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The Secondary Break: Wednesday’s Links

Mar 19, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

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First Four: A play-in game, and insult (CBS Sports)
The NCAA tournament began Tuesday night with two games in Dayton, and while the city has embraced the concept of the First Four the same can’t be said for others. Do teams who fail to advance past Dayton truly experience the NCAA tournament? There are some who believe that they do not.

College basketball world is shrinking (Associated Press)
Back in the earlier days of the 64/65/68-team era of the NCAA tournament, many upsets were true surprises to much of the nation. With games not being televised as often, fans and even teams wouldn’t know as much about these smaller programs until after the fact. But with the exponential growth of the sport on television and other mediums, are there fewer surprises amongst the NCAA tournament field?

Loe has come a long way with Saint Louis (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Midwest region five-seed Saint Louis will begin its NCAA tournament with a game against 12-seed N.C. State on Thursday, and one of the key figures for the Billikens is senior forward Rob Loe. Loe, known for his ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc, has made major strides during his four years at SLU.

Recalling Villanova’s 2009 Final Four season (Philadelphia Daily News)
Five years ago Villanova made a run few expected, reaching the Final Four with Scottie Reynolds’ shot with less than a second remaining pushing the Wildcats past one-seed Pittsburgh in the Elite 8. The Daily News takes a look back at that team, and the current Wildcats are capable of putting together a similar run.

Askia Booker transforms his game after Spencer Dinwiddie’s injury (Denver Post)
When Colorado point guard Spencer Dinwiddie tore his ACL in a game at Washington in late-January, Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes needed to make adjustments if they were to make a third consecutive NCAA tournament. The most important player in all of this was guard Askia Booker, who would need to do even more as a distributor if Colorado were to remain afloat. And Booker has handled the additional chores well.

Staying power: Drew’s guidance has Baylor men firmly on map (Waco Tribune-Herald)
At one point in Big 12 play the Baylor Bears lost eight of ten games, and Scott Drew’s team looked to be a long way from earning a spot in the NCAA tournament field. However due in large part to the head coach’s leadership Baylor’s a six-seed and a team a few believe to be capable of advancing to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Stanford not a big mystery (Albuquerque Journal)
South region seven-seed New Mexico will begin its NCAA tournament with a tough game against ten-seed Stanford on Friday. And thanks to some lasting connections the Lobos are very familiar with the Cardinal, who lost two of their three meetings with a UCLA team coached by former New Mexico head coach Steve Alford.

KU freshmen: Big 12 tournament good prep for NCAAs (Lawrence Journal-World)
South region two-seed Kansas will lean on some players who have yet to play in the NCAA tournament, most notably freshmen Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins. But instead of being nervous the Jayhawks feel prepared, thanks to their experiences in last week’s Big 12 tournament.