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Congrats to Hall of Fame finalists


Jim Calhoun
Jim Calhoun
Jim Boeheim
Jim Boeheim

Here's a salute to Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and Connecticut's Jim Calhoun on being named among the 16 finalists for the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Each Big East coach is rapidly approaching career win No. 700, and each clearly deserves enshrinement in the Hall for his accomplishments both on and off the court.

Calhoun also was nominated last year, when he won his second national championship at UConn (1999, 2004). Boeheim has won one national title (2003). In fact, the rival coaches have won three of the past six national championships!

I know how thrilling it is to get the call to be named a finalist. I remember last year when I was told on the air that I was a finalist, how thrilled and proud I was (ultimately I wasn't elected). There is no greater honor than reaching the Holy Grail of basketball, to be honored with your peers for contributing to the game you love so much.

This year's inductees will be announced at the Final Four in St. Louis on April 4. I wish the best to all 16 finalists. I know Calhoun and Boeheim deserve to represent college basketball in Springfield.

Lots of people have asked me whether Illinois can run the table and become the first team since Indiana in 1976 to go through an entire season undefeated. Those '76 Hoosiers went a perfect 32-0 in winning the national championship.

Coach Bruce Weber's Illini (27-0, 13-0 Big Ten) have done a phenomenal job, including Saturday's hard-fought 75-65 win at Iowa.

In my view, Illinois has one more test in the regular season, a visit to Columbus to take on a hungry Ohio State team.

Coach Thad Matta's Buckeyes are eligible to play in the Big Ten tournament but ineligible for the NCAA Tournament and NIT. Ohio State might look at this contest as its national championship game, and the fans in Columbus will be fired up. It should be interesting, baby!

I know some fans are critical of Duke guard J.J. Redick, but come on! He put on quite a show against Wake Forest on Sunday night.

Redick scored 38 points, shooting 9-of-15 from the field (including 6-of-10 from 3-point range). Redick also made 14 of 15 from the foul line in posting his career high.

I look forward to seeing Redick on Wednesday night as Georgia Tech hosts Duke (ESPN2, 7 p.m.).

Georgia Tech squeaked by Florida State in Tallahassee on Sunday as B.J. Elder made a pair of free throws in the final second.

Give credit to point guard Jarrett Jack on the final Georgia Tech possession. Jack managed to stay inbounds to make a pass to Elder that led to his being fouled.

Coach Paul Hewitt's team really needs a big win to raise NCAA attention, and Duke would be a great victory. Remember, Georgia Tech beat the Blue Devils late in the season last year -- a victory that provided some momentum for a run to the Final Four.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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