Friday, March 30, 2012
That said, they aren't lose-to-a-college-basketball-team bad. So when former Maryland basketball head coach Gary Williams said that this year's Kentucky Wildcats could beat this year's Washington Wizards -- or even have a chance of doing that -- it caught some attention.
"I think one game -- Kentucky couldn't play in the NBA or anything like that -- but one game at Rupp Arena, I wouldn't be surprised to see Kentucky win one game. Because you're gonna have five players off that team playing in the NBA, and probably playing significant roles in the NBA. And that's why I say that, for one game," he continued.
No, Gary. No. No. No. Kentucky could not beat the Wizards, even on its home court, even on the third day of the Wizards playing back-to-back-to-back games. Not even one in 10 games.
The flawed logic here is that Kentucky, which has one of the best teams in recent NCAA history, including five bona fide future NBA players on its roster, only has five bona fide future NBA players on its roster.
Guess how many the Wizards have? Fifteen! (And not 15 guys who wouldn't be on another NBA roster if not for Washington.)
Yes, the Wildcats feature several future NBA stars. Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague will almost assuredly play at the next level. But they aren't ready to run with the big boys today. And they presumably won't be ready to run with the big boys as NBA rookies, either.
The NBA strength and conditioning -- preparing players to play 48-minute games 82 times a year -- is much more stringent than the conditioning at the college level. A guy like Trevor Booker or Nene Hilario in the Wizards' frontcourt would eat Davis' lunch and give him a wedgie before Davis could blink. John Wall is so head-and-shoulders better than anyone in Kentucky's backcourt, the Wizards' point guard would embarrass the college kids.
The other part of this equation? How about the fact that the Wizards would go down in the history books for losing to a college team? The pride alone would lead the Wizards to win by 15 easily.
Obviously this is a hypothetical that can be argued to death without ever being resolved. But frankly, it's bizarre that Williams, who watches a ton of NBA games, would think that's a possibility.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
In the men's, two 15 seeds made tournament history by winning first-round games. No. 13 seed Ohio took No. 1 seed North Carolina to the wire, forcing overtime in an eventual loss. No. 12 seed Virginia Commonwealth, on the heels of a magical tournament run last year, nearly found itself in the Sweet Sixteen again this year.
Yet on the women's side, all four No. 1 seeds reached the Final Four. And all four No. 1 seeds did it easily.
Baylor got there by winning games by margins of 41, 19, 25 and 19 points. It led by double-digits at the half in three of those four games. The only fun anyone had watching the Bears was tuning in to see if star Brittney Griner would dunk.
Notre Dame's road was just as easy. The Lady Irish won their games by 31, 11, 44 and 31 points. Three of their four games were decided by at least 30 points. Just one men's tournament game was decided by more than 26 points all tournament long.
UConn got there with wins by 36, 46, 18 and 15 points. And Stanford did it with wins of 22, 17, 16 and 12.
Think about this: no No. 1 seed won a single game by single digits all tournament. You could have had one of the top brackets in the country simply by picking favorites. All four No. 1 seeds made the Final Four. All four No. 2 seeds made the Elite Eight. And just two double-digit seeds reached the Sweet Sixteen.
Suffice it to say that nobody's bracket is exactly busted. And as I've said before -- and taken heat for before -- this just adds gasoline to the fire for anyone saying women's hoops is more March Monotony than March Madness this time of year.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
And as for whether or not it's unusual to have the President of the United States coaching his daughter's team? "This is what Dads are supposed to do. They take it for granted," Obama told Katz.
You can watch the two-minute segment here.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
He's got four NBA Championship rings, 13 NBA All-Star appearances, two NBA MVP awards and a host of other accolades.
He's also been the model of what a professional athlete should be, staying out of trouble and letting his action on the court dictate what people will remember him for. And on top of all of that, he's pretty healthy, missing four or more games in just six of his 14-plus seasons. He goes to work, gets wins and goes home.
Now in his 15th season with the Spurs, his stats have predictably begun to decline a little. You can't fault the guy. Being 36 in pro sports is like being 80 in librarian years. The guy's a little beaten up. And with the NBA's shortened -- and grueling -- schedule, you can't fault him for taking the occasional day off to heal up.
Hell, he's played in 44 of the team's 47 games this year, helping the Spurs secure a 33-14 record, good for first place in the Southwest Division by a healthy margin -- and good for second-place in the Western Conference.
