5-at-10: Vols hoops disappointment, No. 1 puzzles, spring refresher and the Flacco mistake

5-at-10: Vols hoops disappointment, No. 1 puzzles, spring refresher and the Flacco mistake

March 4th, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Hope you enjoyed the weekend and were able to stay warm.

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's pay special homage to Run DMC, who will play a concert after the Braves-Nationals game on June 1 at Turner Field, and say, "My Adidas, walking on the hardwood floors..."

Vols tournament chances

Wow, Jordan McRae looks more Michael Jordan than even the best McRae - Hal, Brian or Gerald - and the Vols still can't find a win against a Georgia team that apparently is only motivated against the Vols.

It was a disappointing loss to be sure. A 78-68 defeat that leaves the Vols at the mercy of the NCAA tournament selection committee - unless they roll into the SEC tournament finals - and makes the recent six-game win streak feel like it was six weeks ago.

Trae Golden was invisible. Jarnell Stokes never got going. Skylar McBee was ineffective on offense and exploited on the defensive end of the floor. It was a cavalcade of misery for The Conz and Co.

It was so crazy in fact that the events of Saturday, allowed UT to move up in the eyes of NCAA tournament expert Joe Lunardi. Crazy as it seems, when Saturday started, the Vols were the first team out. After the head-scratching, jaw-dropping events of Saturday, the Vols were the last team in. Go figure.

Still, the Vols are skating on thin ice - ice that would assuredly crack if they stumble at Auburn this week or lose at home against Missouri.

We talked about this on The Twitter (@jgreesontfp) over the weekend, but other than Florida, which SEC team can feel comfortably in?

Tennessee point guard Trae Golden

Tennessee point guard Trae Golden

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

UT? The Vols have two losses against a bad Georgia team since Feb. 1. That hardly screams tournament lock.

Kentucky? Saturday's loss at Arkansas hurt a resume that is already fragile.

Alabama? The record seems to be tournament-worthy but the black hole in the "Big Win" category is glaring, and the Tide let Florida off the hook Saturday.

Ole Miss? Ah, the Rebels, who started 17-2 and are 21-8 this morning. And the last one of those 8 - Saturday's loss to a Mississippi State team that is comparable to Samford by the computer measures - was especially painful. Tuesday when Alabama goes to Ole Miss, it assuredly is a NCAA tournament Mad Max Thunderdome: Two teams enter, one team leaves with four-letter tournament hopes.

Of course in the SEC, other than Florida, all any one really has is a hope. Or a prayer.


No. 1 puzzles

Two weeks from today we'll be looking at our NCAA tournament list and be checking it twice.

And as muddled and confused and crowded as the collection of this year's laborers huddled outside the Waffle House hoping someone picks them up appears, the blue-blooded traffic vying to be a No. 1 seed is just as congested.

The resumes are nice but each is flawed. The talent is better than you may think but not as good as we normally expect. In fact, we've said for a month now that this could be the year that a 16 beats a 1 and considering several teams that are trying to box out for a pole position - Miami, Michigan, Kansas to name but three - have some recent brutal losses, that seems distinctly possible.

The drama of who gets VIP seating does not have the drama of course of who gets standing room only entrance into the NCAA tournament. Still, the top dogs offer insight into who is pegged to make a run to Atlanta.

Here's who we have as 1 seeds as of this morning:

Gonzaga: The little engine that has is about to make more history with their first No. 1 seed in program history. Knock their schedule if you want, but the program construction that Mark Few has engineered - taking a small school in a nothing conference and turning it into a legit national power - may be the best in the history of college hoops.

Indiana: The Hoosiers are the best team in the country in the best league in the country. Take your RPIs and BPIs and BMIs and whatever computer-generated scale you want. Now watch Indiana play and know that the Hoosiers pass the most important test - the eye test - with flying colors. These cats look like a No. 1 seed.

Georgetown: At 23-4 the Hoyas have arguably the best resume in the country and are winners of 11 straight and four of those were against ranked foes.

Duke: The meaning of Ryan Kelly's return will be monumental in the eyes of the committee, especially after he went off for 36 against Miami in his first game back. Do we think the Devils look like a 1-seed? Nope. But so it goes.

