It’s Friday. That means (a slightly abbreviated version of) Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. We hit Kobe Bryant and Rafa Nadal, the Nebraska Phillies and Big Ten quarterbacks, NFL rule changes and college basketball scoring (again). But first, Husker basketball does it again.
Joe Lunardi is going to be scrambling Sunday afternoon when — an hour before the selection show — Nebraska clinches an automatic bid with a Big Ten tournament title. OK, maybe not. But Tim Miles did something last night nobody expected — he won a conference tournament game.
We’ve already gushed about how impressive 15 wins is with this roster. But you know what I like about nights like last? It demonstrates to all those coming back next year — including transfers Biggs, Petteway and Pitchford — the intensity and toughness required to win in the Big Ten.
Miles can sell a vision, but there’s no substitute for learning how to win the meat-grinders — ask Iowa, which has been a mess at the end of games this year. Nebraska, with a 7-0 record in games decided by five points or less, is starting that education a year ahead of schedule.
Now if Miles could just get Brandon Ubel another year of eligibility.
>> Let’s compare two NCAA tournament profiles.
No. 1: Eleven top-100 wins, four top-50 wins, seven total losses
No. 2: Eight top-100 wins, three top-50 wins, five total losses
Which resume is better? I would say No. 2, because of the fewer losses.
That’s Creighton in 2011-12, which received a No. 8 seed. The first profile is Creighton 2012-13.
I try to study the field as much as possible each year and when you get into the meat of the bracket — the 5-10 seeds — it’s mostly subjective who had a better season. Last March, Creighton got the short end of the stick. We’ll see if the committee gives the Jays more love this time.
I’d be a little surprised if they do better than last season with seven total losses from the ninth-best conference. My gut instinct says they’ll be an 8 seed — with a 9 slightly more likely than a 7.
>> Will 11-12 days off be an advantage or a disadvantage for Creighton? My sense is, the way the Jays were shooting the ball in St. Louis, it’s a bad thing. If I were Greg McDermott, I’d be most concerned after the first half of the opening game. Remember, Creighton’s offense looked completely out of sorts against Alabama last March, scoring just 23 points before half.
>> Two very different takes on the NCAA selection committee. Ken Pomeroy uses advanced statistics to illustrate seeding doesn’t matter — the most overrated talking point is what teams receive No. 1 seeds.
Mike DeCourcy, on the other hand, says the committee should focus on seeding, not bubble teams. Personally, I get more annoyed when the committee makes obvious seeding mistakes, even though it may not matter much in declaring a champion.
>> Is there too much Georgetown in the new Big East? Uh oh. Apparently the Catholic 7 isn’t all Kumbaya. Very interesting look at the politics Creighton may have to deal with.
>> Fifty years ago — and three years before Texas Western — the Loyola of Chicago Ramblers won the NCAA tournament with four black starters. USA Today looks back.
>> Clark Kellogg hits the nail on the head with his comments about college basketball’s scoring slump. Why is it happening? Start with coaching.
>> Remember how bad Big Ten quarterbacks were last year? Well, that’s the position that is going to break the league back from the depths, Steve Greenberg writes.
>> Big Ten schools as Simpsons characters.
>> The Big Ten needs to boot Indianapolis in favor of Chicago for its primary championship site, says Lost Letterman.
>> Dan Wetzel does some phenomenal deadline writing from the Steubenville courtroom.
>> Bill Barnwell at Grantland says the Patriots did the right thing signing Danny Amendola rather than Wes Welker. His logic is based upon what Welker was before arriving in New England.
>> From SB Nation, a profile of former Maryland basketball player Earl Badu, who committed suicide.
>> Wrigley Field is costing the Cubs — and the Ricketts family — a fortune, Rick Reilly says. And more important, a chance to win the World Series.
>> Emmitt Smith says the NFL has “lost its mind” with a new rule change saying ball carriers can’t initiate contact with the crown of their helmet.
>> Kobe Bryant is the dirty player, Gregg Doyel writes, for calling out Dahntay Jones, who made a routine basketball play.
>> Why are there so many native Nebraskans in the Philadelphia Phillies clubhouse? Good story.
>> I’ve received a few Twitter messages and emails this week asking about the lack of Mad Chatter lately. I promise it will kick back into high gear in April. But until then, it’s going to be a little hit-or-miss, as Jammal Lord liked to say. We’ve got a baby on the way — and I’ve got a big story coming next week.
Thanks for your patience. And thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.