Well, the NBA didn't seem to show too much compassion for the Big Fundamental deciding to take Sunday's game against Philadelphia off. The Spurs didn't need him, though, winning a comfortable 93-76. Look how he appeared in the box score below:
Damn, poor guy can't take a night off without everyone knowing it. Next time he takes a game, the league's gonna write: Did not dress - Osteoporosis. Then maybe Did not dress - Hip replacement.
The NBA later changed its box score to simply DND. But man, if Tim Duncan knew what the Internet was, I bet he would have been pissed.
Monday, March 26, 2012
The Tar Heels already lose big man Tyler Zeller to graduation and freshman backup point guard Stilman White to a Mormon mission. But head coach Roy Williams has to prepare for the probable losses of junior John Henson and sophomore Harrison Barnes.
And that's not all: sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall and freshmen P.J. Hairston and James Michael McAdoo are all early entry candidates.
Let's be optimistic (unless you're a UNC fan) and assume every one of those kids leaves for the 2012 NBA Draft.
That means 83% of the team's scoring could vanish after this season, to go along with 74% of its rebounds and 85% of its assists. And despite the nation's fifth-ranked incoming recruiting class -- including the 41st-, 49th-, 61st- and 68th-rated players in the country -- the dropoff will be unavoidable.
The leading returning players are sophomore guard Reggie Bullock (8.7 points per game) and juniors Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald. But McDonald missed the entire season with an injury and Strickland missed the season's final 18 games with an injury, too.
Though it's highly unlikely all will leave -- McAdoo, Hairston and Marshall are the likeliest to return -- it's obvious Williams will be sweating out the next few weeks before players have to declare their intentions to return to school on April 10. The rest of the ACC will wait with high anticipation, too, as losing all those players could mean UNC finds itself in the NIT next year.
Friday, March 23, 2012
The team has made it obvious in its plans to draft Griffin, and team owner Daniel Snyder and head coach Mike Shanahan were among the attendees for the dazzling performance.
(Of course, Snyder and Shanahan made sure to eat a meal at Waco's finest Hooters before heading out to see Griffin.)
Regardless, NFL scouts, reporters and Redskins' management were impressed by Griffin's showing.
As the Washington Post's Mike Jones reported, "Griffin again showed his potential as an elite level quarterback with an accurate arm and great mobility."
Jones said Griffin threw 78 passes, "completing all but four of them, and showed good range during the workout."
NFL analyst Ron Jaworski appeared on ESPN Radio following the workout and couldn't help but gush about Griffin.
"The mechanics, the quickness, the drop, the release, the accuracy, the touch, the firm throws, the zip throws, the screen throws, the checkdowns. Everything was to perfection ... It looks like it'll be the Washington Redskins that get him, and Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan, they left there with big smiles on their face," Jaworski said.
After his workout, Griffin spoke to the media. "The owner's great. Mike Shanahan is as good as advertised, and his son is stepping up and doing a lot in D.C., for that team. If it happens to be me, they've definitely shown me that I can get along with them, keep it light, but when it's time to get serious, get serious," he said.
Though the Redskins had already essentially committed to drafting Griffin no matter what he looked like on his pro day, it's great to hear that he appeared to be worth the three first-round and a second-round draft pick that it cost for Washington to secure their guy.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
The job would have been a considerable upgrade in prestige and competition, along with a promotion from "mid-major" to "high-major" coach. It's a natural progression in college basketball that many -- including Maryland's Mark Turgeon -- have experienced.
Smart turned down the NC State job last year, too. People called him crazy then, and they're calling him crazy again. But he's not the only mid-major coach enjoying his current gig enough to stick around a few more years.
Butler coach Brad Stevens' stock was at an all-time high after leading the Bulldogs to unprecedented back-to-back National Championship games. Despite numerous job offers and being widely considered one of the top coaching prospects in the country, he returned to Butler again this year... where the Bulldogs missed the NCAA Tournament. Still, he's held in high regard and may be holding out for a job at a blueblood like Indiana or Kentucky.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few knows a thing or two about what Smart and Butler are going through. He's led the Bulldogs to 13 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, 13 straight 23-plus win seasons, four Sweet Sixteens and a number of WAC regular-season and tournament titles. Every year, he's linked with job openings. And every year, he comes back to Spokane, Washington.
Richmond coach Chris Mooney made folks scratch their heads after a Sweet Sixteen appearance last year. He promptly signed a 10-year contract to stay with the Spiders, taking him out of consideration for any high-major openings around the country.
Maybe these guys are on to something, though. With the rise of mid-majors -- George Mason, Davidson, Butler and VCU have all made deep tournament runs recently -- it's not as if these teams can't compete. And there's certainly less scrutiny and job insecurity associated with a job outside the high-major conferences.
Often, leaving the job for greener pastures doesn't work out. A prime example is Smart's predecessor, Jeff Capel, who parlayed a 79-41 record over four years at VCU into the Oklahoma job.
But despite an Elite Eight appearance in his third year with the Sooners, Capel quickly fell out of favor and got fired after his fifth season and a 96-69 (37-43 Big 12) record under his belt. He's back as an assistant coach with his alma mater at Duke.
Perhaps Smart is turning down the Illinois job simply because it doesn't interest him. Or maybe he plans to stay at VCU for another decade like Few at Gonzaga or Jim Larranaga at George Mason. Regardless what he decides, it's obvious the career trajectory of a mid-major coach is changing. And now that these teams aren't simply a pit stop, that has to excite fans of mid-major basketball.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Get used to it, folks. The 35-year old veteran just inked a five-year, $96 million deal. Sounds risky for a guy who has undergone multiple neck surgeries over the last year or two.
"I don't consider it much of a risk, knowing Peyton Manning. I asked him, 'Is there any doubt in your mind that you can't get back to the Peyton Manning we know of?' And he said, 'There's no doubt in my mind,'" said Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations, and owner of multiple franchise passing records.
In addition to adding a bona fide franchise quarterback, Denver now has one other thing to deal with: current starter Tim Tebow, the team's first-round draft pick in 2010.
The Broncos are expected to trade him, and so far, Jacksonville and the New York Jets appear to be the most aggressive suitors. He makes just $1.9 million next season, followed by $2.3 and $2.6 million in 2013 and 2014, making the 24-year old an attractive, low-risk option.
Tebow took over as the team's starter when the Broncos got out to a 1-4 start. By the end of the season, Denver sneaked into the playoffs with an 8-8 record.
But despite Tebow's success last year, Elway and head coach John Fox never seemed interested in keeping him the long-term starter. Tebow was hand-picked by former head coach Josh McDaniels, who lasted less than two seasons in Denver before getting fired.
"Tim Tebow's a great kid. If I want someone to marry my daughter, it's him. Tim is a great football player, but with the opportunity that presented itself here, we had to take advantage of that," Elway said.
The Broncos are significantly under their salary cap limit, which may have contributed to Manning's interest. Denver should be plenty active in surrounding him with further offensive talent in the offseason, through free agency and the draft.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
According to the Washington Post's Eric Prisbell, Malone was charged with assault -- go figure -- after a February fight at Oxon Hill High School, in which he allegedly punched and kicked another AAU basketball coach in the hallway.
Just three days later, Malone made headlines after wiring money to Kansas State forward Jamar Samuels -- a former Assault player -- during the NCAA Tournament.
"If I knew it and wanted to hide it, I would have done it differently. The kid's family doesn't have anything and he called me for money to eat," Malone said in a phone interview with CBS Sports.
As a result, the senior Samuels was suspended from the Wildcats' round of 32 game against No. 1 Syracuse.
Kansas State certainly could have used him, too. It lost 75-59, and Samuels' 10 points and 6.6 rebounds per game were sorely missed in his final game as a member of the Wildcats' team.
"As a university, we have to take a stance and protect our university. Unfortunately it put him in a tough spot. He's, in my opinion, done nothing wrong. You always have to err on the side of caution and not do something and look back on it, and then regret your decision," said head coach Frank Martin.
They say bad news comes in threes. Hopefully that doesn't mean he's going to get a DUI anytime soon to give him the rare scum-of-the-earth trifecta.
Of course, this affects Terps fans, as DC Assault just switched over from Nike to Under Armour affiliations. And longtime followers may feel this continues the "curse" of being a Terp fan.
Monday, March 19, 2012
No. 15 Norfolk State shocked No. 2 Missouri, a team many thought was deserving of a No. 1 seed. The Spartans had given Marquette a scare earlier in the season, but Missouri was clearly dreaming of the round of 32 before tipoff.
As a result, Norfolk State emerged victorious in an 86-84 thriller that ranks among the greatest in NCAA Tournament history.
Two and a half hours later, No. 15 Lehigh toppled No. 2 Duke, 75-70. The Mountain Hawks forced Duke to shoot just 6-for-26 from three-point range, and, aided by CJ McCollum's 30-point effort, Lehigh won its first NCAA Tournament game ever.
Coming into the day, just five 15 seeds had ever won an NCAA Tournament game. To see a pair of teams do it on the same day was what March Madness is all about.
