Mike Miller

130409_luke hancock.nbcsports-grid-8x2

Louisville-Michigan classic gave NCAA tournament the game it needed

11 Comments
This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Louisville’s 82-76 win against Michigan on Monday shot into one of March Madness’ legendary games thanks to the hot hands of Luke Hancock and Spike Albrecht, amazing dunks and incredible pace. Add it all up and it allowed the NCAA tournament to end on a note that will leave a memorable impression on fans’ minds — not a small thing when it comes to a tournament that didn’t have many memorable games until Monday.

At least, that’s what Dan Patrick says.

Kevin Ware cuts down the net with Louisville

KevinWare
4 Comments

Kevin Ware was one of the Final Four’s main storylines all week. Turned out it that story had a happy ending.

Ware, the Louisville guard who suffered a compound fracture while attempting a block during the Cardinals’ regional final win against Duke, was with his teammates in Atlanta for their NCAA tournament title game against Michigan. In case Louisville won, the baskets would be lowered so Ware could take part in the tradition of the winning team cutting down the net.

This is what sheer joy looks like.

source:

Photo via @jose3030

“These are my brothers. They got the job done. I’m so proud of them, so proud of them,” Ware said afterward.  “It meant the world to me,” Ware said. “I don’t really have any other words to describe how I feel right now.”

This Sweet 16 (mostly) madder than any before

Chadrack Lufile; Gregg Marshall
3 Comments

This year’s NCAA tournament is madder than ever before. Mostly.

Florida Gulf Coast (15) and La Salle (13) made the 2013 event the first to have two teams seeded 13 or lower reach the Sweet 16, but that’s not all. Adding Oregon (12) and Wichita State (9) helped make this one of the least “chalky” Sweet 16. The average seed of the 16 remaining teams: 5.06.

That puts it on slightly ahead of 2010 and 2011 (when 11 seed VCU headlined the upset-maker and there were four double-digit seeds still around) when the average seed remaining was 5.0. It’s the fifth most surprising of the seeded era and the “wackiest” since 2000 (the year two 8 seeds reached the Final Four).

Until the year, No. 15 seeds were 6-112 in the tournament, while No. 13 seeds were 29-112. FGCU and La Salle defied some considerable odds to reach this point.

(View the fill bracket here.)

So, what’s that mean for your bracket?

Some nuggets:

  • Our NCAA tournament contest doesn’t feature any brackets with more than 14 teams still around. Only 24 brackets still have their entire Elite Eight. (But there is one canny bracket out there with FGCU winning it all. And two with La Salle cutting down the nets.
  • Only four out of 8.15 million entries in ESPN’s game predicted 15 of the 16 seeds, while 1.3 percent had La Salle in the Sweet 16. Just 0.95 percent had FGCU that far. There are no perfect brackets.
  • Just 966 total ESPN brackets predicted the West Region correctly (Ohio State, Arizona, Wichita State and La Salle).
  • Gonzaga’s loss Saturday marked just the fifth time since 1985 that the No. 1 team in the AP poll lost in the Round of 32 (last was Kansas in 2010).
  • Three regions had one double-digit seed advance to the Sweet 16. That’ll affect anyone’s bracket.

But it wasn’t all madness.

The Big Ten has four teams remaining. The Big East has three. That’s a familiar sight in March.

Close wins by Indiana and Kansas ensured this wouldn’t be the third weekend since 1985 that two 1 seeds lost during the first weekend.

The East Region was relatively sane as each of the top four seeds advanced.

Three of the 1, 2 and 3 seeds advanced, commonplace for each tournament.

So maybe the weekend wasn’t that crazy. After all, President Obama’s bracket – which featured relatively few upsets – has 11 of 16 teams remaining and still features six of its Elite Eight. He’s sitting in the 72nd percentile in ESPN’s game.

Perhaps that’s the lasting lesson – play it safe and your bracket won’t be in shambles come Monday. Mostly.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

10 tidbits to know: Bearcats boarding, Baron scoring and more

cincy_AP
1 Comment

Vin Parise is a former assistant college coach and the college basketball insider for NBC Sports. Look for his Top 10 Tidbits every week.

1. No. 3 Arizona improves to 11-0 — its best start in 25 years. Sean Miller’s team beat No. 17 San Diego State 68-67 to win the Diamond Head Classic. As beautiful as Honolulu is, I hope tournaments like this don’t start becoming the norm for the holidays. As it stands right now, most college basketball players and coaches miss Thanksgiving with their family because tournaments the last weekend of November are customary. Hopefully playing games on Christmas night does not move in that direction. Let’s leave that tradition for the National Basketball Association.

