Opening tip: A trip to Indy to coordinate coverage of the Patriots game meant less college basketball for me over the weekend and prevented me from posting yesterday.
The trip wasn't all football, I can't leave college hoop behind totally. I took a detour on the way through Dayton, Ohio where I saw Dayton demolish Richmond. It was my first trip to the University of Dayton Arena, which has been the site of many memorable NCAA games. Dayton fans love college basketball and even like hosting the NCAA Tournament's play-in game. Great atmosphere.
Watching the Wisconsin-Illinois game on TV in the UD Arena's Flight Deck bar post-game, couldn't help but notice that Alando Tucker had one of the great hustle plays you'll ever see by a All-American player that helped the Badgers win. He got a key rebound late in the game by having total disregard for his body.
The plane flights also allowed me to read Mark Kriegel's biography of Pistol Pete Maravich, which I found riveting. I'd highly recommend it. The price of stardom can be great. I liked reading about Pete's father, Press, as much as Pete. I never knew he was such a good coach, I just thought he was a stage father. I saw Pistol play once in person in the second round of the 1970 NIT when they beat Oklahoma. That was when all the NIT games were played at Madison Square Garden. He was good but not great that night and that was true of all three games he played in New York but it was a huge event at the time. The NIT games get a lot of attention in the book.
Before I left for Indy, I checked in on Memphis looking to see the revolutionary offensive approach John Calipari has promised. Didn't notice anything that unusual but the Tigers are good, that's for sure. Lots of talent especially massive center Joey Dorsey and guard Antonio Anderson from Lynn but I still maintain Cal's Memphis teams don't play with the same fire that his UMass teams did.
VMI report: a 99-97 loss to Coastal Carolina; 125-95 win over Bridgewater (Bridgewater is still expected to contend in the Old Colony League), then a 102-97 victory over UNC Asheville.
On the Rise:
Rhode Island: Another win in Philly (vs. Temple) and the Rams are leading the Atlantic 10 with a big game against UMass Wednesday.
Texas A&M: The Aggies are 4-0 in the Big 12 after a big win over Oklahoma State
Marquette: We had the Fightin' McGuires falling earlier but after beating Pitt they're definitely rising.
Toledo: The Rockets are the only undefeated team in the Mid-American.
Long Beach State: A big win over one of my favorite teams, Fullerton State, puts the 49ers in first place in the Big West
Central Connecticut: Four in a row puts the Blue Devils on collision course with Sacred Heart for the Northeast Conference title.
Arizona: The Wildcats have lost three straight in the Pac 10
Washington: The Huskies have also lost three straight. Usual great analysis from Joe Lunardi on ESPN.com indicates that they've already eliminated themselves from NCAA contention unless they can win the Pac 10 tournament.
Gonzaga: The Zags' loss to Saint Mary's ended their 30-game West Coast Conference winning streak. Can their home-court streak be far behind?
Clemson: Rude awakening in the Tigers' big loss to North Carolina last week.
Wichita State: The Shockers continue to plummet with two more losses.
This week's Final Four:
Florida, UCLA, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh
This week's National Champion:
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell