Kansas junior forward Thomas Robinson was named to the 2011-12 U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-America Team it was announced Monday. The first team consists of five forwards, as the USBWA selected the nation's top five players regardless of position.
Robinson is joined by Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, Michigan State’s Draymond Green, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and Creighton’s Doug McDermott. This marks the fourth-straight season that a Jayhawk has been named a USBWA All-American and 21st time overall. Last season, former Jayhawk Marcus Morris was named to the second team.
Robinson, a Washington, D.C. native, is averaging 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game this season. He leads the Big 12 in double-doubles (23) and rebounds per game (11.8). His 23 double-doubles are tied for first nationally with Siena’s O.D. Anosike. Against eight nationally-ranked teams in 2011-12, Robinson averaged 19.8 points and 12.3 rebounds while shooting 55.6 percent.
Each of the first-team selections is among the Oscar Robertson Trophy finalists. The USBWA's National Player of the Year Award, as well as the Henry Iba Award, presented to the National Coach of the Year, will be announced next Monday, March 19. Both prestigious awards will be formally presented on Friday, March 30, at the 2012 USBWA College Basketball Awards Breakfast at the New Orleans Marriott in conjunction with the NCAA Men's Final Four.
The Jayhawks will take on the No. 15-seeded Detroit from the Horizon League on Friday, March 16, at approximately 8:57 p.m. (Central) at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. The game will be televised on truTV. Kansas will have an open practice in the venue on Thursday, March 15, from 5:10-5:50 p.m.
Robinson's accolades for 2011-12
-USBWA First Team All-American
-John R. Wooden Award Finalist
-USBWA District VI Player of the Year
-ESPN.com National Player of the Year
-All-American First Team (The Sporting News)
-Big 12 Player of the Year (Big 12 & AP)
-All-Big 12 First Team (Big 12 & AP)
-Naismith Men's College Player of the Year Midseason Watch List
-Big 12 Player of the Week (2/27)
-Oscar Robertson Trophy Midseason Watch List
-John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 Candidate
-Dick Vitale's No. 1 Midseason National Player of the Year (1/4)
-Big 12 Player of the Week (1/2)
-Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week by the USBWA (12/11)
-Big 12 Player of the Week (12/12)
-Big 12 Player of the Week (11/28)
-EA SPORTS Maui Invitational All-Tournament Team
CBS All-American Teams: TRob 1st team, TTaylor 3rd team
The Kansas Jayhawks have already won the 2012 NCAA Tournament – in the classroom, that is.
KU’s men’s basketball team won Inside Higher Ed’s annual academic competition by beating Detroit, Purdue, Belmont, North Carolina, Texas and Davidson. For its competition, Inside Higher Ed uses the actual NCAA Tournament bracket and declares winners based on two NCAA academic measurements – the Academic Progress Rate and the Graduation Success Rate. KU’s men’s basketball teams boasts a perfect multiyear APR of 1,000 and a Graduation Success Rate of 91 percent.
The APR gives points to teams whose players stay in good academic standing and remain enrolled from semester to semester. The publication broke ties by using the GSR, a variation of the graduation rate that considers transfers and does not punish teams whose athletes leave college before graduation if they leave in good academic standing.
KU won this competition in 2010 and reached the “Final Four” last year.
Inside Higher Ed
3. Kansas Jayhawks
Current Value: $28.2 million Two-Year Change in Value: 18% Basketball Profit: $17.7 million Conference: Big 12 Head Coach: Bill Self Kansas is one of college basketball's most consistently impressive teams: the Jayhawks haven't missed an NCAA tournament since 1989 and have made the Final Four five times in that time period.
Forbes Most Valuable College Basketball Teams
For the first time in three seasons, Kansas University’s basketball team enters the NCAA Tournament following the sting of a loss.
“I kind of like it. I hate saying that. I don’t like losing, but I kind of like the fact it’s not fool’s gold with us anymore,” KU coach Bill Self said on Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference. “When you make shots and don’t guard and get away with it ... our guys saw first-hand what will happen in a one-and-done type situation, which the Big 12 tournament is also.
