by Jim Buzzerd
I’ve long said March Madness is a top two sporting event for me. If you like upsets, and who doesn’t, this year’s tournament did not disappoint. Upsets were so plentiful that all four number one seeds failed to make the Elite Eight for the first time in tournament history. As such, the Final Four will have a decidedly pedestrian feel to it this weekend. UCONN is the highest seed remaining as a four and will meet fifth seeded Miami in Saturday’s second semi-final. In the other side of the bracket surprising Florida Atlantic makes the field as a nine seed and will meet fifth seeded San Diego State in Saturday’s opener.
I’ve seen comments suggesting this may be the worst Final Four ever. If you just want to go by the seed numbers, I guess you could attempt that point. However, I might suggest these four teams were under seeded. UCONN looks as good as any one seed. FAU was an unknown, but they can play. There are no marquee names left in the tournament, but the potential for competitive games is still there.
Last week it was mentioned here that first year West Virginia University women’s basketball coach Dawn Plitzuweit abruptly left WVU for Minnesota after their first round loss to Arizona. Plitzuweit wanted out the door so fast that she did not accompany the team back to Morgantown from College Park and the players found out about Plitzuweit’s decision via Twitter on the team bus. That was Friday afternoon the coach did not face the players until Saturday.
It was also mentioned that Glenville State’s coach Kim Stephens could emerge as a candidate for the WVU job. Stephens led the Pioneers to a Division ll national championship in 2022 and to the national semi-finals this season. There was some intel that Stephens and Marshall were working on a deal. That turned out to be true as Stephens has been named the new Marshall coach. I’ve yet to see any clue where athletic director Wren Baker may be looking for a new women’s coach.
For a long time, I wasn’t a big fan of Charles Barkley, but following his appearance at Bob Huggins’ Fish Fry in January, I have a new outlook. Barkley was on 60 Minutes Sunday to discuss the state of college athletics, and I agree with him.
“It’s a travesty and a disgrace. I’m so mad now how we can mess up something that’s so beautiful,” Barkley said of today’s college basketball. He added, “In the next three to five years, we’re going to have 25 schools that’s going to dominate the sports because they can afford players, and these schools who can’t afford or won’t pay players are going to be irrelevant.”
Name, image, likeness and the transfer portal have me at odds as to how much longer I will remain a fan of college sports.