While college basketball has morphed into more and more of a young man's game, there's still no replacement for the experience and leadership of seniors. While it's much more common to see a mid-major program nurture a full class into something special by its final season, precious few programs can make do without some dose of fourth-year fortitude. Even national champion Kentucky, with all its early-entry underclassman power, got huge contributions from Darius Miller on its way to the crown.
Thursday brought the news that Indiana and Kentucky couldn't agree to terms on continuing their nonconference series, and a nation of basketball fans will be denied a probable matchup of top-five teams next season. It doesn't really matter who's to blame -- Should Kentucky have backed down on an insistence on neutral sites? Should Indiana not have pulled the plug on discussions so abruptly? -- because, in a vacuum, each program should operate in what it believes to be its own best interests. At some point, though, people are going to have to start taking a hard and collective look at the good of the game at large, and petty me-first schedule conflicts like this are a big part of the problem.
May we spend a few minutes discussing a major part of American life where there has been a shocking lack of diversity?
The curious case of the Ohio State Buckeyes continued on Sunday when they slowly and methodically pulled away from a solid Michigan team to win 64-49 at home. Lacking much drama or many signature moments, it's the latest in a long string of comprehensive performances that will draw a collective "ho hum" from the masses. Instead, it should be considered the latest piece of evidence that the Buckeyes are one of the biggest threats to take down this season's NCAA title.
It's either a new, safer era for adult content on the Web or the first step in creating a digital porn ghetto, depending upon who you ask.
"The Penn State thing came out, and the kid behind this is trying to get money. He's tried before. And now he's trying again. If he gets this, he's going to sue the university and Bernie. What do you think is going to happen at Penn State? You know how much money is going to be involved in civil suits? I'd say about $50 million. That's what this is about. Money." -- Jim Boeheim, two weeks ago
• No. 1 Oklahoma 38, Missouri 28: Nine minutes into the ballgame, it felt like déjà vu.
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Coming into the national championship game, one could argue that history would not be on Minnesota Duluth's side. Why would it be? Michigan, with all its tradition, is the program that dates back to 1920 and owns nine national championships -- more than any other school in the country. Meanwhile, a win for UMD would be its first. But so what if history wasn't on its side? It was made instead, as the Bulldogs earned their first national championship with a thrilling 3-2 win in overtime Saturday night.
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- When Michigan's goalie Shawn Hunwick stands tall, it's more of a figurative statement. At "5-6-ish," as he concedes, the senior might be lucky to reach the top shelf of his locker stall without a lift. But nothing reached the top shelf of his net on Thursday night as Hunwick shut out North Dakota, the nation's top team, 2-0, in the Frozen Four semifinal game at the Xcel Energy Center.
Here's something that's always intrigued me. Why do almost all groups of professional teams call themselves "leagues," but similar college aggregates call themselves "conferences?" It can't be because league suggests professionalism. After all, the purest college sports alliance is the fancy-schmanzy old Ivies, and they call themselves the Ivy League. There was one professional conference, the All-American Football Conference, which lasted for a few years in the 1940s, and gave to the NFL the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers.
Andy Glockner offers his NCAA seed- or bubble-related thoughts from Friday's conference-tournament games. All times are ET.
With Selection Sunday looming just two weeks from Sunday, each win or loss can significantly shuffle the bubble deck. Here's a midweek primer on the upward and downward movers so far this week.
I consider myself a big "freedom of movement" guy. I don't like the NBA's age-minimum rule because it denies players an opportunity to meet the market's demand. I never criticize a coach for bolting for a more lucrative job or an underclassman who turns professional. I don't like the National Letter of Intent because it binds a recruit to a school even in the event of a coaching change, and I don't like the fact that schools have the option of denying a release to a player who wants to transfer.
Two players, two transgressions, two penalties, two different sets of facts. Yet both situations beg the same question: Did the coach do the right thing?
Bubble Watch is back and your satisfaction is 100 percent guaranteed!
