Wednesday, March 14, 2012

NCAA Tournament Predictions: South Region

Here's our picks and bracket breakdown of the South Region

1st Round

1. Kentucky vs. 16. Western Kentucky
The battle for Kentucky. I'm sure a lot of WKU fans like the Wildcats as well. WKU is below .500, the Cats have NBA talent all over the floor.
The Pick: Kentucky

8. Iowa St. vs. 9. UConn
The Clones love to shoot the 3 and do it well shooting at a 38% clip. They also have Royce White, who is a rebounding machine and a tough matchup inside. UConn has been inconsistent the whole season. Their defense is terrible and they turn it over quite a bit. UConn has some of the best talent in the country though, but we're still not believing some of their hype.
The Pick Iowa State

5. Wichita State vs 12. VCU
We all know VCU made the epic run last season.  They did so because they had athletes and size all over the court.  They also shot the 3 very well.  This season they only shoot 33% from long range. The Rams will win if they can force their tempo and cause turnovers.  The problem is, Wichita St. doesn't turn it over. They can play any style but they will try to force VCU into a half court game.  The play of 7-0 Center Garrett Stutz will  be a key factor as well.
The Pick: Wichita State

4. Indiana vs. 13. New Mexico State
Indiana plays very well as a team. Tom Crean has really turned this program around.  Cody Zeller and Christian Watford are beasts down low. NMSU relies on it's interior play. They're one of the best rebounding teams in the country.  Wendell McKines avg a double-double and 6'11 post Hamidu Rahman is a beast down low. These two can counter Zeller and Watford. The Hoosiers will be missing Verdell Jones III as well.
The Pick: NMSU

6. UNLV vs. 11. Colorado
UNLV is a transition team and all of their losses have come when the pace was slowed and they were forced to play a half court game. The Buffs like to get out and run as well. I think this will tend to favor UNLV; esp. with Mike Moser and Chase Stanback. Colorado could take this one but on a neutral floor I'll give the Rebs the edge.
The Pick: UNLV

3. Baylor vs. 14 South Dakota State
Baylor has been inconsistent all season. They have the ability and tremendous athleticism and length, but they tend to take way too many jump shots instead of getting to the bucket in transition. Coach Scott Drew will utilize his zone to stop the shooters from SDSU. Nate Wolters is one of the best scorers in the country and Jordan Dykstra can stretch the defense for the Jacks.
The Pick: Baylor

7. Notre Dame vs. 10. Xavier
This is a huge toss-up. Notre Dame plays ugly and when their guards aren't hitting shots they are dead in the water. Xavier has been inconsistent but guards Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons are great slashers that can cause problems.
The Pick: Xavier

2. Duke vs. 15. Lehigh
Ryan Kelly's status is still up in the air but it won't matter.
The Pick: Duke

2nd Round

1. Kentucky vs. 8. Iowa State
If ISU wants to pull off the upset they need to be hot from the outside. There's no way they'll be able to do that with Anthony Davis down low. Royce White will be their only chance and he must get Davis in foul trouble. The Cats have too much talent.
The Pick: Kentucky

5. Wichita St. vs. 13. New Mexico State
NMSU's size could give fits to WSU, but this is where I see the Shockers guards coming into play. NMSU is not known for their guard play.
The Pick: Wichita State

3. Baylor vs. 6. UNLV
This looks more like a Sweet 16 matchup. Baylor will try to slow it down a little bit to catch UNLV off guard. The size and length will be a huge problem for the Rebels.
The Pick: Baylor

2. Duke vs. 10. Xavier
Holloway and Lyons need to be on their A game going against Austin Rivers and Seth Curry. Duke will outwork you and likely out shoot you. I see the Musketeers inconsistent play coming back to bite them.
The Pick: Duke

Sweet 16

1. Kentucky vs. 5. Wichita State
Kentucky has so many pieces that WSU will need to account for. Stutz must stay out of foul trouble but they might use a lot of pick and rolls to keep Davis out of the lane. The athleticism and length bodes well for the Cats.
The Pick: Kentucky

2. Duke vs. 3. Baylor
Duke's 3 point shooting will go cold at some point in the tourney.  This could be that game. They do not matchup well at all with the athletes of Baylor. The Bears defense can get lazy at times but they defend the 3 well enough.
The Pick: Baylor

Elite 8

1. Kentucky vs. 3 Baylor
This is my ideal matchup in this region. Both teams can get up and down the floor and have tremendous NBA talent and length. Kentucky has better guards and that could be the difference.
The Pick:: Kentucky

Monday, February 20, 2012

TSF Bracketology 2/20

Here's our projected bracket as of today.

Boston Region

1. Syracuse
16. Vermont/LIU-Brooklyn
8. Virginia
9. Harvard

5. Temple
12. Texas
4. Marquette
13. Drexel

6. New Mexico
3. Baylor
14. Nevada

7. St. Mary's
10. Alabama
2. Ohio St
15. Weber State

Phoenix Region

1. Kansas
16. Texas-Arlington
8. West Virginia
9. California

5. Indiana
12. Miami
4. Gonzaga
13. Oral Roberts

6. Notre Dame
11. Long Beach State
3. Michigan
14. Cleveland State

7. Vanderbilt
10. Kansas State
2. North Carolina
15. Davidson

St. Louis Region

1. Missouri
16. UNC-Asheville
8. Mississippi St.
9. Southern Mississippi

5. Florida St
12. Washington/Xavier
4. Louisville
13. Middle Tennessee

6. Wichita St.
14. Akron

7. San Diego St.
10. Connecticut
2. Michigan St.
15. Bucknell

Atlanta Region

1. Kentucky
16. Mississippi Valley St./Savannah St.
8. Memphis
9. Saint Louis

12. Seton Hall
4. Wisconsin
13. Arizona/NC State

6. Creighton
11. Purdue
14. Iona

7. Murray St.
10. Iowa State
2. Duke
15. Belmont

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

College BBall Talk 2/14

We're getting closer and closer to March. It's my favorite time of the year.  Nothing in sports is better than the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Lets talk Final Four and sleepers.

One thing people seem to over look in College Basketball is how teams are playing heading into March.  They remember the struggles of November and December, and even early January. That was a long time ago and teams change over the marathon that is college hoops.  Lets look at some sleepers.

They struggled in December losing to St. Johns, Notre Dame and Providence, but we also have to remember they lost to Kentucky, Georgetown, and now Syracuse.  They could have easily won that game tonight vs the Orange, but  I think the Cards have shown they can get back to their preseason hype.  They've won 6 of their last 7, their defense has improved, and they're starting to play better as a team.

Most people remember Vandy's loss to Cleveland State.  They were without one of the best posts in the SEC in Festus Ezeli until mid December.  They've lost 3 of their past 4 but those were to number one Kentucky, on the road to a tough Florida team, and Arkansas, who is 17-1 at home.  Vandy has two terrific guards in Jeff Taylor and John Jenkins who can both shoot it, and a tough post down low in Ezeli.

Mississippi St
 The Bulldogs started off the year winning 12 of 13.  They've been up and down lately but Arnett Moultrie is one of the best power fowards in the country.  Renardo Sidney has been playing better recently and guards Dee Bost and Rodney Hood are quality guards.  This team is talented and can matchup with many teams across the country.  They play solid defense and rarely turn it over.  Those factors bode well for the tournament.

Wichita State
This team manhandled Creighton on Saturday.  They have good size around their lineup and can shoot it from the outside.  Their defense ranks in the top 25 of the Ken Pom Adjusted Defensive Rankings.  The Shockers have won 12 of their last 13 and are playing great at the right time.  Don't forget this team took down UNLV earlier in the season.

We all saw what this team can do with the win over Duke.  And they did without their best post in Michael Eric.  Eric is a solid post, Ramone Moore is a good scoring guard avg. 19 ppg, and Juan Fernandez can shoot it from the outside.

We're Back!

After a long hiatus we're bringing TSF back to life! I know you all missed us but lets get this going...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

College Hoops Power Rankings

Here's our first in-season power poll...

1. Ohio State
Clear cut number one right now.

2. Duke
Even without Kyrie Irving they are still very good.

3. Kansas
Despite the loss to Texas, Kansas is very dangerous.

4. Pittsburgh
No super stars but they're experienced.

5. Texas
A lot of talent.  Rick Barnes finally has them playing some D.

6. Syracuse
The Orange are deep and can beat anybody.

7. San Diego St.
Very athletic.  But not many impressive wins.

8. Washington
The Huskies are one of the most athletic and dangerous teams in the nation.

9. Villanova
This team has more options this season and is much tougher on D.

Young, but extremly athletic and talented team.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Never too early... for College Football Rankings

Here's my EARLY College Football 2011 Top 5.  More to come later...

1. Oklahoma
OU could return the overwhelming majority of starters on both sides of the ball, plus plenty of backups with starting experience.  Landry Jones should be one of the best QB in the nation and a Heisman candidate.  It also doesn't hurt that WR Ryan Broyles has decided to come back.  RB DeMarco Murray is one of the few defections.

2. Alabama
Bama should return the majority of their starters as well.  They do lose QB Greg McElroy, DE Marcel Dareus, WR Julio Jones and RB Mark Ingram, but Trent Richardson is just as good.  4 OL starters, LB Dont'a Hightower and Mark Barron are good places to start.  QB seems to be one of the few question marks.

3. LSU
Les Miles decided to stay.  That should bode well for the Tigers, who have been the most consistent SEC team in the past decade.  18 starters are back.  There will plenty of QB competition to push Jordan Jefferson who played better down the stretch.

4. Oregon
The Ducks lose key starters on both sides of the ball.  Questions abound all over.  The defense will take a big it loses Casey Matthews, Brandon Bair and Talmadge Jackson III.  The offense is good enough to keep them in the top 5. QB Darron Thomas and RB LaMichael James return to lead another potent offense.

5. Oklahoma State
As of right now there won't be many great teams next season which should help the Cowboy.  The offense brings back 9 starters, including QB Brandon Weeden.  WR Justin Blackmon still could forgo the draft.  The defense loses the majority of it's players, but when has OSU ever had a defense?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

College Hoops Extravaganza

Well, the College Hoops 24 hour marathon was a success. I stayed up for much of the night and early morning and watched the games.  Here's a few early and maybe obvious thoughts I have for the season.

Jared Sullinger is the real deal and Ohio State is easily one of the favorites to win it all.

San Diego State could possibly be the next Butler.

Florida is an improved team and will be dangerous in March.

Gonzaga looks like the same old team that will dominate the WCC, pull off some big wins but falter to more physical and talented teams.

Kansas State will be very good, but do they have the depth to be a premier team?

Duke needs more depth in the frontcourt.

Tennessee is overrated.

Delvon Roe will finally live up to his potential and help carry Michigan State to another Final Four run.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

If you can't beat em, buy em

As we all know by now Yankees GM Brian Cashman flew to Arkansas to talk with Cliff Lee.  This is obviously not surprising at all as any MLB fan knew the Yankees would go after Lee during the offseason.

It seems apparent that the Yankees will go after Lee hard.  Their pitching hasn't really worked out for them recently.  Javier Vasquez didn't pan out.  A.J. Burnett is a question mark after a terrible season.  Plus, Andy Pettite is getting old.

Lee is the obvious choice.  The Yankees pitching staff is basically the sole reason they didn't get by the Rangers in the ALCS.  There's really no one else they can go after.  Zach Greinke simply won't go to New York and the next two best choices are Jorge de la Rosa and Carl Pavano.  Who we know the Yanks won't touch.

Some think the Yankees wouldn't go after him because having two aces wouldn't make much sense.  I remind those people that it's the Yankees.  They will do whatever they can to win another World Series, and I don't blame them.

Lee throttled the Yankees.  As we've seen before, the Yankees absolutely hate being embarrassed.  They've brought in Yankee killers before (Tony Womack and Carl Pavano). It may not always work out, but Lee is arguably the best pitcher in the game right now.  It just makes too much sense.  As it seems like it always is for the Yankees, if you can't beat em, buy em.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Attack on Success

Cam Newton has been in the news lately.  Not only has he lead his Auburn Tigers to an undefeated record thus far this season, but he's also passed for 1980 yards, 19 TD and rushed for 1146 yards.  But that's not the only reason.  Newton has been accused of cheating while he was enrolled at Florida two seasons ago.  He's also been accused of discussing a pay-for-play plan with Mississippi State recruiters.

But why is this news just coming out now?  If Auburn was currently 5-5 or 6-4 would this be out right now?  I doubt it.  It just goes to show that when you succeed and doing well, stuff in your past can come out to haunt you.  And people will do just about anything to bring you down.  It's sad really.

I'm not saying Newton is innocent and this stuff didn't happen.  But everybody is just assuming that he's guilty.  What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Even if he did cheat at Florida, who cares?  What does that have to do with Auburn right now?  Would cheating at Florida affect his eligibility at Auburn?  No.  And it shouldn't either.

The more important thing should be whether or not the pay-for-play plan is true.  I'm not saying it didn't happen.  But if it's true, it will eventually come out.  It may be true, I'm just willing to give Newton the benefit of the doubt for now.  It just goes to show, if you succeed at something, there will always be people out there to get you and bring you down.

Friday, November 5, 2010

2010-2011 College Basketball Predictions

Final Four Predictions:

Stefan Ming's Picks:
Michigan State
Ohio State

2011 National Champion:
Michigan State Spartans

Grittysquirrels Picks:
Ohio State
Michigan State

2011 National Champion: 
Duke Blue Devils

All-American Team:

Stefan Ming:
Jacob Pullen (Kansas St.)
Kalin Lucas (Michigan St.)
Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
Malcolm Delaney (Virginia Tech)
Harrison Barnes (UNC)

Player of the Year: Jacob Pullen (Kansas State)
Coach of the Year: Billy Donovan (Florida)

Kalin Lucas (Michigan St.)
Jacob Pullen (Kansas St.)
Kyle Singler (Duke)
Marcus Morris (Kansas)
JaJuan Johnson (Purdue)

Player of the Year: Jacob Pullen (Kansas St.)
Coach of the Year: Thad Matta (Ohio St.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hilarious meltdown by Florida Atlantic Color Commentator

This dude was so upset he was screaming out the pressbox and offered to fight anyone in the box who disagreed with him. It really doesn't get any better than that. Looks like this pretty much ruin Dave Lamont's chances of getting promoted to play-by-play at Florida International....oh well. Enjoy.

2010 World Series Prediction

Ok I'm gonna make this a quick one.  Here's my World Series Preview:

We all know by now why the Giants and Rangers are facing off in this years World Series.  The Rangers Offense and the Giants pitching are those reasons.  The Giants face a tall task with Cliff Lee pitching two and maybe even three games if need be.  Good thing they have Tim Lincecum to counter.

The Rangers have been great on the road in the playoffs but several factors will come into play.  AT&T Park is not a hitter friendly park.  Will
the huge McCovey Cove winds blowing in from left hurt Josh Hamilton?  You betcha.   Can Vladimir Guerrero cover the huge RF?  No he cannot.  The decisions of Ron Washington and Bruce Bochy and the way they play a back and forth chess match will be very intriguing.  Look for Bochy to utilize Javier Lopez when Hamilton/Cruz are up.  Both managers have made great decisions all the way, but only one will prevail in the end.

Another factor you cannot overlook is the Giants ability to win close games.  They have such great experience in these close, 1-2 run ball games.   The Rangers seem to struggle playing in close games and they only seem to do well when they're hitting and already up big.  That could be tough going against the best rotation they will face in the Giants.  The Giants have the advantage in the bullpen and with Brian Wilson yet to give up an earned run in the playoffs, this should make for a very compelling World Series.

Giants in 7

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We should have seen this coming

Why didn't anybody see this coming?  The reasons are clear why the San Francsico Giants and Texas Rangers are facing off in the World Series.  Sure, the Rangers have never been here before and the Giants haven't been in the playoffs since 2003, but it's pretty obvious.

The Rangers have the best offense in all of baseball right now.  They're deep, they get base runners and they have huge bats in the heart of their order.  The addition of Vladimir Guerrero and his stellar play (.300 avg, 29 HR, and 115 RBI) put a lot of pressure off of Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Michael Young.  Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler have been productive at the top, letting the big boppers drive them in.  This Ranger order is arguably the best in baseball.

I won't forget the pitching either.  Cliff Lee gave them an ace this team desperately lacked.  I always felt they were a couple of solid pitchers away from being a very dangerous team.  C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis are young guys who have also stepped up.

As for the Giants, it's clear their pitching is the reason they're still alive. They boast a phenomenal rotation and a very underrated bullpen.  Perhaps the best in all of baseball.  From September until the end of the season Brian Wilson converted 11/12 save opportunities.  Sergio Romo allowed 0 runs and 3 hits in 14 appearances.  Javier Lopez had a 1.59 ERA in 12 games.  Santiago Casilla and Ramon Ramirez combined for .36 ERA in 25 innings.

I also have to mention Cody Ross.  The Philly killer is another reason San Francisco is playing in the W.S.  The Giants also have the potential to hit one out of the park at any point in the game.  We saw Juan Uribe knock out the winning HR in Game 6 and he's their 8 hitter.  The offense may not be potent, but it can do it's fair share of damage.