Sadly, neither team was able to continue that magic with a trip to the Sweet 16. Norfolk State trailed Florida 15-6 just five minutes into the game en route to a lopsided 47-19 halftime score and eventual 84-50 win. The game was barely in doubt -- and playing the 15 seeded Spartans was a huge gift for Florida, which had expected to face one of the top teams in the country after beating No. 10 seed Virginia earlier on Friday.
Lehigh fared much better, but not good enough. It suffered a tough 70-58 loss to No. 10 Xavier, but the Mountain Hawks kept it interesting for almost the entire game. At one point, Lehigh led 33-18 with just three minutes left in the first half. Xavier rattled off a 15-4 run to end the half and led for almost the entire second half. The Mountain Hawks trailed by just five points with 41 seconds left.
By the end of the round of 32, the lowest seeds to advance to the Sweet 16 were No. 13 Ohio and No. 11 NC State, which topped No. 3 Georgetown, 66-63.
No 15 seeds have ever advanced to the Sweet 16, though a pair of 14 seeds (Cleveland State in 1986 and Chattanooga in 1997) have achieved it.
After No. 11 seed George Mason reached a Final Four in 2006, No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth got there in 2011, and Butler reached the National Championship Game in 2010 and 2011, it's clear high-major teams aren't going to be able to get away with sleepwalking through their first-round matchups anymore. Long live the Cinderella.
Friday, March 16, 2012
Here's what you missed: the chalk prevailed, going 14-2 in Thursday's action. Just two underdogs (by seed) won: No. 11 Colorado and No. 12 Virginia Commonwealth.
No. 16 UNC Asheville nearly made NCAA Tournament history and led top-seeded Syracuse at the half, but fell short of becoming the first-ever No. 16 seed to win a tournament game.
Local teams went 1-1 on the day, with VCU topping Wichita State and Loyola (Md.) losing to No. 2 Ohio State. Today, Virginia, Norfolk State and Georgetown all play.
VCU also claimed the honors of best finish, denying a last-second three-point attempt in a 62-59 win over the Shockers. The Rams are attempting to repeat history after making an historic run through the NCAA Tournament last March.
The biggest snoozer of the day? No. 10 West Virginia's loss to No. 7 Gonzaga. The Mountaineers led for all of 19 seconds before trailing for the game's final 38 minutes, 31 seconds. Trailing 11-9 early in the first half, West Virginia let the Bulldogs run off a 16-1 run that put the game out of reach.
The day's best performance belongs to Kansas State's Rodney McGruder, who almost single-handedly led the Wildcats to their 70-64 win over Southern Miss. McGruder finished 11-for-16 from the field for 30 points, while the rest of his team struggled, shooting just 10-for-26 from the floor.
And with all that chalk winning yesterday, it actually sets up one particularly intriguing matchup for the Sweet 16: No. 1 Kentucky versus No. 4 Indiana. Remember, the Hoosiers gave Kentucky its only loss of the regular season on a terrific buzzer-beater finish back in December.
May the brackets fall your way today.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
In the South region, Obama has Kentucky over Baylor. "I'm still going with Kentucky," he says.
In the West region, he has Missouri over Michigan State. "This one, I'm going with Missouri. [Michigan State head coach Tom] Izzo's terrific, I think the perimeter play of Missouri is outstanding."
In the East region, he picks Ohio State over Syracuse. "I like Ohio State."
And in the Midwest region, Obama chooses North Carolina over Kansas. "I'm just a sucker for the Tar Heels, what can I tell you? I am worried about [North Carolina forward John] Henson. This is all premised on Henson's going to play."
Katz notes that he and the President share the same Final Four.
In the Final Four, Obama has Kentucky over Missouri and North Carolina over Ohio State. Katz points out that Obama has picked Kansas to win the National Championship in each of the last two years. "I told Self that when I saw him. I said, 'C'mon man, you're killing me,'" Obama said.
He also chose North Carolina over Kentucky. "I am going with North Carolina. They're an older team, a more experienced team. And since they won it for me the last time I picked them, hopefully I'll be able to get a little redemption for the last two years."
Check out the full video below.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
(1) Syracuse (31-2) vs. (16) UNC Asheville (24-9) -- Syracuse wins by 20 in a yawner.
(8) Kansas St. (21-10) vs. (9) Southern Miss (25-8) -- Kansas State is the most clear-cut No. 8 seed winner this year. Southern Miss can't keep up.
(5) Vanderbilt (24-10) vs. (12) Harvard (26-4) -- In the Battle of the Brains, Harvard is hungrier, especially after Vanderbilt just emptied its tank beating Kentucky in the SEC Tournament finals. Look for the Crimson Tide to pull off a sneaky upset.
