State.

“I just thought the path to get here would be so ridiculous,” Calipari said, “that we would have to play out of our minds or people would have to get knocked off.”

Done and done.

Kentucky edged Ohio State on Friday, then gave the Final Four another blueblood program, though with a twist. There will be no No. 1 or No. 2 seeds playing the last weekend of the season since 1979, well before the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

The Wildcats have a pedigree and a roster full of highly touted freshmen. Yet they’re just as reliant on holdovers such as Liggins and Harrellson.

A seldom used reserve a year ago who has flourished in his final season, Harrellson again held his own against North Carolina’s bigger, more heralded front line, scoring 12 points and grabbing eight rebounds as Kentucky avenged a 75-73 loss to the Tar Heels in December in Chapel Hill.

It was a different story in New Jersey. And in March.

It’s a month Kentucky and North Carolina have owned for years. They’ve combined for 210 NCAA tournament victories—105 each—but Sunday’s victory was the Wildcats’ first in three NCAA meetings with the Tar Heels.

Not that North Carolina coach Roy Williams was in the mood for a history lesson.

“I’m going to focus on what a wonderful group of kids and what a wonderful year it was,” he said. “But it still doesn’t take away the hurt that you feel today.”

Tyler Zeller led the Tar Heels with 21 points and nine rebounds and Harrison Barnes added 18 points, but North Carolina fell behind early and struggled to keep the hot-shooting Wildcats in check.

“No question, I thought we were going to pull it out,” Barnes said. “We’ve been through so many of these situations before. Losing didn’t enter my mind until the final horn sounded.”

Instead, it was Harrellson giving teammate Eloy Vargas a bear hug and Knight flexing at midcourt before gleefully cutting down the nets while Barnes and the Tar Heels trudged slowly off the floor.

It’s a scene Kentucky has longed for—a mission that began in earnest when the program lured John Calipari away from Memphis in 2009.

He promised he wasn’t “the grand poobah” the day he signed his eight-year, $31.65 million contract, but there’s little doubt who rules the Bluegrass now.

“You play at Kentucky to raise banners, and I’m happy we did this,” said Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart. “I’m happy for these guys, because no one gave them a chance.”

Calipari joins Rick Pitino as the only men’s basketball coaches to lead three different programs to the Final Four. Calipari’s previous visits at Massachusetts in 1996 and Memphis in 2008 were vacated by the NCAA for rules violations, but Calipari was not found liable in either instance.

Barnhart said Calipari wanted his Final Four appearances with the Wildcats “to stick.” Time will tell, though he’s already restored the luster to a program that’s slowly slipped off its perch over the last decade.

That lust for a championship banner is why Kentucky went after Calipari so aggressively, making him the highest paid coach in the country.

He came close a year ago, as the Wildcats missed their first 20 3-point attempts in a dismal 73-66 loss to West Virginia.

There were no such issues Sunday. Knight hit a 3-pointer barely 3 minutes in, and Kentucky kept right on shooting. Darius Miller, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb also drilled 3s of their own to give the Wildcats an early confidence boost. Kentucky made 12-of-22 3-pointers on Sunday, very different from the miserable 4-for-32 effort they put together last season.

But that was a different team, one Calipari likened to a bulldozer. This one is a little smaller, a little leaner. And ultimately, a little more successful.

When they weren’t knocking down jumpers from all over, they were getting their hands in passing lanes, pestering the bigger, longer Tar Heels into sloppy mistakes.

At one point Barnes found himself in an awkward position and tried to throw the ball off the backboard to himself. No dice. Harrellson, as he was almost all game, was right in position to gobble up the North Carolina mistake.

Kentucky roared into the halftime with a 38-30 lead then made it stand up as North Carolina failed to take advantage when the Wildcats grew skittish with the lead.

Kentucky wobbled, but it didn’t falter and instead rocketed to Houston on the heels of a 10-game winning streak.

No team has been to the Final Four more than North Carolina, and the Tar Heels were poised to add to their NCAA-record 18 appearances after mauling Marquette in the regional semifinals on Friday.

Instead, their resurgent season ended with a downtrodden Barnes glumly shaking hands as Kentucky players donned Final Four caps a few feet away.

The game mirrored much of the talented freshman’s season. He struggled early then caught fire late, scoring eight straight at one point as the Tar Heels clawed back into it.

Yet he faltered in the final minute, missing a 3-pointer after Liggins’ big shot then missing another one after Knight hit two free throws to give Kentucky a six-point lead.

