Tag Archives: Xavier Muskateers

March Madness – From Pistol Pete to a Magic Carpet Ride

I didn’t begin to grow my hair, longer than the crew cut I sported at the time, because of the influence of rock groups I listened to, like Steppenwolf and Cream, who were popular at the time. It was due to a basketball player who was my idol, “Pistol” Pete Maravich. I loved the way Pistol Pete’s shaggy brown hair flopped as he brought the ball up the court for his team, the LSU Tigers.

Freshmen weren’t allowed to play on the varsity back in 1966, so Pete’s first year as a starter for the Bayou Bengals was the fall of 1967. And there were very few games that were televised back then, but when there was a game on television I was watching. I couldn’t wait for Saturday afternoons and the SEC game of the week.

I was also a sophomore on our high school’s team in ’67 (we didn’t have a varsity and junior varsity). We had an “A” team and a “B” team and I was on the “B” team.

The problem was, we had to cut our hair to play sports at Wilcox County High School in Camden, AL. I began to let mine grow in 1968 which was my second year on the “B” team (that team went 17-0 by the way). But come November and basketball practice, whack, we had to get that hair cut. Mine wasn’t trimmed short enough so I had to go back and get it snipped again. And friends, it wasn’t very long to begin with.

The fall of 1968 was also when I had my first kiss, my first taste of whiskey, and my first cigarette. I’ve since given up the cigarettes.

So those were heady days. And as the lyrics to the Grateful Dead’s Uncle John’s Band go, “Wo, oh, what I want to know, where does the time go?”

It has now been 50 years since Pistol Pete Maravich was in his first varsity season down in Baton Rouge. I was fortunate to witness him play the first game in what became Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum in Auburn on January 11, 1969. The home team Tigers won that game, 90-71. Sorry Pete.

And, it is noteworthy that LSU never made the NCAA Tournament during Maravich’s playing days. They did receive an invitation to the NIT his senior year.

March wasn’t exactly bursting with madness back in those days. In fact, there were only 23 teams in the NCAA Tournament. But, the UCLA Bruins were in the middle of a three-year title run under the tutelage of John Wooden and the leadership of their star center, Lew Alcindor, who was later to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Yes, it’s a long way from those 23 teams, from 50 years ago, to the field of 68 that we grapple with today, and there are 10 of the usual suspects (North Carolina, Princeton, West Virginia, Dayton, Virginia Tech, Kansas, Louisville, New Mexico State, SMU, and UCLA) in both sets of brackets.

But interest is at a fever pitch, in the year 2017, and we are all caught in the throes of what is now termed “March Madness.”

The “Sweet 16” will have begun play by the time you read this, and here is the way I see it shaking down.

In chronological order:

Sweet 16

Michigan over Oregon

Gonzaga over West Virginia

Kansas over Purdue

Arizona over Xavier

North Carolina over Butler

South Carolina (Welcome Cinderella!) over Baylor

UCLA over Kentucky

Wisconsin over Florida


Elite Eight

South Carolina over Wisconsin

Gonzaga over Arizona

Kansas over Michigan

UCLA over North Carolina


That leaves us with a Final Four of:

South Carolina vs. Gonzaga

Kansas vs. UCLA


So let’s fasten our seat belts as we approach the final turn on that magic carpet ride… ”March Madness.”


E-mail Bird at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Autull.

The West: What to Look For in Day Two

The Round of 64 provided quite some excitement in the west region, let’s recap

Number 1 seed Gonzaga let the SDST Jackrabbits stay close before pulling away. The Zags looked just as good as they have all season, solid defense and a balanced attack. The win advances the Zags to the round of thirty-two where they will see Northwestern.

The Wildcats playing in their first ever NCAA tournament beat Bryce Drew’s Vandy team after a mistake foul by Matthew Fisher-Davis with Vandy up one with fourteen seconds left gave Northwestern two four shots and their first NCAA win.

If you are playing in a second chance bracket or a round by round bracket pool take Gonzaga as a lock. Northwestern snuck into the tournament with some upset wins and will be no match for the balanced Bulldog offense.

