Hey Final Four! Where’s The Sexy?

Posted on April 2, 2010. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Final Four Weekend Is Here!  Who’s excited?  Anyone?  Going once . . . going twice . . . I’m not buying into the hype of NCAA’s main event this year either.  Unless you are a fan of Duke, Michigan State, WVU, or Butler, you probably aren’t planning your Easter weekend around college basketball.

Why?  There’s No SEXY:  If you love defense and inside play, then you will disagree, but if you lust after the fast paced, up and down the floor, gimme an alley-oop transition game, you won’t get it here.  You’ll get gritty work on the boards and nasty loose ball battles.   Here’s a rundown of each semi-final game:

Butler Bulldogs vs Michigan State Spartans:  The supposed undercard of the two games on Saturday is a matchup between the ambitious young gun leader and the unflappable final four mastermind . . . who wins?  Butler coach, Brad Stevens, doesn’t even look old enough to shave let alone lead a team to the Final Four.  Yet in just his third year at the helm, he has.   Ranked 6th in the country in defensive efficiency, the Bulldogs are riding a 24 game win streak and have to be confident heading into their first Final Four in school history.  But there’s one question . . . 

Is being close to home an advantage?  Not always.  Distractions are aplenty and players can fall victim to the HEY, AT LEAST WE MADE IT mentality and lose focus on accomplishing what you set out the season to do.  Not just get to the Final Four, but win the National Championship.  

It’s been well documented that Tom Izzo has gotten to the Final Four at a break neck clip.  To get to college basketball’s promised land six out of twelve seasons is remarkable.  But he’s only taken home one title.  So there’s plenty of motivation for Sparty to excel in Indianapolis and at the same time, there’s none of the pressure.  The loss of Kalin Lucas has brought this squad together as a team and as long as Korie Lucious takes care of the ball, they have a shot.  

Duke Blue Devils vs West Virginia Mountaineers:  The perceived elitists take on the perceived hillbillies . . . both with historically sucessful head coaches, this is the Final Four’s main event.  Bob Huggins is quickly becoming a legend in Mountaineer country and would cement his hero status with a National Championship for his hometown. 

Coach K is already an icon and would bookend this decade with titles if his Blue Devils went all the way, giving him four total (1991, 1992, 2001).   This will be a surprisingly physical match up, with the play in the paint the deciding factor.  

Rebounding will be huge and both of these teams rank in the top ten nationally in offensive rebounding percentage.  A less than stellar shooting team in the tournament, West Virginia relies on second and third chances for a big part of their offense.  Duke has a reputation to be a finesse team, but this year they have a sneaky good, physical, defense.  Although when spread out, they can be driven on.  If the Mountaineers game plan to drive into the lane, they can get to the foul line for some easy points,.  Overall, boxing out and rebounding will win this game.  

You would think the focus on defense and rebounding would lend itself to a Big East/Big Ten tempo . . . and even though Butler and Duke can hang with the physical play, you’d be right.  That’s why I pick West Virginia and Michigan State to win close, need to get a lucky bounce here and there type games and advance to the finals.

What do you think?

P.S.  Using the term “sexy” when talking basketball reminds me of one of the funniest Will Ferrell moments EVER.  Here it is for your laughing pleasure:

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Marquette Vs Villanova: Quick Quarter Finals Preview

Posted on March 11, 2010. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

 Quick thoughts on the Big East quarter final match up between Marquette and Villanova . . .

Villanova goes as Scottie Reynolds goes

GUARDS, GUARDS & YOU GUESSED IT . . . GUARDS:   When the biggest impact guy in Marquette’s lineup is Lazar Hayward at 6-6,  and the engine that fuels Villanova’s high flying offense is 6-2 Scottie Reynolds, its going to come down to which team’s guard play wins out.  Duh . . .

Villanova swept the season series this year by a total of 4 points and they come into their third meeting of the year going in opposite directions.  Marquette has won 10 of 12 against Big East opponents and the Wildcats have lost four of their last six going 4-5 after starting 9-0 in the Big East.

The x-factor is going to be depth.  Marquette only has 8 guys that play double digit minutes while Jay Wright has an 11 player rotation for Villanova.  Will the Wildcats outlast those pesky Golden Eagles?  I think so.

Villanova wins 76-72

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Syracuse Vs Georgetown: Quick Quarter Finals Preview

Posted on March 11, 2010. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Quick thoughts on the Big East quarter final match up between Syracuse and Georgetown . . .

