- Dick Vitale, College Basketball analyst
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Each week I'll talk about the sport I love, college basketball:
• This is the time of year when we see players declare for the NBA draft. It did not take long for several announcements as Oklahoma State's James Anderson, South Florida's Dominique Jones, Oklahoma's Tommy Mason-Griffin and Virginia's Sylven Landesberg threw their names in the ring.
• Roy Williams deserves a lot of credit as his Tar Heels advance to the NIT Final Four. I know, the goal was the big dance, but this team has regrouped from the disappointment of blowing a 10-point halftime lead to Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament. North Carolina picked up quality wins at Mississippi State and UAB, allowing the program to gain valuable game experience for players like John Henson. That diaper dandy is looking more and more comfortable in the UNC uniform.
• It is also a time for the coaching carousel to begin spinning wildly. Houston coach Tom Penders decided it was time to leave, even though the Cougars made a strong run through the Conference USA tournament to earn a trip to the Big Dance. Personally, I think he got a raw deal.
• A lot of schools fill vacancies prior to the Final Four. East Carolina hired Jeff Lebo shortly after he was let go by Auburn. He will be a good fit being a former Tar Heel player; remember, athletic director Terry Holland had plenty of time in the ACC, coaching Virginia. UTEP coach Tony Barbee is heading to Auburn as Lebo's replacement, so many moves, are you serious? Another coaching hire came when Hawaii named Gib Arnold, a veteran assistant as their head coach. He took over for Bob Nash, a former star player out at Hawaii. Finally, Tom Pecora left Hofstra to take the Fordham job. Leaving Hofstra, but staying in New York, baby!
• In one area come tournament time, I really believe the mid-major schools have a major advantage over the big boys. They are not hit as hard with early-entry departures into the NBA draft. So many teams from the so-called power conferences lose out on players to the draft, the one-and-done guys are an example. A lot of the mid-majors get players to stay all four years, building up a team chemistry, that is important in advancing in the NCAA tournament.
• Coaches often get rewarded for success in the Big Dance. That certainly happened for Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson. Fresh off of the upset win over Kansas, the school gave their coach a new 10-year deal with a big-time raise. Timing is everything in college basketball, baby!
• According to Paul Biancardi of ESPN, Brandon Knight will join LeBron James and Greg Oden as a two-time national Gatorade player of the year. Do you think John Calipari would like to have Knight in Lexington next season?
• How about a salute to San Diego State? I am talking about the women's tournament, where the No. 11 seed won at Texas and then went on to beat No. 3 regional seed West Virginia. Let's go Aztecs!
3hMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon
4hMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins