- Dick Vitale, College Basketball analyst
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• This is the best time of year in college basketball. When the field of 65 is set, the bubbles are burst but we know which teams are dancing and celebrating March Madness. There are so many great stories, the favorites trying to get to Ford Field. There are the Cinderellas, schools that got hot at the right time. March Madness is awesome, baby with a capital A!
• Look at schools that have not been to the big dance for a while and earned berths by winning conference tournaments. Morehead State won the Ohio Valley Conference in a surprise. Donnie Tyndall's team opened the season 0-6, including losses to Grambling and Florida A&M. Here are the Eagles in the big dance for the first time in 25 years thanks to a winning shot in the OVC title game by freshman Steve Peterson. What a great story!
• Cleveland State is back in the dance for the first time since 1986, when Kevin Mackey took his team on a magic carpet ride. Remember guard Mouse McFadden leading his team past the General, Robert Montgomery Knight and the Hoosiers? Then came an upset over a talented St. Joe's squad before a one-point loss to Navy in the Sweet 16 at the Meadowlands. Gary Waters' squad played solid defense in winning at Butler to earn this berth.
• You could hear some bubbles burst when Cleveland State knocked off Butler in the Horizon League finale. Brad Stevens' squad, at 26-5 overall, and quality wins over Xavier and Davidson, should still go dancing. Getting an at-large bid takes away a slot from one of the bubble teams, so you could hear moans and groans across America from teams watching precariously.
• Gonzaga may be peaking at the right time. Mark Few's team had great anticipation coming into this season, had some bumps in the road earlier, but has a nine-game win streak since the loss to Memphis. The Zags were so impressive in a 25-point win in the WCC title game against a good St. Mary's team that had Patty Mills back in the lineup. My friends, this is a dangerous team in the big dance with lots of weapons on offense. Keep an eye on Gonzaga to make some noise.
• Great news out of California. The Wizard of Westwood, John Wooden, was released from the hospital. He had been in since mid-February due to a bout with pneumonia. I wish the legendary coach all the best as he rests and recovers at home.
• Kent State sent a great message by issuing a one-game suspension to guard Chris Singletary after reviewing the tape of a flagrant personal foul charged against him in recent win over Akron. The junior sat out the Golden Flashes' Mid-American Conference Tournament opening round win over Northern Illinois. The school felt additional punishment was needed and the Mid-American Conference praised the action and issue no further penalty after the suspension.
• A perfect example of why the conference tournaments are like a playoff, giving schools a second chance to redeem itself from struggle city – DePaul's opening round win over Cincinnati in the Big East. Are you kidding me? The Blue Demons did not win a league game all season long, but then Jerry Wainright's club sends the Bearcats off of any bubble shot. Wow!
• If John Beilein can lead Michigan into the big dance, he will join an impressive group. Beilein, would take his fourth different school in the tournament (Canisius, Richmond, West Virginia and now Michigan) and would join Lefty Driesell, Jim Harrick, Lon Kruger, Rick Pitino and Eddie Sutton) accomplishing that feat.
• While it is a great time for college basketball fans, the tournament has grown into such a pressure cooker for coaches. This is also the time of year when pink slips go out because teams failed to make postseason tournaments. That is the reality of the business of college basketball. You will see a number of names on the transaction pages of the sports section and it is sad. Often times, when you get the ziggy, you don't land another head coaching job for a while.
12hK. Lee Davis