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The Puerto Rico Tip-Off was a tournament of revelations, some of them rude: Its only ranked team (No. 8 North Carolina) finished 1-2 and made a strong argument to be unranked by Monday. Its lone preseason All-America (Tar Heels forward Harrison Barnes) was far more freshman-like than All-America-like. Its team with the most aggressive reputation (West Virginia) had its star player (Kevin Jones) admit of his opponent, following the championship game, "They were the aggressor, and they had us on our heels the whole night."
Wrigley Field's famous brick wall proved to be a just a little close to the action as the Big Ten announced Friday that all offensive plays in Saturday's Northwestern-Illinois game will head toward one end zone.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Drew Crawford was born 10 minutes from Northwestern, where he's now a 6-foot-5 sophomore guard. He lived the first three years of his life in Evanston, then moved to nearby Naperville, where he grew up paying little attention to college basketball. He's an NBA kid, and this is understandable -- his father, Danny, started his 26th season of refereeing in the league by working the much-anticipated Heat-Celtics opener on Tuesday. Drew is nostalgic about the early, up-close access he had to the pros, and he emerged from the Wildcats' locker room for an interview late last week wearing a vintage "NBA on NBC" hat.
Whether top-end quality or overall depth is more important in defining a conference as strong is debatable, but the best have ample quantities of both. Which leagues have the right balance to do the most damage in March? Using the categorical framework of Bubble Watch, here's a breakdown of the top 10 conferences this season:
The two biggest memories of the 2009-10 Florida Gators are Chandler Parsons' three-quarter court heave to stun N.C. State and his subsequent one-upmanship of Devan Downey to take out South Carolina at the buzzer. Due in significant part to those fantastic finishes, the Gators squeezed their way into the NCAA tournament, ending a two-season absence following the program's back-to-back national titles in 2006 and '07.
Can I get a round of applause for the Big Ten, please? We'll do it the Midwestern way, firmly but respectfully, and, in true Midwestern style, we won't say anything negative about the overrated Big East, at least not until we've gone home and shut all the blinds. It's not for me to judge, Doris, but they certainly do seem mouthy over there.
After a Saturday as crazy as any in recent memory, the bubble tightened up considerably and put several teams who were thought to be safe very much in danger as far as earning at-large bids. Utah State and California looked virtually certain to make it before Saturday's results. Now? Both are in danger.
Giving you a rundown on the top three games on tonight's college basketball slate:
Here is your Wednesday morning box-score read. I read 'em so you don't have to:
Five things we learned from No. 10 North Carolina's 89-82 win over No. 9 Michigan State, and other ACC-Big Ten Challenge action on Tuesday ...
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- We'll lead off my Monday Hoop Thoughts with my take on the quartet of teams that were assembled in Atlantic City last weekend for the Legends Classic. I did color commentary on those games for HDNet, so I had a great seat for the games as well as the shootarounds. I also got to spend some quality time with the coaching staffs.
Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Nov. 30. Here's one of the nominations for that honor by an SI writer. Most coaches would have been studying yet another scouting report. Most players would have been listening to yet another rap song. But on the bus ride to Ford Field, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo put down his game plan for a moment to look out the window at a row of abandoned buildings. The Spartans basketball team turned off their iPods to follow his gaze. "Win one for Detroit," Izzo pleaded, and his charges nodded along. In the end the Spartans fell short of the 2009 national championship, but for everything else they accomplished during an unforgettable Final Four weekend in Detroit, they are my Sportsmen of the Year.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- There's nothing subtle about a Purdue basketball practice. The players wear shorts with the words "PLAY HARD" stitched across the rear. A clock hanging above the tunnel that leads off the court of Mackey Arena sits above a sign that reads, "Time to Play Hard." I watched Purdue go through a grueling for three hours Monday -- much longer than most teams practice this time of year. The workout was a blur of collisions, bumps and elbows.
This article appears in the Sports Illustrated Presents 75th Anniversary of the Heisman Trophy issue.
NEW YORK -- With his sleeves rolled up and his head down, John Beilein, the old-school coach with the didactic touch, made his way from the Madison Square Garden court toward his team's locker room. Before slipping into the tunnel, he stopped to acknowledge the faithful shouting his name. "Beilein! Beilein!" they screamed as he reached up to share the leftover energy of his Wolverines' 55-52 upset of No. 4 UCLA (RECAP | BOX SCORE). "We love you!"
