Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but…….

13) When the Big East was originally formed in 1979, Holy Cross turned down an invitation to join the league, citing the college’s “commitment to academic excellence.”

Whoops.

Holy Cross had good teams back then; they beat Providence twice in 1977; they have a great hoops tradition- Bob Cousy played there.

They cost their athletic department a freakin’ load of money by saying no to the Big East, especially since they also had a decent football program, unlike Villanova-Georgetown-Providence-Seton Hall.

Athletic excellence also helps the school as far as kids wanting to go there and donations by boosters. Holy Cross won the Patriot League four times under Ralph Willard , but since he left in 2009, the Crusaders have made the NCAAs only once. 

12) Last two tournaments, Big East hasn’t had a team in the Elite 8; their last Elite 8 team was Villanova in 2018- they won the national title.

Word came out this weekend that if Georgetown fired Patrick Ewing now, they would owe him $12M or so, so he’ll be back next year. Gross incompetence by their AD, to pay a struggling coach that much money.

11) Sun Belt final: Georgia State 80, Louisiana 71:
— Congrats to coach Rob Lanier, who led Siena to the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
— Georgia State has won ten games in a row; they started the season 6-9, 0-4 in Sun Belt play, but boy they’re hot now.

By the way, way back when ESPN first started, the first league that let ESPN air their games a lot was the Sun Belt. Would be nice if ESPN gave the Sun Belt a Game of the Week, maybe a Sunday game or Friday night every week, something to acknowledge how they helped ESPN get off the ground back in the day. 

10) SoCon final: Chattanooga 64, Furman 63, OT
— Mocs have seven D-I transfers on their squad; they’ll be dangerous next week.
— Furman was playing for 4th night in row; they were outscored 35-25 in second half.

This wound up being a great game; Furman tied the game on a 3-pointer with 0:04 left to force overtime, but Chattanooga drained a 35-footer at the buzzer in OT to win the game.

Last three coaches to win SoCon tourney moved on to bigger $$$ jobs:
— Mike Young moved from Wofford to Virginia Tech
— Steve Forbes moved from East Tennessee State to Wake Forest.
— Wes Miller moved from NC-Greensboro to Cincinnati. 

9) ESPN’s announce team for the SoCon final was Tom Hart/Randolph Childress. Hart is the best play-by-play guy on TV today, whether it is football/basketball. He is smart, prepared, you learn stuff and when he wants to be, he is funny.

Monday, they posted a clip from the 1995 ACC tournament, when Childress/Tim Duncan won the ACC tournament for Wake Forest. Childress didn’t know the clip was coming; you could tell it caught him off-guard, in a good way. Hart has a way of bringing out the best from his analysts.

He used to work SEC hoop games with Andy Kennedy; those two were television gold.

Sunday night, Hart/Childress were talking about teams cutting down the nets after winning a title; Childress said he still has his part of the net that was cut down after the ’95 ACC tournament. He said it is still displayed prominently in his house, which is pretty cool.

8) Murray State won the OVC title over the weekend; since 2009, OVC teams are 9-3-1 ATS in first round NCAA tournament games. 

7) Ivy League didn’t play basketball last year; there was no NCAA Tournament two years ago, so this will be Ivy’s first tournament in three years. Ivy teams covered their first round game six of last seven tournaments they played in. 

6) Pac-12 hasn’t won a national title in basketball since 1997; they’ve never won one when they had a conference tournament that year.

Was surprised to see that Arizona hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2017.

5) In 2011, Brad Stevens’ Butler team came from the Horizon League and lost the national title game, a great run; since then, Butler moved on to the A-14, then the Big East and Horizon teams have gone 0-9 in first round tournament games, 2-7 against the spread. 

4) Last two NCAA tournaments, Big X teams are only 2-8 in second round games, but both teams that won (Texas Tech in ’19, Baylor LY) played in the national title game. 

3) ACC has sagged to the #6 league this year, their worst rank since 2013; ACC teams were 2-5 in the first round of NCAA’s last year. Right now, Joe Lunardi has five ACC teams in the field, but Wake Forest/Miami are bubble teams, so they better win their first ACC tourney game.  

2) WCC tournament:
— Gonzaga 81, San Francisco 71— Zags led by 20 at half, looked shaky vs USF’s press.
— Saint Mary’s 75, Santa Clara 72— Gaels led by 15 in 2nd half, hung on for dear life. 

1) NFL salary cap next year will be $208.2M, up from $182.5M last year. Teams have to be under the salary cap by 4pm next Wednesday, so lot of guys are going to be released between now and then. Also, lot of contracts will be restructured to create cap space. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.