March 10, 2006
Yet another clutch 3 from Gerry "Who's Overrated?" McNamara leads 'Cuse in stunner past No. 1 UConn in Big East quarters. (Are Orange in? See Item 2.)
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Does Duke still deserve a No. 1 seed?

As the ACC Tournament opens today, it's a fair question.

If any other No. 1-seed contender had lost its final two regular-season games and sputtered its way through the two before that, there'd be talk of trouble.

That team would have to earn its way back to a No. 1 seed by winning its conference tournament. And, as the favorite, Duke should be held to that standard. (As should UConn. See next item.)

But instead Duke, ranked No. 3, created such a cushion for itself over the season's first three months that a sputtering final two weeks seemingly hasn't done anything to its chances at a No. 1 seed.

Duke's win survival against Miami (no powerhouse) shouldn't help their cause. They still haven't yet earned back their No. 1 seed. And the semi vs. NC St or Wake will be no gimme.

Duke isn't playing like a No. 1 seed, though if they reach the ACC finals, win or lose, they presumably are a lock for one. Must be nice to have that rep, which makes Coach K's "vendetta" theory even more preposterous. (Did you see that final foul call on Miami? What a classic "Duke call.")

But to the glee of Duke haters, even if when Duke winds up with a No. 1 seed, its recent performances bode ominously for its March future. No matter what the Blue Devils' draw is, I'm not picking them to the Final Four.

If Saturday was any indicator, J.J. Redick looks tired, which has become Duke's annual NCAA tourney tradition, along with Coach K's choke chain on his reserves and the "Oops, I Crapped My Pants!" vibe from his freshmen.

But whether or not Duke is a No. 1 seed, the huge expectations mean that seedings mean nothing unless the end result is a national championship. That's the biggest albatross of all.

What About UConn?
Here's another team, like Duke, that probably had a big enough cushion as a No. 1 seed to sustain a blow like losing in the Big East quarters to a team many didn't think was tournament-worthy.

If UConn lost in the finals of the Big East Tournament to Villanova, that's one thing. But to lose to a bubble team -- even an ultra-motivated one like Syracuse -- in the quarters is a humiliation unworthy of a No. 1 seed.

Speaking of Syracuse, forgive me for this flip-flop from yesterday's critique that the Orange were unworthy of an NCAA bid. With the upset over UConn, let's re-evaluate: Yes, it was big enough to get them in.

Selection Sunday
Previewing the biggest story lines:

• Who are the No. 1 seeds? Begrudgingly, give one to Duke and one to UConn, and I'd give the other two to Villanova and Ohio State if they win their conference tournaments. If they stumble, watch Memphis and Texas.

• How many Mo Valley teams? The hot conference. Will they get 3? 4? 5? Will the extra Atlantic 10 bid from GW's loss come at a cost to the MVC? Consider this a proxy for every mid-major looking to break through.

Atlantic 10: Upsets everywhere! Uncertainty = Must-see!
Villanova: B'East Tourney (and top No. 1 seed) for taking
Leon Powe: Stud leads Cal to P-10 semis w/ 22 pts, 20 reb
Washington: Caught looking ahead in P-10 qtrs L to Oregon?
Ben Sheets: Bothered by similar back pain that hurt in '05
Jerry Sloan: Jazz owner gives dreaded "vote of confidence"
• Whose bubble gets burst? Michigan, after loss to Minnesota. Florida State, after loss to Wake Forest. Cincy, after loss to Syracuse. Seton Hall, after loss to Rutgers. Air Force, after loss in Mt. West quarters.

Forde has a Friday must-read.

More Tourney Talk
The "weed out" round is over. Now we're at the point in the major conference tournaments where NCAA Tournament locks battle for pride, with a handful of bubble teams left in a position to seal the deal.

Among the most intriguing? In the Big 12, bubble teams Colorado and Texas A&M could very well be dueling in a bona fide NCAA bid play-in game. Winner should get a bid; loser should get the NIT.

Best Quarterfinal of Week: Big Ten 6-seed Michigan State against 3-seed Illinois. Don't let seeds fool you; even the loser of this game is still a serious Final Four contender.

Handy rule of thumb: Bubble teams from major conferences that make it to their conference semis have more than likely hurdled the bar for an NCAA invite (meaning: You can stop e-mailing me hate mail now, 'Cuse fans).

