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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / December 12.
  • Obama & Coach K Tete-a-tete; Fields Ready to Play for Pitt; Carolina Wins Without Lawson

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    You’d think President Obama would have better things to do with his time than fill out a bracket with Andy Katz on ESPN and then go back and forth with Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski about the merits of his picks.

    Apparently not…

    Krzyzewski made a lighthearted jab that the president should be focused on the economy, not the NCAA Tournament.

    Obama called into the Ed Schultz radio show and was asked about Coach K’s comments.

    “Coach K, I think, is a great coach,” he said. “And you know, Reggie Love, my assistant, played for Coach K. And so it’s not surprising. I didn’t pick him to go to the finals. Look he’s a competitive guy, I just don’t think they’ve got the inside game to go all the way. But I look forward to him proving me wrong,” the president said.

    The president predicted North Carolina, Louisville, Memphis and Pittsburgh would make it to the Final Four, with the Tar Heels winning the tournament. Not included in his Final Four — Duke.

    “Somebody said that we’re not in President Obama’s Final Four,” Krzyzewski said from the Blue Devils’ first-round site in Greensboro, N.C. “And as much as I respect what he’s doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets.”

    The coach said, in referring to the president’s picks, “Why would I care about that? I love the guy, and I think he’s gonna be great.”

    ELSEWHERE AROUND THE BIG DANCE

    FIELDS SAYS HE’S GOOD TO GO

    **Pitt guard Levance Fields of Brooklyn missed nine straight days of practice with a groin injury, but says he’s ready to go in today’s game against No. 16 East Tennessee State.

    “I’m fine,” Fields told reporters. “Whenever I’m on the court, I’m 100 percent.”

    Pitt lost to West Virginia in the quarterfinals of the Big East Championship and hasn’t played since March 12.

    “Unfortunately we didn’t go far, but I’m good health-wise,” Fields said.

    In December 2007, Fields fractured the fifth metatarsil bone in his left foot and didn’t return until March.

    Now the Panthers will need him if they are to make a deep run in the Big Dance.

    Pitt, seeded No. 1 for the first time ever, has never advanced past the Sweet 16.

    TAR HEELS WIN WITHOUT LAWSON

    North Carolina, the No. 1 seed in the South, rolled No. 16 Radford 101-58 in Greensboro, N.C. even though point guard Ty Lawson is out with a jammed big toe on his right foot.

    Tyler Hansbrough scored 22 points to set the ACC all-time scoring record (2,789).

    Carolina coach Roy Williams said he wasn’t sure when Lawson would return.

    “I have no idea about Ty,” he told reporters. “If we practice [Friday] — if he’s able to practice and do some things in practice and do some things in practice, I’ll probably play him. But if he’s like he was yesterday [Wednesday], then I’m not going to play him.”

    With Lawson in the lineup, the Heels averaged 91 points per game. Without him in the ACC Tournament, they managed just 74 and were ousted by Florida State in the semifinals.

    In Lawson’s absence, Bobby Frasor has gotten significant minutes at the point.

    “When Ty’s out there, he can get the ball,” Frasor said. “He’s at the basket, he’s blowing by nine other guys on the court and getting his layup. I was, unfortunately, not born with that breakaway speed. So I try to use my head, I guess, as best I can. Pitching the ball ahead, getting the ball to guys in position to score. Just forcing the tempo that way.”

    Carolina’s chances of winning the whole thing would be diminished without Lawson, the super-quick floor general who opted to remain in college this season instead of jumping to the NBA.

    HITTIN’ THE LINKS

    Here are some feature stories we’ve read on the NCAAs that we recommend:

    **New York Times feature on Jeffrey Jordan of Illinois

    **Philly Inquirer story on A.J. Price of UConn

    **NYT feature on James Harden on Arizona State

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.