CLEANING OUT THE DESKThe Pac-10 has three teams in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2002. Good for the conference, and good for Cal. Conference success = more pressure on Sandy to take this program to the next level. On a related note, I want to hire Tim Floyd.
Of the three conference rivals, UCLA's got the clearest path to the Final Four. They looked like hell on offense against Indiana, but Pitt doesn't have the back court to compete with Collison and Afflalo. When Afflalo attacks the basket, UCLA is the best team in the country. When he's passive or not in rhythm, they can lose to Cal. I'm guessing that Howland reminds him of this fact between now and Thursday.
Oregon's interesting - UNLV is a fine team who plays good defense, but I think Oregon plays at a different athletic level than the Rebs. Florida looms in the Elite 8. If you believe Ernie Kent (which is a hard thing to do) the Ducks have used five different base defenses in the last seven games. Against the Gators they would need to revisit the one they used against Arizona in the Pac-10 tournament. In that 69-50 win, the Ducks collapsed on Radenovic and Hill and denied the easy entry pass. Noah and Horford would be a tougher match up, but the same principle applies - if Florida's bigs get the ball deep in the paint, game over.
USC has the toughest road to hoe, but then no one looked better than the Trojans in the second round. Would love to see them knock off Taylor Hansborough and Carolina, but something tells me UNC is going to get out on SC's shooters a little bit better than Texas did. One question - where was that Daniel Hackett all year? Bruins Nation isn't in their corner, and we won't be either after the next round. SC in the Final Four would be a bit too much to bear.
Michigan canned Tommy Amaker, so the Duke Assistant Coaching curse continues. Ben Braun was named in one story as a potential replacement - kudos to Ben's agent. He's got a slightly better chance of landing that job than I do.
Tony Bennett is a candidate for every coaching vacancy in America. I don't think writers even fact-check it - they just assume that any right-thinking individual would want to leave Pullman at the first opportunity. I suspect he'll stay.
Reason #156 that MGoBlog is the best team blog in the land: this wicked cool 3rd down efficiency chart. We'll have more on Cal's #s later this week.
The naked protest at the Oaks got national publicity, and the good folks at EDSBS found an unlikely political appointee among the rabble. San Diego newsreaders balefully shook their heads when reading the item as Tightwad hurled everything within reach at the TV. Oh, if only Berkeley were not a hermetically-sealed bubble of liberal anachronism. We might actually get something done once in a while.