“I kind of like our mind-set. I like where we are at. I like being able to get their attention (following Friday’s 81-72 loss to Baylor) before we go to Omaha.”
Kansas will open the NCAAs at 8:57 p.m. Friday against Detroit at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.
“You get their attention, but still they are so excited,” Self said. “In the room (Sunday), they were talking about opponents and pounding on the desk and all that, trying to act cool, but you can see they are so excited.”
Of course, there may be a downside to entering the NCAAs on the heels of a defeat.
“I would say going into it the most recent previous years we probably felt like we had a little bit more momentum only because we won the Big 12 tournament,” Self said of the past two seasons. “But like I told ’em yesterday, the four teams that were supposedly projected as No. 1 seeds, none of ’em won their conference tournament (KU, North Carolina, Kentucky, Syracuse). We didn’t play very well at all.”
Asked to speak to what type of teams make for good and bad match-ups for KU, Taylor responded in a manner that all his teammates should embrace.
“I think any match-up can be a bad match-up for us if we aren’t rebounding the ball or we aren’t tuned in defensively,” Taylor said. “We know any team can beat us if we aren’t a good defensive team. A good match-up for us would be any team who plays us when we are playing well.”
Confident yet humble words.
“Like I said, I think if we prepare like we want to win and like we are an underdog, almost, I think it is going to be hard to beat us,” Taylor said.
For the Jayhawks, the seed just might mean more than the match-up. A No. 1 seed four of the past five years, Kansas enters as a No. 2 this time.
“I think the last couple of years, when we were a No. 1 seed, we felt like we had to win it,” Taylor said. “I feel the same way this year, but I don’t feel like it is on us as much. I don’t think anybody is going to call us failures or say that we let them down or we choked or whatever it might be.”
Gamebreaker: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
The co-favorite for national player of the year, Robinson is a beast on the boards, averaging 11.8 per game (No. 2 nationally) to go with 17.9 points on 53 percent shooting. Besides the UNC pair of Zeller and Henson, there aren't many players in this region that can match his physicality.
Best Player You've Never Heard Of: Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary's
The latest in a line of Saint Mary's imports from Australia, the WCC Player of the Year does a little bit of everything. The 6-4 junior guard averages 15.6 points, 6.4 assists while shooting 45 percent from the field and 36 percent from three. He can take over and be the primary scorer when needed or feed the ball to forward Rob Jones and sharpshooter Clint Steindl.
The Pressure's On: UNC's Barnes and Zeller
The pair put off NBA riches to return for a run at the national title, and while both have generally excelled (making first team All-ACC) they've taken their share of criticism, too (Barnes for not being more dominant, Zeller for perceived lack of toughness). Anything less than the Final Four will be considered a disappointment.
The Pick: Kansas
Bill Self's Jayhawks have had a slew of tourney misfortune when faced with capable mid-majors (Bucknell in 2005, Bradley in '06, Northern Iowa in '10 and VCU last year), so it's entirely possible that Saint Mary's or Belmont (who I'm picking to reach the Sweet 16) could torment them this year. But provided Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor get through the first two rounds they'll be at a distinct advantage playing in partisan St. Louis, and they'll catch a break when Creighton or Michigan takes down North Carolina.
SI Midwest Primer
ESPN analyst Dick Vitale likes the Detroit Mercy Titans.
He just doesn't like them to beat Kansas on Friday.
"It's a tough, tough draw," Vitale told The News on Monday. "I looked at (Detroit) at better than a No. 15 (seed). (Ray) McCallum is a stud. He's a scorer. Kansas has lost to Northern Iowa and Bucknell in the past. Detroit is athletic, quick and they have a strut to them. But you've got to give the edge to Kansas. Thomas Robinson is a great player, but what helps Robinson is the development of (Jeff) Withey, they're 7-footer. This is a great basketball team."
UDM (22-13) is a 500-to-1 long shot to win the NCAA Tournament, and have been tabbed as a 15-point underdog when it takes on No. 2 seed Kansas (27-6) in Omaha, Neb., at 9:57 Friday night.
