Commentary

Roundball Chatter

Updated: March 6, 2009, 3:36 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

• Michigan State has enjoyed a tremendous season. With a win at Indiana, the Spartans clinched their first Big Ten title since 2001, and the fifth under Tom Izzo -- it's the first outright crown for MSU since 1999. It is hard to believe Izzo's program has gone that long without a title. Michigan State also set a school record with eight road wins in league play. With a win this weekend against Purdue, the Spartans will tie the school record with 15 Big Ten wins. It is impressive to note what Izzo and company have accomplished. Michigan State will be motivated in its attempt to play at Ford Field in the Final Four.

• Think about what Marquette lost when Dominic James was injured. Here's a guy who provided leadership, experience, assists and steals. James was Marquette's second-leading assist guy in school history and third-leading scorer. His injury was a major blow, believe me, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews won't go down without a fight. This trio was consistent from the moment they went to school. McNeal has elevated his game this season due to improved perimeter shooting. I hope the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee doesn't penalize the Golden Eagles too much for the absence of James.

• I feel John Calpari has done a great job at Memphis. I recently had a discussion on-air with my broadcast partner Dan Shulman and we enjoyed an interesting debate. I said, and I firmly believe, Memphis would finish no better than fifth if it was a member of the Big East. Are the Tigers better than Connecticut and Pittsburgh? What about Louisville, Marquette, Villanova? Syracuse beat the Tigers down at Memphis. Nothing against Calipari, but I feel his program would be somewhere between fifth and seventh in the Big East.

• I love when a Division I school hires a former head coach to serve as an assistant. They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience and know how to teach, making them ideal assistants. Think about guys like Larry Shyatt at Florida; Steve Robinson of North Carolina; George Blaney at Connecticut; Jerry Dunn of Michigan; Tom Herrion at Pittsburgh; Billy Hahn of West Virginia. These guys serve in a vital role at major schools across America.

• To show how wacky things have been down the stretch in college hoops, consider this. Notre Dame and Georgetown posted solid records over the first 15 games of the season. Miami looked like it had a solid shot at the big dance. Now all three are in deep trouble, likely to miss the big dance, as we head into the final weekend of the regular season.

• One of the bigger surprises of the season came when Georgia, with just two SEC wins, walked into Rupp Arena and stunned a Kentucky team in dire need of a victory. Now Billy Gillispie's 'Cats need a big win over Florida in Gainesville and a solid effort in the conference tournament. Big Blue fans are sweating big-time right now.

• How about a salute to Central Florida senior guard Jermaine Taylor. He set a Conference USA single-season league scoring record in a loss to Tulsa. Robert McKiver established a league scoring record in 2007-08, registering 406 points for Houston.

• Next season, St. John's will host an NBA game. In advance of the team's move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2011, the Nets will give New York City basketball fans a special preview by playing a preseason game on the campus of St. John's University in Queens, N.Y. The Nets will play the Philadelphia 76ers at Carnesecca Arena at St. John's on Friday, Oct. 23. Ironically, Carnesecca used to coach the Nets out on Long Island.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.