Greetings from San Jose, where the air is brisk, the start-ups are everywhere and the local NHL team wins a lot of dang games.
It is also home to the NCAA Tournament’s West Regional. I spoke with Dick Vitale on Wednesday, who was breathless talking about Arizona coach Sean Miller in between promoting the Allstate Bracket Predictor. He raved about how Miller has appeared at Vitale’s fundraisers to fight cancer, but also made a pitch that Miller should be a serious candidate for National Coach of the Year.
“What he has had to deal with this season with that lineup, how could he not be considered?” said Vitale, who will work the Final Four for ESPN International.
Here are some good pregame reads before tonight’s Xavier-Arizona game, one that has Las Vegas calling the Wildcats a 7 1/2-point favorite:
Jeff Faraudo of the San Jose Mercury Newsbelieves “the Wildcats must utilize their size advantage more effectively than Florida State did in its 25-point loss Saturday to the Musketeers. Arizona has the balance, defense and depth to make life tough for Xavier.”
Turner Sports analyst Steve Lavin told the Arizona Daily Star that “people are evaluating Xavier based on their freefall when they lost seven of 10 games (including six in a row). But they reinvented themselves and this current group is playing at a very high level in terms of confidence. You look at them and it’s `Who are those guys having career nights?’ ”
Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn looks at Allonzo Trier’s journey which includes this quote from the player about testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs: “I was shocked, because I had no clue how it was in my system. I was like, ‘What do you mean? There’s no possible way.’ ”
And Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury Newswrites that Sean Miller “has emerged as one of the conference’s most influential voices in matters of basketball scheduling and student-athlete welfare.”
Paola Boivin is in San Jose for the West Regional and will provide updates and analysis on the Arizona Wildcats this week. Follow her on Twitter: Twitter.com/PaolaBoivin and like the azcentral sports Facebook page for a video chat with Paola at 4 p.m. today.