Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Not only would it be easy and fun, but clearly the biggest benefit of interacting with middle schoolers on a regular basis is that every student is going through his or her awkward phase. This makes kids even more easily embarrassed, which makes the following video even more hysterical.
Not only is this kid knocked flat on his butt from the impact of the ball, but the five minutes after this video ended must have been priceless.
Anyway, enjoy this video, knowing the kid is mostly uninjured, though his spirit may be shattered until everyone notices that some fat kid in the corner has a boner, and then all will be forgotten.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Carnesecca won 526 games, and in the process, led St. John's to a Final Four in 1985, and Big East regular season championships in 1980, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1992.
Since then, the Red Storm has gone through five coaches, most recently Norm Roberts, who couldn't keep the team's head above water, finishing his six-year tenure at 81-101 and 32-70 in the Big East.
In fact, St. John's has been so bad, I photoshopped the school's Sports Illustrated cover to reflect the program's last 18 years.
With Roberts' firing comes the need to fill the position. There's only one problem: nobody wants the job.
Florida's Billy Donovan turned down the job, despite being offered $3 million per year. Then Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt, rumored to be the next leading candidate, either withdrew himself from consideration or turned down the job altogether -- it's not entirely clear.
Boston College's Al Skinner interviewed for the job, and today got canned at BC for doing so, despite having permission from his Athletic Director. Skinner was the school's winningest coach, and joined former football coach Jeff Jagodzinski as a coach to get fired from Boston College for interviewing elsewhere.
Some of this year's up-and-comers, including UTEP's Tony Barbee, Siena's Fran McCaffery and Iona's Kevin Willard have already agreed to coach Auburn, Iowa and Seton Hall, respectively.
Southern Methodist coach Matt Doherty spared no feelings in sharing his thoughts about the St. John's vacancy: "It's not a good job. I mean, I'm just going to tell you straight up. St. John's has a little bit of an inflated feeling about themselves. It's not a good job. ... Facility-wise, yeah, there's some talent in New York but there's a lot of politics in New York that you have to address. And so it's not the job that the St. John's family thinks it is. And that's what they're facing right now, the reality."
Ouch. The Red Storm is getting turned down more than a nerd before prom.
It's forced St. John's to turn to Steve Lavin, a college basketball analyst on ESPN and former head coach of UCLA. Lavin was successful at UCLA, and guided the Bruins to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances before his team finally missed the Big Dance in 2002-03. Lavin was fired, despite leading the team to five Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight in six years.
So who does St. John's turn to if Lavin turns down the job? Your guess is as good as mine.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Granted, I'm not the biggest baseball fan in the world. A good bit of that is because it is the slowest major sport in the world -- aside from cricket, maybe -- and because the Orioles haven't been relevant since I was 11 years old.
The two golden years for Baltimore in recent history, 1996 and 1997, in which the Birds, coached by Davey Johnson, lost in the American League Championship Series both years.
The O's parted ways with Johnson, and have since had five skippers, none of whom have gotten Baltimore over the .500 mark.
Every season, it's the year that the Orioles are finally going to be good. In 2008, Baltimore was two games over .500 88 games into the season, before finishing 23-50 the rest of the way.
But I remain hopeful. In MacPhail we trust, O's fans say. Baltimore's President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail has made some splashes since joining the organization, namely in making trades that benefited the organization, such as trading Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada for prospects.
The Tejada trade included getting rid of the chronically underperforming shortstop in return for five prospects, four of whom -- Troy Patton, Luke Scott, Dennis Sarfate and Matt Albers -- have appeared on Baltimore's major league roster at some point. Tejada joined the team in the offseason, completing what essentially amounts to renting an over-the-hill shortstop for four promising prospects who are contributing to the Orioles in some way or another.
As for the Bedard trade, the one-time ace was traded for five Seattle Mariners prospects -- Adam Jones, Kam Mickolio, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman and Troy Butler. Since then, Jones has become an all-star, and Sherrill was the team's star closer until MacPhail traded him for even more prospects.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Clearly, the most exciting part of the return of baseball is the Left Field Club Picnic Perch. If you've never heard of it, you buy a $40 club-level ticket (in advance, or $45 on gameday) and you get unlimited hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, nachos, ice cream, soda and lemonade.
So come hungry. And go Orioles.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
An autistic teenager from Chicago has done what, to this point, has been almost impossible.
He's got a perfect bracket.
Despite an unbelievable and unpredictable first round, including 17 games decided by single digits, and eight games decided by three or fewer points, 17-year old Alex Hermann has picked a flawless bracket -- so far.
According to Vegas Watch, the odds of achieving a perfect bracket are somewhere between one in 3.5 billion and one in 7.2 trillion. As in, if you filled out 120 billion different brackets, your chances of having one perfect by the end are roughly one percent.
That's just for the championship, though. The odds of filling out a perfect first round, taking into consideration point spreads and moneylines, is roughly one in 1,000,000, when factoring in upsets like Siena over Purdue, Old Dominion over Notre Dame and all of the other 8/9 and 7/10 coinflip games.
Yet, Hermann has done it. So far.
Unfortunately, Hermann entered his bracket just once, on CBSSportsline.com, in a game that does not award a prize for a perfect bracket. Sportsbook.com offers an $11 million prize for a perfect bracket, while other sites like Yahoo! and ESPN offer $1 million for the seemingly unachievable.
The bigger problem lies in the rest of his bracket. Hermann has picked the national champion to be Purdue, where his older brother goes to college. And, realistically, Purdue has about a 1 in 20 chance of actually winning it.
Regardless, it's an unbelievable story, and one that is only made more captivating due to his neurodevelopmental disorder. He's just one of many stories of people with autism defying statistical probabilities in achieving the impossible. Over time, we've seen the amazing things of which autistic people are capable.
In 2006, there was the New York high school boys' basketball manager, Jason McElwain, whose story touched many. In his final home game as a senior, with his team ahead comfortably and four minutes left in the game, McElwain's coach called him into the game.
The 5-foot-6 senior ended up hitting six three-pointers and finished with an astonishing 20 points. His team ended up winning 79-43, and his story fascinated the country.
The 1980s movie "Rainman," based on a true story, portrayed Dustin Hoffman's character as a sort of mathematical savant, whose talents included counting cards in blackjack and recalling what day of the week a certain date was, even decades before he was born.
From a mathematical perspective, nobody's story is more against-the-odds than Hermann's. And now, I've got to admit, I'm pulling for the Boilermakers.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Prior to taking the Wonderlic test, which players do in groups -- a la the SATs -- Tebow asked his group of fellow test-takers to join him in saying a prayer.
Presumably, Tebow wanted his group to do well on the test. He asked his group to say a prayer before taking the 50-question, 12-minute exam.
One player, whose identity is still unknown, turned to Tebow and told him to "shut the f--k up." Washington Redskins front office, if you're reading this, find out who that player was. And draft him. NOW!
This was just one of many hurdles Tebow may have to jump in his quest to get to the NFL. As a well-known Bible pusher, Tebow's religious views have been put on display, from his time volunteering on church missions to his Super Bowl advertisement about abortion.
Yet, despite a bit of teasing every once in a while, nobody -- until now -- has really put Tebow in his place. Hearing about Tebow's religious views is only slightly less awful than being subjected to them up and close.
In all fairness, it's pretty obnoxious to assume that everybody in a room would feel that a prayer is appropriate in that situation. Or that everybody in that room actually prays. Or that everybody in that room doesn't already want to kick your ass for being Tim Tebow.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
In the past 36 hours, I have experienced the Kübler-Ross model, also known as the five stages of grief, up close. As ridiculous as that sounds, the buzzer-beater loss to Michigan State was so much more than just that. It was the last game that three seniors, Vasquez, Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne would wear red and white.
If you know anything about Vasquez, you know that anything other than a dramatic last-second shot is the only way he could finish his sensational career.
Denial -- For about 45 minutes, I sat on my couch in the same exact position as I was for the entire game, with the TV turned off, and my jaw scraping the floor. That didn't just happen. There's no way that just happened. I must be dreaming.
Anger -- The denial turned to anger for the next seven or so hours. I went for a run until my knees hurt. That's not fair. That's not fair! Greivis worked too hard to have it end like that.
Bargaining -- As I drifted off to sleep, my focus changed to the bargaining stage of the process. I'd do anything to have that shot bounce out. I'd name my kid Greivis. Hell, I'd name my kid Korie Lucious to be in the Sweet 16 right now.
Depression -- The entire 24-hour period from when I woke up on Monday to when I woke up on Tuesday was all about feeling sorry for myself. Why did this happen to me? This doesn't happen to anybody else but me. Everything bad happens to me. I have nothing to look forward to for until August, when football season starts back up.
Acceptance -- Finally, approximately 36 hours after the game's finish, my mind is now on to thinking about Greivis and the legacy he's leaving behind. It's going to be OK. The Terps will live to play again, and Greivis (and Eric and Landon) will have great professional careers, in the U.S. or in Europe. It's just a game. It's just a game.
Tangent over. Future hall of fame coach Gary Williams spoke to NBC Washington's Lindsey Czarniak, and showed some emotion about his senior class, in particular talking about Vasquez. You may want to just listen to the audio, as the video shows several replays of the season-ending shot.
Monday, March 22, 2010
She's got the resume to do it, too.
Randolph was the wide receivers coach at H.D. Woodson High School from 2006 to 2007. She even played semi-professional football from 2004 to 2008, serving as a wide receiver for the D.C. Divas, a member of the Independent Women's Professional League.
That doesn't mean she won't catch hell for it, though.
Randolph told The Washington Post that she dreads the post-game handshake: "I hate shaking hands, because they walk right past me and don't realize I'm a coach."
The Post also reached out to the Clell Wade Coaches Directory, which discovered that among the 15,675 coaches in public and private high school football last year, none of them were women.
It's an exciting time for Randolph and Coolidge, and one that will come with some friendly -- and some unfriendly -- teasing.
While some may quit the team, others may be inspired to join it. A girl or two may even try out for the team. In the end, the school that has finished an indistinguishable 39-36 over the last seven seasons will be the one to watch this fall.
Previous coach Jason Lane resigned two months ago, according to The Post, "amid reports that school administrators were unhappy with the academic and behavioral performances of many football players."
In 1985, fellow D.C. high school Ballou hired Wanda Oates as its varsity football coach. Oates was removed from the position after one day due to an upheaval from other coaches in the nation's capital.
One anonymous D.C. high school coach added, "All I know is, I don't want to be the first one to lose to her. That's going to be wild."
Saturday, March 20, 2010
(5) Michigan State 70, (12) New Mexico State 67 -- The Spartans survived a scare from New Mexico State as this game came down to the last few possessions. Ultimately, Michigan State advanced despite shooting just 38 percent from the floor and 70 percent from the line. Guard Kalin Lucas paced the Spartans with 25 points.
(4) Maryland 89, (13) Houston 77 -- Both teams started a little cold, but the Terps pulled away early in the second half. Houston's Aubrey Coleman finished with 26 points, just above his season average, but the Cougars had no answer for Maryland center Jordan Williams, who finished with career highs in points (21) and rebounds (17).
(10) Georgia Tech 64, (7) Oklahoma State 59 -- An ugly game to watch, both teams went ice cold at the end, and Georgia Tech sneaked past Oklahoma State despite not hitting a field goal for the last 8:19 of the game. The Yellow Jackets hit clutch free throws down the stretch, and that made the difference for Paul Hewitt's club.
(2) Ohio State 68, (15) UCSB 51 -- As many expected, Ohio State rolled over UC Santa Barbara. What wasn't expected was National Player of the Year (candidate) Evan Turner's cold performance. He finished with just nine points on 2-for-13 shooting. No matter, as Jon Diebler stepped up to the challenge and finished with 23 points off 7-for-12 from three-point range.
