Office Hours: NCAA Tournament Edition

By David Scott - March 16, 2008


MEMPHIS -- The Professor once again finds himself in the Bluff City for a Sunday night edition of the Grade Book and once again we've commandeered the player's lounge in the Tigers' basketball offices in order to hold our Office Hours. While the Tigers' coaching staff busily prepares for its first round opponent (Texas-Arlington) and potential Round of 32 opponents Mississipi State and Oregon, we busily get all smart-alecky. We never took any bracketology classes and would never work at an institute that offered such a shamockery of a course, but we do like the actual release of the bracket so that certain folks (and definitely not our own dead-on Jerry Palm) can go back into moth balls on Hawk Hill for another 11 months.

Instead of grading the field we're going to give you the teams, players and/or people that would be allowed to stay in my virtual classroom and the ones that would be kicked out. In other words, here our 2008 NCAA Tournament (and NIT/CBI) Teacher's Pets and Detention Hall Detainees:

Teacher's Pet: Georgia
What an incredible run for Dennis Felton's team and despite getting the tough draw of Xavier in the first round of the NCAAs, the Bulldogs re-defined the term "Cinderella" for generations to come by winning four games in three days, including a double-dip on Saturday and back-to-back OT wins over Ole Miss and Kentucky. The Dawgs were 13-16 entering the SEC (Tornado) Tourney and had won four league games all season. They proceeded to probably save their coach's job, get to the NCAA Tournament and, in the process, shock the college basketball world. Georgia will be on our minds for quite a while.

Detention Hall Detainess: ESPN's NIT Show
The Professor dutifully tried to scribble down the damn bracket for the Little Dance but ESPN's NIT Selection Show showed the bracket parts so fast that I consistently missed teams. Which made me think, what the heck am I writing down an NIT bracket in the first place for anyway? Which got me thinking, who's in the CBI? And why do I care?

Teacher's Pet: Butler
Ranked No. 10 in the nation, the Bulldogs got absolutely no love from the selection committee and earned only a No. 7 seed where they will face South Alabama and then probably run into the buzzsaw of Tennessee. But The Professor still has much love for the 'Dogs and we'd love nothing more than to see them move onto the Sweet 16.

Teacher's Pet: Potential Match-ups
Having taken the Mock Selection tutorial at NCAA Headquarters, we understand the Tom O'Connor-led committee doesn't have time to look at potential match-ups for storylines but post-bracket completion, we sure do have that time. Here's a few that catch our eye:

1. Duke and Arizona could meet in the second round and provide a re-match of the 2001 title game won by Duke in Minneapolis.

1A. More minutiae from that 2001 Tournament shows that Michigan State and Temple, which face each other in a 5-12 game in the first round, also met in that Big Dance during the Elite Eight with the Spartans winning, before falling to Arizona in the Final Four.

2. Gonzaga vs. Davidson in the Midwest region's first round as a 7-10 match-up is a tale of two mid-majors that would make Cinderella proud in most years. Although Gonzaga has graduated from the "mid-major" label in recent years, Davidson is a lot like the Gonzaga of the East in recent years. The game will feature some outstanding guards in Stephen Curry and Jason Richards for Davidson and the impressive Jeremy Pargo for the Zags.

3. USC vs. Kansas State, also in the Midwest region's first round, has the obvious story line of the super frosh facing each other in OJ Mayo and Michael Beasley. But let's remember the Lottery Pick pair will not be matched up on each other so any talk of Who's Better? will not be settled in this one. But we maintain our Selection Show suggestion that the loser will immediately be drafted by the woeful Memphis Grizzlies.

4. Indiana vs. Arkansas in the East region. It's Hogs & Hoosiers. Isn't that a bar in NYC and Vegas? A great bar, if I remember correctly from the time The Profesor's childhood friend Jenni once hopped on the bar during our NYC years.

5. Georgetown vs. UMBC in the Midwest region. Loser has 24 hours to move out of the D.C. area as the two schools are less than 40 miles from each other.

Detention Hall Detainee: Arizona State
Yeah, so the Sun Devils beat in-the-field Arizona twice. We understand that. But they had an 83 RPI, a 77 SOS and were 9-12 against the RPI Top 200. Worse yet, the Devils' non-conference SOS was 294. They were also 5-7 in their last 12, 9-9 in-league and went 19-12 overall. That's just not an NCAA profile and in this, the year of the silky soft bubble, there are NO teams that got snubbed. Anyone not in this field has only themselves to blame.

Teacher's Pets: Stanford vs. Cornell
Of course The Professor loves this first round match-up because these players put the "student" in student-athletes. No truth to the rumor, however, that the NCAA will list GPAs and SAT scores instead of season stats for both teams.

Detention Hall Detainess: 5-12 match-ups
Two of the Big Five schools are 12 seeds - Temple (South) and Villanova (Midwest) - that will both have their hands full in the first round and although we do like 'Nova to give Clemson a good run, the Owls (winners of the A-10 Tournament) are one and doners for sure. Temple had virtually ZERO good wins and a host of bad losses. As an automatic qualifier, they earned their way in, but they are not very deserving in our eyes.

Teacher's Pets: 5-12 match-ups
We expect a lot from our 12-seeds and both George Mason (East) and Western Kentucky (West) have the ability to provide impact 5-12 wins over Notre Dame and Drake respectively.

Teacher's Pets: The NIT
At least they were able to get their bracket out before The Professor's bedtime on Sunday night (early flight, don't ya know?). Unlike. . .

Detention Hall Detainess: The Inaugural CBI
When we contacted the first-year post season tourney run by The Gazelle Group on Sunday night just before 11 p.m. and asked for their field, the eamil response from a spokesman said "shortly." Hmmmm. Shortly? That's about how long the unnecessary event will probably last. As of 12:30 a.m. Monday there was still no official word (thus refuting the tournament's claim they would announce their field on March 16) and we were even told by one source that at least one team that would be hosting a game had no clure who they were going to play as of late Sunday night. We have bee able to piece together a few teams in the 16-team field in Utah, Virginia, Houston and, from what we were told earlier in the day, UTEP.

But a lot of schools have indicated they wouldn't play in the new event and by the time we posted this, we were starting to think winless NJIT may be a legit candidate for the Can't Be In anything else, so we might as well be in this Tournament.

If you want to start a new post-season tournament and get any respect, this is not the way to do it.

(By the way, we're looking for an NIT Final Four of VCU, Maryland, Rhode Island and Ohio State with VCU winning it all. I reserve the right to change those in light of the fact that it's the NIT and no one will be paying attention to my picks.)

Teacher's Pet: Fang Mitchell
Fang's Gang at Coppin State was led into the play-in game by Tywain McKee's game-winner in the MEAC title game and Mitchell gets to his fourth NCAA Tournament. But it wasn't quite the traditional route as the Eagles are the first-ever 20-loss team in the bracket (16-20 and 7-9 in conference). Coppin State had losing streaks of 11 games and six games during the season, but also managed an eight-game win streak. Perhaps most incredibly, the Fang Gang won its four MEAC Tourney games by a TOTAL of six points with two 2-point wins, two 1-point victories and an overtime game. Georgia's four game romp was a cakewalk comapred to what the Eagle endured. They will meet Mount St. Mary's from the NEC on Tuesday in Dayton.

Posted by David Scott at 12:52 AM on March 16, 2008
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