Monday, March 23, 2009

March Blahness

The first week of the NCAA tournament is now in the books, and it turned to be a pretty big dud. The 1-3 seeds in every region advanced, and only Arizona is even close to being a surprise team (and they were favored in both the games they played). A few of the big teams got scares but watching the games it never felt like, for example, Louisville was genuinely in trouble against Siena. One of the only true surprises of week one was FSU losing to mediocre 12 seed Wisconsin. Leonard Hamilton finally got them to the tournament, but he's shown little evidence over the years that he has much idea what to do when he gets there. The one good thing of a flat first week is that we should get some excellent games beginning Thursday.

Both of Florida's basketball teams are still playing, as the women knocked off Temple in the NCAA first round and the men reached the NIT's Unelite 8 with a win against Miami. Amanda Butler deserves a ton of credit for what she's done with the UF program after Carolyn Peck's disastrous run as coach. They got a raw deal being seeded eighth and having to face certain elimination by UConn, but there's no reason not to believe the Lady Gators are back in business for the long haul. As for the men's team, they face Penn State tomorrow night for a trip to New York. Allan Chaney's from nearby Connecticut, but he won't be making the trip if they go. The freshman's been suspended for the season, and with UF currently one scholarship over the limit for next year we may have an idea how this story ends.

Every year at the NFL Combine the prospects take the Wonderlic test, which allegedly measures mental acuity. Every year the scores are leaked despite assurances they won't be. It's happened again, with some making a big deal of the fact Percy Harvin scored a 12 out of 50. There are legit reasons to wonder about Harvin - lack of time at one position, UF not running classic pass routes as much as other teams in their offense, durability questions, etc. - but anyone who doesn't draft him based on that score is making a major mistake. There's plenty of debate about how valuable these results are to begin with, even for positions like QB. Dan Marino scored a 16 on the Wonderlic and turned out alright. I'm guessing Harvin will be able to grasp NFL pass routes just fine.

Anthony Grant is holding a winning lottery ticket. The only question is where he will choose to cash it in, but this is the year for him to move from VCU. Alabama has made Grant a top candidate for their job, although a lot of people there are still interested in Missouri coach Mike Anderson as well. A Georgia internet site stirred up a bunch of Grant rumors there yesterday, but I don't expect anything to happen with either job as long as the Kentucky situation remains up in the air. More and more indications seem to be that Billy Gillispie will be out after two years. That will unleash all kinds of silliness, like a Fox Sports Net TV reporter in Los Angeles claiming Rick Pitino is first in line for the job but Billy Donovan is interested if he doesn't take it. Sure, those two would love to go head to head in the same state. Billy's dying to leave his legend for life status at UF to go to a place he already turned down that's firing a coach after two years, too. Makes perfect sense. If and when UK does open, it will gum up the works for everyone else looking to hire at a major job until that one gets filled and the resulting dominoes fall.

Most of the discussion about a young NFL QB potentially on the move right now focuses on Jay Cutler's ongoing public temper tantrum in Denver. Cedric Golden, columnist for the Austin American-Statesman, notes that another touted QB from that same draft might be ready for a new destination. He thinks Vince Young should ask for his release (sure, Mr. Number Three Pick in the Draft, no problem!) and go start for Tampa Bay. While the Buccaneers need a quarterback to build around, Young has given plenty of indications he's not that guy. Considering the odds of the Titans releasing Young for nothing in return are roughly equal to the chances of the water fountain at your office suddenly pumping out Yoo-Hoo, I'm not too worried about it.

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