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Sports Then and Now



In 2020, A Mid-Major Could Win The NCAA Championship For The First Time In 30 Years 0

Posted on January 25, 2020 by Dan Karpuc
UNLV won the 1990 NCAA Men’s Basketball title representing the Big West Conference.

The last time a mid-major program won the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, George H.W. Bush was the President of the United States. The 1990 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels of the Big West Conference became the second mid-major in NCAA history to cut down the nets in that Tournament, joining the 1986 Louisville Cardinals, who were members of the Metro Conference at the time. Since then, just 13 mid-major teams have advanced to the Final Four and five have lost in the National Championship Game. Most recently Loyla-Chicago’s magical Final Four run as an 11th seed in 2018 captured the hearts of America. But, perhaps more than any time since 1990, there’s a strong likelihood that a mid-major program wins it all in 2020. 

Just one undefeated squad currently remains (No. 4 San Diego State: 19-0) and just two other teams in the AP Top 25 have only one loss (No. 1 Baylor: 15-1 and No. 2 Gonzaga: 20-1). A whopping 19 other teams in the Top 25 have three-plus losses, which is a clear indication that parity is at an all-time high. Even the experts who give out college basketball picks are having a tough time finding wins this year.Of those Top 25 teams, just Baylor and Gonzaga are undefeated against their ranked opponents, as well. Further, those two teams, along with San Diego State and No. 7 Dayton, are the only teams in the Top 25 with a perfect road record. 

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Ranking the Best Conferences in College Basketball, Part 1 11

Posted on February 28, 2011 by Ray Thompson

Jimmer Fredette has been the face of college basketball this season and has the BYU Cougars poised for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.

If you are paying attention at all to this year’s division I basketball season, you know how crazy things are.  This year is wide open, and for the first time it is a true statement to say that anyone can win it all.  Of course, there are the usual players like Duke, Ohio State, and North Carolina (who is in the top 20 but is usually in the top 5 year in and year out), but there are also teams like BYU, Xavier, Vanderbilt, and Missouri in spots normally occupied by teams from the ACC and SEC.  My boys from Harvard by the way are close to cracking the top 30 and are in a dog fight with Princeton for the top spot in the Ivy league and their own spot in the dance.

It is for this reason that I thought it would be fun to rank the top 10 conferences since this year has been so wide open, and so fun to watch.  My criteria for making this analysis was focused on how many teams are represented by that conference in the top 50 as well as quality wins by those teams against other top opponents.  For reference, there are currently 32 division 1 conferences (33 if you count the independents) with 346 teams in those conferences.  Those teams are vying for 68 spots in the NCAA tournament.

So as we come out of February, and head into March Madness, here is my ranking of the top conferences.  I am breaking this article into two parts, Part I being conferences 10 – 6.  Here goes:

Top Conference #10: Conference USA

The list starts with CUSA ranked at 10 in my top ten.  This conference has two viable teams who will go dancing from this conference in Memphis and UAB.  This conference boasts five teams with 20 wins, (UAB, Memphis, UTEP, Southern Miss, and Marshall).  That said, they are a combined 2-5 against top twenty five talent.  CUSA will be well represented in the NIT with a log jam of teams with impressive season win totals.  When you look at the early brackets, Memphis will come out of the West while UAB will be the 12 seed out of the southeast.

Top Conference #9: Horizon Conference
The home of Milwaukee and Butler and Cleveland State, this is a conference that has made news the last few years with Butler becoming the Gonzaga of sorts for this conference.  Butler used to be an unknown team who has since had some marquis appearances in past tournaments.  This conference will likely send two, potentially three teams to the dance, with Milwaukee and Butler likely coming out of the southwest.  This is a conference of giant killers and will play spoiler to a team like Cincinnati, Kansas or even Duke.  Given how this season has gone, it would not be a surprise to see both Milwaukee and Butler win their early round games, and potentially play each other which is possible given current brackets having both these teams coming out of the same region.   Read the rest of this entry →

Don Coryell Deserves Spot In The Hall of Fame 2

Posted on July 02, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Innovative head coach Don Coryell has passed away at the age of 85.

Sad news last night that former NFL coach Don Coryell has passed away at the age of 85. Though Coryell has yet to pass muster with the selection committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his innovative career is certainly worthy of enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately, when Coryell finally gets the HOF bust he has deserved for more than 20 years, he will join other deserving former players and coaches including Bob Hayes, George Allen, Gene Hickerson and Hank Stram as Hall of Famers who waited way too long for enshrinement and either had passed away or where too ill to fully enjoy their moment in the sun when it finally came.

Coryell almost made it into the HOF this past February as he was named as a finalist for the first time since retiring from coaching in 1987. Unfortunately, the selection committee maintained their track record of bad decision making and chose to recognize Dick LeBeau and Russ Grimm instead of the deserving and ailing Coryell.

While LeBeau was a solid player with the Lions and has been a good defensive coordinator (though an awful head coach) and Grimm was a key member of the great Redskins offensive lines of the 1980s, neither had the same kind of impact on the NFL of today as Coryell.

Though the game had been played for more than 50 years when he became an NFL head coach, Don Coryell ultimately established a passing attack that was well beyond anything that had preceded it in league history. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Bob Cousy: The Houdini of the Hardwood
      January 31, 2020 | 4:05 pm
      Bob Cousy

      As we reach the halfway point of the NBA season, we recognize as the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month the first in a long line of superstars to play for the Boston Celtics.

      Before there was Bill Russell and Larry Bird, the Boston Celtics were powered by a 6-foot-1 inch guard from Holy Cross. Bob Cousy was the on-the-court leader for the Celtics in the era during which they emerged as a basketball power.

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