Archive for the ‘ College Basketball ’ Category

Olbermann vs. The State of Indiana

 

This morning I came across this video laying out the situation in Indiana with their newly passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. How I did not hear about this (probably because it Indiana) blows my mind. But this is ridiculous. How a state in 2015 thinks that they have the right to protect expression of religion, by allowing businesses to refuse sservice to another person based on religious grounds is absurd. This seems eerily close to the Jim Crow laws of over 50 years ago.

But more importantly, Olbermann and even Charles Barkley, have said that the NFL, NBA and NCAA need to vacate the state of Indiana. This would include events such as the NFL Combine, this years NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four and next years NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four. But the real issue is, will the respective heads of the major leagues in sports including the NCAA make the powerful move to boycott the legislation. Last year the NFL made a great step by standing up to the state of Arizona when they were poised to do something similar. So now all of these leagues are forced with a decision. BOYCOTT NOW! No human being should ever be discriminated for what their religion, skin color, general beliefs or appearance. It is 2015, we all at some point need to realize that the world we live in is evolving and that while traditional beliefs are what got us to this point, but at some point those beliefs evolved just like we as humans have.

Your move NFL, NBA, and NCAA. I am watching closely. It may be too late for this year’s Final Four. But a serious stance can be made going forward. Make the right decision.

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Quick Guide to March Madness

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You may have heard about this thing called March Madness. The prelude aired last week with Championship week. Different schools around the country, many you haven’t heard of, and many you have. There is a team in search of a 40-0 season (Kentucky) and even a team with a losing record (Hampton).

Quick recap of what happened. Arizona won the Pac-12 Regular Season and Conference Title. Its first conference title since 2003. Notre Dame won its first conference title, EVER. They never won the Big East title in 18 years in the conference, but somehow pulled off the feat their second year in the ACC. The Big East was won by Villanova, their first in years, yet nobody respects them and their 30 wins. The Big 12 and the B1G (Big Ten) were both up and down, yet have a good representation in the tournament with 7 teams each. But just because a conference has either 7 or 2. It depends on the quality. The toughest teams to beat in this tourney will be from the ACC and Pac-12. Look for a team from each of those conferences into the final four.

But let’s get to brass tax. Will Kentucky run the table? They are the first team since Bob Knight’s Indiana to enter the tournament undefeated. Is it time we start talking about John Calipari as the BEST recruiter ever? Despite losing players to the NBA Draft year after year. He reloads and this may be his best achievement yet. Let’s just see how they stack up in the tournament after falling short last year. The tough question is, who can compete with them?

It seems every year lately one of the favorites gets knocked out before the end of the 2nd weekend. Not making it to the Final Four. Even more recently, having mid-majors making deep runs. We have even seen those teams who are forced into a play in game, winning 3 games before the weekend is over (I’m looking at you Ole Miss this year).

Every year, we wonder, who is this year’s cinderella? What moments will we get this year. WIll my favorite team actually make a run? Let’s get to the games to find out!

The Madness is Upon Us!

It’s that time of the year once again. The weather is getting a little warmer (allegedly), St. Patrick’s Day is in our rear view mirror, next thing on the checklist is for Spring to come. But in between all of that, March Madness is here! Tomorrow, the first day 2nd Round begins. The 64 team field will quickly drop 48 of those teams in a matter of 96 hours, and one of them could be yours!

So before all the Madness begins, here is a quick guide to get you going, Region by Region.

