There may not be a coach in the country that consistently has more success in the NCAA tournament than Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo.
It’s been 18 years since Coach K missed the NCAA tournament. Izzo’s been in the tournament every year since he took over the Michigan State program, and the Spartans haven’t missed a dance for 16 years. Coach K has four national title in his career, spread out over three different decades, and been to 11 Final Fours in total. Tom Izzo has made it to six Final Fours and won the 2000 national title.
And wouldn’t you know it, but those two coaches could end up playing in this year’s NCAA tournament.
In the Sweet 16. From the AP:
The coaches have gone head-to-head only twice in the NCAA tournament, splitting those games. Both have work to do before there can be a third – and then there would be the potential regional final matchup against Big East champion Louisville (29-5), the No. 1 overall seed.
“You know it is hard to look ahead to any of that. Coach speaking, never do that. But in human speaking, you do that,” said Izzo, 1-6 in his career against Duke.
These two coaches are part of the reason that the Midwest is being talked about as the toughest region in the tournament. You don’t bet against Izzo in the tournament, unless he happens to be playing the team many thought would be a No. 1 seed — and who was the best team in the country before losing Ryan Kelly to a foot injury — in the Sweet 16.
And then what about the other side of the bracket.
Rick Pitino and Louisville are the No. 1 overall seed. They could end up getting St. Louis in the Sweet 16, the same St. Louis team that won both Atlantic 10 titles and has been a trendy pick to make the Final Four for about a month.
It’s not going to be easy to make to out of Indianapolis.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.
No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.
Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.
But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.
It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:
After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”: