- Dick Vitale, College Basketball analyst
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Each week I talk about the sport I love, college basketball:
• When talking about Pat Summitt and Bob Knight, they are a lot more than the most successful coaches in college basketball history. I really feel they should be part of the conversation when discussing the premier coaches in all of sports. When you look at Red Auerbach, Vince Lombardi, Knute Rockne, Casey Stengel, Joe Paterno, Bear Bryant and on and on, Knight and Summitt should be included among the crème de la crème.
• Terrence Williams is one of the most talented players in the Big East. He is a multi-dimensional player that has played his best basketball during conference play. He struggled a bit back in December but has been a star of late. Williams was brilliant in a loss to Connecticut, scoring more than half of his team's points (26 of Louisville's 51).
• It is great to see that Xavier and Wake Forest have agreed to a 10-year, home-and-home series called the Skip Prosser Classic, honoring their former basketball coach. Congrats to Xavier's Sean Miller and Wake's Dino Gaudio for putting this together. The first game will be played next season at Wake Forest. Prosser was Wake Forest's coach when he died of an apparent heart attack in July 2007 at the age of 56. Prosser was Xavier's head coach from 1994-2001.
• Great guard play has brought balance to the game of college basketball. When you look at the top teams in America, they all have solid performers in the backcourt, I also feel that the Marquette perimeter trio of Wesley Matthews, Jerel McNeal and Dominic James is the best backcourt threesome in America.
• Congrats to North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough, who is now number three on all-time ACC scoring list. He passed Johnny Dawkins for that honor. Next up is Wake Forest's Dickie Hemric. J.J. Redick is numero uno on the list.
• Hansbrough is among the finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award trophy. The award has recognized outstanding senior basketball student-athletes. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages those leaders to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact on their circle of influence. The 2008-09 men's finalists are: A.J. Abrams (University of Texas, Austin), Jimmy Baron (University of Rhode Island), Dionte Christmas (Temple University), Hansbrough (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Lester Hudson (University of Tennessee at Martin), Curtis Jerrells (Baylor University), Jerel McNeal (Marquette University), Andy Wicke (Belmont University), Terrence Williams (University of Louisville) and Sam Young (University of Pittsburgh).
• Injuries will play a part in stretch runs for several teams. Purdue has a tough situation with Robbie Hummel's injury issue. Hummel sat the Ohio State game out with a hairline fracture in his L5 vertebrae. He is averaging 10.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game this season. Hummel will likely be day-to-day for the rest of the season. That makes life tough for coach Matt Painter. West Virginia University guard Joe Mazzulla played in seven games for the Mountaineers, but his ailing shoulder will keep him out for the rest of the season. Mazzulla, who averaged 21.4 minutes per game, will underdog season-ending surgery on his shoulder as a result of a growth-place fracture. He hasn't played since December 8th against Davidson in the Jimmy V Classic. North Carolina announced Marcus Ginyard will sit out the rest of the season with his lingering foot problem.
• I often feel coaches go into panic mode when a player picks up two early fouls. It is overrated to put a player on the pine; that could take away the offensive synch. Coaches get nervous instead of letting their players stay on the court. Let the kids play, just warn them they can't afford a third foul. I believe coaches pull players with two fouls too quickly.
• There are a lot of teams out there capable of winning a game or two in the NCAA tournament. My friends, that is called parity. It is tougher to win two games to make it to the Sweet 16, and the cream rises to the top to win four games and make it to the Final Four. I feel that we will have a great March Madness this year, and I hope we have the same excitement like the Super Bowl produced in the fourth quarter.
• If Kemba Walker is smart enough to stay for a long time at Connecticut, he will develop into one of the great guards at the school. I love his speed and quickness and he is so effective in transition.
• I love the Bracket Busters and this season has some great match-ups. The marquee game pits Butler at Davidson. Coach Brad Stevens will have the task of slowing down the nation's top scorer, Stephen Curry. This showcase of mid-majors is special because it helps raise their visibility and gives them a chance to improve their RPI while impressing the NCAA tournament selection committee. Utah State faces a challenge by St. Mary's, though Randy Bennett's team really misses injured star Patty Mills.
Each week Dick talks about the game he loves