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March Madness Weekend Recap…

Posted in College Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2009 by sportsguru09

Wow, what a weekend. We saw true Madness and fell in love once again with the ambiance and intrigue of the annual NCAA Tournament. Buzzer beaters and close games led the way to Sunday night. Though most of the top seeds also advanced, they had to struggle in order to do so. What does this mean? Well, the Sweet 16 is going to be absolutely entertaining folks. Tune back into CBS Thursday night for a show…this ride is getting better by the game…

Now, let’s highlight the past two days of College Basketball. Like always, we’ll start with my Dukies taking care of business against A.J. Abrams and the Texas Longhorns. Obviously, the game was more nerve-wracking than I would have liked, but all in all, it was great basketball highlighting a few of Duke’s mega-stars and proving that Duke is one of the nation’s elite and belongs in this stage of the tourney. Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson (who at multiple points dunked all over Texas’ big men) led the way in scoring and torched the Longhorns from 3-point land.dukeee As the game came down to the wire, Jon Scheyer may have saved Duke’s season and won the game all at one-time with one of the most athletic and SMARTEST plays I’ve ever seen, Duke fan or not. As the ball was rolling out of bounds with less than 20 seconds left in the game and Duke with a 2-point lead, Scheyer flipped the ball behind his back down the court to Elliot Williams without falling out of bounds. This led to free throws down the stretch to cement Duke’s first appearance in next week’s Sweet 16 since 2006. LET’S GO DUKE…Courtesy of YouTube

As one third of the remaining ACC trio, Maryland disappointed us in getting blown out by Memphis. Memphis lit up the arena from downtown and their length and speed are proving to be a tough task for anyone to match up with. Can anyone rightfully match up with them on paper? I’m afraid not. They might prove me wrong…for now. Before we close the door on MD, let’s give Gary Williams, who may have coached his last game for the Terps, a proper send-off. Though controversial and extreme at times, he’s proved once again that he belongs in the College Basketball Hall of Fame. More than just once in recent memory (with the likes of Juan Dixon and Steve Blake), he continues to show us how to turn an average team into a ferocious overachiever late in the year and in the NCAA Tourney. Congratulations Mr. Williams on a wonderful career…

As for the #1 seeds, UConn was the only one in a cake-walk, destroying Texas A&M, watching Thabeet take control early and continue to dominate even when he got into foul trouble late in the 1st half. Jim Calhoun, back from a spell of dehydration rolled to yet another NCAA Tournament victory. 2583They’ll match up with a surprising Purdue team who took Washington down the wire and hit clutch free throws to win the game in its waining moments. I must say, they’re one of the biggest teams under the radar so far. Who would’ve thought another Big Ten team not named Michigan State would have made it this far. Congrats Boilermakers? Yikes, that just doesn’t sound right…

UNC, wretched UNC, pulled out a tough battle against the LSU Tigers early Saturday evening as I watched from a bar and hoped and prayed on every last shot that LSU took down the stretch. Unfortunately, my prayers went unanswered and Ty Lawson, who impressively came back from a toe injury, took control of the entire game in the second half and went on a rampage to lead the Heels back into the Sweet 16. They’ll face Gonzaga who won a buzzer beater against….Western Kentucky?!?! Yep, you heard me right. I ALMOST called the two round WKU upset special but fell one basket and 0.9 seconds short. After the Toppers made a late game charge and tied the game with 7 seconds left, Gonzaga proceeded to break their hearts, sprint untouched down the court, and bank in a shot with hardly no time left. Courtesy of YouTube

What a game…what a Saturday night. March Madness once again has shown its light over the sports world and we just got a few more games to add to the highlight reel.

In Sunday’s action, Pitt had a tough time competing with the 3-point machine we now know as Oklahoma State. 3 after 3 dropped in the 1st half, yet Pitt stayed in the game and eventually took over the Battle of the Boards with Dejuan Blair and Sam Young proving to be Herculean. Has anyone checked their birth certificates? I mean, come on now. Sam Young? He might as well be 45 with grandchildren. Look at him! And DeJuan Blair should be playing linebacker in the NFL. Either way, both are studs and will likely continue to be “men” against Xavier next weekend in the Sweet 16. Unfortunately for Duke, if they beat ‘Nova Thursday night they’ll face Pitt on Saturday. Let’s go Musketeers!! (and Duke beat Xavier by 20 earlier in the year). Speaking of ‘Nova, Scottie Reynolds and Jay Wright are making a big name for themselves on a national stage. We’ll see what happens next week, but if they beat Duke, watch out Pittsburgh…

