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Did early start help Final Four teams?


Think about it ... three of the Final Four teams (Marquette, Syracuse and Texas) competed in the Coaches vs. Cancer event at Madison Square Garden at the start of the season. Marquette beat Villanova, Texas knocked off Georgia and Syracuse was beaten by Memphis.

Congratulation to Rick Giles, president of the Gazelle Group, which did a terrific job with the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

Kansas also had early-season dates at Madison Square Garden. The Jayhawks played in the Preseason NIT semifinals and consolation, losing to North Carolina and Florida.

Just how important is it to build momentum by winning your conference tournament? Not very important this year.

All four of the teams going to New Orleans lost in their conference tournament. That's right, Syracuse lost to Connecticut, Texas fell to Texas Tech, Kansas lost to Missouri and Marquette was upset by UAB.

I know Texas and Syracuse advanced to the Final Four because of solid play, and I don't want to take away from their success, but I hope the NCAA selection committee doesn't put teams so close to home for regional finals in coming years.

Texas had an advantage playing in San Antonio and Syracuse had a sea of orange behind it in Albany. That gave those schools an edge.

The field for next year's Preseason NIT was announced this week, and leading the way are Connecticut, Texas Tech, Georgia Tech, Minnesota and Utah.

Think about the potential lineup of talent scheduled to compete: Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon of Connecticut, Chris Bosh of Georgia Tech, Andre Emmett of Texas Tech and Rick Rickert of Minnesota.

That's a pretty good starting five, baby!

This NCAA Tournament has seen a number of seniors finish their careers. Guys like Hollis Price, Steve Blake, Josh Howard, David West, Keith Bogans, Jason Gardner and Luke Walton, to name a few, have completed their playing days.

Thanks for the memories, guys. You were a credit to the sport and a pleasure to watch.

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