Arkansas to be in Final Four -- Cheaney Player of YearBy Mike Duffy and Andrew Heitner
With the likes of the Chantacliers, Hilltoppers, and Muskateers running wild, we present our NCAA Tournament Special Pull-Out Section. No single team is willing to take charge this season and as many as six teams have legitimate shots at the title so this promises to be a close and exciting round of hoops. Make sure to get new batteries for those Watchmans and transistor radios that will be snuck into 18.02 lectures next Thursday and Friday...
The Lords of the Big East must really be under pressure from the TV execs to put on a good show in their conference tournament at Madison Square (The) Garden this weekend following a poor showing by the conference during the regular season. What other reason could they have for allowing Syracuse to participate in the tournament? The Orangemen have been on suspension this season for recruiting violations and will not be permitted to go the NCAA tourney, but by participating in the Big East playoffs, they may prevent an honest school from going to The Show. Seton Hall and St. John's should be locks to get to the NCAA's, and, therefore, if Syracuse were to win the Big East and take away an automatic bid for one of these teams, a team "on the bubble" like Pitt, Providence, and UConn would probably lose an at-large bid to the NCAA's. Maybe making the Big East tournament a free throw contest would ensure that Syracuse departs in the first round...
One of the exciting aspects of the NCAA basketball tournament is that by winning their conferences, teams from unknown schools from small conferences get automatic bids to The Show to compete against the big boys. What we'd like to see, however, is for these conferences to do away with the single elimination tournaments that decide the conference winner. Although they are usually exciting (see the Rider/Wagner thriller), and satisfy hoop junkies and ESPN executives alike, they are not really fair. Take, for example, the Colonial Athletic Conference, where powerhouse James Madison was upset by 13-16 East Carolina in the final round of the conference tourney. James Madison, which had a fantastic year, will probably not get to go to the NCAA's, while a team with a losing record which happened to play well for four games in a row, gets to take its place. An injury to a key player on a good team or a sly coach on a lesser team who rests his players during the season for the conference tournament could also force this result. Why should a team that proves itself worthy over 25 games have to risk its reputation and a tourney bid by playing some lesser team with nothing to lose on a neutral court?
Best bets to make the Final Four:
Indiana. The Hoosiers would have been our pick to take it all until Allan Henderson got hurt. His loss will hurt not only on the boards, but also at the defensive end, as he frequently guards the opponent's top inside scorer. Nevertheless, with The General, Bobby "Puerto Rico" Knight, at the helm, and with Calbert Cheaney doing the shooting in the clutch, the Boys from Bloomington ought to make it to the Cresent City.
Kentucky. Rick Pitino and the `Cats have yet to see a three pointer they didn't like -- a lot. With this being the swan song of Jamal Mashburn, who has already declared eligibility for the NBA draft, the big fella will carry the team from the "other" commonwealth to the Final Four, smelling the green of a possible number one pick along the way.
Michigan. The Wolverines are likely to be shipped out West, where teams from the tougher part of the country have generally had success (see Seton Hall, St. John's, and Indiana), and where their toughest competition will be from overrated Arizona and Utah. Since Indiana clinched the Big 10-and-a-half title weeks ago, Michigan has been in cruise control anticipating the Big Show. Chris Webber hasn't been playing well, but Howard and Jackson have picked up their games. Eric Riley will be 100 percent, giving the Harvard of the Midwest probably the nation's best top seven.
North Carolina. The senior class at Chapel Hill was heralded 4 years ago as the best freshman class in history, at least prior to the Fab Five at UM, and it's time they produced. Though UNC is the least favorite team of your humble scribes, Dean "Wermer" Smith has his troops playing their best at the most opportune time of the season...
Next up is our list of sleeper teams, unheralded teams who may do some damage to some of the big boys:
Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers have wins against New Orleans and at Louisville in posting a 24-5 record, and they have already won the Sun Belt Conference tournament. Look for Darnell "Stand By" Mee to come up big.
Southern Illinois. The real Soloukis are peaking at the end of the season, as their pasting of Illinois St. in the Missouri Valley Conference tourney showed. A probable 13th seed, they have the potential to surprise a 4th seed in the first round.
Temple. Any Don Cheney team that comes out of the Philadelphia Gym Wars of the Big 5 has a good shot at advancing into the latter rounds. Eric Brunson "Burner" from Salem High School is a big time play maker because he is burdened with sharing the backcourt with Vic Karstarfian. Aaron McKie was the Atlantic 10 player of the year and that could mean trouble for some of the other middle-seeded (7,8,9,10) teams.
Arkansas. We'll stick by our preseason prediction (the "Year of Arkansas," remember) and say that the Razorbacks will surprisingly get to the party on the Delta. Nolan Richardson's team had a tough season, but it was the first season in a difficult conference, the South-Eastern Conference. Look for opponents to fall in the "40 minutes of Hell" brand of basketball played by the Hogs...
Our Player of the Year balloting looks like this:
1. Calbert "Lon" Cheaney,
2. Jamal "Sour" Mashburn,
3. Rodney "Buck" Rogers,
4. J.R. "Magic Carpet" Rider,
5. Anfernee "Craps" Hardaway,
It's hard to believe that there was no room on our list for the following players: Chris "Flux Unit" Webber, Bobby "Mudpies" Hurley, Glenn "Rockin" Robinson, Acie "Duke of" Earl, Vin "Butcher" Baker, Terry Dehare, and Konstantin Popa...
