Legendary Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski will retire after the 2021-22 season, reports Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. The leading candidate to replace “Coach K” is assistant Jon Scheyer.
An announcement could be made as soon as Wednesday afternoon, according to Goodman.
Krzyzewski, who turned 74 in February, has led Duke to five NCAA Tournament victories, 12 Final Four appearances and 27 ACC titles in tournament and regular-season competition since taking over before the 1980-81 season.
It’s hard to believe that it has been more than 25 years since the world lost Jim Valvano to cancer. “Jimmy V” was one of sports’ true characters. He was a darn good coach who won one of the most memorable championship games in any sport and would ultimately carry the burden for a disease even after his death.
Valvano lived life to the fullest. He would coach in the same basketball triangle as legendary North Carolina head coach Dean Smith and upstart Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, but he was charismatic enough to separate himself from the two, yet win plenty of games as their equal. There aren’t many people you will meet in your life like Coach Valvano. The ESPYs speech has taken on a life of its own and has carried on the life and cause of Jimmy V. Here is a retrospective on the impact Valvano had on the world.
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Playing career at Rutgers
Jim Valvano played point guard for Rutgers University from 1964 to 1967. He shared a backcourt with Bob Lloyd, who would become an All-American in 1967. The Scarlet Knights finished in third place in the NIT that season. Valvano averaged 15.2 points per game in 74 games at Rutgers.
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Becoming a college head coach
In 1969, Valvano became head coach of Johns Hopkins for a season before leaving for an assistant job at Connecticut. But his only year at Johns Hopkins was the school’s first winning season in 24 seasons. Two years later, he would leave UConn to become the head coach at Bucknell for three years and then Iona. His pre-NC State coaching record was 138-97.
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Taking Iona to the NCAA Tournament
Iona made its first NCAA Tournament in 1979, Valvano’s third year at the helm. The Gaels went 23-6 and would lose their first round game against Penn, 73-69. Iona would have a better season in 1980, going 29-5 and beating Holy Cross in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Georgetown in the second round. That win over Holy Cross is still the Gaels only NCAA Tournament win in 13 tries. The 1979-1980 season would be his last in New Rochelle, New York as he would then take the NC State job.
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NC State head coach
When Norm Sloan left North Carolina State for the Florida job after the 1979-1980 season, Valvano took the gig. That began a 10-year run that netted 209 wins, seven NCAA Tournament appearances, two ACC regular-season titles and two ACC Tournament championships. The relevance of the Wolfpack mixed with the successes of North Carolina and Duke made the Triangle a hoops haven.
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1983 ACC Championship
The Wolfpack’s run to the 1983 ACC Tournament Championship is one of the most impressive feats in ACC history. NC State was a No. 4 seed in the ACC and was not a safe bet to make the upcoming NCAA Tournament. The Wolfpack squeaked by Wake Forest, 71-70, in the first round. They would take on Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and the rival North Carolina Tar Heels in the semifinals and would beat the eighth-ranked Heels in overtime, 91-84. In the title game, NC State would topple Ralph Sampson and fourth-ranked Virginia, 81-78. Three tough wins against some of the nation’s best teams would guarantee the Pack a spot in the tournament.
It’s not easy to put together a list of the greatest women’s NCAA Tournament champions. Each brought something special to the table and was worthy of its greatness. And, we’re not just talking Tennessee and Connecticut.
Here’s our ranking of the 25 greatest NCAA women’s basketball champions.
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25. South Carolina (2017)
Paced by 23 points and 10 rebounds from star A’ja Wilson, South Carolina beat Mississippi State 67-55 to win the program’s first, and to date only, national championship. Under the guidance of Dawn Staley, one of the most respected coaches in all of college basketball, the Gamecocks finished 33-4 and won their final 11 games to cap the historic season. Wilson, the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, averaged 17.9 points and 7.8 rebounds that seasons as a junior.
