Archive for March, 2010

Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco: The champ sits in Tech’s regional

Greensboro, N.C. — Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco, now in its 23rd years, begins with an assessment of Georgia Tech: It got in, which is good; it got in the absolute toughest regional, which is less good. I’ve been thinking all season the Jackets have Final Four capability. Alas, I can’t see the No. 10 seed emerging from the mighty Midwest.

Then again, I’ve been wrong before, and I’m sure I’ll be wrong about 95 percent of these NCAA tournament picks. As ever, I invite you to play along in our online contest. The Fiasco prize is the accustomed and coveted Final Four sweatshirt, but this year if you enter our contest you’ll be automatically enrolled in a national pick-’em and you’ll have a chance to win $1 million.

You can enter the Fiasco by clicking here. And Fiasco rules can be found here.

OK, my picks. (I know you’re getting anxious.) Ohio State might be the only team in the country that can beat Kansas on a neutral floor, and somewhere the two got jammed into the same regional. …

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Even in a bitter loss, Tech proves it belongs with the big boys

Moe Miller goes to the hole. He had himself a tournament, huh? (AP photo)
Moe Miller goes to the hole. He had himself quite a tournament, didn’t he? (AP photo)

Greensboro, N.C. – They almost made it. They almost climbed Everest after scaling K2 (and K1, and K3) the same week. They hadn’t once managed to pull ahead of Duke but they were about to do it in the final 20 seconds. They said what they’d said at the end of every nerve-jangling game this frenzied week: “One stop!”

One stop and one score and they’d have been ACC champs. One stop and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets would have entered the NCAA tournament as the hottest team in the land. One stop …

But then we were reminded why Duke is Duke. The best coach in the business called for his best player — who’d had a lousy shooting day — to run off a double screen on his weaker side, and Jon Scheyer’s trey arched over the straining fingers of Glen Rice Jr. and found only divine twine. When a guy makes a shot like that, you say, “Great shot.”

Said Paul Hewitt: “He just made an unbelievable shot …

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Live from the ACC final: Tech seeks a matching ACC crown

A Georgia Tech team coached by a guy named Paul won the ACC. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

A Tech team coached by a guy named Paul won the ACC. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Greensboro, N.C. — Only twice in ACC tournament history has a team played for the title having already won three games. Both times it was North Carolina State, first as a No. 8 seed in 1997 and again as a 10th seed in 2007. Both times the Pack lost in the final to North Carolina, neither time as badly as you might have expected.

1997 final: Carolina 64, State 54.

2007 final: Carolina 89, State 80.

There are two recent examples of four-wins-to-a-title surges. Syracuse did it in the Big East in 2006, and some SEC team turned the trick — winning its final three games on Georgia Tech’s court — in 2008. (Georgia, I believe it was.) And here, if you’re asking if Tech has any shot today, is the best possible news:

These Jackets have better players than those Pack teams, than the Orange of Gerry McNamara, than the Bulldogs of Dennis Felton. As we’re seeing daily, these Jackets have better players than …

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Tech’s in the ACC final, and are we shocked? Yes, but no

Derrick Favors goes up strong. Anyone still think he's overrated? (AP photo)

Derrick Favors goes up strong Saturday. Anyone still think he's overrated? (AP photo)

Greensboro, N.C. — On Tuesday the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets departed for the ACC tournament hours after their athletics director released a six-sentence statement regarding the basketball program without mentioning the head coach by name. On Thursday they stood 20 minutes from elimination in this event and surely exclusion from the NCAA field. On Sunday they’ll play for the conference title.

Are we surprised? Yes. But also no.

If we didn’t always see it during the middling regular season, we’ve seen it here. This is the most gifted team in this conference, among the five most gifted in the nation. It’s so good it can win without doing the things that are supposed to be part and parcel of winning in March. In three ACC tournament victories — victories, mind you — the Jackets have missed 34 of 75 free throws. Over the past two days they’ve won two games while making 42 baskets against 41 …

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Live from the ACC semis: Tech’s one step from the title game

Paul Hewitt at work against Maryland. (AP photo)

Paul Hewitt at work against Maryland. Nice call on the late zone, coach. (AP photo)

Greensboro, N.C. — Pretty boring tournament. Seeds 1 though 6 are an aggregate 1-5. Seeds 11 and 12 are 4-0.

More? Here’s the breakdown on Georgia Tech’s halves the past two days: Minus-10, plus-14, plus-16, minus-11. Put another way, the Jackets haven’t yet played a half in this tourney in which they haven’t outscored the opponent or been outscored by double figures.

More? In ACC tournaments from 2006 through 2009, Tech won one game. It has won two already and should win again today. The team that was within 20 minutes Thursday of expulsion from both this event and the NCAA tournament should play Sunday for this proud conference’s automatic berth.