Let’s start out West, where my favorite team has been given a number 1 seed for the first time under Coach Sean Miller. This Arizona team is talented, but will the loss of Brandon Ashley hurt them in the long run? We all know March Madness is a wonderful time, but all it does year end and year out is disappoint the fans of 67 teams. Arizona got a favorable draw, potentially facing Gonzaga/Oklahoma State in the 2nd Round 3rd Round of the tournament and then potentially San Diego State in the Sweet 16 (whom they have already beaten this season in San Diego). The potential rematch between these 2 would be in Anaheim, which normally would be a pseudo-home game for San Diego, but many Arizona alumni reside in Southern California, so you can’t help but pick the Wildcats in this scenario. In the bottom half of this bracket, you see a bunch of over-seeded teams as well as under-seeded teams. Somehow Bo Ryan’s Buzzcuts managed a 2 seed, even though they finished the season 10-7 and a #12 ranking. Look for this team to get upset early in the tournament by a hungrier, grittier lower seed. This Bo Ryan team is good, but they are not a typical defensive stopper as they have been in the past, and potentially facing teams like Oregon, Baylor or Creighton on the way to the Elite Eight should pose for some problems. Ultimately, I have Creighton meeting with Arizona in the Elite Eight, with Arizona coming out of this bracket. Their defense is too good, and they will make just enough shots to get by. Plus, Arizona has the size and skill in the front court to matchup with the bigs of Creighton, even Doug McDermott. Look for Arizona to make it to Arlington, Texas.

 

Moving across the country, we have Wichita State leading the way in the Midwest bracket with their 34-0 record. But that is honestly where the fun is going to end for this “Cinderella” story. Hard to call them a Cinderella story considering they went to the Final Four last year and this year have proceeded to go 34-0 to silence the critics. But to shut up all the haters across the country, they would have to go on a remarkable run to make it back to the Final Four, doable, but unlikely. The first test will come against either Kentucky or Kansas State, both very talented teams but also VERY inconsistent and underachieved this season. After a potentially grueling 2nd Round 3rd Round game, they have to deal with the likes of St. Louis/NC State or Louisville who was vastly under-seeded. Funny what one year can do for 2 different teams. Louisville knocked out Wichita State last year in the final four, and since then their paths have been very different. The Shockers have shocked the nation by winning 34 straight, while the Louisville Cardinal won the National title, but then suffered through an up and down season since then. They won the competitive Big East American Athletic Conference, but somehow managed only a 4 seed in the toughest bracket. But don’t sleep on the Manhattan Jaspers, Louisville’s first opponent. They are a tough, and talented team who could easily challenged the Cardinal in the first game. Down in the lower half of the bracket, the heavyweights are sitting and waiting. We start with the UMass vs. Play-In Game of Iowa vs. Tennessee. Regardless of who wins this game, I am picking them to beat the Minutemen despite their lower seed and so-so seasons. Iowa was a powerhouse most of the season before losing 6 out of their last 7 games. If they can get it together and win the first game, look for them to make life hard for UMass who hasn’t played a tournament game in a while. On the other hand, Tennessee could easily play their way to a win over Iowa and then UMass, based on the way they ended their season. They played mostly inconsistent ball the 2nd half of the season before getting it together in the SEC tournament, only to lose to overall top seed Florida. Next in the bracket is a no brainer. Duke will cruise by Mercer, with Jabari Parker showing everyone why he will be a future NBA star. I’m looking back at the careers of current NBA stars back in college and 2 players will come to mind for comparisons. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Durant had a monster season at Texas, but was subject to a 19 point blowout in the 2nd round of the tournament. The comparison with Kyrie Irving may be a stretch, but with Irving, Duke was a talented team, but just could not get over that hump and were beaten by a hungrier team. I feel like Parker will have the same fate and like the aforementioned, he will bolt for the NBA despite a less than stellar tournament run. I do see Duke reaching the Sweet 16, but their run will stop there. Why? The Michigan Wolverines. Even though they played Duke earlier this season, even with Mitch McGary, they were nowhere near the team that they are today. I just think in a rematch, on a neutral court, with Michigan playing better basketball, the Wolverines will advance to play Louisville for the right to go to the Final Four. Oh wait, another rematch of last year’s Final Four? But this time, it’s a rematch of the National Title Game. Advantage Louisville, but only slightly. This game is a complete toss-up, but don’t be surprised if the Canadian superstar Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III come up huge and lead the Wolverines to back to back Final Fours.

