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Story Archives: Ready for March Madness
|Ready for March Madness|
It was a dark and gloomy weekend.
The perfect weekend to start March Madness.
It could have been 75 degrees, not a cloud in the sky and I would have had a hard time leaving the television set with the number of great conference tournament games being played.
The only gripe I have is putting the ACC and SEC title games on at the same time on Sunday.
I think I bruised my thumb changing channels so much. I've got to get past that though, time to fill out the brackets.
It all started Friday with LSU's awesome effort against Kentucky as the Tigers led at halftime before falling to the talented Wildcats 60-51.
On Saturday, Kentucky held off Florida 74-71.
Sunday, Vanderbilt pulled off the big upset, defeating the 'Cats 71-64.
The question is whether the loss will be good for this young Kentucky team which is the most talented team in the nation. It could work both ways, giving UK more incentive or shaking the team's confidence enough to be upset in an early round.
I can't see Kentucky not making the Final Four, but I am not so sure the Wildcats will win it all.
Someone who knows a lot more about March Madness is Joe Pasternack III.
Pasternack's family moved from Ferriday to New Orleans when he was very young. He will be participating in his ninth NCAA postseason tournament as an assistant coach at Arizona.
Arizona opens play today (Wednesday) by hosting Bucknell in a game to be televised by ESPN2. The Wildcats (23-11 overall, 12-6 Pac-12) were given a No. 1 seed.
"We were disappointed not to make the NCAA Tournament," Pasternack said. "But we knew we were in for a rebuilding year after losing Derrick Williams, who was the second pick in the NBA Draft last year. But we still ended up with 23 wins and finished third in the PAC 12 and advanced to the championship game, which was exciting even though we lost."
The Wildcats fell to Colorado 53-51.
Pasternack participated in four postseasons as an assistant coach under Bobby Knight at Indiana and four as an assistant coach to Ben Braun at California.
Pasternack spent four years as head coach at University of New Orleans, leading the Privateers to record wins before the school announced it was moving down to Division II.
But last week, after two years of the university's indecision about the NCAA classification of the athletic department, UNO President Peter Fos announced UNO will remain in Division I.
"I think that is great for the fans," Pasternack said. "It's a shame it had to flounder out there for a year or two. I know the coaches are really excited about staying Division I."
Pasternack led UNO to a 19-13 record his first year, the most wins the program has had since 1997. UNO also tied a school record with nine road victories, including a huge upset at North Carolina State.
UNO's season ended with an 81-77 loss to regular season champion South Alabama in the Sun Belt Conference quarterfinals.
Arizona's appearance in the 2012 event marks the first for the program since 1951 and is the fourth NIT bid in program history (1946, 1950 and 1951). The Wildcats dropped first-round games at Madison Square Garden in each of those appearances.
"We will have our first three games in McKale Center is a tough place for opponents to play," Pasternack said.
As for the Big Dance, Pasternack said anything can happen.
"It's going to be exciting," he said. "Anybody can beat anybody."
One change Pasternack, who is known as one of the top recruiters in the nation, would like to see is doing away with allowing college basketball players to go into the NBA Draft after a year.
"I think they should allow then to go straight to the NBA out of high school or stay two years," he said. "If a guy is going into the NBA his freshman year he doesn't even have to finish his second semester. He doesn't even have to go to school."
Pasternack is eager to hit the recruiting trail after the NIT.
"We have the No. 1 recruiting class right now and hope to add some players to it," he said. "I really like it here. Tucson is a nice place and a big basketball town. Every game is sold out. It's an exciting place to be."
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