Vanderbilt and Tulsa made the NCAA Basketball Tournament and South Carolina did not. Vanderbilt is in with a 19-13 record, a #60 RPI and a #107 non-conference RPI. The Commodores went 2-6 against top 25 RPI and 7-10 against top 100 RPI. Then there is Tulsa of the American Athletic Conference, coached by slimeball Frank Haith, whose trail of cheating goes from Miami to Missouri, went 20-11 with a #61 RPI and a #89 non-conference RPI. The Golden Hurricane went 3-5 vs. top 50 RPI and 8-8 vs. top 100 teams.
Now compare to South Carolina, which has a 24-8 record, a #56 RPI and a non-conference RPI of #23. South Carolina was 1-1 vs. top 25 RPI teams and 8-5 against teams in the top 100.
South Carolina also beat both Tulsa and Vanderbilt. Yet, the selection committee left the Gamecocks out.
Do you want to know what else is ridiculous? The ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 each have seven teams in the tournament field while both the Big East and American Athletic Conference got five each. When I look at the teams that got in from those leagues, do I think South Carolina got screwed? You betcha. And, just like South Carolina, Georgia also deserved to be in the tournament before Vanderbilt.
I take issue with Syracuse, which wasn’t even allowed to participate in the tournament last year because of a laundry list of NCAA sins. There were enough issues with the rules that head coach Jim Boeheim was suspended for nine ACC games. Syracuse has a 19-13 record, a #68 RPI, a 5-9 record vs. the top 50 RPI and an 8-10 mark against top 100. Syracuse was not only beaten by RPI #245 St. John’s, but beaten badly (12 points). From my standpoint, Syracuse is being rewarded for cheating while teams like South Carolina and Georgia, which did things the right way, were left out.
First four: Vanderbilt (19-13) vs. Wichita State (24-8) with the winner facing #6 Arizona in the South Regional; Holy Cross (14-19) vs. Southern U. (22-12) with the winner facing #1 seed Oregon in the West Regional; Florida Gulf Coast (20-13) vs. Fairleigh Dickinson with the winner facing #1 North Carolina in the East Region; Michigan (22-12) vs. Tulsa (20-11) with the winner facing #6 Notre Dame in the East Regional
East: 1. North Carolina (28-6); 2. Xavier (27-5); 3. West Virginia (26-8); 4. Kentucky (26-8)
* Kentucky (26-8) will face #13 Stony Brook (26-6) of the America East in round one. If the Wildcats win their first round game, they get the winner between #5 Indiana and #12 Chattanooga.
* Chattanooga (29-5), coached by former Gator manager/director of basketball ops/assistant coach Matt McCall is a #12 seed. The Mocs will face #5 seed Indiana (25-7) of the Big Ten in the first round.
South: 1. Kansas (30-4); 2. Villanova (29-5); 3. Miami (25-7); 4. California (23-10)
* Miami faces #14 Buffalo (20-14) in round one. With a win, the Hurricanes will face the winner of the Arizona-Vandy/Wichita State play-in game.
Midwest: 1. Virginia (26-7); 2. Michigan State (29-5); 3. Utah (26-8); 4. Iowa State (21-11)
West: 1. Oregon (28-6); 2. Oklahoma (25-7); 3. Texas A&M (26-8); 4. Duke (23-10)
* The Aggies face #14 Wisconsin-Green Bay (23-12) in round one, setting up a matchup with the winner of #6 Texas (20-12) and #11 Northern Iowa (22-12) in the second round.
Toughest bracket: That’s the East where North Carolina’s path to the Final Four could be road blocked by #4 Kentucky or #5 Indiana at the top of the bracket with West Virginia and Xavier down at the bottom.
Easiest bracket: That’s the Midwest where Virginia and Michigan State should face paths of least resistance to an Elite Eight showdown game.
Scary team from each region: #9 UConn from the South; #8 St. Joseph’s from the West; #3 West Virginia from the East and #3 Utah in the Midwest.
Potential Cinderella: Gonzaga, which plays #6 Seton Hall, has to stay virtually foul free to make noise but the Zags have three of the best players in the tournament in center Domantas Sabonis, forward Kyle Wiltjer and guard Eric McClellan. This team can score on anybody. Northern Iowa, also a #11 seed, is tough enough defensively to make life miserable for #6 Texas and the winner of A&M and Wisconsin-Green Bay in the West.
