Can we say with all surety that parity was finally achieved this year in men’s college basketball?
KFAN’s Henry Lake (HL) and Robert Littal (RL) of BlackSportsOnline recently shared their thoughts on this and this year’s cliché-filled NCAA tournament already in progress. (Please note: Lake and Littal’s comments were made prior to Sunday’s tournament selections.)
View: Was there indeed parity this season?
HL: There always will be premier schools, but what I think is different this year is that some of those teams that we always penciled in as top seeds in the tournament essentially have taken a step back, [and] other teams have taken a step forward. I am not surprised that there is parity.
RL: The talent is so spread out. There is not a dominant player in the NCAA this year, but there are a lot of solid, good players. There’s not one guy who can literally carry their team on his back like Carmelo Anthony did [for Syracuse several years ago] to a title. I think that’s good.
View: Nine teams posted multiple wins over top-25 teams this season — seven of them have 20 or more overall wins. Tops in the Sagarin ratings, and second in RPI. Did this prove that the Big Ten this year is the nation’s best conference?
HL: The Big Ten didn’t have as many “one-and-done’s” as some of the other conferences around the country. There has been a little bit of a drop-off when you look at some of the conferences, but all in all, the Big Ten has been the toughest conference you are going to find in college basketball.
View: Finally, any favorites in this year’s field?
HL: I think this year it is more wide open than ever before. There are so many teams out there that have strong possibilities to get to Atlanta and be a part of the Final Four.
RL: From one to 64, you are going to have upsets, and these games are going to be toss-up type of games. I think this is about as wide open of a tournament as you are going to see. I am a little more excited about this particular tournament. I’m even more excited because I don’t know who will win. You are going to be glued to your set, because you just don’t know who will end up in the Final Four once they get to Atlanta.
Gophers skate to semi’s
This reporter and U of M Women’s Hockey Coach Brad Frost last weekend finally had one thing in common: Neither one of us have witnessed before the longest hockey game in school history. “That was the longest one I’ve ever been a part of,” he told me after the Gophers defeated North Dakota 3-2 last Saturday on a Kelly Terry power play goal with 1:09 left in the third extra period — both teams played the equivalent of two full games.
Appearing in their second consecutive national semifinals, Minnesota (39-0-0) plays Boston College in the first of two NCAA Frozen Four semifinal games Friday at Ridder Arena. “It is a huge honor, and we’ve worked so hard to get to this point,” said Frost. “To finally be there now is a big relief, but it also is a very exciting thing for us.”
Friday’s winners play Sunday for the national championship.
Gophers trek to Texas
The Minnesota men’s basketball team (20-12) plays UCLA (25-9) Friday in an NCAA South Regional second-round game in Austin, Texas.
(Still) gender imbalance in hoops media coverage
A day or night in the life of NCAA men’s basketball coverage:
CBS Sports Network — five hours.
ESPNU — three hours.
ESPN2 — 2½ hours.
Talk radio — 24 hours.
Monday’s NCAA women’s selection show on ESPN — 45 minutes and 38 seconds
As expected, the top-heavy women’s tournament has Stanford, UConn, Notre Dame, and defending national champions Baylor as top seeds. The 48-team field, which begins Saturday, includes six Big Ten teams and two HBCUs (Prairie View and Hampton).
“It’s a new season,” notes Penn State Coach Coquese Washington.
Finally, the Gopher women (18-13) received an at-large bid for the 64-team WNIT late Monday night for the first time since 2006-07. They will host Ball State (15-15) Friday night in a first-round contest.
Did you know…?
How many Black head coaches have led teams to the Women’s Final Four? Bonus: How many Black coaches overall have led teams to NCAA berths? (Answers in next week’s “View.”)
Answer to last week’s “Did you know?” — How many Black head coaches historically have coached in the Big Ten women’s tournament? All but two of the seven Black females, including two present head coaches, have won at least one game in league tourney history, and Carolyn Peck (6-0) is the only Big Ten coach to have an undefeated record among all league coaches’ records.
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