KU AD: Detroit pregame notes
KU AD videos/transcripts: Jayhawks preview matchup with Detroit
KU AD: Kansas Asst Coach Danny Manning meets with reporters
Word got to Kansas and Thomas Robinson on Tuesday. The Jayhawks' junior forward — the best player in the Big 12 Conference by acclamation and no worse than a co-favorite for national player of the year honors — had been called out.
"Robinson? I can handle Robinson," Detroit Mercy's big, brash Eli Holman spouted to the Detroit Free Press, pointing to their approaching meeting in the NCAA tournament. "He has to handle me."
Leaning against a wall outside the locker room, Robinson simply smiled. "He's confident. That's good," he said, barely above a whisper. "We'll see."
He understands a challenge. That hardly qualifies.
…"It's not official yet. But if he's a first-team All-American, he's going to get his number hung in the rafters. And he's going to be a lottery pick," KU coach Bill Self said. … Those are pretty proud moments considering where he came from as a recruited athlete, all the stuff he's endured as a man and how far he's he progressed in both (respects)."
In nine years, Self has ushered a parade of stars through his program. Wayne Simien. Brandon Rush. Aldrich. Sherron Collins. The Morrises.
"Place in the heart," he said of Robinson, "he's going to be right at the very top. There's no question."
…"There are not a lot of guys," Manning said, "who put themselves in that situation in terms of coming to a school that has three players who end up being first-round picks. He met it head on. (He) obviously didn't play as much as he would like his freshman year, or his sophomore year, but he stayed after it. And last summer, he worked extremely hard.
"It's his time, it's his opportunity, and he's making the most of it."
The national player of the year race has boiled down to Robinson and Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis, the expected overall first pick in June in the NBA draft. Davis' array of skills is breathtaking, but the Wildcats surround him with a fistful of other first-rounders-in-waiting.
Robinson and senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor are carrying one of the more modestly talented teams in Self's tenure.
Underscoring his value, the Jayhawks struggled as Robinson struggled against Baylor last week in the Big 12 tournament semifinals. He hit just six of 14 shots from the field, and finished with a subpar 15 points, nine rebounds and four turnovers. Kansas lost 81-72.
"Sometimes, I feel the energy I show against certain players is different," he said. "That's something I have to work on, but it's nothing I can't fix."
Motivation tends not to be an issue.
Fourteen months after Robinson's family heartbreak — his younger sister is living in Washington with her father, James Paris — Manning says he sees a much more focused player. Robinson affirmed that: "I feel like I have a deeper purpose to play for."
Beyond that, he declined to speak to his personal life.
There are times, Self said, when it's obvious he still carries sorrow. "I don't know that he's through it," he said.
It only deepens the coach's admiration.
"Life's full of twists and turns and, to me, the key is somehow taking negatives and spinning them into positives," Self said. "I don't see how you can spin a tragedy like he's had into positives. But he's done it if it's possible."
USA Today Steve Weiberg
I sure hope mizzou alum Mr. Weiberg apologized to TRob for this poorly worded question at the 2:19 mark. Unbelievable that a professional with his experience would blurt out such a thing.
Do not be misled by the KU junior’s reserved stance as he prepares for a Detroit front line, which includes another 6-10 big, LaMarcus Lowe.
“It motivates (Robinson) to come and play even harder,’’ said teammate Travis Releford.
When apprised of the challenge Holman presented, Robinson’s frontline partner Jeff Withey also shrugged.
“I don’t know. I think me and Thomas are pretty good down low,’’ Withey said. “I don’t know too much about them right now. They’re pretty long and athletic. We’ll get a good feel for them and let our play speak for us.’’
The words will serve as motivation as preparations continue.
“Yeah, definitely,’’ Withey added. “(The talk) is a lot of fun and when you play it’s definitely in the back of your mind.’’
Danny Manning could have escaped basketball foot-loose and fancy free.
Instead, the footwork he teaches players only strengthens his reputation as an icon at Kansas — first as its all-time leading scorer and rebounder, and now as an assistant who is known as the country’s best coach of big men.
This was a standout who made enough money at the game, and further solidified his Hall of Fame credibility, while playing through a litany of injuries throughout his pro career.
There was no need for him to return to KU and teach, yet he did, serving on the staff each of Bill Self’s nine seasons.
