Asked lastThursday if he was interested in succeeding Mike Davis as coach at Indiana,Iowa coach Steve Alford repeatedly answered that his "entire focus andenergy is on helping my team win a Big Ten championship and get ready for theNCAA tournament." Translation: I want the job so badly, I can taste it.Several sources confirm Alford's interest in the job; the only question iswhether Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan will offer it to Alford(above), who has won only one NCAA tournament game in six seasons with theHawkeyes. While there are other qualified Indiana alums, such as Bowling Greencoach Dan Dakich and Orlando Magic assistant Randy Wittman, none would sendpulses racing in the Hoosier State like Alford, who has been an icon theresince his days at New Castle High. Greenspan could go outside the family andhire someone like Marquette's Tom Crean or former Utah coach Rick Majerus, butthen he'd have to answer questions about why he didn't hire Alford. In the endI expect Greenspan will make the obvious choice.
COACH IN HOTWATERS
Rumors are flyingin New Jersey that Rutgers officials have discussed firing coach Gary Watersbecause he went to Ohio for his induction into the Kent State Hall of Fame andmissed the Scarlet Knights' Feb. 12 game against Marquette when his flight homewas grounded by the Northeast blizzard. Rutgers AD Bob Mulcahy has implied thatWaters attended the ceremony without permission. The reality is that the coachhas been on the hot seat for the last two years, and his job security has grownincreasingly tenuous this season as the Scarlet Knights (15-11, 5-8 in the BigEast) have sunk to 10th place in the conference. So if Rutgers wants to fireWaters because he hasn't won enough, fine. But to pin such a move on a travelsnafu would be ludicrous and not the least bit believable.
1 Tennessee hasdefense and toughness issues. The No. 10 Volunteers (19-4, 10-2 in the SEC) canlight it up on offense, but they are ranked last in the SEC infield-goal-percentage defense and rebounding. Tennessee allowed Alabama toshoot 76% in the first half of last Saturday's 92-79 loss.
2 Louisiana Techhelped itself the most of the BracketBuster participants. By winning atSouthern Illinois, Michael Wilds (left) and the Bulldogs (17-10, 81 in the RPIbefore the game) strengthened their case for an at-large bid to the NCAAtournament if they don't win the WAC. At the very least, the committee wouldhave to take Tech ahead of the Salukis (18-9, 24 in the RPI).
3 The Big 12 isreally having a down year. It's looking like a four-bid league at best, and thefifth-place team, Nebraska, hurt its chances by losing at home to Texas Tech onSaturday.
For more HoopThoughts from Seth Davis, go to SI.com/collegebasketball.
CHARLIE NEIBERGALL/AP (ALFORD)
STACI GRAY/LUBBOCK AVALANCHE-JOURNAL/AP (WILDS)