"No matter what happens it's been a tremendous season for Detroit," said Vitale, a former UDM and Pistons coach. "They've played sensational the last 10 games."
LaMarcus Lowe's battles with Eli Holman during Detroit Mercy practices could be a key when the 6-foot-10 seniors face Kansas' player of the year candidate, Thomas Robinson, on Friday night in Omaha, Neb.
Holman, from Richmond, Calif., usually is on the white team in practice, while Lowe, from Flint, plays with the starters on the red team.
"We go at it in practice," Holman said, "and when he gets on the court, it's like he's playing against me."
Lowe said: "Playing against Eli has made me better offensively and defensively. It has made me a more physical player. At the high school level and the junior college level and even in the MAC, I didn't have a chance to play against somebody as big and strong as Eli is. He's not just big and strong, he's talented."
…Lowe had nothing but good things to say about Robinson, a 6-10 junior who averages 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds for the second-seeded Jayhawks.
"I just like his aggressiveness; I like how he tries to dunk everything around the basket," Lowe said. "I like his mind-set. I like him as a basketball player. Friday, it's going to be personal. It's going to be him against me, and my team against his. I can like his game after the game."
Detroit Free Press
Oakland coach Greg Kampe predicts the No 2 seeds will exit the NCAA Tournament early — at the hands of Detroit Mercy.
No. 15 Detroit (22-13) enters its Midwest Regional game against Kansas (27-6) as 15-point underdogs. And, oddsmakers in Las Vegas have the Titans as 500-1 shot to win the title.
"When guard play is at the utmost importance, you have a point guard (Ray McCallum Jr.) who is peaking," Kampe said. "Kansas beats people with their size, and Detroit has size. You have Eli Holman and LaMarcus Lowe inside and you have great size on the wing with Chase Simon. And you have a hot team.
"I like Detroit's chances. They did something not many teams do in their league, a league set up for one of the top two seeds advancing. They won four games in eight days."
And Kampe knows what it's like to go into the Tournament as an underdog and put a scare into a top-notch opponent.
In 2010, as a No. 14 seed, Oakland kept things close against Pittsburgh before falling 89-66. And last season, also as a No. 14, Oakland nearly pulled of the upset of Texas before losing 85-81.
And to make matters more interesting, Kansas has been eliminated early before.
Bucknell knocked Kansas out in 2005 in the first round; and
Northern Iowa ousted the then-No. 1 seed in the second round in 2010.
"That stays with you," Kampe said. "Kansas is thinking, 'Who's Detroit?' It's a good matchup. It's a game they can win."
…Perry Watson coached Detroit to first-round upsets of St. John's in 1998 and UCLA in 1999.
"You always have a shot," Watson said. "It's an extremely hard shot. When we beat UCLA and St. John's, that was different. I don't think Kansas has the same mindset."
It's about matchups, and Watson said the Titans have the athletes to compete with the Jayhawks.
"Thomas Robinson is so good," Watson said. "But Eli and Lowe can match up. I don't give Kansas the advantage there. With Ray and Chase, they won't be outclassed. Tyshawn (Taylor) and Ray will be a great matchup.
"Ray is starting to get it. He's starting to let the game come to him."
Detroit (33). In early February the Titans were 12-12 and in the middle of the Horizon League pack. They closed by winning 10 of 11 games, storming to the league tournament title and grabbing the automatic bid. Their average winning margin in four Horizon tourney games was 12.8 points, and Butler coach Brad Stevens predicted the athletic Titans could be a major threat despite a low seed.
Kansas (14), 27-6, Big 12 Conference regular-season champions.
Pedigree: 40 NCAA tournament appearances, 88 victories, 13 Final Fours, three national titles. Last appearance: 2011, upset by VCU in regional final. Basketball budget (2010-11, per Department of Education figures): $9.5 million.