“Everybody respects him. If he says something, we listen,” junior center Jeff Withey said. “We all see him as a role model, and that definitely helps.
“He’s a real humble guy. He doesn’t have to be teaching us all these things, his secrets. He doesn’t have to be telling us all his moves, so when he does, we’re eager to learn.”
…Think about it. Not since Cal legend Pete Newell has there been a coach consistently mentioned as often as Manning for getting players to excel in the paint.
His latest project, Thomas Robinson, is a leading candidate for national player of the year after serving as a backup behind the Morris twins each of his first two seasons. In addition, Withey became such an inside force he was named the Big 12’s top defender after setting a conference record with 65 blocks in league play.
“Maybe it’s because there’s not a lot of big men to go around,” Self said, “but there’s not a ton of teams that you can say they definitely play inside-out.
“When we play our worst it’s when we don’t play inside-out. That’s kind of been a staple for what we do. In recruiting, people can say we cater to big guys. Well, you know what? It’s probably true. ... We’ve taken great pride in developing big guys, and Danny’s been a big part in that.”
…Like the other KU assistants, Manning does it all — coach, recruit, scout, advise.
At some point, it is possible he could be doing it elsewhere as a collegiate head coach.
“You always aspire to get better and improve, and you want to learn each and every day,” he said. “I’m in a great spot being around coach Self and being around (Joe) Dooley and (Kurtis) Townsend and (Barry) Hinson. So I soak up as much as I can and when it happens, it happens.”
“I got a lot of confidence in the guys in Maui. That was a pretty good basketball team playing in Maui,” Self said of a squad that followed a season-opening win over Towson in Allen Fieldhouse with wins over Georgetown and UCLA and a loss to Duke in the Maui Invitational. “Beating Ohio State even without (injured Jared) Sullinger (78-67 on Dec. 10 in Allen Fieldhouse) ... that’s a pretty good basketball team.
“The problem is, when we’ve been good, we’ve been real good. When we haven’t been good, it’s been a big drop. I think that’s what happens when you don’t have a lot of depth. Playing five or six guys a majority of minutes, it doesn’t take much for that drop to occur. I do like our guys a lot.”
…“I never dreamed the winner of the league would have two losses,” Self said. “I thought four would tie it, three win it outright. To have two is pretty remarkable. We had a lot of good wins. We did a pretty good job for a team that doesn’t close late. It was a great run, but we’ve received enough pats on the back for winning the league. That’s over. We need to put our focus on trying to make it a special season. It’s a good season. You can’t take that from us. It won’t be special unless we play well from this point forward.”
…Of floor general Taylor, Self said: “I’ve loved coaching him. He’s had a great career. There have only been three or four other players that have ever put up the numbers he has from his position at our school.
“I’d say he’s unique because I’m not sure I’ve ever coached anybody that tall, that long and that fast. I don’t know if we ever had a player since I’ve been here who played better over a longer period of time than he has.”
The coaches did their mutual respect thing: Detroit coach Ray McCallum called sixth-ranked Kansas one of the nation’s best teams, and KU’s Bill Self was effusive in his praise of the Titans on Tuesday.
“I’m serious, you can make a highlight tape of Detroit, and it’s as good as Baylor’s,” Self said. “They are athletic.”
Holman, a 6-9 senior transfer from Indiana, was named the Horizon League’s sixth-man of the year and averages 10.9 points. Another senior, 6-10 LaMarcus Lowe, gives Detroit size to match Kansas, and in the coach’s son Ray McCallum, the Titans have a point guard as important to his team as Tyshawn Taylor is to the Jayhawks.
Detroit qualified for the tournament by winning the Horizon tournament on the home floor of top-seeded Valparaiso by 20 points.
“There’s an element of excellent in that league,” Self said. “For them to win at Valparaiso like they did is pretty impressive. Certainly we didn’t get any favors.”
…“For the most part, if you’re capable of being sound consistently then you’re capable of being sound all the time,” Self said. “And sometimes you can’t force teams into bad plays, but you can make sure they don’t’ have good plays. That’s what we have to be much more consistent in trying to do.”
Statistically, Kansas’ defense ranks among the best. In Big 12 play, the Jayhawks were first in blocked shots (5.8), steals (7.3), scoring defense (62.2 points) and field-goal percentage defense (38.8 percent).
