More college football meetings today in Chicago. More political posturing between the SEC/Big 12 and Big Ten/Pac-12.
I’m confident the commissioners will agree on most things. I’m less confident that school presidents, who meet next week in Washington D.C., will rubber stamp commissioners’ recommendations. We’ll see. Step one is seeing Jim Delany and Mike Slive with their arms around each other.
>> You may know I’m a proponent of a conference-champions format for the four-team playoff. My opinion has nothing to do with Nebraska football. But can you imagine how much worse the 2009 and 2010 Big 12 championship losses would’ve hurt had a playoff spot been on the line? Wow. Dan Beebe and Shawn Watson would have changed their names and moved to Saskatchewan in order to escape the wrath of Husker fans.
>> If the NBA Finals were a 2-on-2 game, Oklahoma City would win. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have been incredible — even better than LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. But because this is 5-on-5, Miami will likely wrap up a championship Thursday night.
All you need to know about Game 4 is this:
Mario Chalmers scored 25 points on 9-for-15 shooting. James Harden scored 8 points on 2-for-10 shooting.
Conventional wisdom said that OKC entered the Finals with a deeper roster. But Chalmers, Shane Battier (and even Norris Cole) have hit huge shots for the Heat. Oklahoma City’s supporting cast, meanwhile, has gone into a shell.
Harden is the biggest culprit. He had 17 points in the first half of Game 2. In the other 14 quarters, he has 26 points. Derek Fisher also deserves a thumbs-down. In 24 minutes of Game 2, he scored two points. In 22 minutes in Game 4, he didn’t score at all. A player like Fisher (who is limited as a defender, rebounder and ball handler) should not be playing half the game when he doesn’t score.
>> Miami and Oklahoma City are the best two teams in the NBA right now. They will be next year, too. And probably the year after that. Which means these NBA Finals could be the first round of a multi-year fight between LeBron and Durant. Here’s my question: Who challenges them over the next few years? Who’s the No. 3 team capable of spoiling Thunder-Heat reunions? I see a lot of flawed contenders.
>> What is your ideal College World Series? Design your perfect eight-team field, excluding Nebraska and Creighton. Here’s mine:
- South Carolina
- A Pac-12 team (Arizona State would be my preference)
- An old Big Eight team (Missouri, Kansas or Oklahoma State)
- A mid-major Northern Cinderella (Kent State is perfect)
- Last (and perhaps least), a Big Ten team (just because it hasn’t happened in almost 30 years)
What do you think?
>> On Monday night, Michael Jordan hired a man named Mike Dunlap to coach the Charlotte Bobcats. Dunlap has never been a Division I head coach, or an NBA head coach. So who is he? He built a juggernaut at Metro State, a Division II school in Denver. Look who else coached Division II and D-III basketball in the northern plains in the late 90s:
Bo Ryan, Wisconsin-Platteville
Greg McDermott, Wayne State/North Dakota State
Tim Miles, Southwest Minnesota State
And don’t forget Tom Kropp, one of the best basketball coaches Nebraska has ever seen.
The lesson: Don’t judge a coach’s talent by his position on the ladder.
>> How Brady Hoke made Michigan cool again.
>> In about three years, Iowa basketball is gonna be really good. Bad news for Tim Miles.
>> A statistical theory on how to build an NBA championship team. Interesting.
>> Put Bryce Harper in the All-Star game, says Jeff Passan.
>> Russell Westbrook, a player I have often defended, earned some redemption in Game 4. I like his quote at the bottom of the column.
“Get this straight,” Westbrook said. “What you guys say doesn’t make me happy, make me sad, doesn’t do anything. It’s all about my team and us winning a game. I don’t have a personal challenge against you [media] guys, and it’s not me against the world. It’s not the world against me. It’s me and my teammates trying to win.”
>> According to the Elias Sports Bureau, a player has averaged 30 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists in a single postseason 3 times in NBA history: Oscar Robertson (1963), LeBron James (2009) and LeBron James (2012).
>> Bruce Feldman lays out the 10 easiest non-conference schedules in college football. Mississippi State plays Jackson State, Troy, South Alabama and Middle Tennessee. I guess that’s what you do to become bowl eligible when you’re an SEC West doormat.