Man I love college hoops—just not as much as I used too. The one and done rule really has hurt the sport (save a few teams like Florida full of upperclassman) no one sticks around more than maybe two years anymore. A revolving door that has spun the game out of control.

The one equalizer though is the NCAA Tournament.  Yeah let’s get rid of those play-in games as 64 is plenty! Once this tourney gets rolling I tend to throw all my objections out the window because ironically–the one and done rule has made this tourney even better as parity rules more than ever, especially in the first two rounds.

So here we are on the doorstep of another bracket—-who ya got? One of many subjects in this hoops filled week in the Naborhood….

BRACKETS: I will forever be a big Christian Laettner fan for him clinching me 2nd place in the St Louis Cardinals’ NCAA Pool back in 1992 via his dagger against Kentucky. At the time,that shot helped this lowly intern beat every player and coach in the Cardinals Clubhouse except for one.Remember in 92 when Georgia Tech beat USC on a James Forrest buzzer beater?? That was the only game that separated me and the eventual winner—some guy named Joe Torre. (For entertainment purposes only….) Not a big Forrest Fan to this day.

Anyway I like you, have been close a few times since, but haven’t won in years?! This year I really like Miami—sure none of the current Canes have played in the Tourney before but they won the ACC Tourney –should have been a top seed and can beat you in several ways. In the end though, its hard to bet against Louisville. They play better defense than anyone in the country, are battle tourney tested and I feel they will give Rick Pitino his second title in a Atlanta next month.

My sleepersNC State has underachieved all season but looked good in the ACC Tourney and I feel could be poised for a run. I always like VCU and while their team may not be as good the Rams are always dangerous and I think they may upset Kansas.

Now that my oldest is old enough to take in this bracket stuff–I enlisted 11 year old Morgan Grace Nabors to fill out her first one with me. I figure with all the madness—my intelligent fifth grader should beat me anyway. My only instructions–the lower numbered teams are better than the ones with a higher number next to them. So let’s compare:

Morgan Nabors’ Final Four (Duke, Ohio St, Florida, Indiana) Indiana beats Duke  51-42 (not bad for a rookie)

*Morgan’s upset special Colorado St over Louisville (didn’t heed Dad’s number advice) and Marquette making it to Sweet 16???

Daddy Nabors’ Final Four   (Louisville,Gonzaga, VCU, Miami) Louisville beats Miami 69-63–you heard it here first?

MARSHALL MADNESS: Who knows which team will win but I already know who the Christian Laettner/Joakim Noah of this year’s NCAA Tourney (you know the villian) is—none other than my man Marshall Henderson at Ole Miss–this by a landslide.  Opposing teams hate him, coaches shake their heads at his on court celebrations and his post game chatter but he’s the kind of guy if he’s on your side you love him. Henderson led the SEC in scoring this season and simply owned the SEC Tourney stage for four days. I watched him yell a few profanities at the Missouri crowd (right in front of SEC commish Mike Slive?? and deliver the gator chomp in front of Gator fans)

He was brutally honest in all the post game pressers when addressing his critics”It’s a freaking game. It’s a basketball game. People take it so seriously that it’s funny for a little white guy like me to just come around, talk trash to people and the fans. Like, what are you going to do in the stands? What am I going to do on the court to you in the stands? It’s funny just to mess with people.”

The Marshall plan is to be loud, obnoxious and cocky as hell but I enjoyed watching him as he backed it all up leading the Rebels to its first SEC title since….1981. Don’t want my daughter dating him but the college game could use more personalities and they sure have one in this Rebel with lots of causes.

SEC SLUMP: As loud as Marshall Henderson was is as quiet as the SEC Nation appeared on Selection Sunday. If Ole Miss hadn’t won it all in Nashville—the conference could have easily only sent two teams to the NCAA Tourney. They finished with only 3–only one better than the likes of the Missouri Valley, Sun Belt and yes the West Coast Conference. Dorothy–we’re not in football season anymore?? The last time Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama all sat out of the Big Dance was…..1974.

FLORIDA FLOP: Really like the Gators in this tourney seemingly if they don’t play in any close games—-the crazy stat of the year for your SEC Champs—they are 0-6 in games decided by single digits??!  Yeah they can beat you in many ways but haven’t proven they can beat you when its close as seen in the SEC Tournament where they surrendered a 14 point lead and saw Ole Miss out score them by 15 in the second half to steal the Tourney away from the favored Gates. Florida had a shot to become only the 2nd team in school history to win both the regular season and tourney conference titles—the other–those 2007 Gators who went on to win a National Championship.

SURVIVE AND ADVANCE: Many critics pick on ESPN, sometimes for good reason, but one thing this network always gets right are its documentaries. I loved the SportsCentury series and its 30 for 30 docs have picked right up where they left off the past few years. I think the best of the bunch debuted last Sunday with a tribute to Jimmy Valvano‘s 1983 NC State who absolutely no one had winning their bracket.

I can’t believe its been 30 years—but I will never forget watching that game where they upset Phi Slama Jama which was my freshman year in high school. What I did forget where all the close calls leading up to that game not only in the NCAA Tourney but in the ACC Tourney—something they had to win just to make the Big Show. The best part are all the great Jimmy V stories and quips along with the great idea to have the remaining members of the team sit around and tell stories—many we haven’t heard before–a big thumbs up and a must see for College Hoops fans.

NOBODY ASKED ME BUT: OK I, like many of you have tried to get myself in better shape the past few years but once in awhile can’t we just splurge??? I more than splurged in Nashville during the SEC Tourney last week where I tried something that is awfully bad for you and doesn’t sound good but despite that, I highly recommend it!  Its…wait for it….a cheeseburger in between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts–yep. The perfect mixture of sugar and beef, I promise will leave you wanting it again. Next time you’re in Nashville–grab one at Piranha’s Bar and Grill on 2nd Ave N downtown—I have been on the treadmill ever since.

EXTRA POINT: Since 2009 five coaches have 110 wins over more—Coach K, Bill Self, Jim Boeheim, Thad Matta—-the other one? How about VCU’s Shaka Smart.….not a bad run for the former Billy Donovan assistant–speaking of which—hard to believe Billy D isn’t on that list!




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *