With the NCAA Tournament kicking off this week, many people are scrambling to fill out brackets, eager to show their colleagues and friends who has the most knowledge of college basketball. But some are compiling tournament information of a different variety.
Cosmopolitan Magazine has put together a list of Hottest Guys of March Madness 2013 and it features 25 of the “hottest hoops stars” in the nation including MSU junior guard Keith Appling.
The online slideshow list runs select photos of players around of the nation and has, in many cases, a not-so-subtle sexual remark about the player in the description.
Of Appling, Cosmopolitan writes, “Keith is a quick, explosive guard that will attack the rim. Well, we hope the first part doesn’t apply to off the court.”
Appling is one of four players from the Big Ten to earn a spot on the list including Ohio State guard Aaron Craft, Wisconsin forward Mike Bruesewitz and Michigan guard Trey Burke.
The list also allows readers to rate each of the players on the list with a “Want,” an “OMG,” or a “WTF,” which might be the most ridiculous sentence I’ve written in nearly three years in the journalism business.
Cosmopolitan also is encouraging readers to tweet them using #MarchHotness to discuss the selections or make additions to the list.
Appling and the Spartans are set to take on Valparaiso is the first round of the NCAA Tournament at 12:15 p.m. Thursday at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich.
And if this list teaches us anything, more than his ball-handling or scoring ability, perhaps Appling should try to defeat Valpo with his dashing good looks.
Chicago — One of the biggest developments to monitor coming out of the Spartans (25-8) 61-58 loss to Ohio State (25-7) in the Big Ten Tournament’s semifinals is the status of a recurring shoulder injury for freshman guard Gary Harris.
Harris got hit driving through the lane and appeared to injure his shoulder in the second half and struggled the rest of the way.
Although he did not hit a shot the rest of the game, Harris said the shoulder had nothing to do with it and he was fine overall.
Harris, who has battled shoulder injuries throughout the season, finished with five points on 1-for-7 shooting and Izzo said it was obvious Harris was in pain.
“Well, it was a problem because I needed him in there to defend,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said.
“I asked him, and of course he said he’s okay. … But he’s done it before and stayed in and made a couple shots. But he had that one wide open in the corner. I don’t know where it’s at. I didn’t talk to him much about it after. He’s played with it all year. It’s something he has to deal with. But, tough kid. It’s a shame because he just didn’t get in a rhythm offensively today.”
Chicago — Following a first round exit in the Big Ten Tournament, Northwestern has fired head basketball coach Bill Carmody, the school announced Saturday.
Carmody was hired at Northwestern prior to the 2000-01 and finished his final season with a 13-18 overall record and a 4-14 mark in the Big Ten, which includes a loss to Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament. Overall, Carmody accumulated a 192-220 record, never finishing higher than fifth in the Big Ten.
During his tenure, the Wildcats never made an NCAA Tournament but made four appearances in the NIT. Northwestern remains the only Big Ten team never to make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
“Everyone’s goal is to get in the NCAA tournament,” Carmody said Thursday according to a transcription from ASAP Sports. “So we haven’t been able to accomplish that. But in a hundred years we haven’t been able to accomplish that. And there’s not that much different now about what Northwestern offers than it was when Kevin O’Neil was here and Birdsong and Bill Foster and all those.
“So everyone knows, people have talked about it, it’s sort of like an arms race. So the gap might be widening that way. But I feel like we have done a pretty good job of bringing in some pretty good players and getting better.”
MSU head coach Tom Izzo remains the longest-tenured coach in the conference (1995-96) with Ohio State’s Thad Matta in second (2004-05). The Spartans will take on Matta and the Buckeyes in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, tentatively set to tip off at 4:10 p.m. EST.
Chicago — Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal is likely to have a direct impact on the Spartans’ seeding in next week’s NCAA Tournament, but MSU probably did its most important work last night.
With its win against Iowa in the quarterfinals, the No. 8 MSU men’s basketball team (25-7) all but assured themselves of a top-three seed and the opportunity to open tournament play close to home, at the Palace of Auburn Hills, home to the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi released his latest projected NCAA Tournament field this afternoon and has the No. 3 seed Spartans playing No. 14 seed Harvard (19-9) led by former Wolverines’ head coach Tommy Amaker.
In the bracket, MSU is placed in the East Region, where the regional semifinals and finals will be played in Washington D.C., with the Spartans needing to defeat the winner of a projected matchup between No. 6 seed Notre Dame and No. 11 seed St. Mary’s to get there.
The news was not as good for the Spartans’ in-state rival, as Michigan’s quarterfinal loss to Wisconsin has pushed them out of the state for their first NCAA Tournament game, with ESPN currently projecting them to face No. 13 seed Akron in Salt Lake City, as a member of the South Region.
