Mar 19, 2013, 1:00 PM EST
All of sports are somewhat unpredictable. If they weren’t, nobody would watch. And most certainly nobody would fill out brackets if the outcome were that easy to determine. Athletes would play sports just to – ugh – stay healthy, and there would be no need for competitive fire or excellence.
So why is March singled out for the sobriquet “Madness”? Let me count the ways.
1. The three-pointers will fall: The three-pointer has become the great equalizer that makes even the lowliest team incredibly dangerous. Can’t entice a 7-foot behemoth to play at a small agricultural college in the sticks? No problem. Get three or four small, quick guys and let them bomb away. Example: Ali Farokhmanesh and Northern Iowa gunned down top seed Kansas in 2010, earning a Sweet 16 berth.
2. Players will forget the rules of basketball: This happens so often in college hoops that it drives NBA fans crazy. In the heat of the moment, 17-22 year olds make mistakes, often drastic mistakes, like shooting an off-balance three-pointer when an easy inside two-pointer would have tied the game. It’s really more situational awareness than ignorance of the rules, but it’s definitely the sort of thing that makes us potato-chip eating spectators shout invective from the couch. The most famous example is Chris Webber calling a timeout Michigan did not have in a 1993 title-game loss to North Carolina.
3. Referees will forget the rules of basketball: Again, nobody’s literally forgetting the rules, but we’ve all seen violations called unevenly. It’s bound to happen again this year. The calls most fraught with danger for a ref are blocking and charging, in which a high-speed collision between two players must be assessed as a foul for one team or the other. Excessive touch-fouls (light contact that is technically a foul, but slows the game down and effects the outcome disproportionately), lane violations and figuring out whether a defensive player made a clean block or committed a goal-tending violation are also matters of national outrage at this time of year.
4. Full-court pressure will cause chaos: If you’re an old-ish guy like me, this brings to mind the “Forty Minutes of Hell” deployed by Nolan Richardson’s Arkansas teams of the 90s. UNLV also tended to play this way in the Tarkanian years. These days, the finest example is practiced by Shaka Smart’s VCU Rams, who rode “Havoc” all the way to the Final Four a couple of years ago, and are a threat to do so again. When the press is on, it’s bewildering to opponents and exciting to watch.
5. Crazy players will light up the screen: Colorful characters can be hard to come by in college hoops. Coaches tend to tamp down the outrageous antics, but some guys are just irrepressible. This year, the guy you need to watch is Marshall Henderson, who absolutely loves being on television, and has become an internet star for trolling opposing fan bases with abandon. Most recently, he did a smarty-pants version of the Gator Chomp in the waning moments of the SEC title game. We may have to rename 2013 “Marsh Madness” if Henderson takes his team on a run.
6. Colorful coaches will say stuff they probably shouldn’t: Only in sports are grown men allowed – nay, encouraged – to act like toddlers. NCAA coaches will stomp, scream, swear and even get physical as the tension ratchets up. And that’s just during the game. Some coaches make headlines by showing off during organized practice sessions, or sounding off from the podium afterward. Quotable coaches abound in this field of 68, with Marquette’s Buzz Williams joining legends like Tom Izzo, Roy Williams, Rick Pitino and Bill Self. Heck, even nice guy Tom Crean might give someone a talking-to when he gets his dander up.
7. Games will end on thrilling defensive plays: We talk so much about the buzzer-beaters, which gives short shrift to the guys who put in the extra effort to snuff them out. Think Hakim Warrick laying out and just getting his fingertips on a three-point try to preserve Syracuse’s lone national title in 2003.
8. Mascots will amuse and baffle you: You’ve probably seen the likes of Sparty, Albert E. Gator, and Willie the Wildcat. They’re on constant display during football season. The inclusiveness of the NCAA tournament brings some lesser-known doozies into the public eye. The St. Louis Billiken may frighten children. Wichita State’s Wushock is the meanest bundle of wheat I’ve ever seen. Here, there be Jackrabbits. The pinnacle, though, is Lightning (pictured): the Middle Tennessee State mascot is a blue Pegasus who shoots thunderbolts out of his nose. Top that.