As we know now, it's clear why these two ball clubs are playing in the World Series.  Texas's Offense and San Fran's pitching.  The only question that remains, is which aspect will prevail in the end.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Helmet hits a part of the game

The NFL decided to go tough on NFL players who commit "dangerous" or "flagrant" hits by suspending them.  Before this players were either fined or ejected for committing these hits.  More specifically it's about the recent helmet-to-helmet hits.

While I agree that players must be protected.  Helmet-to-helmet hits to defenseless players need to continue to be flagged and players fined as long as there was malicious intent.  But with that being said, it's just a huge gray area.  It's hard to tell if a player is maliciously hitting a player to hurt or injure them or if they're just doing their job.

These hits are a part of the game.  Just because you fine or suspend somebody doesn't mean they're going to suddenly stop.  Sure, you can protect players, which is important and a must, but these hits will continue to happen whether we want them to or not.

The NFL is a difficult and dangerous job.  In other words, it's a privilege to play in this league.  Players know the risks with strapping on that helmet.  A lot of people risk their lives with their jobs every single day.  Firefighters know they could die running into a house fire, power line operators know they could be electrocuted at any point.  Same goes with the NFL and taking a bone crushing hit.

What about baseball?  You could say pitchers should be suspended for hitting a batter in the head.  We don't know if they did it with intent or not.  The same goes with the NFL.

I do agree they should be illegal and something needs to be done.  But will suspending players make it stop?  It won't.  Helmet-to-helmet hits are a part of the game.  Players know the risks of playing in this league and taking excruciating hits.  Most players understand that.  The NFL needs to understand that too.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Head Examination for the NFL

It seems like concussions have been occurring more than ever through the first 6 weeks of this NFL season. In fact, some sources count 46 known and diagnosed concussions thus far this season. The topic has been nearly unavoidable in the sports media the last few weeks and the NFL just announced that they are going to start suspending players for excessively violent hits to the head. Here is my free head examination for the NFL, its owners, and its players.

I love football. In many cases what happens on Sunday sets the tone for my entire week. I agree that something must be done to protect the game's biggest assets (the players), however I don't believe that suspending players for helmet-to-helmet hits is the correct decision right now.

The NFL is a violent game. It earned its popularity in America by being a violent game and has for many years treated it as a selling point with highlight reels and countdowns of huge hits backed by rock music. To have the first reaction of the league be to attempt to de-violence play on the field seems hypocritical to me, especially when it comes out that the league is selling photos of these violent hits. To try to de-violence the way the game is played is unnecessary at this point. The NFL profits from the violent nature of the league (literally). To me this looks like a panicking, knee-jerk decision by the NFL.

This is a problem that could be taken care of differently by the commissioner, or even by the owners independently. If I were an NFL owner, I would make it mandatory that all my players wear the newer, lighter helmets that have scored the highest in the most recent league safety testing (the Schutt DNA Pro+ scored highest in the NFL's test). These helmets are stronger, have more padding, and are lighter, aka less of a weapon than other helmets. For this to be most effective it should be mandated league-wide so that everybody wears the same helmet.

I would also require all players to wear mouth guards. Wearing a simple mouth guard is one of the best and easiest ways to protect yourself from concussions, yet many players do not wear them today.

Along with the mandatory helmet changes, and mouth guards, I would also mandate all players buckle their chinstraps like the rules are written (the last time I remember the league even addressing the chinstrap rule/issue was 2007!).

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for player safety and I think the NFL's intentions are good; they just aren't the right actions at this point. The league suspending players is unnecessary right now. It just creates more opportunities for judgement calls to be made by league officials that could significantly alter a team's season. The league needs to enforce the current rules it has in place, as well as proactively force owners to protect their players by issuing leaguewide safety regulations like the ones mentioned above. This would be a proactive way to react to the vicious spike in concussions the league has seen this season. Realistically the league shouldn't even have to mandate it. Any smart owner should be more than willing to protect their most valuable assets.

The league should encourage owners to make these safety regulations and monitor the effects on the field. If the problem does not improve or worsens, then something additional may need to be done like suspending players for certain hits. For now, it is in the best interest of the league, its owners, and its players to address this issue at square 1. I believe this starts with somethings as simple as equipment and safety regulations.

Players and owners are constantly referring to the NFL as a business. They are always expecting fans and players to understand that the game is a business. If the game truly is a business then common sense would tell you to protect your revenue generating assets. Enforce safety regulations on the players that you pay to play for you so that you can keep them out on the field! Even if it weren't league mandated like I suggested, any owner taking these steps would be doing themselves, their fanbase, and their players a favor. We all know they can afford it and it is the right thing to do.