Barnes refused to discuss whether he’ll return next year.

“All I know is the last two years I played basketball it ended with a championship, not a loss,” he said. “I never felt like this before.”

Neither have the Wildcats, all of whom where in grade school when Kentucky beat Utah in San Antonio for their seventh national title in 1998.

They don’t need to be reminded of the program’s rich history. It dangles from the rafters at Rupp Arena. Now they have a chance to add their own chapter to the legend.

“This is a great tradition that we have to live up to,” Knight said. “It feels good that we were able to do this for Kentucky.”

Sam Miguel
03-28-2011, 01:31 PM
UConn puts Final Four finish on tough season

By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Jim Calhoun missed Connecticut’s First Night season-opening event for the first time last October because he was in Indianapolis, defending his embattled program against an NCAA investigation.

The 68-year-old coach isn’t missing another action-packed minute of the improbably sunny ending to a season that started under such a cloud.

After winning nine postseason tournament games in a thrilling 19-day stretch, Calhoun’s tireless Huskies are preparing for the Final Four in Houston. Scoring sensation Kemba Walker and his teammates punched their tickets by winning the West regional Saturday with a 65-63 victory over Arizona.

“I don’t know where it stands in NCAA postseason play, but it’s got to stand somewhere, these nine games,” Calhoun said. “I’ve never seen a team do what these kids have done.”

When Calhoun watched his Huskies celebrating in an arena packed with Arizona fans, he became even more grateful for the resilience and poise of an inexperienced team that hasn’t been beaten down by NCAA trouble or late-season stumbles.

Walker has been the key, taking on leadership of the Huskies ever since he hosted a preseason fried-chicken dinner for all of his teammates.

And even after the Huskies’ brutal schedule the past three weeks, Walker didn’t want a breather. After all, UConn’s 6-foot-1 star got all of 30 seconds on the bench during the win over Arizona that propelled him back to the Final Four for the second time in his three-year career.

“I’m good, really,” Walker said Saturday, his brand-new championship T-shirt sticking to his skin. “This is what we love to do. We play basketball every day. It doesn’t tire us out. It’s just exciting.”

Walker has averaged 26.3 points and 5.3 assists during this nine-game run and become the biggest college basketball star of March. Calhoun calls him the player of the year.

As the Huskies celebrated on the Honda Center floor, it was almost tough to remember those long-ago days—way back in the late 1990s—when UConn was known for winning just about everything except big tournament games. The Huskies were perennial contenders but didn’t reach their first Final Four until their championship season of 1999.

There’s another way this season is different: Calhoun’s first three Final Four teams were packed with stars—Richard Hamilton and Khalid El-Amin with the 1999 champions, Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon for the 2004 champs, and Hasheem Thabeet and A.J. Price two years ago.

This team has three freshmen in its starting lineup. The Huskies started the season well, winning the Maui Invitational in an early indication of their tournament prowess, but went 9-9 in the unforgiving Big East, very much resembling a team that would need a year or two to find its collective stride.

“Once we figured out what we needed to do, and how we needed to play, it’s been great,” said forward Alex Oriakhi, who provided unsung defense on San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard and Arizona’s Derrick Williams in consecutive games. “This is definitely a dream come true. When you commit to UConn, that’s exactly what you play for.”

UConn’s previous three Final Four teams also came out the West regional, a quirk attributed by Calhoun to increased focus on the far side of the continent. There’s not much chance of avoiding distractions in Houston, where the college basketball world converges for games so big they have to be held in football stadiums.

Walker remembers his trip to the 2009 Final Four as a wide-eyed freshman. He plans to give the Huskies their best chance to survive the experience.

“The Final Four is a great experience, but it’s a lot,” Walker said. “There’s a lot that we’re going to have to do before the game. I’m going to have to tell these guys to make sure whenever they can get rest, make sure they get rest, because it’s a lot going on.”

Calhoun doesn’t argue when this surge is described as the most surprising achievement of his quarter-century at UConn, particularly after the Huskies’ reputation took a hit during its NCAA scandal.

Calhoun has tried to avoid becoming yet another distraction for his team during several months of wrangling with the NCAA over recruiting violations.

“I know who I am,” Calhoun said Friday. “I know what I’ve done and haven’t done. … I don’t think our program will be tarnished by any such reputation, and if you look at the facts, I think maybe people will see it differently.”