 

From the group of death to by far one of the easiest groups, we look at the East Region. Top seed Virginia got its number 1 seed after doing exactly what Miami did the previous season, win the ACC outright and then the ACC Tournament. But as Miami found out last season, just by winning the ACC regular season and tournament titles, doest not mean you will make the Final Four. Although this Virginia team is talented, they will ultimately fall short of their goals. They should cruise to the Sweet 16 before ultimately losing to a Michigan State team destined for that Final Four run. This will keep Tom Izzo’s streak alive of every class he has coached making the Final Four. Shoot maybe I should have played basketball at Michigan State. In the lower half of the bracket, there are a lot of prospects for upsets. There could be Providence over North Carolina in the 6 vs. 11 matchup or even the NC Central over Iowa State matchup in the same city. Both favorites have been playing some inconsistent basketball as of late, but are talented enough to make the Elite Eight in the same regard. Look for UNC to get to the Elite Eight before losing to a Connecticut team that catches fire. One thing we all need to remember, these guys still have some champions on the squad remaining from Kemba’s magical run in 2011. Never count out champions, they know how to win a few games in the tournament. Final verdict, Michigan State is en route to Arlington.

 

Over in the South region, we come across top seeded Florida, their first time getting that since winning the National title 7 years ago. Florida faces the same prospect that Arizona has, a potential tough second round game with talented, but inconsistent teams who could piece together a few wins tin the tournament. Where would Colorado be with Spencer Dwindiddie? Or what if the wheels didn’t fall off for Pitt multiple times late in games? Tyler Ennis’ buzzer beater being the hardest to deal with. But none of it is real, so Florida should Steam roll to at least the Elite Eight before facing a tough opponent. I know UCLA won the Pac-12 tournament, but let’s get real. They aren’t legit yet, and I do have them in the Sweet 16, but they have no chance against Florida. In the bottom half of the region, I can finally rejoice. Ohio State is in a potential first round second round upset! But even if they do get out of that matchup with Dayton alive, they will most likely lose to a much better Syracuse team. But Syracuse themselves will be delaying the inevitable as they will lose to an ideally a Kansas team featuring ailing Joel Embiid. As we have learned with Mitch McGary of Michigan, bad backs for young players can be draft stock killers. So for Embiid’s sake, hope his back heals because his team Kansas is going to need him to get to the Final Four. Final verdict, this back heals and Kansas makes it to Texas.

 

Now the Final Four will definitely feature a couple of nice games. Michigan State vs. Kansas and Arizona facing Louisville. I can honestly say that any of these teams facing each other in the National title game would be amazing, but I hope its Arizona vs. Kansas. No need to try and persuade through stats and facts, just putting it out there, and hoping the gods respond. March Madness is a cruel mistress. Good luck and let the Madness begin!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Jimmy V 20 Years Later

On the eve of the Final Four we look back 30 years, at the improbable cinderella run that the North Carolina State Wolfpack went on, en route to the national title. In case you have never seen it, or need a refresher, check the video after the jump.

This team, was one of the most inspirational teams of all time. Time after time, they were written off during the season. Many times they could have given up, but somehow, someway they persevered and fought through. They were down countless times during the tournament, only to comeback and prevail. During the National Championship, when they faced Houston’s “Phi Slamma Jama” team which included future Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, they were down 7 and eventually came back to win with a buzzer beater slam dunk. After the play, Valvano was in disbelief, running around the court just trying to find someone to hug.

While this team may be the inspiration for recent cinderella stories, this team found its inspiration from their coach Jim Valvano. He always told his team to fight, and never give up and 10 years later that message was evident.  During his bout with cancer, he inspired people all over the country, culminating with his speech at the 1993 ESPY’s. During this event, Valvano was being honored with the Arthur Ashe award for courage, as he was in the middle of a 10 month battle with cancer. Sadly Valvano passed away less than 8 weeks after his speech, but luckily there is video.