So it was surprising when Baylor went for 81, the most against KU in regulation this season. The Missouri game in Lawrence was 75-75 before Kansas won in overtime, 87-86.
It’s why when Self talks about keys to beating Detroit, he starts with defense, especially on the interior with Robinson and Jeff Withey, along with Travis Releford on the wing.
“(Robinson) has to guard, and he and Jeff are both going to have to play above the rim,” Self said. “Travis is going to have to play to his athletic ability.”
Robinson, his smile subsided, believes that will happen.
“I’m confident,” he said. “That loss last week put us back on track to focus.”
The KU travel party will bus to Omaha, leaving at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The Jayhawks will eat before arriving at their hotel, the Embassy Suites, at 9:10 p.m.
...No charter flights out of Topeka’s Forbes Field will be arranged for KU unless the Jayhawks reach the Final Four in New Orleans.
…KU’s open practice Thursday is free to the public and scheduled from 5:10-5:50 p.m. at CenturyLink Center.
The Jayhawk Television Network will air an hour-long NCAA Tournament Preview Show on several local and national affiliates March 14-17. Host Bob Davis will sit down with Kansas head coach Bill Self and All-American forward Thomas Robinson to discuss all things Kansas basketball as the team heads into March Madness. The show will feature a season recap, plays of the year and a preview of the upcoming NCAA tournament. The show can be seen statewide and nationally on the affiliates below:
March 14 at 7 p.m. – Knology (Lawrence)
March 14 at 7 p.m. – Kansas22/Cox Communications - Statewide
March 14 at 11 p.m. – WIBW - CBS
March 16 at 7 p.m. – KSMO – Kansas City
March 17 at 10 a.m. – Metro Sports (Kansas City)
KSNW-NBC – Check local listings
Cox Communications (Oklahoma) – Check local listings
*All times are Central
Kansas Jayhawks coach Bill Self talks about what went wrong in the Big 12 tournament, Friday's NCAA tournament meeting with the Detroit Titans and preparing for the tournament.
The Naismith Awards Board of Selectors chose the Kansas basketball student section for the award from a field of eight finalists. An original field of some 80 entries was narrowed to eight by two rounds of public Facebook votes. Selection criteria included the student section's name and attendance, as well as photos, video, a write-up submitted by the nominating school, as well as a weighted score based on the public vote. The contest was launched nationally Nov. 15. KU led the way into the final round of scoring with the highest vote tally throughout the first and second rounds of the public vote.
Kansas clearly outlasted the remaining candidates, the Board of Selectors said, noting KU's 4,000-seat student section's unique traditions, which include a student-run "camping for seats" system (many days in advance), filling the seats adjacent to James Naismith Court two hours before tip-off, throwing newspaper confetti during player introductions, standing the entire game, and leading the famous Rock Chalk Chant.
"We have the best students and fans in the country, and we are thrilled to now have national confirmation of what we have always known," said head coach Bill Self, who has led the Jayhawks into the tournament in each of his nine seasons at Kansas. "Our student section starts prepping for games days before tip-off; they stand by our team the entire game, giving us an unbelievable home-court advantage. We thank the Naismith Awards organization and CLC for establishing this unique award and selecting our Kansas students."
The Atlanta Tipoff Club, co-presenter of the award, has long been involved in college sports. It has presented the Naismith Trophy, recognizing the college basketball player of the year, since 1969. KU's Danny Manning won the award in 1988.
"We are thrilled that so many Division I basketball schools nominated their student section to be named the best fans in college basketball, and applaud Jayhawk fans for displaying such passion," said Eric Oberman, Executive Director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. "We look forward to adding another chapter of Kansas Basketball to our storied Naismith Awards family."
"College basketball student sections love college hoops and bring the emotion, energy, and spirit that define the home court advantage, and we want to celebrate that," added Tim Hawks, Senior Director of Brand & Retail Development for CLC. "We are proud to recognize the Kansas students as the winner of the inaugural Naismith Student Section of the Year Award and congratulate them on a tremendous effort to rally their fans to vote in this competition."
Kansas is playing Saturday in Omaha.
No, no…not the Kansas basketball team. The Jayhawks are playing Friday (and hopefully Sunday). We’re talking the band Kansas. You know: “Dust in the Wind” and “Carry On My Wayward Son.”
Drummer Phil Ehart says the tour date was quite the fortunate coincidence. “Wouldn’t it be great to have a bunch of KU folks in the audience?” he says.
The band, which soon will celebrate its 40th anniversary, is performing at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Holland Performing Arts Center. Kansas will appear with the Heartland Philharmonic Orchestra from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. It’s part of a national tour that pairs the rock band with college orchestras, with a portion of the proceeds going to the universities’ music departments.
Ehart’s sales pitch for KU fans: “Instead of having five guys on stage, we now have 65 people. It’s a much bigger band, a much bigger sound.”
The band’s roots are in Topeka, and Ehart was both an original member and one of only two members who have appeared on every album. A native of Coffeyville, he traveled the world as the son of an Air Force father before returning to Topeka to join the band.
Several of Kansas’ members through the years have had Topeka roots, and Ehart says they tended to lean toward KU instead of K-State, in part, because one-time band violinist Robbie Steinhardt’s father, Milton, was a professor of music history at KU.
“Kansas is such a basketball force,” Ehart says.
Ehart says though the group now is based in Atlanta, several members still have family in Kansas. He recently returned for the Kansas Music Hall of Fame induction of a previous band, White Clover, which eventually morphed into Kansas.
“It would mean a lot for the band Kansas to see a bunch of Kansas alumni at the show,” he says. “Way down in the depths, we’re still Kansas guys.”
KU Alumni Org
My freshman year, Kirk Hinrich was telling us freshmen (Aaron Miles, Mike Lee, Keith Langford and Wayne Simien) that it was going to get crazy when we arrived at the airport. So when we pulled up to the airport we saw fans screaming, kicking and yelling out of joy! We were a bit shocked at the loyal 500-plus fans showing support and we definitely felt the love.
The coaches would have us walk through the airport to greet the fans and show our appreciation for them instead of driving around the back and getting on the plane quick. We were not allowed to sign autographs but could shake hands and talk to the fans.
We all had to dress up in suits when we traveled to away games with Coach Williams. I looked over at Kirk, and he was taking off his suit jacket. I asked him, “What are you doing, man?” (with a concerned look on my face. Kirk replied, “They ain’t marking on my suit” and got off the bus. Not thinking anything more of his comments, we all got off the bus in our full suits, thinking we looked really nice. By the time we got to the end of the line of fans, all of the freshmen had permanent maker on our suits.
Still, the fans make up all the best memories of my tournament experiences.
kualumni.org: Jeff Hawkins
it’s Social Media March Madness time.
Since we first started measuring social media muscle amongst college fan bases back in 2008 (we believe we were the first to do it), the NCAA Social Media rankings have slowly become one of our favorite and most popular analyses of the year.
Twitter exploded in 2011, and college hoops fans have taken notice. After years of using Facebook fans as our primary data point, this year, the Schwartz MSL Research Group enhanced and refined our methodology. We realized Facebook fans of the Schools main page did not measure engagement with the basketball team. When analyzing brands it is essential to analyze the right basket. Additionally, with so much sports commentary happening on Twitter, we added that to our analysis for the first time this year.
How do we determine a winner? To determine each school’s SMPR (Social Media Power Ranking), we used the following formula: (# of Facebook fans for each college basketball team + # of Twitter followers for each college basketball Twitter handle/Number of students attending the university, according to Wikipedia.) Sure, it’s not an exact science, but it’s the closest we can get to assess each school’s social media prowess and compare them against each other. This also eliminates school size as a factor in determining the winner.
We won’t keep you waiting. Ladies and gentleman, your 2012 March Madness Social Media Power Rankings:
…Kansas takes the top prize over Duke, with a SMPR of 5.244
The Top 10 by Social Media Power Ranking:
Michigan State- 1.650
Big 12/College News
The Big 12 is on the verge of a blockbuster TV contract that will put its media revenue among the top tier of college conferences, despite losing several marquee programs in the last two years.
The Big 12 and ESPN are nearing an extension that will earn the conference — combined with its Fox TV contract — $2.5 billion over the next 13 years, according to industry sources. The ESPN extension would run through 2025 and sync up with Fox’s deal.
By network, the Big 12 stands to make $1.3 billion from ESPN and $1.2 billion from Fox over the life of the two deals. ESPN’s old contract with the Big 12 ran through 2016, but the two sides are close on a nine-year extension that will increase the conference’s average revenue from its current $150 million a year to nearly $200 million annually. Each Big 12 school will make roughly $5 million more a year in the new contract over the old deal.
