A few "mind droppings" on the eve of the NCAA Championship:
* Over/under. If you had surveyed the thousands in Indy a year ago, and told them one of these two teams (Duke or Butler) would be back in the Final a year later, how many would have guessed the Bulldogs?
And what if I told you that Gordon Hayward -- Butler's best player and a Top-10 NBA pick -- was going to leave early? What would you say then?
* Hayward. Speaking of Hayward, what thoughts are going through his mind tonight -- as the 36-41 Jazz -- winding down a lost season -- prepare to play a meaningless game against the Lakers tomorrow?
Surely he's rooting for his former teammates, and might even be in Reliant Stadium tonight. But he's averaging 4.5 points per game (only 15.5 minutes per night) for a non-playoff bound team. How much would he pay to be back on the floor for "one shining moment"?
And by how many would the Bulldogs -- underdogs by 3.5 as of game time -- be favored if Hayward could suit up?
* The shadow of Jeff Capel. Shaka Smart's decision to stay at VCU is the latest in a series of decisions for mid-major coaches to remain at their (comfortable, and grateful) mid-major schools. In the last 12 months, we've seen Brad Stevens (Butler) and FoAP Chris Mooney (Richmond) chose to stay home, rather than make the jump to "high-major."
Perhaps the easiest way to explain this is by pointing to Jeff Capel. In 2006, Capel was the "hottest mid-major" coach. Coming out of Duke, he jumped to Oklahoma and proceeded -- in his third year -- to take a Blake Griffin-led Sooners team to the Elite Eight. Two years later -- despite a 96-69 record -- it's over. Thanks for the memories.
Yes, the high major life is "The Life."
But you had best win. And win now.