Why this team has a chance: Played a hellacious schedule and got better from it, becoming an unlikely title contender. Might have the best point guard-big man tandem in the country in Tyshawn Taylor (17.3 points, 4.8 assists) and Thomas Robinson (17.9 points, 11.8 rebounds). Typical Bill Self team is solid in all areas, deficient in none.
Why it might not: Is there enough of a reliable supporting cast for Robinson and Taylor? Will Kansas inexplicably seize up against a lower-tier opponent again, as it has four unforgettable times under Self (VCU, Northern Iowa, Bucknell, Bradley)?
Saint Mary’s (5), 27-5, West Coast Conference champions.
Pedigree: Six appearances, three wins, zero Final Fours. Last appearance: 2010, reached the Sweet 16 before losing to Baylor. Basketball budget (2010-11, per Department of Education figures): $2.2 million.
Why this team has a chance: Program has steadily evolved to the point of being a consistent winner that won’t go into the tourney short-selling itself. An exquisite offensive team with a high degree of skill, the Gaels handle the ball, pass and shoot with aplomb. Coach Randy Bennett has a high-quality tandem in guard Matthew Dellavedova and forward Rob Jones, who combine to average 30.4 points, 14.0 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game.
Why it might not: The Gaels are not the toughest team defensively and could be susceptible to being pushed around. They also looked overmatched athletically in a BracketBusters blowout loss to Murray State. Sometimes, Jones tries to do too much himself offensively.
Thomas Robinson (45). Nobody obsesses more on the virtues of feeding the post than Bill Self, and that has helped Robinson, Kansas’ power forward, become the most improved player of 2011-12. He has offensive moves, he has expanded his range, he has improved his foul shooting, he is a relentless rebounder and he is one mean man when it comes to collisions in the paint. Attack him at your own risk.
Ray McCallum Jr. (51), Detroit. Could have gone to a number of big-time programs out of high school but went the mid-major route to play for his dad, Titans coach Ray Sr. The Horizon tourney run was the capper, as the sophomore point guard averaged 23.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.7 steals in the last three Titans victories.
Missouri grad Forde has Detroit winning in his bracket
As they do every season, plenty of coaches will whine over the next few days about being placed in the "toughest region" or about having "the most difficult path to the Final Four."
Roy Williams and Bill Self won't be among them.
Of the four regions, the Midwest is the one in which the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds -- in this case North Carolina and Kansas -- seem destined to meet in the Elite Eight. The Tar Heels and Jayhawks are simply that much better than the other 14 teams, none of which do much for the excite-o-meter.
Here's a breakdown of what to look for in the Midwest:
4. Detroit has one thing that opponent Kansas does not: a McDonald's All-American. Sophomore point guard Ray McCallum earned the prestigious honor in 2010. The Jayhawks, meanwhile, don't have a single McDonald's guy on their entire roster.
7. This Saint Mary's team is better than the Gaels squad that made the Sweet 16 in 2010. But I can't see Randy Bennett's squad getting past Kansas in its second game.
8. Three ESPN.com first-team All-Americans are in this regional: Kansas' Thomas Robinson, North Carolina's Tyler Zeller and Creighton's Doug McDermott.
The venue: Omaha is 734 miles from Detroit, and 212 miles from Lawrence, Kansas. Out of the gate advantage: Kansas.
Pomeroy: 92% in Kansas' favor
1. Turnovers Quality of competition aside, the Titans turn the ball over less (once per 19.2 percent of possessions) than the Jayhawks (19.5 percent). More importantly, Detroit creates more turnovers (22.4 percent) than Kansas (20.7 percent).
2. Blocking The Jayhawks may have a powerful shot-blocking force in 7-footer Jeff Whithey, who ranks second-nationally with a block in 14.7 percent of his chances, but the Jayhawks have two to contend with: 6-10 Holman (7.0 percent) and 6-11 LaMarcus Lowe (11.4 pecent). Withey has logged 60.2 percent minutes under Bill Self this season, but there's nary a minute that goes by without either Holman or Lowe on the floor for McCallum Sr.