(1) Syracuse 79, (16) Vermont 56 -- Syracuse wasn't about to let there be a repeat of the NCAA Tournament five years ago, when Vermont upset the Orange 60-57. Andy Rautins, Wes Johnson and Rick Jackson combined for 41 of Syracuse's 79 points, including six three-balls. The Orange led from four minutes in until the final buzzer.
(8) Gonzaga 67, (9) Florida State 60 -- Talk about a game that wasn't as close as the box score indicated. Gonzaga led by 16 at half before Florida State made thing interesting -- no, watchable -- in the second half. As usual, Matt Bouldin led the way for Gonzaga with 17 points and eight rebounds.
(6) Xavier 65, (11) Minnesota 54 -- Xavier guard Jordan Crawford was electrifying as usual and poured in 28 points, six rebounds and five assists as the Musketeers pulled away from Minnesota in the second half. Golden Gophers senior guard Lawrence Westbrook scored 19 points, the only Minnesota player to reach double digits.
(3) Pittsburgh 89, (14) Oakland 66 -- Everyone knew Oakland center Keith Benson was going to get his, and he did. The Golden Grizzlies' big notched 28 points and nine rebounds, but the rest of Oakland's roster struggled. Pitt capitalized on Oakland's lack of depth with six players in double figures.
(12) Cornell 78, (5) Temple 65 -- In a game that was surprisingly not close throughout, Cornell buried nine three-pointers and shot 56 percent from the floor as the Big Red became the first Ivy League team to win an NCAA Tournament game since Princeton did it in 1998.
(4) Wisconsin 53, (13) Wofford 49 -- When it came down to it, Wisconsin's Jon Leuer and Trevon Hughes led the Badgers, as everyone had expected. Leuer finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, but more importantly hit a pair of free throws to seal the game with 4.2 seconds left. Wisconsin has now won four first round games in a row.
(10) Missouri 86, (7) Clemson 78 -- Though Clemson connected on 12 of its 24 three-point attempts, the (orange) Tigers came up just short of giving head coach Oliver Purnell his first-ever NCAA Tournament win. Missouri forced 20 turnovers and 15 steals to survive.
(2) West Virginia 77, (15) Morgan State 50 -- For a while, things looked scary for the Mountaineers, who sleepwalked through the first 10 minutes of the half. Morgan State got out to a 10-0 start, but West Virginia's Kevin Jones kept the Mountaineers in it with 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting. Devin Ebanks added 16 points and 13 rebounds as West Virginia advances.
(1) Duke 73, (16) Arkansas-Pine Bluff 44 -- I haven't come across a bracket that had the play-in winner Arkansas-Pine Bluff shocking Duke, so it's safe to say that many expected the blowout that the Blue Devils delivered. Kyle Singler scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as Duke put this game away early.
(8) California 77, (9) Louisville 62 -- Cal appeared to be a predator teasing its prey yesterday. The Golden Bears got out to an 18-point lead, let Louisville think it had a chance, and stretched the lead just out of the Cardinals' reach again. Seniors Jerome Randle and Theo Robertson added 21 points each as Cal moved on convincingly.
(5) Texas A&M 69, (12) Utah State 53 -- A sneaky pick for many, Utah State looked like the perfect type of team to upset an unsuspecting Texas A&M team. Texas A&M wasn't having it in the Battle of the Aggies, as freshman Khris Middleton shot 7-for-10 including 5-for-6 from three-point range, pacing Texas A&M to a comfortable lead and a non-stress inducing win.
(4) Purdue 72, (13) Siena 64 -- In another game that many pegged as an upset in the making, Purdue surprised bracket-goers with a performance that may have swayed some opinions if the Boilermakers looked like that in games leading up to the NCAA Tournament. JaJuan Johnson finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds for Purdue.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Seven of the 16 games were decided by three or fewer points, and 11 of the 16 were decided by single digits. Three went to overtime, two 11 seeds topped six seeds, one 13 seed beat a four seed, a 14 seed beat a three seed, and a 15 seed nearly knocked off a two seed.
It was a bad day for the Big East. Read, and you'll see why. It's OK if you were stuck in your cubicle, frantically refreshing the box scores to make sure that your bracket wasn't busted. That's why I'm here with a recap of the first day of the NCAA Tournament.
(1) Kansas 90, (16) Lehigh 74 -- The Jayhawks actually trailed by eight points just six minutes into the game, and led by just one with three minutes left in the first half. Kansas forward Marcus Morris came off the bench and added 26 points and 10 rebounds to push the Jayhawks semi-comfortably past Lehigh in the second half.
(9) Northern Iowa 69, (8) UNLV 66 -- A tug of war-esque game, the Panthers were tied with 4.9 seconds left before guard Ali Farokhmanesh buried an NBA-range three-pointer as Northern Iowa won its first NCAA Tournament game in 20 years.
(6) Tennessee 62, (11) San Diego State 59 -- A popular sleeper pick, San Diego State staged a late comeback but ultimately fell short. Trailing 55-54 with two minutes left, the Aztecs were within striking distance of the second round, but Tennessee held on to advance.
(14) Ohio 97, (3) Georgetown 83 -- Every once in a while, a team that nobody considered a threat will go on to upset a potential Elite 8 team. Unfortunately for Georgetown, that was the 14 seed Ohio Bobcats, who, behind the 32-point performance from Armon Bassett, shocked the Hoyas with a lopsided win that was really never in question.
(5) Butler 77, (12) UTEP 59 -- Trailing by six at half, Butler came out with a 28-6 run in the second half to end up blowing out the Miners. Sophomore guard Shelvin Mack finished an unconscious 7-for-9 from three-point range and tallied 25 points to lead the way for the Bulldogs.
(13) Murray State 66, (4) Vanderbilt 65 -- Danero Thomas hit a 15-foot buzzer beater for Murray State as the Racers moved on to the second round. Vanderbilt players, coaches and fans stood in disbelief after Thomas' shot sailed in, even with a hand in his face.
