NCAA Tournament Notebook
The NCAA notebook …
SAN ANTONIO (AP) ó Two weeks after VCUís Bradford Burgess blew off watching the NCAA field announcement ó Why be disappointed? ó the Rams are making the tournamentís most impressive underdog run since George Mason in 2006.
Like the Rams, George Mason was an 11th seed. Both schools hail from the unheralded Colonial Athletic Association. And just as George Mason toppled championship favorite Connecticut to reach the Final Four, VCU must now knock out the last No. 1 seed standing.
Thatís after VCU (27-11) barely made the tournament in the first place. They stunned TV pundits with an invitation to the First Four games, then took down the Pac-10 (USC), the Big East (Georgetown), the Big 10 (Purdue) and the ACC (Florida State) to get this far. Next up is Kansas today.
Put another way, thatís one more win than even George Mason had at this stage.
The Jayhawks are the only No. 1 seed left in the NCAA tournament, which automatically makes them the favorites to win it all.
Several star players will soon have to make decisions on whether to return for another season or head to the NBA. Already, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger has announced that he plans to return for his sophomore year.
Underclassmen have until April 24 to declare for the draft, and they can withdraw by May 8 to retain their eligibility as long as they do not hire an agent. But compounding the difficulty in that decision this year is the threat of an NBA lockout.
“Everybody tells me there is going to be a lockout, but I will also do one thing that I have always done: Here is the information, what do you want to do?” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said Saturday. “And then I’m going to support whatever that individual wants to do.”
The Tar Heels’ Harrison Barnes is one player who could test the NBA market, while Kentucky has a trio of talented freshmen in Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb, all of whom could consider turning pro.
The first time that every NCAA tournament game has been available live on television has certainly worked out well for everyone involved.
The average rating through the regional semifinals, including the “First Four games,” was 5.8 ó representing the percentage of homes with televisions tuned to a program. That equated to about 9.0 million viewers overall, an increase of 13 percent from a year ago.
This is the first year of a 14-year, $10.8 billion contract with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting that guarantees every game will be televised live on CBS, TBS, TNT or truTV. In the past, broadcasts on CBS were regionalized, and the network would switch among games.
More than 11 million tuned into the regional semifinals on CBS and TBS on Friday night, in part because marquee programs like Kentucky, North Carolina and Kansas were playing. That figure represents an increase of 13 percent from 2010.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams and his five starters had their news conference on Saturday interrupted for about 10 minutes when a fire alarm sounded at the Prudential Center.
“We were sitting there and I didn’t know what was going on,” Tar Heels forward Tyler Zeller said. “I thought it was something like a forklift backing up or something. Then the guy started talking. I was lost, then Coach told us to go sit on the bus and I was sitting on the bus.”
Guard Dexter Strickland was ready to run as soon as the alarm sounded.
“I am pretty sure Coach was, too,” Strickland said. “We were walking to the bus and some guy said you have to go back and everybody was huffed and puffed. It was kind of funny.”
Mike Glover scored 33 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as Iona beat East Tennessee State 83-80 Saturday in the CollegeInsider.com tournament semifinals.
Iona (25-11) will host Santa Clara in the championship on Wednesday night.
DIVISION II TITLE
Chris Dowe and Jeremy Kendle scored 16 points apiece and Bellarmine held on to defeat BYU-Hawaii 71-68 to win the NCAA Division II championship at the MassMutual Center.
Justin Benedetti added 15 points for Bellarmine (33-2), which had five players score double figures.
Tsung-Hsien Chang led BYU-Hawaii (22-9) with 35 points, the fourth most in championship game history, after scoring 43 in the semifinal to earn Most Outstanding Player honors for the tournament.