Good morning and welcome to a new era of college basketball. It wasn't too long ago that college basketball was simple. There were six rounds and 64 teams. Now, they've decided to make things complicated on everyone and add four more teams and the first round is four mid-week games of little interest, making today the official start of the NCAA Tournament
. And while it might make you mad and want to join in an official KSR boycott of the nonsense, it's been great for the city of Dayton, Ohio. The Gem City has been given the great task of hosting this tournament opening round facade, giving basketball fans the opportunity to see four crappy games in a city that actually smells like feces. So, if you're traveling north to see some basketball this Tuesday (Matt Jones), just make sure you hold your nose, close your eyes and at least stop in for some Marion's Pizza. Then let's get back together on Thursday when the real tournament starts.
Now onto a few UK notes...
- It was another Monday in the world of college basketball and that meant new polls being released. In the final rankings of the regular season, Kentucky came in at #10 and #11 in the ESPN/USA Today and AP polls
, finishing ahead of two #3 seeds (Purdue and Syracuse) and one #2 seed (Florida). This again proves the increasingly accepted notion that the polls are indicators of absolutely nothing or that the committee made a few errors. Since it's late and it's easier to just be negative, let's just say both are true. Joining the Cats in reason to complain based on polls are the Texas Longhorns, who rank 7th in the AP and are seeded as a four in the West. The difference? Texas gets Duke - a questionable #1 themselves - in the Sweet 16. The Cats get top overall seed Ohio State.
- While Coach Cal spent Monday talking about the challenges Princeton presentes, Tiger head coach Sydney Johnson spent the 15th anniversary of his school's upset of UCLA talking about "making their own history"
Thursday against UK. What the Tigers clearly lack in talent and resume is made up in confidence as Johnson and his squad clearly displayed that they'll be ready to face the Cats. Leading scorer Kareem Maddox, who averaged 6 points and 5 rebounds against their three BCS opponents this year, declared that Princeton will be the "wildest cats in Tampa" this weekend. I'm not sure that makes a whole lot of sense, but it at least makes the matchup somewhat interesting. Maybe.
- As we've said all year, Kentucky's postseason success will be all about matchups
and who they get on their schedule. Though they've gone a long way in the past six games toward becoming a complete team, they're still a bit flawed personnel-wise and they don't have the ability to impose their will in every contest like they did last season. Princeton is very favorable. West Virginia, though presenting slight concerns, brings a 1-3-1 defense that this team appears to be able to shoot well enough against to advance. Ohio State, meanwhile, has size inside and a handful of three-point shooters that could make it difficult for Kentucky. That's not to say Kentucky can't win the game, because they certainly can, but they'll need to take yet another step forward. And if they ever thought about the Final Four this season, that shouldn't be a surprise. If they can handle their business in the first two rounds, having a week to prepare for the challenge the Buckeyes present might be enough to come together in that way. If they were playing Ohio State in the second game of a round, it would be infinitely more difficult. Two more complete wins in Tampa and it's a whole new ballgame.
- There were also some interesting developments Monday in the coaching futures of Kentucky's last two coaches
. Billy Gillispie continues to chat with Texas Tech, with the assumption being that he will accept the job next week. According to Oscar Combs, there are whispers that the reason they are holding off is because Clyde would forfeit some money if he took a job within two years of leaving Kentucky. Lubbock appears to be a great place for Gillispie to bounce back on his feet due to his recruiting ties to the state and the relatively small stage that he'll be operating on at Texas Tech. If he can put together a team that gets into the tournament every year and makes a push for the Elite Eight or even Final Four every four or five years, it would be a huge success for both parties. And based on his history, there's no reason to believe that's not possible. Tubby Smith, meanwhile, was rumored to be the next coach at Arkansas despite denying that being the case. If the rumor is true, it's unquestionably a better job for Tubby and a huge boost to the SEC West, which needs all the help it can get. If I'm Tubby, though, I'm concerned about stepping into a job with a passionate fan base dying to not only get back to the glory days of the early 90s, but also one that clamors yearly for uptempo basketball. That's clearly not his game and, right or wrong, it's what Razorbacks fans seem to desire. There's no reason why he couldn't make the job work and be successful in Fayetteville, but he might face some of the same old criticisms of how he goes about doing it.
- Monday evening also brought about selection time for the UK women's basketball team and Matthew Mitchell's squad earned a #4 seed
and a date with the Fighting Matt Pilgrim's of Hampton Saturday in Spokane. Should they win, they'll get North Carolina in the second round and a date with 27-2 Stanford in the Sweet 16. Sound a little familiar?
- In what might have been the most interesting news of the day, the Ivy League Coaches Teleconference opened with a "reporter" asking if Princeton had an Honor Code
and if they were "banging b---hes". SexnNursinHomes immediately had his credentials revoked.
- If you haven't done so yet, don't forget to register for the KSTV Championship Challenge
. The winning bracket will earn you a 40" Samsung HDTV so you can see Shannon Spake's forehead next season in all the high defined glory that it deserves.
That's it for now. Make sure you stick around all day as we get going with our NCAA Tournament Regional Previews and kick things off with Kentucky Sports Radio on Talk Radio 1080 at 10am. In the meantime, don't be surprised if we're all wearing "Operation: Eat Your Children"
shirts next season.
See you in a few...