Archive for UConn

Best Series Ever?…

Posted in NBA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2009 by sportsguru09

3 more overtimes?!?! Game 7 in Boston? Yep, you bet. Last night, the Bulls and Celtics gave us another thriller that seemed like it would never end. It had remnants of Syracuse-UConn from the 2009 Big East Tournament. bulls_logo_jpg1Each time a team had a lead, it quickly vanished into a tie score. The game ended with the Bulls on top by 1 to force a Game 7 back home in Celtic country. This series added yet another memorable fight to its already historic tale. 7 total games, a Celtics team winning without Garnett, an average margin of victory under 5 points, rough inside play, buzzer beaters, and two point guards not willing to let their team lose. Wow, I’m speechless….

So, this brings about the question: Is this the best NBA Playoff series of all time? Well, statistically yes with the number of overtimes. But what about the publicity and the drama? Multiple buzzer beaters have proven that it’s one of the top series of all time with each game, other than one literally coming down to the wire.celtics_logo However, let us not forget Jordan vs. Barkley, Bird vs. Magic, etc. The Celtics-Lakers history goes way back as well as Bulls-Suns and Bulls-anybody during their championship run. Even last year’s Lakers-Celtics NBA Championship series was pretty good, but not like this. The only thing that hurts this series as one of, if not the greatest, series of all times is that outside of Chicago, the Bulls (other than Derrick Rose) are no-namers who have overachieved during the 2009 season. Brad Miller, Ben Gordon, Joakhim Noah? Come on now, these guys aren’t exactly household names and minus Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and the injured KG, not many people know the Celtics’ roll players.

This being true, this series has still given us a glimpse into basketball that is relentless and desireable. Most people hop on the bandwagon only during playoff time and the Celtics and Bulls have given them a reason to stay. Chicago and Boston are doing great things to help revitalize the popularity of the NBA…stay tuned folks…

What do you think?

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Silly Sooner…Guarantees Are For Kids…

Posted in College Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2009 by sportsguru09

So, let me get this straight. Before March Madness began, at Senior Night, one of the Oklahoma Lady Sooners, Courtney Paris, guaranteed an NCAA Championship?!?!? And if they didn’t win it she would pay back her entire OU scholarship, a value of $64,000?!?!? I am ABSOLUTELY STUNNED, mortified for her parents, and completely hysterical over how obnoxious this whole thing is. I know the Lady Sooners are a quality basketball team and are in the Final Four, but has Ms. Paris ever heard of the UConn Lady Huskies and Geno? They haven’t lost in what feels like a decade and they have averaged over a 20+ point margin of victory in each of their NCAA games during the Big Dance this year. oulogoAnd oh by the way, earlier this year the Huskies dismantled the Sooners by 28 points. I’m no fortune teller, but a 28 point margin is a LOT to overcome over the course of one game. Anything can happen, mistakes can be made, and flukes do indeed happen, but let’s be real here. If this were PTI and we were playing “OddsMakers,” I would give the Lady Sooners a 7% shot at winning the game. However, this may take at least 80 points from Paris in order to keep up with the Lady Huskies on the court.

Now don’t get me wrong, I admire the courage and the heroism of the guarantee. Many famous athletes, including Joe Namath for one, have done so in the past and lived up to their public, cocky statements. If the Sooners were able to actually win the game, however, the guarantee would go down as absolutely unbelievable in the history of women’s college basketball. But don’t forget, SHE’S RISKING A $64,000 SCHOLARSHIP. I don’t know Paris and her family’s financial situation but as a parent (and no I wouldn’t know), this just doesn’t seem right. Paris, yes, earned the scholarship herself but if it then disappears, guess who pays the college bills? Good ‘ole mommy and daddy (or Paris takes out a $64,000 high interest loan). Come on Courtney, don’t be silly.

And on the subject of women’s basketball, does anyone know if the WNBA even exists anymore?!

Saturday’s Elite 8 Predictions and Thoughts…

Posted in College Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2009 by sportsguru09

After last night’s chalk results, the NCAA Tournament is on to the Elite 8. Tonight, we’ll see Villanova-Pitt and Missouri-UConn. Below is my analysis on each game and my prediction as to who will make it to Detroit and represent in the Final Four….