3. Getting to the free throw line Detroit's free throw rate (44.0 percent) edges Kansas' (41.1 percent), and that's an important point of leverage for an underdog.
4. Possession sharing You don't even have to look at the numbers to know that the ball will usually end up in the hands of Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson when the Jayhawks have possession. In fact, those two account for 57.0 percent of Kansas' possessions when they're both on the floor and 55.9 percent of their shots. The story is less clear for Detroit. Chase Simon, McCallum Jr. and Holman each get greater than 21 percent of Detroit's possessions when they're on the floor, and each take more than 23 percent of the shots when on the floor. The Kansas D will be spread a little thinner planning their attack.
5. Swagger The Titans have nothing to lose and a ton of heart, and it shows. Junior dunker-extraordinaire Doug Anderson is a highlight-reel of his own. You have to watch these guys play to know what I mean. Detroit last knocked off UCLA in the NCAA tournament in 1999 and St. John's the year before that, but it would be a genuine Butler-style upset if they were able to bring Kansas to task.
Tempo-free NCAA tear down: Omaha Pod
Sporting News: Eight teams that can win it all. Kansas.
What’s unique about the McCallums is that the decision for Ray Jr. to play for his father wasn’t as simple as just joining the family business. He was a heavily recruited McDonald’s All-American. U of D is a weakened mid-major program that his father was trying to resurrect.
All the fancy, name programs came hard after Ray Jr. Duke. UCLA. Kansas. Michigan State. Florida. Ray Jr. could pick his spot, and there was plenty of peer pressure and fan sentiment that the best place was the biggest place, the best coach was the most famous coach.
Ray Jr. recalled taking a recruiting trip to Kansas during his junior season for the Jayhawks’ “Late Night in the Phog,” the school’s traditional Midnight Madness event to start practice. The banners hung from above. The seats were jammed for a practice. The Jayhawks were even awarded their national championship rings from the season before. This was pageantry.
“Cool experience,” Ray Jr. said.
“How are you going to top that?” Ray Sr. said with a laugh.
How? Well, he didn’t try. That weekend, Ray Sr. was back in Detroit, preparing a no-frills practice for a team that would win seven games that season, his first with the Titans.
…Last week, the Titans upset Valparaiso in the Horizon League final, earning an automatic bid. Ray Jr. had 21 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. It wasn’t just him, though.
Ray Sr. has built a real team, a real program, and this was the coming-out party. The Titans dominated the offensive glass, played hellacious defense and cruised to a 20-point victory. Jason Calliste had 17 points. LaMarcus Lowe had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Chase Simon had three big steals. Eli Holman had two critical blocks. It was a group effort.
It turns out the father has done as much for his son as the son has done for his father.
In the on-court celebration after the win, Ray Jr. sought out his dad, threw a bear hug on him and screamed in his ear.
“This is the way it was supposed to be. This is what we came here to do.”
High school junior prospect Ray McCallum sat in Allen Fieldhouse with other recruits such as Elijah Johnson and Xavier Henry and watched Kansas raise its 2008 NCAA championship banner.
“It was crazy,” McCallum said. “I’d never seen anything like it. I took visits to other schools, and it was by far the craziest atmosphere.”
But not enticing enough for McCallum, a McDonald’s All-American, to sign with the Jayhawks — or Florida, UCLA or Arizona.
…After losing at Valparaiso on Feb. 2 and dropping to 12-12, the Titans’ season stood at a crossroads. Up next was a trip to Butler. This was the same Bulldogs team that had appeared in the previous two national championship games, and Butler owned a 13-game winning streak against Detroit in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Even the creators of “Hoosiers,” with the hoops scenes filmed in that building, were in the stands.
But Detroit spoiled the ending, winning 65-61 with McCallum going for 20 points and the Titans transitioning the Bulldogs into submission. Detroit forced 18 turnovers and outscored Butler 18-2 in transition.
“That’s the kind of team we are,” McCallum said.
Since then, Detroit has lost only once, and when the team saw they had drawn Kansas in its first game, McCallum loved it as a college basketball fan.
