Thursday, March 15, 2007

Game Time

If you look in your local newspaper, you can see the Saturday and Sunday gametimes:

1:10 - 1 OSU/CConn vs BYU/Xavier
CBS was happy to put Gred Oden and Ohio St. in the Saturday opener.

3:20 - 4 Maryland/Davidson vs Butler/ODU
3:40 - 3 Texas A&M/Penn vs Louisville/Stanford
Texas A&M should draw huge ratings as the people who picked Ohio St. root for the upset and the A&M backers sweat out the potential road game against Louisville.

5:50 - 2 Georgetown/Belmont vs BC/Texas Tech
5:50 - 3 Pitt/Wright St. vs Duke/VCU
5:55 - 3 WashingtonSt./ORU vs Vandy/GW
Either the Pitt fans or Duke fans are going to have a very disappointing end to their season.

8:20 - 1 NorthCarolina/EKU vs Marquette/Michigan St.
8:25 - 2 UCLA/WeberSt vs Indiana/Gonzaga
Do we get a North Carolina vs Michigan St. rematch from the 2005 Final Four?

12:10 - 4 Virginia/Albany vs Tennessee/Long Beach St.
I'm a little surprised they did not put Texas and Kevin Durant in the Sunday opener.

2:15 - 1 Florida/JacksonSt vs Arizona/Purdue
2:36 - 2 Wisconsin/TXAMCC vs UNLV/Georgia Tech
2:40 - 4 S. Illinois/HCross vs VTech/Illinois
2:50 - 3 Oregon/Miami(OH) vs Notre Dame/Winthrop
Did you know that S. Illinois beat Virginia Tech earlier this year? I'm a little surprised they could stage a re-match this early in the tournament. Oregon vs Notre Dame could be a 3 point clinic if it happens.

4:45 - 2 Memphis/North Texas vs Nevada/Creighton
5:06 - 1 Kansas/Niagra vs Kentucky/Villanova
5:20 - 4 Texas/NMState vs USC/Arkansas
Could we see the first major upset of the tournament somewhere here?

Following up on yesterday's post, Loren asked to post a rebuttal. I'm in a kind mood heading into the tournament, so I won't spend an eternity questioning Sampson's development of DJ White (whose FGA seem to have declined steadily this season).

Instead, I'll say that Loren and I actually agree that Sampson is a good coach who will do a good job at Indiana. We're only arguing about what will hold him back from returning Indiana to an elite level. Loren argued yesterday that it was recruiting; I'm more concerned about player development and X's and O's.

Loren responds to yesterday's post as follows:

"(1) I certainly think that Williams and Coach K can coach (tactically), just not as well as Knight or Sampson. Although I do admit it is hard to tell given the talent disparity. My point was more that they (Williams and K) are better all around coaches because they are able to attract top talent.

(2) I strongly disagree with your assertion that Sampson had some of the BEST recruiting classes in the country while at Oklahoma. Now, if you consider a top 20 or so recruiting class as one of the best then I concede, but I was contending that Sampson needs to be producing top 5 recruiting classes. In order to do that I think he'd have to up his game. There is a difference between Kevin Bookout, Eduardo Najara and Hollis Price; and Carmello Anthony, Brandon Wright and Greg Oden. One way to illustrate my point. Consider, McDonald's All-American srecruited by some top programs since 1999-2005: Duke had 15, UNC 12,Kansas 7, Kentucky 6, and Florida 5. Sampson has NEVER had one.

(3) Finally, you say Sampson must improve his tournament performance. Agreed. However, I think this goes right back to talent level. Sometimes it is difficult to motivate players during the regular season. I believe Sampson and Knight really excel at getting their teams to play hard every game. And that's why they have regular season success. Come tournament time, players are already motivated, and talent takes over. Look at the most recent champs: Syracuse in '03, UConn in '04, UNC in'05, and Fla in '06. What do all of these teams have in common? Superior talent."