2. In typical Tom Izzo fashion, his Spartans are one of the best at keeping you to one shot. Michigan State being 3rd in the nation in defensive rebounding is a stat that should surprise no one.

3. Speaking of crashing the boards; offensive rebounding is a great way to manufacture points when the perimeter shooting gets cold. Nobody is doing that better than Cincinnati. The Bearcats lead the NCAA in offensive boards.

4. Still trying to figure out how 9-3 Virginia lost to Old Dominion right before the holidays. The win was literally ODU’s second highlight of the season. The Monarchs’ other win was against Morgan State on Nov. 10. Old Dominion is 2-10 overall and host Fairfield this Saturday.

5. Billy Baron playing in the MAAC has proved to be a nice fit. The Canisius guard, who followed father Jim to Buffalo, is averaging nearly 18 ppg. Baron averaged 13 ppg previously at Rhode Island. Jim Baron’s Canisius team is the surprise of the MAAC so far. The Golden Griffins are 8-3 and have beaten St. Bonaventure and Temple.

6. Speaking of the MAAC — teams need to stay away from fouling Iona this year. The Gaels are shooting 79.3 percent as a team from the free-throw line — good for 3rd in the country. When teams play Siena it’s the opposite. The Saints are shooting 57.9 percent from the line — 343rd nationally.

7. Rutgers (8-2) is 2-0 under associate head coach David Cox. Cox is filling in for Mike Rice, who was suspended without pay for 3 games due to violation of athletic department policy. Cox coaches this Friday against Rider — Rice is due back for the Big East opener next Wednesday vs Syracuse.

8. It’s not the passes that make Michael Carter-Williams from Syracuse the nation’s assist leader by far … it’s the timing of his passes. The delivery is often right on the time and his teammates are rarely taken out of rhythm.

9. How about those 49ers? Charlotte is 11-2 overall, with its two  losses being Miami and Florida State. This is Charlotte’s last season in the A-10 before they head for Conference USA.

10. We lost a great one in 2012 with the passing of Rick Majerus. Here’s one of his quotes to make us smile….Happy New Year!

On being courted by the University of Texas …

“This (Texas) is a great job and I think DeLoss would be a great guy to work for. But I’m real happy. I like my AD. I like my players. I like Utah. It’s like being a married guy, but Cindy Crawford comes over and asks you if you want to dance. It’s kind of enticing to grab on for a dance. Then after the dance is over, you go back to your wife.” [Austin American-Statesman, 12/12/1998]

Vin Parise is the College Basketball Insider for NBC Sports. You can catch him on NBC Sports Network’s SportsTalk – Mon-Fri. 6 p.m. ETFollow him on Twitter @VinParise.

10 tidbits to know this week: Gophers’ balance, Friars go green and more

tubby-smithjpg-05efaece6efc2526
1 Comment

Vin Parise is a former assistant college coach and the college basketball insider for NBC Sports. Look for his Top 10 Tidbits every week. 

1. Kudos to Providence’s Ed Cooley.  He called his Nike rep Sunday night after watching 60 Minutes and had his team in green uniforms and green sneakers against Colgate Tuesday night to honor Newtown, Conn. Cooley plans on framing 26 uniforms to honor the victims.

2. Minnesota wasn’t picked to finish top 5 in the Big Ten.  Tubby Smith’s team is 11-1 and ranked 13th nationally.  Best part: Gophers average 76 ppg as a team and the leading scorer is at 13 ppg.  Seven guys average between 4 and 13 points per outing.  Now that is balance.

3. Texas ranks 10th nationally as a team with 69 blocks on the season.  Chris Obekpa from St. John’s has 58 blocks alone.

4. Loyola (Md.) head coach Jimmy Patsos told me he bought his wife a car for her birthday in the fall — he is really concerned right now that he won’t be able to top that for the holiday season.

5. O.D. Anosike from Siena and Jack Cooley from Notre Dame have snatched the most offensive rebounds so far this season.  More difficult for Cooley however: Irish shoot 50 percent from the floor — Saints shoot 38 percent.

6. Yes, he was a 1st-team All-Big East selection; but people just do not talk enough about Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick.

7. The 6-8 junior college transfer and New Jersey-born David Laury is eligible for Iona Thursday night at LaSalle this week.  Big things are expected from Laury when MAAC play gets into full swing.

