Friday’s NCAA Tournament games of note
How are your brackets doing everyone? OK, I have lost two elite eight teams already by putting my faith in the wrong teams. No, one of them was not New Mexico.
Don’t know whether it is a slap to Northwestern’s face or a sign that this basketball thing is possible that Harvard upset New Mexico. It is something. Just makes your mouth water more for Tommy Amaker. Too bad he reportedly shot down that rumor a while ago. He is not leaving the Northwestern of the East.
Still the question was raised with Harvard winning its first ever NCAA Tournament game:
If Harvard can do it, why can’t Northwestern?
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) March 22, 2013
Tania is a Northwestern alum who has covered UCF, the Magic, the Jaguars and the Texans. We are impatient too, Tania. And we also would not be against seeing Amaker play a Big Ten schedule either.
Until then, we will keep watching the Tournament.
15 Albany vs. 2 Duke — 11:15 a.m. CT/CBS, Philadelphia, Pa.
The Northwestern beat reporters all have confirmed that Northwestern has one interview lined up for its head coach vacancy. That would be Duke assistant Chris Collins. It seems just about everyone observing the Northwestern coaching search feels Collins is a perfect fit for the Wildcats and thinks that if he feels satisfied that the administration will support him in his recruiting endeavors he will jump on board. That sure seems optimistic. Nothing is done until it is done though.
The other hot name attached to Northwestern is also a Duke assistant. That would be former Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel. If NU is looking for a coach with some previous experience at a decently big program with an experience working for a school that still expects academic excellence, Capel seems to fit that pool. Several writers put whatever weight they might have behind him . . . after Collins at least.
12 Mississippi vs. 5 Wisconsin — 11:40 a.m. CT/truTV, Kansas City, Mo.
The unstoppable offensive option takes on the immovable defensive force. This should be an interesting matchup of Marshall Henderson, one of the best scorers in the nation, and one of the nation’s great defensive minds in Bo Ryan. The Badgers have always been able to dictate pace and prevent opponents from taking them out of their game. They are also incredibly good at knocking teams off their game. Henderson will not be an easy one to beat. But Bo Ryan loves a good challenge.
After Southern University nearly toppled Gonzaga on Thursday, all number one seeds should be on notice. In this wide-open NCAA Tournament, nobody is safe. The Hoosiers certainly should take the Dukes all the more serious. However, it is difficult seeing this as the 16 beating the one. After all, Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller are two of the top talents in the nation and have worked extremely well together and with coach Tom Crean. It feels like this is Indiana’s year.
10 Colorado vs. 7 Illinois — 3:40 p.m. CT/TNT, Austin, Texas
The Fighting Illini are still a conundrum wrapped in an enigma. There is so much talent on this roster and yet still so much disappointment. John Groce has done a good job revitalizing the Illinois program some, but it is still hard to figure what Illinois is going to do on a nightly basis. Northwestern beat Illinois in Champaign again. And then a few weeks later, the Illini trounced the Wildcats. Inconsistency is thy name. Whichever Illinois team shows up for this game could very well determine the ultimate outcome.
15 Iona vs. 2 Ohio State — 6:15 p.m. CT/CBS, Dayton, Ohio
The Buckeyes locked up yet another Big Ten Tournament championship with an impressive performance in Chicago last week. The Buckeyes seem to be a solid team that nobody is talking about. I know I have them in my Final Four and with New Mexico gone, Ohio State has an “easier” road to Atlanta. For all the uncertainty about how the Buckeyes perform, Thad Matta always has his team ready to play come Tournament time. He has been to the Final Four a few times already and another one seems in his sites.
14 Northwestern State vs. 3 Florida — 6:27 p.m. CT/truTV, Austin, Texas
I have had one person come up to me and congratulate Northwestern for making the Tournament here in Gainesville. A Northwestern friend of mine around town told me he had three “trash talk” calls immediately after the brackets unveiling. I swear if I have to hear Verne Lundquist say, “Northwestern wins” again for these posers from Louisiana. . . . Beat ‘em down Gators, please.
11 Minnesota vs. 6 UCLA — 8:57 p.m. CT/truTV, Austin, Texas
The Golden Gophers limped to the finish in the Big Ten season after that hot start. That included the loss to Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Still, Minnesota, if the team can get things right, is a team that could be dangerous in the tournament. When at their best, the Golden Gophers are a strong defensive team and one of the best rebounding teams in the nation. They also are extremely deep. And that is bad news for a young UCLA team that is looking younger and younger — even though Shabazz Mohammad admitted today that he is not 19, but rather 20. The big loss is UCLA’s center and that could cost this team against the burly Minnesota front line.
Enjoy the games today everyone!