“We have an existing agreement with the Big 12 that has four years remaining,” said Mike Soltys, ESPN vice president of communications. “We are in regular conversations with all our partners about future opportunities. There’s nothing beyond that.”
The Big 12’s potential revenue windfall comes on the heels of mass upheaval for the conference, which has lost Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC, while adding Texas Christian from the Mountain West and West Virginia from the Big East to stay at 10 teams. Additionally, the new media revenue could effectively end any discussion of the Big 12 expanding back to 12 teams, not the news that the University of Louisville wanted to hear. The Cardinals had been positioned as a strong candidate to join the Big 12 if it expanded.
Under the new terms, each Big 12 school will average just under $20 million a year. Schools in the Pac-12, which also partnered with ESPN and Fox to generate its record $3 billion deal over 12 years, will average nearly $21 million per school.
It remains to be seen how the Big 12’s new contract will affect the ongoing negotiations between ESPN and two other league partners, the SEC and the ACC. Both conferences expanded to 14 schools, which makes them eligible to negotiate new terms.
What is not immediately clear is if there is also an extension of the conference’s grant of media rights. The schools agreed in September to a six-year grant of rights. That means if any school left for another conference during that time period, the conference would still own the school’s TV rights.
Nevertheless, the negotiation signifies that the Big 12 is showing signs of long-term stability. In that April deal, Fox paid for the Big 12’s secondary broadcast rights in football and basketball. The new deal is for 18-20 top tier games per year according to industry sources. This new deal is based on a 10-team league and sources said it could be worth even more per school if the Big 12 expands to 11 or 12 teams. The Big 12 lost Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC last year, but replaced them with West Virginia and TCU. For the moment, the Big 12 is on the same plane financially as the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12. All 46 schools make close to or more than $20 million per year from their primary media rights agreements. ACC schools make less.
The Big 12’s proposed deal would compare favorably with the Pac-12, which signed a $250 million-a-year deal with ESPN and Fox. That breaks down to about $21 million a school. Pac-12 sources have claimed since last year that when its new network ramps up after launching in the fall, its schools will be making more than $30 million per year.
The SEC plans to reopen its contract to negotiate more rights fees with ESPN with the addition of Missouri and A&M. The same is occurring in the ACC with the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. In May 2010, the ACC signed a deal worth $155 million annually, while the SEC’s media rights deal with ESPN/ABC and CBS is worth about $205 million a year.
The Big Ten is expected to hit it big when its primary rights deal with ESPN expires in 2016. The Big East is hoping to also get a huge media rights deal in the next year. The Big East’s current $36 million deal with ESPN/ABC and CBS expires after the 2012-13 basketball season and the 2013-14 football season. The league rejected a $1.4 billion deal last year from ESPN, sources told CBSSports.com.
Baker University basketball coach Brett Ballard thought he knew a little bit about tradition.
After all, he spent 10 years at the University of Kansas in various capacities, including his first two as a player and last two as director of basketball operations. He was part of a Final Four team as a player for Roy Williams and contributed to a national championship team as an administrative assistant to Bill Self.
But even Ballard was impressed with the tradition at Baker when he became the Wildcats’ coach last year. He’s following a lineage that includes Phog Allen, who coached Baker for three years — including a 14-0 season in 1906-07 — and Emil Liston, who along with a fellow named James Naismith, created the NAIA Tournament and brought his team to the inaugural tournament in 1937.
Now, as the NAIA tournament celebrates its 75th year, Baker, 21-11, is back in the field for just the second time since 1937 and will meet Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) at 6:15 tonight at Municipal Auditorium.
“There is a tradition here,” Ballard said. “To have that tradition and names like that at Baker is something you can be proud of. Certainly you want to be at a place with tradition, similar to Kansas or schools like that who have good coaches and good players come through.”
Baker lost its opening games in both the 1937 and 1941 NAIA tournaments, and though this is the Wildcats’ first trip to the Division I tournament in 71 years, they played in the Division II tournament as recently as 1996 when Baker won a school-record 25 games.
Ballard is trying to instill in the Wildcats the principles he learned while playing for Williams and working for Self.
