13) Basketball trivia: a regulation hoop is exactly two basketballs wide. Its a pretty good coaching point to show that to kids- the hoop looks smaller because it is ten feet up in the air, but if you show kids that two basketballs can fit in a rim, it can help their confidence.
12) Arizona 75, USC 61— If you made me tell you who the best team in the country is, I’d tell you Arizona, though Virginia is close. All the chaos at Arizona this season may help them this month, since they’re used to the limelight- it may have brought the team closer together.
Pac-12 will have an interesting day, with UCLA/Arizona State on the bubble. It is possible that the AAC gets more teams in the tournament than the Pac-12.
11) UMBC 65, Vermont 62— Retrievers win the America East title- this was a great game. This league has found a niche with the 11am Saturday slot in Champ Week. No matter where their championship game is played, the gym is always packed.
Senior guard Jairus Lyles drained a straight-away 3-pointer with 0:00.6 left to give UMBC its first NCAA berth since 2008. This was UMBC’s first win over Vermont in their last 24 meetings.
Ryan Odom is UMBC’s coach; his dad is Dave Odom, who was Tim Duncan’s coach at Wake Forest.
10) How great was Pistol Pete Maravich? He played at LSU from 1967-70, long time ago, but there are still eight college gyms in this country where Maravich holds the scoring record for a visiting player. Pistol Pete scored 44.2 ppg in his three-year varsity career, and that was before 3-pointers were in the game.
9) Marshall 67, Western Kentucky 66- Thundering Herd is in NCAAs for first time since 1987; they’re coached by Dan D’Antoni, Mike’s brother.
8) LIU won the NEC tournament this week; they’re 18-16 this year, against the #335 schedule in the country (out of 351). Only 5 of their 34 games were against teams ranked in the top 200.
7) Coaching carousel: UConn fired Kevin Ollie, Georgia fired Mark Fox.
UConn won the national championship four years ago, but in this “What have you done for me lately?” world, they’re 30-35 the last two years, so Ollie was told to take a hike.
Georgia is 58-50 in SEC games the last six years, but Dawgs only made the NCAAs twice in nine years under Fox. Some smart mid-major team will hire Fox and will be glad they did.
Also being rumored that Fresno State coach Rodney Terry will be leaving for the UTEP job, which I am told pays better than Fresno.
6) Mookie Betts started out spring training 0-16; I’ve always wondered if players get stressed out over spring training slumps. When Betts got his first hit of the spring the other day, an infield hit, he smiled and pointed to the skies, so apparently, the 0-16 start stressed him out.
5) Cal-Fullerton 71, Cal-Irvine 55— Big West has nine teams in it; the last eight years, 8 of those 9 teams won the Big West tournament once each, which may help explain why Cal-Riverside will be hiring a new coach this spring.
4) Houston 77, Wichita State 74— AAC semifinal was a terrific game; dawned me during second half that Jim Nantz went to college at Houston, but you’d never know it listening to him call the game. Nantz, Raftery and Grant Hill make a good broadcasting team.
3) Villanova 76, Providence 66 OT— Bubble teams everywhere exhale; Friars would’ve been a bid-stealer. Internet pundits keep speculating about Chris Mack or Ed Cooley leaving for other schools, but why would you leave a Big East job?
Not only is the Big East a really good league, there is no football involved at those schools, so your team is king at your school, and thats a big thing.
2) Every bubble team in the country will be rooting for Rhode Island against Davidson today; if Davidson wins, it knocks another team off the bubble. Nevada losing in the Mountain West already knocked one bubble team off.
1— Today is one of the longer days of the year, and not because we turned the clocks ahead an hour last night; NCAA brackets come out at 6:00 tonight. Once the brackets come out, then it is a full night of research and handicapping. Sleepy day, very busy night.