March is an awesome month. The weather in my adopted town has a lot to do with this; in many ways, March 1 is a huge mental marker for the imminent return of days when you don't have to encase your body in 30 pounds of Gore-Tex just to step outside the house. But forget the weather: March is really awesome for the basketball it promises -- the final week of conference play, the 31 conference tourneys, and the rapturous glory that is the NCAA tournament. Welcome, one and all. The next 30 days are going to rule.
To celebrate, how about some links? OK then:
Hoyas fans are none too pleased with the effort Georgetown gave in Saturday's not-really-all-that-competitive loss to Notre Dame, a loss that will likely hurt Georgetown's seed and has put Notre Dame right back in the bubble conversation.
Georgetown's shame had a lot to do with the suddenly off-the-charts play of Ben Hansbrough, who, yes, is Tyler Hansbrough's brother and who, yes, heard plenty about being Tyler Hansbrough's brother throughout his first season for the Irish. Hansbrough doesn't have the sheer talent or raw strength of his older sibling, but on Saturday he displayed several of those vaunted Hansbrough-y qualities: basketball intelligence, will, and boundless energy. Oh, and it helps that he can stroke the outside shot; that's at least one thing Tyler never quite mastered.
If you were a Kansas fan, would you be upset about Saturday's loss at Oklahoma State? The Jayhawks are 27-2, after all, and the loss doesn't demonstrably effect Kansas' accomplishments this season -- they'll still be the Big 12 regular season champs and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Still, though, something more was lost on Saturday, as the Kansas City Star's Martin Manley wrote this weekend: "If you stop and think about it, this is one of the most disappointing regular season losses in KU’s 500 years of basketball. How can I make such a radical statement? Well, first of all I don’t care about a loss. For crying out loud, they are 27-2. But, here is what got flushed down the toilet Saturday. 1) They probably will not beat North Carolina to 2,000 wins. 2) They will not make 2,000 wins on March 6th, the last regular season game and on the road against their primary rival – Missouri. 3) They will not hit 30 wins on March 6th. 4) They will not be 16-0 in the conference. 5) They are no longer chasing the best beginning in KU history of 34-1. 6) They no longer have a chance at 39 wins – which would be an NCAA record. 7) They likely will not be #1 in the polls. 8) It was only the second game in the last 103 that a KU opponent has hit over 50% from the field and they were at 60.4%!..." OK, so none of these are reasons to freak out -- but for fans interested in historical markers and statistical quirks, the loss will still be disappointing.
For now, though, Rock Chalk Jayhawk is more concerned with honoring Sherron Collins, who will play his final game at Allen Fieldhouse when Kansas State comes to town on Wednesday.
Ballin' Is A Habit praises Tennessee's win over Kentucky Saturday, and asks the question: Just how good are the Volunteers? Here's my short answer: Good, not great, but with Bruce Pearl at the helm, the Vols will always be a dangerous tourney team. Fair?
Meanwhile, John Calipari claims that two of his players "sleepwalked" against Tennessee, though he wouldn't name names. The Lexington Herald-Leader's Jerry Tipton does a quick elimination process and comes up with Darnell Dodson and DeAndre Liggins -- and perhaps forward Patrick Patterson -- as the prime suspects of Cal's postgame scorn.
The Only Colors takes a long look at Durrell Summers' inconsistency, finding that Summers is actually pretty peerless on offense so long as he stays inside the three-point line. Defensively? That's a slightly less complimentary story.
As is the case every March, there's been plenty of discussion lately about the methods the selection committee uses to pick its field of 65; I could link all of these posts separately, but since Mike Miller went ahead and rounded them all up, head over and peruse accordingly.
Adam Zagoria asked former Pitt players whether they were surprised at the success of the star-less 2009-10 team. The answer is unlikely to surprise.
The New York Times' Pete Thamel remains on top of the Binghamton beat, where there is concern the school hasn't entirely shifted its focus from the win-at-all-costs attitude that got Kevin Broadus suspended and upended the team in the offseason. The key graph: "Even though the university president, Lois B. DeFleur, has announced she will retire in July; the athletic director, Joel Thirer, has resigned; and the men’s basketball coach, Kevin Broadus, has been placed on paid administrative leave, faculty members and administrators are concerned that those who carried out the orders in building a big-time basketball program remain. They worry that when the SUNY chancellor, Nancy L. Zimpher, makes recommendations to the board March 23, she will focus on Binghamton’s athletic problems, not its academic troubles."
The Big 5 title -- the yearly championship awarding the Philadelphia area's best team -- will go to Temple for the 26th time in 2009-10.
Finally, everyone's probably familiar with the basketball odyssey taken by Wes Johnson before he ended up at Syracuse, but this story from the Post-Standard lays out the recruiting pitch given to Johnson and his brother by assistant coach Rob Murphy: “I said ‘OK, if you guys want to waste time, go ahead, but I’m telling you in the next couple days, you’ll call me back and say I’m going to Syracuse,’” Murphy said, recalling the final conversation of the trip. “‘You’re not going to find any place like this. We’ve got everything you want. You want to be a professional. You’ll work hard and play against Paul Harris and all these guys next year in practice and then next year, you’ll probably start for us, we’ll have a good year and you’ll go pro. It’s just that simple.’" Not bad, right?