NCAA Final Four preview: Tale of the tape

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NCAA Final Four preview: Tale of the tape

Your bracket may already be busted and your favorite Philly team may have already been eliminated.

But there is still basketball -- very good basketball -- left to be played before the NCAA tournament concludes and “One Shining Moment” is sung.

To help get you ready for college basketball’s biggest weekend, here’s a breakdown of both NCAA Final Four games in Atlanta -- from the important to the inane.

Wichita State (30-8) vs. Louisville (33-5)
Saturday, 6:09 p.m., CBS

Road to Atlanta
Ninth-seeded Wichita State has enjoyed one of the most improbable runs in NCAA tournament history, upsetting three teams in the Pomeroy top 11 (Pittsburgh, Gonzaga and Ohio State) and beating a La Salle team we all know is very difficult to match up against. Louisville, the top seed in the Midwest, had a relatively easy road before beating Duke in the regional finals, needing to get by North Carolina AT&T, Colorado State and Oregon. Advantage: Wichita State.

Coaches
Gregg Marshall has coached his mid-major teams (first Winthrop and now Wichita State) to the Big Dance in nine of the past 15 seasons and will likely be a candidate for some high-major jobs in the near future. Rick Pitino has taken three different teams to the Final Four and is one of the best at his profession. Advantage: Louisville.

Star attraction
For Louisville, Russ Smith is one of the best scorers in college basketball and Peyton Siva is one of the nation’s premier point guards. Wichita State leading scorer Cleanthony Early is not exactly a household name (although he should be because that’s an awesome name). Advantage: Louisville.

X-Factor
Louisville small forwards Wayne Blackshear and Luke Hancock will both likely have to play expanded minutes in the backcourt following the horrific injury to top reserve guard Kevin Ware (more on that below). For Wichita State, redshirt freshman guard Ron Baker missed 21 games this season because of a stress fracture but returned in time for the Missouri Valley Conference tournament and has become one of the most unlikely starters in the Final Four. Advantage: Wichita State.

Style of play
The Shockers are one of the best rebounding teams in the country and have used their strength inside to get this far in the NCAA tournament. Louisville likes to press and run, using its exceptional defensive pressure to make you turn the ball over. The Cardinals rank second in the nation in steals per game, behind only VCU. Advantage: Louisville.

Aura
This is Wichita State’s second Final Four ever. This is Louisville’s second Final Four in the last two years. Advantage: Louisville.

Karma
Wichita State has an entire mid-major army behind them hoping to see the Shockers break through and do what mid-major brethren Butler, VCU and George Mason could not: win a national championship. Louisville has the extra motivation of playing for Ware, who suffered one of the most gruesome injuries ever shown on TV (and who also appears to be just an incredible person and teammate in subsequent interviews). Advantage: Louisville.

Mascot
Nothing against the Cardinal bird, but “Shockers” is a great name (especially for headline writers) that is derived from students shocking wheat. That’s why their mascot has a head full of wheat (or something). Advantage: Wichita State.

Famous basketball alumni
Wes Unseld was a three-time All-American at Louisville before his Hall of Fame NBA playing career began. Xavier “The X-Man” McDaniel was the first person to lead the nation in both scoring and rebounding while at Wichita State. Advantage: Louisville.

Famous non-basketball alumni
The great Johnny Unitas starred at Louisville and fellow Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Parcells went to Wichita State. Advantage: Louisville.

Philly connection
Longtime Eagles kicker and fan favorite David Akers went to Louisville. Joe Carter, forever a Philly nemesis, was the Sporting News magazine’s 1981 College Player of the Year while at Wichita state. Advantage: Louisville.

Prediction
Louisville is a heavy favorite for good reason. The Cardinals are a well-coached and talented team that has all the tools to win in March -- and now April. Wichita State has Top 25 talent, but its magical run will end two wins shy of a national title. Louisville 71, Wichita State 62.

Syracuse (30-9) vs. Michigan (30-7)
Saturday, 8:49 p.m., CBS

Road to Atlanta
As No. 4 seeds, both Syracuse and Michigan needed to upset a top seed, as the Orange beat Indiana and Michigan toppled Kansas. Michigan also had to get by tough VCU and Florida teams (as well as South Dakota State), while Syracuse topped Montana, California and Marquette. Advantage: Michigan.

Coaches
John Beilein has now enjoyed some March magic with both Michigan and West Virginia and is one of just nine college coaches to have taken four different teams to the NCAA tournament. Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim has been the head coach at only one school –- but has won over 900 games there. Advantage: Syracuse.

Star attraction
Kansas probably still has nightmares about Trey Burke's taking the game over and leading a huge Sweet 16 comeback for Michigan. Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams is a smooth scorer and a likely first-round draft pick if he comes out –- but he won’t get picked ahead of Burke, the 2012-13 Wooden Award winner. Advantage: Michigan.