The dreaded "GW Scenario": Fans of teams on the extreme edge of the bubble are rooting like crazy for Bucknell, Nevada and San Diego State to win their conference tourneys, to avoid a "GW scenario" in which a one-bid league suddenly takes up two precious, previously open spots.

If you read one column today, tomorrow and Sunday, be sure it's Andy Glockner's Bubble Watch.

WBC: Thank Mexico
Somewhere out there, a Ph.D. in Game Theory is freaking out.

Mexico and Canada could have done the rational thing and colluded to have Mexico win their game yesterday 1-0, ensuring that both teams advance to the second round -- and shutting out the U.S.

Instead, Mexico thrashed Canada 9-1 (but, really, can you blame Canada for the obvious letdown?)

That opens the door for the U.S. to escape one of the biggest humiliations in sports history and advance to Round 2 with a win over South Africa today.

Could it be any more dramatic that the U.S. is trotting out Roger Clemens to start this pivotal game? (He can only take the team 3 innings or so.)

Bonds Watch
If there's a baseball scandal, you know Fay Vincent has an opinion. He's the David Wells of ex-MLB commissioners.

Vincent called for Bud Selig to hire someone like Pete Rose investigator John Dowd or a baseball-loving ex-pol like Mario Cuomo to look into the allegations about Bonds, ominously portending congressional action if Selig doesn't.

(Memo to Fay: Congress is going to stick its nose in, no matter what Selig might do.)

Meanwhile, in his spring debut, Bonds hit one single, whiffed for one K, made zero admissions of steroid use and heard thousands of boos from fans in his only two at-bats Thursday.

"Through the Fire"
It's kind of ironic that this documentary about Sebastian Telfair's senior year of high school is running the night of Selection Sunday.

Telfair opted out of being a part of college hoops madness when he skipped from high school to the pros. But can you blame him? If you were 5-foot-10 and guaranteed to be a first-round NBA pick, you'd probably skip college, too.

Even if you know Telfair's background story, "Through the Fire" is a fascinating look at the year that led up to Telfair's decision to go pro. Watch the film and ask yourself if you'd have done the same thing (Sunday, ESPN, 8 p.m. ET).

Tourney Challenge
Don't forget! When the brackets are announced Sunday, you can begin making your picks on's Tourney Challenge.

But not just any group. You're invited to join the Quickie's group. Just search for the group name "Daily Quickie Readers." No password needed.

Don't worry: You can create up to 5 entries. That's enough to join the Daily Quickie Readers group and your office pool and your pool with your buddies, plus two more!

Last year, the Quickie Readers group became the largest single "office" pool anywhere: More than 6,000 participants. Let's top that this year!

George Washington:
Upset in Atlantic 10 quarters not crazy considering they were playing without leader Pops Mensah-Bonsu, but loss could drop Top 10 team to 5 or 6 seed.
Today on
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 Index
Friday's Best Games
Holy Cross-Bucknell
Patriot final (4:30 ET, ESPN2)
Colorado-Texas AM
Playing for at-large invite
Michigan St.-Illinois
THIS is a quarterfinal?
Roll '80s footage! (7 ET, ESPN)
Terps could use a W here

Culpepper Watch: Mort reports that the Vikings really want to trade Daunte before the start of NFL free agency on Saturday.

More NFL Stove: WR Walker wants out of Green Bay? Broncos, Seahawks eyeing DE Abraham? Redskins interested in WR Lloyd? Jets getting QB Ramsey?

More Mort: Tags to retire? Perhaps tired from the protracted labor battle, NFL commish Paul Tagliabue is mulling retirement. He'd be missed.

Without Nash, Suns lose to Spurs: Similar to last year, Nash does more to prove his MVP value by not playing. Suns' 11-game winning streak ends.

MLB Spring: Red Sox lose to Grady and Nomar. Sure, it's only a spring game, but that's gotta sting a little.

Good luck to my high school alma mater Whitman (Bethesda, MD) when it battles Roosevelt (Greenbelt, MD) for the Maryland 4A state hoops title Saturday.

Condolences to family and friends of Doug Hamilton, president and GM of the defending MLS champ LA Galaxy, who died suddenly of a heart attack.

Be on the lookout for a special-edition "Tourney Quickie" coming on shortly after the brackets are announced Sunday night!

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