Is it coincidence?
Norm Stewart epitomized the way Missouri faithful feel about Kansas.
During his Hall of Fame career as the Mizzou basketball coach, Stewart wouldn’t use the word “Kansas” during press conferences or interviews. If he was forced to talk about the Jayhawks, he referred to them as “the school to the west” or at times as “that school over there.”
So it seemed like coincidence Saturday night that Northern Iowa knocked Kansas, the top-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament, out in the second round with one of the biggest upsets in recent tournament memory.
Stewart, who won more 700 games in his career, coached Northern Iowa from 1961-67. At the time, the Cedar Falls school was known as State College of Iowa, and it gave Stewart his first college job. Stewart led the Panthers to a 97-42 record in six seasons.
Stewart and the Tigers also fell victim to the Panthers. In the first round of the 1990 NCAA Tournament, Northern Iowa’s Maurice Newby hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with four seconds left in regulation to beat the third-seeded Tigers 74-71.
Coincidentally, Missouri was ranked No. 1 that season, including beating top-ranked Kansas in Lawrence when the Tigers were ranked No. 2.
Who does he remind you of?
The more we watch St. Mary’s play and see Omar Samhan put up big numbers, the more we have to wonder: Is he better than a one weekend wonder?
There have been other players who have carried their teams into the Sweet 16 because of huge efforts and rarely heard from again. Go back four years when Bradley made its run to the Sweet 16 and remember the play of Patrick O’Bryant. The 7-footer averaged 14.7 points and 10.3 rebounds in the tournament, including a 28-point performance against Pittsburgh in the second round.
O’Bryant went on to be drafted ninth in the NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. Although he’s still in the NBA, can you name the team he is with? That’s the Toronto Raptors.
And there’s Adonal Foyle, who led Colgate to the only two NCAA Tournament appearances in school history in 1995 and ’96. Foyle was a shot-blocking machine who has sustained a career in the NBA, although he was never more than a key reserve and averages 4.1 points per game for his career.
Samhan might not be like that. He might be better. The fact he quoted himself when talking to the media after upsetting Villanova makes him a fan favorite no matter what.
The not-so-beastly Big East
Overrated. That’s what you keep hearing from fans after teams from the Big East Conference such as Georgetown and Villanova were upset. And honestly, the Big East has been a disappointment, but I don’t think you can go as far as calling the league overrated.
Do you do the same for the Big 12 Conference now that Kansas is out? If Ohio State gets beat is the Big Ten overrated? OK, that’s not going to happen because no one was giving the Big Ten that much credit as a rugged conference, but you get the point.
You could make the argument the Big East didn’t deserve as many teams in the field of 65 as it received, but based on regular season play, it was a tough conference and I don’t think you can call it overrated.
I think other leagues were underappreciated.