Thanks Loren! But if you look carefully, Sampson HAS successfully recruited McDonald's All-Americans before. Off the top of my head, I can remember two. Drew Lavender went to Oklahoma, but eventually transferred after not fitting into Sampson's system. Sampson also had a commitment from Big East rookie of the year Scottie Reynolds prior to taking the job at Indiana.

Following up on those two years, here's a 2003 article where Rivals had Oklahoma's class rated as #1 in the country (although I acknowledge there were some players left to commit at the time of the article.) Sampson also had the #4 rated class last year before he left for Indiana. With the tradition of Indiana behind him, I expect even better recruiting from Sampson in the years to come.

As a side note on that first article, it is kind of a fun to see which 2003 prospects have turned into stars by 2007 and which have flopped.

I might as well do a quick run-down of Thursday and Friday too:

12:20 - 4 Maryland vs Davidson
12:25 - 7 BC vs Texas Tech
12:40 - 6 Louisville vs Stanford
Ken Pomeroy called Tennessee vs Long Beach St. the fastest game in the tournament, but by his own stats Maryland vs Davidson could be faster.

2:40 - 3 Washington St. vs ORU
2:40 - 5 Butler vs ODU
2:45 - 2 Georgetown vs Belmont
3:00 - 3 Texas A&M vs Penn
Ah, four games at once. The joy of the live look-in. (The pain of the live look-in when your favorite team is playing.)

5:00 - 6 Vanderbilt vs GW
The game that you can only see at Sports Bars or on the West Coast.

7:10 - 6 Duke vs VCU
7:10 - 1 Ohio St. vs CConn
7:20 - 8 Marquette vs Michigan St.
7:25 - 2 UCLA vs WeberSt
I love how they always send you to Ohio St. vs CConn while you wait for your game. Then they interupt, "We'll keep you posted..." No thanks, I'm not going to need any updates on that one.

9:30 - 3 Pittsburgh vs Wright St.
9:30 - 8 BYU vs Xavier
9:40 - 1 North Carolina vs EKU
9:45 - 7 Indiana vs Gonzaga
Hey, Drew Lavendar plays for Xavier now. Cool.

12:15 - 4 Virginia vs Albany
12:25 - 7 UNLV vs Georgia Tech
12:30 - 2 Memphis vs North Texas
Hey, have you figured out why Memphis is playing in New Orleans and Texas A&M is playing in Lexington, Kentucky instead of the other way around? It is the same reason Florida is playing in the Midwest Regional. The higher seed gets the advantage. That means Memphis which is just down the Mississippi from New Orleans gets to be 30 miles closer at the expense of Texas A&M being 500 miles further. Really committee, use some discretion. Memphis would not have been that upset to play in Lexington.

2:35 - 6 Notre Dame vs Winthrop
2:35 - 5 Tennessee vs Long Beach St.
2:45 - 2 Wisconsin vs TXAMCC
2:50 - 7 Nevada vs Creighton
This could be the best 4 game window of the 1st round. Make sure to hit a sports bar. I sense the following, "With Notre Dame leading by 16, we're going to take you out to another game." Then, 5 minutes later, "Things have tightened up again out in Spokane. We're going to take you back there...."

4:55 - 3 Oregon vs Miami (OH)
Miami (OH) already has one signature march memory, will they get another?

7:10 - 1 Kansas vs Niagara
7:10 - 5 VTech vs Illinois
7:20 - 8 Arizona vs Purdue
7:25 - 4 Texas vs New Mexico St.
CBS execs recoil in horror as New Mexico St. takes the lead against Texas, (but only temporarily?)

9:30 - 4 S. Illinois vs Holy Cross
9:30 - 8 Kentucky vs Villanova
9:40 - 1 Florida vs Jackson St.
9:45 - 5 USC vs Arkansas
Even after a disappointing year, Kentucky brings the fans who bring the best tournament atmosphere.