We’ll get to March Madness in a moment, but first, some quick thoughts on Creighton to the Big East:
>> You couldn’t miss the irony. Here was Dana Altman coaching on ESPN in the Pac-12 tournament Friday night at the precise time the World-Herald reported Creighton to the Big East. Altman and Bruce Rasmussen built the Bluejay program from nothing in the mid-90s. But Dana always had an itch. He wanted to know what he could do with high-major resources.
So he left and — just as he finally completes the rebuilding process at Oregon — the Catholic 7 splits from the Big East and his old school gets an invitation, based in no small measure on the building he did. The timing for Altman is almost cruel.
The other twist, however, is that if Greg McDermott doesn’t come along, then Doug McDermott doesn’t either. And if Doug isn’t a two-time All-American, Creighton probably doesn’t get the call. So from the Bluejays’ standpoint, the stars lined up. They benefit from the work of Altman and McDermott.
Just make sure, Bluejay fans, you tip your hat to the guy in the green tie. Without his work, it’s Saint Louis University — not Creighton — preparing to rub elbows with Georgetown and Marquette.
>> What recruiting modifications will Greg McDermott make? Clearly, he has a path into East Coast high schools now. He can grab a kid from Philadelphia or New York. But who on staff is comfortable in that environment? Does McDermott make a staff change? Or does he stand pat and trust that a slight upgrade in the Upper Midwest and Texas will be good enough? Coach Mac has some thinking to do.
>> Creighton desperately needs Doug McDermott to stay his senior year. I can’t emphasize this enough. A starting five of Will Artino, Ethan Wragge, Austin Chatman, Jahenns Manigat and A Player To Be Named Later would take some serious lumps in that league. We’re talking 5-13 in league play. The program is rolling right now. It’s important that CU doesn’t take a significant step backward in year one.
>> The ideal basketball league has no more than 10 teams. Ten ensures that you play everybody home-and-home, just like in the Valley. The new Big East has 10 right now and appears headed for 12. My instinct is to say, “Just stay at 10! Less is more! Once you add two more schools, suddenly you’re only seeing Georgetown at home every other year.” But from a travel perspective, Creighton could really use St. Louis and even Dayton in the league, especially in the smaller sports. Those road trips to Providence aren’t much fun in February.
>> Who becomes the Jays’ biggest rival? Butler, perhaps. Xavier is a possibility. But my hunch is it’ll be Marquette. Fighting for Big East dominance on the Western frontier!
>> Speaking of geographic borders, how ‘bout Nebraska and Creighton both representing outposts in their new league. So much for the days of driving over to Drake or Iowa State on a Wednesday night.
>> Finally, how would you rate the Big East programs? Here’s my power rankings — based on recent performance, resources, leadership, expectations and trajectory:
1 — Georgetown
2 — Marquette
3 — Butler
4 — Villanova
5 — Xavier
6 — Creighton
7 — St. John’s
8 — Providence
9 — Seton Hall
10 — DePaul
I think Creighton could potentially rise to No. 2 or 3 on that list in the next 10 years. But initially, it will take the Jays a few years to find their way.
>> Embrace the competition, Nebraska. Forget being “the only show in the state.” Embrace the rivalry. For too long, Huskers and Bluejays have dismissed each other as irrelevant in this state. They scoff at each other. With Creighton’s move to the Big East, I’d love to see the relationship change. They can make each other — and basketball in this state — better. Besides, there are plenty of fans in the eastern half of Nebraska who will spend their disposable income on the hoops program that presents a better product. If that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will.
>> Tim Miles for Big Ten coach of the year? I could make a pretty decent argument that nobody did more with his situation than the Husker coach. Having said that, I’d like to forever stop praising Husker basketball coaches for maximizing their feeble rosters. We’ve been doing it for 14 years. It needs to stop. It’s time to go get comparable talent.
>> Why aren’t the Huskers playing in the CBI or CIT? I think you have to say yes if you have a young team. But most of Nebraska’s rotation will be new next season. And the Huskers, after a long Big Ten season with a short bench, are clearly gassed. I have no problem with Miles deciding to sit out the junior-varsity season.
