NCAA Tournament

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch March 27

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch March 27


Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch March 20

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch March 20


Fixed Wreck

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

This has been a surprisingly good season for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010.

Head coach Josh Pastner has not had much success prior to this season.

He was hired in 2016 and that was his best season. Tech was 21 – 16 in 2016-17 and he was named ACC Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year.

He has had two losing seasons after that. In September 2019 the NCAA banned Tech from postseason play and put them on four years of probation.

The sanctions include a reduction in scholarships, limits on recruiting and a fine of $5,000 plus 2% of the program’s budget.

This was the result of major recruiting violations by Pastner’s former assistant coach and an ex-friend.

The Ramblin’ Wreck were 17 – 14 last season. Because of the global pandemic all postseason tournaments were cancelled.

On the surface the record was not impressive but there was one impressive takeaway. He had his first winning conference record in Atlanta, going 11 – 9 in the ACC.

Based on that we should have seen this season coming. Georgia Tech went 17 – 8, 11 – 6 in conference play. They were the fourth seed in the ACC Tournament.

They beat Miami in their first game. The next opponent was the No. 1 seed Virginia, but that game was cancelled due to a positive COVID-19 test within their program.

The Yellow Jackets advanced to the championship game against No. 2 seed and 15th ranked Florida State. They beat the Seminoles 80 – 75 and won the first ACC title since 1993. They shot 52% in the second half.

“First off, just want to give an incredible shout-out to our young men to get this from where we started, not only how it started this year, how it started five years ago,” Pastner said. “Holy Toledo, goodness gracious. Thank the good Lord. God bless everybody for sticking with us. And these young men, to do what we’ve done, to do this is just darned special, to put Georgia Tech back in the forefront of the ACC.”

Tech has the AP ACC Player of the Year, Moses Wright. The 6’9 senior forward was the only unanimous first-team pick on the AP’s All-ACC teams. He averages 18 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game. During a six-game winning streak he shot 65.6% and averaged 23.5 ppg and 10 rpg.

Tech is led by upper classmen. Senior guard Jose Alvarado is the second leading scorer with 15.3 ppg and 4.1 assists per game. Junior guard Michael Devoe averages 15.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 3.3 apg.

Even after winning the ACC Tournament and clinching an automatic birth to the NCAA Tournament they aren’t getting much respect. The Yellow Jackets are the No. 9 seed in the Midwest region. They play No. 8 Loyola Chicago (24 – 4) Friday March 19th at Hinkle Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, IN) at 4:00.

They should be a higher seed but I think they have a serious chance to make the Sweet Sixteen.

Jason Bishop Show with Kipp Branch March 30

Jason Bishop Show with Kipp Branch March 30


ACC Still King

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr. news services

We’re heading in to the second week of March Madness and so far, it has been exciting. We have the usual upsets like 12 seed Murray State beating Marquette, a five seed. \

The ACC is known as the best basketball conference and to some extent, they proved it. They also have raised some questions with the overall performance after the first weekend. They have sent the most teams (5) to the next round.

Duke is the number one overall seed in the tournament and top seed in the East. They are the only clear-cut favorite to win it all but they struggled in the round of 32. The opponent was No. 9 seed Central Florida and they won a nail biter, 77-76.

This game was much closer than anyone expected and the Blue Devils took the lead in the final minute. I’m not sure if this is a cause for concern for Duke or just a close game that can happen during the tournament.

For instance, 5th seed Auburn beat 12th seed New Mexico State by one point in the first round. Then they turned around and beat Kansas.

The Sweet 16 opponent for Duke is an ACC team, 4th seed Virginia Tech. The Hokies beat Duke at home last month. That was a game without Zion Williamson and the Blue Devils went 0-3 during that stretch. Duke is a completely different team with Zion so Va Tech cannot put much stock in their previous game.

We did not expect UCF to almost beat the Blue Devils so anything can happen. I do believe this will be a very close game but Duke should win.

No.1 seed Virginia has rebounded well after last season’s debacle. They became the first one seed to lose to a 16 seed in last year’s tournament. They appeared to be headed in the same direction this year. Gardner-Webb led Virginia by as many as 14 points in the first half. They went into the half leading by 6.

UVA came back in the second half and won71-56. In the second round, they beat Oklahoma. I have little faith in the Cavaliers because of what they did last season.

They play 12 seed Oregon in the next round. The Ducks lost their best player, Bol Bol for the season back in December. Virginia should win easily.

Florida State is the 4 seed and they play the top seed in the West, Gonzaga. These teams have recent history since they played in the tournament last season.

The Seminoles won easily, 75-60. You know Gonzaga is looking for revenge and that will make this the must watch game of the Sweet 16.

FSU is a team full of tall and athletic players that can defend. With that said, I think the Bulldogs are a better team this season and they should walk away with the win.

North Carolina is the top seed in the Midwest and they will face off against 5 seed Auburn.

The Tigers are a very good team and they won the SEC tournament. They are not a traditional powerhouse in basketball but Coach Bruce Pearl has turned that program around.

UNC is too talented though and I think they will win the national championship. That means I’m picking the Tar Heels to win the game.

SEC Best Basketball Conference In The Country

By: JJ Lanier news services

For years the SEC has been known as a football conference, and with good reason.

The start of the basketball season was just viewed as the beginning of the countdown until spring football games; each passing game meant fans were just one day closer to the start of the gridiron season.