His words will live on, giving anyone who is down hope for and inspiration through the tough times.

Week 2 of the Madness Upon Us!

Wow. What a first week it was for March Madness. The #1 team in the country Gonzaga almost loses their tourney opener to Southern, and then 2 days later actually falls. A 15 seed squad in Florida Gulf Coast, who I admittedly said to myself (where is this school?), gets into the sweet 16. Should we all be shocked? Of course not. It’s March Madness, a time when the tournament can be as unpredictable as it can be exciting. Now with the advances in technology, we are treated to some gems like the GIF’s below.

The Shockers didn’t shock us with their rendition of the “Dougie”

Sometime’s I wonder if these teams actually practice their group dances or if they are secretly back-up dancers from some hip-hop group. Who knows!

Anyways back to Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). Here are a few random facts about this school which is making an appearance in the Sweet 16 in only their 1st NCAA Tournament.

-They have only been an actual school since 1997

-Their most famous alum is Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale

chrissale032513

 

-They became a Division 1 program in 2011

-Not only has the city of Fort Myers, Florida renamed their city #DunkCity…

Screen Shot Fort Myers

-They also have a rap anthem with over 500k views on Youtube

Gotta love this school who has become the Cinderella story we all love to see in March Madness.

One click of the heels is all it took for this Cinderella story to make the Sweet 16.

***

It has been one exciting tournament thus far. I can say, along with the majority of America, that we didn’t see this one coming. Almost in the same sense we didn’t see this Julian Gamble photobomb.

Anyways, time for the Sweet 16. If your not watching this weekend…

..I don’t know what you are doing with your life.

Enjoy the Madness!

GIF’s are ruling the Tournament!

Luckily, I was not home last night during the games or else I would have thrown my laptop through the television and probably would have made some other questionable decisions.

Thank you based god for providing this ridiculous dance

As you can tell from this GIF above, there was a ridiculous upset last night. First off, who knew that Florida Gulf Coast University even existed? Then they end up beating the Big East Co-Conference Champions? Wow. What a story. I heard they have only been around since 1997. Even better. But the dunk to ice the game? Absolutely perfect.

It’s open season out here for all these top teams. But honestly, I should not be surprised. Crazy upsets happen all the time. I just don’t understand how teams I picked to make the Final Four, decide not to show up to the gym for their first round games. All good. Has provided some some ridiculous entertainment.

This is funny..

We need to remember that these kids are NOT professionals, yet. So we should not always expect highlight dunks like the ones we see in the NBA, but some people should just give up while they are ahead…

….But this is funnier

You have to love March Madness because of this. While they might not have had any buzzer beaters yet, their have been many clips, and in this case GIF’s, that are picking up the slack.

Now I just hope that I don’t take too much more damage on my bracket. Things are getting out of control. As of 4pm, I have 23 of 33 correct. WTF!

They may have gotten blown out, but this was pretty sick

Updates from Day 2

It doesn’t matter what this kid is doing, this March Madness has been wild.

Yesterday there were upsets everywhere. As of 6pm today, I have 15 out of 22 picks correct.

Recap. (Original Pick on left, actual result at end).

Midwest Region

#1 Lousiville over # 16 NC A&T: Like I said, right to get blown out. Louisville won.

#9 Mizzou over #8 Colorado State: This kid’s face is killing me, along with his team winning. Mizzou Lost.

#12 Oregon over #5 Oklahoma State: Stop sleeping on the Pac-12 people! Oregon’s grossly under-seeded. Oregon won.

 #4 Saint Louis over #13 New Mexico State: Apparently the A-10 is good! St. Louis won.

#11 St. Mary’s over #6 Memphis: Of course I picked the Bay Area team to win. Dellavedova almost proved me right. St. Mary’s Lost.

#3 Michigan State over #14 Valparaiso: I don’t care that Bryce Drew is their coach, no upset here. Michigan State won.