UConn acknowledged mistakes and sanctioned itself with probation and a scholarship loss shortly before the season began. Just last month, the school received the NCAA’s verdict that includes a three-game suspension for Calhoun in Big East play next season, along with scholarship reductions for three academic years, recruiting restrictions, permanent disassociation of a booster and three years’ probation.

The NCAA also ruled Calhoun “failed to create an atmosphere of compliance,” a charge that stings the veteran coach. Calhoun has remained equivocal about the affair, acknowledging mistakes while also denying any endemic problems at UConn.

“The sweat equity that we all have put into UConn basketball over the past 25 years is pretty deep and rich, and to have people over a couple-of-month period dismiss us, I took that personally,” Calhoun said. “If I take something personally, I’m going to do everything humanly possible to make sure that your perception is wrong.

Sam Miguel
03-28-2011, 01:34 PM
Gritty Bulldogs back in Final Four

By Les Carpenter, Yahoo! Sports

NEW ORLEANS – To understand the Butler Bulldogs, to properly grasp the ferocity with which they play at the end of games – pulling out victory after victory on the way to two Final Fours – you must realize how they want each game to end: With the shot clock off and the other team with the ball, facing the most desperate of defensive stands.

“Oh, yes,” assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry said.

“That’s what we like,” guard Ronald Nored said.

“You would think it would be the other way around, wouldn’t you?” guard Chase Stigall said.

It is the ultimate tough-guy feat, the movie action hero who grabs a sword and challenges 10 bad guys to a fight – all alone. Yet they make this kind of thing a little game at Butler. Each afternoon, the coaches stop practice, split the players into two teams and have them play the last few minutes of three games with the score tied or one team down a basket. They must fight to the buzzer. Losers have to run.

And nobody wants to run.

“It’s what makes us tough,” Nored told Y! Sports late Saturday afternoon, walking the hallway of the New Orleans Arena after Butler beat Florida in overtime to go to its second consecutive Final Four.

Two trips to a place more prestigious programs never have gone, and the country still looks upon the Bulldogs as an oddity: a small-conference school with a child coach who must win the small-school way – with fortune and 3-point shots.

But an image gleaned by a public that peripherally is paying attention belies the fact that Butler might be about the toughest team in college basketball. No other school in the land would dare to see an advantage in the other team holding the ball with the game in its hands.

Time after time, Butler has pulled out last-second games in this tournament. It beat Old Dominion at the buzzer. It survived Pittsburgh when all appeared lost, and it withstood a ferocious Wisconsin run that might have broken most other schools. Then, on Saturday, it faced the end again.


Once at the end of regulation and once as time ran down in overtime, Florida had the ball with the chance to win the game. Each time, the Gators missed the chance.

Some of it undoubtedly is fate (Florida point guard Erving Walker’s missed 3-pointer at the end of regulation was ridiculous when he could have made something more by driving), but outlasting teams in bouts like this is not an accident. The Gators panicked when things got tight Saturday. Butler did not.

Later, after the nets had been cut and the Final Four T-shirts and caps donned in what is now a routine ceremony for Butler players, Florida coach Billy Donovan smiled when asked about the Bulldogs’ bravado for wanting to be on defense at the end of games. The coach in him respected it. But as he talked, he kept shaking his head.

“They wouldn’t want Erving Walker to have that wide-open shot again,” Donovan said.

The problem is, they actually would.

There’s a way they carry themselves that’s different than players on other teams. It isn’t a cockiness but rather a certainty that almost borders on arrogance. How could it not? What team could be so bold as to say it would rather have the opponent take the final shot and defend with everything it has?

The players say this comes from Brad Stevens, the boyish coach, whose iron will belies the placid demeanor. He’s not a screamer in the mold of old-fashioned coaches such as Bob Knight and Jim Calhoun, who thrive on intimidation. But he has inherited a fierce, defensive mindset from the procession of Butler coaches before him, all of whom rose to the job after being Bulldogs assistants.

It’s remarkable when you think about it: A school previously most famous for its gym being the setting for the big scenes in “Hoosiers” has won nine NCAA tournament games in the past two seasons by beating some of the biggest, most powerful programs along the way. Again on Sunday, it survived everything Florida produced.

The Gators were far more powerful inside. Center Vernon Macklin had 25 points and seemed to score at will. With 7:09 left in regulation, Florida was playing so smoothly it led by nine points.

Yet none of this mattered.

As time wore down, Butler simply broke the Gators.

It crushed them mentally.

And it destroyed them physically.