“I watch a lot of games and I’ve caught them five or six times,” McCallum said. “Thomas Robinson is a national player of the year, Tyshawn Taylor has done a great job. Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, all of them. It’s a great team.”
But one McCallum believes the Titans can match. The Titans have four seniors in the playing rotation, including 6-10 frontliners LaMarcus Lowe and Eli Holman.
“We’re a tough team,” McCallum said. “We don’t let down. We proved that we’ll compete with anyone.”
VIDEO: All-Access with Detroit Basketball
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KU alum with Omaha visit suggestions
On Saturday, Kansas University women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson and Nebraska women’s coach Connie Yori were in the same high school gym recruiting for the future.
Little did they know, their immediate future would include a head-to-head match-up in this week’s NCAA Tournament.
For the first time in Henrickson’s eight seasons at Kansas — and the first time since 2000 — earned an at-large bid to the NCAAs. The 11th-seeded Jayhawks will play No. 6 seed Nebraska at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in Little Rock, Ark., in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I saw her, got up and walked over and said, ‘Hey, congratulations on a great year. I never got to see you play, so talk to me about your team,’” recalled Henrickson of her encounter with Yori. “I told that to the (KU) players, and they asked if she talked to me. I said, ‘Yeah, she talked to me, but I talked about us, too.’”
The Jayhawks learned of their match-up with the former Big 12 foe Monday night in front of a crowd of more than 50 supporters and media members in the Naismith Room at Allen Fieldhouse. It was delivered in dramatic fashion. With the ESPN broadcast of the women’s selection show blaring throughout the room, the Jayhawks watched three full regionals get released without them.
…“It’s really, really cool, and their reaction is the best,” a still-glowing Henrickson told media members shortly after the celebration subsided. “Just listening to them and watching them was priceless. Seeing their reaction at the end is exactly what you want to see from them, and you want all of your student-athletes to feel that. I’m just really happy for them.”
Despite finishing the season with two victories in its final eight games and bowing out in the quarterfinals of last weekend’s Big 12 tournament, the Jayhawks (19-12 overall, 8-10 Big 12) made the NCAA field as an at-large selection, one of seven schools from the Big 12 to earn a bid. Many believed it was the strength of the conference, and the Jayhawks’ five road victories within it, that helped them qualify.
“I feel like we’re in the best conference in the country,” said Aishah Sutherland, the team’s lone senior. “Eight (Big 12) teams probably should have been selected, but seven is good. We’re in it, and that’s all that matters.”
Big 12/College News
Syracuse University sophomore men's basketball center Fab Melo did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh, and will not take part in the NCAA Tournament due to an eligibility issue. Given University policy and federal student privacy laws, no further details can be provided at this time.
Syracuse U Athletics
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WSJ: Blind Bracket. Fun way to generate bias-free brackets
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President Obama's Bracket Challenge
With the exception of Kentucky and Duke in the South region, the No. 1 seeds and the No. 2 seeds aren’t very well differentiated this year. In fact, the forecasts see No. 2 seeded Missouri as the slight favorite to emerge from the West region, and No. 2 seed Ohio State as a favorite over Syracuse in the East. The Midwest region, furthermore, is essentially a toss-up between North Carolina and Kansas.
Speaking of those No. 1 seeds, there is a higher-than-normal chance this year of one of them being beaten by a No. 16 seed for the first time in tournament history. Specifically, there is about a 15 percent chance that at least one of them will lose. The reason has less to do with the No. 1 seeds and more to do with the No. 16 seeds, who are pretty decent this year. The expansion of the play-in round last year meant that the very weakest No. 16 seeds will be weeded out before they play one of the big names, and a lot of the smaller conferences this year had at least one pretty good team.
FiveThirtyEight picks the bracket
Best Printable Bracket (Times, locations, team records)
ESPN College Dunks of the Year (No TRob = FAIL!)
Sagarin computes weekly ratings for USA TODAY, and the simulation roughly parallels them. But it accounts for the difficulty of teams' NCAA draw and for an underdog getting hot, improving its rating after an upset or upsets.