>> Friday night, as Iowa was melting down against Michigan State in the Big Ten quarterfinals, I went on a little Twitter rant about the refs. Officials allowed Michigan State defenders to do whatever they wanted, which kept Iowa out of the scoring column, which allowed MSU to complete a big comeback. That probably knocked Iowa out of the NCAA tournament.
But you know who else kept Iowa out? Nebraska. The Hawks’ best win was Wisconsin at home. Not great, right? But I doubt the committee could’ve said no to a team with a 10-8 record in the best conference in the country. One crushing loss in Lincoln was likely the difference.
>> Big Ten basketball teams — as good as they were this year — are dying to play somebody outside of the league, says Michael Rosenberg. But if the league doesn’t win a national championship this year, when will it?
>> Only 2 things flat-out shocked me from last night’s selection show.
1) Oregon’s seed (12), especially in contrast to UCLA (6), which the Ducks defeated in the Pac-12 tournament championship. That’s just a bad evaluation. Oregon should’ve been more like an 8 or 9 seed. (Pac-12 peer Arizona, which beat Florida and Miami in the non-conference, also got dissed by the committee, receiving a 6). Ironically, Oregon’s chances of a Sweet 16 run are probably better with the snub, because it doesn’t have to beat a juggernaut the first week.
2) The UNLV-Cal match-up and its location. Committee members know not to pair teams who played in the regular season. They should also know a 12 seed doesn’t deserve a significant geographic advantage (San Jose). Both problems easily could’ve been avoided by swapping Akron and Cal in the bracket. The second problem could’ve been avoided by swapping Oregon and Cal.
>> The official NCAA selection committee 1-68 seed list. It reveals what I think is a minor flaw in the blueprint. Rather than bracketing the No. 2, 3 and 4 seeds in an effort to balance the regions, it’s all about easing travel. Which is why the worst No. 1 seed (according to the committee) is matched with the worst No. 2 seed.
I would’ve liked to have seen either Miami or Duke — the two strongest No. 2 seeds — in the West, opposite unproven Gonzaga, which hasn’t beaten a tournament team other than St. Mary’s since New Year’s Eve.
>> The Big Ten gave Maryland a sweetheart deal. Why? That part baffles me. Surely the Terps would’ve committed to Jim Delany without a ridiculous “travel subsidy,” which is essentially a handout. Is Delany that desperate to have a legitimate football program on the East Coast?
>> Adam Kramer took the liberties of drawing up a 64-team FOOTBALL bracket based upon last year’s rankings. I think Nebraska can beat Arkansas. But Johnny Manziel might be a chore in round two.
>> The “Bracket of Bo,” by Faux Pelini. Hilarious.
>> Joe Posnanski on the greatness of Bill Self.
>> Ben Howland is in trouble at UCLA, says Bill Plaschke.
>> Dan Wetzel on the Steubenville rape trial.
>> Danny Woodhead to the Chargers? Considering how frequently Ryan Mathews is hurt, that’s a nice landing spot for Woodhead. I’d like to see him be a little more explosive. In New England, it seemed his role was to get four yards and get the ball back to Tom Brady. I believe Woodhead has big-play ability he hasn’t yet shown.
>> I’m not sure what I expected for Creighton analysis last night on ESPN. But this exchange surprised me:
Rece Davis: “Is this the type of matchup that can give Creighton fits?”
Jay Williams: “I think so. For sure. Cincinnati has a lot of athletic power forwards, guys that can move on the perimeter. … It comes down to guard play for Cincinnati. … I think these guards can overpower the guards for Creighton.”
Jay Bilas: “I think that’s right. We’ve got a team in Cincinnati that can guard and rebound, but they can’t score. We’ve got a team in Creighton that can absolutely score, but they can’t guard. The contrast is gonna be really fun. … Cincinnati, as long as they don’t turn the ball over, I favor them because they rebound so well and they really, really defend.”
Dick Vitale: “Bottom line is, I agree with the guys. When I look at Cincinnati, they should have a little chip on their shoulder. They were playing well early. They beat New Mexico early in the year. … Bottom line is, Cincinnati, I really believe they beat Creighton.”
>> More on the Creighton match-up in Wednesday’s Chatter. Thanks for reading.