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Several coaches could have been accused of being crybabies when discussing the officiating during the tournament. For example, after Kansas lost 87-83 to Nebraska in the semis, the Jayhawks' Roy Williams referred to the referees as "three totally incompetent people who act like perfect dictators out there on the court."
As it turned out, all the caterwauling was moot. Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma State had NCAA bids locked up before the Big Eight tournament started, and in all likelihood one of them would have won if Missouri hadn't played. But then, logic has never gotten in the way of bad feelings in the Big Eight.
Going Out with a Bang
At the Metro Conference tournament in Roanoke, Va., Louisville finally came out of a coma, Southern Mississippi slid deeper into one, and four teams waved goodbye to the league. Given all that, it's little wonder that Florida State's victory in the tournament seemed to be almost a sidelight. But the 20-10 Seminoles deserve some attention. They enter the NCAA tournament on a roll—the Seminoles have won seven straight games and 15 of their last 20—and with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. It seems Florida State coach Pat Kennedy thinks that, in previewing the Metro championship game between the Seminoles and the Cardinals, both CBS and ESPN focused on Louisville's resurgence and ignored his team.
"They never talked about Florida State," said Kennedy. "They just kept mentioning Louisville. Sure, it ticked us off. This was a national profile game for us." What the TV guys might have said is that the Seminoles have one of the nation's top sophomores in 6'9" power forward Douglas Edwards (16.1 points per game) and another strong inside player in 6'7" senior forward Michael Polite.
Still, it was hard not to notice the eighth-seeded Cardinals, who entered the tournament with a 12-15 record. They opened with an 83-76 defeat of the league's regular-season champion, Southern Miss (which goes into the NCAA tournament with four losses in its last five games), beat Memphis State 72-70 the next night and led Florida State by 20 points in the second half before falling apart. Louisville coach Denny Crum may have made a crucial tactical error in resting star guard LaBradford Smith, who finished with a game-high 26 points, for three minutes late in the second half, when the Seminoles were making their comeback run. "We were all hoping he'd stay on the bench just a little bit longer," said Kennedy. "He was killing us."
Next season Florida State will join the ACC South Carolina the SEC and Memphis State and Cincinnati the new Great Midwest Conference. That leaves the Metro with only four teams—Louisville, Southern Miss, Tulane and Virginia Tech—although South Florida and North Carolina Charlotte are expected to join the league next season. Some of the defectors left the impression that life hasn't been rosy in the Metro. Florida State, in fact, seemed as happy about leaving the league as it did about winning its tournament to earn an NCAA berth. "This is a great way to head off to the ACC" said Kennedy.
Not-So-Fond Farewell II
Another team that said goodbye to its conference after winning its league tournament was Penn State of the Atlantic 10. The third-seeded Nittany Lions beat the No. 4 seed, George Washington, 81-75, in perhaps the unlikeliest tournament final of all.