The exercise assumes neutral-court settings.
Ohio State, though only the second seed in the tournament's East Region, played out as the second most likely winner – a little more than eight million times out of 68 million. Top-seeded Syracuse was only the sixth-most likely champion at 3.9 million.
Ahead of the Orange: Michigan State (5.4 million), Kansas (5.1 million) and North Carolina (4.6 million).
Even at the very bottom of the bracket, the computer offers hope. Mississippi Valley State, which meets Western Kentucky on Tuesday for the right to face Kentucky two days later, won it all in 2,428 of the simulations – putting the Delta Devils' odds at a little longer than 28,000-to-1.
Western Kentucky, the only tournament entry with a losing record, won nearly 4,700 of the simulations, odds of about 14,500-to-1. "I can't prove this mathematically," Sagarin says. "But things that can't happen, happen."
The Big 12 placed 60 percent of its men’s basketball teams -- six of 10 -- in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, the highest percentage of any BCS conference.
But the league did not receive a No. 1 seed despite having more teams finish among the top 10 in RPI rating at the conclusion of the regular season (three) than any league: Missouri (30-4), Kansas (27-6) and Baylor (27-7).
Missouri, the No. 2 seed in the West Regional, became the first team from a BCS league to win 30 games and not receive a No. 1 seed.
Add it up, coaches said on today’s Big 12 conference call, and it qualifies as a slap in the face to a league that deserved better.
“Our league as a whole gets disrespected,” said Kansas State coach Frank Martin, whose 21-10 team will be the No. 8 seed in the East Regional. “We should have had a No. 1 seed. That’s a little frustrating.”
Missouri, the Big 12 Tournament champion, was graded down by members of the selection committee because its non-conference schedule strength ranked No. 294 among Division I teams. Tigers’ coach Frank Haith said Monday that he pieced together the best schedule that he could as a first-year coach -- including games against Notre Dame, California, Villanova and Illinois -- but inherited a schedule with few confirmed dates when he took the job in the off-season.
“The CBE Classic [with games against Notre Dame and Cal] was about the only thing in place,” Haith said. “We had to scramble to put the rest of it together. But … we’re fine with a No. 2 seed. We’re moving on.”
Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team received the No. 3 seed in the South Regional, said Missouri and Kansas -- teams that posted a combined 5-1 mark against Baylor -- “both had cases to be No. 1 seeds.”
In the final regular-season RPI ratings, Kansas (No. 6), Baylor (No. 8) and Missouri (No. 10) all were Top 10 inclusions. But neither KU, the league's regular-season champion, or Mizzou, the Big 12 Tournament champ, received a top seed.
“It’s disappointing one of them didn’t get it,” Drew said. “But at the end of the day, you’ve got to play and win to advance.”
DFW Star Telegram
The last time Kansas, Kansas State and Wichita State reached the NCAA Tournament in the same season, things turned out pretty well for fans from the Sunflower State.
The Shockers lost in the opening round, but the Jayhawks and Wildcats just kept winning. It took the two playing against each other in a regional final for Kansas State to be eliminated, and Kansas eventually won the program's fourth national championship.
At Kemper Arena in Kansas City.
That was 1988. Fast forward more than two decades and all three of the state's Division I schools are back in the bracket for the fourth time.
…"It's a good state for basketball," said Bill Self, who was born in Oklahoma but has led the Jayhawks since 2003. "I'm happy for K-State. I think they're very deserving. And Wichita State a five? Very, very deserving."
Kansas may have been deserving of a No. 1 seed, and NCAA Tournament selection chairman Jeff Hathaway said Sunday that the Jayhawks were the first No. 2 seed, making the Sunflower State one of the best represented in the field.
…"Not bad for the little, old state of Kansas," Martin said. "Some other states have a lot more people, some other states probably have some schools that have bigger facilities or whatever else you want to say, but the state of Kansas produces three winners."
When Larry Eustachy saw Southern Mississippi flash on the TV screen, he started looking for someone to hug.