Then when it was over, when Florida had been beaten and a Final Four spot was Butler’s once more, the players raced onto the floor. They danced. They shouted. They clipped the nets. Guard Shelvin Mack, who carried Butler in the final minutes, held a stuffed bulldog that had a stuffed alligator shoved in its mouth. Everybody laughed, but it really was the perfect metaphor for the afternoon, for this run, for everything Butler has achieved.

A tiny dog chomping on the carcass of yet another bigger beast.

Sam Miguel
03-28-2011, 01:38 PM
This entrée is high Cal

By DAN WETZEL for Yahoo!

NEWARK, N.J. – That John Calipari and Jim Calhoun would wind up in a bitter feud was inevitable once Calipari showed up at Massachusetts in the late 1980s, after Calhoun’s Connecticut program had been established as a New England power.

The coaches are as alike as they are different – both ultra-competitive, hard-driving, self-made success stories who tend to thrive on slights, real or imagined. Then along came Marcus Camby out of Hartford, Conn., in 1993. In that area of the world, he was a once-in-a-generation recruit (there hasn’t been anything like him out of New England since).

Calipari landed him. Calhoun fumed. And any chance they’d ever be friends was good and over.

Now the rival coaches will meet years later with everything at stake. Calipari is at Kentucky now, but part of what will fire up the Wildcats’ Final Four game against UConn on Saturday can be traced back a couple of decades.

“[Our relationship] is fine,” Calipari said Sunday after UK put together a brilliant 76-69 victory over North Carolina to win the East Region. “Look, I respect him and what he does. We don’t send cards to each other. [But] if I see him on the road, [it’s,] ‘Hey, man, how are you doing?’ He’s a Hall-of-Famer. He’s done great things over his career.

“As you get older …” Calipari shrugged in an effort to say old bygones can be forgiven and he no longer has the energy for personal rivalries. “… I’m like the old coach. I used to be the young guy. Now I need to go to bed by 9.”

The true state of their relationship will be rehashed all week, of course, a delicious subplot to a game between two white-hot clubs. Maybe all (or most) has been forgiven. Maybe not. At one point, both men tried to crush each other. At every point, neither has shied away from a fight with anyone – their list of rivals is lengthy.

“These are highly competitive people,” former UMass athletic director Bob Marcum said. “Of course they would clash. Calhoun had lifted UConn up. Calipari had lifted UMass up. And they were vying for the recruits and media in the New England area.”

The intriguing part of this rivalry is that the coaches have rarely met. Calhoun discontinued the series with UMass early in Calipari’s tenure there. On the day in 1996 it was to be renewed, Cal took a job coaching the New Jersey Nets and stood up Calhoun at a news conference, an empty chair in his place.

Since then Cal is 2-1 against Calhoun (winning once with Memphis and once with UK), but it was the Huskies who dominated in November at the Maui Classic, winning 84-67.

“It was [17] going on 50,” Cal said. “I was outcoached badly and I told Jim Calhoun after, ‘You did a fabulous job.’ Their game plan, how he coached the game, the timeouts he called – they never lost control of the game. I was the JV coach.”

It is clear Calipari wants the rivalry behind him and would prefer the week of hype to focus on the Kentucky and Connecticut players. Calhoun will speak to his feelings later this week.

It’s telling, though, that when they finally meet in the Final Four, it’s with teams that few believed would get there.

UConn went to the NIT a year ago and was picked to finish 10th in the preseason Big East poll. Kentucky lost five players to the NBA and many saw this as a transitional year to 2011-12, when another load of top talent comes in.

While both have sensational star players (Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight in particular), their teams are here because Calhoun and Calipari helped develop role players and overlooked returnees. These are some of the best coaching efforts of their careers.

Both made it in this business by kicking down doors, building up programs and refusing to apologize for any of it.

Calhoun is a tough Irishman from Massachusetts, who started as a suburban Boston high school coach. In a business where belonging to a famous coaching tree is so important, he simply willed himself to two NCAA titles and the Hall of Fame. How tough is he? In June 2009, a month after his 67th birthday, he fell off his bike during a charity ride, breaking five ribs. He refused to quit and rode 16 more miles to the finish line.

Calipari, 52, meanwhile, is a workaholic Italian out of western Pennsylvania, the son of an airline baggage handler who thrives on battles of class and exceeding socioeconomic expectations. He scrapped and clawed his way to a pinnacle job at Kentucky.

Both had to overcome barriers and barbs from the establishment. These aren’t the chosen ones. They’ve repeatedly crashed the party anyway.

