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Entries in Jim Boeheim (4)


Bracket Breakdown: Forecasting The Sweet 16 And Elite 8

John Wall

One Great Season

Surprises abound in the Sweet 16, and not all of them are pleasant.

Two days after Michigan State lost star point guard Kalin Lucas for the remainder of the tournament, West Virginia learned Tuesday that its own floor general, Truck Bryant, has a broken foot and also will be unable the rest of the way. I think Lucas' absence hurts the Spartans more than Bryant's hurts WVU.

But getting back to surprises, Cornell and Northern Iowa are hogging all the headlines. Let us not forget, however, about Omar Samhan and St. Mary's. Sure more unpredictable outcomes are on tap; about the only thing that won't surprise us this weekend will be that Miller Lite will show us the ad with Buster the dumb dog 15 times. Here's a preview:


+ WEST REGION: Xavier Fans Love Unheralded Senior Forward
+ EAST REGION: Cornell Cute, But Big Red Will Be Feeling Blue
+ TV CRITIC: March Adness: Cheers To Dos Equis
+ TOURNAMENT TAKEAWAYS: What The First Weekend Taught Us
+ KANSAS COLLAPSE: Jayhawks Fans Left Speechless, Except This One
+ RECIPE: 7 Ingredients For A National Championship
+ MARCH MADNESS: Tourney No Longer Leads To April Sadness
+ COUNTDOWN: The Top 10 Title Games Since 1979
+ LIST: The Top 10 Analysts In College Basketball
+ LIST: The Top 10 Play-By-Play Men In College Basketball

+ EAST -- Everybody wants to pick Cornell over Kentucky because a) if the Big Red does pull off the grand upset, they can say, "I predicted it. I'm really smart," and b) when UK wins, no one will really remember the idiots who picked Cornell. You've got brains vs. talent, experience vs. inexperience and discipline vs. the playground. Kentucky's youngsters haven't been bothered by the pressure of the single-elimination, high-stakes event. Cornell is good but Kentucky is better. UK wins and then slices past a West Virginia team that won't necessarily be troubled by Bryant's absence. The Mountaineers' real woes come from their inability to shoot the basketball, a large problem if they hope to beat a Kentucky team that averaged 95 points in its first two tournament games. UK advances to Indianapolis after a physical regional final.

+ SOUTH -- Purdue's grit has been impressive, but Duke is too versatile for the Boilermakers. The Devils are difficult to guard on the perimeter, and they're balanced on the blocks. Slow them down, speed them up, they can play either style and they can defend just as well. Duke beats Purdue and then meets Baylor, an easy winner over St. Mary's, in the regional final. The Baylor-St. Mary's game will be an excellent one, but the Bears will have a little too much firepower, even for Samhan and company. The Duke-Baylor final shall be a dandy, but the basketball gods gave Mike Krzyzewski a dangerous and balanced team this year, as well as a comfortable path to Indianapolis. Of course Duke will advance to meet Kentucky once again when the stakes are high.

+ WEST -- Syracuse, Syracuse, Syracuse. No offense to Kansas State or the Big 12, but the Orange are playing lights out and  I don't believe Arinze Onuaku's return will disrupt any rhythm Jim Boeheim's bunch found in its first two tournament games. And those were some games, eh? The Orange won each time by more than 20 points, including a surprisingly easy blowout of Gonzaga in round two. Syracuse breezes by Butler and will take a large load of confidence into the regional final against KSU. I'm still not fully convinced about Frank Martin. His glare and his overall freakish nature are well documented, and I get the connection he has with his players. But the Elite Eight is the big kid's table, and Boeheim has sat here before. Many times. And Kansas State might be a little beaten up after a nasty regional semifinal against Xavier. KSU will barely beat the Muskies in a knock-down, drag-out brawl. I can't wait to watch that game. But Syracuse advances from the West.
+ MIDWEST -- Northern Iowa proves it's not a one-trick pony with a defeat of a battered Michigan State team. I don't think it will require a gimmick or a heroic late shot, either. The Panthers followed up their defeat of UNLV by staying focused enough to beat top overall seed Kansas in the tournament's biggest upset so far. UNI really controlled that game from start to finish, and although it got sloppy late, it had just enough in the tank and will do the same against the tournament savvy Tom Izzo and his proud Spartans. Ohio State worries me some. Many think the Buckeyes are a lock to come out of the Midwest, but Evan Turner could struggle against Tennessee in a regional semifinal. The Vols will throw some athleticism his way, and since he's not a natural point guard, ET might struggle again with turnover problems. Perimeter assassin Jon Diebler will once again need to hit six or seven threes to keep UT's defense away from Turner some. I think Diebler will do it, and OSU will get a stronger fight in this round than against UNI in the regional final. Ohio State advances to face Syracuse in the Final Four.


No. 4: Syracuse vs. Indiana, 1987

Keith Smart

Each Monday until the national championship is played in Indianapolis on April 5, One Great Season will count down the Top 10 National Championship games since 1979, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off in Salt Lake City. Today's No. 4 is the 1987 classic between Indiana and Syracuse in New Orleans.

One Great Season

I was supposed to attend my first concert ever on this night, but a Cleveland snowstorm turned my plans to see Bon Jovi into an evening alone in the basement watching Indiana and Syracuse. Not a terrible consolation by any stretch.

Unless the Hoosiers were playing Ohio State back then, I almost always rooted for Bob Knight and Indiana. But my high school basketball teammates and I were big fans of the Big East, so it was hard not to root for freshman phenom Derrick Coleman and that funny-looking coach with the glasses.