9. Student sections will cut up: Some kids take spring break in Florida, California or South Texas. Others combine the unofficial college holiday with college basketball, with all that entails. Student sections are somewhat corralled in neutral venues, but often, they’re the only thing keeping the whole shebang from becoming a bloodless corporate sponsorship opportunity. Laugh at their chants, signs and attempts to get on television. Relish them.
10. A mystery player will make a star turn: Many, many players are well-kept secrets, known only to college-hoops obsessives like the staff of CollegeBasketballTalk. We get to play the hipster role (“I noticed him when nobody knew who he was”) when those guys get to the tourney and dazzle. Last year, Damian Lillard was socked away at Weber State – now he’s a Rookie of the Year candidate in the NBA. This year, we’ve got our eyes on the likes of Mike Muscala (Bucknell), Nate Wolters (South Dakota State) and Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State). And there may be others lurking, just waiting to show us what we’ve been missing.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
Dec 5, 2013, 1:02 PM EST
The North Carolina basketball team was just a bit fired up after last night’s win over No. 1 Michigan at the Breslin Center? How fired up? Well, just take a peak at this pictures from J.D. Lyon, the team’s photographer, who posted these pictures on twitter:
Dec 5, 2013, 12:00 PM EST
Today marks the 35th anniversary of Dick Vitale’s first broadcast as a color-commentator for ESPN, and in a video that the network released today, we get a chance to see Vitale’s first pregame intro. A couple things stand out: – In his first broadcast, Vitale still managed to drop some nicknames. “The Kiddie Corps, T’n’T,…
Dec 5, 2013, 11:25 AM EST
Arizona State had a rough weekend out in Southern California for the Wooden Legacy tournament. They went 1-2 in their three games, which included a 28-point loss to Creighton and a 60-57 loss to ACC cellar-dweller Miami. Making matters worse is that Jahii Carson managed to hurt his ankle in the process. He played through…
Dec 5, 2013, 10:39 AM EST
BYU’s basketball team has found a unique way to promote games this season: by choosing terrifically awful love songs and convincing some of the team’s most recognizable faces to lip-sync them in ridiculous ways. Here, you’ll see Tyler Haws and Erik Mika joined by Skyler Halford and Luke Worthington singing “Because of You” by 98…
Dec 5, 2013, 9:11 AM EST
Vin Parise from CollegeBasketballTalk caught up with Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley and Providence head coach Ed Cooley. The Friars and Rams square off tonight in the Battle of the Ocean State. *Ed Cooley – Providence CBT: Let’s first talk about your Sunday night loss to Kentucky. Cooley: I though we played well in…
Dec 5, 2013, 1:30 AM EST
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Drexel 85, Cleveland State 82 (3OT) Frantz Massenat led the Dragons with 21 points, nine assists and six rebounds, and as a team Drexel converted 14 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points. Cleveland State’s Jon Harris scored 27 points to lead the way for the Vikings, with 24 of those points…
Dec 5, 2013, 12:21 AM EST
No. 1 Michigan State’s inconsistency final came back to bite them. The Spartans shot 35.9% from the field and 7-for-24 from three as they got dropped by North Carolina, 79-65, at the Breslin Center on Wednesday night. Michigan State had erased an 18-4 deficit, tying things up at the half, but the Tar Heels used…
Dec 5, 2013, 12:19 AM EST
During the preseason there were more than a few people who believed that Steve Donahue’s Boston College Eagles had the pieces needed to be one of the more improved teams in college basketball. With al five starters back from last season’s 16-17 squad, led by guard Olivier Hanlan and forward Ryan Anderson, there was both…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:39 PM EST
At this point in the season it seems safe to say that North Carolina has just one consistent perimeter shooter in sophomore point guard Marcus Paige. Entering Wednesday’s game at No. 1 Michigan State, Paige was responsible for 18 of the Tar Heels’ 21 made three-pointers. And with Paige also being their best overall perimeter…
