Memphis stripped of 38-win season



The NCAA has forced Memphis to give up every victory in its 38-win season under coach John Calipari that ended in the national title game in 2007-08, saying the school used an ineligible player.

The NCAA did not identify the player by name, though earlier descriptions of him lead to the conclusion it could only be current Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, the 2008 No. 1 draft pick who went on to win the NBA rookie of the year award.

The player was accused of having another person take his SAT exam so he would be eligible as a freshman. Memphis argued it did not have enough information to substantiate the allegations in November 2007 and cleared him to play.

However, the SAT officials later conducted their own investigation and notified the player, the university and the NCAA’s eligibility center that they were canceling his test in May 2008.

The agency said it sent letters to the player in March and April 2008; the latter letter was sent three days after Rose and the Tigers lost to the Jayhawks. The player did not respond to either letter.

I guess that terrific Kansas/Memphis OT title game never really happened…

Obviously, this is a big deal, but it would have been monstrous if the Tigers had held on and beat the Jayhawks in regulation.

This is another example of why the NBA should do away with its age-limit rule. Without it, Rose would have likely gone straight to the pros, and the college ranks wouldn’t have to deal with his (allegedly) trying to cheat on his SAT in order to get into college.

John Calipari strikes again! (His 1996 UMass team was stripped of its Final Four berth.)

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Eric Bledsoe headed to Kentucky; Wall next?

Top point guard recruit Eric Bledsoe is going to play for John Calipari at the University of Kentucky.

Bledsoe had narrowed his choices to Memphis and Kentucky last week and visited both schools over the weekend before making up his mind.

The Tigers were hoping that Bledsoe, who is ranked as the nation’s No. 3 point guard by, would fill their hole in the backcourt next season. Instead, Bledsoe chose to play for former Memphis coach John Calipari, despite the possibility of sharing the position with top-ranked point guard John Wall, who is also favoring the Wildcats.

Bledsoe said today that Calipari told him that he “can come in right off the bat and start.”

Memphis promoted Josh Pastner to head coach because of his reputation as a recruiter, but he lost out on this one. It will be interesting to see where John Wall is headed because the general consensus is that he favors Kentucky as well. Will he and Bledsoe share the same backcourt?

Report: Calipari heading to Kentucky

According to “a source very close to the situation,” Memphis head coach John Calipari is going to be the next coach at Kentucky.

News Channel 3 has learned from a source very close to the situation that U of M coach John Calipari is leaving to be the new coach at the University of Kentucky.

Right now, Calipari is at his home meeting with members of his staff explaining the decision.

We have live crews stationed in the area as well as working with our sister station in Lexington, KY.

How will he fare?

Four observations about the West Region

1. #11 Utah State looks like a sneaky smart pick against #6 Marquette.
The Golden Eagles are just 1-5 after losing Dominic James, their fourth-leading scorer and best playmaker, for the rest of the season. Granted, those five losses were to UConn, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Villanova, and they only lost by an average of 7.2 points, but Marquette has to travel to Boise to face #25-ranked Utah State, who had a 19-game winning streak this season. The Golden Eagles better account for Gary Wilkinson and Jared Quayle, who make up one of the best inside-outside combinations west of the Mississippi.

2. The committee didn’t do Mississippi State any favors.
Congratulations on winning the SEC tournament, Bulldogs! Now we need you to make the 2000 mile-trip to Portland, Oregon by Thursday, where you’ll play the Pac-10 champions in their neighboring state. Good luck, and enjoy the Pacific Northwest!

3. UConn shouldn’t be seriously challenged until the Elite Eight, but this is UConn we’re talking about.
If the Huskies come out with a singular focus, no team on their side of the bracket should be able to keep up. Washington, Purdue and BYU are nice teams, but they don’t have the star power or coaching experience of the Huskies. Nor do they have anyone to matchup with Hasheem Thabeet on the inside. However, UConn is known for having tournament ADHD, so its entirely possible that one or more of these teams make the Huskies sweat late into the second half.

4. Missouri/Memphis should be a good one.
The Utah State/Marquette winner could easily give Mizzou a run, and Memphis might be challenged by the winner of the Cal/Maryland game, but if the Tigers face the…um…the other Tigers in the Sweet Sixteen, it’ll be a nice matchup. Memphis hasn’t played a good team since early February (when they blew out Gonzaga in Spokane) and Missouri just won the Big 12 tourney in convincing fashion. Both teams are stellar defensively, but Mizzou has an advantage on offense with DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons on the front line.

Championship Week Wrap-Up

There are four games left — Duke/FSU, Miss. St./Tenn, Ohio St./Purdue and the Southland final — but just one, the SEC final, has bubble implications. Despite their tournament run, the Mississippi State Bulldogs will have to beat Tennessee to get a berth, and the Volunteers are already in.

As of this morning, Joe Lunardi says the last four teams in will be Minnesota, Maryland, Creighton and Saint Mary’s. His first four out are Penn St., Arizona, San Diego State and Auburn. His next four out are Florida, New Mexico, UNLV and Tulsa.

It seems odd to me that he has SDSU out of tournament after the Aztecs finished the season with back-to-back wins against a bubble team (UNLV), a win over an in-the-Dance team (BYU) and a near-miss against another in-the-Dance team (Utah). Sure, SDSU doesn’t have a marquee win, but neither does Saint Mary’s. I guess Lunardi points to the head-to-head matchup (which the Aztecs lost) as the difference. But SDSU is playing better right now, so it depends on how much stock the committee puts in late season versus early season play. Also, SDSU lost to Arizona by 13 (on the road), so that can’t help either.

It’s also odd to see Creighton back in after being on the “first four out” or “next four out” lists all week. After all, they didn’t do anything to improve their situation after losing by 24 points against Illinois State. SDSU has a tougher schedule (35 vs. 111), a better RPI (35 to 40) and Creighton doesn’t have a single win against a top 25 RPI team. (The Aztecs beat Utah back in January.) Maybe SDSU doesn’t deserve a nod over Saint Mary’s or even Arizona, but they should get in before the Blue Jays do.

It seems to me that if Mississippi State loses, there are two spots available for five teams: Creighton, Saint Mary’s, SDSU, Arizona and Penn State. If the Bulldogs win, there will just be one spot available for those five teams.

On the flip side, Lunardi has removed UConn from his top line and replaced the Huskies with the Memphis Tigers, who blew out Tulsa en route to their 987th straight C-USA title. I just don’t know what to make of Memphis. They lost to Syracuse at home, lost to Xavier on a neutral court and had a road loss to Georgetown. They did blow Gonzaga out by 18 in Spokane, and that’s their only really good win. I watched some of the C-USA championship game and they didn’t wow me despite beating Tulsa (#56 RPI) at the FedEx Forum.

Michigan State and Oklahoma knocked themselves out of contention for a #1 seed with poor performances in the conference tournaments, but Duke can make a case if they can beat Florida State in the ACC tourney. Either way, I think North Carolina, Louisville, Pitt and Memphis will be the #1 seeds and Oklahoma, Duke, Michigan State and UConn will be #2 seeds, just as Lunardi has it. I don’t think there is anyone on his #3 line — Kansas, Missouri, Wake Forest and Villanova — that has a strong argument to be a #2 seed.

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