My Pick Gonzaga

Notre Dame defeated Princeton in the 5-12 match up in Buffalo. It was one of the better games of the day as it came down to a missed Princeton three-pointer with 3.7 seconds left in the game. The Irish will march on to face West Vergina.

Huggy Bear and his team had all they could handle with a resilient Bucknell team that kept it close until the very end. Prevailing 86-80 over the Bison

The Notre Dame -West Virginia game could be the best of the day Saturday and it’s an early 12.10 tip-off from Buffalo.   The former Big East rivals come in each 3-2 over their last five games. Notre Dame is the only team to reach the Elite Eight the last two NCAA tournaments and I expect them to get to the second weekend. Look for them to feed swingman Bonzie Colson. The only way I see the Mountaineers winning this one is if they play better defense than they did vs Bucknell and control how many touches Colson gets.

My Pick Notre Dame

I did not think Xavier could do it, knock out a Melo Trimble Maryland team; at least not the shell of what Xavier is without Edmond Summer. Xavier proved they can take on anyone. Maryland was kept to 40% shooting from the floor and a cold 25.9% from behind the arch. Xavier was powered by their ability to hit shots at right times and the thirty point they had coming off the bench.

Florida State were winners over FGCU in one of the fastest paced basketball games I have ever watched. FSU struggled in stretches to keep up with FGCU but held on for the win. FSU is one of the tallest teams in college basketball and they like to score inside they have to stick to that it has worked all season if they want to compete with Xavier.

For me, though the is something about this Xavier team that I really like they have a spark and that’s why I have to pick them to make it to the sweet 16.

My Pick Xavier

St.Mary’s took out VCU in a battle of Mid-Major Darlings, St.Mary’s was put in the same region as conference rival Gonzaga kind of odd for the committee to do with teams from a non-major confrence. That being said I highly doubt they meet up. St.Mary’s gets to deal with an Arizona team fresh off a 100-82 win over North Dakota. Arizona looks like a team that could win the whole thing. Sean Miller has a team that is built for a deep run. The Pac-12 Regular season and Tournament champions will look to overpower the Gales who to their credit have had a great season. I don’t think the wildcats will have much of a problem with St.Mary’s. Arizona will inch closer to their first final four trip since 2001.

My pick Arizona

E-mail Karic at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @karic_jones.

NCAA Tournament: East Region Notebook

As usual, there have been some crazy upsets in the NCAA Tournament this year. Nothing that has come out of the East Region has been too surprising. The most surprising game was that Stephen F. Austin beat West Virginia, but Brad Underwood would have his guys ready. Saturday kicks off another round of exciting games.

Indiana vs. Kentucky

This game starts at 4 p.m. today. This is going to be one of the top three games of the weekend. Two of the nation’s top point guards will face off.  It will be a battle of Indiana’s offense who shot 65 percent their first game of the tournament and hit 10 3-pointers. Against the Wildcat defense, who had an NCAA Tournament single game to watch and I wouldn’t be surprised if Indiana won.


North Carolina vs. Providence

North Carolina will face Providence at 8:30 today. This will be a great matchup, but UNC has length on offense and defense to beat the two best offensive players on the Providence team. Johnson is big inside and they do not have an answer for him. I see UNC winning this game.


Notre Dame vs. Stephen F.  Austin

Notre Dame and Stephen F. Austin will face off tomorrow at 1:40 p.m. Notre Dame surprised people when if came back to beat Michigan in the second half. Stephen F. Austin beat West Virginia pretty big on Friday night. If Thomas Walkup has the same night he did on Friday, The Lumberjacks will win the game.


Wisconsin vs. Xavier

Wisconsin will take on Xavier tomorrow night at 7:40. The Badgers first game was very low scoring. In order to beat Xavier they need to have a better offensive game. Xavier had a very high scoring game against Weber State. This matchup isn’t a very good one for Wisconsin because Wisconsin struggles against the three and Xavier can hit threes. Xavier should easily win this game.


From Bad to Worse: Time to Panic Yet?

Everything I wrote about before…. throw it out the window. Our beloved Flyers are lost and nowhere to be found. Saturday afternoon’s loss to a depleted Rhode Island team is very bad, folks. Very bad indeed.  Dayton struggled, mostly on offense, from the tip off to the very last whistle. They could not get a basket to save their lives. It seemed like everything bounced off the rim for the Flyers, and everything went in for the Rams.