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24. Notre Dame (2001)
This was legendary Irish coach Muffet McGraw’s first of two national championship squads. Ruth Riley, the national player of the year who averaged 18.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and remains one of the best defenders in the history of the college game, was the undisputed star for the 34-2 squad that did have to work to beat Purdue in the national title game. The two power programs from Indiana went toe-to-toe in the final after the Irish dropped Connecticut by 15 in the semifinals. Notre Dame overcame an early double-digit deficit and Riley tied the game late, then hit the go-ahead free throws with 5.8 seconds left.
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23. Tennessee (1989)
The first dynasty in NCAA women’s basketball history resided in Knoxville, Tenn., under late legend Pat Summitt. The Lady Volunteers won their first national title, in somewhat surprising fashion, in 1987, but it was this 1988-89 squad that proved there was really something special going on at Tennessee. This Vols finished 35-2, made a fourth straight Final Four appearance, and beat fellow powerhouse Auburn 76-60 in the final. Bridgette Gordon, still considered among the greats in women’s basketball history, was the team’s undisputed star.
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22. Tennessee (2007)
This was the first of Tennessee’s most recent back-to-back winning title teams. During the regular season, the Vols beat the likes of Stanford, Notre Dame, and Connecticut. Though they lost three games prior to the NCAA Tournament, Pat Summitt’s group stepped up when it mattered most. Led by superstar Candace Parker (19.6 points per game, 9.8 assists per game), Tennessee showed its mettle by overcoming double-digit deficits to North Carolina in the national semifinals and Rutgers in the national title game to win its seventh championship.
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21. Baylor (2005)
The first of coach Kim Mulkey’s three national title teams at Baylor. In her fifth season as coach, Mulkey, the first in women’s college basketball history to win a national title as a player, assistant coach, and head coach, had already turned the Baylor program around by the 2004-05 season. Paced by star Sophia Young, the Bears went 33-3 but overcame a 15-point semifinal deficit to exact some revenge on LSU from a regular-season loss. They then rolled past Michigan State 84-62 in the national championship game.
What happens if a COVID-19 outbreak affects a team’s NCAA Tournament run? We’re starting to get an answer.
NCAA senior VP of basketball Dan Gavitt said Wednesday that teams would be considered capable of playing a tournament game as long as they have five healthy players. Gavitt said the NCAA simply felt it was fairest that if a team could play, it should be allowed to continue its tournament run.
“We decided if they had five players eligible and healthy,” they could play, Gavitt said, via Eddie Pells of the Associated Press. “We wrestled with contingencies, and thought it was fairest for a team that earned its way, that even if it was compromised, they should have the opportunity to play rather than be replaced.”
March 1 is right around the corner and plenty of college basketball teams are starting to feel the heat. Despite the strangest season we’ve ever see, with games moved, canceled, and heavily affected by COVID-19, the selection committee will still need to sort through varied resumés to build a 68-team bracket.
This will surely be the most difficult season for the committee to sort out, given the varying number of games played and players available for many teams. It could make the stretch run of the regular season, with recency bias in full affect, the most crucial piece of the season.
With that in mind, here are five teams in need of big wins over the next few weeks before conference tournaments begin.
As crazy as it may sound to casual basketball fans, the Blue Devils are squarely on the bubble. Former highly-ranked recruit Jalen Johnson has left the program to prepare for the NBA Draft.
Coach K’s team has responded to Johnson’s departure by winning its last four games. The Blue Devil offense has turned a corner, peaking with a dominant 1.36 points per possession performance at Wake Forest. Sophomore Matthew Hurt has risen to the challenge, posting 20.8 points per game and 66.7% 3-point shooting over that four-game stretch.
Duke’s schedule gives them a real chance to climb into the bracket. The Blue Devils have three more games scheduled, all against teams perched on the bubble: Louisville, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Duke will control its own destiny, in what could be one of the most memorable, pressure-packed stretches of Coach K’s time on the sidelines in Durham.
