MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 08: The Texas Tech Red Raiders react after their 85-77 loss to the Virginia Cavaliers in the 2019 NCAA men's Final Four National Championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 08, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Random Thoughts: NCAA Tournament takeaways, Haskins-to-Bengals mock drafts, arm injuries and more

Spring football is winding down, and the ever-busier college basketball offseason is ramping up. Better clean out the notebook before Ohio State’s spring game this Saturday…

  • The NCAA Tournament championship game being an instant classic despite the skepticism of the jaded national media was pretty great. Of course it had to be marred by an unnecessary review and questionable overturn, but that’s life these days. 
  • Replay is essential because we can’t just put up with blatantly wrong calls standing (since we can now eliminate any doubt about those calls being wrong), but the humans who handle it continue to do a remarkably bad job by applying replay far too often and when obvious mistakes weren’t made. 
  • I agree with Pete Thamel’s pregame take Texas Tech-Virginia is the future of the NCAA Tournament, though I’m not sure about his conclusion we won’t see blue bloods as often. That is totally illogical to me as Duke and Kentucky figure to just go back to getting the best not-quite NBA players instead of the best who will only be there a year. They’ll probably be better off as they will have an easier time developing depth and continuity even if the raw talent on the roster isn’t at the same level. RELATED: Why a Wisconsin-Michigan game felt like a preview of what’s to come for CBK
  • There’s no reason to think CBK or the NCAA Tournament won’t continue to be entertaining. Look at college baseball and hockey for proof. Those sports still chug along without the benefit of a huge already existing fan base basketball enjoys. 
  • Mick Cronin leaving Cincinnati for UCLA is pretty fascinating. This doesn’t look like a good move for either the Bruins or Cronin, but I get why he might have felt underappreciated at his alma mater. I also don’t blame Bearcats fans who were wondering if better days were ever coming with Cronin at the helm. While he did yeoman’s work to rebuild the program after the terribly mismanaged ousting of Bob Huggins, he might have maxed out what he can do. Or perhaps this is the ceiling for the program? We shall soon find out. And we’ll find out if the program was holding Cronin back, too. 
  • Michigan State making a non-blue blood final four comprised of 75 percent defense-first teams and not winning it all is really something, but Texas Tech and Virginia are proof a team can play a defense first style without mauling people, so that’s nice. 
  • Most NFL mock drafts are made-up discussion fodder, but it’s amusing to see multiple ones with the Bengals drafting Dwayne Haskins at No. 11. Why is that funny? Well, first and foremost because it’s not going to happen. Neither do I believe Haskins will be there at 11 nor do I think the Bengals will take him — even though they absolutely should. I can’t help but laugh at knowing there is a growing consensus they need to be on the lookout for Andy Dalton’s successor even as the organization seems (at least outwardly) to be blissfully unaware. It’s not a haha funny, to borrow from My Cousin Vinny, so much as a, “They don’t know what they’re doing so what else is there to do but laugh” thing of course. 
  • (OF NOTE: After making this note, I came across a tweet in which ESPN’s Kat Terrell called drafting a quarterback “unlikely, not impossible,” so maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but still I’m inclined to believe it when I see it.) 
  • Even if the Cardinals risk the No. 1 pick on Kyler Murray and no one else in the top 10 is expected to take a quarterback, it’s easier than not to see a team trading up there somewhere to take Haskins. It’s debatable if the Bengals should devote extra resources to move up. That they should embrace the chance to draft him without giving up anything else is really not. He’s a big-time physical upgrade over Dalton who could benefit from a little time to learn so he can, like Patrick Mahomes, be that much more ready to not only play but play well when his time comes. (This was also an argument for Haskins staying in school, but financially it makes more sense to come out if he is going to be taken in the first half of the first round. If he slides farther than that, he will have made a mistake, at least financially.) 
  • Does the Reds’ 14-run explosion against the Marlins on Tuesday night make their horrific start more or less frustrating? The odd thing about their eight-game losing streak is it included about six games that would each have individually just been a bummer if they had most recently won three of four but instead were agonizing as part of a losing streak. 
  • Derek Johnson’s biggest task might be teaching Reds pitchers to perform through prosperity. More often than not in recent history they seem to pitch just well enough to lose. Saturday and Sunday the bats actually showed up and the pitching staff that was so good for a week fell apart in almost no time. 
  • Obviously the news Hunter Greene needs Tommy John surgery is terrible. It’s another reminder pitch counts don’t work in preventing injuries and the real issue seems to be overexertion on those pitches that are thrown. He did not throw a lot of pitches in high school, and the Reds had him very limited at Dayton last year. Is it a coincidence he came up hurt after hitting triple digits in every pitch in his Futures Game appearance? Seems unlikely. The well-meaning but ineffective pitch limit practice also hinders mental development of young pitchers, who increasingly don’t know how to pitch when they reach the majors. People in the game complain about this nonstop but do nothing about it. Except use more relief pitchers whose arms also wear out from overexertion... 
  • Lastly, did you see where the Alliance of American Football didn’t make it? The news was hard to miss if you have Twitter, where national reporters were gleefully declaring America just doesn’t want more football. If anything, the league’s abbreviated existence proved there is a market for winter/spring football and an NFL minor league. Despite getting lots of publicity and garnering decent ratings (compared to just about any non-football or NBA sports programming), it failed because of a lack of capital up front, which is extremely common for startup business regardless of the quality of the product or lack thereof. Nonetheless, falling back on one’s biases and prejudgements is always easier than examining the issues and thinking about them critically for more than 10 seconds. Of course, being skilled at quick, thoughtless takes seems to be a prerequisite for making it big in the media these days (see also the aforementioned takes on the Virginia-Texas Tech matchup prior to the game). At least one person over at USA Today seems to have a decent grasp on what happened, as evidenced by this look at why the forthcoming new XFL could succeed where the AAF failed.

“Random Thoughts” is a semi-regular feature here at the blog. While most of our other coverage is concentrated on news and analysis, this is a place to share opinions and have some fun. Have your own thoughts? Send them along to marcus.hartman@coxin.com or find us on Twitter or Facebook. 

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About the Author

Marcus Hartman
Marcus Hartman
Marcus Hartman has been a digital sports columnist and reporter at Cox Media Group Ohio since 2016. 
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