Freshman of the Year
1. Jason "The" Kidd, UC-Perrier
2. Yinka "Double" Dare, GWU
3. Othella "Minute to learn, lifetime to master" Harrington, Georgetown
4. Greg "Marge" Simpson, OSU
5. Gi "Spot" Chang, MIT
Coaches of the Year
1. Eddie "Leghorn" Fogler, Vanderbilt
2. Brian "Color of" Mahoney, St. John's
3. John "Size 16" Shumate, SMU
4. "Beef Cavalcade" Stu Jackson, Wisconsin
5. Mike "Cookie" Jarvis, GWU
1. Big 10 1/2
3. Big 8
4. Constitution Athletic Conference
Bonehead Play of the Week
To guard Travis "Second" Best of Georgia Tech. Down 3 against Florida St. with 5 seconds left and no time outs left, Best pushed the ball up court for a potential game-tying shot, pulled up for the three but passed up a contested shot to dish the ball to a wide open Yellow Jacket under the hoop. The Ramblin' Wreck got an easy dunk, but the Seminoles got the win...
You Heard It Here First
Doug "Larry, Curley," Moe, fired this week as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, will not stay out of the NBA for long. He will resurface in the Peachtree State as either coach or general manager of the Atlanta Hawks next year.
Race for Futility
Ottawa 9-56-4, 22 pts.
San Jose 10-56-2, 22 pts.
The Mavs win total is equal to the number of Undergraduate Association ballot boxes expected to be stolen during this year's election.
A recent surge by the Senators has made it a tight race in the NHL, but the Mudsharks deserve the edge in futility because they have been in the league longer...
Globe Gem of the Week
Onion Ring Ryan sends us this week's gem on a subject that touches a raw nerve in every New Englander-separate state public and Catholic high school hockey tournaments: "But I am very tired of this yearly moaning and groaning."...
Where Are They Now
Former NCAA Tourney Giant Killers
Clevelend St., Austin Peay, Murray St., Evansville, St. Joe's, James Madison, Eastern Michigan, Richmond, SW Missouri St., University of Alabama-Birmingham...
Trivia Question of the Week
East Carolina is entering the tourney with a 13-16 record reminded us of this one: What is the only team with a losing record to have won an NCAA Tournament game? (Hints: This team from the Missouri Valley Conference actually won its first two games.) Send answers, comments, or write-in votes for alleged terrorist Mohammed "Slappin" Salameh for UA president to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Answer to last week's question: Vincent "Bo" Jackson. Kudos to Jonathan Katz `96, Brian Pendleton '94, and multi-week winners Frank DiFilippio G and Johnathan Sigman '95. They each win an EAPS-approved fold-up reflective tanning device to take with them on Spring Break...
Not a regular feature in "Let's Argue," your humble scribes are humble enough to admit mistakes.
Cynthia George '95 was kind enough to refer us to page 52 of USA Today's Baseball Weekly in pointing out that: "Chris Bosio is no longer a Milwaukee Brewer; he was picked up in the off season by the Seattle Mariners as a free agent."
She then pleaded, "Please don't be like The Boston Globe which, after Mitch Ritchmond was hurt, reported that Golden State had placed him on injured reserve. Yes, this happened this year, nearly a year and a half after the trade."
Also, as pointed out by Sigman, the "National League East flag will not fly over Camden Yards." The Baltimore Orioles will, of course, win the NL West title...
Rumblings from Around the Tute
Bo Light `96 sends us this piece of trivia: "Mr. Jackson's real first name is Vincent. But I've got some trivia for you while were on the subject of Bo's. What are the real first names of Bo Kimble, Bo Schembechler, and Bo Light? Also, how many weeks in a row has the name Bo appeared in your column? Answer: Greg Kimble, Glenn Schembechler, and John Light, and 4 including this week."
Our man from The Island, Eugenio Torres `93 sends us this: "Last week a friend told me that Michael Jordan was too obvious an answer, so I said Larry Bird. This week another friend told me the answer was Maurice, and I thought about it but my guess is Vincent and I am sticking to it this time.
Also, if the IOC ever decides on letting MLB field an Olympic Dream Team, do not hand out the gold medals to the United States yet. Puerto Rican Dream Team: P: Jose Guzman, Jaime Navarro; C: Benito Santiago, Ivan Rodriguez: 1B: Bobby Bonilla; 2B: Roberto Alomar, Jose "Chico" Lind; 3B: Edgar Martinez; SS: Carlos Baerga, Jose Oquendo; OF: Danny Tartabull, Juan Gonzalez, Ruben Sierra, Ivan Calderon. If they get false birth certificiates for Clemens and Eckersley, they get the gold."
Alex Tapia `96 responds to Geno's past rumblings: "I would also like to express my opinion about Geno Torres' stories: Even though they are funny, I don't think he should be exaggerating Quijote Morales stats, people would think he is a phony when in reality he is a legend, Puerto Rico's best basketball player ever."