Jan 6, 2021; Wichita State Shockers head coach Isaac Brown reacts after a play during the second half against the Houston Cougars at Fertitta Center. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Late last month, the Shockers were sitting at just 8-4, a far cry from the bubble. They only had one win over a top-100 team — a less-than-impressive Ole Miss squad. Since then, Wichita State has won five straight, and Mississippi stole wins over Missouri (twice) and Tennessee, improving the Shockers’ resumé.
Wichita State’s winning streak culminated in a victory over highly-ranked Houston. It was just the Cougars’ third loss all season and it placed the Shockers as the first team out of the tournament, per Bracket Matrix.
The Shockers schedule, however, does them no favors. Their final two regular season games will come on the road next week at Tulane and Temple. Both are high-risk, low-reward matchups for Wichita State. Neither would be a major resumé aid, but both could be losses.
The Shockers need to sweep both of those games, plus a run in the American Athletic Conference tournament. If they can reach the tourney final against Houston, with wins against fellow bubble teams like Memphis or SMU, that could be enough to earn a bid.
Feb 11, 2021; Stanford Cardinal head coach Jerod Haase reacts during the first half against the Colorado Buffaloes at Maples Pavilion. Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
This might be the most difficult year for a freshman to assimilate into the college basketball environment. Teams are stopping and starting with COVID concerns. Games are being postponed and rescheduled. Everything has become uncertain and unidentifiable.
Despite that, there is a crop of freshmen succeeding across Division I, in a variety of roles. Some of those players will be one-and-done prospects off to the NBA, while others are building a foundation for a fantastic college career.
These five names have jumped out as the best first year performers in college hoops this season. Jan 23, 2021; USC Trojans forward Evan Mobley (4) reacts after scoring against the California Golden Bears during the first half at Haas Pavilion. Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
5. Evan Mobley, USC
No freshman has been more hot-and-cold that USC’s Evan Mobley. On some nights, the seven-footer looks like a future NBA All-Star and one of college basketball’s most mind-blowing talents. That was on full display in a 19-point, 13-rebound, six-block night at Arizona State. That wasn’t his only six-block game or his only 13-rebound outing, either. On some nights, he pops off the screen.
In other games, he disappears. In a home game against Utah, Mobley didn’t attempt a shot from the floor in 31 minutes. He shot 5-14 with 5 turnovers against Colorado. He had just 11 points against a Cal Baptist team he should have dominated and managed only 3 rebounds in 30 minutes against Washington State.
If the Trojan coaching staff can kick Mobley’s motor on for the month of March, he could make USC a tough out in the NCAA Tournament. Dec 13, 2020; Michigan center Hunter Dickinson (1) goes to the basket as Penn State forward Trent Buttrick (15) defends during the first half at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
There may not be a more efficient player in the nation than Michigan’s freshman center. The seven-foot Maryland native leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, effective field goal percentage, and two-point shooting percentage. He’s making 70% of his looks inside the arc, on nearly nine such attempts per game.
While the Wolverines are still on pause due to a school wide athletics shutdown, they remain in the hunt for the Big Ten title and a top seed in March. Dickinson has been the steadiest piece of Juwan Howard’s roster and gives Michigan a real chance to fight its way to the Final Four. Dec 5, 2020; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Cade Cunningham (2) during the game against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports
There’s really no competition in the race to be the top pick in June’s NBA Draft. It’s Cunningham’s spot to lose, no matter which team is pulling the trigger with the first selection. The 6-foot-8 freshman functionally acts as Oklahoma State’s point guard and runs the entire Cowboy offense. He is averaging 18.2 points, 3.8 assists and 6.2 rebounds this season, shooting 47% from the field, and 39% from long range.