Dec 4, 2013, 9:39 PM EST
Ohio State entered Wednesday night’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup with Maryland ranked No. 5 in the country. The Buckeyes were No. 2 according to Kenpom, which is largely the result of the Buckeye’s stifling defense. Thad Matta’s team leads the country in defensive efficiency, holding their opponents to 39.0 eFG% (effective field goal percentage), forcing…
Dec 4, 2013, 9:24 PM EST
In a game in which both No. 8 Wisconsin and Virginia struggled to make shots, redshirt junior guard Josh Gasser who was the most accurate shooter and made the plays that helped the Badgers pick up the 48-38 win in Charlottesville. Gasser (team-high 11 points) attempted just two shots from the field but he made…
Dec 4, 2013, 7:47 PM EST
Among the many interested observers at No. 10 Duke’s 79-69 win over No. 22 Michigan was former Duke great Grant Hill, who during his time in Durham was an incredibly versatile player. In analyzing the play of current Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker, some have made the comparison between the Chicago native and Hill. On…
Dec 4, 2013, 6:02 PM EST
With the changes in the way that contact is being called, college basketball has seen an increase in the number of fouls called and the number of free throws attempted in 2013-14. This has been one reason why scoring’s increased after being historically low last season; added opportunities to score by way of an “unchallenged”…
Dec 4, 2013, 4:45 PM EST
A J.J. Avila layup with a second remaining on Saturday gave Colorado State a dramatic 85-83 victory over New Mexico State, and it turns out that the result may have come at an even greater cost for the Aggies. Junior reserve forward Remi Barry went down in the first half with a left knee injury,…
Dec 4, 2013, 4:01 PM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: North Carolina at No. 1 Michigan State, 9:00 p.m. ET So which North Carolina team shows up tonight? Will it be the one that beat Louisville handily at Mohegan Sun earlier this season, or is it the group that lost to Belmont at home and UAB on the road? The Tar…
Dec 4, 2013, 2:54 PM EST
DURHAM, N.C. — The story of No. 10 Duke’s 79-69 win over No. 22 Michigan on Tuesday night was some combination of the Blue Devils’ defensive prowess and the Wolverine’s offensive struggles. Whether you believe that Michigan’s horrendous night, which saw them score 50 points and shoot 39.1% from the floor in the first 38…
Dec 4, 2013, 12:53 PM EST
On Tuesday night, Duke knocked off Michigan at Cameron Indoor Stadium, which was big news for both the Blue Devils, who had been struggling defensively for much of the first month of the season, and the Wolverines, who have never looked this bad offensively in the John Beilein era. It was bigger news for Coach…
Dec 4, 2013, 12:34 PM EST
The Julius Nyang’oro case took another turn this week, as the former UNC African-American Studies professor was indicted by a grand jury in North Carolina. He’s facing a charge of obtaining property through false pretenses, a low-level felony with a maximum punishment of 30 months in prison, although according to the Raleigh News & Observer,…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:51 AM EST
Who is the best shooter in the country? It’s a tough question to answer, isn’t it? Does being a “shooter” simply mean merely being a high-level marksman from beyond the arc? Can a player who thrives in the mid-range but rarely ventures out into three-point land be eligible? How heavily should we be valuing stats like…
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- The Chase for 180: Doug McDermott’s tough night 0
- Michigan’s offensive struggles in 79-69 loss to Duke a major concern 1
- Marshall Henderson’s on-court antics aren’t changing. Deal with it (5)
- No. 5 Oklahoma State’s win over Purdue exemplifies issues with new foul rules (3)
- Tim Floyd tees off on Andy Enfield: ‘We’re not going to take it in the shorts’ (3)
- Report: Delta bumps entire flight to get Florida to UConn (3)
- No. 20 Creighton gets 27 from Doug McDermott, stifles Jahii Carson in blowout (2)