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Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/14/2007 04:14:00 PM

Setting the Stage in Buffalo

Aaron Brooks
Luke Winn/SI

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Better get here fast, fans. Coach K's signing autographs. Sure to fetch at least $9.99 on eBay.

The real news here in the Big B on NCAA tournament practice day -- generally a dull procession of workouts and questions from reporters writing game previews -- was that Duke freshman Gerald Henderson was available to speak to the media for the first time since his one-game suspension for injuring North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough. Henderson is at least temporarily the most polarizing player in college hoops, because, as he said, "everyone knows me as the guy that hit Hansbrough now" -- and fans on either side of the Tobacco Road rivalry have essentially engaged in a blood-feud over the bloody incident.

During sixth-seeded Duke's open locker-room session Wednesday afternoon, Henderson talked about the phone-call apology he made to Hansbrough before the start of the ACC tournament. "It was a couple of minutes, nothing too lengthy," Henderson said. "Tyler, he understood. He said, 'Don't worry about it. It was part of the game, and unfortunately it happened.'"

Henderson, who got Hansbrough's number from former high school teammate -- and current Tar Heels freshman -- Wayne Ellington, said he watched some of UNC's games in the ACC tournament after Duke lost its first-round matchup with N.C. State. "It's unfortunate that [Hansbrough] has to wear the mask," Henderson said. "It looked like it was bothering him a little bit. I don't wish a mask on anyone."

A reporter asked Henderson whether he worried about being tentative in Thursday's game against 11th-seeded Virginia Commonwealth; in other words, would he be concerned about breaking someone's nose every time he crashed the boards? "I'll still have the same aggressive mindset," Henderson said. "Nothing is going to change that. ... If I'm aggressive, the team's aggressive -- that's the only way we can really be."

He was, understandably, far more interested in talking about a different phone call: the one he received from his father, ex-NBA player Gerald Henderson, after the brackets were announced Sunday night. He told young Gerald to beware, "Because they're known to have good guards at VCU." He wasn't necessarily referring to Eric Maynor, the hero of the Colonial Athletic Association title game. On a banner in the of rafters of VCU's Siegel Center in Richmond, Va., the number 22 is retired. The guard who wore it just happens to be Henderson's dad.

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Two days ago, before the tourney began, I left a post on your blog under "Defending the Champs". In it, I highlighted several teams who had high negative ratings for "luck" on Ken Pomeroy's site (-0.025 or less). Since "luck" actually measures how good a team is at winning close games, I hypothesized this might mean that these teams were vulnerable.

Now, after 1.5 rounds, we know the following. Of the 9 teams I identified, the following 7 have lost: Duke, MSU, Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana, Georgia Tech, and Villanova. The two that have won, UNC and TAMU, are both the highest seeds and, notably, also played other bad "luck" teams (Louisville and MSU) in round two.

Also of note, the following teams with low "luck" scores who also lost in round 1 or 2 includes: Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Illionois, Arizona, Xavier, and Creighton.

Meanwhile, the following teams with postivie "luck" scores are, at this point, still in: Kansas, Florida, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Pitt, UCLA, Memphis, Oregon, Butler, Vanderbilt, SIU, USC.

The only positive luck team to lose: WSU.

The only other highly ranked negative luck team still in: Texas.

Not a bad predictive power so far.
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