In fact, this will be the tournament where a lot of 2s and 3s will be asked to dress up like 1s. Think of it this way: If the bracket falls in some order close to that, here are the teams battling for the 2- and 3-seeds in no particular order: Florida, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Louisville, Kansas, Syracuse and Arizona. Seems like picking two of the Final Four will be better than expected this year, huh?


Spring practice starting

Ah, spring practice. The chance to get re-acquianted with the familiar names, see some new faces you have been counting on and pose the awesome post-spring questions like, "Wow, Devrin Young is really coming on" or "This Georgia offense would be the third-best... in the NFC."

We're going to spend some time this week with UGA, UT and UTC with special 5-at-10 guest stars this week - it's a new feature, and if you have a question for one of those three, e-mail us.

Before we dive too deep in the rabbit hole that is spring practice, here are some unequivocal truths, a check list of things to remember as they break out the pads:

• There will be a no-name guy show up at a skill position like running back or wide receiver who will turn heads and draw rave reviews. Chances are if you had not heard of him before practice, you will not hear from him come August. There are exceptions of course, but what the praise for Johnny No-Name really means is "Hey, we're down to one healthy scholarship tailback and there's no way he's going against the first-team defense." Someone has to run the ball in the scrimmages.

• Remember the two-sided coin theory. Yes, the offense may be littered with future NFL guys or all-conference picks, but if they are shredding the defense, well, that's the same defense that will be on the same sideline come fall.

• Goal No. 1: Stay healthy.

• Goal No. 2: Read goal No. 1.


This and that

- George O'Leary is about to receive a contract extension from Central Florida after recording two 10-win seasons in three years. Wow, what would Notre Dame have been if the Resume-Gate of 2001 (when O'Leary took the Irish job but was dismissed because of some long-lingering lies on his resume) had not happened? And in retro-spect, considering the things that were reportedly happening at Miami at the time and the evil that was being ignored at Penn State at that time, has anyone ever paid a bigger price for a resume malfunction?

- Wow. Just wow. Watch this - it's the video of Khalil Edney hitting a 60-footer at the buzzer to win the New York state title.

- Carl Edwards got back to Victory Lane in Phoenix. It was the first time in 70 starts that his fans got to see his trademark flip. Jimmie Johnson finished second, Dale Jr. finished fifth and Danica finished 39th after losing a tire and crashing into the wall with about 100 laps left.

- It was 20 years ago this morning that Jimmy Valvano gave his memorable speech at the ESPYs. Of course that was the last meaningful moment at the ESPYs, but that's another story. Remembering Jimmy V is to remember what is possible with the smallest of dreams.

- We're going to spend the afternoon with the SportTalk gang starting a little after 4. Swing by and give a listen, don't cost nothing.


Today's question(s)

As with all Mondays feel free to free flow... MCA get on the mic my man.

LeBron James

LeBron James

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

If you need a talking point beyond NCAA tournament talk, here are three:

1) Dwight Gooden was found to have made "terroristic threats" against estranged wife Monique. We say Dwight Gooden is the biggest, non-injury professional sports disappoint of our generation. What do you say? Dude should have been a five-time Cy Young winner.

2) The Ravens made Joe Flacco the highest-paid quarterback ever. Wow, this is a failure on so many levels. Flacco was pedestrian during the regular season and was liquid hot during a four-game playoff run that featured an 11-0 TD-to-interception ratio and resulted in a Super Bowl title. It was a great month. Now know this, if the goofy Broncos safety doesn't misjudge a Hail Mary, Flacco and the Ravens are gone in the divisional round. Now he's got the salary of the best quarterback in the history of the (cue Ron Jaworski) NATIONAL Football League. This should have been its own item.

3) We going to say it and we know we're going to get some flak for it, but here goes: LeBron James is having a better year than any single season since Michael Jordan in 1988-89. That was before MJ had won a title - he went for 32.5 points per game, 8.0 assists and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the floor - and he was supremely hungry. James is operating at a historic level right now and he is must-see TV.