By Cheval John
The majority of everyone’s bracket has been busted by now.
This year’s March Madness has been excited to some degree because of the fact that the only captivating thing is whether anyone can beat Kentucky.
Notre Dame came close when they went toe to toe with the Wildcats.
However, the Wildcats found a way to stay undefeated and make it back to the Final Four.
For anyone who had chosen Kentucky to win it all had a little scare from that matchup.
Now if anyone chosen Michigan State to make it to the Final Four this year were really smart.
The Spartans beat Louisville yesterday 76-70 in overtime.
The reason why they were smart is that Michigan State were destined to make it back.
Under head coach Tom Izzo, who is in his 20th year at Michigan State, they have made it to the Final Four every four years, which one of them led to the National Championship (2000).
Do not know why that is, but it is really impressive.
Maybe we should not have write them off of making it back after losing in the Big Ten Tournament final to Wisconsin, who are in the Final Four for the second straight year.
What we should have done is look at history and see the pattern of Michigan State’s final four appearances.
Whether they make the national championship game or not, you can’t take away the accomplishments that Michigan State has experienced under coach Izzo.
If Kentucky was not this dominant, Michigan State would have had a much better chance to win the national championship.
So if the pattern continues and coach Izzo is still at Michigan State, then I will say that they will make it back to the Final Four in 2019.
Video courtesy of NCAA On Demand
By Cheval John
Sam Houston State rebounded from their Southland Conference Tournament Finals lost with a 87-71 win over the University of North Carolina-Wilmington last night during the first round of the College Insider.com Tournament at Johnson Coliseum.
In the process, the Bearkats achieved their 26th win of the season, the most ever since they moved up to the NCAA Division I almost 30 years ago.
The Bearkats shot 43.8 percent from the field and shot 47.4 percent from behind the arc.
What is even better is that Sam Houston State shot 66.7 percent from the three point line in the first half.
Most of those treys in the first half came from Lithuanian national, Aurimas Majauskas.
Majauskas came off the bench and was the main reason why SHSU’s bench outscored UNC-Wilmington’s bench 38-8.
Majauskas led all scorers with 27 points.
The Seahawks (18-14) tied the matchup at 17 with 8:04 left in the first half after Addison Spruill, who finished with 11 points, made a layup in the paint.
That was as close as UNC-Wilmington got as Sam Houston exploded on a 14-2 run, which included an ally-hoop play from Jabari Peters to Michael Holyfield, to expand their lead to 31-19.
By halftime, the Bearkats was leading 46-25.
Holyfield finished the game with a double-double (10 points and 11 rebounds) while Peters had 11 points and 6 rebounds.
Sam Houston plays host to the University of Louisiana-Lafayette this Saturday in the second round of the College Insider Tournament.
UL-Lafayette brings a 21-13 record to this matchup and also former Bearkat coach Bob Marlin in facing his former assistant, current Sam Houston coach Jason Hooten.
Hooten will try to get his 100th win of his head coaching career in this contest.
By Cheval John
It’s that time of year again as tonight begins March Madness.
This year’s NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament, which consists of 68 teams, will be very intriguing because of the fact that the University of Kentucky is trying to become the first undefeated team to win the national championship since 1976 when the University of Indiana won the championship undefeated.
Though the focus will be whether they will finish undefeated or suffer a loss at the worst time that can derail their hopes of a great season, I want to chat about how as always how this whole system works.
You might have noticed in my last blog post, “Choose Yourself In Order To Earn Attention For Your Talent,” I shared how the only way for teams from mid-majors and lesser known schools to gain the same exposure as the big named schools is if they are in the NCAA tourmanent.
The sad thing is that many schools who have mediocre records are in the tournament because they are in the top conferences (SEC, Big 12, Big 10, ACC, Pac 12) and they are perceived to have played a tougher schedule than the schools who are in lesser known conferences.
So if a school in a lesser known conference had a great season, won the regular season title and then lost in the tournament, they don’t have a chance to make the tournament.