#10 Cincinnati over #7 Creighton: In progress. Creighton is good and Cincinnati is physical. But I have too much Big East faith apparently. Cincinnati Lost.

#2 Duke over #15 Albany: Yeah right. Duke coasts. Duke won.

5-3 in this region. Bad Losses too. Not a good sign.

West

#1 Gonzaga over #16 Southern: Will a 16 seed ever win? Gonzaga almost let it happen. Gonzaga won.

#8 Pittsburgh over #9 Wichita State: Hey Pitt, remember when playing in the Big East made you a tough basketball team? Oh yeah, the conference is going bye-bye along with my faith in you. Pittsburgh Lost.

#12 Ole Miss over #5 Wisconsin: Marshall Henderson is just trying to make a name for himself. I’ll give him this one. Ole Miss won.

#4 Kansas State over #13 La Salle: Down big early, but came roaring back. Terrible final possession. Kansas State Loses.

#6 Arizona over #11 Belmont: Another Pac-12 school seeded too low. Act like I would ever bet against them in this situation. Arizona won

#3 New Mexico over # 14 Harvard: I didn’t care that New Mexico was a Final Four pick, I just didn’t believe Harvard would win. Should have listened to Jeremy LinNew Mexico Lost.

#7 Notre Dame over #10 Iowa State: Once again, putting faith in a lower level Big East team. Game Later.

#2 Ohio State over #15 Iona: Yeah right. Ohio State should mop them. Game Later.

3 correct, 3 incorrect so far. Wow.

 

South Region. VCU and Michigan are only teams to have played so far.

#1 Kansas over #16 W. Kentucky: I can’t believe I am wasting my time typing this. B-L-O-W-O-U-T! 

#8 North Carolina over #9 Villanova: PJ Hairston went H.A.M. in the ACC tourney. Give them one tourney win.

#5 VCU over #12 Akron: Of course I am on the Shaka Smart bandwagon now. VCU won.

#4 Michigan over #13 South Dakota State: Too much talent. What conference is SDSU even in? Michigan won.

#6 UCLA over #11 Minnesota: Umm. Pac-12. Shabazz Muhammed. Just hope this seeding isn’t based on Justin Adams breaking his foot.

#3 Florida over #14 Northwestern State: Same situation as Michigan. Never heard of Northwestern State.

#7 San Diego State over #10 Oklahoma: Still drinking that California school kool-aid.

#2 Georgetown over #15 Florida Gulf Coast U.: I think you already know. But Georgetown looked shaky in the Big East tourney.

2-0 so far. But no upsets picked could be a problem.

East Region

#1 Indiana over #16 James Madison: Blowout. 20 point lead at Halftime.

#8 N.C. State over #9 Temple: N.C. State almost came back to win. But they let Temple control the tempo early which killed it. N.C. State Lost.

#12 California over #5 UNLV: Cal is essentially played a home game in San Jose. Also it’s the most local team to where I grew up. Bias? Of course! Cal won.

Ouch! Don’t be a sore loser!

#4 Syracuse over #13 Montana: It was over within 5 minutes. Syracuse won by 47! Syracuse won.

#6 Butler over #11 Bucknell: Better have faith in these cinderella’s before they bust your bracket! Butler won.

#3 Marquette over #14 Davidson: Big East faith paid off. But that’s because Marquette was a Co-Champion. Davidson allowing them to comeback also helped. Terrible defense on last possession. Marquette won.

Great play or bad defense?

#7 Illinois over #10 Colorado: Pac-12 love of course, just need the Buffs to get hot. They are down

#2 Miami over #15 Pacific: Some of these matchups are ugly. This is another case. Miami won.

5-1 so far. Good games so far.

 

One thing I have been doing during these games, along with my many streams, is to tune into Grantland Live. Hilarious conversations between Jalen Rose, Bill Simmons and 2 other Journalists. Check it out. It’s hilarious. Here’s a sample of one of the videos, courtesy of Grantland.