(7) BYU 99, (10) Florida 92 (2 OT) -- In a game that could have gone either way more than once, BYU's Jimmer Fredette got hot in the second overtime, hitting a pair of threes to put the game away. At both the end of regulation and the end of the first overtime, Florida squandered opportunities to win the game, before BYU took matters into its own hands in the second bonus frame.
(2) Kansas State 82, (15) North Texas 62 -- Outside of a stellar performance from North Texas' Tristan Thompson, the Mean Green shot just 10-for-40 from the floor as Kansas State won one of the day's only blowouts.
(1) Kentucky 100, (16) ETSU 71 -- Guard Eric Bledsoe scored 29 points, including 8-for-9 from three-point range as Kentucky's safety was never in doubt. The Wildcats were only one of two teams to win by 20 or more on the first day.
(9) Wake Forest 81, (8) Texas 80 (OT) -- Texas led by eight points in overtime but somehow let the game slip away from it. Wake Forest guard Ish Smith put the nail in the Longhorns' coffin with a 17-foot jumper to put the Demon Deacons up a point at the end of overtime.
(11) Washington 80, (6) Marquette 78 -- Senior Quincy Pondexter banked in the game-winner with 1.7 seconds left as Washington pulled off the upset on Marquette, making the Golden Eagles one of three Big East teams to lose on Thursday.
(3) New Mexico 62, (14) Montana 57 -- Montana nearly pulled off another bracket-busting upset in a close finish with the Lobos. Down three points with 22 seconds left, Will Cherry missed a layup rather than finding a potential game-tying three pointer, and the Lobos escaped. New Mexico star Darington Hobson sprained his wrist in the second half and his status is uncertain for the second round.
(11) Old Dominion 51, (6) Notre Dame 50 -- Trailing by three with a few seconds left in the game, Notre Dame's Carleton Scott nearly scored the game-tying three-pointer, but the shot rimmed out. Luke Harangody tipped in the errant shot, but the Irish needed three, not two. The Monarchs avoided overtime and survived a thriller.
(3) Baylor 68, (14) Sam Houston State 59 -- Leading by two points with 2:36 left in the game, Baylor scored a couple of much-needed baskets to build up a slight lead. Sam Houston State nearly spoiled everybody's brackets, but Baylor held on and hit free throws down the stretch to win by nine.
(10) St. Mary's 80, (7) Richmond 71 -- If you didn't know who Omar Samhan was before yesterday, you do now. Unless you missed this game, in which case you will get to know him when St. Mary's faces off against Villanova in the second round. Samhan finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds and helped the Gaels pull away from Richmond at the end of the game.
(2) Villanova 73, (15) Robert Morris 70 (OT) -- Villanova survived a scare from Robert Morris, and even worse, a 2-for-15 performance from senior guard Scottie Reynolds, who looked horrible all game. Though Robert Morris led almost all game, Villanova caught up at the end, forced overtime and led the entire extra period, surviving a scare -- and some humilitation.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
(1) Duke (29-5) vs. (16) Arkansas-Pine Bluff
The breakdown: The top seed in the South region, Duke faces off against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the winner of the opening round play-in game against Winthrop.
Why Duke will win: Arkansas-Pine Bluff's frontcourt stands at a less-than-intimidating 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-8, which shouldn't be much of a problem for Duke's bigs, including center Brian Zoubek. Though not much of an offensive threat, it wouldn't be surprising to see Zoubek go for 15 and 15 against a small team that can't match up with the 7-footer.
Why Arkansas-Pine Bluff will win: Duke has flaws in its game, and has lost more games (5) than any other No. 1 seed. APB needs to find a way to minimize the Blue Devils' big three of Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith. That's easier said than done for a team that didn't even dominate the SWAC.
(8) California (23-10) vs. (9) Louisville (20-12)
The breakdown: Cal fell short of a Pac 10 Tournament title, while Louisville lost its first Big East Tournament game against Cincinnati.
Why California will win: Cal finished the season on a hot streak, winning eight of its last 10 games, and nearly won the Pac 10 Tournament. Guard Jerome Randle is a matchup problem for any team, as he is one of the fastest players in college basketball. He looks like Roadrunner among a sea of Wile E. Coyotes.
Why Louisville will win: Somehow, Louisville managed to give top seed Syracuse two of its four losses this season. Big man Samardo Samuels is better than any big man on Cal, and as long as coach Rick Pitino draws a gameplan around focusing on Samuels, the Cardinals should be fine.
(5) Texas A&M (23-9) vs. (12) Utah State (27-7)
The breakdown: An intriguing matchup between a team that barely made the field (Utah State) and a middle-of-the-road Big 12 team. Vegas has Texas A&M favored by a hair.
Why Texas A&M will win: With four wins against Top 25 teams, the Aggies have experience beating quality opponents when the going gets tough. Add in the fact that Texas A&M doesn't rely on one star player -- six players average seven or more points per game -- and its balanced attack should overwhelm Utah State.
Why Utah State will win: Utah State doesn't hold a size, speed or strength advantage, but it does have leverage in one noteworthy category: free throw shooting. If the game is close at the end, which it should be, and A&M misses its free throws, that could be the difference.
(4) Purdue (27-5) vs. (13) Siena (27-6)
The breakdown: Quite possibly the trendiest upset pick, Siena over Purdue has been such a popular pick that it might actually make sense for people to start picking the Boilermakers.
Why Purdue will win: Put a healthy Robbie Hummel back onto Purdue's roster and the Boilermakers win this game comfortably. The fact is, without Hummel, this is a different -- and much less impressive -- team. Look for forward E'Twaun Moore to step up and lead Purdue through the first round. He'll need a big game in the neighborhood of 25 points and eight rebounds for the Boilermakers to advance.
Why Siena will win: The Saints are an efficient team, with two of their leading scorers (Alex Franklin and Ryan Rossiter) shooting better than 56 percent from the floor all season. That, combined with Hummel's injury, makes this game not much better than a coinflip.