Eustachy, the coach of Southern Miss, was surrounded by a mob of supporters at a local restaurant in Hattiesburg, Miss. So he didn’t have to look far.
As everyone screamed and pulled out their cell phones to spread word of the achievement, Eustachy started saying thanks to those who helped make this surreal moment a reality.
“Now,” he would later say triumphantly, “it’s our time.”
Eustachy has been a part of the NCAA Tournament before. Fans of Kansas State, the team Southern Mississippi will face at 11:40 a.m. Thursday at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, remember him well.
When does Frank Haith accept responsibility?
When does Haith show the character I thought he had? Apologize to his former players at Miami, specifically to DeQuan Jones, Reggie Johnson and Durand Scott, whose suspensions this season are directly due to Haith’s coaching staff while he was here?
Admit that after keeping Miami from an NCAA Tournament in six of his seven seasons as the Canes’ coach – guard Jack McClinton led the ‘Canes to their lone Big Dance during Haith’s tenure – he wrecked Miami’s chance at a fair shot of making the NCAA Tournament this season?
It was because of Haith’s staff and its association with former booster Nevin Shapiro at some level – whatever that may be — that Jones was ineligible for 10 games while the NCAA investigated allegations that former UM assistant coach Jake Morton provided $10,000 to Jones’ family to secure his recruitment.
And it was because of Haith’s staff that Johnson was suspended for impermissible benefits received by Johnson’s family members from a member of Haith’s coaching staff – benefits that UM says the member of the coaching staff told the family was permissible.
Same deal with Scott. Again, the impermissible benefits received had to do with Haith’s coaching staff. Twelve games worth of suspensions, none of which Haith has accepted responsibility for.
You know, too, that the uncertainty regarding Scott’s eligibility played a major role in the NCAA selection committee’s consideration of the ‘Canes. Are you going to give a tournament berth to a bubble team that might be without its leading scorer for the opening game?
Senior guard Malcolm Grant was asked Sunday night if there is a point at which UM players start to resent Haith and his staff for the suspensions.
“We don’t try to get into that. We just try to take it for what it’s worth,” Grant said. “We were notified that those guys weren’t going to be able to play those games. Like Coach [Jim Larranaga] said, we had to deal with adversity. I think we handled it well.”
Still, you can imagine what it was like finding out about three and a half hours before the biggest game of the season Friday – an ACC quarterfinal against Florida State that UM needed to win – that Scott had been suspended.
“It’s been tough, man. It’s to the point where it’s like a joke, like, ‘You serious? Who’s next?’” Grant said. “It’s amazing to me, but we just have to deal with it and move on from there.”
Give Grant credit for taking the high road. But the fact remains that it was because of Haith and his staff that Jones, Johnson and Scott were suspended this season.
All-American Perry Ellis made his fourth First-Team to close out his career. He finished as the All-Time leading scorer for the City League with 2,202 points.
Conner Frankamp of North also made the first team after averaging 32.35 points per game as a junior. Frankamp sits at No. 4 overall on the GWAL scoring list with 1,716 career points. He is just 13 points behind Heights great Aubrey Sherrod for third all-time.
Perry Ellis - Heights (6'8, Senior)
Conner Frankamp - North (6'1, Junior)
Jalen Love - East (6'1, Senior)
Terrence Moore - Heights (6'0, Senior)
Craig Nicholson - Northwest (5'11, Senior)
Diallo Wesley - South (5'9, Senior)
Landen A. Lucas (@LandenLucas33)
3/12/12 10:46 PM
My ncaa national champion pick. I'm sure you can all guess what it iss...haha...
Mary Persons (Monroe, Ga.), 2013, SG
Committed to: Kansas
And the winner is…
“Kansas. We’ll win it all because of the mental strength they have and because of the experience of the team. Coach Self is also a great strategist so I think they will pull it out with the quick turnaround of the games.”
ESPN: HS hoopers make picks (Wonder how NC State feels about Purvis picking Syracuse, lol)
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