Ups, downs precede Gophers’ bidThe Minnesota Golden Gophers were ranked as high eighth in the country, and then they weren’t ranked at all. They beat No. 1 Indiana, and then they lost to Nebraska.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Golden Gophers were ranked as high eighth in the country, and then they weren’t ranked at all. They beat No. 1 Indiana, and then they lost to Nebraska.
They backed into the NCAA tournament as a No. 11 seed, and will face a banged-up UCLA team on Friday.
It’s been a crazy season for the Gophers, filled with significant achievements and embarrassing defeats. The players hope that the mentally exhausting run will better prepare them for the wild swings in momentum at the tournament.
“We know we’ve played one of the toughest schedules, we’ve played the best teams, the Dukes and Indianas of the world,” senior forward Trevor Mbakwe said Tuesday. “We know we can compete with them. We have to get back to playing that way and actually believing.”
That belief has been tested several times this season. After a 15-1 start that included victories over Memphis, Michigan State and at Illinois propelled the Gophers to No. 8, they lost four straight games to tumble out of the Top 25 altogether.
They rebounded to beat the Hoosiers and pound Penn State at Williams Arena, only to lose their final three games — at Nebraska, at Purdue and to Illinois in the first round of the Big Ten tournament — and stumble into the South regional in Austin, Texas. Yet the Gophers are one of the trendy picks for an upset in their opening round game against the Bruins (25-9).
The inconsistency from a team that has had its core together for at least two years now has led to some speculation that coach Tubby Smith’s job is on the line.
Blunt as ever, Smith is no stranger to the hot seat. He coached in the pressure cooker at Kentucky before leaving for Minnesota, and he’s secure enough in his approach and his system to not let outside criticism affect him.
“That’s not up to me. We just do our job and do the best we can and go from there. ... I don’t apologize or I don’t defend anything,” Smith said earlier this week. “We do the best we can. We do a good job. That’s why we’re NCAA bound.”
AP source:?Butler,?Creighton and Xavier to join ‘Catholic 7’
NEW YORK — The two conferences growing out of the old Big East are moving forward.
Butler, Creighton and Xavier will join the so-called Catholic 7 schools in the new basketball conference keeping the Big East name, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement will not take place until Wednesday, when it will be made in conjunction with a news conference on the league's broadcast deal with Fox.
Georgetown, St. John's, Villanova, Seton Hall, Providence, Marquette and DePaul left to form a new league for next season.
Meanwhile, their old colleagues announced a broadcasting deal with ESPN on Tuesday. The unnamed conference's contract for football, basketball and other sports runs through the 2019-20 season and pays about $20 million a year.
Along with a new name, that league still needs a conference basketball tournament site, a revenue-sharing system and a 12th football member.
The Catholic 7 negotiated to keep their basketball tourney in Madison Square Garden. Xavier and Butler are leaving the Atlantic 10, while Creighton departs the Missouri Valley Conference.
Butler spent just one season in the A-10, rising rapidly in the college basketball world after making the national championship game in 2010 and '11 out of the Horizon League.
Xavier has long been one of the top basketball programs outside what were the power six conferences. Before missing the NCAA tournament this season, it was one of only eight schools in the country to make at least seven straight NCAA appearances.
Creighton is a No. 7 seed in this year's tourney after winning its second straight MVC tournament title.
For those trying to keep score at home, the currently unnamed league will include South Florida, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Temple, Memphis, Central Florida, SMU and Houston in 2013. East Carolina and Tulane are to join in 2014, and Navy is scheduled for football in 2015.
The conference is seeking a 12th football school so it can play a title game in '15.
ACC coaches disappointed in NCAA tourney representation
UNDATED — Atlantic Coast Conference coaches are still reeling from the league's poor representation in the NCAA tournament.
They're using words like disappointed, fair, respect and perception describing how they feel about the ACC having just four teams in the tournament and no No. 1 seed.
Miami became the first team to win the ACC regular-season crown outright along with the tournament championship yet fail to get a No. 1 seed.
The Hurricanes ended up with a No. 2, as did Duke, which looked destined for a No. 1 before an early ACC tournament exit. North Carolina and North Carolina State ended up as No. 8 seeds, while Virginia and Maryland both fell on the wrong side of the bubble and will play in the NIT.
That all came despite the Blue Devils standing at No. 1, the Hurricanes at No. 4 and the Tar Heels at No. 17 in the RPI. And it was one reason why UNC coach Roy Williams called Sunday's selections broadcast 'a confusing show, and I'm still confused.'
'I was disappointed for our league,' Williams said Tuesday. 'I didn't think it was necessarily fair for our league. But ... it is what it is so we've got to go play.'
It marked the second time in three years that the ACC got just four bids and fourth time in the eight seasons since the league's expansion to 12 teams in 2006. The league has gotten as many as seven teams twice, in 2007 and 2009.
Louisville assistant to
take over top job at UMKC
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rick Pitino will be losing one of his top lieutenants after the NCAA tournament.
Louisville assistant Kareem Richardson was hired Tuesday as the new coach at Missouri-Kansas City, where he'll be rebuilding a program that has never qualified for the NCAA postseason and is leaving the Summit League for the Western Athletic Conference next season.
Richardson will be introduced at a news conference Monday, though he'll remain with the top-seeded Cardinals throughout the NCAA tournament. Louisville opens against North Carolina A&T or Liberty on Thursday in the Midwest Regional in Lexington, Ky.
'It is an honor and privilege to be named the next head coach at UMKC,' Richardson said in a statement issued by the school. 'It had to take a special situation for me to leave.'