Some random thoughts for your Final Four weekend:
1) Bucky Survives and Advances – Forget about Presidential elections. What terrifies me about the voting patterns of the Red States is that Bucky Covington could very well be our next American Idol. If you've watched this season at all and have any discernible taste in music (or just an appreciation of proper intonation), you know exactly what I'm talking about. Not only did he not finish in the bottom 3 this week, but next week everyone has to sing country songs (looks like I'll be just tuning in for the results show), which plays right into Bucky's Southern Strategy. We can't let this happen. Vote or die, people!
2) The Pink Line – I seriously thought the Chicago Tribune was pulling an early April Fool's joke on us with this morning's front page article. Unfortunately, every time I set the bar lower for the CTA, they manage to limbo right under there.
3) Kelvin Sampson Hired at IU – The only thing more surprising than the announcement of Sampson's hiring at Indiana is the tepid response of Hoosier fans. As I said before, IU fans were expecting Coach K to drop everything, move to Bloomington, and bring along Phil Jackson and Pat Riley as his assistants. Notwithstanding the ignorance of its fan base, I believe that Indiana made a great hire and he was certainly as close to the top of the coaching mountain as the school could reasonably attain.
Take this from an Illini guy who was hoping that IU would screw up and bow to nepotistic pressure to hire within the “Indiana Family” a la Steve Alford (or the gold standard of Isiah Thomas): anyone that argues that Indiana should have hired Alford over Sampson is insane. Sampson has proven he can win lots of games and recruit great talent at the basketball backwaters of Pullman and Norman. It's interesting to note that the Hoosier fans that are most critical of the baggage regarding Sampson's calls to recruits are pretty much the same people that vehemently defended a coach that choked his players. Seems just a little bit hypocritical for them to pull out the "integrity" card, no?
All in all, Kelvin Sampson is a great fit for Indiana and is going to provide some tough competition on the floor and on the recruiting trails in the Big Ten. Indiana fans ought to thank their lucky stars they got this good of a coach.
4) Final Four Predictions – I'm not betting against George Mason anymore – I'm a believer. So, I'm going with George Mason over Florida and UCLA over LSU in the semifinals.
Have a great weekend!