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Wither The Bearcats? (And The Wolverines ... And The Seminoles ... And The ...)

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We're not quite sure how this whole RPI thing works — foolishly, we did not major in bracketology in college — but we know a pissed-off coach when we see one. Cincinnati's Andy Kennedy is none to pleased with his Bearcats being left out of the NCAA Tournament, and unless we miss our guess, right about now he's rounding up a few of the guys down at the dorm to go out and find them some NCAA Tournament Committee nerds. "I m open to anyone telling me a justifiable reason as to why this team did not get to the NCAA tournament other than, 'Andy, we can t let nine teams from one league get in. It sends the wrong message,'" Kennedy told the Associated Press. "It s a disappointing, an unfit ending for these kids." At 19-12, a lot of folks figured the Bearcats would get in, but an 8-8 record in the Big East did them in, apparently. Also among those left out were Florida State (19-9), Maryland (19-12), Hofstra (24-6) and, for the eighth straight year, Michigan (18-10).

We're kind of bummed about Cincinnati ourselves, because we had a Bearcats playoff preview all ready to go. Of the three tidbits, our definite favorite was this:

1. They Know How to Have Fun Down Under. Moeller High product Bobby Brannen, who played for Cincinnati in the mid-1990s and has been playing profesionally in Australia since 2001, was hit with the largest fine in National Basketball League history after he appeared with his naked girlfriend in the magazine 100 Percent Home Girls in Sept. of 2005. In the magazine, Brannen is described as Dave, a 30-year-old carpenter from Sydney, while his girlfriend, Lindsay Estes, is listed as a gym instructor, with readers encouraged to fantasize about their sexual activities. Brannen was fined $10,000 and suspended for three games by the Brisbane Bullets. The controversy came weeks after it was revealed Brannen had failed a test for marijuana after a game against the Perth Wildcats.


In fact, several teams we assigned for our Deadspin tournament preview — which we will be rolling out later this morning — ended up not making the tournament, and we're sorry for, essentially, our Bubble Writers. We can't pretend they're not around, though, so after the jump, the Three Tiny Tidbits for Cincinnati, Florida State, St. Joseph's, Michigan, Creighton, Hofstra and Missouri State. Think of it like an NIT preview guide.


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1. Bob Huggins Won Lots Of Games And Has Lots Of Baggage. In 16 seasons at Cincinnati, Huggins won 399 games and took the Bearcats to 14 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Of course he is just as well known for not graduating his players - 20 percent during his tenure, losing regularly in the second round of the NCAA tournament and being arrested and convicted on DUI charges. Huggins' contract was bought out in August, leaving fans of opposing teams with few places to use their Huggins-and-handcuffs jokes.


2. Cincinnati Players In The NBA Do Not Increase The Peace. It started in 1996, when former Bearcat guard Nick Van Exel shoved NBA referee Ron Garretson into the scorer's table after being ejected. Then, in 2001, Cincy standout Ruben Patterson pled guilty to the attempted rape of his child's nanny, and in the same year was convicted of misdemeanor assault for attacking a man who scratched his car outside a Cleveland night club. Last month, 2000 Naismith Award winner Kenyon Martin was fined $15,000 by the NBA for a profanity laced tirade in front of fans. It was alleged that a friend of Martin's went into the stands during the game to threaten a heckler, but the NBA found no evidence that Martin had anything to do with that. The Nuggets now have three former Bearcats on their roster; watch out Denver!

3. They're All About Guinness. On December 21, 1981, Coach Ed Badger s Bearcats defeated Bradley, 75-73, in the longest basketball game ever played. The game lasted seven overtimes with neither team scoring in the third OT. As for the other record, the heaviest brain ever recorded was found by Dr. Thaddeus Mandybur of the UC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in December 1992. The big brain weighed 2.3 kilograms. An average brain weighs 1.4 kilograms. — Ben Gann



1. Trust The Frosh With The Rock. Creighton was 17-5 for the season before losing true freshman point guard Josh Dotzler to a knee injury, and went 2-4 without Dotzler, who will be back for the NCAA tournament. Dotzler isn't the first true freshman to start at the point for Creighton: Dotzler succeeded Tyler McKinney, who was a four-year starter, and McKinney succeeded another four-year starter, Ryan Sears. Which means that Creighton's next point guard is probably lighting up his fifth grade YMCA league right now.