“Coach Calhoun never gets the credit he deserves,” Marcum said. “And Coach Calipari doesn’t either.”

Their pursuit of victory has led to plenty of controversy; their semifinal game could be sponsored by Bond, Schoeneck and King.

Calipari has had two previous trips to the Final Four (1996 with UMass and 2008 with Memphis) vacated because of agent activity and a questionable SAT score, respectively. Calhoun was cited by the NCAA this year for having a booster funnel money to a recruit, causing the program to lose scholarships, two assistants to lose their job and Calhoun to face a three-game suspension next season. Previously, the NCAA vacated UConn’s 1996 NCAA tournament run because of an agent’s gifts to players.

No one ever said conquering big-time college basketball was pretty. And no one ever thought these guys were angels.

Two years ago, Calipari had to sit down with Kentucky president Lee Todd and convince Todd that he could run an ethical, positive program. When the UK job had opened in 2007, Todd wouldn’t even talk with Calipari.

“I had some concerns about some of the [Memphis] players that had gone to some of those high schools that weren’t the caliber of high schools I thought they should be,” Todd said of Calipari recruiting so-called “diploma mills.”

“Also, the smoke that surrounded Marcus Camby.”

In the end, a thorough vetting process got Calipari a three-hour meeting. He quickly won over Todd, as he generally is wont to do. Sunday, they all hugged and celebrated another Wildcats victory.

It’s the same power that Calhoun still casts over Connecticut, where he’s a larger-than-life figure and, at 68, is reveling in another run at a potential third national title.

For two decades, the coaches have been exchanging barbs and battling for recruits and speaking ill of each other, both publicly and privately. They’ve both refused to accept limitations for themselves or their teams. They’ve both found an extra measure of passion that comes from the heat of the battle.

Now they’ll meet with so much on the line – a potential national title hanging in the balance.

“You know the competitive juices will be flowing for both,” Marcum said.

Old rivals, new stakes, a final chapter.

Sam Miguel
03-28-2011, 01:43 PM
VCU head coach Shaka Smart and Butler coach Brad Stevens should be on the USA Basketball coaching brain trust, as in RIGHT NOW. These two relative newcomers to the NCAA coaching pantheon are the new breed of coaches who - like the student-athletes they handle - really do their homework. You don't get this far into an NCAA tournament this loaded without knowing what you're doing. Whether it is the side-push variation of Smart's defense, or the various iterations of the secondary and tertiary breaks of Stevens's offense, you can see all the marathon hours of breaking down video and using statistical analysis to rival the code breakers of the NSA and CIA bearing fruit.

You know what... forget about basketball... these two guys should be in charge of Homeland Security.

Sam Miguel
03-28-2011, 02:22 PM
VCU basketball makes another mid-major statement with win over Kansas

By Mike Wise, Sunday, March 27, 9:51 PM

Their 155-pound point guard, dribbling madly around the basketball court, would need a phone book under his sneakers to clear 6 feet. Their center, who decided life at one of the nation’s most esteemed programs was not for him, appears to be better at three-point shots than the ones he takes closer to the basket. Even their cocksure young leader who preaches controlled chaos — he turns 34 in two weeks — seems unorthodox, almost out of place among the giants of college basketball.

The good thing is, pedigree and power conferences don’t always dictate who gets a chance to play in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The good thing is, Joey Rodriguez, Jamie Skeen, Coach Shaka Smart and Virginia Commonwealth got in.

And once that happened, the improbable followed in lockstep.

In case you were napping and missed the most scintillating NCAA tournament upset in five years, the Rams from Richmond pulled a George Mason on Sunday, blowing out top-seeded Kansas in the first half of the tournament’s Southwest Region final before repelling a wild second-half rally and pulling away at the end.

School That Many Fans (and Very Prominent ESPN Analysts) Did Not Think Deserved a Bid 71, K-Who? 61.

The four teams considered to be the nation’s best receive No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament and supposedly have the easiest path to the Final Four. All four this year have lost, which means the Final Four, to begin Saturday night in Houston, won’t have a No. 1 seed for the first time since 2006 and for just the third time ever. If that isn’t crazy enough, consider this: there won’t be any No. 2 seeds playing, either. It’ll be the first Final Four without a No. 1 or a No. 2 seed.

The highest-seeded team left, No. 3 Connecticut, will face fourth-seeded Kentucky in a battle of blue bloods in one national semifinal. Eighth-seeded Butler and No. 11 VCU, those two mid-major darlings, will play in the other.