Tech got a break late last night, and I’m not talking about the non-call on the apparent shot-clock violation before Derrick Favors dunked Moe Miller’s miss. I’m talking about the result of the final quarterfinal. The Jackets match up badly against …

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In the end, Tech trumps both the Terps and its fallible self

Greivis Vasquez grabs Iman Shumpert after the game-clinching swipe. (AP photo)

Greivis Vasquez grabs Iman Shumpert after the game-clinching swipe. (AP photo)

Greensboro, N.C. — Here we had it all. On the same night we finally bore witness to the Georgia Tech we’ve been awaiting, we were also confronted by the Georgia Tech of which we’ve seen too much. In the first half we saw a team of Final Four power and depth. In the second half we saw why a team of such gifts had come within 20 minutes Thursday of missing the NCAA tournament altogether.

How can a team this potent turn pathetic in the time it takes an opponent to order up a full-court press? How can a team capable of building a 19-point lead — it was 16 at the break — against Maryland, which tied Duke atop the ACC standings, manage to waste almost every smidgen of it in six second-half minutes? How can you win a game in which you make more turnovers (25) than baskets (24)?

Somehow Tech did. It squandered all but two points of that massive lead, and nine times Maryland had a chance to tie or pull …

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Live from Day 2 of the ACC tournament: Fear the Techsters!

Greensboro, N.C. — Duke lost at Georgia Tech in January. The Jackets were routed in Durham last month. So who wins Round 3 Sunday?

I know. I’m getting ahead of events. I’m also getting a feeling. (I know. Dangerous territory for me.) But the team that nearly played its way out of two tournaments last night — the ACC and the NCAA — will play better tonight. And if Tech plays well, it will beat Maryland.

Do I guarantee this? Absolutely not. With Tech, there are no guarantees. But the Jackets were unlucky to have lost in College Park on Feb. 20 — Cliff Tucker hit over Glen Rice Jr. at the horn — and I’m not sure how much the Terrapins want to be here.

They tied Duke for first place in the ACC’s regular season, and they’re safely in the NCAA field. And for all Gary Williams’ fretting, his team often arrives at the conference tournament and lays a big fat turtle egg.

The Terps have won the ACC once in 20 seasons under Williams, that in 2004. Since its title, it has reached the …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Having won once, the Jackets look safe

Derrick Favors wreaks more havoc on the hapless Heels. (AP photo)

Here's Derrick Favors, seen wreaking havoc on the hapless Tar Heels. (AP photo)

Greensboro, N.C. — You can go insane trying to process every permutation. If Cincinnati had beaten West Virginia last night, would the Bearcats be in and someone else be out? If Utah State falls in the WAC tournament, which major conference team gets bumped? But here, as of Friday morning, is all you need to know:

Georgia Tech is in the NCAA field.

Jerry Palm of CBSsports.com has the Jackets as a No. 10 seed, and that’s safe ground. Even if Tech loses to Maryland tonight, it won’t be viewed as a bad loss. (Maryland tied for the ACC regular-season crown and has an RPI of 19.) Bracketology 101 has the Jackets among the last four in. (Though as an 11th seed, which seems odd. The final at-large invitees are generally 12th seeds.)

Andy Glockner of SI.com has Tech as a No. 12, but he believes it “probably needs to beat Maryland to hold on to its spot in the bracket.” (Mr. Glockner and I disagree.) But …

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Tech saves itself from oblivion. What’s next? Who knows?

Derrick Favors seizes the ball. He also seized the game. (AP photo)

Derrick Favors seizes the ball. Which was fitting, since he also seized the game. (AP photo)

Greensboro, N.C. — Twenty minutes had been played, and the thought crossed your mind: Was Georgia Tech about to become the most talented team ever to miss the NCAA tournament, or just the most gifted team to be excluded since the Big Dance expanded in 1985? Because that’s what was happening here: The team with all those players had contrived to fall 10 points behind a team that has nothing but a name.

Halftime score: North Carolina 34, Tech 24. Halftime stats: Tech with nine turnovers, nine baskets. Halftime rebounding: Carolina 26, Tech 18. Halftime hustle board: All Tar Heels.

How could this happen? Beats the heck out of me. I’m the guy who thinks these Jackets could play for the ACC title three days hence. I’m the guy who keeps waiting for all this ability to coalesce and for this strange team to go from Clark Kent to Superman in the wink of an eye. But here it was happening again, …

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Georgia Tech dances on the edge of the volcano but survives

Paul Hewitt at work against North Carolina. His team won. (AP photo)

Tech coach Paul Hewitt at work against North Carolina. His team won. (AP photo)

Greensboro, N.C. – Here it was, a strange and swerving season on the line. To get to the only tournament that matters, Georgia Tech had to outscore the second-worst North Carolina team of the past half-century by 11 points over 20 minutes. And if that sounds odd … well, you haven’t followed Georgia Tech.

Ranked No. 22 in preseason, the Jackets had played their way atop the NCAA tournament bubble by losing their final two regular-season games. Still they found themselves included in most brackets, a development even coach Paul Hewitt found curious. “I’m frankly surprised they still have us in,” he said Tuesday.

Given the Jackets’ first-round ACC tournament opponent, Tech still figured to be OK. It had beaten Carolina twice, and the woeful Heels had completed an awful regular season by losing to Duke 82-50 on Saturday. But then, these being the Jackets, they did what they absolutely could not do: …

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