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Archive for Monday, March 27, 2006

Bedore: Hard part past for Pats

March 27, 2006

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Comments, musings, opinions and ramblings about the crazy 2005-06 college men's basketball season:

¢ Can George Mason University win the NCAA title?

Why not?

The No. 11-seeded suburban commuter school from Fairfax, Va., which stunned No. 1 UConn in the Elite Eight on Sunday in Washington, downed traditional powerhouses Michigan State and North Carolina in prior rounds.

The hardest part is over for coach Jim Larranaga's Patriots, who, upon defeating Florida in Saturday's national semifinals, would meet either LSU or UCLA in the championship game.

"Why couldn't they (win it)?" Kansas University coach Bill Self said Sunday night. "I think Florida is fabulous. I would not pick them (Patriots) over Florida, but they've made it this far.

"George Mason making the Final Four," Self added, "is as big an upset and good a story as our tournament has had in many, many years - at least as far back as I can remember.

"They didn't luck into it. They had to beat a No. 1 (UConn), 3 (UNC), 6 (MSU) and 7 seed (Wichita State) to get where they wanted to go. It shows you the best players don't always comprise the best teams. It's chemistry."

¢ For me, the best part of George Mason advancing is it continues to stifle brash CBS announcer Billy Packer, who on Selection Sunday questioned the mid-major team getting an invite to the Big Dance, much less a ticket to Indianapolis.

¢ It's nice to see the Big, Bad, Big East Conference, which received so much acclaim all season, receive zero Final Four bids. The Southeastern Conference turned out to be this year's power league, landing two of the four Final Four teams.

"People don't understand," KU's Self said. "Having a dominant program doesn't mean you will get into the Final Four. No No. 1 seed got there. It's unbelievable, but as this year proved, there are a lot of good teams and good conferences out there."

¢ GMU's Larranaga probably won't win any national coach of the year awards because votes are tabulated in the regular season. That said, I was a bit surprised North Carolina's Roy Williams beat out Self for Basketball Writers Coach of the Year. UNC, like KU, had a very young team, but the Jayhawks won two conference titles to UNC's none.

¢ The feel-good story of KU's season had to be Russell Robinson. Stuck to the bench the second half of his freshman campaign, Robinson didn't brood ... or transfer. He went to work in the offseason and became the Jayhawks' most improved player .

I wouldn't be surprised if he's named team MVP (Brandon Rush is the odds-on favorite) at the basketball awards ceremony at 7 p.m. April 11 at a yet-to-be announced location.

¢ I like Missouri's Mike Anderson hire better than the Bob Huggins hire at Kansas State. It's not opinion - but fact - that Huggins ran afoul of NCAA rules, and many of his players ran afoul of the law during his days at Cincinnati. Perception means a lot, and, to many, it appears the Wildcats sold their souls, so to speak. Here's hoping Huggins fares well in Manhattan and KSU doesn't regret this hire like Fresno State regretted turning to Jerry Tarkanian back in the day.

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