(4) Wisconsin (24-9) vs. (13) Montana (25-6) -- Both teams' states border Canada, I think. That's about all they have in common. Wisconsin advances easily.
(6) Cincinnati (24-10) vs. (11) Texas (20-13) -- Texas has been up and down all year, while Cincinnati has survived an on-the-court scandal that nearly tore the team apart. This game is another coinflip among a pair of high-major teams.
(3) Florida St. (24-9) vs. (14) St. Bonaventure (20-11) -- Both teams must be emotionally drained after winning emotional conference tournaments. But Florida State was in regardless. The Bonnies needed to take the Atlantic 10 Tournament to get in. St. Bonaventure accomplished all it wanted to this year. Noles roll.
(7) Gonzaga (25-6) vs. (10) West Virginia (19-13) -- The higher-seeded Bulldogs get rewarded with a 3,000-mile trip across three time zones, while West Virginia travels 45 minutes to Pittsburgh to play. The Mountaineers win, despite a few poor shot attempts by senior guard Truck Bryant.
(2) Ohio St. (27-7) vs. (15) Loyola (Md.) (24-8) -- It'd be nice for the hometown Greyhounds to steal a win, but it's not happening against the Buckeyes.
(1) North Carolina (29-5) vs. (16) TBA -- With or without John Henson, North Carolina won't need much help to beat whichever No. 16 seed it faces.
(8) Creighton (28-5) vs. (9) Alabama (21-11) -- People don't know much about Creighton, but after the game, you'll know plenty about Bluejays big man Doug McDermott, who averages 23 and eight per game. The mid-major will outlast the high-major here.
(5) Temple (24-7) vs. (12) Cal/South Florida -- Temple could easily lose to either of the play-in game winners, but the Owls are a solid team that could easily have won eight or more games in most major conferences this year. Look for Temple to knock off a tired play-in game winner.
(4) Michigan (24-9) vs. (13) Ohio (27-7) -- Add "State" to the end of both teams and you've got a Big Ten Championship Game in front of you. The Wolverines are the better team and, while Ohio may be a popular upset pick, it'll be Michigan moving on to play another day.
(6) San Diego St. (26-7) vs. (11) N.C. St. (22-12) -- NC State played its way off the bubble and into the tournament field with a solid showing in the ACC Tournament. This game is just about a coinflip. Pick NC State and try to convince people that you are really ballsy.
(3) Georgetown (23-8) vs. (14) Belmont (27-7) -- Belmont was a popular No. 13 seed upset last tournament but got smacked by No. 4 seed Wisconsin. That was a better Belmont squad. Georgetown should survive and advance.
(7) St. Mary's (27-5) vs. (10) Purdue (21-12) -- St. Mary's is the better team here, but this is Purdue star Robbie Hummel's last hurrah. The No. 7/No. 10 matchup is a coinflip most of the time. Close your eyes and pick.
(2) Kansas (27-6) vs. (15) Detroit (22-13) -- Kansas might have a chip on its shoulder after whiffing on a No. 1 seed. The Jayhawks will cruise to an Elite Eight before winning a game by less than a dozen points.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
(1) Kentucky (32-2) vs. (16) TBA -- TBA stands for "To Be Annihilated."
(8) Iowa St. (22-10) vs. (9) Connecticut (20-13) -- UConn hasn't been seeded this low since 1992. The defending National Champions have lost more than half their games by five points or less this year. And Iowa State hasn't been to the Big Dance since 2005. Advantage: UConn.
(5) Wichita St. (27-5) vs. (12) VCU (28-6) -- Don't you hate it when the committee seeds a pair of mid-majors against each other? Last year's Cinderella (VCU) will attempt to wear the glass slipper yet again this year. Standing in its way: a gritty Wichita State team that has won 17 of 19 games since the new year.
(4) Indiana (25-8) vs. (13) New Mexico St. (26-9) -- Wait, there's a New Mexico? The Hoosiers haven't been to an NCAA Tournament since 2008. The Aggies are led by senior big man Wendell McKines, a 6-foot-6 double-double machine. Could be a trendy upset pick.
(6) UNLV (26-8) vs. (11) Colorado (23-11) -- The Runnin' Rebels have three wins over top 25 teams this year. Colorado hasn't even played a top 25 team all year. Plus, the Buffaloes' gas tank may be running on empty after winning the Pac-12 Tournament.
(3) Baylor (27-7) vs. (14) South Dakota St. (27-7) -- Most of the country is just finding out that South Dakota is big enough to have at least two colleges in it. Take that for what it's worth.
(7) Notre Dame (22-11) vs. (10) Xavier (21-12) -- Notre Dame started the season 10-7 before putting together a nine-game win streak that included No. 1 Syracuse, No. 24 UConn and No. 15 Marquette as victims. Xavier has had an up-and-down year and will have its hands full with the Fighting Irish.
(2) Duke (27-6) vs. (15) Lehigh (26-7) -- Duke will beat Lehigh, but could go down as early as the second round to a feisty Notre Dame team or a Xavier team that likes to hit people in the face a lot.
(1) Michigan St. (27-7) vs. (16) Long Island (25-8) -- Long Island could give Michigan St. a scare, but in the end, the NEC champs don't have the depth to pull off the first No. 16-over-No. 1 upset in March Madness history.
(8) Memphis (26-8) vs. (9) St. Louis (25-7) -- What the hell is a billiken, anyway? Memphis absolutely cruised to a Conference USA Tournament title, while St. Louis reaches its first NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach Rick Majerus. Memphis holds the slight advantage according to Vegas.
(5) New Mexico (27-6) vs. (12) Long Beach St. (25-8) -- Long Beach State is dangerous, especially if Larry Anderson, the team's second-best offensive player, can come back. The 49ers are a different team with Anderson. Without him, their odds go down significantly.
(4) Louisville (26-9) vs. (13) Davidson (25-7) -- Both teams won their respective conference tournaments and both teams would like to make an Elite Eight like they each did in 2008. But Rick Pitino's Cardinals hold the advantage from a significantly tougher conference slate.
(6) Murray St. (30-1) vs. (11) Colorado St. (20-11) -- Both teams are led by a star backcourt, and Murray State gets to play in front of a quasi-hometown crowd in Louisville. Look for the Racers to eke a close one out.
(3) Marquette (25-7) vs. (14) BYU/Iona -- The toughest 14 seeds out there, BYU and Iona could present a stumbling block for Marquette. Iona point guard Scott Machado is as good a distributor as anyone in the country. Still, it's difficult to predict a first-round loss for Marquette, which lost just one regular season game to a team not in the field of 68 this year.
(7) Florida (23-10) vs. (10) Virginia (22-9) -- Virginia is sputtering due to a lack of depth through injuries and transfers. Florida is sputtering, too, winning just four of its last 10 games. From top to bottom, the Gators hold
(2) Missouri (30-4) vs. (15) Norfolk St. (25-9) -- Mizzou may never trail all game. Poor Norfolk State. It never had a chance.
Monday, March 12, 2012
To move up from the No. 6 overall pick to the No. 2 overall pick, Washington gave up three first-round selections and a second-rounder.
And I must be the only person in the D.C. area who isn't happy with the deal. I feel like Eeyore.
Don't get me wrong: the Skins absolutely need a franchise quarterback. But they desperately need help all over the place. And rather than moving up, Washington should have considered moving out of the top 10, stockpiling a few more picks and taking a flyer on a lower-risk passer like Boise State's Kellen Moore or Wisconsin's Russell Wilson.
As a result, it has the No. 2 pick and then doesn't select again until No. 70.
Griffin has all the tools to be an excellent NFL quarterback, and seems to be a great fit for head coach Mike Shanahan's system. The only problem is, without a handful of early-round draft picks, the Skins are sticking Griffin behind the league's 22nd-ranked offensive line and aging, star-less corps of wide receivers.
Meanwhile, the team has holes to fill at running back, offensive line, middle linebacker and the secondary. And it's obvious that Shanahan, who doesn't have 10 or 15 more years of coaching ahead of him, wants to win now. That's great. Fans want to win now, too. But realists know that this team is not one franchise quarterback away from winning a Super Bowl.
The Redskins can make this a successful move if and only if the team is able to go bonkers in free agency and land starters to fill several positions right away. Griffin has a below-average group of receivers to throw to. Sign Chargers wideout Vincent Jackson and you've got your No. 1 receiver. Griffin's going to be behind a mediocre-at-best offensive line. Sign Saints guard Carl Nicks and all of a sudden you've got most of the offensive holes figured out heading into the NFL Draft.
Miss on those types of guys and the Redskins will look a lot like the Wizards: a team with a dynamic young talent running the show and not nearly enough of a supporting cast to succeed.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Selection Sunday is almost upon us. That means it's time for a bit of bracketology.
