1. Will Mizzou coach Mike Anderson leave the Tigers for Arkansas? This is fluid, of course. But based on a push by some influential money men, the spies in ARK tell me the job is CMA's if he wants it and if the two sides can agree on the contract terms.
Prominent alums are busy networking (and have been for weeks) and have made it clear that they'll pay up to get CMA to leave Mizzou if he's inclined to do so. The feeling in Arkansas is that Anderson will ask for an enormous contract to leave Mizzou; it is said that CMA views Arkansas as his last coaching stop (if he goes there) and wants a long-term contract that would reflect his desire to stay in Fayettville for the remainder of his career.
But a wild-card here is Arkansas AD Jeff Long. I'm told he likes Anderson but also wants to take a look at other candidates and may not regard CMA as his front-runner for the gig. Long is said to be reluctant to turn the hiring process over to the money men. Long wants to have a say in this.
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2. It's probably a good idea for Mizzou AD Mike Alden to start putting a list of names together. The MU job is a good one but it's not necessarily the ideal time to be shopping for a coach. The distrust of the Big 12's long-term viability is a factor. Will established basketball coaches leave a good gig to come to Missouri or any other Big 12 school when there's anxiety over the B12's ability to hold together over the next few seasons?
3. I like a good conspiracy theory, so ... how about our boy Don Beebe, the Big 12 commissioner? First, Nebraska and Colorado announce they're bailing from the Big 12. In the aftermath, Nebraska's football team is assigned to the Holliday Bowl, a slight that enraged Husker fans. And Sunday, Colorado was snubbed from an NCAA Tournament bid despite racking up impressive wins over Kansas State (three of 'em) Texas and Mizzou. Beebe was a member of the selection committee. Hmmm...
4. We're looking for that traditional No. 12 over No. 5 upset, right? I'm thinking the best bet to pull it off this year is 12-seed Richmond over No. 5 Vanderbilt in the Southwest... and by the way, I think the most obvious boom-or-bust team in the field is No. 5 seed Kansas State in the Southeast. I picked 'em to make it to the Final Four, but the Wildcats are so moody volatile I would not be surprised, at all, to see them lose to No. 12 Utah State in the opening game ... if I had to go with one upset (once he field is reduced to 64) it would be this: No. 11 Gonzaga over No. 6 St. John's. The Zags are playing their best ball of the season, having won nine in a row. St. John's has been significantly weakened after losing D.J. Kennedy to torn knee ligament in the Big East Tournament. He's their leading rebounder and third-leading
5. Usually I'm among the first to break out into mewling over the committee's lack of respect for the mid-major conferences. But I'll limit my yelping this year. Would I like to see Harvard or Missouri State in there instead of a couple of power-conference slots? Sure. Absolutely. But the Colonial Athletic Association got three teams in this year. Conference USA put two in. I don't think the Mountain West exactly qualifies as mid-major, but it was good to see the committee invite the league's third-place team, UNLV. After putting only four teams into the tournament in 2009, the so-called mid-majors had eight in 2010 and will have seven this year.
Progress? Not too much. The field was expanded by four this season. A lot of mediocre power-conference teams were lucky to make it this time around, and this will work against the mid-majors in the future. Why? The power-conference dogs know they can slum, underachieve and still make it into the NCAA Tournament. So why would the big boys put themselves at risk by scheduling mid-majors? As this year's field shows, they don't need to beat the mid-majors to make it to the NCAA Tournament. But a loss to a mid-major could jeopardize their free pass. So it's going to be even more difficult for the mid-majors to get games with the power conferences. But it's imperative for a circuit such as the Missouri Valley Conference to be as aggressive as possible in scheduling.
Wins over Top 100 RPI teams, non-conference:
-- Colonial: 18
-- C-USA: 13
-- MVC: 5
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