Pick 'em: Inside Gonzo's 2012 Bracket


Pick 'em: Inside Gonzo's 2012 Bracket

When it comes to NCAA tournament brackets, there are two types of people. There are those who only fill out one sheet, because they see it as some sort of integrity issue (or perhaps as a test to prove how much they know about college hoops). And then there are the people who fill out as many brackets as possible with the hope that one of their ridiculous permutations will win their office pool.

Ive long suspected that the first group is comprised of joyless schoolmarms and deposed despots. The dictatorial, one-bracket-per-costumer ethos is about as fun as having a single bite of ice cream before putting the lid back on and sticking it in the freezer. Its un-American, frankly. We are a country of unrepentant excess. If one bracket is good, surely 12 would be better.

As a staunch supporter of the multiple-sheet system, Ive already filled out several brackets for myself, as well as one for my dog (predictably, she likes the Huskies and Hoyas) and one for my cat (she has Purdue winning it all; shes always been a fan of their chicken). If someone tells you that youre only allowed to complete one sheet, ask himher why heshe hates freedom -- then call the authorities and inform them that youve discovered an enemy of the state working on domestic soil.

Alas, for the purposes of this column -- which aims to explain my addled thought process for the NCAA Tournament -- the CSNPhilly.com editors have asked me to choose a single bracket. They said it would be simpler that way. Im obliging them -- mainly to buy time while I wait for the Feds to arrive and charge them with treason.

In the South Region, I have No. 12 VCU over No. 5 Wichita State. The Rams made it to the Final Four last year, and they knocked off Drexel (sniffle, sniffle) in the CAA Tournament Final. I like Shaka to get past the Shockers. I also have No. 14 South Dakota State beating No. 3 Baylor. I saw the Bears play once this season. They wore loud neon-yellow uniforms that hurt my eyeballs. Meanwhile, SD State has a terrific guard named Nate Wolters LINK (21.3 ppg) and calls itself the Jackrabbits. Good enough for me. (This is highly scientific stuff.)

I reluctantly picked Duke to win two games, though I have the Blue Devils being upended by UNLV in the Sweet 16. The Runnin Rebels share the ball (third in assists in the country) and have quality wins this year over UNC, Illinois, Cal, New Mexico and San Diego State. Plus, it will give UNLV a chance to avenge its loss to Duke in the 1991 Final Four. As a longtime Rebels fan (I have family in Vegas), Ive always hated Duke for ruining UNLVs perfect season that year. Ive held a grudge against Coach K and the Blue Devils ever since. This will be the Rebels Count of Monte Cristo moment - only without the killing and Machiavellian revenge plot. Otherwise, it will be just like that.

In the end, and like almost everyone else, Ill take Kentucky to win the South Region. John Caliparis kids play excellent defense, score well (10th in the nation in field goal percentage) and have one of the best players in the country in Anthony Davis, who averages a double-double (14.3 ppg, 10 rpg).

I hate this region. No one stands out. It features arguably the weakest No. 1 and No. 2 seeds (Michigan State and Missouri respectively). I could see any one of five schools MSU, Mizzou, New Mexico, Louisville and Marquette reaching the Final Four. Its as though the selection committee channeled the Joker from The Dark Knight, dumped a bunch of teams into close quarters, gave them one sharp stick, and said here, you figure it out.

In the first round, Im going with chalk. I came awfully close to picking No. 12 Long Beach State to upset No. 5 New Mexico -- then I remembered that Steve Alford has the Lobos playing extremely well right now. Theyve won 25 of their last 30 games, and they have Drew Gordon in the paint -- a 6-9, 245-pound senior who averages a double-double (13.4 ppg, 10.9 rpg). In fact, Ill take the Lobos to win three games (over LBS, Louisville and Memphis) and reach the Elite Eight.

My bracket gets a little messy in the second round. Im not sold on Big Ten basketball in general or Michigan State in specific. I have Memphis -- an extremely athletic and deep team that has seven players who see more than 21 minutes of action per game -- upsetting the Spartans.