Interesting career this Joba Chamberlain has had so far. There was that midge infestation during the 2007 playoffs in Cleveland, and the impersonator who was busted in New Jersey last year, and that little DUI incident last October. Now comes Joba The Movie.
DETROIT -- The original point guard hiked out of the stands and into the tunnel, his wife in the crook of his right arm and the roaring crowd in his ears. Swaddled in shining Spartan green, he paused to chat up Motown's finest; acknowledged, with a grin, the mix of reporters and Michigan State faithful now chanting his name ("Magic! Magic!"); then turned as still another fan, some dude named Tom Izzo, literally sprinted after him to say hi ("Earvin! Earvin!").
DETROIT -- There is no doubt that the North Carolina Tar Heels can beat the Michigan State Spartans tonight.
1. The Spartans are a completely different team now. Yes, North Carolina blew out Michigan State 98-63 at Ford Field on Dec. 3. That shouldn't mean anything Monday night. The stakes are much higher. The place will be packed with Michigan State fans.
DETROIT -- Michigan State assistant Dwayne Stephens chalks it up to basketball IQ. How else could he explain how Spartans center Goran Suton can watch a shot in flight, quickly calculate its trajectory against the stiffness of the rim or the elasticity of the glass in the backboard and move to the exact spot where the rebound will land? "He's not a very good athlete," Stephens said. "He doesn't have long arms. But he just finds a way to be in the right place at the right time."
1. The Tar Heels already beat Michigan State once -- and crushed them. After three games in the week leading up to Dec. 3, the Spartans didn't have their legs. They also didn't have center Goran Suton, who missed the game with a knee injury. Still, the Tar Heels won by 35 points. The Spartans barely put up a fight. That has to give North Carolina a bit of a psychological edge.
DETROIT - The hill stretches "about a quarter-mile," according to North Carolina forward Ed Davis, and it snakes through the bowels of Ford Field from the court to the locker rooms. Merely walking up the grade strains the calves and the stamina of those who haven't just played a basketball game. So why was everyone in Carolina blue - coaches included - sprinting up the thing after Saturday's 83-69 national semifinal win against Villanova (RECAP | BOX)?
It's a stimulus plan on sneakers.
Before the Elite Eight meeting with Missouri, UConn coach Jim Calhoun noted that the Huskies liked to get out and run, but doing that all game against the Tigers wouldn't be in the Huskies' best interest. Doing some more of that against Michigan State, though, may very well be in UConn's interest, as a sludgy, grinding, halfcourt game likely is what the Spartans would like to see.
Michigan State (30-6) vs. UConn (31-4) Saturday, 6:07 p.m. Ford Field (78,000)
Penn State football coach Joe Paterno stood in the underbelly of Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night after the Nittany Lions' 67-59 victory over Notre Dame in the NIT semifinals and lit up when he saw his favorite player -- sophomore point guard Talor Battle. "I remember when you came up for a visit and I told [Ed] DeChellis, 'You want that kid? He's too short!'" he crowed.
It's the season of brackets, beer and, of course, basketball.
SI.com caught up with Seth Davis, who's serving as a CBS studio analyst during the tournament, to get his impressions of Sunday's regional finals.
INDIANAPOLIS - Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis stood at center court Sunday afternoon, his slightly red eyes soaking up the joy swirling around him.
We caught up with Seth Davis to discuss Friday's action.
Making history is a rare accomplishment. Duplicating it can be difficult.
The 2009 NFL Draft is exactly one month away and the final information gathering process for teams involves two distinct events: pro days and the visit to team headquarters. In my opinion, the latter is much more important than the former.
BOISE, Idaho -- The game between Xavier and Wisconsin was destined to come down to the team that played the best defense, and it was the Musketeers who are headed back to the Sweet 16 after a slog of a game.
BOISE, IDAHO -- After a long night of watching Florida State's Toney Douglas slash and shoot his way to 26 points, it was the methodical and mindful guards for Wisconsin that provided the winning moments in the Badgers 61-59 overtime upset of the fifth-seeded Seminoles.
