Here’s a quick look at what’s on tap in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, and an even quicker look back at Friday’s action:
WE MEET AGAIN
Indiana and Kentucky haven’t met since 2012 because of a disagreement over where they should play. Leave it to the NCAA to fix that issue, even if the timing doesn’t feel quite right.
The fifth-seeded Hoosiers (26-7) and fourth-seeded Wildcats (27-8) will play for the 57th time Saturday. It’s a matchup of border-state rivals that feels more like it should happen in the Sweet 16 — or later.
That might have been possible had both teams not been seeded worse than many people expected. Indiana won the Big Ten regular-season title and was ranked 10th in the last Associated Press poll; Kentucky tied for the SEC regular-season crown and beat Texas A&M for the tournament title but was slotted one line below the Aggies, much to coach John Calipari‘s chagrin.
The selection committee claims not to pay attention to setting up these sort of matchups. To hear Calipari tell it, the committee doesn’t pay attention to anything. “We don’t have basketball people in that group,” he said.
Indiana coach Tom Crean knows this: “I wish we weren’t playing them. I wish it was later down the road. But it is what it is.”
Also in Des Moines, Iowa, which has turned into college basketball’s mecca this week, top-seeded Kansas will meet UConn in another meeting of pedigree. These teams have only met twice before, but never in the NCAA Tournament.
YOU HAVE … 1,100 MISSED CALLS
Little Rock coach Chris Beard said his phone blew up after his team’s dramatic comeback upset.
Beard shut off the phone shortly before the Trojans went to the Pepsi Center in Denver to play Purdue on Thursday. When he went to turn it back on that night, it was broken. “Just destroyed,” he said.
So, he has no text messages, no missed calls — nothing.
“So if any of my friends or family or recruits are out there, I’m not getting a big head, I’m not turning into somebody else,” Beard said. “My phone’s not working. But I hope that you’ll text me again so I can thank you for the text.”
The 12th-seeded Trojans try to dial up another upset, this time against Iowa State, on Saturday.
The best way for Michigan State to prove it really did deserve that No. 1 seed it got robbed of would’ve been to win it all.
Or, how ’bout just winning one game?
The Spartans went out with a thud Friday. Middle Tennessee did the deed, getting 21 points from Reggie Upshaw to become the first 15 to win a first-round game since 2013, when the fellas from Florida Gulf Coast — Dunk City, baby! — knocked off Georgetown.
Tom Izzo, the Master of March, said his team certainly had a chance to win it all this year.
Your thoughts after the loss, coach?
“I don’t feel one bit different,” Izzo said.
Before the Michigan State loss, headline makers included No. 13 Hawaii, which beat Cal 77-66, and No. 10 Syracuse, which beat Dayton 70-51.
There were many who felt Syracuse didn’t belong in the tournament. What Orange coach Jim Boeheim had to say about that: “Anybody that said we didn’t deserve to be in obviously doesn’t know anything about basketball.”
The two second-round games in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Saturday night have plenty in common.
Both match a No. 1 seed from the Atlantic Coast Conference against a No. 9 seed from the Big East.
Virginia takes on Butler in a Midwest Regional game, then North Carolina faces Providence in the East.
Both the Cavaliers and Bulldogs can shoot the 3 — Virginia is ninth in Division I, making 40.9 percent of its long-range attempts, while Butler isn’t far behind at 16th (39.1 percent).
The second game will feature a contrast between the Tar Heels’ depth and the Friars’ one-two punch. North Carolina might be the deepest team in the field, while Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil combine to average 37.1 points for Providence — roughly half of the team’s 74-point scoring average.
SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM
And finally, a story about smart guys.
Duke plays Yale on Saturday in a meeting between two fine universities who happen to have basketball teams.
One of those teams also happens to be the defending national champion. The other is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1962.
Quick quiz: Which team is which? If you passed, read on …
Yale coach James Jones said the difference between his school and the rest of the world isn’t as stark as some might believe. (He’s talking about basketball, folks.)
The Ivy League has been making strides the last few years, behind Cornell, which made the Sweet 16 in 2010, then behind Harvard, which has knocked off New Mexico and Cincinnati in the recent past, and given Michigan State and North Carolina big scares, as well.
“The national media and the attention that we get from the NCAA doesn’t do us justice in terms of who I think we are,” Jones said. “I think it was nice for some people in their brackets to do it. But none of the people, Seth Greenberg … Charles Barkley — they all thought Yale was going to lose by 1,000.”
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.