I like Marquette a lot, and a potential matchup against Mizzou could be one of the most entertaining games of the tournament. I toyed with pushing the Golden Eagles past the Tigers, but talked myself out of it. Give me Mizzou to squeak past New Mexico and reach the Final Four.

Got a disquieting email from Bodog.com the other day. It said the public likes Florida State and the odds of the Seminoles winning the tournament have already dropped from 401 to 301 as a result. That made me pause, because I also like Florida State, and the public is usually a gambling euphemism for suckers with disposable income.

I dont have disposable income, but I am a sucker for the Seminoles. They were the only team to ever beat dastardly Duke and UNC twice in the same season. FSU won the ACC Tournament, and the Seminoles play great defense, particularly on the perimeter. They have two excellent guards in Michael Snaer and Ian Miller, and a big-body down low in 6-10, 240 pound senior forward Bernard James. Ill take Florida State to upend Syracuse and its many different controversies and reach the Final Four.

In other East-related predictions, I have No. 11 Texas -- one of the most unpredictable teams in the field -- upsetting No. 6 Cincinnati, No. 10 West Virginia defeating No. 7 Gonzaga, and No. 5 Vanderbilt, which beat Kentucky in the SEC Championship, reaching the Sweet 16.

The Temple Owls seemed pretty pleased to get a five seed, particularly after an uninspired loss to UMass in the A-10 Tournament. I'm picking Fran Dunphy's guys to win the first round game, but I don't feel all that hot about it after USF thumped Cal in the play-in game on Wednesday night. If Temple proves me right and wins, it looks like more trouble for the Owls in the second round. Michigan shared the Big Ten title with Michigan State and Ohio State, and the Wolverines have quality wins this season over both of those schools, as well as Memphis and Wisconsin.

The rest of the bracket is mostly chalk. I have Purdue pulling a small upset over St. Marys, and I wouldnt be surprised if Creighton gives UNC a tough game in the second round before the Tarheels win. The Bluejays lost just five games all season, theyre first in the nation in field goal percentage, second in team assists per game and seventh in points per game. They also have one of the best players in the country: 6-7 sophomore forward Doug McDermott (23.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg).

I have UNC reaching the Final Four after beating Kansas in the Elite Eight in what should be a nightmare for the nation. If it happens, brace yourself for the Why did Roy leave Kansas? story to be done at length by every media outlet in the country. Prepare for it by buying earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.

I said I love FSU, right? And I do -- just not to beat the Tarheels for the third time this season. Give me UNC over the Seminoles and the Kentucky Wildcats over Mizzou. In the finals, Ill take Kentucky to beat UNC. John Calipari finally wins a national title -- at which point the NCAA will no doubt uncover various infractions and Calipari will flee to yet another school (or perhaps a professional team based in New York City). You know the movies with the old 1920s-era scofflaws who talk like this: mah, youll never catch me alive, see? Reminds me of Cals ability to avoid the NCAA coppers.

E-mail John Gonzalez at jgonzalez@comcastsportsnet.com

Baylor to fire football coach Briles, re-assign president

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Baylor to fire football coach Briles, re-assign president

WACO, Texas -- Baylor University's board of regents said Thursday that it will fire football coach Art Briles and re-assign university President Kenneth Starr amid questions over the school's handling of sexual assault complaints against players.

The nation's largest Baptist university said in a statement Thursday that it had suspended Briles "with intent to terminate." Starr will leave the position of president on May 31, but the school says he will serve as chancellor.

The university also placed athletic director Ian McCaw on probation.

Baylor asked a law firm last year to conduct a review of its handling of sexual assault cases following allegations that the football program mishandled several cases of players attacking women.

The university's statement said the review revealed "a fundamental failure."

Baylor has faced increasing criticism in recent months for its handling of reports of rape and other violent incidents involving football players and students. One victim has sued the university, saying it was deliberately indifferent to her allegations against a former player who was eventually convicted of sexually assaulting her.

Starr ordered an investigation last year but has been mostly silent amid mounting criticism over the school's handling of the complaints, which erupted under his leadership. He took over as the university's president in 2010, about a decade after the former prosecutor investigated former President Clinton's sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewisnky.