Other winners over the weekend included Oklahoma (Blake Griffin is going to be great in the NBA), Michigan State, Syracuse, Mizzou, and Louisville in a surprising nail-biter against an overachieving Siena bunch. Though they didn’t win, they sure tested Pitino’s Cardinals. Could there be a chink in the armor? Maybe so. The #12 seed ‘Zona will look to knock them out after winning two more games than anyone would have expected. Who said they shouldn’t be here? Time to shut your mouth. You no longer have any room to say anything.

As for your brackets, who knows where you’re at now unless you picked all “chalk” (higher seeds). Mine looks like a sea of red…o well, the tourney is turning out to be memorable more than I originally thought. Great job CBS…

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CINDERELLA, SAY HELLO!

Posted in College Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2009 by sportsguru09

Wow, what a night last night (of course it all happened a- after i went to bed and b- after i posted about the games not being that dramatic in their late moments). Boy did March Madness shut me up with a slew of close games, near buzzer beaters, and multiple overtimes. March Madness is finally here folks!

In the late game last night, Cleveland State pulled 2009’s biggest shocker. As a #13 seed, they took care of Wake Forest right out the gate. Sorry Deacon fans….especially those who picked them into the Final Four in their bracket. Your bracket life is pretty much over.wake-forest-deaconsThe ‘Deacs came out flat and the Vikings took full advantage, running them up and down the court and knocking down threes. It actually wasn’t much of a game. What does this say about Wake Forest? Well, their streaky play and inconsistencies finally came back to haunt them at the quite possibly the worst of times. They’ll have to wait until 2010’s NCAA Tournament to get revenge and revive the basketball program’s success. As for the Vikings, their tenacity and spirit of the game created fireworks at the end of Round 1. cleveland_state_logo1We couldn’tve asked for anything more. Cleveland State has finally brought Cinderella back to life in 2009. Now, in the 13-12 matchup they’ll draw Arizona in Round 2 on Sunday. That battle will come down to who wins out between size and speed. Cleveland State will want to push the ball quickly up the court and ‘Zona will want to be in the half-court set. An intriguing matchup of two different styles…I like our Cinderella to dance in the Sweet 16…Go Vikings!

In an overtime thriller, Siena proved that they’re worthy to dance, knocking out Ohio State in Double OT. Siena hit not one, but two 3-pointers with less than 5 seconds left in each of the overtimes to tie and then win the game. Courtesy of YouTube

Why does this make me happy? Well, it confirms the fraud of the Big 10. They’re just not that good! Siena got behind early but did enough in the second half to extend the game against Turner and the Buckeyes. Thad Matta, do you wish you still had Greg Oden? I bet you do…sorry big fella. It’s much harder to win with a balanced team than with one dominant player isn’t it?

Though it pained me to watch another ACC team bite the bullet, they did it in dramatic fashion. Florida State, who absolutely owned Wisconsin throughout much of the game, struggled late in regulation and lost in Overtime. Welp, there’s goes a few games in my bracket. I liked Florida State to win at least one more game. O well, and so it goes…

Here are my picks for today’s matchups

Duke vs. Texas – NO QUESTION HERE, GO DUKIES!!!
UCAL vs. Villanova – I like the Bruins in the upset. Scottie Reynolds will struggle.
Maryland vs. Memphis – Can Vasquez lead the Terps in the upset? Nope, Tigers win.
LSU vs. UNC -LSU, I’ll love you forever if you win but I don’t think you will…advantage Heels.
Texas A&M vs. UConn – Thabeet dominates, UConn rolls.
Michigan vs. Oklahoma – For my bracket’s sake, go Sooners…and Blake Griffin of course.
Gonzage vs. Western Kentucky – Can Cinderella re-appear? Nope, the ‘Zags win a close one.
Washington vs. Purdue – Who cares? Washington?

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!!!

