It’s that time of year when a sports fan should be very excited. Spring is the time of year when things in the sports world really get cranked up. You have March Madness starting, NASCAR has just begun its long season, the hockey playoffs are about to begin and baseball is in spring training with opening day just days away.
It’ll soon be time to change the toner in the copy machine as the NCAA Basketball Tournament and its field of 68 teams will soon be announced, which means everyone in the office will be copying brackets for the office pool. Who will be the next national champion? Who will be this year’s Cinderella story?
Gonzaga made an impressive run to 29-0 and a No. 1 ranking before losing its first game on Feb. 25. There have been only seven teams in NCAA history to accomplish the incredible feat of a perfect season. They are as follows:
* 1955-56 San Francisco Dons. Went 25-0 and won the NCAA title. The Dons played in the 25-team NCAA Tournament and beat UCLA, Utah, SMU and finally Iowa. All wins are by double digits..
* 1956-57 North Carolina Tar Heels. Went 32-0 and won the NCAA title. Maybe the most overlooked dominant team in the history of the sport. The Tar Heels, coached by Frank McGuire, were led by Lennie Rosenbluth's 28.0 points per game and Pete Brennan's 10.4 boards average
* 1963-64 UCLA Bruins. Went 30-0 and won the NCAA title. The group that became the first national champion of the 10 John Wooden would coach.
* 1966-67 UCLA Bruins. Went 30-0 and won the NCAA title. These Bruins would go undefeated with first-year-eligible player, sophomore Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abul-Jabbar).
* 1971-72 UCLA Bruins. Went 30-0 won the NCAA title. They averaged 32 points in win margin.
* 1972-73 UCLA Bruins. Went 30-0 and won the NCAA title. Another 25-team tournament, this ending is famous for featuring what many consider to be the best performance in a college basketball game -- ever.
* 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers. Went 32-0 and won the NCAA title. This was the last team to go wire-to-wire without losing a game.
In the past, we’ve seen teams like the George Mason Patriots and the LSU Tigers, double-digit seeds, make the Final Four, which is in Glendale, Ariz. this year. Will anyone be the wearer of the glass slipper this year? It will be interesting to see if a mid-major school can make a run to the Final Four. Americans love to root for the underdog, and it’ll be fun to see if there’s a few David’s in the field to root for against the Goliaths.
This has been a down year for college basketball in Louisiana. Of the 12 NCAA Division I basketball playing schools in the state, only three had winning records through mid-February. Louisiana Tech at 18-8 was in second place in Conference USA behind the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, who were 22-4 under coach Kermit Davis.
The biggest disappointment of the year has to be Johnny Jones’ LSU Tigers. After failing to make the NCAA Tournament last season with Ben Simmons, who was the No.1 overall pick in the NBA draft last year, LSU is suffering through a miserable season on the hardwood. The Tigers have won only one Southeastern Conference game, and have looked non-competitive in most games. I, like most LSU fans, have forgotten about basketball and have turned my focus to LSU Baseball.
I think it’s time for LSU Athletics Director Joe Alleva, who came to Baton Rouge from a place that knows all about winning basketball – Duke University, to make a change. LSU Basketball isn’t relevant anymore. No one shows up for games, and who can blame fans for not wanting to watch bad basketball played by a poorly coached team that appears to be just out on the court playing a “pick-up” game at the local gym.
If I were in Alleva’s position, I would be on the phone with MTSU’s Kermit Davis. Davis spent five seasons as an assistant at LSU from 1997-2002 before he got the job with the Blue Raiders. In his 15 seasons in beautiful Murfreesboro, Tenn., Davis has won 63 percent of his games and has never had a losing season. In the last six seasons, five of his teams have won 20-plus games. The one team that didn’t win at least 20, won 19. Last year in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 15 seed, Middle Tennessee upset No. 2 seed Michigan State, 90–81. For me, firing Jones and hiring Davis is a no-brainer.
My suggestion for you is to put off any work around the house, grab the chips and dip, throw some burgers on the grill, pop open an ice cold beverage and become a full-fledged couch potato so you can fully enjoy this great time of year!
By Charlie Cavell