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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Commentary: Let The Madness of March begin

  • Many can find SIU ties in this year’s NCAA Tournament
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  • If any two people are living in a home with just a single tv set, there’s trouble ahead, at least for the next couple of weeks.  It’s that time of the year . . . March Madness.
    Like a few others, we filled out our brackets . . . only with teams we’d enjoy seeing winning, not necessarily teams we actually believe will win.
     
    And, some of those we have a hard time in explaining our reasoning.  A perfect example was selecting Colorado State over Missouri in Thursday’s opening round of games.   Colorado State is where SIU’s former athletics director Paul Kowalczyk switched to in the mid-2000s, but there’s absolutely no personal feelings there.  Kowalczyk, after being fired a couple of years ago, is now an assistant at Illinois.
    We hit on Colorado State probably due to its present coach, the slightly wild Larry Eustachy.  We’ve worked, using the term loosely, a couple of tournaments -- at Las Vegas and Fairbanks, Alaska -- since retiring 12 years ago that Eustachy had teams entered in.  Believe me, he was different in many ways, but has now reportedly reformed.  No explanation, we just picked his team against a better and favored Missouri club.
    We also clicked on Saint Louis University because of its coach, Jim Crews.  He spent several seasons as Evansville’s coach and his family has ties in Elkville although granted, many years ago.
    Creighton and Wichita State are understandable choices.  We’ve always jumped on Missouri Valley Conference teams once they manage to get into the NCAA tournament.
    Two Big Ten Conference teams — Ohio State and Wisconsin — were easy selections due to the fact that both have former student workers of ours now on their athletic department staffs.  Dan Wallenberg is Ohio State’s basketball sports information director and can always be spotted at press row right next to the Buckeyes’ bench.  And, of course, their coach, Thad Matta, played one year at SIU for Rich Herrin in 1986.
    Wisconsin is our choice because its compliance director, Katie Ahrens Smith, formerly worked for us at SIU.
    No explanation is necessary, or at least it shouldn’t be, in our selection of Kansas State.  Bruce Weber is the coach and he’ll forever be one of our favorites.
    Steve Alford, Missouri State’s former coach, is now at New Mexico where he just received a 10-year extension.  That’s enough reason to pick the Lobos over Harvard.
    On the other side of the brackets it seems like we stayed with Minnesota and San Diego State because of personal ties with coaches Tubby Smith and Steve Fisher, respectively, and clicked on teams like VCU and Butler simply because we believe their coaches are interesting and exceptional.
    Page 2 of 2 - There’s one other that managed to slip in earlier this week . . . North Carolina A&T.  We didn’t even bother to mention them being as though it’s going against the eventual 2013 champion, Louisville, after winning a play-in game.   
    A&T is coached by Cy Alexander, a fact we weren’t aware of until seeing his face appear on post-game tv interviews.  We’ll bet that no one around here knows Alexander, but he was a candidate for SIU’s coaching job in 1998 when Weber was hired.  We had the pleasure of sharing three hours with him -- just the two of us -- while dining at Giant City Park Lodge the night prior to his interview and can tell you he is a champion.  Although passed over for Weber, he’s won ever since, simply never at a major program.
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