GATORS, SOUTH CAROLINA, BAMA AND GEORGIA TO NIT
Four SEC teams – Florida, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia – made it to the NIT, but even that tournament snubbed an SEC team. Ole Miss is the first SEC team with 20 regular season wins and 10 conference victories to be left out of the NIT field since 1974. LSU, declined to play in the NIT.
For Florida (19-14) and Alabama (18-14), the NIT was expected. South Carolina (24-8) and Georgia (19-13) probably should have made the NCAA field, but instead they’re in the NIT.
The Gators are a #2 seed in their 8-team quad. Normally that would rate home games, but since the renovations of the O-Dome have begun, the Gators will be on the road Tuesday night at North Florida (19-11). Also, Tuesday night, Alabama will be home against Creighton (18-14). Alabama is a #5 seed in its quad.
Georgia is in the same quad with Florida State (19-13). The Bulldogs will host Belmont (20-11) on Wednesday night while Tuesday night, Florida State play host to High Point (21-10).
South Carolina, ranked #1 in its quad, will play host to Davidson (20-12) on Tuesday. The Gamecocks will be on the road
UF SPORTS WEEKEND
Football: Placekicker Austin Hardin and offensive lineman Travaris Dorsey (6-3, 321) are transferring. Dorsey, who redshirted in 2014 and missed playing time due to an injury in 2015, is likely to transfer to Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Hardin, who was 16-36 kicking field goals in his UF career, has one year of eligibility remaining.
Baseball: The #1 Gators improved to 17-1 with a weekend sweep of Harvard. The Gators pounded out 20 hits Friday night in their 16-5 win, then came back with a 9-2 win in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader. In Saturday’s game, Nelson Madonado and Peter Alonso hit 3-run homers to back the 5-hit pitching of A.J. Puk, Brady Singer and Michael Byrne. Game two was all about righty Alex Faedo, who struck out 13 in 8-1/3 innings. Maldonado hit a 2-run double in the 7th inning to provide all the offense the Gators needed. Next up for UF is Florida State Tuesday night in Gainesville.
Softball: Dr. Longball wrote the prescription for the #1-ranked Gators (26-0) Friday and Saturday nights against #3 Auburn. Saturday, the Gators got a 3-run homer from Kirsti Merritt and a 3-run blast to dead center by Kayli Kvistad to beat the Tigers, 6-3. Sunday, the Gators got a 2-run homer from Amanda Lorenz, a 3-run shot by Nicole DeWitt and a solo homer off the scoreboard by Taylore Fuller for an 8-5 win. Florida coach Tim Walton earned wins #700 and 701. The Gators conclude the series with Auburn tonight. There is a midweek non-conference game with Winthrop and a 3-game SEC weekend series with Tennessee this week.
Gymnastics: Bridget Sloan solidified that she’s the greatest collegiate gymnast of all time with a perfect 10 on the floor in her final appearance before an O-Dome crowd Friday night. Sloan’s 39.775 all-around total tied for the best score nationally this season as the Gators dominated North Carolina, 198.050-193.725. Sloan won the floor and tied for the vault title with Alex McMurtry and Kennedy Baker with a 9.925. McMurtry won the uneven bars title with a perfect 10. Next up for the Gators is the SEC Championships in North Little Rock, Arkansas on Saturday.
Lacrosse: The #2 Gators improved to 8-0 with a 13-5 win over #14 Boston College Friday. The Gators play host to #18 Towson Monday evening.
Women’s tennis: The #18 Gators will be moving up in the rankings after taking down #5 Vanderbilt, 4-2, Saturday at the Ring Tennis Center. It was the fourth straight win for the Gators whose only losses this season were on the road at #1 California and #23 Stanford.
Men’s tennis: The #25 Gators dominated Auburn, 7-0, Friday in their only action of the weekend.
