Alabama QB AJ McCarron defended Heisman winner Johnny Manziel for taking courses online because of the attention he gets at Texas A&M. "I go to class," McCarron told me. "You get some extra stares. But Johnny's one of my good friends, and he's had a lot thrown at him. I can understand." ... Kentucky coach John Calipari said the media have overstated the Wildcats' struggles because it's a compelling story line. "If it was the media [on the tournament selection committee], we probably wouldn't get in," Calipari told me. "Even if we won the [SEC] tournament, they'd try to keep us out." ... Indiana sophomore Cody Zeller knew he could have been a high NBA draft pick last season, and he considered going pro. "I was definitely close," the 7-footer said. "It's a lot of money to turn down. I just wasn't ready. I'm a little kid at heart." ... Nuggets coach George Karl told me his approach has been influenced by the fast pace of European soccer and Oregon football. "They don't want the defense to match up their strength against your strength," he said. "The weakest part of a defensive team is in transition."