Well, we're here. Almost. There's still that sticky "Mississippi State hijacking a bid" problem looming for the final few teams in the bracket, but a Tennessee win in the SEC final should finalize the picture below.
Some of the top undecided prospects from the class of 2009 are getting closer to a decision. But the nation's No. 1 prospect, running back Bryce Brown from East (Wichita, Kan.), could be wearing out his welcome.
Today, I'll unleash my inner John Henry. Or better yet, Garry Kasparov. I'm going head-to-head against a machine, and, if history has taught us anything, I'm going to lose.
LOS ANGELES -- As if Penn State's coaches and players won't have enough on their hands against No. 5 USC in Thursday's 95th Rose Bowl Game, there's this added little burden.
On Saturday, CBS broadcast a quartet of matchups that was as good as any the network has aired during my six years working there: Duke-Xavier, Texas-Michigan State, Purdue-Davidson and UConn-Gonzaga. All of those games had two things in common. First, and most delightfully, they each featured two ranked teams.
With three minutes remaining in Sunday's Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden, UConn's Tina Charles took one giant drop step, swirled around a Penn State defender, banked in a layup and was fouled. As the whistle blew, she made another huge drop step, this time into the lane, and surrounded by her teammates, let out a growl. Top-ranked UConn had finally escaped the scrappy Penn State team that just wouldn't go away.
Here's how SI.com's playoff works: We took the six BCS-conference champions and the six highest remaining teams from the final BCS rankings. Then we seeded all 12 teams solely according to their final BCS ranking. The top four teams (Oklahoma, Florida, Texas and Alabama) received a first-round bye. For the purpose of this simulation, we are going to assume that all "banged up" players (Percy Harvin, etc.) will take part in the action. We will be crowning a champion next week. Voting ends Tuesday, so start voting and let your voice be heard.
For nearly a half-century, some of college football's greatest players didn't have the opportunity to vie for what has become the sport's most prestigious piece of hardware: the Heisman Trophy.
Now that college football's BCS madness has been sorted out and the bowl picture is complete, I have the distinct pleasure of writing about a sport where the regular season actually means something.
There's no disputing the fact that many of the once-sacred traditions of bowl games have irreparably changed over the past decade. In this, my sixth-annual ranking of all 34 bowl games (there were 28 when I started it, including the Silicon Valley Classic), I think you will find that the date a game is played no longer bears any correlation to the quality of its matchup.
DETROIT, Mich. -- I hit the road this week hoping to check out two great games in the flesh. What I got instead were two stinkers: Duke took apart Purdue with surgical precision on Tuesday night in West Lafayette, Ind., and North Carolina overwhelmed Michigan State by 35 points the following night in Detroit. The second game took place at Ford Field, site of the 2009 Final Four, and based on what happened this week, if both of those teams ended up back there in four months it should surprise no one.
Last month, SI senior writer Jon Wertheim filed a story detailing the decline of the Indiana University basketball program in the wake of the Kelvin Sampson recruiting scandal. He reacts with today NCAA's decision to place the school on probation for three seasons.
When the NCAA passed legislation in 2006 that repealed the "two-in-four" rule -- which had limited college basketball teams to playing in only two exempt, early season tournaments over a four-year span -- the biggest casualty was the value of the word "classic." The legislation opened the floodgates on what the colorful wordsmiths behind the NCAA Division I manual call "Multiple-Team Events," which provide teams with an exemption to sneak in two extra regular-season games, upping the max allowed from 29 to 31. Thus there are 50 of of these tournaments scheduled for 2008-09, and no fewer than 28 of them have "classic" in their title.
They'd come from the cities, and they'd come from the smaller towns. Old-timers and recent alums. Forwards and guards. Former players and former coaches. More than 180 in all, they converged on a resort during the last week in August. The event was described on the invitation as an Indiana Hoosiers "basketball reunion," a social gathering of men who had worn the cream-and-crimson jersey and those trademark candy-cane warmups. But, really, it was something deeper. A summit, perhaps, or a council meeting to address the crisis facing the tribe. "Most of all," says Bobby (Slick) Leonard, an All-America guard at Indiana in the 1950s, "it was the first step in healing, making it one big, happy family again."
