So, how are your brackets? Following four days of basketball noted primarily for the large numbers of high seeds getting shot down like a Mig over the Sinai and the quick exit of 5/6 of the ACC schools actually invited, the college basketball world pauses to take a breath and rest for a few days. That means the NIT!
For the handful of Tech fans still reading these words, it also means a renewed focus on the status of coach Seth Greenberg, particularly as it relates to the opening at St. John’s. The state newspapers all reported over the weekend that Seth had informed his team that he was staying at Tech. While this sounded remarkably similar to the solid assurances he gave his Directional Florida players that he was staying before leaving later that night for Blacksburg, we will assume that Seth can be taken at his word, this time.
That St. John’s might not be interested in a homecoming by the Tech coach was indicated by the AD of the Red Whatevers stating that topping the list of criteria for the new coach would be a demonstrated ability to get to the NCAA Tournament on a regular basis. That would seem to immediately eliminate NIT Seth, whose track record at Tech is punctuated by his ability to make the secondary tournament in his second year and, five years later, building the program to the point that it was still making it. While that does indicate a solid level of consistency, the Johnnies’ AD said nothing about prospective coaches ‘almost’ making the Big Dance.
As for the NIT, it is noted this year for the large number of teams that usually make the NCAA tournament, along with regular participant Tech. It hardly seemed like an NCAA opening weekend without games by Carolina, UConn or Memphis [after last weekend, it will hardly seem like an NCAA Tournament without Kansas or most of the Biggie E, either]. There sure were a lot of uncharacteristic bad years by normal tournament mainstays.
One of those teams, UConn, makes it way back to Tech for the first time since that Big East going-away RUTS laid on the Hokies the last time Jim Calhoun’s Huskies played in Cassell. Tech fans are hoping for a somewhat more-favorable result this time. jimmy is no doubt hoping the stature of UConn and Calhoun will entice at least a few people into Cassell. That would be unlike the opening NIT game against somebody called Quinnipiac, whoever they were. This would seem to also be the best opportunity for a big crowd among Seth’s many, many NIT games. It is highly doubtful that playing the winner of the game between Nevada and Tech’s old A-10 mate Rhode Island would fill the place up. If Tech wins them both, it would be back to New York City for the Hokies. Maybe, one way or another, Seth will get to visit Mom.
Back in the NCAA, glancing at my bracket reveals a lot of horizontal red lines running through picks. Included among them is half of my Final Four and even champion also-ran Kansas. There are few drawn through ACC teams, as, with the exception of Florida State, the league’s NCAA representatives have behaved exactly as I had predicted in my bracket. I will blame my somehow picking Leonard Hamilton’s crew to beat Gonzaga on computer error.
I had correctly forecast that Oliver Purnell would maintain his NCAA Tournament 0-fer and that Maryland would beat Houston before losing to Michigan State. That is what happened, although the Terps did make it a fairly-interesting last couple of minutes. Also among my correct picks was guessing that the solid ACC Tournament run by Georgia Tech would last for exactly one NCAA game.
The last First Round pick I had changed seconds before the tournament tipped off at noon Thursday was to reverse my selection of Texas over Wake Forest. It turned out to be one of the few I got right that first day. The hunch that the cure for Dino Gaudio’s usual late-season collapses was to play a team that had suffered an even greater one turned out to be correct. Gaudio’s Deacs then returned to their usual end-of-season form against Kentucky, in a big way, to say the least. But, when the high point of your bracket is having correctly forecast the winner of an 8/9 game, perhaps it is not my Tournament.