Posts Tagged ‘bill raftery’

Monday Medley

What we read while everyone said “winning”…

  • The Obama Administration’s decision not to defend a federal law (the Defense of Marriage Act) is not unprecedented.

It’s College Basketball Season II!

Sure, right now you’re thinking football season is pretty good. You’re all like, “It’s anybody’s game in the NFL!” and “Man, that Oregon offense is awesome except for last game!” and “There’s like a 2 percent chance the BCS doesn’t screw this up!” But let’s be real here: The NFL has settled into that middle-of-the-season complacency where we make up arguments over who the best team is in the NFC and pretend like the Jaguars still have legitimate playoff hopes. College football’s best story is shrouded in scandal, and there’s a 98 percent chance the BCS does screw this up, so why get your hopes up anyway?

And that’s where college basketball comes in. I’m not going to sit here and pretend college basketball is pure—not one season after John Calipari and Bob Huggins coached with a berth to the Final Four on the line and not when two storied programs have to deal with significant eligibility issues regarding their freshmen.

No, college basketball isn’t perfect. But it’s as close as we’ve got in the modern sports world. It has a regular season that still matters, if only for a few more years until they bump the Tournament to 96. It has games like every night, and good ones at that. And it has the Tournament, which as you should be able to tell by now, I like just a little bit.

So as the 2010-2011 college basketball season gets underway, here are the eight things I’m looking forward to the most:

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Joie de Vivre: Bill Raftery

Tonight is the NIT Championship game at Madison Square Garden; tonight is one of the worst nights of the year.

Now, in strictly basketball terms, the NIT Championship game is rarely worth watching. The game usually pits a team that just missed the NCAA Tournament with one that didn’t really have a chance for much of the conference season, and that mold pretty much holds true this year, with Dayton playing North Carolina. Even as a Duke fan, I have very little invested in the Tar Heels’ tilt with the Flyers. If UNC wins, it will have to hang the ignominious “NIT Champion” banner; if it loses, it couldn’t even win the NIT. I don’t really care.

But I will watch the game, for the only reason there ever really exists to watch the NIT Championship: It is the last college basketball game Bill Raftery announces every year.

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Talkin’ Basketball: Michigan State vs. Tennessee

Well, Tim and John combined to go an impressive 1-3 yesterday. Guess which one of us got the only game right! Here’s a hint: It was Tim. Hopefully we will fare better today. The first game on the docket features two of John’s favorite coaches, Bruce Pearl and Tom Izzo, going head-to-head in a game that will hopefully wash the stink off of last night’s Bob Huggins-John Calipari duel.

TIM: John, I’ve had a lot of fun at your expense these last few weeks, from your decision to knock Butler out in the first round to your incredible ability to pick games incorrectly on second and third tries. But, there has been one thing (and one thing only, it seems) that you have been right about where I was wrong: You just don’t pick against Tom Izzo in March.

JOHN S: Well, first of all, some of my incorrect second or third tries were not what I had originally said, so that’s a little unfair. For example, I had West Virginia in the Final Four in my original bracket so….basically I’m a genius.

But yeah, it’s hard for me to really take credit for the Tom Izzo thing, because by now everyone should realize that Michigan State almost always outperforms expectations in the Tournament. Only three times in the last decade has MSU lost to a team seeded lower, and once was in the Final Four to national runner-up Arizona and another was to a George Mason team that would end up in the Final Four. Just as often, the Spartans have made surprising runs of their own, including one to the Elite Eight as a 7-seed in 2003, to the Final Four as a 5 in ’05, and to the National Championship game last year as an unheralded 2-seed. Izzo simply knows how to coach in the Tournament. So it’s not really surprising that Michigan State is once again in the Elite Eight, even in spite of the injury to Kalin Lucas. Continue reading

LIVE BLOG: Duke vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff

9:40, TIM — Agreed. Bring on, Boykin!

9:39, JOHN — Given how bad the Big East has done, I’m tempted to say Louisville, but I still think Cal is the worse team.

9:36, TIM — That just about wraps it up for us. Last question, John: Who do you want to see, Cal or Louisville?

9:36, JOHN — James Anderson’s performance tonight was almost as disappointing and embarrassing as my 6-10 record yesterday.

9:33, TIM — No! We DESERVE Anderson v. Turner!

9:28, JOHN — Well, Duke wins 73-44, as everyone has already moved on to more interesting games. But Steve Johnson got some playing time! Continue reading

LIVE BLOG: NCAA Tournament First Round

5:50 — Wait, the Gaels have five Australians and Mickey McConnell isn’t one of them? I thought he was the head Aussie.

5:37 — Not much to talk about. Saint Mary’s is running a clinic on offense, and Richmond can’t find the bucket (figuratively). Looks like I won’t get to 6-0.

5:16 — Saint Mary’s is force-feeding a dominant Omar Samhan inside on offense, and doubling on Kevin Anderson on defense, leaving Kevin Smith wide open (for good reason if you’ve seen Smith shoot). Spiders can’t settle.

