- First off, I find it a bit funny that Michigan gets a ten and UW gets a 12. I know, I know, Michigan beat Duke once in Ann Arbor, and beat UCLA on a neutral floor (an accomplishment that doesn't look all that impressive now-- UCLA got a 6 seed), and the bear-skunks managed to beat Purdue once, unlike UW. But we swept them, and we played a tougher non-conference schedule. Come on, now.
- Penn State apparently paid the price for us sweeping them. Little did they know that us beating them in the Valley of Happiness would doom them to the National Invitational. Switch that game around, and we're probably out and they're probably in. Poor little extinct mountain lions. 22 wins, 10-8 in the conference, sweep Illinois (who received a far too generous 5 seed), and you get a ticket to the NIT. Guess you have to schedule some better non-conference competition, PSU. Plus, they totally got the "we can't add another Big Ten team" bias. Wonder if they're wishing they had joined the Big East. Sadly for them, I bet this year is their topping out for a while. Two of their three best guys (Stanley Pringle and Jamelle Cornely) are outta-here as soon as their NIT ride is over. And the kids they have coming in don't look like super stars.
- Speaking of recruits, last night I was reading this Washington Post series about Gary Williams and the Maryland basketball team's quick fall from "elite" status after their national championship in '02. It makes for fascinating reading. This article, the second in the series, contained the following description of how AAU teams serve as the new means to use money to secure recruits (background-- many AAU teams actually incorporate themselves as not for profit corporations):
For years, college coaches have hired AAU coaches as assistants in attempts to attract players from that AAU program. Plus, AAU coaches have been paid to speak at camps affiliated with the college coaches. But in recent years, a few dozen elite AAU coaches have engaged in a variety of more creative practices to make money in exchange for access to their players, according to several prominent college and AAU coaches across the country.
The funneling of cash recruiting inducements between colleges and AAU or high school coaches, in the form of tax-deductible donations usually made by college athletic boosters at the behest of the coach, has become common, according to several prominent college and AAU coaches. Some summer league coaches also charge college coaches -- sometimes hundreds of dollars -- for copies of "scouting reports" that are often little more than lists of players' names. What's more, one elite AAU coach has suggested that he will create a 1-900 telephone number so he can make money when college coaches call him about recruits.Read that bit in italics again. Instead of paying high school coaches, parents, friends or other family members, boosters are bribing recruits' AAU coaches. I imagine these guys either keep the money for themselves and try to "influence" their player to choose a certain school, or skim some of it off the top and furtively funnel some back to the player and his family or friends. (One of the writers talked about a certain unnamed recruit's mother driving some new car with a license plate number that was registered to no one.) Fascinating stuff, and the sort of thing that makes you feel pretty good about being a Badger fan, since it seems like UW and its boosters don't play those games. Here's the first article in the series.
- Now I feel I should have paid more attention to the Duke-Florida State game that was on yesterday afternoon. Instead, I fell asleep when Duke was up 20, and woke up with my arm asleep, some droll leaking into my armpit, and Greg Anthony trying to sound smart. Florida State did beat North Carolina in the ACC-semis, no? That's a bit scary. Yeah, UNC didn't have their bowling ball point guard, but still.
- So all I really know about Florida State is that they have one really good guard (Douglas) who was a transfer from Auburn. And I think their coach just won ACC Coach of the Year, and used to be the Miami coach. And they lost to Northwestern at Northwestern in the Big-Ten ACC challenge. (That's right, Northwestern beat a 2 seed and two 5 seeds.) All I know is I am deathly afraid of hearing the following chant coming from the FSU fans who actually make the trans-continental trip to scenic Boise: "Just Like Foot-ball! Clap-clap-clap-clap-clap" (and repeat). I heard that once at Northwestern's horrific minor league arena, and never want to hear it again.