Five Things We Learned From The First Weekend Of The NCAA Tournament

The first weekend-plus of the NCAA men’s tournament has come to an end and, as usual, there has been a lot of madness. People across the country have, as usual, already torn up their brackets and have started cheering for the upsets. We’ve learned a lot from the first rounds of the tournament, so let’s review.

Michigan State Wins In March

As long as Tom Izzo is the coach of Michigan State never count out the Spartans. Michigan State is now heading into their seventh Sweet 16 in eight years. The Spartans entered the tournament as a seventh seed in their region, a reflection of a mediocre Big Ten season, but have quickly become a sexy pick to advance potentially to the Final Four. It, of course, helps that Villanova fell, but some people knew that would happen.

Sexy Picks Will Turn On You

In a world where we all try to win our bracket pools by not selecting the obvious number one seeds to win, every year we learn that the sexy picks aren’t the way to win it. Big time sexy picks like Iowa State and Butler didn’t make it out of the first round and Louisville knocked out the under-the-radar sexy pick Northern Iowa on Sunday. Sexy picks are fun, but they are more flash than substance sometimes.

ACC = Amazing Collegiate Conference

Notre Dame, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Louisville and Duke all hail from the ACC and they all stand tall in the Sweet 16.  Many are in position to advance to the Elite Eight. North Carolina will not be favored in a matchup against number one seed Wisconsin and Louisville and North Carolina State faceoff against each other, but the ACC looks to be stronger than ever and will be a big part of your television viewing for the rest of March.

The Committee Sometimes Knows

When the bracket came out, many where crying about the fact that UCLA made the tournament and I was one of those making noise. UCLA has made us all eat crow as they are one of the lucky 16 remaining teams. UCLA was a benefactor of pulling their own upset over Larry Brown and SMU and being paired in the bracket with the Iowa State upset brought by UAB to allow UCLA to advance, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Don’t Get Emotionally Attached To A Team

I’m a Minnesota Golden Gopher fan and March is usually pretty depressing because the Gophers never seem to make the NCAA Tournament. Over the years I’ve adopted Iowa State, thanks to former Minnesota Timberwolves’ great Fred Hoiberg, Kansas, Minnesota’s own Cole Aldrich, and Northern Iowa, the run a couple years ago and not realizing there was ANOTHER Division 1 team in Iowa. I go into the second weekend without any emotional ties to any team. I love coach Izzo at Michigan State, I like cheering for Rick Pitino since his son, Richard, is at Minnesota and I picked Duke to win it all, but I won’t shed any tears or it won’t ruin my day if any of these schools lose. I am now in an emotionless tournament.

The beautiful thing about basketball is that you can watch any level and learn something from it. You can watch a 5th grade basketball tournament and be amazed by a pass and you can watch the best college athletes and be amazed by the coaching. Basketball is beautiful. Strategy, skill and slam dunks: basketball is always the sexy pick.


Fred Hoiberg Needs to Stay at Iowa State

Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

A hug can mean a million things. The list expanded to a million and one on Sunday when North Carolina coach Roy Williams embraced Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg signaling the end of the game with the Cyclones of Iowa State advancing to the Sweet 16. The hug told the whole arena and the viewers at home the game was over, not the time running out because the NCAA apparently can’t hire anyone who has ever run a clock before. The clock ran out on North Carolina Sunday, but the advancement of the Cyclones might have again started the clock on their own coach.

A year ago, Fred Hoiberg’s name was quite popular around the state of Minnesota with rumors and hopes of him being Tubby Smith’s replacement at the University of Minnesota. I’m sure that The Mayor’s name will be highlighted once Iowa State’s tournament run ends, but with a different basketball squad in Minneapolis.

It’s more than likely that Rick Adelman will not be coming back as the Minnesota Timberwolves head coach next season. Adelman will be 68 when training camp opens which will follow a third failed attempt at making the playoffs despite having a remarkable Kevin Love healthy for the duration of the season. This leaves a vacant coaching spot on an NBA team that should be in the playoffs given the right circumstances.

Hoiberg will be offered the job. It simply makes no sense not to offer him the job and the Timberwolves would be doing themselves an injustice by not asking the former Wolves player and exec, but Hoiberg needs to stay in Ames. He’s The Mayor for crying out loud.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Hoiberg, here’s a quick rundown: really good quarterback at Ames High School and turned down the University of Nebraska’s offer of a football scholarship, won the Iowa state high school basketball championship as a senior and was named Iowa’s Mr. Basketball, played basketball at Iowa State and was beloved, played ten years in the NBA but forced to retire due to a heart condition, worked in the front office of the Timberwolves and now is sitting in the Sweet 16 as head coach in his return to Iowa State amidst their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

The Mayor is loved in Ames and there’s just no denying that, but he’s also very loved in Minnesota where he was a big part of the last Timberwolves teams that were actually worth a damn. Minnesotans love him so much we really wanted him to be the Gophers coach, but nothing makes the Gopher job better to him than his hometown/alma mater Iowa State. The same should apply for the Timberwolves.

I beg Fred Hoiberg to stay in Ames and coach the Iowa State Cyclones until he can’t coach anymore. There’s something special in being loyal to one team and I believe Fred Hoiberg can be that guy. He’ll never be fired by Iowa State, he’ll have the job as long as he wants and I hope that is a long time.

Loyalty to one team rarely happens anymore, but rarely does one’s town reflect such loyalty back on someone the way it appears that Ames, Iowa does onto its unofficial Mayor in Hoiberg. The Mayor is going to get a lot of calls trying to move him into a bigger pond, but sometimes greatness comes in small packages, kind of like a hug.