5-at-10: Five bracket busting teams in the Dance, Caitlin Clark’s super pressure, best college coaching tandems

Oregon players celebrate after defeating Colorado in an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Pac-12 tournament Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Oregon players celebrate after defeating Colorado in an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Pac-12 tournament Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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Bracket racket

I can't help but think of my dad this week.

He loved this tournament. He loved the brackets. He loved the drama.

Heck, Pop was late to his wedding on March 15, 1969, because UNC and Davidson were playing a barn-burner in the East Regional Final.


So we are tipping the visor skyward to Pop, and let the ball be tipped.

Today, let's pick some upset contenders and some lower — 7 or higher — seeds that could very well be second-weekend bracket busters.

First, we are doing the Last-In, First 1 Out Challenge again this year. We've done this every year since the 2011 tournament, back when AU was still celebrating a football natty and the basketball team was dumpster fire filled with dirty diapers and Indian food.

(And yes, Bearddawg, I would trade this for that and not bat an eye. War Cam Newton.)

The Last-In, First 1 Out Challenge is simple. Pick the double-digit crew that will last the longest in the draw — and yes, if all the double digit seeds are done, say Sunday, time matters — and the first No. 1 seed that will be excused from the Dance.

Got it? Good.

Let's explore five dancing teams seeded 7 or lower that have real eyes on the second weekend.

We'll start here, and cue Simon and Garfunkel — although Disturbed's version is better; yeah I said it — because, hello, darkness, my old friend.

— Will Wade can coach his whistle off. Period. McNeese State (12 seed and faced Gonzaga in round 1) is 30-3. It has won 11 in a row. Wade has a stud senior PG who shoots 48% from the floor, scores almost 18 a game and has a better than 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover margin. Yes, drawing Gonzaga in round 1 is tough.

Heck, it would not overly shock me if Wade and his MSU crew were facing 13-seeded Samford in round two considering Samford can a) shoot it and b) faces a very below-standard Kansas bunch.

(Side note: Wade's season is worth mentioning here, friends. He has always been able to coach, and in today's college sports world, making a player a "strong (bleep) offer" is standard operating procedure. If I am a Power Five program looking to hit the reset button, Wade is on my short list of calls.)

— Samford (13 seed and faced Kansas in round 1). This may be a reach, and in some ways it could be an overly pro-SoCon view, but this Kansas team is not itself. And it's banged up big time. Plus, Kansas — not unlike Syracuse for multiple years — has a tournament M.O. of either being a Final Four participant or being done in the first weekend. Heck, in the last six tournaments, Kansas has either made the title game or been bounced before Round 2. And Samford is a) a veteran bunch that b) can really shoot it. Samford is eighth nationally in 3-point shooting at 39.3%. Wanna guess who is seventh? Yep, Wade's McNeese State Cowboys at 39.4%.

— New Mexico (11 seed and faces Clemson in round 1). A team that is the March Madness version of the Chico Bail Bonds Bears, and coached by one Richard Pitino. (Yes, Count Dracula's boy. Side question: Pitino looks a lot like a vampire, right?) Speaking of never dying, one of New Mexico's best players is Jermarl Baker Jr., who was a four-star recruit and signed with Kentucky coming out of high school.

In 2017. Read that again. Yes, 2017.

— Oregon and NC State (each is an 11 seed and the Ducks face South Carolina and the Wolfpack plays Texas Tech). There is something to be said about red-hot teams who have been in tournament mode for 10-plus days, because both the Ducks and the Pack had to win their conference tournaments to get asked to the Dance.


Clark or Superwoman

So, as the women's draw comes near, the biggest individual star in all of college basketball faces her last chance to claim a natty.

And for Caitlin Clark to lead Iowa to a net-cutting conclusion, she will have to wear a cape and truly be Super.

Clark is that and more. She has more records than a Beatles-loving teenager circa 1962.

Clark is within arms reach of resetting almost all of the NCAA tournament marks, too, but the simple truth is her supporting cast is not as deep or talented as what LSU will trot out in the regional finals or what even USC or the other USC will roll out when the Final Four comes around.

Clark has declared for the WNBA Draft, and that makes a ton of sense because there are not many more challenges left in the college game for the Iowa all-timer.

But without a ring, Clark's individual brilliance will always be diminished a bit.

She will be more Pistol Pete than Walton or Jabbar. More Shaq than Laettner.

Whether that's fair or not is debatable, but it's truthful because stars are measured by their stats and their titles.

And that's true across almost all sports.

Heck, we'll ask it this way: Does Caitlin Clark have more pressure to win a championship than any other athlete in any other team sports?

Does she have more pressure than a Lamar Jackson or a Josh Allen? What about Jayson Tatum?


Say what

Lists like this always lure me.

And I almost always have a "this can't be right" when I read them.

So CBSsports ranked the best tandems at the same school when it comes to college football and basketball head coaches.

No. 1 on the list is Kansas with Lance Liepold and Bill Self. No. 2 is Kentucky, with Alabama 3. Tennessee is seventh.

The rest of the top 10 is UNC at 4, Michigan State at 5, Oregon at 6, Houston at 8, Iowa State at 9 and Miami at 10.

So, a couple of things: First Kirby Smart and a lampshade should be on that list just for the excellence of Smart.

Two, Oregon is too low, because Dan Lanning is a dude and Dana Altman has been coveted at every stop.

Three, I think that is too high for UK too, but I'm sure Chas disagrees.

Not sure why Texas is not on the list as well.

And for the love of everything holy, Miami being included is a farce. The basketball team this year was one of the biggest disappointments in the sport, and they were only matched by the internal struggles of the Miami football program last fall if we are being honest.

This and that

— Anthony Edwards is the best in-game dunker since Dominique Wilkins. And last night he crushed John Collins' spirit.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on the Vols' first spring practice.

— Blake Snell signed a two-year, $60-plus-million contract with the San Francisco Giants on Monday.

— Here's a look at some of the top college basketball players who entered the portal on Monday. Man, last player at Pepperdine please turn off the lights.

— MLB starts tomorrow morning with Dodgers-Padres. Yeah, I'll watch.

Today's questions

True or false, it's Tuesday. Morning, Ernie.

True or false, you play in a bracket pool.

True or false, Kansas has the best football-basketball coaching tandem in America.

True or false, the Braves should have pushed for Blake Snell.

True or false, the transfer portal is good for college sports.

True or false, Caitlin Clark has the most pressure of any athlete in team sports to win a chip.

You know the drill. Answer some T or Fs; ask some T or Fs.

As for today, March 19, it's the first day of spring.

Wyatt Earp was born on this day in 1848.

It also is Bruce Willis' 69th birthday.

Great career. Seems like a very likable bona fide Hollywood A-lister right?

Rushmore of Willis vehicles and/or Rushmore of Bruce.


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