X-Factor
Mitch McGary averages less than 20 minutes per game, but the Michigan freshman big man has emerged as one of the best players in the NCAA tournament, averaging 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in the Wolverines’ four wins. Syracuse’s James Southerland shoots over 40 percent from three-point range and attempts more than six long-balls per game. Advantage: Michigan.

Style of play
Michigan likes to run but will need to figure out a way to crack Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone when it gets into the halfcourt set. And teams that don’t see it much usually struggle to adapt to it. Advantage: Syracuse.

Aura
Syracuse is the fifth winningest Division I program of all-time and holds the active record for consecutive winning seasons with 42. Michigan also has a proud history but didn’t make any NCAA tournament appearances between 1998 and 2009 and was hit hard by NCAA sanctions in the ’90s. Advantage: Syracuse.

Karma
Michigan is back in the Final Four exactly 20 years after the Wolverines’ “Fab Five” went to the national championship and lost on Chris Webber’s infamous timeout call. Two of Michigan’s best players –- Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III –- are also the sons of former NBA stars. Syracuse is back in the Final Four exactly 10 years after Carmelo Anthony led the Orange to a national championship. Advantage: Michigan.

Mascot
Otto the Orange is fun for the whole family. Michigan is one of the few colleges that doesn’t have a mascot after it stopped bringing real wolverines to football games in 1927. Something about safety issues. Pfft. Advantage: Syracuse.

Famous basketball alumni
Michigan’s Glen Rice holds the NCAA record for most points in a single NCAA tournament with 184 in 1989. Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony is one of the premier players in the NBA. Advantage: Syracuse.

Famous non-basketball alumni
New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin (Syracuse) has gotten the better of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (Michigan) in a couple of Super Bowls. But still. Advantage: Michigan.

Philly connection
By the time Chris Webber (Michigan) got to the 76ers, he was past his prime. For all his critics, Donovan McNabb (Syracuse) was a great Eagle. Advantage: Syracuse.

Prediction
This is going to be a really fun game between two teams catching fire at the right time. But if Burke and McGary keep doing what they have been doing, nobody is beating the Wolverines. Michigan 79, Syracuse 76.

Prosecutor says he doesn't believe Jerry Sandusky accuser's claim

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AP

Prosecutor says he doesn't believe Jerry Sandusky accuser's claim

BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- A former Pennsylvania prosecutor testified Tuesday he does not believe a man who reached a settlement with Penn State over a molestation claim is the same person seen by a witness being abused by Jerry Sandusky in a university football team shower.

Joe McGettigan, a former prosecutor who is now a lawyer in private practice, took the stand as the final witness during three days of testimony in Sandusky's bid for dismissal of charges or a new trial.

McGettigan said his opinion about the man who claims to be the person described as Victim 2 in court records is based on changes in the man's story, that he appears too old to be the boy in the shower and that he did not provide certain details to investigators until after the man who witnessed the attack had given his own story in open court.

Sandusky's grounds for appeal include a claim that McGettigan lied when he said during closing argument that Victim 2 was known "to God but not to us."

McGettigan said he did not believe the man's claim to be Victim 2 at the time of Sandusky's 2012 trial.

"I did not then and I do not now," McGettigan said.

Graduate assistant Mike McQueary has testified he saw Sandusky abusing a boy inside a team shower late on a Friday night in early 2001, and reported the matter to then-head coach Joe Paterno and other top administrators.

Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of abuse of 10 boys after eight of them testified against him -- but not Victim 2.

McGettigan said the man who settled with Penn State was born in 1987, so he would have been about 14 at the time, but McQueary described Victim 2 as being about 10. McGettigan said the man was unable to properly describe the location of the attack and drew a map of a locker room that was not accurate.

The man denied to police in September 2011 that any abuse occurred and gave the same statement to an investigator working for Sandusky's lawyers. But after McQueary testified in a related preliminary hearing, he hired a lawyer and changed his story, claiming to have been sexually abused. Neither the man nor Penn State has disclosed the precise nature of his claim against the university or said how much he was paid to settle it.

McGettigan said Sandusky, who attended all three days of the Post-Conviction Relief Act hearing, "could at any time have told any number of persons" the identity of Victim 2. "He declined to say so."

Another former state prosecutor, Jonelle Eshbach, testified that her office set up a sting after a March 2011 story in The Patriot-News of Harrisburg disclosed details of the grand jury investigation that led to Sandusky's arrest about seven months later.

She and her supervisor, Frank Fina, placed a fake notice within the prosecution agency's file about someone who had been subpoenaed and then watched to see if it would produce a story that would indicate a leak within the attorney general's office. She said no one took the bait.

Fina, the third person to testify Tuesday, said his doubts about the man's claim to be Victim 2 were based in part on early questions about when the McQueary incident occurred. At first, it was publicly reported to be 2002, which the man confirmed. Later it was determined to have been 2001.