5:01 — I’m going right ahead and anointing Richmond-Saint Mary’s the best uniform matchup of the first round. Two clean, classic looks.

4:54 — “Dunn! And that may be the operative word for Sam Houston State.” Dick Enberg is still one of the best.

4:50 — I am upset about everyone who bandwagoned on Murray in the last week. Smart guys like me were on that bandwagon before the Ohio Valley Tournament.

4:48 — P.S. I’m now 4-0 including two upset picks. John is 1-3. Plus, if we used my scoring system (two points for the first round, three for an upset), I’m beating him 10-2.

4:45 — BUZZER BEATER!!! Murray State’s Danero Thomas hits a midrange jumper with a guy on him to win it. That’s why you have a balanced offense. This Tournament is awesome.

4:41 — Pet peeve: Why do teams call timeouts between two free throws? Doesn’t whether Beal makes this second shot to give Vandy the lead dramatically alter Murray State’s offensive strategy? Why not wait to see what he does, and then call timeout?

4:39 — Vandy ball, down one, 22 seconds. Beal should drive and look for Jenkins on the perimeter or Ogilvy on the baseline. With Tony Easley fouled out, A.J. and his ‘stache will be tough to stop inside.

4:38 — What better preserves the integrity of a game: letting two seconds run off the clock with a minute left or giving both teams a free timeout and forcing Murray State to inbound against a set defense?

4:28 — Jenkins and Jenkins are going back and forth–one for Vandy, one for M-State. I forget which one’s name is B.J. The Racers are up two at the under-4 timeout. Meanwhile, K-State is up big on North Texas, Richmond and Saint Mary’s are in a tight first half, and Sam Houston State has regained the lead over Baylor by one with 12 to play. I didn’t think it was possible, but I might feel even better about Duke’s draw now than I did this morning.

4:23 — Isaiah Miles has led the Racers this afternoon, relegating Isaiah Canaan to the status of…Deutero-Isaiah. It’s an exegesis joke!

4:17 — Is Repo Men serious or ironic? It looks like it’s trying to be serious, but Jude Law is the lead…

4:14 — Someone has to tell Vandy’s managers at the end of the bench to calm it down a little. Not every bucket deserves a “Leap off the bench, fist pump” reaction. Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: The Buzzer Beaters of the Decade

Earlier, we counted down the Top 10 Games in college basketball over the last decade. But if you’re half the college basketball fan that I am, you know that list was surely lacking. Here, in no particular order, are the games that, while overall weren’t good enough to make that list, still provoke that ineffable joy of the fantastic finish. They are good games with great finishes. Enjoy and bookmark.

2005 Michigan State v. Kentucky


This was the third best regional final that year. Yeah.

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Live Blogging ESPN’s 24 Hours of College Basketball: Afternoon

We’re back for our third of four parts of our college basketball marathon. Between now and noon, we’ll be live blogging Northeastern v. Siena, Arkansas-Little Rock v. Tulsa, and Temple v. Georgetown. Tim will bookend the afternoon with the first half of the opener and the second half of the closer, while John S takes everything in-between.

6:00: Luis Guzman pushes it until he runs into two guys, who force a jump ball. Nobody works the possession arrow like the Hoyas. With 0.3 left and Georgetown on the line, I think this one’s about done.

5:58: Monroe on the high post works. Now, Temple will have about six ticks to go the distance, which means it’s not enough time for a pick-and-roll with Allen. Go with Brooks on the penetration, and either kick to the open look on the perimeter or toss it toward the tin; Allen has been very good on the boards.

5:55: Well, they did a pick-and-pop with Monroe, Temple recovered, and then the Hoyas did a pick-and-roll, but it was too late to go into him on a mismatch. Of course, the Owls miss another front end, and so G’Town is still down one with the ball with 17 ticks to go.

Monroe on the block…seriously this time.

5:52: Out of a timeout, Temple hoists a desperation three. Nice work, Fran. Being 3-for-22 from deep before that, you really think you’re due.

Let’s see if JT III can top that with the Hoyas in their own timeout, down one with 55 seconds. It’s a clear two-for-one situation, and it’s inconceivable that they wouldn’t go to Monroe on either the block or the high post.

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It’s College Basketball Season!

As we draw toward the unexciting close of what can only be described as a woeful college football season, it’s high time we shifted our sights to the only flawless sport left in America: college basketball. Oh sure, the naysayers point out a deterioration in the quality of play, the untenability of the one-and-done rule, and recruiters’ blatant disregard for the rules.

But college basketball is the only sport that manages to maintain a meaningful regular season and an exciting postseason (and doesn’t kill its players, ruling out the NFL). It’s played in the loudest environments in the country and has been, for most of the last decade, the most intriguing sport to watch on an everyday basis.*

*Little-celebrated fact: Thanks to really low ratings (and, you know, its lockout), the NHL wasn’t renewed on ESPN in the middle of the decade, freeing up time every night of the week for college basketball on the Worldwide Leader.

Here are the six best storylines of the 2009-2010 season:

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