Akron comes from the same conference as the Wolverines’ opponent in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, when U-M fell to another No. 13 seeded Mid-American Conference foe, Ohio, 65-60.
Still, today’s semifinal matchup with No. 10 Ohio State (24-7) is expected to have seeding implications for the Green and White.
Lunardi currently has the Buckeyes listed as the tournament’s final No. 2 seed, while the Spartans are listed among the top No. 3 seeds.
The winner of this afternoon’s game will likely nab the higher seed, as one of seven Big Ten teams expected to make the field of 68.
Indiana leads the way as the field’s projected top overall seed, followed by MSU and Ohio State and rounded out by Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.
Iowa is currently sitting on the bubble, the only team capable of bumping the Big Ten’s total to eight teams, but likely is on the outside looking in.
The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee is scheduled to announce the bracket Sunday evening, following the Big Ten Tournament championship.
Chicago — As the adage goes, if you want to be the best, you have to have beat the best.
It’s a notion Tom Izzo has understood and embraced with open arms since taking over as head coach of the MSU men’s basketball program nearly two decades ago. With Izzo at the helm, the Spartans consistently have been in the upper echelon of strength-of-schedule (SOS) rankings, including having the fourth-toughest SOS in college basketball this season.
So with the No.3-seeded Spartans trailing No. 6-seeded Iowa in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday, Izzo turned to a team with wins against Kansas, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas and Minnesota, among others, and knew exactly what to expect: character.
“It builds character what we did and some people wonder, will it wear everybody out,” Izzo said. “It will wear the weak ones down but the strong ones are going to keep moving forward and the strong ones are going to be able to sit in the locker room before a big game, and who knows who we are playing in the NCAA Tournament, and they will say, hey, we played this team, this team, this team, and you’ve been there before and done it at halftime or two minutes to go in the game.”
According to CBSSports.com, the Spartans have had a top-50 SOS each of the past five seasons, except for the 2009-10 campaign where it was ranked No. 51 in the nation. During the same time period, the Spartans have captured five NCAA Tournament bids, three Big Ten championships, two Final Fours appearances and a Big Ten Tournament championship in 2012.
When Keith Appling drove for a powerful, one-handed dunk midway through the second half, it not only cut into a sizable lead, but was the defining moment of a tide beginning to turn.
The Spartans would later go on a 22-2 surge, lifting the No. 8 MSU men’s basketball team (25-7) to a stunning, 59-56, come-from-behind victory against Iowa (21-12) in the Big Ten Tournament’s quarterfinals, with many crediting Appling’s dunk for the spark.
“I just wanted to go up as strong as I could, explode to the highest point that I possibly could, and just try to finish strong because I felt like if I would try to lay the ball up it probably would end up getting blocked. I just wanted to finish strong and see what would happen.
“I bounce around like that all the time in practice, I just never brought it to the game. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m curious to see what it looks like on film.”
“It just felt like we had our feet in the quicksand and we just didn’t get out. And with those types of plays, Keith just brought a lot of energy and gave us a little more fight.”
“His dunk was a big play. It did kind of get us going. And so I did say, if Keith isn’t playing well, it’s hard for us to be good. He doesn’t have to be great, but he has to be pretty solid and steady and tonight I thought he did a good job defensively.”
“A lot of people don’t think Keith can jump like that, but we see it every day in practice. It was kind of a flash of … I think he’s been watching Russell Westbrook a little too much. When he did that dunk, I was just stunned and shocked because it gave us life and it definitely made us ready to play even more.”
“I ain’t seen that since high school. That was big. That was a momentum changer. It changed the momentum when he got up and it just shows his athletic ability, and I feel like he’s been holding out. He needs to start doing that a little bit more.”
As the resident Chicagoan at The State News, I feel I have a certain amount of authority when it comes to Sweet Home Chicago.
As such, I have compiled a list of places you really need to go if you ever happen to find yourself in Chicago — perhaps for this weekend’s Big Ten Tournament?
I’m also going to tell you precisely how to get to the various places from the United Center, because otherwise I feel like I’m defeating the purpose of telling you to go there.
So, without further ado, here are four places you need to visit before you leave the Windy City.
1. The Ashland El Station
OK, this sounds weird, but bear with me.
About a half-mile northeast of the UC, there is a train station on Ashland Boulevard. If you walk down Madison from the UC going east, then turn left on Ashland, you’ll see it.
At said train station is a walkway that bridges the tracks.
If you go up on said walkway — especially at night — and look east, you’ll get a fantastic view of the Chicago Skyline.
Oh, and if you look west, you’ll see my beloved United Center, but presumably you’ve just come from there, so that’s less exciting.
2. The Sears Tower
This is pretty self-explanatory, but I have a word of caution: Do not, under any circumstances, refer to it as the Willis Tower. If, by some small miracle, you find a local who won’t punch you for it, they will hate you forever and probably give you bad directions.
