Friday, April 06, 2007

Gator Love

Remedial NCAA basketball blogging—I would be remiss not to call attention to the fact that my bracket earned first place in all three of the pools I entered, including the illustrious Lawyers Guns & Money challenge. I raked in $41.25 from my wife’s office pool (how it came out to this amount, I have no idea), a delicious complimentary breakfast here at my office, and the jealousy if not outright resentment of the Warren Zevon geeks over at Lefarkins.

It was sheer dumb luck. I did do a modicum of research: the “pick up a copy of USA Today the Monday morning after seeds are announced” approach. But I think my formula for success came down to a distrust of North Carolina and all ACC teams (because familiarity breeds contempt) and a glimmer of confidence in UCLA and especially Florida (because, what the hell, they did it last year, with basically the same players). I didn’t do that well with my early-round picks, but I nailed the Final Four, then the Final Two, then hit the jackpot with Florida.

I'd call it a decent tournament, although it’s sad the way college hoops is haunted by questions of how long this or that star player is going to stay in school. It was great to see Georgetown do so well, marrying the Princeton offense with an athletic group of players. It was good to see such good low-post play out of Greg Oden and Roy Hibbert and the Florida guys. I don’t care for Joakim Noah’s hairstyle but I like everything else about him. I compared him to Marcus Camby earlier this year, and meant it as a compliment, but I don’t think Camby can put the ball on the floor like Noah did a couple times in Atlanta. I remember Al Horford’s dad Tito was an awesome physical specimen with no basketball smarts, but Al is a shrewd player; it’s nice to see the son outdo the father.

My main college hoops related emotion right now is, I’m a little bummed that John Beilein left West Virginia University to become the coach at Michigan. Bummed but not shocked: this is the lot of a WVU fan, plus Michigan was a great opportunity, a place with a fine basketball history and great resources, but also a program that has been humbled the last several years. I expect Michigan will be patient with Beilein while he gets his feet wet in the Big Ten. Contrast with Billy Donovan turning down the Kentucky job, where 20+ wins a year like clockwork under Tubby Smith was considered not good enough.

To take Beilein’s place, Bob Huggins is returning to WVU, his alma mater. I have fond memories of seeing Huggins play for the Mountaineers back in the 70s, but he left Cincinnati in 2005 just ahead of the posse, and now he is leaving bad feelings in his wake at Kansas State, where he spent only one year. I just hope Huggins stays on his best behavior and doesn’t land the Mountaineers in NCAA jail. It’s a concern.

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