NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament
The defending champs, North Carolina, will begin defense of their title as the No. 2 seed in the West. Their first game will be on Friday at 1:45 p.m. against Lipscomb.
A few tidbits from the department of useless information. The ACC placed the most teams in the tournament with nine including the No. 1 overall seed in Virginia and two No. 2 seeds in North Carolina and Duke. The Big 12 sent seven teams with Baylor being among the first four out and Oklahoma State simply getting the shaft. Finally, the state of Texas is represented by seven teams in the tournament. This ties the record with California in 2002 and Texas again in 2010 for the most tournament teams.
Speaking of the overall No. 1 seed Virginia, it was announced on Tuesday that redshirt freshman guard De’Andre Hunter is officially ruled out of the NCAA Tournament with a broken wrist. The injury was sustained in the ACC Tournament and he is due to have surgery on March 19.
Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in 20 minutes per game. He was a key performer off of the bench for the Cavaliers and was named the ACC Sixth Man of the Year. This is a huge loss for Virginia as their bench is anything but deep. Coach Tony Bennett has rolled with an eight man rotation throughout the season.
Tubby Smith has been fired as coach at Memphis after two seasons, including a 21-win campaign this year. Former Tigers standout Penny Hardaway has emerged as the front-runner to replace him.
“I appreciate the opportunity to have led the University of Memphis basketball program for the last two years,” Smith said in a statement posted to Twitter on Wednesday night. Smith was the first Memphis coach since 1951 not to make a postseason tournament in his first two years as coach.
I appreciate the opportunity to have led the University of Memphis basketball program for the last two years. I'm proud of the work my staff and I have done to serve the players, the school and the community in leading us to a 21-13 season this year.— Tubby Smith (@CoachTubbySmith) March 15, 2018
According to ESPN sources, Hardaway has hired Travis King and David Bauman of Independent Sports & Entertainment. He coaches three top recruits out of the Memphis area including the No. 1 player in the Class of 2019 at Memphis East: James Wiseman. Memphis is not in on any of those recruits at present time. If you can’t recruit them, hire their AAU coach.
Thad Matta has turned down the opportunity to be the next head coach at Georgia. According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, Matta has turned down a reported five-year contract worth at $16 million. Matta told Goodman he just wasn’t ready to come back to work yet.
Thad Matta on spurning Georgia: "It was the most difficult decision because Georgia is a tremendous opportunity for a coach to build a great program. Unfortunately, I just don’t feel that I am completely ready at this point to give Greg McGarity and Georgia what they deserve."— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 14, 2018
Matta was clearly the first choice for the Bulldog’s. It is not known if he is considering offers from other schools although Ole Miss, Pitt, and Louisville have reportedly contacted him about their vacancies.