(When I put out a mock bracket in 2010, I hit 64 of 65 possible teams, missing only on UTEP getting in over Mississippi State. What's up, Joe Lunardi?)
Instead of trying to predict where teams will play and who they will face, I'm just going to list teams out as seeds this year.
(1) North Carolina
(2) Ohio State
(2) Michigan State
(4) Florida St.
(5) Wichita St.
(5) Murray St.
(6) New Mexico
(7) San Diego St.
(7) St. Mary's
(7) Notre Dame
(8) Iowa St.
(8) Kansas St.
(9) St. Louis
(10) Southern Miss
(10) West Virginia
(11) Colorado St.
(12) South Florida
(12) Seton Hall
(12) Virginia Commonwealth
(13) Long Beach St.
(13) NC State
(13) St. Bonaventure
(14) South Dakota St.
(14) New Mexico St.
(15) Loyola (Md.)
(15) Long Island
(16) Western Kentucky
(16) Norfolk St.
(16) Mississippi Valley St.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
In the Kentucky/Georgia game the other day, an unfortunate bounce of the basketball resulted in pretty awesome results. Enjoy.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
So Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossman has been an awfully good sport since he entered the league. That is, because his last name is actually spelled Grossmann.
The 27-year old Swede has been in the NHL since 2006, and has had his name spelled with one 'N' ever since.
CSN Philadelphia's Tim Panaccio uncovered this gem yesterday in a post on his Flyers Talk blog.
"When I started off, they put it on the wrong way [in Dallas] and I just kept that way. When I was younger coming up, I didn't want to say anything. I was just happy to have a jersey with my name on it."
Check out the video below, where Grossman fesses up. Good news, though, as the Flyers are giving him a second 'N' going forward. And any trading cards spelled with one 'N' are officially a collectors item!
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
First, if you had told me the Terps would finish the year above .500 before the season started, I would have run with it.
He inherited a situation in College Park that lost first-team All-ACC big man Jordan Williams to the NBA Draft and returned just 51 starts (of a possible 165) from last year's squad, the equivalent of one and a half starters. (Essentially Sean Mosley plus Terrell Stoglin starting on-and-off as a freshman.)
Winning 16 games with this squad was no small feat. The team featured just seven healthy scholarship players for the first 10 games, and the Terps never lost a game when they were favorites in Vegas.
Turgeon's frontcourt combined for 662 career minutes of college basketball experience coming into the season, and big man James Padgett played 716 minutes by himself this year. He's proven to be a steady post player and a good complementary piece to European big Alex Len.
Clawing out six ACC wins -- and almost adding a few more, with close losses to Georgia Tech, Miami (FL) and Virginia -- is better than most would have expected.
As I've written before, the future is bright. And what seemed like a three-year rebuild is now looking more accelerated. Depending on attrition, the Terps could be a bubble squad next season, the ultimate barometer of success in college basketball. They return everyone but Mosley and bring in the No. 22 incoming recruiting class as rated by ESPN. (And Turgeon may not be done with this class just yet.)
And Turgeon has a history of turning programs around. He took Jacksonville State from 8-18 to 17-11 from years one to two. He did the same thing at Wichita State, going from 9-19 to 15-15, eventually making a Sweet 16. And at Texas A&M, he picked up a program that was coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournaments and continued the streak with four more in a row before heading off to College Park.
Monday, March 5, 2012
With the Terps finishing up their regular season at 16-14 (6-10 ACC), it's time to take a look at how those predictions turned out.
When Terrell Stoglin struggles, the team will struggle.
CORRECT. At 21.1 points per game, Stoglin finished the regular season as the ACC's best scorer. But, like I predicted, the Terps struggled when he struggled. Consider this: Maryland was 6-9 when Stoglin shot 17-plus times. They were 10-5 when he took fewer shot attempts.
The Terps will play a lot of low-scoring games this year.
CORRECT. By the end of the season, Maryland ranked 175th in the country with 68.1 points per game. Ken Pomeroy, a college basketball statistician, ranked the Terps 110th in the country in overall tempo. Much of this was out of necessity, as Maryland was working with a short bench for a good part of the season.
Walk-ons will play.
HALF-CORRECT. With center Alex Len and point guard Pe'Shon Howard unable to join the Terps for the team's first 10 or so games, walk-ons John Auslander and Jonathan Thomas got some run. Auslander appeared in eight of the team's first nine games, averaging nine minutes per game until Len became eligible. Thomas played seven minutes per game until Howard's foot healed, and then played the final five games of the season when Howard tore his ACL.
