OK< we all know the 5-at-10 has a little trouble with brevity. And, to make matters worse, it's hard to remember a weekend with more happening. We're going to do everything we can to save words where ever we can, but buckle up gang, this may take a while.
From the "Talk Too Much studios," let's go.
Here's a downloadable bracket. Here's the next 5-at-10 contest — the Second Annual First Out/Last In Challenge. The rules are simple: Pick the first No. 1 seed to lose and the last double-digit seed to be eliminated. It's just that easy. The winner will get some cool Final Four swag from New Orleans. If you have any questions, let us know. (We'll do the Kemba Walker Dynamite Duo Duel next week. So be prepared.)
As for this year's bracket, well, the 5-at-10's Pop simply loves college basketball. There's his family, his Lord, his job and then college hoops (and some would say that order varies occasionally since the man was late for his own wedding because UNC-Davidson went into overtime some 44 years ago this Thursday). Anyhoo, each year, 5-at-10's Pop says two things about the NCAA tournament: Lead up to the draw he says in his direct and purposeful way "I think it's going to be interesting," and when filling out a bracket, in an equally direct manner "That's why they play the games."
And this year, he's right again.
We'll break down our brackets and the matchups later this week, but here's two quick answers to the most common questions. First, we have Kentucky winning the whole thing. Second, we think Long Beach State is the No. 12 team that wins its opener. More to come...
Vanderbilt guard Kedren Johnson (2) reacts following a 71-64 win over Kentucky in an NCAA college basketball game in the championship game of the 2012 Southeastern Conference tournament at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Sunday, March 11, 2012. Vanderbilt beat Kentucky 71-64. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
College hoops this and that
So much to digest from a wall-to-wall Sunday of college hoops. In truth it needed its own this and that. So here you go:
— First, let's discuss the conference tournaments. No not the winners, because frankly, who cares? There should be ZERO major conference tournament finals on Selection Sunday. Nada. If you think the college basketball regular season is marginalized by the Big Dance, what about the SEC tournament final? If we mention Vandy this morning, are you more apt to know that by beating Kentucky the Commodores won their first SEC conference title since 1951 or that they will play Harvard in the smartest NCAA first-round game of all time? This is an easy fix, too. Simply flip the order. Have the power conferences play on the weekend before selection Sunday, that would give fans, players and coaches some time to savor the moment. Let the one-bid leagues have Selection Sunday all to themselves. It would put the SoCon Final and its ilk on CBS or ABC rather than ESPNU or The Ocho or wherever it may be. Plus, the one bid leagues are playing for their lives. Sure UK and Vandy each wanted to win Sunday, but each knew that there was more hoops to be had. (Plus, by flipping the power conference tournaments and the mid-major tournaments, the smaller leagues will get more invested interest from the bubble big boys.)
— Second, Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin and your UT Vols played their worse game in their biggest game, shooting terribly in Friday's bubble-busting loss to Ole Miss. Hey, it happens to every one, and this happened to UT. That The Conz had them in even in position to be considered was a huge accomplishment with a team picked 11th in the SEC in November. Plus, UT got a No. 1 seed in the NIT, and figures to be among the favorites in that draw. (And yes, this is absolutely the most we have every discussed the NIT ever. In fact, we ran a mini-NIT bracket of UT's quadrant in today's TFP.)
— Third, did anyone else notice the lack of belly-aching at the committee this year. Not surprisingly, we have three theories on this. First, we believe that the talking heads were informed that there would be minimal NCAA-bashing this year. Call it a conspiracy if you want, but there was no Seth Greenberg Memorial Cam where a dejected coach was asked how he felt. (Named in honor of Greenberg, the Virginia Tech coach, who has had his bubble popped something like 49 consecutive years.) Second, the committee did a pretty solid job of getting the draw correct and most of the field was pretty clear-cut. That said, friend of the show StuckinKent sent us his field of 68 early Sunday morning, and dude his 67 of 68, missing only Iona. And truthfully, who can blame anyone for missing Iona? Finally, let's call it the VCU-aftershocks. Many of the big-time college hoops folks bashed VCU getting into the field last year, and we all remember how they went from the Dayton play-in game to the Final Four. Even Jay Bilas, some one we have super high regard for, bagged on the Rams, and there was certainly more than one serving of crow tossed around by VCU.
— Further evidence that the tournament had a pretty clear vision: Last Monday, the 5-at-10 listed our Elite Eight, and all eight received a Nos. 1 or 2 seed.
— Our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer shared his early view of the dance (Wiedmer: Committee does University of Kentucky no favors). Not sure how you feel, and since this was in today's TFP, we're not tipping our tournament hand too much. Here's a run-down of our projected regional finals: UK over Duke (and yes, we were down on Duke for most of the year, but to be the "worst" No. 2, the Devils got a pretty nice draw); Missouri over Louisville; Ohio State over Vandy; UNC over Kansas. Enjoy this is a great week.
— Someone asked us last week about our sports bucket list, and we left one off. At some point the 5-at-10 will get to Vegas for the first two days of March Madness in Sin City. This will happen at some point. Believe that. And that would MOST DEFINITELY be an interesting tournament, right Pop?
NFL quarterback Peyton Manning waves to fans as leaves the Arizona Cardinals training facility in head coach Ken Whisenhunt's car after a five hour meeting with coaches and front office staff Sunday, March 11, 2012, in Tempe, Ariz.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Two major developments in the last 48 hours about two stars at the most position in all of team sports.
Unless you've been sleeping in a van down by the river, you know Peyton Manning and the Colts parted ways last week. It was in all the papers.
Well, Manning has taken "recruiting visits" to Denver and Arizona, is still open to Miami and reportedly turned down invites from Kansas City and Seattle. (No word yet whether Alabama and Nick Saban have offered the five-star Manning, but here's saying that if Manning does not pick the Tide it was because the Tide did not want Manning. Saban is the Chuck Norris of recruiting.)
If those are his final two choices, well, OK, and we're not going to discuss the Tebow-Manning combo until it actually happens. We're still holding out hope for Houston — past or present. If the Houston Texans make a pitch, they become the Super Bowl favorites. As for Houston past...
The Tennessean quoted Titans owner Bud Adams saying he wants "Mr. Manning" and his people know this. Granted Adams is hardly a spring chicken — he's more a spring pterodactyl — and none of his people were available for comment because none of his people want to comment about something they said they weren't interested in a month ago. That said, Manning to Tennessee would sell enough jerseys in the first 48 hours to pay for the contract. (Heck, let him wear a Titans No. 16 — his number with the Vols — and it could be the top seller of all-time.)
The other QB shuffle was the Washington Redskins sending three No. 1 draft picks to the St. Louis Rams for the No. 2 overall pick and the chance to draft Robert Griffin III. Wow.
OK, the 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this, and parting with one first-round pick is hard to stomach, but sending this year's and two more for a guy that could be Steve Young-Lite or Akili Smith-heavy seems like an awful lot. An awful, awful lot. This better work or the Redskins are cooked for the better part of the next decade. It also could be a Herschel Walker-type deal for the Rams, considering they likely will have three picks in the top 45 or so for 2013 and 2014, which means a hug lift in talent. It also left the 5-at-10 with two interesting questions:
First, do you remember the last quarterback Washington drafted with a top-three overall pick. Yep, one Heath Shuler back in the day.
Second, if the Redskins were willing to part with that much for the No. 2 pick and RG III, what would they have given the Colts for the No. 1 overall pick? And would that have been enough to keep Manning and make a final Super Bowl push over the next three years?
Tiger Woods grimaces after hitting from the 12th tee during the final round of the Cadillac Championship golf tournament Sunday, March 11, 2012, in Doral, Fla. Woods withdrew from the tournament, and was driven away in a cart. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
This and that
— Tiger Woods pulled out of the PGA Tour event at Doral on Sunday, citing pain in his left Achilles' tendon. Woods' immediate status is unknown — his quotes about Sunday were released in a statement so Eldrick did not answer questions. And more importantly his status for Augusta is unknown. In fact, the only thing that seems to be certain about Woods is the swirling uncertainty. About his health, his mental well-being, about his putting. About all of it.
— Tony Stewart took the checkered flag Sunday in Vegas. We approve of Tony Stewart. Dude has skills. Quick side question: If you're the fast-food chain Checkers, why are you not a big advertiser in NASCAR. Pay some coin for the final 10 laps being the Chase for the Checkers or something like that. Never mind, NASCAR folks are loyal as a good dog.
— Braves starting pitcher Tomm Hanson made his first start of the spring Sunday, going three innings before rain derailed the Braves-Blue Jays game. Hanson said the conditions were tough, and his manager Fredi Gonzalez agreed. The rainout did mean that Gonzalez was not able to burn through some relievers, but the season's still young (and yes, we're kidding, but we all need to keep a close eye on how Fredi G manages the best bullpen in baseball). Here's what catcher David Ross told the AP about Hanson: "He looked really good in the bullpen. His breaking ball was great, but it was just hard to perform under those conditions. We were all just trying to stay dry and get some work in."
— Our UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown had an interesting story on the class of 2013 in college football recruiting in the state of Tennessee (State solid for football 2013 recruits). (And that's not counting Ridgeland's Vonn Bell, who grew up in Chattanooga before transferring before last year.) It will be interesting to see how many of these guys Derek Dooley can convince to stay in state.
— If you did not see the Magic Johnson documentary "The Announcement" Sunday, you missed out. It was great, and it accurately depicted one of the true "We remember where we were moments" in our lifetime. And as much as we can belly-ache about ESPN, this was well-done. Well-done indeed.
— The Pac-12 agreed in principle this weekend to replace the BCS with a playoff. This is coming and we all know it, but the Pac-12 proposal includes phrasing that only conference champions would be allowed in the four-team playoff pool. (And if you think this is not a direct answer to two SEC teams playing for the whole thing, well, you're wrong.)
In this file photo, UTC coach John Shulman watches the UNC Greensboro game at McKenzie Arena on Jan. 27, 2011.Staff File Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press
OK, before we start, know that so much happened this weekend, that you have free rein to discuss any all matters. It's an Open Mic Monday.
But if you need a conversation starter, here's one:
UTC athletic director Rick Hart announced that John Shulman would return after the worst basketball season in the Mocs' Division I history. If you're surprised, we don't know what to tell you. We've been saying this for a while.
And if anyone hints that finances were not a driving factor in this, well, either they are delusional or they think you have an IQ around 58. We've always said, never fire a coach until you're sure can hire someone better. We may have to amend that to include, "Never fire a coach unless you are sure can afford to hire someone better."
The question: Rick Hart has excelled at marketing the Mocs, and that is a true feather in his cap. What exactly will be the Mocs' marketing campaign for the 2012-13 basketball season? We'll start — 'Mocs hoops: One year closer to respectability.' Discuss.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...