(6) Notre Dame (23-11) vs. (11) Old Dominion (26-8)
The breakdown: ODU won the CAA Tournament, dispatching some NCAA Tournament-worthy teams, while Notre Dame surprised some and won two Big East Tournament games without star forward Luke Harangody.
Why Notre Dame will win: Many, myself included, wrote Notre Dame off when Harangody went down. The Irish fought through and won without him, and with Harangody back (though not at 100 percent), Notre Dame should be taken seriously again.
Why Old Dominion will win: ODU has a little Cinderella in it. Forward Gerald Lee leads the team with 14.6 points per game, but he has a balanced act around him, with five more players on the roster averaging at least seven points per game. Any of those six guys could have a big game in them, and let's not forget that the Monarchs beat Georgetown on the road this season.
(3) Baylor (25-7) vs. (14) Sam Houston State (25-7)
The breakdown: Separated by just 130 miles, Sam Houston State and Baylor are practically neighbors. That doesn't mean the two schoosl are rivals by any means, but it does provide a little bit of a storyline heading into the first round.
Why Baylor will win: Baylor has two good reasons why it can beat Sam Houston State: guards Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn have been one of the best under-the-radar backcourts in the country all season.
Why Sam Houston State will win: Like Baylor, the Bearkats' strengths are in their backcourt. Guards Corey Allmond and Ashton Mitchell will have their hands full with Carter and Dunn, but with their backs up against the wall, we'll see how Sam Houston State will respond.
(7) Richmond (26-8) vs. (10) St. Mary’s (26-5)
The breakdown: A coinflip between a quietly good team from the east coast and a quietly good team from the west coast.
Why Richmond will win: Richmond is on a hot streak, finishing the season 12-2. During that stretch, the Spiders knocked off No. 19 Temple and No. 24 Xavier. Guards Kevin Anderson and David Gonzalvez continue to find ways to score, combining for just over 32 points per game for Richmond.
Why St. Mary’s will win: Three of St. Mary's' five losses came from teams seeded eighth or better in the NCAA Tournament. The Gaels beat teams with a similar profile as Richmond all season long, and forward Omar Samhan's 21 points and 11 rebounds per game is a big reason for that.
(2) Villanova (24-7) vs. (15) Robert Morris (23-11)
The breakdown: Overseeded as a two, Villanova will benefit from a fairly easy road in the early stages of the tournament, as it faces NEC champion Robert Morris in the first round.
Why Villanova will win: Guard Scottie Reynolds is a headache for any opponent, much less one from a one-bid conference. The senior is averaging a career best 18.5 points per game and won't need much more than that to lead Nova past the Colonials.
Why Robert Morris will win: If there's any two seed that's losing in the first round, it could be Villanova. Robert Morris matches up pretty well with Nova, as it primarily starts four guards and a forward. That eliminates a lot of the advantage that high major teams hold. Still, the Colonials will need a pretty flawless game to become one of the only 15 seeds to advance.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
(1) Kentucky (32-2) vs. (16) E. Tennessee St. (20-14)
The breakdown: The top seed out of the West faces off against Random Directional State University. Not surprisingly, Kentucky is expected to roughly double ETSU's score.
Why Kentucky will win: Kentucky has more future NBA players in its starting lineup than ETSU will ever have in its program history. Guard John Wall and big man DeMarcus Cousins should have a field day with the Buccaneers' inferior players.
Why ETSU will win: A reasonably good defensive team, ETSU could stick around for longer than expected if it doubles Cousins and forces Kentucky's guards to settle for jump shots. If Kentucky goes ice cold, maybe the Bucs can run with them.
(8) Texas (24-9) vs. (9) Wake Forest (19-10)
The breakdown: A few months ago, this looked like a potential Sweet 16 matchup. Then both teams essentially wet the bed, and now both should be disappointed to be slotted in the 8/9 matchup.
Why Texas will win: Texas has an unbelievable first-half-of-the-season resume, and was actually the No. 1 team in the country for about 30 seconds. It was talented enough to be good then, which leads some to believe that it should be able to repeat that success now.
Why Wake Forest will win: Wake Forest is one of the more athletic teams in the country, and forward Al-Farouq Aminu is a future star. He'll run circles around Texas' Dexter Pittman and could cause matchup problems for the Longhorns.
(5) Temple (29-5) vs. (12) Cornell (27-4)
The breakdown: Two potential Cinderellas, one of these two will have their dreams shattered after 40 minutes on the court. A shame, really, as both teams were underseeded by the committee.
Why Temple will win: Temple might be the country's best mid-major team. Take a look at their resume, which includes wins over Siena, Virginia Tech, Villanova, Seton Hall, Rhode Island (three times), Xavier, Dayton and Richmond. That's more impressive than a lot of the teams in the field this year, and junior forward Lavoy Allen's 12 points and 11 rebounds per game is a big reason for that.
Why Cornell will win: The Big Red could have been a five seed, according to ESPN analyst Jay Bilas. The 12 seeds historically upset the five seeds, and the frontcourt duo of Ryan Wittman and Jeff Foote could carry Cornell through the first round.
(4) Wisconsin (23-8) vs. (13) Wofford (26-8)
The breakdown: Wisconsin took a quicker-than-expected exit from the Big Ten Tournament, while the Terriers terrorized the Southern Conference and took down the title.
Why Wisconsin will win: Wisconsin is always a fundamentally sound team with a star player and plays within its limits. This year is no different. Guard Trevon Hughes is efficient and should lead the Badgers to a comfortable win over Wofford.
Why Wofford will win: The SoCon has performed well in the tournament in recent years, with Davidson being a perennial Cinderella. The Terriers shoot the three ball well and play good defense, not unlike Wisconsin. If nothing else, both teams match up well against each other.
(6) Marquette (22-11) vs. (11) Washington (24-9)
The breakdown: The Pac 10 was down this year, which explains why Marquette, fifth place in the Big East, is a favorite over Washington, the Pac 10 champions.