South Region Breakdown and Analysis…

Posted in College Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2009 by sportsguru09

2009 NCAA Tournament South Region Bracket Seeding
1 – North Carolina, 2 – Oklahoma, 3 – Syracuse, 4 – Gonzaga
5 – Illinois, 6 – Arizona State, 7 – Clemson, 8 – LSU
9 – Butler, 10 – Michigan, 11 – Temple, 12 – W. Kentucky,
13 – Akron, 14 – Stephen F. Austin, 15 – Morgan State,
16 – Radford (LET’S GO! BEAT NORTH CAROLINA!!!!)

On the night of March 19th, 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, North Carolina) to make it to the Final Four, I rank the South Region as the 4th toughest bracket (the easiest) out of the field.

Egh, you mean I have to talk about North Carolina now? Dang it. I guess if I have to, I will…I just won’t like doing it. Depending on Ty Lawson’s foot, UNC should have a relatively easy cakewalk (which of course makes me upset) to the Elite 8 until they run into a stacked Oklahoma Sooner team led by potential NBA All-Star Blake Griffin. oku-logo1 Without Lawson in the first round, I think UNC will struggle out of the blocks against Radford. Obviously, if UNC were to lose as a #1 seed against Radford (who, by the way, leads the country in STDs instead of scoring….well, ironically they could technically lead the nation in scoring…if you get my drift), I would be in all my glory. I wouldn’t care about what happened the rest of the tournament. Unfortunately, this only has a miracle’s chance of actually happening. The NCAA tourney committee says “Your Welcome” North Carolina. In the LSU-Butler matchup, this game comes down to size vs. shooting. If Butler plays it’s up and down the court game and shoots well from the floor, they will be able to overcome LSU’s size and pull out the victory. However, whoever wins this coin flip will likely get beaten up on my Carolina in the second round, assuming they have Ty Lawson back and healthy.

An always exciting matchup is the 5-12 game out of any region. In this case, it is no different. UPSET ALERT! UPSET ALERT! UPSET ALERT!Western Kentucky is willing and ready to play spoiler against Illinois. As the 12 seed, they are automatically considered dangerous. I like them a lot here. Go Toppers! wku-logoThey will likely play a very talented team from Gonzaga. However, in the Round of 32, I like Western Kentucky to pull another upset and knock out the ‘Zags, who are usually a tournament letdown. They usually have talent, but can’t hack it when tournament pressure arrives. Go Toppers once again! At the bottom of the South regional, I like Arizona State, Syracuse, and Oklahoma to take care of business with no problems. However, in the 7-10 matchup, I think Clemson will struggle with consistency (like usual as they are typically overrated) and lose to a red-hot, developing Michigan Wolverine squad. In the next round, I look for Oklahoma to again take care of Michigan with Blake Griffin absolutely dominating the glass on both ends of the floor and producing all kinds of numbers. I expect Syracuse to continue to play well, led by Jonny Flynn, and beat AZ State, but then succumb to size and fatigue against Oklahoma in the Sweet 16.

Back up at the top of the bracket, UNC will again play its game at run the Toppers ragged in the Sweet 16 and set up an intriguing matchup with Oklahoma in the Elite 8. At first glance, you would think that the Sooners don’t have enough firepower against the Heels, but you forget that Blake Griffin will likely be guarding Tyler Hansbrough. Advantage – Griffin. In a high-scoring battle, I like the Sooners to make the trip to Detroit and try to prove to the country that they belong among the nation’s elite. This bracket will not have as many upsets but will provide excitement with high-scoring affairs and fast-paced offenses. It will also feature two of the nation’s top players in Blake Griffin and Tyler Hansbrough. Try and keep up…..

Ok folks, get out your brackets…

2009 SOUTH REGION PREDICTIONS

Sleeper teams to win at least one game: Western Kentucky and Michigan

Most intriguing team to watch: Syracuse (can they recover from a brutal Big East tournament?)

Biggest regional upset: Western Kentucky to beat Gonzaga in the 2nd round after upsetting Illinois in the Round of 64

1st Round Winners: UNC, Butler, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Arizona State, Syracuse, Michigan, and Oklahoma

2nd Round Winners: UNC, Oklahoma, Western Kentucky, and Syracuse

South Region Sweet 16 Winners: UNC and Oklahoma

South Region Elite 8 Winner: Oklahoma Sooners

OUT OF THE SOUTH REGION, Oklahoma WILL REPRESENT THE FIELD IN DETROIT AT THE FINAL FOUR

Analysis and breakdown of the East Region coming soon….