By Mark Buckets
-Is Illinois really deserving of an NCAA Tournament bid? Look, we all love the spunk of Bruce Weber and his genuine demeanor, but he has been riding the coattails of the '04 team long enough. They lack proven play makers and where's the leadership? Let us not speak of the Jamar Smith/Brian Carawell saga. This has been a trying year for Weber's bunch, and mercifully, it should end soon.
-Utah State guard Jaycee Carroll is one of the most under appreciated players out there. This guy has been consistently dominant in his play for the past three years. He single-handily lifted the Aggies to an NCAA at-large birth last year. People are starting to believe what coach Stew Morrill has been saying for three years now: this guy is legit.
-The way that successful, albeit aging coaches have been treated by their administrations is just deplorable. There are three that stick out to me. First test case, Riley Wallace of Hawaii. Just three short years ago Wallace was fighting for his life after suffering a brain hemorrhage. Herman Frazier, who holds the current AD post for the Warriors, was not on campus at the time of Wallace's ordeal. Wallace epitomized steady, long-term success, and as his teams tapered off the past two years, Fraziers trigger-happy ways reared it's ugly head. The dean of WAC coaches was bought out prior to the year, rendering Wallace a lame-duck. With all of the obstacles that Wallace has had to overcome, losing his job after a wildly successful career should be a piece of cake. Two others, from the WCC, Brad Howland of San Diego and Dick Davey of Santa Clara, were also politely (both "retired") shown the door.
-North Carolina is gelling at the right time. Sure, we've said that about the Heels on a couple of occasions this year, but they are hitting their stride. After the blowout victory at Lute and Bobbi Olson Court in Arizona, Carolina suffering a few setbacks. Being swept by Virginia Tech(no shame in that, unless, of course, you're UNC) is a bit shaky, but for the most part, the Heels have pulled it together. Brendan Wright is asserting himself as one of college basketball's most influential players down the stretch. Look out for the Heels, even if Mr.Flop himself, Tyler Hansbrough, fails to recover after breaking his nose against Duke.