Rodriguez, skittering around the floor with no discernible destination in mind, found cutting teammates for scores and befuddled Kansas’s guards. Skeen, the one who found life at Wake Forest of the ACC not to his liking, outplayed Kansas’s twin towers, Marcus and Markieff Morris, showing clearly he was the more versatile and clutch and better big man.

And Smart outwitted Kansas Coach Bill Self, who won the national title just three years ago, as VCU became the first 11th-seeded team to advance to the Final Four since George Mason, its Colonial Athletic Association compatriot, did it five years ago by beating top-seeded Connecticut at Verizon Center.

For the CAA, this is essentially Cinderella squared.

“What we did in ’06 was like [Roger] Bannister breaking the four-minute mile,” George Mason Coach Jim Larranaga said Sunday night. “It broke the barrier and gave mid-major [programs] a clear idea that they could make it to the Final Four. Butler almost beating Duke last year in the championship has given every mid-major program the hope that the national championship can be won by someone not from a big conference — if that team plays extremely well for three weeks.”

Butler, a 4,500-student school in Indianapolis, defeated Florida on Saturday night and advanced to its second Final Four in a row behind another young coach — 34-year-old Brad Stevens looks like Pete Sampras about to hit puberty. Because the Bulldogs face VCU in one semifinal, another mid-major program — in other words, a team without the pedigree of the nation’s giants — is guaranteed to be in the national title game.

Sooner or later, the power-conference hold on the trophy will go the way of the fifth-year senior in college basketball.

VC-Who? VCU.

Let’s pause briefly to remember the misguided lot who sadly still cling to the belief that the Rams did not deserve a bid.

Okay, now let’s have at these deluded souls.

Yes, VCU finished fourth in the CAA, its unglamorous conference home, the perpetual little brother to the tradition-rich ACC and the hulking Big East, which received a record 11 bids to this year’s NCAA tournament. At one point this season, the Rams lost four out of five and looked abjectly awful. But so did Kansas on Sunday, chucking up three-pointer after three-pointer as if it didn’t have a superior inside game.

The Rams speak to the beauty of the tournament better than any team this year — the idea that all you really need is a chance to become a special team over three delirious weeks of buzzer-beaters and upsets and routs and dunks and detractors.

And boy, did VCU ever have many of the latter, especially those who get to stand on the giant television soapbox called ESPN.

Dick Vitale (“No shot, none whatsoever”). Jay Bilas (“Tough to justify” the Rams’ inclusion). In its own state, many wondered why Virginia Tech was left out of the party again.

“I’m not going to put words in Jay Bilas’s mouth,” Larranaga said. “But when he says they didn’t earn the right, hey, Jay, you didn’t study them to the depth the committee did. They now deserve everyone’s respect for what they’ve done.”

Charles Barkley, the basketball Hall of Famer and now a television commentator, may have said it best on Sunday night’s postgame show: “Remember when everybody said they shouldn’t be in the tournament? I think they can tell everybody to shut the hell up now.”

What no one realized is, the college game has more parity than ever — especially as the big schools lose their best players to the NBA after sometimes only a year and the smaller schools hold on to players usually until their senior season.

Smart knows this. As Larranaga, the original underdog, can attest: “When you listen to experts, they think there is a wide discrepancy. There isn’t. The very simple reason: it starts back with AAU basketball [where the nation’s top high school prospects play over their summer vacations]. Players who have big reputations get highly recruited. Players who don’t have big reputations, they often go under the radar. If you can get a few of those players — and they can play and they might have a chip on their shoulder — you don’t have to have a McDonald’s all-American at every position to have a great team.”

In this year's NCAA tournament, VCU was supposed to lose to Southern California of the Pacific-10, Georgetown of the Big East, Purdue of the Big Ten, Florida State of the ACC and now Kansas of the Big 12. That leaves only the Southeastern Conference, and the Rams can take care of that if it meets Kentucky in the national title game.

Bottom line, this was for every detractor of tournament expansion; without 68 teams, there is no Virginia Commonwealth.

This was for every big-conference coach who kept politicking for more bloated, big-school brackets.

This was for every naysayer who derisively asked, “VC-who?”

VC-who? VCU.

Kid Cubao
03-28-2011, 03:14 PM
the wave of the future is here. the science of basketball went up another notch with the way these young brainiacs do their game preparations.