It's the last week of October, which means the Mailbag's "BCS Doomsday Scenario Hotline" is officially open for business.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A rare scene broke out Saturday night at Ohio Stadium -- rare, at least, for the 2008 college football season. Two highly ranked teams played a football game, and it was decided by defense.
We know that Ohio State is 7-1 and ninth in the BCS poll, its slender hopes of returning to a third straight BCS title game riding on Saturday's performance against Penn State in what amounts to a de facto Big Ten title game.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Each time the drill began, four Purdue players spread across the bottom of the lane with locked hands, as if they were readying for a game of Red Rover. Any resemblance to playground games vanished, though, when an assistant coach threw the ball out to the perimeter. This part of Tuesday's practice was called "No-Man's Land," and the locked-handed crew would release and close out hard on their defensive assignments, beginning brief sessions of 4-on-4 that were a competitive extension of the classic shell drill.
Are you rooting for the old man? Or do you find yourself wincing watching him limp around?
LOS ANGELES -- The Ohio State Buckeyes adapted well to their Hollywood surroundings here this weekend. They provided a town full of screenwriters the perfect script for a blockbuster horror flick.
In an essay from his pop culture opus, Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, author Chuck Klosterman argues that nearly any aspect of a man's life -- the kind of car he drives, his choice of spouse, his musical tastes -- can be traced back to whether he was a Lakers guy or a Celtics guy in the 1980s.
Contrary to what you might have heard, Ohio State has not gone ahead and forfeited Saturday's game at USC. In spite of their recent drop in the AP poll, in spite of an ever-swelling Vegas spread (11 points as of this writing) and in spite of an ESPN survey that indicated 75 percent of you think they might as well not bother, the Buckeyes are still planning to board their flight to Los Angeles.
For about 90 percent of the nation's major football schools, opening weekend went off without a hitch. The fans of those few that didn't wasted no time going into full-out panic mode.
ST. LOUIS -- How quickly can two teams' standards change upon getting a taste of the rich life?
Coaching changes often make for awkward first seasons. For one thing, there's a pretty good chance the new man was hired to turn around a fallen program. And even if he wasn't, there are still some inherent challenges that come with installing a new system and enticing a group of players to embrace an often entirely new staff by whom they weren't themselves recruited.
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Royce White understood coaches at North Carolina and UCLA couldn't possibly find him as quickly as hometown Minnesota could. White, a 6-foot-7 forward from Minneapolis, considered that fact when he chose a school in April.
Big Ten fans received a jolt of good news last week when the conference's co-owned television venture, the Big Ten Network, announced a long-awaited agreement with the nation's largest cable provider, Comcast. Starting Aug. 15, nearly 25 million new customers will have access to the channel, most notably 6.5 million households in seven of the eight states with Big Ten schools.
TOWSON, Md. -- As the seconds ticked down toward Northwestern's fourth straight national title, lacrosse sticks went flying. And as the Wildcats ran over to the sidelines to celebrate with their fans, something else went flying too. The team lifted Jaclyn Murphy, a 13-year-old brain tumor survivor, from her front row seats and into the celebration.
The call, Billy Hicks knew, would hurt then-Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson.
Ravens fans, you may finally have your quarterback of the future: Chad Henne. I made him the 20th pick in my mock first round Monday, chosen by Baltimore after a trade with Tampa Bay. And after talking to Henne at length Monday night, the idea seems pretty plausible.
Police move in and arrest 52 people early Sunday at the Cedar Fest party in East Lansing, Michigan.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The view from Rich Rodriguez's office window in Schembechler Hall is a bit unsightly right now. Two football fields' worth of dirt currently sit where Michigan's new indoor practice facility, expanded weight room and expanded locker room will eventually be. Michigan Stadium is under renovation as well.
You want Tom Crean summed up in a single word? Here it is: passion.
