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Roundball Chatter


• When voters fill out their All-America ballots, they should remember the name Nick Fazekas. There is no way he should be left out from the top five in the nation. He has been a double-double guy and a spark for Nevada. He doesn't get the great visibility and exposure, but he can flat-out play. If I look at my solid gold, All-Rolls Royce team, there are three solid locks Fazekas, Kevin Durant of Texas and Alando Tucker of Wisconsin. The other two are up in the air and the remaining games will help determine the last two slots.

• When I look at the ACC, Clemson could be sweating now after a great start. The Tigers suffered a tough loss to Wake Forest and are sitting below .500 in the rugged ACC. That was a bad loss at this time of the season because people are evaluating that resume. Clemson, Maryland, Georgia Tech and Florida State are all battling for an NCAA bid and I feel three of the four will get there. I feel North Carolina, Duke, Boston College, Virginia and Virginia Tech are locks to make the field of 65. Clemson did not help its case losing to Wake.

• One of the great stories in college basketball this season has come out of Pullman, Washington. Tony Bennett's Washington State Cougars completed a sweep of in-state rival Washington. Bennett's club continues to roll on and this team will make the NCAA for the first time since 1994, when Kelvin Sampson led them to the big dance. Washington now gets a date with Pittsburgh and the Panthers should be angry after a blowout home loss to Louisville Monday. The Pac-10 always screams about getting respect, claiming the media is always favoring the east. Here's the chance to make a statement. UCLA came to West Virginia and left with an L. Arizona hosted North Carolina and it was an M&M'er, a total mismatch. Can the Huskies surprise Jamie Dixon's club? That is asking a lot, my friends.

• Great to hear that Jimmy Collins will be returning to the sidelines for Illinois-Chicago next season. Collins has been recovering after surgery to repair a heart ailment. He has been a winner in the state of Illinois and I wish him nothing but the best in his recovery.

• The Bracket Busters event will provide a showcase to mid-majors. It will also give America the opportunity to learn more about a number of outstanding players. Northern Arizona's Stephen Sir was granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA, and he's made the most of the opportunity this season. The transfer from San Diego State is the national leader in 3-point field goals made per game, and is second in three-point field goal percentage. Sir and the Lumberjacks face San Jose State this weekend as part of Bracket Busters.

• Another player not receiving enough publicity is Southern Illinois' Randal Falker. He scored 20 points while grabbing 12 boards in a win at Missouri State earlier in the week. The Salukis have climbed into the top 25 and a win over Butler in the Bracket Busters would help Chris Lowery's team impress the selection committee.

• How much was Georgia affected when Mike Mercer went down for the season with a torn ACL in his knee? The Bulldogs really struggled against Kennesaw State and had to scrap back just to get into the winner's circle. Dennis Felton has done a solid job in Athens this season, but the loss of Mercer is a major setback hampering Georgia's NCAA tournament hopes.

• Good news for Thad Matta and his program. Recent media reports indicated Daequan Cook plans to return to the Buckeyes next season, and maybe for his junior year. Now if Greg Oden would come back, Ohio State would be really special. Matta already has a very good recruiting class coming to Columbus next season. There were also reports that Kevin Durant's father said his son should consider returning to college next season to get stronger and better.

• If you don't think there is parity in college basketball, just look at home losses by Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Texas A&M early in the week. Gonzaga saw its 50-game home win streak snapped by Santa Clara.

• Sometimes teams can play better when they know a star is out of the lineup. Before the loss to Duke Wednesday, I felt Boston College's defense understood the fact that Sean Williams was gone. The Eagles knew they could not rely on their shot-blocker as the last line of defense. It will be interesting to see if Boston College plays with more emotion and passion early on against North Carolina on Saturday. Both teams are coming off a loss, so this is now a big game in the ACC as four clubs sit with three conference losses.

• Experience is such a key factor, especially at winning time. Look at Florida, with all five starters back from the national championship team. There is a cohesiveness and unity there. Check out Virginia Tech with Coleman Collins, Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon. Dowdell could be a first-team All-ACC choice the way he is playing after scoring 33 against the Tar Heels.

• A message to Villanova coach Jay Wright. There have been rumors that the Sixers could be interested in you as their next head coach. Jay, you are a college guy stay at Villanova and compete in the Big East. Look at guys like John Calipari and Rick Pitino and see how happy they are on the collegiate sideline instead of the NBA. Jay, you should stay on the college level and impact young people.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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