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Tuesday NCAA Notes

Shaka Reacts & What Will Hokies Do?

Jan 3, 2014; Richmond, VA, USA; Virginia Commonwealth Rams head coach Shaka Smart calls a play against the Stony Brook Seawolves at Stuart C. Siegel Center.
Jan 3, 2014; Richmond, VA, USA; Virginia Commonwealth Rams head coach Shaka Smart calls a play against the Stony Brook Seawolves at Stuart C. Siegel Center.
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

We'll post our full bracket picks tomorrow, but for now, here are our play-in picks: Mount-St. Mary's over Albany, Texas Southern over Cal Poly, Tennessee over Iowa and State over Xavier.

As we have been saying, TJ Warren is impossible to prepare for if you haven't played him before. He's immensely skilled. And his teammates now are filling in around him in really nice ways.


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We can understand Shaka Smart's position on what Coach K said about the A-10, but we don't entirely agree.

Is it better not to discuss another league in the context of the tournament? Maybe. But it also raises the obvious question: is the A-10 a solid league?

Well yes and no.

The six teams that made the tournament - St. Louis, VCU, George Washington, St. Joseph's, UMass and Dayton - are all quality teams. Richmond is usually okay and Davidson - the Wildcats arrive next year - are always competitive.

But once you get past Richmond, only St. Bonnie's has a winning record.

Of the rest, LaSalle finished 15-16, Rhode Island 14-18, Duquesne 13-17, George Mason 11-20 and Fordham 10-21.

Smart, smartly or not so, depending on your point of view, finesses the comparison. But it's worth considering, and leave the bottom seven out of it for now: how would the NCAA-caliber teams have fared in this year's ACC?

Without looking, let's pick Clemson's schedule and imagine the bid-worthy A-10 teams playing it. In fact, let's plug them in where they played ACC teams.

VCU played three ACC teams, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Virginia, losing to Florida State, narrowly beating Virginia and clobbering Virginia Tech.

GW beat Maryland, UMass beat Florida State and Clemson, while Dayton took Georgia Tech.

Of the ACC teams, only Virginia made the tournament.

Now ask yourself how any of these teams would fare if they had to play Duke, UNC, Syracuse, Virginia, Pitt, State, Florida State or Clemson.

For that matter, as we saw often this year, teams like BC, Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech were very capable of pulling upsets.

But that's just the top teams. What about Richmond, LaSalle, St. Bonny's, Rhode Island, Duquesne, George Mason and Fordham?

The operative K term in this dust-up was meatgrinder, which is exactly what the ACC is and has been for a very long time. It's a question that can't be answered, but our instinct is that in the longterm, maybe UMass might be competitive, but it's hard to imagine any of them sustaining long-term excellence in the ACC.

That's just our opinion though, and it doesn't take away from the fact that we've long had a lot of respect for the A-10. In some ways we preferred it to the pre bust-up Big East.

In individual matchups, the A-10 will win a fair amount. But day to day, week to week? It would get tough fast.

Incidentally, Smart's comment about comparing leagues kind of brings to mind his previous comments about the CAA schools in Virginia being better than anyone else in the state. Like most people, apparently, he prefers to make comparisons where he can control that which is compared.


So what will Virginia Tech do now that James Johnson is through?

We can't help but wonder if Mick Cronin, who was just as desperate as his former A.D. Whit Babcock was to get out of the AAC once the Big East blew apart.

Remember how Cincinnati was throwing itself at the ACC?

If the two of them had a positive working relationship, it's hard to think that Babcock wouldn't at least talk to Cronin.

What should Virginia Tech look for? There are some issues for anyone. First, basketball is definitely second banana at Virginia Tech. Any incoming coach is going to have to understand that. Anyone with issues should consider calling Rick Barnes, who encountered the problem at Clemson and Texas and made his programs stand out anyway.

You can sort of set up some categories here and reasonably expect Virginia Tech's search not to go too far outside of them.

Babcock could go with a Don DeVoe type, a solid, experienced coach whose teams will defend and be disciplined.

Or he might go with an up-and-comer like, say, Dayton's Archie Miller. He's always been feisty and doesn't back down from much.  He'll probably also prove to be a good recruiter.

Hiring him now means catching him on the uptick of his career, and maybe the Hokies could keep him.

There are also a lot of very fine assistants who would take this job, although possibly just as a stepping stone.

You could see someone like Orlando Antigua from Kentucky or maybe Bino Ransom from Maryland, who as a bonus would have great recruiting ties.

So would Antigua.

He might also try for a Mark Gottfried type, a guy who is out of the game but not a bad coach.

He could figure that it's a very tough job and that he needs a guy who will make a splash. A guy who is somewhat familiar with the area, who has shown that he can recruit.

A guy with some charisma and an ability to create an atmosphere, and a guy who maybe wants to prove himself again.

Bruce Pearl would definitely come with some issues, but we're pretty sure he'd be embraced by the Cassell faithful and that he'd have Virginia Tech competing pretty quickly.

Would we hire him? Hell no. But someone's going to now that he's out of NCAA timeout. We'd bet that either Whitcock has already made discreet inquries or that Pearl's agent has.