The bracket says this was a big-time upset: The Midwest's No. 10 seed knocking off the No. 3 seed. Same thing if you went by the names on the jerseys: Wisconsin, champion of the vaunted Big Ten, losing to Davidson, champion of the Southern Conference.
The call, Billy Hicks knew, would hurt then-Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson.
Five things we learned while having our laptop crash and spending the wee hours at the amazingly cool 24-hour Mac store next to Central Park:
The 'Bag feels like he's covering the cell-phone industry instead of college basketball at times these days. First came the Kelvin Sampson mess, with the Indiana coach finally falling on his cell-phone antenna and resigning last Friday. Then came our story in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated on the recent rash of fan abuse in college hoops.
Even the most able-bodied athletes can only withstand so much. So Indiana senior forward D.J. White lay motionless on the floor of the Hoosiers' locker room last Saturday night while the saline contents of two IV bags revived him from an acute case of dehydration and exhaustion. White had played in tougher games than Indiana's 85-82 win at Northwestern, and he'd endured plenty in an often difficult college career -- the resignation of embattled coach Mike Davis in 2006, foot injuries that cost him all but five games of his sophomore season -- but no challenge was tougher than the stress of the two-week-long miniseries Kelvin Sampson: Dead Man Walking.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Just a day after Kelvin Sampson resigned as Indiana's head coach, it was as if he was never there -- at least to the fans.
The road getting there wasn't pretty but Indiana's weeklong quest for a divorce with Kelvin Sampson ended at the best possible destination.
Greetings, Hoop Thinkers. For today's submission, I have resurrected my wildly popular Hoop Thoughts Stock Report to get you primed for the final stretch heading into March Madness. You know the drill: The mission is not to assess where teams are but to project where they are headed. Ratings have been assigned relative to a team's status as defined by record, ranking and buzz. So just because one team is rated a Buy and another a Sell, that doesn't mean the Buy team is better. But you knew that already.
In a Hoosier Utopia, the promises Kelvin Sampson made at his introductory press conference would have all come true, rather than serve as the prelude to a tragicomic game of telephony. When Indiana presented Sampson as its new coach on March 29, 2006 -- a time at which its basketball program was hoping to be ushered into a prosperous post-Mike Davis era -- Sampson pledged not to repeat the recruiting violations he committed at Oklahoma, and said, "I came to Indiana for one reason: I think you can win championships at Indiana. I think together we can do some special things at Indiana University."
When Indiana went outside the Hoosier family to hire Kelvin Sampson as its basketball coach two years ago, the goal was to find a leader who could dissolve the two decades of polarization that surrounded his predecessors, Bob Knight and Mike Davis. But when the word came down last week that the NCAA was accusing Sampson and his staff of five major recruiting violations -- including charges that Sampson repeatedly lied to NCAA and Indiana investigators, the news divided fans anew and turned Assembly Hall into a theater of the surreal, a Petri dish for the latest episode of the bipolar Hoosier Psychosis.
Plenty of news coming out of Indiana, so let's jump right in:
Allow me to be excused for dropping in late with this week's rankings. Indiana's misery needed to stay on center stage for a full 48 hours, so this Hoosier-free top 16 was put on hold:
Last July, Yvonne Jackson, the mother of Devin Ebanks, a swingman who had recently committed to Indiana, was on a cruise in the Caribbean when she received a call from a member of Indiana University's compliance office. "It caught me off guard," says Jackson, who was named in the NCAA's 14-page list of allegations regarding impermissible phone calls by Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson. "They wanted to verify my cell number and Devin's. They were asking me about dates and calls that had been made. I answered to the best of my memory."
Before he blew his first whistle as coach at Indiana, Kelvin Sampson had one strike against him. He had already been sanctioned by the NCAA for making more than 500 impermissible phone calls to recruits while he was the coach at Oklahoma.
NEW ORLEANS -- On this, the crowning night of an utterly bizarre college football season, the LSU Tigers are to be commended for conquering an extremely difficult obstacle on their path to a national championship.
Back in September, Pasadena was the last place USC thought it would be spending New Year's Day -- and it's most certainly not where Illinois thought its season would come to a close.
SI.com's Luke Winn analyzes the matchup.
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