2. Anthony Tolliver Has A Tough Sewing Circle: Tolliver, Creighton's starting center, has required stitches for injuries sustained in six different games this season — three times on the outside of his mouth, once on the inside of his mouth and once over each eye. Yet Tolliver has returned to play in each of those six games. Information is sketchy about the condition of the opposing players, backboards, floors, cheerleaders, scorer's tables, folding chairs and television cameras against which Tolliver insists on smashing his head.

3. Jimmy Motz Is An Honest Man. Motz, a former starter and key reserve forward, has played nearly 15 minutes per game this season, yet hasn't recorded a steal. Motz has played more minutes than anyone in the country without a steal. Motz earns his scoring, too: of Motz' 34 field goals this season, 32 have been from 3-point range. That's what will happen when you spend 15 minutes a game loitering on the perimeter waiting for your defender to wander away from you. — David Dirgo



1. Jennifer Sterger And Her Friends Are Not The Hottest Girls On Campus. And it's really not even close. The FSU Cowgirls are certainly the most famous pretty faces on the Internet from FSU, but a stroll through campus reveals that girls as attractive as Jen and her pals — or moreso — are pretty common. Take a walk by Landis Green on a warm day (which in Tallahassee means between February and November), or any pool near campus where the co-eds sunbathe, and your eyes may pop out of your head. Many a young man, the author included, thought the prettiest girls in the world were on SEC campuses until he matriculated to FSU.


2. Lee Corso Shot ZERO Percent From The Field In His Basketball Career. According to the school media guide, in 1956 young Lee Corso played in one game. He did not take a shot. Presumably the "Lee Corso is a Penis" signs in the stands made him a little gunshy.

3. They Are Undefeated When Outscoring Their Opponents. Seriously. According to the "Florida State Men's Basketball By the Numbers" section of the most recent FSU Weekly Media Release, "Florida State is an undefeated 17-0 when it outscores its opponent." This stat was presumably figured before the Duke and Miami victories, in which FSU ran its streak to an incredible 19-0 when outscoring its opponents. Unfortunately, the Noles are winless when outscored. — Barry Lutz



1. What's in A Name? The team nickname was The Flying Dutchmen forever, and then it was changed to Pride in 2001. There was actually a bit of an uproar over this change, with many "well-educated" Hofstra alumni worried that the athletic teams would now be "gay" ... because, you know, Flying Dutchmen is WAY more masculine.


2. As You Could Probably Guess, The Mascots Are Odd Too. Known as Kate & Willy. They ve gone through some transformation over the years, but they still look like they got booted from the badass "Pride" that used to roam the streets of Long Island. Of course, the streets of Hempstead aren't a place you want to be just hanging around, so maybe they're better off hanging out at Hofstra USA.

3. They're From The Helmet Head School Of Coaching. Taking a cue from the Jay Wright Era, the coaching staff goes to great lengths to make sure their hair will not move at all during a game, or through an entire season. It has been proven successful, though, as Wright s staff got Speedy Claxton to the Big Dance (and the NBA), and there s a good chance that Loren Stokes will have the same fortune ... as long as DEP continues to be the Official Hair Gel of Hofstra men s basketball. — Jay McNaughton



1. Head Coach Tommy Amaker Is Squeaky Clean. That's what you would expected for a four-year starter under Mike Krzyzewski. But as good as Amaker played at Duke, he and the other five former Duke assistant coaches under Mike Krzyzewski have 13 NCAA appearances in the equivalent of 53 seasons to their credit. Krzyzewski has 21 all on his own. Not quite like the Bill Walsh success factory, eh? And let's face it, Amaker is pretty boring too. Detroit Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg noted in 2005 that Amaker chooses his words as carefully as anyone he's ever dealt with, and after reading this online listing of his quotes, it's easy to see why. Never have so many pixels been burn to say so little to so damn many: "This is a tremendously positive day for the University of Michigan and our basketball program. We are so appreciative of the news we received. I am thrilled for the young men on our team, and I believe they truly deserve this opportunity." (Sound of an unconcious Eric falling headfirst into his desktop.)