Why Marquette will win: Marquette strung together three close overtime wins in a row late in the regular season, and this first round matchup could go to an extra period as well. Senior Lazar Hayward will be going out with a bang for his last hurrah.
Why Washington will win: Washington closed out the season on a run, including winning the Pac 10 Tournament. Guard Isaiah Thomas and and forward Quincy Pondexter may be the best 1-2 punch in the Pac 10, and will be counted on for a big game to push the Huskies past Marquette.
(3) New Mexico (29-4) vs. (14) Montana (22-9)
The breakdown: One of the lesser-known high seeds in the tournament, New Mexico entered the field as an at-large after letting the Mountain West Tournament get away from it.
Why New Mexico will win: Nobody on Montana will be able to match up with Lobos guard Darington Hobson, who averaged 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists per game. New Mexico broke a record for wins in a single season, and should be motivated to come out hot.
Why Montana will win: Montana shoots the three ball well, and will need to do that to have a prayer against the Lobos. Though New Mexico is a three seed, it doesn't have the prestige that Pittsburgh or Georgetown do, so it shouldn't be as intimidating a matchup as other three seeds are.
(7) Clemson (21-10) vs. (10) Missouri (22-10)
The breakdown: One of the toughest games to call, Clemson and Missouri finished their respective seasons in the middle of their conferences.
Why Clemson will win: Forward Trevor Booker is the most talented player on either team, and a big game out of him -- to the tune of 20 points and 10 rebounds -- should be the deciding factor to lead these Tigers over those Tigers.
Why Missouri will win: Mizzou did beat four tournament teams this year, and guard Kim English leads a balanced Tiger attack. If Mizzou can get Clemson to settle for jumpers, it might be in good shape to live another day.
(2) West Virginia (27-6) vs. (15) Morgan State (27-9)
The breakdown: The Big East and MEAC Tournament champions face off against each other, as do two of the more morally reprehensible coaches in the United States.
Why West Virginia will win: A super athletic squad, Da'Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks are damn near unstoppable when they play smart ball. The surrounding cast of talent has picked up the slack when either Butler or Ebanks doesn't play well.
Why Morgan State will win: West Virginia has a tendency to fall asleep behind the wheel, and Morgan State is talented enough to sneak out a victory. If there's a 15 seed that is going to win in the first round, it's going to be Morgan State, whose head coach, Todd Bozeman, used to coach at California, and has been around the tournament a total of five times, including one trip to the Sweet 16 with the Golden Bears.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
(1) Syracuse (28-4) vs. (16) Vermont (25-9)
The breakdown: Top seed Syracuse opens as a 17 point favorite over Vermont, which knocked the Orange out of the tournament the last time these two faced off in a postseason. An interesting storyline, though there's a good shot that nobody on this roster was on that roster at the time.
Why Syracuse will win: Cuse looked unstoppable in the early part of the season, compiling an intimidating 24-1 record. If this team was able to dominate the best conference in the country, there's no reason for it to lose to a 16 seed Vermont.
Why Vermont will win: Vermont is on a nice streak lately, winning 11 of its last 12. The Catamounts can crash the offensive glass, which in theory would give them some much-needed second chance opportunities.
(8) Gonzaga (26-6) vs. (9) Florida State (22-9)
The breakdown: Coming off disappointing showings in their respective conference tournaments, both Gonzaga and Florida State are hungry for first round wins in the NCAA Tournament. Both teams have better than a snowflake's chance in Hell of beating Syracuse in the second round.
Why Gonzaga will win: The biggest advantage Gonzaga has going for it is that its head coach isn't Leonard Hamilton. Just kidding. Well, sort of. The Zags will need to get out to an early lead so that Florida State isn't able to run a slow down offense.
Why Florida State will win: FSU is one of the tallest teams in the country, with a lineup that spans 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5, 6-foot-9, 6-foot-9, 7-foot-1. Damn. The Noles will be taller than almost any other team in the tournament, and will need to take advantage of that against Gonzaga.
(5) Butler (28-4) vs. (12) UTEP (26-6)
The breakdown: Two mid-majors, Butler and UTEP both benefited from winning a ton of conference games, but struggled to earn an elite seed due to their strengths of schedule.
Why Butler will win: The Bulldogs haven't lost a game since December 2009, and much of that success comes from big man Gordon Hayward, who averages 15 and 9 per game.
Why UTEP will win: UTEP barely made the field, due to losing to Houston in the C-USA finals. The Miners are a good team, but probably not better than Mississippi State or Virginia Tech, who both missed the field. UTEP's roster inexplicably features 11 juniors, most importantly Randy Culpepper and Derrick Caracter, who combine for 32 points and 11 rebounds a game.
(4) Vanderbilt (24-8) vs. (13) Murray State (30-4)
The breakdown: Despite earning a four seed, Vanderbilt should actually be more worried about 13 seed Murray State rather than its potential second round matchup against either Butler or UTEP.
Why Vanderbilt will win: Though big man AJ Ogilvy seems to have regressed a bit from last year, the Commodores still managed a top four seed. Ogilvy's 6-foot-11, 250-pound frame is more than Murray State is equipped to handle, and if Vandy wants a headache-free opening round, it'll need to feed the ball to the Aussie.
Why Murray State will win: The Racers have quietly racked up 30 wins this season, and are able to create second chances to score due to their ability to rebound well offensively. An efficient night could send Vandy packing early.
(6) Xavier (24-8) vs. (11) Minnesota (21-13)
The breakdown: If Minnesota and Xavier switched conferences, the two teams might have opposite seeds and records. Xavier is the big fish in the small pond, while Minnesota is a medium sized fish in a reasonably large pond. Great analogy, huh?
Why Xavier will win: Xavier has some swagger, and comes into this game having won a lot this season. One of the most interesting matchups in this region will be Xavier center Jason Love versus Minnesota center Ralph Sampson III. Love is a senior, Sampson is a sophomore, but the two should battle well together. Xavier's scoring is spread across the boards, and it doesn't rely on one player to carry the load, which should favor the Musketeers' chances.
