A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Monday, March 21, 2005

And the MADNESS continues

Two, count 'em two, teams from Wisconsin in the sweet 16. That's... um... SWEET. Both UW and UWM played great games in the second round-- and while UW clearly had the easier draw, you have to give them a lot of credit for beating a very good Bucknell team at a venue that wound up being probably 2-1 or 3-1 in favor of the underdog Bison from Bucknell. Still, a huge shout-out to Bruch Pearl and his team for taking down two top-25 teams. Can they beat Illinois? Probably not, but you never know. The game is in Chicago, which you would think would benefit UWM, but not so much when you're playing Illinois. Oh well.

And I am doing well in my Not-Office-Pool, losing only one of my elite 8 [Wake Forest], and getting 12 out of 16 of the sweet sixteen correct. Woot! As an added bonus, I have Wisconsin going to the Elite 8, and they have a pretty good shot at making it. Which is to take nothing away from N.C. State, which is a very talented club playing great ball at precisely the right time of year. But I think UW's inside-out game and defense will carry them through to a meeting with North Carolina. Of course, it would be fun to have an NC vs. NC State match-up in the round of 8, but I'd rather the Badgers kept moving on.

UPDATE: It seems there's a few underlying storylines to the UWM vs. Illinois match-up. The simplest of which is that Illinois coach Bruce Weber and UWM coach Bruce Pearl have the same first name. Wow!

Slighly more interesting is that Bruce Weber is a UWM graduate. A fellow alum! Bruce, we should do lunch.

The most interesting, and complicated, is that Illinois fans still hate UWM coach Bruce Pearl for having the audacity to not only claim that Illinoi's program was corrupt in the '80s, but to tape a prospective recruit stating as much. And then turn the tape over to the NCAA. The nerve of the guy! Actually trying to make the point that, you know, cheating is wrong. So, Bruce-- Pearl, not Weber-- will no doubt receive a chilly reception from the Illinois fans in their Thursday match-up. To which I would add additional comment except that Adrian Wojnarowski has already made the case for Pearl in his column in yesterday's The Record.

Key passage:
The Illinois fans should've been disgusted with the conduct of their own coaches in those days, but when they had the likes of Dickie V. calling Pearl "unethical" for recording the conversation and turning over the tapes, they had all the enabling that they needed to turn Pearl into a pariah. Thomas changed his story once it went public, and the NCAA could never get the Thomas violations to stick to the Illinois coaching staff. Yet, investigators turned up other trouble, landing the Illini on probation. Collins lost any chance to succeed Lou Henson at Illinois.

Even so, Pearl paid the steepest price within a coaching fraternity where most whistle-blowing happens in the shadows, without accountability attached. Pearl should've been celebrated, but he was pummeled. He went away to Division II for nine years, won a national championship and fought his way back to consecutive NCAA tournaments as Wisconsin-Milwaukee coach.
To which I can only add-- you go, Coach Pearl! It will totally screw my NCAA pool chances, since I have Illinois winning it all, but you and your overachieving Panthers go, baby! Rock on!
Right. Bruce Pearl is principled--that's why the NCAA couldn't find anything--zero, zilch, NADA--to back up his spurious, lying claims. He's a RAT. Obviously the rest of the coaching fraternity realized this, as he was locked out of D-I for nine years.

The real story is here.
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