2. They Know How To Step In It. Was there any college basketball head coach luckier than Michigan's Steve Fisher? It was the eve of the 1989 NCAA Tournament when word surfaced that then-Michigan head coach Bill Frieder would leave the school at the end of the tournament to take the top job at Arizona State. Incensed, Michigan athletic director, the legendary Bo Schembechler, dismissed Frieder for disloyalty and handed the job to Fisher. Three weekends later, Fisher was cutting down the nets at the Kingdome, carried there on the shoulders of Glen Rice and Rumeal Robinson. (It should be noted that not all of Schembechler's snap personnel decisions were nearly as successful.)

3. Oops, Never Mind. But while Fisher's tenure might have started in glory when after he took over on the eve of the 1989 tournament, most of the rest of the laurels from the Fisher years were wiped clean thanks to the revelations about payments to players by booster Ed Martin. Thanks to ensuing NCAA sanctions, Ann Arbor was forced to vacate the records from the 1992 Final Four, the 1992/93, 95/96, 96/97, 97/98 and 98/99 regular seasons. One hundred seventy total games were effected, where the team had posted an impressive 113-57 overall record, 50-36 in the Big Ten, 7-4 in the NCAA, 5-0 in the NIT (winning the 1997 championship) and 4-1 in the Big Ten Tournament. Ironically, Frieder was also chased from the job at Arizona State, in his case, due to a point shaving scandal. — Eric McErlain



1. This Is The Best Missouri State Team In History. This is sort of like saying that my pet snake is my best friend even though he's my only friend, but still. The school changed its name from Southwest Missouri State following last year s centennial celebration. So technically this is the best team they ve had because it s the only one they ve had as Missouri State so far. Hooray for lame jokes based on technicalities.


2. Blake Ahearn Is Better Than J.J. Redick. It's true (sort of). His Missouri Valley Conference-leading 17.1 points a game might not put him above the Duke stud, but his scary precision at the free throw line does. He led all NCAA players in free throw percentage his freshman and sophomore years, and his .956 career average has him on pace to be the all-time NCAA leader. Plus this 6-foot-1 whiteboy junior guard throws down dunks on a regular basis. Suck on that, J.J.

3. Coach Barry Hinson Is A Short, Short Man. After the Bears' Bracket Buster win over UW-Milwaukee last month, Barry told USA Today: "You've got to fight for the little guy. That's what this country is all about." He was probably talking about his team, a mid-major that hasn t cracked the field of 64 since Steve Alford led the team to the Sweet 16 in 1999, but something tells me this short man is the little guy. You see, Hinson is only five-foot-eight. This little firecracker of a coach is known for his honest observations about his team and the bizarre little sayings he uses to get his point across. Imagine Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums, then add some integrity, humor and an Oklahoma accent. Yep, that s Barry Hinson. — Evan Fisk


1. They Were Nearly "The Bomb." The famed Hawk mascot turned 50 this year, but the team nickname has been around since 1929, when a student yearbook editor started a contest for naming the athletic teams. "Hawks" just barely beat out "Grenadiers," the name of World War I soldiers who specialized in tossing grenades. "Hawks" was chosen in part to symbolize the aerial attack of the football team. Ten years after the name was chosen, football was discontinued and the Hawks haven't fielded a varsity team on the gridiron in more than six decades.


2. They Are So Smart ... S-M-R-T. Senior G/F Chet Stachitas is a perennial Academic All-American candidate, and his fans follow suit. Chet has his own customized cheer in which students spell and chant his name (imagine the New York Jets). Four students even wore "C," "H," "E," and "T" shirts during the 2003-04 undefeated season, and before the Hawks' Sweet 16 victory over Texas Tech, they wandered over to the Red Raiders' fan section, rearranged themselves, and chanted "T-E-C-H Sucks! Sucks! Sucks!" Who needs cheat sheets on being a fan?

3. Those Jesuits Know Their Basketball. Saint Joseph's is one of a slew teams from Jesuit-run schools who are always in the mix for NCAA tournament play. This year alone, the Hawks join Gonzaga, Boston College, Marquette and Georgetown in the tourney. The smaller schools are known for playing spoiler for big-conference teams. Of course, one of the biggest upsets in memory was over a Jesuit team ('Nova over G'town in '85). But Hawks fans don't like to talk about Villanova. That's a tidbit that everyone already knows. — Jeff Martin

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