Why Minnesota will win: Minnesota's experience in the Big Ten has it ready to play in the Big Dance. The Golden Gophers are evenly spread out, and coach Tubby Smith runs one of the tournament's deepest rotations. A solid showing could easily move Minnesota past Xavier.
(3) Pittsburgh (24-8) vs. (14) Oakland (26-8)
The breakdown: I will be floored if you can name any other team in the Summit League besides Oakland. I'm pretty sure the Summit League all-stars couldn't get within 10 points of Pitt.
Why Pittsburgh will win: Pitt has played teams all season that are significantly better than Oakland, including Big East bottom-feeders like Rutgers and DePaul. Guard Ashton Gibbs should have a field day with Oakland's backcourt. These Panthers will beat those Panthers.
Why Oakland will win: Oakland big man Keith Benson has been the team's strong point, averaging 17 and 11 a game. He'll need around 40 and 25 to keep Oakland in this game.
(7) BYU (29-5) vs. (10) Florida (21-12)
The breakdown: A battle of two of the least impressive teams to make the field, BYU was 0-2 against ranked teams this season, while Florida was 2-5. Looking at it closer, the bubble was even worse than I thought before.
Why BYU will win: BYU is extremely efficient with the ball, and guard Jimmer Fredette is a reliable scorer, leading the Cougars with 21.7 points per game.
Why Florida will win: Florida isn't outstanding, but neither is BYU, and that's why this game is essentially a coinflip. The Gators have the most talented guy on either roster with guard Kenny Boynton, who leads the team in scoring despite shooting 37 percent from the floor and 29 percent from three-point range.
(2) Kansas State (26-7) vs. (15) North Texas (24-8)
The breakdown: K-State finished the Big 12 in second place, which many predicted, while North Texas won the Sun Belt. Your run of the mill 2/15 matchup.
Why Kansas State will win: The Wildcats could afford to play the end of their bench and would still probably beat North Texas by a handful. Up and down, Kansas State is more talented, more athletic, and bigger.
Why North Texas will win: North Texas isn't a team loaded with talent, so it will have to get creative to beat Kansas State. How they do that is beyond me. That's why they don't pay me the big bucks.
Monday, March 15, 2010
(1) Kansas (32-2) vs. (16) Lehigh (22-10)
The breakdown: The field's top seed, Kansas, enters the tournament riding a Big 12 Tournament championship, and has looked unbeatable for most of the season, while the Mountain Hawks and their fans stormed the court when Lehigh topped Lafayette in the Patriot League finals.
Why Kansas will win: The Jayhawks are favored by 26.5 points, and for good reason. A 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed, and that will continue, at least in the Midwest region. Kansas is third in the nation at points per possession (1.145), so Sherron Collins and Co. makes the most of it when they have the ball.
Why Lehigh will win: Accurate shooting is Lehigh's bread and butter. The Mountain Hawks rank 62nd in the country in field goal percentage (51.6) and will need to maximize every possession against Kansas to keep the game within 15 points.
(8) UNLV (25-8) vs. (9) Northern Iowa (28-4)
The breakdown: One of the tournament's more athletic teams, UNLV faces off against a team of corn-fed Iowa boys in the first round. The Panthers are a one-point favorite, and will be one of the more interesting games to watch due to the teams' polar opposite styles of play.
Why UNLV will win: Though not in a big six conference, UNLV has some experience playing against ranked teams this year, going 4-2 against the Top 25. That should prepare the Runnin' Rebels for a tough first round matchup against a Northern Iowa team that racked up a ton of regular season wins.
Why Northern Iowa will win: About that 28-4 record. The Panthers went on a white-hot 21-1 streak of games in the middle of the season, and knows how to outsmart and pester their opponents, like a guy running pickup ball at the neighborhood YMCA.
(5) Michigan State (24-8) vs. (12) New Mexico State (22-11)
The breakdown: The battle-tested Spartans are 12-point favorites over the underdog Aggies, who just won the WAC Tournament. Two big question marks remain for Michigan State, which may determine how deep the Spartans are able to go in the tournament.
Why Michigan State will win: In any given year, coach Tom Izzo can be counted on to guide the Spartans to a Sweet 16. Despite some recent hiccups, Michigan State has been one of the nation's best offensive rebounding teams, which will be the Spartans' biggest first round advantages.
Why New Mexico State will win: Michigan State may or may not be without guard Chris Allen, who was suspended for the Big Ten Tournament, and forward Delvon Roe has been limited in the last four games due to injury. The Aggies will need a big game out of guards Jahmar Young and Jonathan Gibson to pull off this Cinderella story.
(4) Maryland (23-8) vs. (13) Houston (19-15)
The breakdown: While Maryland barely showed up for the ACC Tournament, Houston was playing for its life in Conference USA. The Cougars entered the tournament 15-15, with a losing record in conference play, but strung together four wins in four days to qualify for the tournament. The Terps are nine point favorites, according to Vegas.
Why Maryland will win: Seniors Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne and Eric Hayes are the faces of the Terrapins. The Terps were one of the nation's hottest teams, winning their last seven ACC games before bowing out in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. Vasquez, the ACC's Player of the Year, leads the team in points (19.5) and assists (6.3).
Why Houston will win: Aubrey Coleman is one of the best players in the country that nobody knows. The senior scored 90 points in four Conference USA Tournament wins as the Cougars won their conference postseason tournament despite entering as a seven seed. Coleman will need to put up 25 points to keep up with Vasquez.
(6) Tennessee (25-8) vs. (11) San Diego State (25-8)
The breakdown: A team that just ran the table in the Mountain West (San Diego State) takes on a team that just lost in its conference semifinals by 29 points (Tennessee). Still, the Vols are a three-point favorite on Thursday.
Why Tennessee will win: Tennessee was the only team to beat both Kansas and Kentucky this year, which should give the Volunteers some hope of making a deep run in the tournament. When most expected them to flop after a series of in-season incidents, Tennessee pushed through behind the steady play of Scotty Hopson and Wayne Chism.
