I loved the March of the Penguins. I admire those involved with the March of Dimes. And one of these days, I swear, I’m going to figure out what the heck the Ides of March were about.
But today? I’ve got a fever and the only prescription is March Madness. The Gazette-Mail’s Mike Casazza and I are shuffling off to Buffalo to provide complete coverage of WVU’s samba in the Big Dance.
While cleaning out my computer bag for the trip, though, I noticed a yellow sheet of paper. On it was scribbled my Top 25 preseason vote. And it got me digging for more info.
What I found is the 2016-17 college basketball season has pretty much followed the preseason script.
That never happens. Basketball is as unpredictable as a carom after a 3-point shot. It’s as wild as Kardashian antics.
But lo and behold, my preseason Associated Press Top 25 ballot had 1. Duke, 2. Kentucky, 3. North Carolina, 4. Kansas, 5. Arizona, 6. Oregon and 7. Villanova. The poll itself had 1. Duke, 2. Kentucky, 3. Kansas, 4. Villanova, 5. Oregon and 6. North Carolina.
Sound familiar? That’s crazy close to the final AP poll, with the exception of Gonzaga’s absence. Also, WVU went into the season ranked No. 20 and finished No. 13.
Of course, there were misses. I, for instance, had North Carolina State ranked highly headed into the season and, even with Dennis Smith, the Wolfpack tanked. Thus, Mark Gottfried’s firing. The poll itself had Xavier No. 7. The Musketeers stumbled to an 11 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Overall, though, much went according to script. Much, much went according to script.
WVU fans might still be recovering from “Stress Virginia,” but can you remember the preseason Big 12 poll?
It predicted Kansas would win its 13th straight regular season title. And it did. The poll also, however, predicted West Virginia would finish second. And, yes, it did.
There was a hiccup because Texas, with Jarrett Allen, was picked to finish third. But Iowa State was the correct pick at No. 4 and Baylor, predicted to finish fifth, finished third.
Also, compare the all-Big 12 preseason team to the final one. Johnathan Motley? Check. Monte Morris? Check. Frank Mason? Check. Jawun Evans? Check. The only difference on the first team was Kansas’ Josh Jackson took the place of teammate Devonte’ Graham.
In Conference USA, there were two big preseason hiccups. UAB was picked to finish first and finished seventh, while Louisiana Tech was picked to finish seventh but finished second. (That’s normally how this stuff works.) But Middle Tennessee, predicted to finish second, won the league and tournament titles. And Marshall, picked to finish fourth, finished sixth.
Big picture, overall, scary close to the script.
That said, West Virginia’s basketball team is experiencing something not according to script.
With a snowstorm hitting the Northeast on Tuesday, WVU’s basketball team bused to Buffalo on Monday evening.
Most of the Mountaineers’ recent NCAA trips have gone off as planned, according to WVU basketball media relations man Bryan Messerly.
Yet there was that 2009 trip to Minneapolis …
“We had trouble getting into there,” Messerly said. “The plane had mechanical issues. I remember sitting in the Clarksburg airport for six hours. We got into our rooms in Minneapolis at 4 a.m.”
Let’s hope there are no issues this time around.[“Source-wvgazettemail”]