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The Secondary Break: Tuesday’s Links

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Frank Kaminsky big reason why Wisconsin is in Final Four (New York Daily News)
No. 2 Wisconsin will play in the Final Four for the first time since 2000 on Saturday, and one of the biggest reasons as to why is 7-foot center Frank Kaminsky. One of the nation’s most-improved players, Kaminsky scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Badgers’ win over No. 1 Arizona in the West regional final.

UConn’s Calhoun, Auriemma there for Kevin Ollie (Associated Press)
In his second season as the head coach at UConn, Kevin Ollie has his alma mater in the Final Four. And he’s got a good support system behind him as well, with former head coach Jim Calhoun and women’s head coach Geno Auriemma being important sounding boards for Ollie.

Mike Montgomery’s legacy is changing the perception of Stanford basketball (Yahoo Sports)
On Monday Cal head coach Mike Montgomery announced his decision to retire from coaching, ending what has been a highly successful career on the sidelines. Among Montgomery’s accomplishments was the job he did at Stanford, transforming that program into one of the (at the time) Pac-10’s premier programs.

Ivan McFarlin and the 2004 Cowboys left their egos at the door (The Oklahoman)
This season marks the ten-year anniversary of Oklahoma State’s last trip to the Final Four, with the Cowboys beating Saint Joseph’s in the East regional final before losing to Georgia Tech in the national semifinals. Eddie Sutton’s group may not have included a player who went on to be a star professionally, but the group was full of guys who sacrificed personal glory in order to make sure the team was successful.

At any level, Bo Ryan’s method is well-suited for March Madness (USA Today)
Much has been made about this being the first trip to the Division I Final Four for Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. However he’s been on the Final Four stage, albeit at the Division III level as he led UW-Platteville to four national titles in 15 seasons at the helm. One of his players was Saul Phillips, who’s now the head coach at North Dakota State.

Florida looks to avenge December loss to UConn in Final Four (Gainesville Sun)
No. 1 Florida is the only team in the Final Four to have played each of the other three teams this season, as they’ve defeated Kentucky three times and lost to both Wisconsin and UConn. And while their 65-64 loss to the Huskies back in early December gives Billy Donovan’s team a “reference point” of sorts, these two teams are different outfits now than they were during the regular season meeting.

Kentucky “in a great frame of mind” for Final Four (Lexington Herald-Leader)
After being seen as a disappointment for much of the regular season, No. 8 Kentucky is in the spot many expected them to occupy back in October: preparing for the Final Four. The task of beating No. 2 Wisconsin will be difficult, and the fact that head coach John Calipari doesn’t expect to have the injured Willie Cauley-Stein doesn’t help maters.

Union chief’s immediate focus on policy, not money (Chicago Sun-Times)
When news broke last week that the Chicago chapter of the NLRB granted the Northwestern football team the right to form a union, many assumed that this was about the players getting paid. However that isn’t the case, with the CAPA looking to change policy regarding concussions, medical care and transfer rules.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.