Rhode Island did shoot very well from three, where the Flyers have struggled to defend all season.  Rhody must have made it the plan to try and exploit that, and they most certainly did, hitting 52% from behind the arc. Not good enough for an Archie Miller-coached team. That seemed to be a main contributor to this disappointing loss, but there’s plenty others you could look at as well.

My last column talked about three important keys that would determine a win against URI. Those were points in the paint, rebounding, and energy.  The Flyers got into the paint, but could not execute putting the ball in the hoop, so there’s one flaw (not to mention that Big Steve was in foul trouble for the entire game, so his size was of no use). They edged Rhode Island in the boards by only one rebound (not good enough), but the one defining factor that was absent was their lack of energy.

Not even bringing Kendall Pollard back could get this team fired up. From my television screen, UD Arena was as loud and boisterous as ever, and the team just didn’t look ready. They looked tired, lost, scared.  This doesn’t look good people. Archie Miller tried everything he could in his bag of miracles to get the team going, including a late run at the end of the game to get within seven, but the Flyers ran out of time. Rhode Island got a positive out of a letdown season, leaving Dayton with questions and uncertainty of itself.

It was Herb Brooks that said, “The Soviets win because they take that talent and use it inside a system that’s designed for the betterment of the team. My goal is to beat ’em at their own game.” That’s what Rhode Island did to Dayton on Saturday, beat it at its own game. Irony is fun.

Is it time to panic?

Well, not yet. Here’s why:

Dayton is still making the NCAA tournament no matter what. That’s the goal every year, right? This is only Dayton’s second bad loss this year, next to La Salle. That’s pretty good 28 games in. They have good wins over Iowa and Monmouth on neutral floors, over Alabama and George Washington at home, and at St. Bonaventure. No one is looking at the Chattanooga loss as bad, since the Mocs are really good this year and are probably going to win their league and make it to the tourney (do I sense a Cinderella brewing in Tennessee?). As long as Dayton doesn’t fold up and lose all its remaining games, they should be in good shape. Even if they do, we wouldn’t mind playing in the First Four again, right?

The team is still not complete. Kendall Pollard was back on Saturday, but Darrell Davis was not suited up because of a death in the family. Maybe not a huge loss for this game, but Baby D did hit the game-winner against Rhody last time out. In fact, in all of Dayton’s losses this year, the Flyers did not have all of their players in the game. Dyshawn Pierre missed the Xavier and Chattanooga games, obviously. Kendall Pollard missed the La Salle loss (honestly, no excuse, but still). Pollard also missed St. Joseph and St. Bonaventure. And Saturday, Darrell Davis was out against Rhode Island. I’m not saying that those are excuses for losses, but they could be a contribution. Archie Miller looks lost trying to find the right five to be on the floor when Dayton is missing a guy. Dayton has won games missing guys as well, which is what you want good teams to do. My point is that when this team has everyone playing, they’ve never lost.  That’s something to think about, especially how bad they’ve beaten some teams when everyone plays.

Conference tourney is the time to get hot. Even if Dayton doesn’t win out the regular season and loses out on winning the regular season title, it could still run the table in the conference tournament in Brooklyn. In fact, Dayton, along with St. Bona, VCU, and St. Joe’s, have locked up the top 4 seeds in the A-10 tournament, which guarantees them a double bye. That pretty much steers them away from any other bad losses, depending on who they play in their first game. If they get by that, then the next two games could possibly lead to more good wins, which looks good on a resume come Selection Sunday. If Dayton could win their three games in the conference tournament, that’s three wins in a row and momentum going into the NCAA tournament. Remember when UConn barely made the Big East tournament, won five conference tournament games in a row and rode that all the way to an NCAA championship? Good times.

Next game:  Tuesday at Richmond, 7:30 p.m. EST. It’s a tough matchup, but the Flyers have to get something going. A loss here, and we are in serious trouble.

Also, I want to give a shout out to my dad’s Pitt Panthers for their big win against Duke this weekend. You happy, Ron?

Image found at: creativecommons.org

Stats provided by ESPN.com

E-mail Chris at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @chrislvsketchup.