I think that in any professional sports like the NBA, anyone can make the playoffs if they had a great record and are in the top 8 of their conference.
Except for the NCAA.
If you are not in the big five conference, possibly a few mid-majors or a school like Gonzaga who have made 16 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and have given the chance for the West Coast Conference to have other at-large bid teams, then you have no shot.
Merit does not rule in most NCAA sports like football, basketball and baseball.
I suspect that the name of the game for these tournaments is money.
Of course the big name schools like the University of Texas, Notre Dame, etc. has a large fan and alumni base.
So if they are many big name schools in the tournament, that gives the NCAA a better chance to make more money because it has a bigger draw to television viewers.
It is a big reason why they are in the midst of a 14 year, near 11 billion deal with CBS/Turner Broadcasting to showcase the men’s basketball tournament.
That means the NCAA has to put out a great showcase of top talent every year in order to prove to CBS/Turner that they made the right decision to spend all of that money for them to be the exclusive home of the tournament.
Of course, many mid-majors and lesser known schools have to compete every year with the big name schools and also schedule to play these big name schools even if they are going to lose.
Not just because they want to make their team tougher, but it helps to possibly improve their Rating Percentage Index (RPI), which is one of the metrics that the NCAA selection committee uses to choose the teams who will be in the tournament.
So even if a team have a mediocre record like a 18-12 or 17-11, etc., if they are in one of the Big 5 conferences, they have a much better chance to make the national tournament even if they did not win their respective conference tournament.
It is unlikely that the system for selecting teams in the NCAA tournaments will change anytime soon.
All of what the teams in the lesser conferences can do to make the big dance is to win their respective conference tournament, schedule tougher non-conference teams in the Big 5 conferences, or advance in the tournament like Gonzaga has done in order to show the nation that their conference is not as easy as they think it is.
Perhaps, this will level out the playing field of collegiate basketball at the Division I level.
What are your thoughts on the way the NCAA basketball tournament is run? You can leave your comment below.
By Cheval John
KATY, TEXAS-When Sam Houston State narrowly defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 70-67 on Friday night to advance to the finals of the Southland Conference (SLC) Men’s Basketball Tournament, they shot 20% from the field in the first half.
The Bearkats, who were the No.2 seed, had to play near perfect basketball if they wanted to defeat their arch-rival and No.1 seeded Stephen F. Austin.
Unfortunately, the Bearkats was not able to meet the challenge of playing near perfect basketball as horrendous shooting in the closing minutes of the first half led to the Lumberjacks pulling away with an 83-70 victory to claim their second consecutive SLC tournament championship and clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
In the process, Stephen F. Austin (29-4 overall) became the second team to repeat as SLC tournament champions since former conference member, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, won four straight tournament titles (1990-93).
After a back and forth matchup in which Sam Houston State took a 25-24 lead on Kaheem Ransom’s three pointer, things started to fall apart in the final 5:13 of the first half.
The Bearkats (25-8 overall) missed shots and turned the basketball over while the Lumberjacks capitalized with a 13-2 spurt to close out the half with a 37-27 lead.
The dagger that shut Sam Houston’s coffin during that run happened with 02.5 seconds when the Lumberjacks inbounded the basketball and found Tanner Clayton, who hit a buzzer-beating trey from 40 feet.
Sam Houston shot 30 percent from the field in the first half and finished the game shooting 36.1 percent from the field.
The Bearkats also shot 15 percent from three point range.
Lumberjack basketball player, Thomas Walkup, who won the tournament MVP, led all scorers with 24 points and 8 rebounds.
Bearkat senior Michael Holyfield, who made the all-tournament team, led SHSU with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Stephen F. Austin will find out later today who they will face in the opening round of the NCAA tournament on Selection Sunday that will air on CBS starting at 6 p.m. eastern, 5 p.m. central.
The Bearkats also have a strong possibility to make a post-season as well, but not the NCAAs.