While must of the buzz has been about possible violations in Ohio State's football program....it was their basketball program that got the hammer today.
Ohio State is put on 3 years probation. They can still see the postseason....but they must repay tourny money the got from 1999-2002 [about $800k] and there are some recruiting sanctions. Also former, head coach Jim O'Brien must and any school wishing to hire him must appear before a sanctions committee before he gets another job. Former assistant Paul Biancardi...who is now the head coach at Wright State....is barred from recruiting until October of 2007.
Their 1999 Final Four appearance will be wiped from the books. They will be the SEVENTH team to have their Final Four appearance stripped away. The others were St Joseph's ['61], Villanova ['71 who lost the NCAA title game], Western Kentucky ['71], UCLA ['80 who lost the NCAA title game], Memphis ['85] and UMass ['96]. Michigan's 1992 and 1993 Final Fours were wiped out during self imposed sanctions...but still are listed in the history books according to the NCAA.
This doesn't affect this year's team...who won the Big Ten regular season and could be a #1 or #2 seed heading into the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
USA BETTER BEAR SOUTH AFRICA: Yeah, it sounds like a gimme...but so was the Canada game. All I know is that they BETTER get into the next round or Team USA takes yet another hit. Our "Dream Team" basketball circus doesn't work anymore....and unless it's in X-treme sports than our Winter Olympic team disappointed. Now we can't get out of a pool of baseball teams that include Mexico, Canada and South Africa??? And this game could be a disaster. Roger Clemens could, realistically, be pitching his final organized game. And he will facing a team that will test his patience. Team South Africa is a team comprised of youth and, well, patience. A team that calls timeouts in the batters box....when they decide they are in the box. And the Rocket may grow weary of it and send one at somebody. Oh joy. All I know is that it will be a joke if we cannot advance out of a pool of those countries [where HALF of the pool advances] in America's pastime.
NHL TRADE DEADLINE: Screw baseball. Screw the NBA. The NHL had 25 trades between 9am and 3pm on Thursday...aka Deadline Day. There were 40 players dealt. Yikes!!!
ACC TOURNAMENT REALLY STARTS: I like the new 12-team ACC and the fact it adds a day to the best conference tournament in the land. The ACC was the O.G. of conference tournys and has a true family type atmosphere to it [insert the non-Carolinas teams whining]. But the Friday of the tournament...the quarterfinals....is still the best day. When I was in school, we didn't do anything in class that day. Well, not after noon. Every teacher [and I am dead serious about this] just left the TV on WBTV [channel 3 CBS for all y'all non-Charlotteans] and just let us watch the games. In the old ACC, with just 8 teams it meant that EVERYONE played that day. From 1993-2004, there was that cheesy Thursday night "play-in" game with the worst teams in the league who was fodder for the top seed the next day. Last year, we got three games on Thursday before yesterday's four game bonanza. Still, this is the day where all of the Big Four will play [UNC, Duke, Wake and State]. Boston College will get it's first ACC tournament experience in the final game of the evening. It's great!!!
TIGHTENED BUBBLE: Bubble teams has a good and really bad day on Thursday. The good is that teams like Air Force, BYU and Florida State lost....a day after Cincinnati and Seton Hall fell. That opens the door to a few bubble teams that had lost faith. Also, teams like San Diego State, Nevada and Memphis advanced....so those at-large hopefuls will hopefull still get their auto bids locked in. However, two bids were essentially stolen from them. Syracuse beat #1 UConn...which almost assuredly puts the Orange into the dance party. And, George Washington lost. That's huge. GW was a lock as, at least, an at large team. The thing is that no one else in the Atlantic 10 deserved a bid. But now, Xavier, Temple, St Joseph's and Fordham will be playing to vault one into the tournament. None had a shot, aside from winning this thing. So that means there is one less bubble spot for grabs.