“I was lucky to be with coach Williams and with coach Self,” said Ballard, who went 12-18 in his first season. “So 90 percent of what I do is what they do. Those two guys are very similar in their approach and their coaching philosophy. We try to get kids to play hard, unselfishly and guard, and I know that sounds kind of easy, but if you can get them to do those three things at a high level, then you can have some success.”
The common denominator in winning at any level is having talented players.
“You’ve got to bring in talent,” Ballard said. “Both coach Self and coach Williams are big-time recruiters. There’s a reason they are successful; they’ve got really talented teams. They get them to buy in … those are the most important things: You’ve got to go recruit, you’ve got to get kids who can play, and once you get ’em here, you’ve got to get them to play together and play hard.”
There is a strange power in being disliked and knowing it is so. It is a paradox and not easy to embrace despite the freedom it can bring. But scorn can force focus only on those who can be counted on, and it can offer a rare but important lesson: That what others think doesn't actually matter much.
At least once you accept that, the world sees you one way and you see yourself another.
This is the bizarre state the Baylor Bears have inhabited this entire season and the seasons preceding it. The program has a sordid past, yes, but the currents of dislike that flow around it on all sides, those that have made one of America's best teams and best stories a mostly unsung island, go far behind what happened in 2003.
Baylor's Scott Drew is wildly unpopular among many coaches, so much so he may be the least-liked head coach in college basketball. He carries that fact with him like some sadness he can't shake. He won't address it, he is polite and quick with praise for those who do not like him when it's pointed out, but the knowledge clings to the man the way success should for anyone who took a program that went 1-15 in Big 12 conference play in his second season and turned it into a college basketball power. He has the air of a guy who knows he's on the outside looking in, and he can't do a damn thing about it.
…Of course, critics will contend with a point, you can't be holier-than-thou and engage in dirty tricks, and this is where we get to difficult shades of gray, from faith to recruiting to how you balance a religious life with a cutthroat world.
Recruiting is a down-and-dirty business, and it's hard to say what's true and what's not. What is certain is that Drew has been caught doing negative recruiting and been confronted several times by fellow coaches. Some, sources said, have gone so far as to threaten bodily harm if he did it again.
"You don't go after my name," one NCAA head coach told me, referencing the belief Drew once disparaged him to recruits. "Don't ever disparage my character. He's done it. He knows he's done it. You don't do that."
Several years ago, Drew mailed a flier to recruits. It featured three pictures: One of former Texas Tech head coach Bobby Knight, one of Drew and one of former Texas A&M head coach Billy Gillispie. A caption read: "Which of these Big 12 coaches has signed a McDonald's All-American?"
A giant X was stamped across the other two men's pictures.
Drew grew a little uncomfortable when asked about it, but my read was simple embarrassment. The guy spent most of his career at Valparaiso, under his father Homer Drew. Drew had no mentors, no political connections and no high-level coaching experiences outside that enclave. Perhaps he didn't know the code — and it certainly must be an interesting one — between what you do and do not do when recruiting players.
"Coach Knight, anyone who grew up playing basketball or watching basketball respects him," Drew said. "It was a small thing. We apologized."
…The players know. Of course they do.
They know people say Baylor cheats. They know people criticize their coach and by extension the team, the program and every one of them. They know disrespect permeates the world around them — disrespect not for style or ability, something many programs face, but for the actual character of its leader.
"People just don't like Baylor as a whole for some reason," said junior guard A.J. Walton. "They really just throw us under the bus and coach Drew just happened to be here so it came with the territory."
"We don't get any kind of respect for anything," Jones said. "It's everything."
…And the accusations of cheating?
Drew was in his office, and he turned and looked down at the practice court. Some of his players were there. He watched them for a while before answering.
"Unfortunately," he said at last, "that's the nature of the game. For players it tends to be officials. Players blame the officials. And for coaches — something's got to be blamed."
Still agonizing over your bracket? Field Notes, Vol. 2 (word to 2011's Vol. 1) is one college hoops writer’s attempt to guide you through the process as the Thursday deadline looms. Note: Said writer may or may not have a horrendous recent tourney history, which is why he’ll rely so much on advice from others in this series. Consider it a thinking fan’s guide to the bracket.
SI Experts NCAA Picks
CBS Viewers Guide: Enter your zip, finds channels/schedule for games
Opening Rounds Game Times, Announcing Crews
WSJ: Blind Bracket
Best Printable Bracket (Times, locations, team records)
Two all-time Men’s Basketball Championship records were set Tuesday, setting the bar high for an exciting tournament that continues Wednesday.