THE O-ZONE VS MONROE:  The story of this game, as it almost always is when Syracuse takes the court, will be

Greg Monroe is the key against Syracuse

whether or not Georgetown can beat the infamous zone defense of the Orangemen.  I fondly call it the O-ZONE.  You would think that outside shooting would be the aerosol to the o-zone, however in Syracuse’s three losses (to Pitt and twice to Louisville) the more polluting factor was the shooting efficiency inside the arc at 55%.  

Can Greg Monroe get it done in the paint?  Will Austin Freeman be hot from outside (47% from dowtown on the season)?  With Monroe, the Hoyas have a big man who can pass like a point guard, so if both he and Freeman are on their game, it’s a one two punch that might just knock out the o-zone.

BUT in Syracuse’s two game season sweep of Georgetown, Monroe had a respectable total of 28 points but just 13 rebounds while also committing 11 turnovers.   The Orange also did a good job of getting to the line for 58 attempts. 

If Georgetown isn’t foul happy and Greg Monroe is on his game, the Hoyas can pull the upset . . . will they?  Nope.

Syracuse Wins 72 – 68

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Oh How The Husky Have Fallen . . .

Posted on March 9, 2010. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Where Am I? The Twighlight Zone?

In the span of one year, the Connecticut Huskies have gone from:

Losing a classic, six overtime thriller against Syracuse in the Big East tourney to being on the wrong end of a 22 point opening round smackdown by Big East bottom feeder St. John’s.

Having a number one seed heading into the NCAA tournament and reaching the Final Four to checking the mail for an invite to the NIT

That’s quite a fall . . .

UConn had beaten the Red Storm in nine straight meetings but couldn’t make it ten. They weren’t even close.  At all. 

The tale of the tape:

The Huskies could only muster nine field goals in the first half

They racked up 20 turnovers for the game

They were 6 of 18 from the charity stripe

And their defense allowed St. John’s to shoot at a 50% clip

No wonder they lost 73-51 . . .

On the day after UConn’s women broke their own record of consecutive wins with 71 straight, the men couldn’t get it going . . .

Geno Auriemma must be embarrassed for Jim Calhoun.  With their NCAA hopes dashed – the Husky men sit back and wait for their NIT invite.  Fingers crossed . . .

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Pitt Doesn’t Like FREE Points

Posted on March 29, 2009. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA | Tags: , , , , , , |

Is this how Memphis fans felt last year after coming oh so close to the championship just to have Mario Chalmers make a miracle shot to send it into overtime and then take the title right out of John Calipari’s hands after he swore up and down that his players didn’t have to be good at the FREE throw line because they would always come through when the stakes were highest?  The Tigers shot 63% from the stripe while Kansas sunk 93% during that game . . .

Is it something about the Pittsburgh Panthers’ team philosophy where they have to make everything tough?  They don’t want it to come easy?  Does this team have a mental block against sinking FREE throws?  It’s not like they don’t count as much because they aren’t contested shots – they are FREE . . .

I get that this game was to reach the Final Four and not for the National title, however for Pitt’s players and fandom everywhere, it stings.  Granted, the Panthers improved on their pathetic 67.6% team average for the season by going 21 -for-29 and shooting 72.4% but that doesn’t matter when your opponent is over 95% from the FREE throw line.

Yet there Levance Fields stood with two shots to tie the game with 5.5 seconds left and he sinks them both.  Why couldn’t his  teammates have that calm, cool and collected presence at the line throughout the game? 

I said in my Elite Eight Expectations blog that these things had to happen for the Panthers to have a chance to win:

Connect on more shots – they shot 48.1% CHECK

Not turn the ball over as much – Levance Fields went turnover-less and the team had 11 total CHECK

Stay out of foul trouble – No starter had more than three personal fouls – CHECK

But I forgot to mention the damn FREE throws. 

The Panthers were better than Villanova in every one of those categories but one.  You guessed it . . . friggin FREE THROWS!

ARGGHHHH!

Samy Young Consoles Levance Fields After Pitts 78-76 Loss To Villanova

Sam Young Consoles Levance Fields After Pitt's 78-76 Loss To Villanova

I feel sad for the seniors who really had a chance this year to win the title, Tyrell Biggs, Sam Young and Levance Fields.  There’s no doubt Sam Young will go to the NBA.  Maybe Tyrell Biggs plays in Europe.  But I truly hope to see Levance Fields playing for the Association.  He is small in stature, but huge in heart and toughness.  He almost Levanced his team with more late game heroics, but this time it didn’t work out the way it usually does for Pitt. 