Cunningham is the most difficult matchup in the nation, too tall to be stopped by a guard, and far too quick and agile for a big man to stop. Jan 23, 2021; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Jalen Suggs (1) brings the ball down court against the Pacific Tigers in the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | January 21, 2020 by Shane McNichol
The four days between Selection Sunday and the round of 64 games of the NCAA Tournament is one of the most fun periods for sports fans. Brackets are distributed, analyzed and agonized over. Everyone has a common goal: find the Cinderella team.
There are few joys as sweet as predicting an upset, especially when the team you stood up for makes a run past the first weekend.
Finding the teams capable of an upset is certainly easier once the field is set, yet there is some real value to checking in on possible Cinderellas earlier on in the schedule. Let’s take a look at teams with a chance to make waves in March, limiting our search to mid-major teams currently rated no higher than a 11 seed in ESPN’s most recent bracket projection.
Before this season, the Dukes would not have figured into a list like this one. The program has been in a nearly permanent downturn, winning more than 20 games in a season just twice in the last 40 years. It came as a surprise then when the Dukes started 10-0, with just three teams left unbeaten when they suffered their first loss on December 22. Duquesne’s early schedule helped. The Dukes played no true road games and didn’t face a KenPom top-100 team in their first 10 games.
Even after losing two games, Duquesne looks like a team to fear in the Atlantic 10. Wins over Davidson and Saint Louis has the Dukes tied atop the conference standings. Defense has been a strong point, as Duquesne leads the nation in block rate. Junior big man Michael Hughes swats 5.2 shots per 40 minutes, and Duquesne only allows a conference-low 60.0 points per game in A-10 play.
The case against Duquesne comes from their competition atop the conference standings. Dayton is a true top-10 team and Final Four contender, meaning Duquesne likely needs to beat the Flyers (or pick up crucial quality wins over Richmond or VCU) or win the A-10 Tournament to reach the Big Dance.
4. Stephen F. Austin
While Duquesne might have a prayer at an at-large bid, Stephen F. Austin does not. The Lumberjacks are the only KenPom top-150 team in the Southland and only played three power conference teams in their nonconference schedule. The Lumberjacks’ play against top competition was positive, though. Stephen F. Austin played Rutgers and Alabama tough, and most memorably, topped Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium at the buzzer in overtime.
Stephen F. Austin has a history of NCAA Tournament success, appearing in four of the last six tourneys. The Lumberjacks won first-round games in 2014 and 2016, with a last second tip-in from Notre Dame stealing a spot in the Sweet Sixteen away from SFA.
All of those Lumberjack teams shared one common trait: fierce pressure defense. The Jacks have led the nation in forcing turnovers in three of the last five seasons and haven’t ranked outside of the top 30 in that stat since 2013. Division I teams are averaging about 13 turnovers per game this year. Just one of Stephen F. Austin’s opponents was able to stay south of 15 turnovers, while 12 teams have coughed it up more than 20 times against the Jacks. In the pressure of the Big Dance, that makes for a terrifying opponent.
The only thing as scary as meeting a high-octane defense in the NCAA Tournament? Facing a team that can score from all over the court.
The Zips shoot the 9th-best 3-point percentage in Division I and lead the Mid-American Conference in points and 3-pointers made. Junior guard Loren Cristian Jackson is sinking 45 percent from long range against DI opponents and scoring 17.5 points per game. Three other Zips hoist more than four threes per game and make better than 36 percent from outside the arc. Akron can space and attack a defense as well as any team in college basketball.
The Zips gave Louisville and West Virginia tough tests on the road, but Akron had two of its worst shooting performances in those games. If they catch fire in March, they can upend their portion of the bracket.
Everything in college basketball changes when conference play begins.
Those in power have done wonders to drum up interest in early-season action, with big name teams being featured in tournaments and showcases for the first few months of the season. But blowout wins over cupcake opponents and sloppy early-season play are littered throughout that part of the schedule.
Conference play brings rivalries, road games with student-sections, and a landslide of upsets. In short, it’s the reason we love college basketball. On top of that, succeeding in one of America’s toughest conferences is the best way to prove yourself before March Madness tips off.
