in what has been one of the best first halves i can remember, Michigan has a 1 point lead at the half. After trailing by 12 with under 4 minutes to play, Lousiville stormed back with Luke Hancock making 4 threes to take a 1 point lead before Michigan converted 2 free throws with 2 seconds to play. Hancock has 16 first half points
Michigan was lead by Spike Albrecht incredible first half. he is 6-7, 4-4 from three, and has 17 points. Trey Burke picked up his second foul with 11 minutes left and sat out the rest of the half.
This is the way they used to play college basketball. If the second half matches the first, it will one great final
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michigan is having little trouble solving the Syracuse zone at halftime. The Wolverines have 4 threes off the bench, some from beyond NBA distance. Meanwhile Syracuse has no points from James Southerland and one bucket from Carter-Williams. Although Louisville made up a double digit deficeit in the first game, Syracuse's zone and weak offense does not have the msake-up power of the Cardinals. Never say never, but the fat lady is warming up
Louisville continues its second half combacks coming from 11 down to beat Wichita State by 5 in the first semi-final. Louisville's defense created critical late second half turnovers and converted free throws down the stretch to make it to the final game, but it wasnt easy.
The Shockers were hurt by the poor shooting night of Malcolm Armstead who was 1-10 from the field. Louisville survived an off night by Peyton Silva who had only 7 points and 5 of those from the line. But the Cardinals proved they are not unbeatable.
Syracuse and Michigan are now warming up. One will be going home, the other will face Louisville. Will it be an all Big East final? Or will Michigan uphold the honor of the Big Ten, supposedly the best conference this season?
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wichita has a surprising 1 point lead at halftime. neither team is shooting well, and Wichita has done a good job of shuting down Louuisville's transition game. Frankly, Loyusiville looks a little tight. they didnt score a point for the first 5 minutes. Wichita State has had several opportunities to widen its lead, but is only 32% from the field and only 30% from three.
All year, scoring has been down in college basketball, and this game is no exception. But Louisville has shown dramatic second half offense coming off its defense in beating Duke last week and Syracuse in the Big East Final. Can the Shockers hang on. If they do, it will one of the bigger upsets in NCAA Final Four history
its about an hour before tip off and despite the fact that the NCAA took away many of the press seats, i am sitting in my reserved space in the press box exactly at midcourt. no its not courtside, but i condisder myself very lucky since most of the media will be watching from the press room ( as big as half a football field).
The anticipation is incredible. 70,000 fans wearing two shades of yellow, red, or my favorite color, Syracuse Orange. Most folks still think this is Louisville's championship to lose, but i just have hunch that the winner of the Syracuse-Michigan game will be crowned champ Monday night.
It was a beautiful Spring day in Atlanta today with the Cherry Blossems in bloom. Had pizza at what has been voted the number 1 pizza restuatant in America. cant say i disagree.But its time for basketball. Dont forget to read my column in tomorrow's paper.
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The latest UCLA hiring of Steve Alford again shows the hypocrisy in college sports. Alford was, until a few days ago, the " lifetime coach" of New Mexico, After winning the Mountain West and a number three seed in the Tournment, he managed to lead his team to a defeat by Harvard in the first round. As a reward, he was offered, and he accepted, a ten year extension on his contract. He signed a letter of intent, but before he actually signed his new contract, he accepted the UCLA job ( a graveyard for coaches).
I guess his word means nothing, either to his school, or his players. Money talks, even at a school which has been in the basketball news more for off the court issues lately than on the court.
But the real problem is with the NCAA. Why? Because, even when a coach picks up and leaves, the players cant, unless they agree to sit out a year. So the player is stuck playing for a coach who did not recruit him. I thought slavery ended 150 years ago. I guess not in college sports.
The NCAA and the college presidents should recognize that there is little loyalty in big time college sports ( yes there is the occasional Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens), and allow players to transfer without any penalty when their coach abandons them for more money and " fame". For Alford, and UCLA, his time will come after a few seasons of not making the Final Four. For the players, their time has certainly come to unleash the shackles of being an indentured servant
I leave tomorrow for Atlanta where i will covering the Final Four for the Star Advertiser. I will be writing a daily column for the Sports pages starting Friday.
Although my beloved Orangemen will be there after playing some of the best defense i have seen any team play in years, can anybody stop Louisville. I doubt it. Louisville's dismantling of teams in this tournament, including a 20 plus point victory over Duke and the destruction of Syracuse in the second half of the Big East Tournmant final, where they came from 15 down in the second half to win by double digits, makes them the prohibitive favorite.
I dont think Wichita State has a chance of beating them, but Michigan could give them a game if they get by the Orange. The Wolverines have great guards and a solid center, and they may be able to withstand Louisville's dominating man defense. Of course, if Syracuse 's zone can make Michigan miss outside shots and they can plug the middle of that 2-3 zone, we will see a rematch with Louisville for the 4th time this year. Syracuse did beat the Cardinals there already this year.
The basketball bows banquet is tomorrow night. I will miss it, but if you have a chance buy a ticket or two , say goodby to this year's team. It will certainly look different next year. One intriquing question? Will Vander be there?
I will off to Europe after the tournament and wont be back until the end of the month so no blogs until i return. By then, Spring recruiting will be over and we can review who stayed, who left, and whose coming. There will also be a special Hoopstalk in early May.