Turns out those FREE throws were pretty darn costly . . .

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Monday Musings . . .

Posted on March 9, 2009. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA, NFL | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Terrell Owens Signs One Year Deal With Buffalo:  I hope the Bills don’t get dizzy . . . there will be a lot of circling the wagons if Lee Evans doesn’t step aside and make room for the T.O. sideshow.  Sure, the Bills were smart by only giving him a one year deal since he has traditionally flourished during that first year of a new deal.  Call it the “I T.O.’ed you so” year.  The “I’ll prove I am not a troublemaker and I can fit in” year.  The bottom line is that Buffalo showed glimpses of relative goodness last year, but it’s frigid in northern NY the deeper we get into the NFL season, and Owens is going to realize that playing catch up to New England, an improved Miami team, and a new look Jets squad led by a rookie head coach on a mission, is not going to warm his soul very much. 

Why will they be playing catch up?  After going 7-9 for the last three seasons, the Bills need a lot more help than just an egotistical wide receiver.  Marshawn Lynch just pled guilty to gun possession charges last Thursday and received 36 months of probation.  He wasn’t disciplined by the NFL for his hit and run stunt last year, so he will surely miss games at the start of the season for Buffalo.

Marshawn Lynch In His Finest Hour BuffaloNews.com

Marshawn Lynch In His Finest Hour BuffaloNews.com

Their Defense was putrid when it came to getting to the quarterback – the recorded 23 sacks ALL YEAR.  Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware almost out sacked the Bills himself with an NFL best, 20 sacks.  

So is T.O. taking Buffalo back to the postseason for the first time in 10 years?  I doubt it.  Will he ever win a championship?  Kinda ironic if he doesn’t, dontcha think?    

The Big East Regular Season Lived Up To The Hype:  The Pittsburgh Panthers swept the season series against UConn with a dominating win on Saturday.  There’s talk about how the Huskies bounced back from a 14 point deficit in the second half, however Pitt absorbed it and went on an impressive run complete with defensive toughness, fast breaks and alley oops to seal the deal.   Just another day at the office for Pitt who is a lock for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, the first in school history.  Madison Square Garden hosts the conference tourney again this year and it jumps off March 10th, with all but four of the teams playing the first two rounds.  Louisville, Pitt, UConn and Villanova have two-round byes and will be well rested as they enter into the cage match that will be reminiscent of an MMA event to be sure.  Pitt has been to the Championship game seven of the last eight years and their 2009 squad is their toughest yet, so only time, or officiating, will tell . . .

Jaguars WR Matt Jones Gets Pinched AGAIN:  After escaping with a slap on the wrist for felony cocaine possession and serving a 3 game suspension from the NFL last year, Matt Jones just can’t say no to drugs.  Monday he was arrested for the same exact offense, in the same exact place.   Good ‘ol Washington County, Arkansas where he was a star QB . . . I guess who won’t need his Razor back anytime soon . . .

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What Happened To Notre Dame Basketball?

Posted on March 2, 2009. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA | Tags: , , , |

Hail Mary . . .

The Fighting Irish are far, far removed from a preseason #9 ranking and after a loss tonight at home to a Villanova team that was just beaten on their own home court by the faltering Georgetown Hoyas (who entered that game at 5-10 in Big East play), head coach Mike Brey needs to change his last name to pray and start doing a lot of it if ‘ol Harangody and friends think they can get into the NCAA tourney.

What are they praying for?

To win the Big East tournament.  It’s the only way they can get into the big dance.  Sad, but true.   A team that had such high expectations fell flat on their hunchbacks.   Their only win over a team that is currently ranked was against Louisville, and granted it was a 33 point beat down, however based on the entire body of work for this season, that was a FLUKE.  And it all started with a loss to lowly St. John’s.  Guess where?  Madison Square Garden. 

Notre Dame has one more regular season game at home against the very same Red Storm of St. John’s who began the Couldn’t Fight Their Way Out of a Wet Paper Bag Irish’s nightmare of a season.   Mike Brey’s squad should want revenge and then has to take their plight back to the scene of the crime, when the Big East tourney begins in New York City’s Madison Square Garden on March 10th. 

They gotta have faith . . .

Especially if they want to see former Notre Dame coach now ESPN Analyst Digger Phelps dance like this again:

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