Men’s and women’s track and field: It was a disappointing weekend for both the men’s and women’s track teams at the NCAA Indoor championships in Birmingham. Oregon won the men’s event with 62 points while the Gators were a distant seventh with 21. The Gators finished behind #2 Arkansas, #3 Tennessee and #4 LSU. This was only the second time since 2009 that the Gators didn’t have at least one national champion. On the women’s side, the Gators finished tied for #15 with LSU with 15 points. Oregon won the event with 53 to edge out Arkansas. Georgia (#3), Tennessee (#7) and Kentucky (#12).
SPRING FOOTBALL NEWS AROUND THE SEC
Alabama: Burton Burns, who coaches the running backs, has assumed the role of special teams coordinator as well. Burns replaces Bobby Williams, who has assumed a non-coaching role with the program.
Auburn: Asked to compare new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele with Will Muschamp, now the HBC at South Carolina, defensive end Carl Lawson said, “He (Steele) is making us put in the effort without all the screaming and stuff. Everybody responds well to it.”
Georgia: Georgia could pick up another 2016 signee now that Mykelle McDaniel has made a 23 on his ACT. The only obstacles for McDaniel are a few home school classes, which the NCAA Clearinghouse is evaluating.
Kentucky: Besides QB, the position to watch this spring is LT where Tate Leavitt is trying to fill the shoes of departed senior Jordan Swindoll. Also, George Asago-Adjei has moved from RT to RG.
LSU: Middle linebacker Kendell Beckwith (knee) is expected to return to the team at some point during spring drills … Offensive lineman Jevonte Domond graduated back in December and is no longer with the team it was announced over the weekend.
Mississippi State: The big news over the weekend had nothing to do with 2016 but everything to do with former QB Dak Prescott, who was arrested for DUI Saturday. It remains to be seen how much the arrest will affect Prescott’s draft status in May.
Missouri: Former Alabama wide receiver Chris Black will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer to Missouri … Sophomore OT Andy Bauer, who had hip surgery, has elected to retire from football … Missing from Saturday’s practice due to injuries were wide receivers Emanuel Hall
Ole Miss: Jeremy Liggins, the 315-pounder who has played tight end and fullback, has moved to offensive tackle, where he’s been working with the first unit on the right side. Liggins actually played quarterback in high school and at Northeast Mississippi Community College.
South Carolina: After 10 years of mostly open practices under Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks will spend most of their spring drills working behind closed doors under new HBC Will Muschamp.
Tennessee: The offensive focus for the Vols this spring is improving a passing game that ranked #92 nationally. The Vols had the 20th-ranked running game but they have to make QB Josh Dobbs a more effective thrower after a year in which he averaged only 6.7 yards per pass attempt.
If you missed ESPN’s 30 for 30 production “Fantastic Lies” Sunday evening, then you missed a disturbing piece on the rush to judgment at Duke University against its lacrosse team 10 years ago. In this rush to judgment and political correctness, we see in that piece everything that is wrong with our colleges and universities. Take a moment and read the open letter Jay Bilas wrote to the editor of Duke Magazine regarding this horrendous rush to judgment.
I know some people love him and that he’s been the unofficial ambassador for college basketball all these years, but it’s all I can do to listen to him anymore. On the SEC Tournament broadcasts, you would think he was lobbying to have John Calipari’s love child.
Color Steve Alford saved by the buyout. The $10.6 million buyout UCLA would have to pay him trumps his lousy coaching and the 15-17 record the Bruins posted. This year’s losing record was only the third for UCLA since 1944.
I keep asking myself the following two questions: (1) How is it that Tony Greene is still allowed to officiate college basketball and (2) why is he allowed to call any Kentucky game? I’ve seen enough of him calling Kentucky games through the years to believe he’s worth at least 6-7 points by the Wildcats.
Tyler Ulis proved in the SEC Tournament that he’s the fuel that makes the Kentucky offensive engine go. He certainly deserved to be SEC Player of the Year, but Defensive Player of the Year? Ulis is good but the best defender in the SEC is Texas A&M’s Alex Caruso.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Do you think South Carolina should have made the NCAA Tournament Field?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
When I heard “Sledgehammer” on the radio as I was returning home from church Sunday morning, I knew who would be the source of today’s music. The video is from Gabriel’s performance at Woodstock ’94 and includes a terrific rendition of “Sledgehammer.”