To all of you who blogged back, who read this blog, and who have provided your feedback and comments, thanks for all your support. It has been a great year in college basketball, and i have enjoyed the opportunity to talk to you about it since October.
Just back from San Jose where i watched Oregon and my alma mater, Syracuse, advance to the East Regionals. That makes sense. Send Syracuse to San Jose to play in the East First and Second Round and seed Oregon 12th.
But it didnt give me a chance to weigh in on two topics i have been blogging about all year, Vander and the Big West. First Vander. I dont care what anybody says, his classless act of leaving the Bench and the Arena during the game is inexcusable. End of story. I dont know what it says about both he and the program, but its not good. I dont care how " frustrated he was about his poor play in that game or his disappointing season", you play as team and you dont walk out on your team-mates. He has been a head case the entire time he played here, but folks were happy to look the other way so long as he was a dominating player. I believe the University allowed him to dictate his conduct both on and off the court (just count up his technicals and official's warnings), but i dont care how many rebounds and points you have, he will be remembered for his last act as a Rianbow, at least by me.
And all year i have been talking about how weak a conference the Big West was and some of you took issue with that. Well look how the Conference has fared in the postseason. Pacific, the Conference CHamp, loses by 29 to Miami. Long Beach, the regular season champ, lost by 56, yes that's right, to Baylor in the NIT. Cal Poly, who beat us twice, lost by 42 ( yes that's 42) to Weber State in the first round of the Riley Wallace Invitational and we lost by 4, at home, to an Air Force team that didnt have its best player ( leading scorer and rebounder) and then left here and lost by 21 to Weber State. Case closed. This league needs to improve, and fast, or become irrelevant on the National scene.
By the way, everybody is talking about how nobody knew anything about Florida Gulf Coast. If you listen to Hoopstalk, you heard their head coach as a guest on our show back in December after they had beaten Miami. Finally regular season show is this weds at 7. We will have a Final recruiting show in late April. and because of web issues, several entries into the Final Four contest never got posted until today. So we had 8 entries, and the contest will go on
Dont be surprised if UH beats Air Force tomorrow night that it gets a rematch of its first round loss last Thursday night against UC Irvine right here at the Stan Sherrif Center Saturday night. Riley's CIT is losing teams in the West left and right, and Irvine is at home tomorrow night against High Point, a small school in North Carolina flying cross country to lose. Cal Poly plays at Weber State and my guess is that the winner of that game ( probably Weber) will host Air Force if it beats Hawaii, and that if UH wins its first two games, it will play its third round game at Weber State.
Meanwhile, the NCAA got underway tonight with St. Mary's winning easily against Middle Tenessee. The Gaels next play Memphis and a 11 upset of a 6 is not out of the question. Does this win give us a hint as to how good Gonzaga is since they beat St. Mary's three times? Congratulations to former UH assistant Eran Ganot who is now an assistant at St. Mary's,
Lots of interesting press about why and how Hawaii wound up in the CIT. Not sure what the real facts are, but it appears the big winner is Coach Arnold who is in line for a nice bonus for post season play and another chance to win 20 games, which means an automatic contract extension. Also not sure exactly what it will cost Hawaii to host either one or two games, but it looks like somewhere between 50 and 100,000 dollars. Lets hope the attendance exceeds 5,000 paid so UH doesnt lose money on this pay to play tournament.
Looks like the annual NCAA bracket contest will not have enough players this year. Too bad. Lots of fun and great prizes, but we have until 5 am Thursday to see if we can get at least ten entrants. The rules are in yesterday's bolg
First congratulations to Azulie who predicted UH would not win a game and would score 59 points in the Conference Tournament contest. UH scored 60 and lost. Azulie, email me with your address at jportnoy @cades.com so i can get you your prizes.
What can i say about the game that's not been already said. A very disappointing loss in the biggest game of the year. UH was terrible in the first half and even their mini 11 point run to open the second half never got them to a single digit deficeit. Issac struggled again on the road, Vander was totally outplayed in the first half, Jace forgot to shoot for the first 30 minutes and then couldnt hit a basket, and the Irvine guards dominated the Hawaii backcourt. But kudos to Hans who played his heart out from the opeing tip to the closing buzzer.
The reward for losing is a bid to the Riley Wallace Invitational and a chance to play at least one more home game ( probably 2 as Air Force's best player is unlikely to play). I am not a big fan of this tournament , but i guess UH ponied up the cash to host ( somewhere between 35 and 50,000 dollars I am told). Not many teams in the West were prepared to do so, so come on out to cheer the team on and hopefully keep any financial losses to a minimum.
Its time for the annual NCAA Portnoy Bracket Contest. You can enter until 5am Hi time on Thursday, one entry each. Big Prizes await the winner. You need to pick the elite eight for 2 points for each correct guess, the final four for 4 points each, the semi-final winners for 8 points and the National Champ for 12 points. Also pick the total amount of points without going over in the final game as the tiebreacker. We will need at least ten entries.
Gift Certificates to some of Hawaii's favorite restuarants await the winner. For some hints from the experts, listen in tomorrow on ESPN 1420 for hoopstalk at 7 for a special 2 hour edition as jackson and I, and some surprise guests, will give you our picks. Then pick the opposite.