How about just your standard link dump? As an aside, I’m sure you all know that Arizona doesn’t participate in daylight savings time and so right now I’m basically on pacific time, but in the mountain time zone. Plus, I’m on vacation a bit, so I’m not really working all that hard on the blog because we all need breaks.
* ESPN’s Myron Medcalf | March Madness 2022: What to know about every team in the men’s NCAA tournament bracket
When Chris Beard announced he was leaving Texas Tech, which he had taken to its only Final Four appearance to date (2019), there were concerns about the stability of the program. Those who remained with the team went to athletic director Kirby Hocutt and made a request: promote assistant Mark Adams, who has been coaching since the early 1980s, and was the leader of that Texas Tech defense that carried the Red Raiders to the national semifinals in 2019.
He’s doing it again. In his first year at the helm, Texas Tech recorded the best adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom and did not lose a regular-season game at home. Its résumé entering Saturday’s Big 12 tournament final against Kansas includes a nonconference win over Tennessee, and a 3-1 record in four conference games against Baylor and the Jayhawks. Let’s hope Kevin McCullar (10.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.5 SPG) can overcome a sprained ankle that has sidelined him in recent weeks.
In 1996, Danny Sprinkle was a freshman averaging 9.8 PPG for a Bobcats squad that reached the NCAA tournament for just the third time in school history. On Saturday, Sprinkle — who averaged 13.4 PPG and shot 41% from 3 over four years — led the Bobcats to their fourth NCAA tournament appearance by winning the Big Sky tournament championship. The 87-66 win over Northern Colorado was the team’s sixth consecutive victory.
Turning to a former star to lead a program back to prominence has not worked for multiple teams. But Sprinkle has now secured his alma mater an NCAA tournament berth twice in his three years there (the first was to the 2020 tournament, which was canceled). He was already a hero. Now, the coach who led a program that made 37% of its 3-point attempts this season is a legend.
* CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander | 2022 NCAA Tournament bracket: Ranking every team playing in March Madness from No. 1 to 68
11 Texas Tech
The best defensive unit in college basketball. It’s not too surprising that’s the case. Mark Adams was exclusively the defensive play-caller under former coach Chris Beard for years. Now that Adams is head coach, TTU had no drop-off on D this season. The Red Raiders might have to adjust a little now that Big 12 officials won’t be calling their games, but it’s nothing compared to the prep opponents will have to endure going against one of the most physical teams in the nation. Junior forward Kevin McCullar is this team’s best defender, but really, you’re not allowed on the floor here unless you’re committing to resistance.
56 Montana St.
The Bobcats from Bozeman are Big Dance boys for the first time since 1996 and just the fourth team in school history. Danny Sprinkle has done an inspiring job turning around a program that was rudderless for years and years. The Bobcats rank top-60 nationally in 2- and 3-point percentage. You’ll enjoy watching 5-8 senior point guard Xavier Bishop fearlessly call the shots and attack the lane.
* USA Today’s Erick Smith | March Madness 2022: Potential Gonzaga-Duke rematch looms in West Region
* SI’s Pat Forde | West Region Breakdown: Tough Challengers Await As Gonzaga Looks for Redemption
Regional finalists: Gonzaga and Texas Tech
Gonzaga and Texas Tech. The Zags have the firepower that should carry them through the first three games. But the Red Raiders loom as the San Francisco spoiler—they could end Krzyzewski’s career and then pose a serious threat to Gonzaga with their relentless defensive and physicality. Mark Adams is in his first year as Tech’s head coach, so he has to prove he can match the experience and composure of Coach K and Few. But he has the nation’s No. 1 defense, which is a nice fallback.
* LA Times | March Madness regional breakdowns: Teams and players to watch
Over the course of 190 minutes, a Texas Tech team rebuilt with transfers from Oral Roberts, UTEP, Hampton and Winthrop showed it could go toe-to-toe with a probable No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Kansas is almost certain to be designated as such Sunday, especially given Kentucky’s loss to Tennessee Saturday in the SEC tourney. It won’t be a surprise if Baylor gets a No. 1 seed as well.
And Texas Tech shies away from neither of these teams. First-year coach Mark Adams presided over a win against Kansas in Lubbock and a two-overtime loss in Lawrence before battling the Jayhawks here Saturday. It was Tech’s first appearance in a Big 12 title game since 2005. The Red Raiders swept Baylor this year and, while we are at it, beat Tennessee, too. That’s a 4-2 record against probable 1-2 seeds in the NCAA tournament.