03-28-2011, 03:15 PM
the uconn-arizona affair was a tale of two teams that were differently-abled: the former had a superb backcourt while the latter had size and length underneath. walker and lamb had the talent to nail it from outside when they had to, while williams and their center with the russian/ukrainian-sounding name practically dominated the boards.

the funny thing is, when it was down-the-wire and they needed just a regular field goal to at least tie the game, arizona didn't play to their strengths. instead of taking it strong to the hoop, they were jacking up treys with so much time to spare. dunno why, but maybe they were thinking another 5 minutes of play would be too much -- assuming they were to make it to the next round. in any case, they didn't -- with those long bombs that bombed out.

Sam Miguel
03-29-2011, 03:21 PM
Fredette leads AP All-America team

By JIM O'CONNELL, AP Basketball Writer

Seniors dominated The Associated Press All-America team for the first time in five years.

Jimmer Fredette of BYU, Nolan Smith of Duke and JaJuan Johnson of Purdue, all seniors, were joined on the team Monday by junior Kemba Walker of Connecticut and freshman Jared Sullinger of Ohio State.

It’s the most seniors since four made the 2006 team.

Fredette led the nation in scoring at 28.5 points per game while shooting 40.4 percent from 3-point range, a number more impressive because of the shots he lets fly from well behind the line.

He received all but one vote from the 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25. The voting was done before the NCAA tournament.

Fredette became one of the most popular players in recent memory as teams that lost to BYU were “jimmered.”

“I think that it’s a great accomplishment. Unbelievable,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “It shows how good his work ethic is. He’s a player who has worked his way into an All-American. What he’s meant to our program over the last four years—it’s really kind of immeasurable.”

He is BYU’s first All-America since Danny Ainge in 1981.

“If you go out and play your game and have confidence in yourself, you can accomplish great things,” Fredette said. “That’s what I’ve always said in my head, and it’s worked out.”

Smith, who received 61 votes, averaged 21.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists in leading the Blue Devils to the top of the polls for 10 weeks this season. He assumed most of the ball-handling for Duke after star freshman Kyrie Irving went down early in the season with a toe injury and was responsible for defending the other team’s top perimeter player.

“It’s been a long process for me, just getting better each year and improving,” Smith said. “That’s something I hope to share with younger kids coming up. If you put the time in and get better and better and then by the time your senior year hits, you’ll start to accomplish some of those individual goals, and that’s something that I’ve done.”

Smith is the fifth Duke player to be an All-America since 2000; two of them — Jason Williams and J.J. Redick—were selected twice.

Sullinger burst onto to the national scene by averaging 17.2 points and 10.1 rebounds while shooting 53.6 percent. The 6-foot-9 Sullinger, the seventh freshman All-America over the last five years, received 58 votes.

“I felt he was going to have a great impact not just on our program but on college basketball. The productivity he’s had throughout the course of the season has really been incredible,” Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said. “He so much fun to coach. As I’ve said, if I was starting a team, I’d select him to be our first player.”

Walker had a strong start to the season and then capped it with an incredible performance in leading the Huskies to five wins in as many days to win the Big East tournament. He averaged 23.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists and was the leader of one of the youngest teams in the country.

“It feels good, especially because I wasn’t a preseason All-American,” said Walker, who received 51 votes. “I just wanted to come into the season and try to win as many games as we could. From winning, it really helped me be a better player and just get more recognition.”

Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said the 6-1 Walker, Connecticut’s first All-America since Emeka Okafor in 2004, was “without a doubt the most important player to his team this season. I can’t imagine where we would be without him.”

The 6-10 Johnson was Purdue’s inside presence, averaging 20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. He was the first Boilermaker chosen to the first team since Glenn Robinson in 1994. Johnson returned to Purdue after considering leaving for the NBA.

“Your senior year, you don’t want to leave anything out there, and I definitely have no regrets. It worked out,” he said. “The only thing I wanted to do that we didn’t get done was go to the Final Four. Other than that, we got it all done.”

Marcus Morris of Kansas led the second team and was joined by Derrick Williams of Arizona, Ben Hansbrough of Notre Dame, Jordan Taylor of Wisconsin and Kawhi Leonard of San Diego State.

Fredette and Johnson were both on the preseason All-America team, along with Kyle Singler of Duke, Jacob Pullen of Kansas State and Harrison Barnes of North Carolina.

Sam Miguel
03-29-2011, 03:30 PM
How VCU Coach Got His Unusual Name

from Yahoo Sports

Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart was once the most accomplished history major in his class at Ohio's prestigious Kenyon College, so it's no surprise he appreciates the historical significance of his unusual first name.