Villanova vs. Pittsburgh

In the late night matchup, Pitt faces off against another Run ‘n Gun type squad and will have their hands full with Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats. If they think they’re going to cakewalk to the Final Four as everyone once thought they would, think again. Pitt hasn’t impressed me yet so tonight they better show me something, especially Lavance Fields. Show the nation that you can lead your team and not rely on DeJuan Blair and Sam Young each time down the floor. Pitt’s tournament journey has been far from easy so far as each one of their games has been relatively close and down to the wire. Shoot, Pitt even struggled to knock out East Tennessee State. Tonight should be no different though. I think they’ll do just enough, once again, to take down the ‘Cats and move on to Detroit.

Though Villanova is hot right now, I think their “gas” finally runs out later this evening.

Courtesy of rushthecourt.net

Courtesy of rushthecourt.net

After watching them dismantle my Dukies the other night, I have been more than impressed by what Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham have done on both ends of the floor. Nova’s hawk style defense has been shutting opponents down from 3-point land and has made it tough for anyone to establish a balanced offense. However, they haven’t seen size like Pittsburgh and I think that because Nova has a smaller team, they will get largely out-rebounded and be hurt by second chance points. Look for the ‘Cats to shut down Lavance Fields but not be able to contain DeJuan Blair and/or Sam Young. One of them is bound to go off tonight. It won’t be of any surprise to see Blair or Young put up a monster double-double. Though I do give the guard play advantage to Villanova, I just don’t think it will be enough. I see the ‘Cats racking up fouls inside the paint and giving Pitt the opportunity to cash in at the free throw line. It will be competitively close on the scoreboard the entire game, but Pitt pulls it out in the end. Congrats Jamie Dixon….see you in the Motor City.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 78, Villanova 73

Missouri vs. Connecticut

UConn-Missouri…intriguing. No one knows a lot about the Missouri Tigers but they have been the dark horse in this stage in the tournament, without a doubt. Where did they come from? Who cares, they’re lights out. UConn, however, has done its job and taken care of business each round with Thabeet leading the charge and A.J. Price following close behind…like everyone thought they would. Tonight, UConn will match up against Mizzou’s pressure defense and fast-break offense and will hope to slow the game down enough to take over and move on. I think this game stays close for a while but UConn pulls away in the second half when the Tigers finally struggle to shoot it….

Look for Thabeet, assuming he stays out of foul trouble, to have a big night against the Tigers’ less-than-big-men down in the paint. Thabeet should take full advantage of size differential and he’ll likely get four or five dunks/layups being so close to the basket.

Courtesy of usatoday.com

Courtesy of usatoday.com

On the other end, Mizzou will have to rely on the three point shot…look for them to be hesitant to drive to the hoop because of UConn’s monster in the middle. I give Missouri a chance here, but just a little one. They might surprise everyone by leading at half time but look for UConn to continue to go inside and if Mizzou doubles down, UConn will take advantage of open looks from behind the arc. If I had to guess, Thabeet will likely go for 22 points and 11 rebounds, doing it all for the Huskies. Huskies roll late and Jim Calhoun gets another ticket to the Final Four…

Prediction: Connecticut 82, Missouri 71

Day 1…Not Much Madness…

Posted in College Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2009 by sportsguru09

Subdued, expected, and blowouts…all three of these words described Day 1 of the NCAA Tournament. High seeds took care of business, for the most part, and of the upsets that did happen, most people already picked them in their brackets. The #1 seeds proved why they are seeded so high. And yes, that includes North Carolina, even without Ty Lawson. They got off to a quick 10-0 start against the “boys” from Radford and never looked back. unclogoIt was domination from the get-go, much to my chagrin. Up and down the floor, Radford was caught day-dreaming and Roy William’s squad made them regret it. The only other #1 seed that played yesterday was UConn and they absolutely throttled Chattanooga. I mean, it was like David vs. Goliath…without much David. Thabeet and company led scoring fleuries all throughout both halves and made it look easy. Poor Chattanooga. Louisville and Pitt will learn their fate this afternoon, but I foresee no trouble in their near future. Both should win big and not really get tested until the Sweet 16 or Elite 8.

The biggest seed upset of the day was #12 Western Kentucky over the #5 seed Illinois in the South Regional bracket. The Hilltoppers took charge out of the gate and proved to America that they are a solid basketball program and should not be overlooked. Just ask Gonzaga…they get them on Saturday night. western-kentucky-080321-392Western Kentucky won on a buzzer beater last year and really made a name for themselves. For this reason, lots of people, including myself, picked them to be the victor in this ballgame. The 5-12 matchup is always a dangerous place for the #5 seed and last night was just another example. Go Toppers. Look for them to put up a good fight against the ‘Zags over the weekend.

Across the rest of the Regions, the only other major excitement came from the following three games:

American vs. Villanova

American, a HUGE underdog, against a highly praised ‘Nova squad took at 14 point lead early into the second half. For those of you who picked Villanova to get to the Elite 8 or further (and you should’nt have because apparently you forgot Duke is in their bracket), you must’ve been sweatin’ it our and glued to the TV set. Unfortunately for the scrappy American group, they went absolutely ice-cold down the stretch and ‘Nova took full advantage, going on a major run to the end the game to win by double digits.

Clemson vs. Michigan

Clemson lost this game in two ways: Oglesby getting ejected for throwing ‘bows like an absolute thug and poor coaching on their last possession with no time left on the clock. After Michigan blew a 12 point lead, Clemson clawed their way back, only to scramble with a few seconds left and put up a horrendous shot to tie the game. Better luck next time Tigers. How does it feel to be the only ACC team not to do their part yesterday?

VCU vs. UCLA

I’m not going to lie, I’m glad UCLA won this game. They probably shouldn’t have, but they made shots and hit free throws when they counted. As a Duke fan who literally was heartbroken when VCU upset them in the first round two years ago, I got a little revenge back last night when Eric Maynor (who single handedly beat Duke two years ago) missed a game-winner at the buzzer. The Rams made a big run at the end of the game, only to fall short by a single point. Good try, but no soup for you Mr. Maynor.

Hopefully today will bring a little bit more Madness….LET’S GO EAST TENNESSEE STATE!!!

West Regional Breakdown and Analysis….

Posted in College Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2009 by sportsguru09

2009 NCAA Tournament West Region Bracket Seeding
1 – UCONN, 2 – Memphis, 3 – Missouri, 4 – Washington
5 – Purdue, 6 – Marquette, 7 – California, 8 – BYU
9 – Texas A&M, 10 – Maryland, 11 – Utah State,
12 – Northern Iowa, 13 – Miss. State, 14 – Cornell,
15 – Cal St. Northridge, 16 – Chattanooga

On the night of March 20th, these teams will begin their journey on their way to a potential National Championship run in Detroit on April 6th. Compared to the other regions in the tournament and the opportunity for the #1 seed (in this case, UConn) to make it to the Final Four, I rank the Midwest as the 3rd toughest bracket out of the field.

Taking a step back and looking at the entire bracket, the ability of a “Cinderella” and a few lower seeds to advance in the region looks more probable than I originally thought. UConn as the #1 seed won’t really have a true test until the Sweet 16 against Washington…most likely. aafw040uconn-logo-1-posters However, as the #2 seed at the bottom of the region, Memphis will find a much tougher road to get to Detroit, and even the Elite 8. Assuming they take care of business against Cal St. Northridge, I see Memphis struggling against a tested Maryland team out of the rugged ACC. Memphis will finally have to prove itself to the public and the rest of the major national Conferences. I still think they’re overrated, but I have them beating Maryland here. UPSET ALERT! UPSET ALERT! UPSET ALERT! Look out Purdue, here comes Northern Iowa. The Big 10 is awful and I give Purdue NO LOVE for winning the Conference Tournament. Michigan State is overrated and the rest of the Big 10 is a group of low-scoring, slow-paced make-believers that unfortunately are represented in the NCAA tournament. Northern Iowa has tourney history and has won games before as a major underdog. To the general public, look for history to repeat itself….

In the Mizzou-Cornell Big Red matchup, I unfortunately think the Ivy league’s representative will be more brains than talent and get blown out. In the 4-13 matchup between Washington and Miss. State, Washington will likely prove that they belong in the tournament against an over-achieving Miss. State team who just ran the table in the SEC Conference Tournament. The most intriguing matchup in the West Regional is the 6-11 game between a banged up Marquette Golden Eagle squad and Utah State. 74382_utah_stateUPSET ALERT! UPSET ALERT! UPSET ALERT! Without Dominic James, Marquette will find it tough to score and will bite the bullet against the Aggies of Utah State. In the next round, I also have Utah State beating Mizzou with a buzzer beater and another West region shocker. This leaves Memphis to handle Utah State when their luck runs out and UConn taking care of business against the Huskies of Washington going to Thabeet in the post all night long. In the Elite 8 matchup, I like UConn to struggle against Memphis’ size and get run out of the gym in a fast-paced shootout that plays to Memphis’ fast-break style favor. This should be a high-scoring, Run ‘n Gun type bracket field. It should be entertaining. Look for some surprises…..

Ok folks, get out your brackets…

2009 WEST REGION PREDICTIONS

Sleeper teams to win at least one game: Utah State, Maryland, Northern Iowa, and Texas A&M

Most intriguing team to watch: Washington (can they make a name for the Pac-10?)

Biggest regional upset: Utah State to upset Marquette and then Missouri in the Sweet 16, Northern Iowa to upset #5 Purdue

1st Round Winners: UConn, Texas A&M, Northern Iowa, Washington, Utah State, Mizzou, Maryland, and Memphis

2nd Round Winners: UConn, Washington, Utah State, and Memphis

Midwest Region Sweet 16 Winners: Memphis and UConn

Midwest Region Elite 8 Winner: Memphis Tigers (they got lucky with their bracket)

OUT OF THE WEST REGION, Memphis WILL REPRESENT THE FIELD IN DETROIT AT THE FINAL FOUR

Analysis and breakdown of the South Region coming soon….

Absolute bedlam in the NCAA…

Posted in College Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2009 by sportsguru09

6 Overtimes, 3 ½ hours?!?!?!?! Upsets galore, OT thrillers, and buzzer beaters: just another glimpse into how great the 2009 NCAA tournament will be. Yesterday’s college hoops action included two top seeds in the Big East going down, Oklahoma (#1 seed) losing a close one, and Kansas (also a #1 seed) biting the bullet and falling short against a stubborn Baylor team. And the top seeds in the ACC have yet to even play! PS, no one cares about the Pac 10 anyways, they’re non-competitive. Though I don’t support the necessity of having individual conference tournaments to place a potential other “Big Dancer” in the March Madness mix, because of the fact that they still do exist, let’s go ahead and root for the dramaticbasketball. Boy did our wishes come true last night. What will go down in NCAA history as one of the greatest heavyweight fights ever, Syracuse and UConn took exhaustion to a new level. Jonny Flynn, Syracuse’s star guard, played 67 out of 70 minutes. That’s the definition of stamina and perseverance. The game even saw bench scrubs getting minutes late and racking up statistics for the first all season. Over 200 shots were taken, 60+ fouls were committed, and just to add spice to the night, multiple layups that could’ve won the game were missed. Madison Square Garden turned into Hollywood last night….what a show.

