Sweet 16 Primer
Published on Thursday, 3/24/16, at 4:26 p.m. Eastern.
LAS VEGAS – I’m posted up at the Hard Rock. Hated seeing the news about Kevin Turner about an hour ago. After a courageous six-year battle with ALS, we lost one of the good guys today. Turner (1969-2016) was an outstanding NFL fullback with the Eagles and is probably the best (of many) great fullbacks to play at Alabama. Kudos to my dear friend Rachel Baribeau, who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in March of 2014 to raise funds for the Kevin Turner Foundation. Baribeau is a busy woman as a sports TV/radio personality, motivational speaker and advocate for ALS Awareness (among other things).
To the games and the crazy season that is the Coaching Carousel…
–Mick Cronin boarded a plane here in Vegas a couple of hours ago headed back to Cincinnati. UNLV seems confident he’ll be headed back soon to be its next head coach, but he left without signing a contract after entering into serious negotiations. I believe UC will ante up and he’ll stay with the Bearcats. We should know in the next 24 hours.
—My Sweet 16 Primer filed to VegasInsider.com early Monday morning.
—My preview of the West Region semifinals filed to VI yesterday.
—The Westgate SuperBook has banned cigarette smoke in the sports book — finally! Thank the heavens!
–Oklahoma has been horrible for our purposes lately. The Sooners have failed to cover in seven straight games and 11 of their last 13. They had seen 10 consecutive ‘unders’ until the ‘over’ hit in back-to-back wins over CS-Bakersfield and VCU.
–The ‘over’ has hit at a 9-2 clip in Villanova’s last 11 games.
–Oklahoma St. moved swiftly and wisely in inking Stephen F. Austin’s Brad Underwood as its next head coach Monday. Underwood led the Lumberjacks to three straight NCAA Tournaments during his three-year tenure, compiling an 89-14 record. They were 1.5 seconds away from going to the Sweet 16 before a late tip-in lifted Notre Dame to a one-point victory. The dude lost one conference game in three seasons.
–Coaching in the Big 12 improved immensely Monday. TCU also pulled a coaching coup by plucking an alum, Jamie Dixon, away from Pittsburgh. He’ll replace Trent Johnson. This is a home-run hire, but this is a huge challenge for Dixon. The Horned Frogs haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1998 and haven’t tasted a victory in the Tourney since 1987.
–Six ACC teams and all four No. 1 seeds are in the Sweet 16. Only one SEC team remains. Only one (of seven) Pac-12 school still has a pulse.
–Wisconsin is in the Sweet 16 for the eighth time in 15 seasons. That’s consistency, my friends.
–Duke is in the Sweet 16 for the 23rd time during Mike Krzyzewski’s 36-year tenure. That’s greatness. That’s dynastic.
—Ben Fawkes at ESPN Chalk has the latest scoop from oddsmakers in this roundtable discussion.
–Matt Youmans of the Las Vegas Review-Journal has a list of tonight’s proposition bets. One of the options not seen on Youmans’ list is the ‘over/under’ for Miami’s Angel Rodriguez’s points. I saw it at 14 (‘over’ -105). After dropping 22 and 28 on Buffalo and Wichita St., respectively, last weekend, I like Rodriguez’s points ‘over.’ I also saw a prop for Ryan Arcidiacono’s rebounds and assists. I like it ‘over’ 6.5 (-110 either way).
—Youmans likes the Ducks tonight.
–Archie Miller inked another extension with Dayton earlier this week. So Pittsburgh isn’t going to get a Miller. The Panthers have hired a search firm and don’t even get me started wit that bullshit (what the hell do you pay an AD a salary for?!?!). Anyway, they should go get Valpo’s Bryce Drew.