The usual centers of attention at Belmont games are country singers Trisha Yearwood, a Belmont alumna, or Vince Gill, a close friend of Rebel coach Rick Byrd's. Watch any Gill music video and you'll probably see some reference to the school—a letter jacket or sweater or a baseball cap. In fact, Byrd appears in Gill's recent video, Don't Let Our Love Start Slipping Away.
Last week was a tough one for Gill. Not only did his Rebels lose to Lipscomb, but also he was one of the 1,000-plus fans told there was no room in Memorial Gym before the Vanderbilt-Tennessee women's game. Gill did get in eventually, and he sari" the national anthem.
NO. 1 WITH A BULLET
North Carolina's chance to become the fifth team this season to be ranked No. 1 was buried in the rubble of an 88-62 loss to Wake Forest on Saturday. But maybe the Tar Heels should thank the Demon Deacons: With the exception of last season, when Duke was ranked No. 1 all season and won the national championship, no team in the last decade with the top ranking during the regular season has gone on to win the NCAA tournament.
There have been years in which a team has been ranked No. 1 during all or most of the regular season only to stumble in the tournament, the way UNLV did in 1990-91, when it lost to Duke in the national semifinals, or the way North Carolina did in '83-84, when it lost to Indiana in the East Regional semifinals. This season shapes up to be more like '87-88 or '88-89, when several teams rotated through the top spot only to have a dark horse emerge as champion.
In 1987-88 Syracuse, North Carolina, Kentucky, Arizona and Temple all spent time at the top, but Danny Manning led Kansas to the championship. The following year Duke, Illinois, Oklahoma and Arizona were each No. 1 for a time, but Steve Fisher replaced Bill Frieder as Michigan coach just before the tournament and led the Wolverines to the title.
So what does all this mean? Maybe it indicates that when no team can hold on to the top spot for long, the tournament field is vulnerable to a team led by a great player with a hot hand, or a talented team that doesn't jell until the end of the season.
It also means that if recent form holds, Michigan, Duke, Kentucky and Kansas, each on top sometime this season, and the current No. 1, Indiana, could be in trouble come March.
At week's end the best record in Division I belonged to Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Panthers were 18-1; their loss was to Utah and their most impressive win was over Wisconsin.... Senior guard Bill Elliott of Mid America Nazarene College, an NAIA school in Olathe, Kans., set the record for career three-pointers when he made five in a 76-74 loss to Baker. That gave him a total of 433.