Over the past few years SEC basketball has slowly crept up the rung of high powered basketball conferences. With four teams participating in this year’s Sweet Sixteen, they may have finally arrived.

I’ve joked in the past how outside of John Calipari the rest of the SEC had basically become the “Land of Misfit Coaches”. Names like Rick Barnes, Bruce Pearl, Tom Crean, and Ben Howland; all on their own personal reclamation journeys after being dismissed from more prestigious jobs.

While it’s still too early in Crean’s tenure at Georgia, the other hires have undoubtedly exceeded expectations. Throw in other coaches like Kermit Davis and Mike White, and suddenly the SEC coaching tree is as strong as any in the country.

(Up until a few weeks ago I would’ve included Will Wade on that list with Davis and White. I do think Wade is a good coach, but I’d be shocked if he coaches another game for LSU.)

The conferences strong showing in this year’s tournament, and the increasing possibility of having at least one Final Four team, can only bolster their upward projection.

Barnes’ Volunteers did their best to help run his consecutive tournament appearances without a trip to the Sweet Sixteen to eight, but low and behold they were able to break the streak. Now, they are probably the favorite to come out their region.

North Carolina is still the favorite to come out of the Midwest, but Auburn is as dangerous as any remaining team with their ability to stretch the floor and propensity for hitting the three.

Kentucky will need PJ Washington back in order for them to have any legitimate shot of beating Houston, and either UNC or Auburn. Still, that doesn’t mean the Wildcats will be a pushover.

And as a Duke fan, if the Blue Devils are lucky enough to get past Virginia Tech, I do not want any part of LSU. The Tigers, along with Tennessee, have arguably been the best team in the SEC this season.

My only concern for LSU entering the tournament was how they would handle all the off court distractions. After two good, but not overly impressive wins, I’m not sure they’ve quite answered that question yet. However, they are long, athletic, and talented enough to beat any one of the other remaining teams.

There was a four to five year span where SEC basketball consisted of Kentucky, and that was about it. The remainder of the league basically took turns at mediocrity, with the occasional surprise tournament run.

The SEC is still viewed as a step below conferences like the ACC and Big Ten when it comes to all around talent and depth, but they’ve made up a lot of ground in a short period of time.

The league may be full of coaches on their second or third chances, but they have all but turned the corner on being “reclamation projects”.

Basketball will never be as big as football in SEC country, but with some consistency and a few deep tournament runs, those three to four months may be actually be referred to as “basketball season” and not just “football’s offseason”.

Jason Bishop Show with Kipp Branch March 2

Jason Bishop Show with Kipp Branch March 2


Final Four Madness

By: JJ Lanier news services

I’m not a religious man.

Don’t get me wrong, I was raised Catholic but the only thing I retained are the litany of jokes regarding Catholicism. After this Loyola Chicago run and the support they’re receiving from America’s most popular nun since Whoopi Goldberg in “Sister Act”, I’m starting to rethink my religious convictions.

March Madness always has upsets, buzzer beaters, etc., but it just feels like this year has taken all those things to a whole new level. From a 16 seed defeating a 1 seed for the first time in history, to a Sweet Sixteen consisting of two regions without any top 2 seeds, to an 11 seed making it to the Final Four; throw in all the other stuff that has happened in between, I’m not sure there’s been a more entertaining tournament in recent memory.

Of course, based upon the first two weekends of the tournament, it’s only fitting we have the Final Four that awaits us in San Antonio. This year, we’ll get a little bit of everything.

The Pedigree: Kansas. After two years of having their season end in the Elite Eight, the Jayhawks were finally able to break through and advance. I’m not sure they are the best team remaining, but they are the most complete team.

Like the other three teams, Kansas’ strength is their perimeter play, but nobody has their size down low. If the Jayhawks are to win it all, they’ll need their post players to play big.

Arguably the Best Team All Season: Villanova. The Wildcats will arrive in Texas as the favorites to win their second title in three years. There really isn’t anything they don’t do well.

Defense? Yes. Take care of the ball? Yep. Potent offense? Sure, if you’re the type of person who likes your team to score a lot of points and hit a lot threes. For a team that plays 4 guards a majority of the time, they even rebound well. Not to say they can’t have an off night, or can’t be beat, but they’re the favorite for a reason.

Big Conference Team Clicking at the Right Time: Michigan. As much as I just drooled over Villanova and the way they play, you could argue the Wolverines are playing the best of this group. Three point shooting is going to be the key. If they’re making their shots from beyond the arc, they’ll have a shot. If not, it may be a one and done situation for the Big Ten champs.

Cinderella Team: Loyola Chicago. There have been other double digit seeds and mid-major schools (George Mason in 2006) that have made the Final Four, but I’m not sure any of them had as legitimate a chance to advance to the championship game as this Ramblers team.

Defensively, Loyola is good enough to disrupt Michigan’s offense and either of the teams they would meet in the championship game, if they are to make that far. They’re the underdogs, without a doubt, but don’t be surprised if they cause a little commotion.

After a season and tournament that has more than lived up to the hype, you can only hope that the final weekend will be more of the same. Based on the way the remaining four teams have played, I would expect nothing less.

You can take the pageantry of the Super Bowl or the excitement leading up to the college football playoffs; I’ll take March Madness over either of those every single time. It’s become a religious experience.