With that in mind, here are the early favorites to win the six biggest conferences in college hoops.
ACC – Duke
The Blue Devils might be the boring and obvious pick, but at this point in the season, they are also the most qualified. Duke’s overtime home loss to Stephen F. Austin was a bad mishap, but it’s their only blemish so far. Aside from that slip-up, Duke has impressed with wins over Michigan State, Kansas, Georgetown and Miami.
The ACC’s other top contender, Louisville, lost at home to Florida State this weekend and only gets to play Duke once this season — a road game at Cameron Indoor. Advantage to the Blue Devils.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Big East – Butler
It’s always somewhat shocking to pencil anyone into a Big East title that is not Villanova, yet Butler’s play so far this season has been eye-popping enough to earn this level of respect. The Bulldogs have just one loss, by one point at 4th-ranked Baylor.
Head coach LaVall Jordan has Butler winning games on the defensive end of the floor. The Bulldogs rank fourth in defensive efficiency, per KenPom, thanks to top-ten performances in 3-point percentage allowed, effective field goal percentage allowed and defensive rebounding rate. Butler fights to get stops and follows them with rebounds.
Offensively, everything churns through senior guard Kamar Baldwin. His 14.7 point per game average doesn’t fully explain how capable he is of taking over a game in crunch time.
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Big Ten – Michigan State
A few weeks ago, when Ohio State was 9-0 and ranked in the top three in the AP Poll, this answer would have been different. Back then, Michigan State was just 6-3 and clearly had some issues on the offensive end.
Since December 8, Ohio State has lost three of its last five games, while Michigan State has sparked a six-game winning streak. The Spartans are now two games ahead of the Buckeyes in the loss column in Big Ten play and sit a full 1.5 games ahead of the rest of the conference in the standings.
Make no mistake — the Big Ten is college basketball’s toughest conference and will be an absolute battle all season long. Even so, any team eager to compete for the title will need to go into the Breslin Center in East Lansing and win. With Tom Izzo on the sidelines and Cassius Winston patrolling the court for Sparty, that’s not likely to happen much, if at all, this season.
Michigan head coach Juwan Howard got his first taste of the school’s rivalry with Michigan State from a coaching perspective on Sunday, and it didn’t go so great.
Things started getting away from the Wolverines in the second half, as Michigan State star Cassius Winston began to heat up. Howard was also angry that no foul was called while Michigan forward Austin Davis was driving to the basket, and that led him to run all the way onto the court while the Spartans were in the middle of a fast break.
Howard’s technical actually meant that the referees had to stop play and wipe out a Winston three, so in a strange way, it benefited the Wolverines in terms of the score at that moment.
Duke was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, losing 68-67 to Michigan State in their Elite Eight clash. While the game was close for nearly the entire second half and thrilling to watch, the Blue Devils made a baffling decision on their final possession.
Duke was down 68-66 with just under six seconds remaining. The Blue Devils were taking the ball out from the baseline after a review showed that Michigan State had knocked the ball out of bounds. I thought for sure the ball was going to Zion Williamson, but instead he drifted away from the passer, while the ball went into RJ Barrett, who was closer to the side where the inbounds pass was.
Barrett drove to the basket and went up in traffic for a shot and got fouled. Just a 66.5 percent free throw shooter, Barrett missed the first attempt. He tried to miss the second attempt, but it actually bounced in. Duke fouled Michigan State on the ensuing inbound and lost when the Spartans dribbled away with the ball.
Duke’s big mistake was not going to its best player, Williamson. He’s the guy who has carried the Blue Devils through their toughest moments and closest games. He delivered late against UCF. He’s the one you want with the ball with the game on the line.
After so many close calls at the end of Duke’s previous games, it’s not really surprising that the Blue Devils’ luck ran out. You can’t have so many games come down to the final play and expect each one to go your way. But you also have to give yourself the best chance to win, and by not going to Zion, Duke didn’t do that.
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