The football team, whose players were at the center of the upheaval, enjoyed unprecedented success under Briles' tenure, including two Big 12 championships in the last three years. That success brought a financial windfall, and in 2014, Baylor opened a new, $250-million on-campus football stadium. But Briles' program has also been criticized for recruiting or accepting transfer players without regard to the harm they might cause fellow students.

Starr rode the waves of the program's success, and often ran on the football field with Baylor students in pregame ceremonies. But as investigations began into the school's handling of sexual assault allegations against players, Starr provided only brief comments, even as criticism of the school mounted.

In a February statement issued by university, Starr said "our hearts break for those whose lives are impacted by execrable acts of sexual violence." And at a prayer breakfast last month, Starr told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "I am in favor of transparency. Stand up, take your medicine if you made a mistake."

Baylor's Board of Regents was recently briefed by a law firm hired to investigate how the school responded to assault incidents, and the school on Thursday released a summary of its findings. Starr initiated the review in 2015, after former football player Sam Ukwuachu was convicted of sexually assaulting a female soccer player.

Ukwuachu, who was convicted in 2015, transferred to Baylor after he was dismissed from Boise State. Ukwuachu's former girlfriend testified during his rape trial in Texas that he had struck and choked her when he attended Boise State.

Ukwuachu's former coach, Chris Peterson, now the coach at Washington, said he "thoroughly apprised" Briles about the circumstances of Ukuwachu's dismissal. Briles disputed that account, saying he talked with Peterson and there was no mention of the incident.

The school is also facing a federal lawsuit from a former student claiming the school was "deliberately indifferent" to rape allegations levied at a former football player Tevin Elliott, who was convicted in 2014 of sexually assaulting the woman.

The uproar following Ukwuachu's conviction caused Baylor to initiate the review by the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, and to announce a $5 million effort to improve efforts on how it responds to sexual assault, including adding another investigator and more staff.

But the Ukwuachu case was just the start of months of revelations of football players being involved in violent incidents with little or no repercussions. At least seven other woman have publicly come forward to say the school ignored their sexual assault allegations.

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Josh Hart discusses NBA draft process, returning to Villanova


Josh Hart discusses NBA draft process, returning to Villanova

Josh Hart said the decision wasn’t easy.

But he’s happy with it.

After withdrawing his name from the NBA draft to return to school (see story), Hart is excited to focus on Villanova, graduation and then the NBA dream.

“I love the school, I love the teachers, the student body, the support, my teammates that we have coming back,” the 6-foot-5 guard said Wednesday on Comcast SportsNet’s Philly Sports Talk. “So it was a tough one and I just thought at the end of the day, I think going back for my senior year would be in the best interest of my parents and myself.”

As a junior, Hart helped Villanova win its second national championship in program history by leading the Wildcats in scoring with 15.5 points per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the field.

Hart received plenty of feedback from NBA teams. He said shooting and ball handling are what he hopes to improve.

As far as his draft stock …

“There were teams interested maybe in the first [round], and then there were teams that said they would take me in the second,” Hart said. “But there’s a whole month before the draft, a lot of teams didn’t know exactly what they were doing with their picks — whether they were trying to trade up for a pick, trying to trade down, trying to trade a pick for a player. Several teams said that they would take me.”

For more from Hart on the draft and Villanova, watch the video above.

Delaware hires Martin Ingelsby as new head basketball coach

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Delaware hires Martin Ingelsby as new head basketball coach

Delaware has its new head basketball coach in Martin Ingelsby.

Ingelsby, a native of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, comes from Notre Dame, where he played from 1997-2001 and coached for 13 seasons, seven as an assistant.

Ingelsby played his high school ball at Archbishop Carroll and is the son of Tom Ingelsby, who played for Villanova from 1970-73.

Delaware is coming off a 7-23 season and 2-16 mark in CAA play, which led to the firing of head coach Monte Ross.

The Blue Hens, who announced the hire Tuesday, will formally introduce Ingelsby in a press conference Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Bob Carpenter Center Auditorium.