8. After a 5-5 start, South Alabama’s 65 year-old Ronnie Arrow is retiring effective immediately.  Associate head coach Jeff Price has been named interim coach.  This was Arrow’s second stint at South Alabama.  He returned in 2007 after leading the Jaguars from 1987-94. Arrow led the program to 3 NCAA tournaments.

9. Last season Fuquan Edwin from Seton Hall led the nation in steals. This year he’s getting it done on the other end.  Edwin ranks 1st in the Big East in 3 point shooting at 54 percent — good for 14th nationally.

10. At SMU, Larry Brown has an associate head coach, two assistant Coaches, one video Coordinator, an executive assistant, a strength coach, an assistant strength coach, a director of administration, a director of player development, a basketball intern, an academic Liason, an athletic trainer and a ‘partridge in a pear tree.’

Vin Parise is the College Basketball Insider for NBC Sports.  You can catch him on NBC Sports Network’s SportsTalk – Mon-Fri. 6 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter @VinParise.

Patience needed for South Carolina fans

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Kansas State - Syracuse
Leave a comment

Vin Parise is a former assistant college coach and the college basketball insider for NBC Sports. He’ll post every week in CBT.

When Frank Martin took over Kansas State in 2007, the response from friends in the coaching world was almost always the same. “People didn’t understand it,” Martin said. “Everyone was like, ‘Why would you want to work there? It’s a graveyard for coaches.”

Soon after, he was coaching the Wildcats in the Elite Eight and honored as the Big 12 Coach of the Year.

Five years later, Martin heard the same type of questions as he began the challenge of rebuilding the brand of South Carolina basketball.

The Gamecocks are 5-3 overall but the signs of a tough road ahead in SEC play are evident.  The season started by sneaking past UW-Milwaukee in overtime.  Then there was the loss to Elon.  And most recently, South Carolina lost their last two to St. John’s and Clemson by a combined 33 points.  The Gamecocks are allowing opponents to shoot 46 percent from the floor.  That is not Frank Martin basketball.  Yet if history repeats itself, it shouldn’t stay this way for long.  As Martin stated on his Twitter account last week: “Sorry we didn’t get it done today for you. We will build a program u deserve.”

WATCH THE RACERS PLAY — AND SOON

I don’t know how many 6-foot-1 guards will be drafted in June, but I know one that should.  Isaiah Canaan is as efficient as any point guard in the country.  Canaan and Murray State critics obsess too much about his size and way too much about how legit the Racers are as a ball club. The ridiculous success Murray State attained last year and their weak schedule sometimes overshadowed their point guard’s stature nationally.  Like a leopard, an elite player does not change its spots.  Remember, Jewuan Long and Donte Pool are gone from last year’s dynamic squad — so expecting Murray State to be the last unbeaten in the nation again is of course unrealistic.

But this team is still very good and their leader is noticeably stronger than last season.  Canaan is 8th in the country in scoring at 22.5 points per game, shoots an astounding 49 percent from the floor, shoots 42 percent from deep and 77 percent from the foul line.  And the Racers as a team?  They are 5-1 with wins against St. John’s, Auburn and Old Dominion.

WELCOME MR. MUNFORD

A little over a week ago the world of college basketball was introduced to Rhode Island’s Xavier Munford.  Who was this transfer who led his team to a double overtime victory at Auburn with 33 points?  Dan Hurley was grateful because it was his first win as head coach of the Rhody Rams.  He’s equally grateful for how long he’s known his junior transfer.  Before his time at Iowa Western College and Miami-Dade College, Munford played for Hurley at St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey.  St. Benedict’s went 26-1 Munford’s senior season and were ranked No. 2 in the nation.  Also on that team, was current URI teammate and Rutgers transfer Gilvydas Biruta.

There’s only eight games under his belt, but Munford plays like a seasoned veteran and defends the only way he knows how — the way Hurley taught him years ago.  Munford is averaging 18.9 points per game — tops in the Atlantic 10 — and is shooting 33 percent from 3-point land.  But his impact goes beyond leading the Rams in scoring.  One day soon it looks like we’ll be talking about Dan Hurley’s revival of Rhode Island basketball — and so far the script reads Xavier Munford as the first name fans from the Ocean State will credit.

Vin Parise is the College Basketball Insider for NBC Sports.  You can catch him on NBC Sports Network’s SportsTalk – Mon-Fri. 6 p.m. ET.  Follow him on Twitter @VinParise.