"There was a possibility that (he) had conformed his testimony to Mr. McQueary's recollection of the date," Fina said.

Sandusky previously lost direct appeals to the state's Supreme and Superior courts. The current process, presided over by the trial judge, is under the Post-Conviction Relief Act and therefore limited to newly discovered evidence, constitutional violations and ineffective lawyering.

The judge did not say when he would rule but indicated there may be additional proceedings.

Jerry Sandusky's appeal focuses on Victim 2's conflicting statements

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AP

Jerry Sandusky's appeal focuses on Victim 2's conflicting statements

BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- A man who says he was the boy observed being sexually abused by Jerry Sandusky in a Penn State shower more than 15 years ago gave conflicting statements to authorities and was considered to lack credibility, investigators said during an appeal hearing Monday.

The man has settled with Penn State based on a claim that he is Victim 2 and was seen by graduate assistant Mike McQueary being attacked by Sandusky, then an assistant football coach, in 2001. The man gave differing statements to Sandusky's lawyers and to police investigators, according to testimony, and neither side called him to the stand during the 2012 trial.

The identity of Victim 2, and the man's claim to be Victim 2, figures into Sandusky's bid for a new trial or to have charges dismissed because of a reference during lead prosecutor Joe McGettigan's closing argument before a jury convicted Sandusky of 45 counts of abuse involving 10 victims.

McGettigan told jurors there were "others unknown to us, to others presently known to God but not to us." The appeals hearing is Sandusky's chance to prove his claim that McGettigan was referring to Victim 2 and so he knew that statement was false.

The man who claims to be Victim 2 contacted Sandusky's then-lawyer, Joe Amendola, soon after Sandusky was first charged in November 2011 and gave a statement saying he was in the shower that night but had not been abused. He had also made a similar denial of abuse to investigators in September 2011, testified Cpl. Joseph Leiter, a retired state police investigator.

But he subsequently hired attorney Andrew Shubin, who testified Monday on the second day of the hearing that he believes his client is Victim 2 and was raped by Sandusky, who was in court. He is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence.

Asked if he had any doubts, Shubin said he was not sure how to answer that. But he said the man is his client and he would not represent anyone he did not believe.

Shubin declined to answer when asked whether he ever tried to hide the man's whereabouts from police and prosecutors, citing attorney-client privilege.

"I have never spoken about that issue and never waived that privilege," Shubin testified.

Anthony Sassano, an agent with the attorney general's office, testified that he heard from someone -- he said he wasn't sure whom -- that the man was "hidden at hunting camp somewhere so we couldn't find him to interview him."

Sassano said that the man contradicted himself to agents when asked if he ever told anyone of abuse and that his drawing of the locker room where he claims to have been seen by McQueary did not fit the actual Lasch Building locker room.

That "led me to believe he was never in that particular locker room," Sassano testified.

Prosecutors did not find the man credible, Sassano said.

"I don't know if they formed their opinion off my opinion or they had their own separate opinion," Sassano said. "We all arrived at the same conclusion."

Testimony on Monday also delved into claims of improper leaks of material from the grand jury that investigated Sandusky before he was charged. The hearing is expected to conclude Tuesday.

Sandusky testified during the first day of the hearing and strongly denied his guilt. He has already lost direct appeals to the state's Supreme and Superior courts and is now seeking relief under the Post-Conviction Relief Act that is confined to newly discovered evidence, constitutional violations and ineffective lawyering.

Penn State basketball to host Michigan State at Palestra on Jan. 7

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USA Today Images

Penn State basketball to host Michigan State at Palestra on Jan. 7

The Penn State men's basketball team will play Big 10 and national powerhouse Michigan State in a home game at the Palestra this season on Jan. 7, 2017.

The announcement comes after the program announced its non-conference schedule Monday. The Nittany Lions are 22-36 all time at the famous Philadelphia arena, which houses Penn's home court. But Penn State is 12-8 there against teams other than Penn.

The program has strong ties to Philadelphia as the Nittany Lions' roster features six players from the Philadelphia area and four alone who went to Center City's Roman Catholic High School, a local power. Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers is from Newtown Square, Delaware County.

Three of the four Roman Catholic grads are freshmen — Nazeer Bostick, Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens. Jan. 7's game will be their first college game at the Palestra, but they all have played there before as the Philadelphia Catholic League has held numerous playoff games at the Palestra in recent years. Shep Garner, the other Roman grad, is a junior. The other Philadelphia-area natives on the team are junior Julian Moore (Germantown Academy) and redshirt freshman Mike Watkins (Phelps School).

Penn State played at the Palestra last year and came away with a 63-57 win over Drexel. However, Penn State was not the home team in that game.

“We cannot wait to take the Big Ten into Philadelphia this season,” Chambers said in a press release. “It is always an incredible experience to play in the Palestra and we are honored to do it this time as the home team. We have so many ties to the city as a program and we look forward to connecting with the alumni and fans in the area."