And that would be sad.
Besides, you don’t need directions, since you have me.
If you’ve made it to the train station mentioned above, get on a Pink Line train going east (towards the loop) and ride it until you reach the Quincy/Wells stop.
Then get off, find Jackson Boulevard — it’s the first light south of the station — and turn right. You can’t miss the tower.
Alternatively, you can take a bus east along Madison Street to Franklin, get out and walk two blocks south. Again, you can’t miss it.
3. *The Field Museum
This one’s a little trickier to get to, but it’s well worth it.
Aside from Sue, the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever found, there are a ton of other exhibits to keep you occupied.
Also, if you’re so inclined, the Shedd Aquarium is pretty close by, if you wanted to do that as long as you’re in the area.
From the UC, get on a Green Line train going east at the aforementioned train station.
You’ll see trains going to both Ashland/63 and Cottage Grove/63, but don’t get flustered.
For your purposes, either will serve. Get on a train and take it to Roosevelt, just south of the Loop.
Get out and walk east, toward Lake Michigan.
You should be able to figure it out from there.
Alternatively, depending on how much cash you have, you can take the Green Line train to State/Lake, get off and walk southeast to Randolph and Michigan Avenue, then get on a Metra Train to Museum Campus/11th Street.
The museum’s right there once you get off.
4. Any Giordano’s or Geno’s East
If you go to Chicago and leave without at least trying Chicago-style pizza, you’re doing it wrong.
I’d pick Giordano’s, myself, but only because Derrick Rose is their part owner.
Honestly, either is fine. You might also consider getting an authentic Chicago hot dog or Italian beef, but the pizza is the main thing.
Oh, quick tip: If you get a Chicago hot dog, don’t put ketchup on it unless you want people to hate you. I don’t really get it, myself, but it’s just one of those things, you know?
After months of speculation of his future plans, Branden Dawson put all NBA rumors to bed with members of the media this week.
When asked if a late season slump has affected his opinion on leaving for the NBA, the sophomore guard/forward said he actually wasn’t thinking of leaving, according to a report by MLive’s Diamond Leung.
“I know right now, I’m not ready for the NBA,” Dawson told MLive.com. “I’m still young, still have to work on some things, still have to mature in some aspects.
“I don’t think I’m ready. Like Coach (Tom Izzo) said, with the injury I had, it’s going to take another year (to be at his best following a serious knee injury). So I’m really not worried about the NBA. I’m more just worried about as a team winning the national championship.”
Coming off a major left anterior cruciate ligament tear at the end of his freshman season, Dawson has averaged 10.1 points and six rebounds per game in his sophomore campaign for the Spartans.
Dawson has been hampered by uneven play of late, scuffling to a six points per game average in losses to No. 2 Indiana, No. 14 Ohio State and No. 7 Michigan.
A former McDonald’s All-American, Dawson confirmed his plans to return for his junior season rather than declare for June’s NBA Draft, signaling a sigh of relief for many Spartan fans.
“I’ve already decided,” he told MLive.com. “I’m coming back.”
Dawson and the Spartans host No. 22 Wisconsin on Thursday at Breslin Center (9 p.m., ESPN).
Back-to-back losses might have tempered the expectations of some Spartan fans, but the national media still thinks highly of the Green and White.
ESPN college basketball analyst Joe Lunardi released his weekly projection Bracketology&zone=bracketology for the upcoming NCAA Tournament field Tuesday, and the No. 9 MSU men’s basketball team (22-6 overall, 11-4 Big Ten) held their position despite a rocky week.
The Spartans still are listed as a No. 2 seed, this time playing in the West region against No. 15 seed Montana.
The game would be played in-state at the Palace of Auburn Hills, home of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons. The Spartans are expected to maintain the location as long as they remain as a No. 3 seed or better.
All six of MSU’s losses have come against teams ranked in the top-30 of the Ratings Percentage Index, or RPI, a rating system used by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee to help determine the quality of each college basketball team.
MSU is one of seven Big Ten teams to crack Lunardi’s bracket, with No. 1 Indiana leading the way as the tournament’s top seed in the Midwest region and arch-rival No. 4 Michigan holding firm as a fellow No. 2 seed, also scheduled to open the tournament in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Rounding out the Big Ten’s tournament field are No. 16 Ohio State and No. 17 Wisconsin, both projected as No. 5 seeds, Illinois, which currently is listed as a No. 9 seed along with No. 11 seed Minnesota.
The Spartans return to the hardwood on Sunday when they take on the Wolverines in Ann Arbor (4 p.m., CBS).
It will be just the second time the two teams have competed against each other as top-10 teams, with MSU winning the first matchup two weeks ago, 75-52.