Why San Diego State will win: If the Aztecs have been watching film, they saw on Saturday how to beat Tennessee. The Volunteers trailed by six points with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game, but lost their cool and started settling for bad shots. Tennessee eventually lost by 29, which will fuel the Volunteers' fire, but also show San Diego State how to take advantage of that.
(3) Georgetown (23-10) vs. (14) Ohio (21-14)
The breakdown: Two teams that finished the season hot, Georgetown enters the game as the runner up in the Big East Tournament. Ohio wouldn't have sniffed a postseason tournament if it hadn't won four in a row in the MAC Tournament.
Why Georgetown will win: The Hoyas had the nation's toughest strength of schedule, and that wasn't because they played teams like Ohio with any regularity. Georgetown has beaten seven ranked teams this year, including No. 3 Syracuse in the Big East Tournament.
Why Ohio will win: The Bobcats got hot at the right time, stringing together four wins in a row in the MAC Tournament as the Eastern division's five seed. They'll need to continue that winning streak against Georgetown, which would be their best win of the season -- and their only opportunity to play a ranked team all year.
(7) Oklahoma State (22-10) vs. (10) Georgia Tech (22-12)
The breakdown: A virtual coinflip, Vegas has Oklahoma State by 1.5 points. Don't sweat too much over this one, as either team would have to play a near-perfect 40 minutes to overtake Ohio State in the second round.
Why Oklahoma State will win: The Cowboys have big games in them, as evidenced by their 85-77 win over Kansas two weeks ago. A three-headed backcourt of James Anderson, Obi Muonelo and Keiton Page leads Oklahoma State in scoring. Anderson has exploded for 30-plus points five times this season, and will be relied on heavily to carry the Cowboys past Georgia Tech's big frontcourt.
Why Georgia Tech will win: The Yellow Jackets gobble up offensive rebounds, thanks to future first round picks Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors. Georgia Tech also forces its opponents to take bad shots -- it ranks ninth in the country at 43.7%.
(2) Ohio State (27-7) vs. (15) UC Santa Barbara (20-9)
The breakdown: One of the nation's hottest teams, Ohio State and star point guard Evan Turner face off against the best in the Big West. Ohio State is favored by 16.5, and should take care of business in the early rounds. However, the Buckeyes' Achilles heel is their depth, or lack thereof. Coach Thad Matta runs a seven-man rotation, and has for much of the season. Will Ohio State show up with tired legs?
Why Ohio State will win: Player of the Year (candidate) Evan Turner is the key to Ohio State's success. With him, they are 24-4, without him they are 3-3. Do the math. Or don't. The Buckeyes are almost a lock to advance.
Why UC Santa Barbara will win: Mid-major teams have exploited the three-pointer in recent years, and the Gauchos hope to continue on that success. UCSB can hit the three ball consistently, and it will need to in order to hang around with Ohio State. If the Gauchos can get Turner in foul trouble, this game could be closer than expected.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
(1) Kansas vs. (16) Lehigh/Arkansas-Pine Bluff (play-in)
(8) Washington vs. (9) Clemson
(4) Pitt vs. (13) Oakland
(5) Maryland vs. (12) San Diego State
(3) Wisconsin vs. (14) Sam Houston State
(6) Butler vs. (11) Florida
(2) Georgetown vs. (15) North Texas
(7) Northern Iowa vs. (10) Louisville
(1) Kentucky vs. (16) Robert Morris
(8) UNLV vs. (9) Notre Dame
(4) New Mexico vs. (13) Ohio
(5) Texas A&M vs. (12) Cornell
(3) Villanova vs. (14) Houston
(6) BYU vs. (11) Minnesota
(2) West Virginia vs. (15) UC Santa Barbara
(7) Oklahoma State vs. (10) Wake Forest
(1) Syracuse vs. (16) East Tennessee State
(8) Florida State vs. (9) Missouri
(4) Temple vs. (13) New Mexico State
(5) Michigan State vs. (12) Siena
(3) Baylor vs. (14) Wofford
(6) Xavier vs. (11) Mississippi State
(2) Kansas State vs. (15) Vermont
(7) Gonzaga vs. (10) Old Dominion
(1) Duke vs. (16) Winthrop
(8) California vs. (9) Marquette
(4) Purdue vs. (13) Murray State
(5) Vanderbilt vs. (12) Utah State
(3) Tennessee vs. (14) Montana
(6) Richmond vs. (11) St. Mary’s
(2) Ohio State vs. (15) Morgan State
(7) Texas vs. (10) Georgia Tech
Last four in: Utah State, Minnesota, Florida, Mississippi State
First four out: Virginia Tech, Illinois, UTEP, Rhode Island
Next four out: Ole Miss, Memphis, Seton Hall, Arizona State
Friday, March 12, 2010
His latest off-the-field foray is apparently with VH1. The world leader in trashy television has given Ochocinco his own reality show called "The Tournament," where the 32-year old father of four will try to find love.
In a bracket-style show, Ochocinco will select 85 women as potential girlfriends, then whittle down the list for a Sweet 16, an Elite Eight and a Final Four, before finally awarding one lucky lady the Championship Ring.
The show is expected to include 10 hour-long episodes as Ochocinco tries to find the love of his life -- or more likely, the woman who will pop out his fifth kid.
VH1 Executive Vice President Jeff Olde said in a statement yesterday that:
"Ochocinco is one of the most electrifying individuals in sports today. His bigger-than-life personality on- and off-the-field and his notorious skills as a social networker, connecting daily with his fans, makes him a perfect fit for VH1. This show will not only give viewers a look inside his professional life, but also reveal his softer more romantic side when playing a very different kind of game."
I'm sure his teammates will really appreciate having their star wide receiver revealing his romantic side in the off-season.
He's just as enigmatic off the field as he is on it. In the past, he's legally changed his name from Chad Johnson to Chad Ochocinco in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. He's raced a thoroughbred horse 200 meters, created his own iPhone application, lined up as placekicker for the Bengals, and signed up for "Dancing with the Stars".