68 Man March Recap: and The Award For ACC Champ Goes To…Virginia

1. Mick Cronin thought he was taking up for all the poor, mistreated, second class of college basketball coaches on Saturday when he talked about how the Cronin’s of the world are often being disrespected–by officials.

It’s hard not to listen to his soliloquy on the mistreatment of coaches and blatant Napoleon complex, metaphorically and literally without smirking at the unintentional irony of him seeking respect from officials.

Cronin is a fiery coach, but on many occasions his passion bucket overflows and he flies off the handle. His target was an official on Saturday, whose visceral reaction was to jump into Cronin’s face. From a casual fan’s standpoint, they’re either incompetent or corrupt. Cronin has this all backwards.  Officials have become easy targets for college basketball coaches. You don't see it in the NFL, college football and it is actively discourage in the NBA through fines.

On Saturday night, Jay Bilas’ eloquently addressed the epidemic of wild coach behavior.

“I think there’s a lack of humility with the way referees are addressed, the way with they’re dealt with in games,” Bilas said on College Gameday. “We’ve got a unique problem. Coaches in the NBA behave better than coaches in college, who claim to be teachers and molders of young men. How can that possibly be?

“Everybody needs to take a look in the mirror here and fix our behavior, including in press conferences where we are questioning the officiating and we are denigrating the product to the public, and public confidence in the job the officials are doing.” Bilas added.

“This is a social contract we have. The officials are the law of the court. When they make a decision, that decision stands. How coaches act is important. Not every coach acts inappropriately, but too many are doing it and I think we need to put a stop to it and I’ll tell you why: If we think that coach behavior influences the officials, then that’s a competitive advantage and we need to put a stop to it.

Last weekend, Jim Boeheim’s antics cost Syracuse against Duke. Earlier in the day, John Calipari stomped out on the court and started undressing an official like Bobby Cox in his prime.

It’s not the officials that are getting bolder. It’s the coaches who are chasing officials down the court more often and then openly questioning their calls in postgame press conferences. In the grand scheme, cantankerous coaches need to begin reeling themselves in.

The problem is that punishments are arbitrary and inconsistent. The Big Ten punished Iowa coach Fran McCaffery by suspending him one game for on-court actions that resulted in his ejection. Conversely, Boeheim’s behavior at the end of last week’s Duke game was virtually ignored by the ACC and chuckled at by others. If they can’t self-police their behavior, athletic directors or the NCAA may have to begin embodying the long arms of the law.


2. Syracuse Orange Heading Into ACC Tournament Losers of 3 of 4

Syracuse’s outside shooting is a concern. As Sports Illustrated’s college hoops brain Luke Winn pointed out last week, only two players make a higher total of their team's respective three-pointers than Trevor Cooney. Once again, the Orange struggled shooting outside of the paint making just 25 percent of their shots outside of that zone.

In the second half, UVa’s defense is a buzzsaw. Last week, they went on a 22-0 run to separate themselves from a Notre Dame team that was keeping it close. They led 27-20 against Miami on Thursday and held the Hurricanes to a season-low 40 points while scoring 65 themselves. Against the Orange, UVa went on a 35-16 run to chop up the orange. Those swords in UVa’s logo have ever been more relevant than they have been this season.


3. W State

This team is probably more comparable to the Missouri Valley’s Indiana State team that went 33-0 and lost to Magic’s Spartans in the national title game than they are to UNLV’s 31-0 semi-pro Runnin’ Rebels. Using the transitive property, the Wichita State’s zero losses this season in contrast to their eight regular season games last season signifies that they’re better than last season’s Final Four team.


4. Marcus Smart Took His Anger Out On Kansas’ D

Marcus Smart’s three-game suspension was acupuncture therapy for Oklahoma State. Sure, it may have been painful losing three games by embarrassing margins, but in the long run, it could be good for the Cowboys. For most of the season, Smart's been the nation's most inaccurate three-point shooter. While he hasn't exactly been lighting it up, Smart's seven made three-pointers in two games equals his long range production during the eight games prior to his forced sabbatical.


5. John Calipari got kicked off the floor against South Carolina, which is fitting because his team will probably get punted from the Land of the Ranked. The All-Blue Chip roster hasn’t yielded as many wins as they’d like. Their offense looks like one being run by freshman All-Americans and they a rarely get an easy bucket in the halfcourt. They play like a team cobbled together on the backcourt. They’re talented, but not cohesive.

In a tougher conference, Kentucky might be on the verge of missing the tournament entirely. They’re the antithesis of senior-laden Florida.

6. Michigan State Is A Shell of Itself

The Razzie for worst weekend performance goes to the Spartans. Michigan State is still spiraling downwards from their lofty peak as a top-five team. The latest loss was a loss at home against Illinois on Saturday. The Spartans have had more injuries than King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans, but they’re finally healthy, but now resemble an average team. Remember when they were in the Big Ten’s driver’s seat? Me neither. They’re now in third.


7. Ohio State's loss to Indiana on Saturday drops them to 9-8 in the Big Ten this season—behind Nebraska. Wisconsin and Michigan resemble the Big Ten’s two best teams at the beginning of March. Indiana was playing without Noah Vonleh, their future lottery pick, which makes it even more disconcerting for the Buckeyes.


8. That cut-off music you’re hearing isn’t from an Oscar speech running too long. It’s the sound of the NCAA dropping the curtain on Marquette’s at-large NCAA Tournament hopes. Marquette’s bubble popped and they plunged into a pool of shark-infested waters which the NIT selection committee will scour for remains.


9. Conversely, Arkansas’ been throwing it weightlessness around as of late. If the SEC is going to receive a third tournament bid, Arkansas would be the recipient. UGA was on the cusp of being considered a serious candidate for an at-large bid, but Arkansas slammed the door on that possibility in Saturday’s win. Unbelievably, even after the loss UGA still has a superior conference record.


10. New Mexico's win over Nevada set up a potentially epic clash against San Diego State slated for Saturday. Both squads are tied for first in the Mountain West Standings with a 14-2 conference record. San Diego State's defense will have its hands full against New Mexico's offense, which is led by Cameron Bairstow and Kendall Williams. Williams became the Mountain West Conference's all-time assist leader on Sunday. 

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