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Billy Donovan has proven himself to be one of the best college basketball coaches in America, even though he is also one of the youngest. It’s no surprise, then, that Kentucky is courting their SEC-rival coach to take over for the departed Tubby Smith. The Wildcats have reportedly put together a nice package for Donovan which includes an estimated raise of $1 million dollars per season.

Other than the money though, why would Donovan remotely consider moving on? He and the Gators won the national championship last year and are only two wins away from repeating this year. (The last time a team accomplished that feat came in 1991-92 when Duke won two in a row.) He has arguably the best starting five in the country, a cast of proven players who have helped him to secure his legacy at Florida. Perhaps since they too will be moving on after this season, Donovan will also consider heading elsewhere? In a sport where you need to outlast over 300 other teams to call yourself the best, it seems that once someone reached the top of the mountain they would want to stay there. But money talks. And, as with so many other college coaches, if Billy Donovan listens he may soon be walking.

Discuss your thoughts on Donovan at this message board:

http://www.nola.com/forums/collegebk/

Watch the Gators clinch the 2006 title:

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Marshall law

March 27, 2007

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Marshall Faulk, one of the premier running backs in the NFL during the late 1990s, has decided to hang up his cleats for good. Faulk was truly one of the good guys in the sport and his relentless work ethic and finesse for the game made him one of the best players to watch. He was a fabulous role model and will surely end up in the Hall of Fame as the NFL’s 9th all-time rusher.

Faulk worked as an analyst last year with the NFL Network and has decided that life in the studio is more suitable than life on the field. The one-time star of the St. Louis Rams “Greatest Show on Turf,” Faulk dazzled football fans with his ability to slip away from defenders and his knack for never fumbling. Both his skill and personality will be sorely missed around the league.

 Check out The Greatest Show on Turf here:

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UCLA and Florida are in familiar territory. Both the Bruins and Gators went to the Final Four last year, where they faced off in the national championship. This year, there will be no chance for a rematch as both teams are coming out of the same side of the bracket. The national semifinal is sure to be a good one all the same, however. Old rivalries will brew up as soon as the two squads take the floor. The key to this match up is in the guard play. Corey Brewer and Taurean Green will face off against one of the best backcourts in the nation in Darren Collison and Aaron Afflalo.

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In the other Final Four matchup, streaking Georgetown takes on a high-flying Ohio State team. After escaping a scare against Xavier, the Buckeyes have been impressive. Georgetown, on the other hand, picked up a comeback win over North Carolina in overtime after being down 10 points with six minutes to play. The intriguing matchup in this semifinal between these two teams is clearly that of Roy Hibbert and Greg Oden. Oden who will surely matriculate to the NBA after this season, will have to use his size to body up Hibbert. Hibbert has been no slouch either. In addition to blocking shots and scoring around the basket, he is also an excellent passer, and the offense usually runs through him in the post position.

Predictions:

UCLA takes it’s revenge against Florida and advances. Final score: Bruins 72 Gators 65.

Georgetown head coach John Thompson III takes his team back to where his father had it in 1985. Final score: Hoyas 84 Buckeyes 81.

Check out some highlights from the Elite 8 here: http://cbs.sportsline.com/video/player?channel=collegebasketball_highlights

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A.J. Graves (Butler) – Graves has proven he can play with the big boys when it matters most. In the second round of the NCAA tournament, Graves dropped 19 points in his team’s 62-59 upset of Maryland. The junior guard leads the team in scoring at 17.0 points per game and will be a crucial piece to the puzzle, should his Bulldogs have a shot at knocking off the defending champion Florida Gators. The match up between he and Corey Brewer will be one of the most exciting to watch down the stretch.

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Chris Lofton (Tennessee) – No one player may be as important to his team as Lofton is to the Vols. Lofton is a natural scorer and team leader and it’s safe to say that without him, Tennessee might be watching these games rather than playing in them. I was a little surprised to see the committee give the Vols a No. 5 seed., but Lofton and Wayne Chism have proven to the nation that they belong. An interesting matchup for Lofton will be seeing how he fares against Ohio State’s young standout, Mike Conley Jr.

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Derrick Byars (Vanderbilt) – Byars and his fellow Commodores have flown under the radar virutally all year. Their biggest win came at the end of the regular season when they upset Florida at home. This season Byars is averaging nearly 16 points per game and has consistently been Vandy’s go-to-guy. Against Georgetown, in the Sweet 16, Byars will most likely be matched up with the Hoyas Jeff Green, this seasons Big East Player of the Year. GU will be a tough opponent for Vandy, but with Byars on the floor, anything can happen.

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Brandan Wright (North Carolina) – Who would have thought that just two years after graduating nearly it’s entire program, UNC would be back making a run at the Final Four. They have dangerous scorers in Rayshaun Terry, Tyler Hansbrough and Wayne Ellington, but the spark for this team has been the high-flying play of freshman center Brandan Wright. Wright, most likely destined for the NBA after this season, has made himself one of the premiere players in the ACC. His long wingspan helps him to elevate over players to either block shots or make them. Many think Carolina has an easy game ahead against USC, but don’t be shocked to see Tim Floyd’s Trojans come flying out of the gate.

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In AOL’s NCAA basketball blog, a writer named MJD talks about Greg Oden and how he finally showed his aggressive side against Xavier this past weekend. He liked seeing Oden’s nasty side and I agreed with him. Oden has been laid back all season. Yet, when you get to an NCAA tournament, you have to step up your game. Oden has done that with his play as well as his new attitude.

Currently, I would have to say that Kevin Durant is the front runner for the number one pick and for good reason. If Oden can show that he has a darker side to him however, his draft stock may continue to go up.

Watch Oden’s highlights here:

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Kevin Durant is the next Lebron James. He is just one one of those prospects that you can’t miss with. Once he grows into his body, the sky will be the limit. In my post on a college basketball blog, I discussed why I think Durant is going to be the next big thing in the NBA.

I only hope that his talents and exploits will come with him in a Celtics uniform. Maybe if Danny Ainge learns how to play by the rules, that can become a reality. Those from New England can only hope.

March Madness, baby!

March 18, 2007

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Collegehoops.net had an excellent preview piece on this year’s NCAA tournament. The particular matchup I found intriguing  was the No.8/9 game between Arizona and Purdue in the Midwest Regional. I wrote on the site that Purdue was very impressive in the Big Ten tournament. In the first round of the NCAA’s, the Boilermakers outplayed Arizona and used their physicality to up end a much bigger team. Now they face the defending national champions Florida in the second round.

It’s a tough draw so early in the tourney for Purdue, but if they can manage to  outlast the champs, their road to the Final Four will be a little less cluttered. It’s always nice to see a team that fell off the map make a name for itself again. Purdue has been a national powerhouse for many years, but has fallen off recently. If they can go on a run at the best time of the year, maybe they can restore part of that legacy.