Highly unlikely matchup

Notes from around the busy world of sports:

  • NCAA Tournament: What an unlikely NCAA championship basketball game we have tonight.

Neither participant was the best team in its conference. Kentucky was overshadowed in the Southeastern Conference by Florida, the team most people expected to be playing tonight.

Meanwhile, Connecticut lost to American Athletic Conference rival Louisville three times, all by double digits, including an 81-48 beatdown.

What does all this mean? That it is not the teams that are the most consistent during the season, but rather those that get hot at tournament time. Anyway, we still have a good matchup. UK is favored by three.

  • Cale Conley: Vienna native Cale Conley is expected to return to the Nationwide Series this week as he will represent Richard Childress Racing in Friday night’s race at Darlington Motor Speedway.

Conley once again will drive the No. 33 Okuma car in which he placed 11th in his Nationwide debut at Bristol Motor Speedway.

With the backing of the best team in racing, Conley has a great opportunity to further his career and thus far he is taking full advantage of the situation.

  • Mike D’Antoni: Marshall University’s search for a head basketball coach has become a national story with the possibility the Thundering Herd is interested in alumnus Mike D’Antoni, the embattled head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

A native of Mullens, W.Va. – where his father Lewis was the long-time head basketball coach – D’Antoni starred for Marshall from 1970 to 1973. Following his senior season, he was the 20th pick in the NBA draft and played professionally from 1973 to 1990, when he turned to coaching. In 2005, he was named the NBA Coach of the Year after leading the Phoenix Suns to 33 more victories than they had achieved the previous season.

D’Antoni will be 63 in May and if he has any interest in returning to West Virginia to finish out his career, this would be a great fit.

  • Steve Pittman: It was sad to hear of the recent death of Steve Pittman, a starting outfielder on the 1970 West Virginia state champion Parkersburg Post 15 American Legion baseball team and the 1971 Class AAA state champion Parkersburg High School squad.

Teammates recalled him as a talented athlete who was highly-competitive on the field and an upbeat, humorous guy off the diamond who laughed a lot and made others laugh.

Among Pittman’s teammates on that team were future Major League all-star Steve Swisher and Steve Grimm, who became the head baseball coach at PHS.

  • Edinson Volquez: I read with skepticism how pitcher Edinson Volquez had retooled his delivery and could have a big year with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But after watching him dominate St. Louis on Sunday, that skepticism disappeared. If Volquez can bottle up that performance, he will be a major asset and could be what Pittsburgh needs to win the NL Central title.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newsandsentinel.com