Posts Tagged ‘verne lundquist’

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

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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