Final Four Links
Published on Thursday, 4/3/14, at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.
Updated on Saturday, 4/5/14, at 3:56 p.m. Eastern.
By Brian Edwards
–As of Thursday morning, most books had the Gators listed as 6.5-point favorites vs. UConn. The total is 126.5. The Huskies are +250 on the money line (risk $100 to win $250). These lines haven’t moved at all other than the quick adjustments made on Sunday night (for the side) and early Monday morning (for the total). The opening number for the side was seven, while the total started at 125. You can follow the line history here at VegasInsider.com. UPDATED: On Saturday afternoon around 4:00 p.m. Eastern, most books had adjusted the number up to seven.
–During UF’s 30-game winning streak that dates back to Dec. 2, it has won 24 games by six points or more. I obviously mention that factoid based on the line we’re looking at for Saturday.
–If you wish, you can check out my Wednesday interview with Matt Youmans and Dave Cokin on ESPN Radio in Las Vegas by clicking here.
—Check out Chris Harry’s recap of the first UConn-UF game here. Also, in honor of Donyell Marshall’s missed free throws in the 1994 East Region semifinals in Miami, here’s Harry’s post-game report on UF’s overtime victory 20 years ago. Two days later, Craig Brown buried three straight 3-pointers late in the second half to propel UF past Boston College and into its first Final Four appearance. The Gators would fall to Duke in Charlotte, allowing an 11-point second-half lead to get away as Grant Hill took over at crunch time.
–The Harry Fodder blog is a must for your favorites if you’re a Gator fan. It is the best source for quality UF info. Go back and check out his recent feature on the late Dwayne Schintzius from out of Brandon High School where he played with Georgia great Toney Mack.
–Some money came in on Wisconsin on Wednesday, prompting some books to move Kentucky from a two-point favorite to 1.5. You can follow the line history for this contest here.
–Sportsbook.ag is currently offering lines for the potential matchups in Monday’s title game. Florida is listed as a 4.5-point favorite vs. both Kentucky and Wisconsin. The ‘Cats and Badgers are both favored by three vs. UConn.
—THE source for information coming from out of the Kentucky camp is John Clay’s blog.
–Dayton assistant Tom Ostrom has been doing great work under the radar for many years. SI’s Pete Thamel has his story here.
–Speaking of former Florida assistants, one called it a career a few days ago. He was the starting point guard on the 1974 North Carolina State team. Along with David Thompson (the Jordan before MJ), Monte Towe led the Wolfpack to the ’74 national title. He served as Norm Sloan’s top assistant in the 1980s, bringing in top-tier talents like Ronnie Williams, Eugene ‘The Dunking Machine’ McDowell (RIP), Andrew Moten, Joe Lawrence and Vernon Maxwell. Towe was in line to replace Sloan at UF, so he turned down a number of head-coaching offers, including Mississippi St. when the job went to Richard Williams. Then Halloween 1989 happened — Sloan was fired and the coaching careers of Towe, Kenny McCraney and Phil Weber were irrevocably altered. The trio of Sloan assistants were never found guilty of committing the first NCAA violation, but the stigma of being attached to Sloan’s dismissal made it impossible for them to find top-tier jobs for more than a decade. Towe eventually got the head-coaching job at the University of New Orleans and had the Privateers one win away from an NCAA Tourney bid before coming up short in the 2004 Sun Belt Tournament finals. As (bad) luck would have it, Hurricane Katrina happened in ’05 and the UNO athletics department hasn’t been the same since. Towe isn’t bitter, though, never has been. Nobody can touch his ’74 ring or the one with Florida for winning the 1989 SEC regular-season championship, the first in school history. He plans on moving back to Gainesville and playing a bunch of tennis.
–Nothing against Jim Christian, who was named the new coach at Boston College on Thursday, but it’s clear that BC must have struck out at least a half-dozen times before settling on Christian, who has been at Ohio the last two seasons. Christian was at TCU and Kent St. before joining the Bobcats. Not exactly the splash hire the BC faithful were hoping for.
–Since Tommy Amaker wasn’t interested in BC, I’m starting to think that he’s going to stay at Harvard for a long time. Not just because he and his wife (a professor at Harvard) are happy there, but because of the possibility of eventually replacing Coach K at Duke in the next 5-10 years. In other words, it would be poor form to take another gig and then bolt for Durham shortly afterward.
–Other than the complete factoid error about UCLA and Virginia meeting in the Sweet 16 (UVA played Sparty, while UCLA played UF — I know b/c I was there), Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constituion makes some solid points about UGA extending Mark Fox’s contract. I think he’s a solid coach, but he’s not getting it done on the recruiting trail. Which is the issue I had with former Georgia AD Damon ‘Red Panties’ Evans, who hired Fox despite his lack of connections in the South after an excellent tenure at Nevada. Granted, Stegeman Coliseum isn’t the most up-to-date facility in the SEC, but there’s no reason Fox can’t pull at least a few of the second-tier group of elite recruits out of Atlanta on a regular basis.
Note: Be sure to check back later in the week for more links/thoughts/stats on the 2014 Final Four.