March Madness is here folks. I can’t believe we still have to wait until Sunday night to get the bracket posted and pick our winners. O well….but in the meantime, let’s talk about what makes the NCAA tourney better than all the rest in professional or college sports. Yes, the Super Bowl, World Series, and Daytona 500 are exciting, but do they really compete in a sports lover’s heart with the intrigue and excitement created by March Madness? It’s not even close. If I had to give up watching any Finals series or championship games except for just one, I would without hesitation choose to watch the NCAA tourney for the rest of my life. The drama, the despair, the elation……all in one tournament! The best part is: no matter what the year, there’s always buzzer beaters and NOTHING can top those. Remnants of Bryce Drew, Jim Valvano, and Christian Laettner fill the halls of NCAA tourney history. ncaa-logoNot even great catches or comebacks in the Super Bowl are better than half-court swishes, a full length drive down the court for a game winning layup, or bad free throw shooters actually hitting free throws with little or no time left to lead their team to victory. These moments are priceless and best of all, they are created by kids who’ve worked their tail off (on the court and in the classroom) and have a REAL PRIDE AND PASSION for the game of basketball. This isn’t the NBA where every player is typically overpaid, hot dogs-it, and bores the audience to sleep. Truthfully, the heck with the NBA. March Madness is a time where athletes’ hearts are poured out, teams become families, and future all-stars make a name for themselves in the most dramatic of moments. All for the love of the game….aren’t we missing that these days? The NCAA Tournament is two thumbs up in my book. The NCAA Tournament is finally upon us folks…are you ready?!?

PS – Good luck filling out your brackets next week. You have as about as much chance of picking all the games perfectly as I do actually winning the trip to ESPN studios by eating Cheez-Its and looking inside the box…..

Does it pay to be in a brutal conference?

Posted in College Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2009 by sportsguru09

Many people say that towards the end of every college basketball season, teams who already know that they are going to the Big Dance get great pre-NCAA tourney warm-ups by fighting amongst themselves for their respective conference tournament titles. Teams play each other once again, get banged up, run themselves ragged, then allegedly waltz into the tournament, get bumped to the NIT (the JV to the Varsity’s NCAA Tournament), or get their plane tickets home to watch the rest of the season from the couch……wait a second…..waltz into the NCAA tournament? You must be joking. 300_66316 Has anyone ever heard of the Big East and the ACC? Do people know they exist? These are arguably…wait, they ARE the toughest, let alone most competitive two conferences in all of college basketball. Each conference goes at least six or seven teams deep in the number of teams who could possibly get an at-large big to the Big Dance. I mean, just take 2008-2009 for example. In the ACC, Florida State, Maryland, UVA, and NC State have all won games against Duke, North Carolina, or Wake Forest. Yet, their records indicate that they should lose by 40 points. At home or on the road, any team can honestly beat any team at one time. Look at the Big East. Louisville loses to UConn, then beats Georgetown by 30 points. Same situation for all of those teams. Each conference has teams like Providence, Clemson, Florida State, Syracuse, and Notre Dame that all are talented teams but play in an absolutely grueling conference against the nation’s elite. If they played in any other conference, including the Pac-10 which is a non-competitive joke, they would win the regular season outright. Now, you might say that if they were elite, then they would win these games against other dominant college programs. This may be true, but what about when it comes to their conference tournaments? A team like UConn, North Carolina, Duke, or Pittsburgh who is already going dancin’ must now win 3,4, or 5 more games to claim a tournament championship…..before the ONLY MEANINGFUL tournament starts! They get taken to the wire by teams with false hope of dancin, players get hurt, teams are exhausted, and for what? To say that you’re an elite team? WHO CARES, YOU’VE ALREADY PROVEN IT! That’s what the NCAA tournament is there for: to take those elite teams and determine which one is the best. march-madness-on-demandWhat do you get in the meantime if you don’t win your conference tournament? A few brutal, hard-nosed games against teams playing for nothing or for little hope, teams with nothing to lose, and an even tougher journey going into the NCAA tournament with trying to have a team 100% healthy, composed, and ready to run at full strength. To me, the NCAA has missed out on this subject. Based on how the regular season goes, give the regular season champs an automatic bid, then go through the same process to pick the remaining tournament teams based on record. Why does it make sense for a mid-major with a losing regular season record to win their conference tournament, get a big in the Big Dance, then lose in the opening round by 30 or 40 points? It does no good for the game, and those teams usually just get embarrassed. And for all those mid-majors out there, a team like Georgia in 2008, going 4-12 in conference play, conference tourneys can steal a bid for your conference. Why even have a conference tourney? To give false hope and to skew the NCAA tourney performance of the nation’s elite? It just doesn’t benefit anyone….except for a lonely mid-major or bogus major conference squad that gets less than a Cinderella’s chance of actually making a name for themselves in the NCAA tournament. Keep dreamin NCAA….what a waste of time