+ No. 5: Kansas vs. Memphis, 2008
+ No. 6: Michigan vs. Seton Hall, 1989
+ No. 7: Syracuse vs. Kansas, 2003
+ No. 8: Georgetown vs. North Carolina, 1982
+ No. 9: Duke vs. Connecticut, 1999
+ No. 10: Indiana State vs. Michigan State, 1979

In such a dilemma, the only thing a teen can then hope for is to see a good game. And that's precisely what America got.

The game was a close one throughout, and when Coleman missed a free throw with 27 seconds left, Indiana legend Steve Alford, who led the Hoosiers all season long, brought the ball upcourt, hoping to set up one final shot for himself.

But it was his backcourtmate Keith Smart who got the best look. He knocked down a baseline jumper with four seconds left to give Indiana the 74-73 lead and Knight his third and final national championship.

Smart, who endured an up-and-down career under Knight, finished the season on the highest of high notes, and even joked after the game that teammate Daryl Thomas made the wise move of kicking the ball back out to Smart to set up the heroic shot.

"I'd like to thank Daryl for not taking that last shot and passing it back out to me," he said. "It was a wise decision on his part."

After the chaos of the winning shot, Syracuse didn't call a timeout until only one second remained. That's when Smart intercepted the three-quarter court pass and heaved the ball skwyard, setting off the great celebration just a few miles down the road from his native Baton Rouge.


No. 7: Syracuse vs. Kansas, 2003

Hakim Warrick

Each Monday until the national championship is played in Indianapolis on April 5, One Great Season will count down the Top 10 National Championship games since 1979, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off in Salt Lake City. In observance of President's Day, OGS took last week off, but today's No. 7 is the 2003 title game between Syracuse and Kansas.

One Great Season


That was about my reaction when longtime Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim won that elusive first national championship.

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I'd become a fan of Big East basketball in the mid-1980s, shortly after the league's inception, and quickly began to favor the Orange. Boeheim came close in 1987 before losing a heartbreaker to Indiana, then lost again in the title game nine years later to a loaded Kentucky team. The third time in a national championship game proved to be the charm for Boeheim's bunch, which held off a late rally by Kansas at the Louisiana Superdome.

But it wasn't easy. Star freshman Carmelo Anthony carried the Orange throughout the season, but he was held scoreless in the final 13 minutes of the game. And the Orange let Kansas trim a 12-point deficit to just three in the final minutes, requiring a heroic defensive play to preserve the win.


+ No. 8: Georgetown vs. North Carolina, 1982
+ No. 9: Duke vs. Connecticut, 1999
+ No. 10: Indiana State vs. Michigan State, 1979

Syracuse led, 81-78, when Hakim Warrick missed two free throws with eight seconds left. At the other end a moment later, Kansas got a great look for a three-point attempt when guard Kirk Hinrich found Michael Lee alone in the corner. Lee launched his shot, but Warrick came out of nowhere to redeem himself for the missed freebies. He swatted Lee's attempt out of bounds with less than a second left. KU got another chance, but Hinrich couldn't convert and the Syracuse celebration was on.

That game also might be remembered for Bonnie Bernstein's insensitive postgame interview with then-Kansas coach Roy Williams, which you can read about here.


Tuesday Hoops Notebook

Wesley Johnson

One Great Season

I'm still unimpressed by Georgetown, and in the last month I've probably watched Syracuse more than any other team. After watching the Big East rivals square off at the Carrier Dome Monday night, I like the Orange a lot.

Lacking a true superstar, Syracuse beats you with good balance. Its lineup is stacked with many capable players. Looking for a three? Pass it to Andy Rautins. Want some interior strength? Kris Joseph, Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku are your guys. Need an all-around stud? Give Wesley Johnson a call.

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And don't forget Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine, who, combined with Rautins, average a combined 29 points and 13 assists per game. That's a pretty nice trio of guards.

After surrendering 14 points to open the game, Syracuse steadily crept back into it and even took a lead into halftime. The Orange stretched the margin to more than 20 points after the break, and cruised to its sixth straight defeat of Georgetown.

The best play of the night wasn't a dunk or a trey or a SportsCenter-esque swat. It was actually a long, left-handed bounce pass from Rautins at the top of the arc to Johnson near the low block. Johnson went up for a dunk, but a foul caused him to pull back, though he still converted the deuce and made the subsequent free throw to stretch the Syracuse lead to 55-40 midway through the second half.

If Syracuse can stay healthy, then surly coach Jim Boeheim looks to have a deep and balanced team that will contend for a Final Four spot in Indianapolis.

FINAL FOUR PICKS: Speaking of the best event in all of sports, I'll be making Final Four predictions each week here on OGS. Here's my first guess:

+ EAST: Syracuse
+ SOUTH: Kentucky
+ MIDWEST: Kansas
+ WEST: Texas

TUBE TIME: Keep your schedule open for the following games this week:

+ Tuesday: Michigan State at Michigan (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
+ Tuesday: Kentucky at South Carolina (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
+ Tuesday: Not televised -- Kansas State at Baylor (8 p.m. ET)
+ Wednesday: Vanderbilt at Tennessee (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
+ Wednesday: Florida State at Duke (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
+ Thursday: Wisconsin at Purdue (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
+ Saturday: Duke at Georgetown (1 p.m. ET, CBS)
+ Saturday: Kansas at Kansas State (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

CONFERENCE RANKINGS: If the Big East didn't impress you in the first few weeks of league play, Saturday's non-conference wins over the weekend (Connecticut over Texas, West Virginia over Ohio State) should have done some convincing. Here are my conference rankings through Monday night's games:

1. Big East
2. Big 12
3. Big 10
4. ACC
5. SEC
6. MWC
7. Atlantic 10
8. PAC 10