Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
March Madness unprecedented with No 1s remaining
NCAA towels are shown during a practice Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at the NCAA Tournament site in Las Vegas.
While never expecting to see the Arkansas Razorbacks dominated by UConn, the Huskies were the best team seen this season, or at least they were Thursday.
Little did anyone know it was a prelude to what is going to be an intriguing Final Four and a historical one.
Since 1979, when the NCAA started seeding teams, a No. 1 seed has at least made the Elite Eight, until now.
Former No. 1 Houston losing to Miami was a shocker, not so much Alabama falling to San Diego State.
Not with all of the emotion and distractions that have surrounded the Crimson Tide program since it was discovered the murder weapon that had led to the arrest of teammate Darrius Miles for capital murder arrived on the scene in Brandon Miller’s Jeep.
Miller is reportedly acting as a witness in the shooting death of Jamea Harris, mother of a 5-year-old, and will not be charged, at least he wasn’t while the Crimson Tide, the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, was still playing.
Starting with the SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tenn., Miller, 6-9 200 pounds, has had an armed bodyguard and anyone who thinks that wasn’t going to become a distraction at some point hasn’t been paying attention.
Miller was still named SEC Player and Freshman of the Year and led the Crimson Tide in scoring with an average of 19.6 points per game prior to the NCAA Tournament.
In Alabama’s opener, he was 0 for 5 and played just 19 minutes in the 96-75 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. In the second game, a 73-51 win over Maryland, he did score 19 points but was 5-of-17 shooting.
Against San Diego State, a 71-64 loss, Miller was 3 of 19 and had nine points.
A 43%-shooter before March Madness, he was 8 of 41 (19.5%) in the NCAA Tournament.
On a whole, the SEC did OK in the tournament, finishing with an overall record of 9-8, thanks in a large part to the Razorbacks for being able to beat Illinois and then knock off No. 1 seed Kansas.
The Hogs were a No. 10 seed in the SEC Tournament and a No. 8 seed in the Big Dance, while No. 3 seed Kentucky lost its second game, No. 7 seed Texas A&M lost its first game as did Mississippi State, a No. 11 seed, in a play-in loss to Pittsburgh.
Missouri was also a No. 7 seed and went 1-1 as did No. 9 seed Auburn.
The only other league to get eight teams in was the Big Ten, and it finished 4-6.
Going into Saturday night’s Elite Eight, the Big East had UConn and Creighton dancing and the Big 12 had two teams in Kansas State and Texas.
The often-questioned ACC was alive with Miami, who plays Texas today. If the Longhorns win, they will be the highest-seeded team in the Final Four at No. 2 and should soon announce it is taking the interim off Rodney Terry and making him the head coach.
Florida Atlantic, a No. 9 seed from Conference USA, is the official Cinderella but has said it doesn’t want to be called that because the Owls intend to win the whole thing, which is every team’s goal.
There are some intriguing games and the only people who care there isn’t a No. 1 left are the fans of the four top seeds who didn’t pass the Sweet 16.
As for the Razorbacks, the loss to UConn will be forgotten and what will be remembered about this crazy up-and-down season was the win over Kansas.
Of this entire team only Kamani Johnson has no eligibility left, so everyone else could come back, But they won’t and Eric Musselman and his staff never quit working the transfer portal or slow down on evaluations for recruiting, and they know how to handle those who leave by way of the portal or the NBA Draft.
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