BYU trailed Iona by 25 points in the first half, but moved into the Round of 64 with the largest comeback in Men’s Basketball Championship history.
Western Kentucky, the only team in the field with a losing record this season, trailed Mississippi Valley State by 16 points with under 5:00 remaining. The Hilltoppers moved on to the Round of 64 with the largest final-5:00 comeback in Men’s Basketball Championship history.
ESPN: How No. 1 will fall
UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero has confirmed that Ben Howland will return as head coach of the UCLA men's basketball team.
"As I have stated before, at the conclusion of each sport's season, a program and its coaches are evaluated. That evaluation includes a comprehensive review of the performance of the team, including its competitive success and its continued commitment to academics, but where other aspects related to the overall management of the program are also considered.
I had several discussions with Head Coach Ben Howland before deciding on what was best for the future of UCLA Basketball. Subsequent to these conversations, and in consultation with Chancellor Block, I have made the decision that the UCLA men's basketball program will remain under Coach Howland's leadership and direction.
While studying a statistical model typically used in clinical drug trials, for a public health class at Harvard, John had an idea: What if he applied a similar “survival analysis” to teams in the NCAA tournament, to assess their risk of falling out of the bracket at each stage? The model he created, when retroactively applied to the past five NCAA tournaments, was able to outperform projections by kenpom.com and teamrankings.com, with an average of 44 correct picks per bracket and three out of five champions correctly identified (see chart below).
SI Luke Winn (Kansas Final Four)
President Barack Obama has Kentucky, Ohio State, Missouri and North Carolina in the Final Four of his NCAA men's basketball bracket, which will be unveiled in its entirety Wednesday on ESPN.
Obama filled out a bracket for the fourth consecutive year. He picked North Carolina to win the 2009 title -- and was correct.
He's gone with Kansas the past two seasons, and the Jayhawks were eliminated early both times.
His national championship pick will be unveiled at 9 a.m. ET Wednesday on "SportsCenter."
Segments from ESPN.com reporter Andy Katz's interview with the president will begin airing at 11 p.m. ET Tuesday night.
There also will be coverage on ABC's "Good Morning America."
The president has Baylor, St. John's, Connecticut and Notre Dame in his women's bracket, which will be unveiled Friday.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he won't be filling out a tournament bracket.
"I'm not plugged in well enough this year to do that," Romney said Tuesday during a brief exchange with reporters traveling with him in Missouri.
Fast-paced transition attacks have been replaced by grind-it-out fights with scores in the 50s and 60s. Scoring is at its lowest level in 15 years in Division I.
…“The last three years, it seems there’s been a confluence of events that have come together to put the game in a bad spot,” said Jay Bilas, a member of Mike Krzyzewski’s first Final Four team at Duke in 1986 and an ESPN analyst. “We’ve had three years where the quality of play has been low or lower. It doesn’t mean it hasn’t been competitive and it hasn’t been fun to watch, but nobody can tell me the quality of play is as good this year as it was in 2008 or 2009. It’s not.”
Division I teams are averaging 68 points per game this year, down three points from the 1997-98 season, according to STATS LLC. And there have been no shortage of unsightly scores rolling across TV tickers.
Last year’s Final Four should’ve been an omen of what was on the horizon. Connecticut’s defense overpowered Butler in a 53-41 victory that capped a weekend in which the teams averaged 56 points, the worst in the shot-clock era.
The decline has extended into this season and there are plenty of factors.
There’s the ongoing exodus of underclassmen to the NBA, leaving behind younger teams relying on players whose games haven’t reached maturity. The game is more physical, whether it’s defenders clutching and grabbing cutters or the bigger, faster, stronger bodies that keep crashing into each other in the paint.
Coaches can scout opponents easier than ever with no shortage of games available on television or online, even using DVRs to record broadcasts and file them away for an upcoming league game or a team that could pop up in their NCAA tournament bracket.
With those factors working together, it’s no wonder offenses are forced to slow things down and work deeper into the shot clock. And of course some teams run clock by design to shorten games and prevent more talented teams from utilizing their athleticism to wear them down.
In economics jargon, the demand for consuming college basketball in person within arenas has declined.
One of the non-price factors that shifts demand are consumer tastes and preferences. That said, it seems as though our collective tastes and preferences for men’s college basketball has dwindled.