The bigs are capable... and need to stay out of foul trouble.
CORRECT. Maryland came into the season with four scholarship big men: James Padgett, who averaged nine minutes per game over his first two years, Alex Len, an unknown European big man, Ashton Pankey, who missed the last two seasons with leg injuries and Berend Weijs, a lightly recruited player out of Harcum College in Pennsylvania. By the end of the year, Padgett averaged nine points and six rebounds per game. Len established himself as a long, lean player who needs to get stronger but has the ability to alter shots at will. And Pankey showed glimpses for a redshirt freshman, though his minutes dwindled recently and he may be headed out the door.
Nick Faust is going to grow up this year.
CORRECT. Faust started most of the games this season, and it was evident he was maturing as the season went on. His field goal shooting improved (from 30% to 43%), his free throw shooting improved (see next bullet) and his scoring surged from seven points per game to 10 points per game over the second half of the season. He added four rebounds and two assists per game for good measure. And he comes back next year well ahead of where most sophomores will be.
James Padgett and Nick Faust will be frustrating from the free throw line.
HALF-CORRECT. Fortunately, this became less of a headache as the season progressed. But in the first handful of games, Padgett and Faust shot 47% and 43% from the line, respectively. Over the rest of the season, they developed into more reliable shooters, going 61% and 70% as the season wore on.
It's going to be a long year. But it's going to be a fun year.
CORRECT. Maryland fans certainly ate their fair share of Tums this season, as the team lost five games by double digits and won their 16 games by an average of 7.3 points. The team showed glimpses of promise, with close-but-no-cigar comebacks against North Carolina State, Temple, Florida State, Duke and Miami (FL). Depending on roster attrition, next year, the Terps should be that much stronger and able to close out those types of games better.
Friday, March 2, 2012
And now that the Lakers' younger brother is actually at the top of the Pacific Division standings, they can finally let loose a little bit.
In the video below, you'll see the guys have started playing a game called "Got 'em" in which they take goofy pictures of each other sleeping on the team plane.
(Yeah, it's a slow news day. Happy weekend.)
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Enter: February's NFL Combine, the only morsel of football between now and April's NFL Draft.
Three hundred-plus players showed up to the event in Indianapolis. Some did great things to improve their draft stock. Others proved they were legit. And some... well, some sank like a rock.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III may have been the most-watched player in the entire event, despite the fact that he's not going to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
He ran the best 40-yard dash of any quarterback -- and the 11th-fastest time in the entire field. He also had a great vertical leap and broad jump, showing he's every bit as athletic as he looked on the field for the last four seasons in Waco, Texas.
Expected top pick and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, known for being more of a pocket passer than a mobile threat, ran a 4.67 and was a top performer in the vertical leap and three-cone drill. He measured in at a rock-solid 6-foot-4, 234 pounds. Realistically, though, nothing short of showing up with a beer belly and a rat tail was going to hurt his draft stock.
For a while, Alabama running back Trent Richardson has been considered the top dog at his position. Figuring out who will come off the board behind him has been a slightly bigger mystery. But Miami (FL)'s Lamar Miller and Virginia Tech's David Wilson had great combines, showing off their athleticism with 40-yard dashes in the 4.4 range.
Wilson added the best vertical leap and broad jump among running backs. Oregon's LaMichael James ran a speedy 4.45 40-yard dash and had the second-best broad jump. ESPN went as far as to compare him to New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles, a multi-faceted athlete who excels in the open field.
Of the wideouts, one big name made a big splash, and one relative unknown may have vaulted up the draft board. Notre Dame's Michael Floyd has long been considered a big possession receiver. He measured in at a sturdy 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. But the questions haven't been about his hands. They've been about his feet, and whether or not he can gain separation. His official 4.47 40-yard dash may have been just what scouts needed to confirm that he's a star in the making.
And Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill, who caught just 28 catches this year, showed that he's the deep threat fans only got to see glimpses of in the regular season. Though he averaged nearly 30 yards per catch at Georgia Tech in the triple option offense, his lack of catches makes it hard to scout him. So an excellent NFL Combine -- including the best 40-yard dash of any wide receiver, a top five vertical leap and the best broad jump -- was critical.
One guy who definitely didn't help his case? Arizona State middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Burfict ran the worst 40-yard dash among linebackers, didn't participate in the bench press and had a poor showing in the vertical leap and broad jump. He may have cost himself millions of dollars by not showing well. At one point, ESPN had him pegged as a late first-rounder. Now, ESPN analyst Todd McShay projects him to fall to the fifth or sixth round.