Smart's father, a native of Trinidad, named him after the influential Zulu chieftain Shaka, who united much of Southern Africa under his leadership in the early 1800s. Since Smart's father didn't play much of a role in raising him, the VCU coach joked with reporters on Saturday that the unique first name was "the best thing my dad did for me."

"Shaka was a warrior, he was a tough dude, and my dad chose to name me after him," Smart said. "You may have seen the movie Shaka Zulu? That's who I'm named after."

It's fitting that Smart is named after a King known for uniting multiple African tribes since one of the VCU coach's best attributes is his ability to motivate his players to come together for a common purpose. Smart has done that extremely effectively during the NCAA tournament, reminding the 11th-seeded Rams every chance he has that nobody thought they belonged in the field and that nobody is picking them to win.

While peers picked on Smart by calling him "Chaka Khan" or "Shaka Zulu" when he was a kid, he insists he likes having a first name that never got confused with anyone else in his classes. In fact, he told Dan Patrick on Monday morning that it was his last name that received more abuse than his first.

"My last name's 'Smart,' so a lot of times people would say my middle name is 'Not' or something like that," he recalled.

Considering Smart was accepted into Harvard and Yale, graduated from Kenyon College magna cum laude in 1999 and has been a brilliant tactician in this NCAA tournament, it's probably safe to assume that joke hasn't been used in a while.

04-03-2011, 03:25 PM
butler rolls on. what an amazing story.

uconn beats kentucky in a thriller. it was just as well, because a few years from now the NCAA will find a UK recruiting irregularity and take away this final four like they did with calipari's previous 2 final fours.

jim calhoun has a chance to separate himself from the likes of dean smith, billy donovan, roy williams, denny crum and other who've won 2 national championships. only 4 coaches have won more than 2 - wooden, rupp, coach K and knight. calhoun can join that elite group with another victory.

but for me, go butler!

04-03-2011, 06:39 PM
It's impressive to watch Kemba Walker lead his team to a Big East championship and the NCAA finals, but it's also fun cheering for the underdog team as well, so I'm going with Butler for the win. With his amazing tournament run, Kemba now looks like a top 10 lottery pick in the NBA draft this year.

04-04-2011, 08:34 PM
if it's just a heartbreak thing, i'd say give it to butler. they were so close last year, only to fall to kyle singler and the blue devils.

OTOH, uconn will pull out all the stops for the W. jim calhoun is an old dog and a tough cookie. he will not let this one get away.

so an interesting battle awaits in 10 or so hours. :)

04-04-2011, 09:53 PM
UConn may pull all the stops to win tonights game against Butler. If they win, Calhoun may just decide to retire and leave the business a winner. UConn may not be out of the woods with the NCAA regarding some old recruiting violations. Remember, the school administration came down on Calhoun in anticipation of the NCAA ruling in the hopes that the NCAA become lenient to the school.

Kemba is very good and he may just end up as a lottery pick depending on the underclassmen who declare hardship. My problem is that he is basically an undersized 2. Remember Ben Gordon who also played for UConn. Once he left the Chicago Bulls as a free agent, he has struggled to play the shooting guard position. He is a liability on defense and undersized just like Kemba. Can Kemba develop into an explosive point guard like Rose, Rondo or CP? That remains to be seens.

I still hope that the disciplined Butler system pulls an upset. Once in a while, Cinderella ends up with prince charming.

Was the womens final 4 shown in Manila? Great upset by both Texas A&M and Notre Dame. The Aggies play suffocating defense going full court press and traps. ND has a pair of guards who are always in the attack mode and can shoot from the outside. The coach of ND prepared well for UConn by shutting down the rest of the UConn team from scoring and allowing superstar Maya Moore to get her points. It also helped that the young backcourt of UConn and the center allowed the guards easy incursion to the shaded area. Should be a good game.

04-05-2011, 10:57 AM
33-28 for UCon

04-05-2011, 11:40 AM
Uconn wins the NCAA championship, defeating Butler 53-41. I expect Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb to declare for the draft, as both are sure 1st rounders after the double victories of the Huskies in the NCAA and Big East tournaments.

04-05-2011, 11:55 AM
work called :( . but at least there's a replay tonight on btv :) .

blue horse, i don't think the women's games were shown here. it'll take a while for women's basketball to catch on here. it's women's volleyball that has a following that's gaining in strength -- and even so it may take a while for it to achieve commercial success if at all.