Saturday, March 27, 2010

What We're learning (or should be learning) as we finalize the Elite 8.

The nets are soon to be cut down, and each team is scrapping for glory. In one of the most thrilling NCAA tournaments in history, there seems to be some sense of normalcy as we head into the Elite 8.

In a tournament full of upsets, the playing field seems to be leveling off. The lower seeds have flaked off, albeit valiantly (Pesky 9th seeded UNI was disposed of by the much more experienced Michigan State University), and the dominant 1 seeds in Duke and Kentucky have impressively claimed their spots as front runners in the competition.

*On a side note, I'd just like to remind everyone that Duke will always have a special place in my heart...the place in which all of my unadulterated rage and hate comes from.

ANYWAYS, let's break down the matchups.

No. 5 Michigan State vs No. 6 Tennessee
Let's face it, MSU is experienced and has the coaching advantage in being led by Tom Izzo. However as the tournament progresses, the loss of Kalin Lucas will prove more and more costly. Granted, reserve guard Korie Lucious has been filling the role more than satisfactorily, but the key to competing for a National Championship lies in depth, and I believe that a hungry and very athletic Tennessee squad will be able to take advantage of that aspect of the game. Look for the Vols to pull out a tough victory.

No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 2 West Virginia

In my opinion, the most intriguing and possibly the most entertaining game will be the Kentucky John Walls vs. West Virginia. I look for John Wall to take advantage of the mismatch against counterpart Joe Mazzulla. While West Virginia has shown itself to be one of the 2 seeds who actually deserved it (I'm looking at you Nova), I just believe them to be completely outmatched in this game. At the beginning of the tournament, I was convinced that Kentucky's lack of experience would ultimately be their downfall; but in a tournament full of upsets, and high seeds dropping left and right, I see Kentucky riding their pure athleticism all the way to the championship round. Kentucky wins this one big.

No. 1 Duke vs. No 3 Baylor

Now that I've given Kentucky WVU the props they deserve as being the most intriguing match up, let me move on to the game that I'll be paying most attention to. I can be fair and say that I fully expect Duke to win this game, and I'm man enough to admit that that admission fills my gut with so much agony that I'm coughing blood on the keyboard as I type. The truth is, Duke's outside shooting mixed with their slightly improved inside game makes them a dangerous team. While Baylor used consistent runs to advance against St. Mary's, they haven't seen a defensive unit like Duke's. Having said that, Baylor does have Duke beat in one category: lack of blatant homosexuality. But still, Duke wins.

No. 2 Kansas State vs. No 5 Butler

Hey, who would have thought that out of the two Kansas based programs, Kstate would be the one considered a favorite to make the final four? I'm not even going to sugar coat this: Kansas State is going to dominate this game riding the sheer aggression of Frank Martin alone. In order to stop Butler runs, Martin plans to spew regurgitated bat blood on his players. The trend will work, because even though the Bulldogs have effectively shed that "mid-major" label, and are a very talented team on both sides of the ball, I see Kansas State much like I do Kentucky in the Elite 8: far too athletic to lose this match up. However I'm not completely sold on this pick; Butler has proved round after round that it is a solid basketball team. Look for Kstate in a close one.

In closing, Duke sucks. Everyone enjoy the games!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The NFL's New Overtime Extravaganza!

Yesterday, NFL Owners voted 28-4 in favor of changing the overtime rules (in the postseason only). In such an instance:

-The team who receives the ball first can win the game with an opening drive touchdown.

-If the team who receives the ball first scores a field goal, the opposing team will get the ball as well and have an opportunity to either tie it with a field goal of their own (in which case, repeat the first step), or win it with a touchdown. After each team has had one possession, the game reverts back to the old overtime rules, with the next team scoring being declared the winner.

-Any defensive score results in the end of the game.

I'm indifferent. I don't know what I feel about this rule. Statistics show that first possession only seems to matter in the regular season, and since this isn't going to be implemented in the regular season, I guess I'm just sort of waiting the first few postseason overtimes to see how it goes down.

Reform in the NFL is needed and inevitable at times. This rule change came as a surprise to a lot of people, so we're just going to have to buckle down and hope that the whole two page document was worth it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Why ESPN is slowly drifting towards MTVism.

I'm at a crossroads with my love for ESPN.

Yesterday, as I watched a five minute interview with Tiger Woods, uncovering absolutely no new relevant information, I rolled my eyes and waited until it was finished so that I could hear more about March Madness (which happens to be one of the best in tournament history by the way). However much to my chagrin (notice I didn't say surprise), I found myself watching countless minutes of instant reaction and analysis to the five minute interview. I believe after about 15 minutes, I just kept watching to see how long they could talk about things we already knew. I think the low point was hit when I heard them discussing his body language to see if he was lying when answering any questions.

Is this what we've come to? Breaking down every twitch, shifting glance, and word from a sports megastar? For reasons that go beyond the golf course? Need I remind people that he gets paid to be a golfer? There is no leaderboard for best husband or dad out there, and the last time I checked, ESPN was a sports network, not the medium and moral compass for all of our stars.

Granted, the news was shocking. If this had been Dennis Rodman, Chad Ochocinco, or any other flamboyant athlete, I think it might have gotten about a 20 second clip in a 2am Sportscenter broadcast; however this is Tiger Woods: the greatest golfer that ever lived, and quite arguably the most reserved and sheltered athlete of all time. Come to find out he was sheltered for good reason! Granted, this news was interesting. Any time we have a star that is looked up to by millions of children, and respected by a countless number of media, colleagues, and sports fans across the world, we expect a certain character, and when we don't get that character, we tend to lose our minds a little bit.

The point is, ESPN, is this news worthy of airtime? Of course. Is this news worthy of so much airtime? I think not. As reporters it's your job to cover the stories, and in a down week or so with not many relevant games going on, I might even turn the other cheek. But damn it, Northern Iowa just beat #1 overall ranked Kansas, we're in the midst of one of the most compelling college tournaments of all time, and you're analyzing eye movement on a golfer?

I don't think I'm alone when I say this: although Tiger is a public figure and his life off the course is important to the average fan, it isn't everything. Cover it if you must, but please remember that there's much going on in March. The NCAA tourney is captivating the nation, the NBA season is coming to a close, and the MLB season is about to start up. Let's focus on Tiger at Augusta when Tiger comes back. Until then, give the other athletes the respect they deserve.