Though the economy and availability of games on high def TV contribute to this trend, there is no doubt in my mind that attendances have fallen primarily because fans perceive a dilution of talent AND they have less emotional connection to their teams as roster turnover is much higher than ever before.
The Pac-12 men's basketball tournament is moving to Sin City for the next three years.
Commissioner Larry Scott announced the deal Tuesday at the MGM Grand hotel-casino in Las Vegas, standing poolside near a site known for boxing, not basketball.
Scott said the move, combined with moving the women's tournament to Seattle, will generate buzz and create atmosphere for the conference's fans.
The Pac-12 tournament running March 13-16, 2013, will be the fourth conference tournament in Las Vegas, along with the Mountain West, Western Athletic Conference and West Coast Conference.
"For hardcore basketball fans, this is going to be like Disneyland," Scott said.
Rossi Ralenkotter of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said the tournament will establish Las Vegas as the town where March Madness begins, with the tournaments generating $27 million in spending in the city — excluding gambling.
"It's a win-win for all of us," Ralenkotter said.
All the tournament's games will be televised under a 12-year deal with ESPN, Fox and the newly created Pac-12 Network. Scott said ESPN would air three tournament games, including the championship, next year.
KU assistant Danny Manning was instrumental in the Jayhawks’ efforts landing Perry Ellis, the Wichita Heights standout who just completed his high school career by obtaining a fourth Class 6A championship and going 97-3.
“He’s a very talented individual, incredible young man in terms of off-court demeanor, how focused he is on academics and his drive on the court,’’ Manning said.
“I got a chance to watch him a lot these last four years and he’s improved every year. He’s a humble young man. He’s going to come here and with those attributes he has, he’s going to have a big impact.’’
A tough one for Manning was whether Ellis should be considered the greatest prep player ever out of Kansas. He will become a four-time All-State pick, though Manning can also be considered an all-time state great after one outstanding season for Lawrence.
“I would definitely say he would have to be at the top,’’ said Manning, “winning four state championships in a row, winning as many games in a row (62) as he did, and being the focal point each and every time you step on the court and still finding a way to help your team win and be successful.
“Yes, I would say he is at the top of the list, but he is not by himself. There are a lot of other great players who have had great high school careers (in Kansas) also.’’
Today, the McDonald's All American® Games and Morgan Wootten, Hall of Fame coach and selection committee chair, named Shabazz Muhammad and Breanna Stewart winners of the 2012 Morgan Wootten Player of the Year Award for their accomplishments on and off the court.
Muhammad, the 6-6, 215 lb. prep star from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nev. became the 16th winner of the annual male Morgan Wootten Award. Previous winners include Austin Rivers (2011), Kevin Love (2007), Dwight Howard (2004), LeBron James (2003), Jay Williams (1999) and the award's first recipient, Shane Battier (1997). Muhammad beat out finalists Kyle Anderson (St. Anthony's High School - Fairview, N.J.), Brandon Ashley (Findlay College Preparatory - Henderson, Nev.), Isaiah Austin (Grace Preparatory Academy - Arlington, Texas), Marcus Paige (Linn-Mar High School - Marion, Iowa) and Marcus Smart (Marcus High School - Flower Mound, Texas).
The father of Shabazz Muhammad, widely considered the top prep basketball recruit nationally, said his son is pleased that UCLA Coach Ben Howland will be coaching the Bruins next season.
Howland's job was thought to be less than secure after a volatile season, but UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero announced Tuesday that Howland would return next season.
"We're happy for Ben, happy for the program," Muhammad's father Ron Holmes told The Times in a phone interview. "I think he's going to do a good job and that he'll get the program back on track."
Muhammad, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound star from Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, has UCLA as one of his final schools, Holmes said, along with, in alphabetical order, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Nevada Las Vegas.
UCLA has come under much criticism after a subpar season, including a Sports Illustrated article this month that portrayed the program as being out of control under Howland.
"We understand that there are a lot of issues with a lot of programs and that was brought to light with UCLA," Holmes said.
Holmes said he and Muhammad have had personal discussions with Howland about these issues and that, without going into specifics, they feel comfortable with what he had to say.
Muhammad is expected to sign a letter of intent with his chosen school on April 11, the first day of the spring signing period.
In early April, he's expected to take an official visit to UCLA.
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