Wednesday, January 31, 2007

College Hoops Top 10 Power Poll

1. Florida (20-2)- The Gators are on fire and are riding a 13 game winning streak. Florida is no doubt the top dog right now and have a very balanced scoring attack. After 2 losses earlier in the year, Florida is on a roll averaging 82.3 ppg and shooting 54.0% from the field. With quite a few impressive wins at home, the Gators still haven't played a substantial amount of games on the road. With big games coming up vs Vanderbilt, (who is surprising a good amount of people) and rival Tennessee, the Gators can ready themselves for two tough road games with Georgia and Kentucky.
Next game to keep an eye on: vs Tennessee 2/03.

2. North Carolina (19-2)- UNC has been very impressive lately and have turned it up a notch on the defensive side quite a bit. The freshmen are starting to develop and can just about run this UNC offense to perfection. With outstanding wins over Arizona, Georgia Tech, and Clemson, this team is rolling on it's momentum since the tough V-Tech loss.
Next game to keep an eye on: @ Duke 2/07

3. Wisconsin (21-2)- The Badgers are no doubt one of the best teams in the country. With the exception of Florida, Wisconsin is the biggest threat to make a final four run. The Badgers 17 game winning streak was snapped by Indiana last night. I decided not to move them back because Indiana is one of the toughest places to win in the country. The Badgers are on pace for a one seed and it will very tough to stop them; especially with the duo of Alando Tucker (who is arguably the best player in the country) and PG Kammron Taylor leading the way.
Next game to keep an eye on: vs Iowa 2/10.

UCLA (18-2)- Even with the recent loss to Stanford, I still like this UCLA team at number 4. The Bruins play exceptional defense and are one of the more complete teams out there. UCLA needs to continue to win at home because with how talented the Pac-10 is, going on the road is never easy.
Next game to keep an eye on: vs Oregon 2/01.

5. Kansas (19-3)- KU is starting to play more consistently. This is a must if they want to make any kind of noise in the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks are talented and can put up points at will. They continue to be very balanced on both sides of the ball averaging 77.7 ppg and have yet to give up more than 80 points this season.
Next game to keep an eye on: vs Texas A&M 2/03.

6. Ohio St. (19-3)- The freshmen are not playing like freshmen anymore and Greg Oden has been dominating down low. But a few close calls keeps this team away from the pack at 6th.
Next game to keep and eye on: @ Michigan St. 2/03.

7. Pittsburgh (20-3)- As much as I hate having this team ranked here, I am not impressed with this Panther team at all. With the experience back this team should be top 4 right now. But unimpressive wins have held them back all year.
Next game to keep an eye on: @ W. VA 2/07.

8. Duke (18-3)- The Blue Devils are not as soft as they once were. They should be ready for the high-flying Tar-Heels next week.
Next game to keep an eye on: @ Virginia 2/01.

9. Texas A&M (18-3)- The battle tested Aggies should give KU a run for their money this Saturday in their biggest game of the year.
Next game to keep an eye on: @ Kansas 2/03.

Memphis (18-3)- I really like this team right now even with a few struggling wins. But this Tigers team will be ready to make a run by March.
Next game to keep an eye on: @ UAB 2/08.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tiger on the Prowl

Tiger Woods is just coming off a nice comeback victory in the Buick Invitational. That gives him five wins for the Buick Invitational, tied for his personal best. Followed by that is his 4 times winning the Masters. His win at the Buick Invitational was his 7th consecutive PGA Tour Victory. Tiger is more interested in a fifth green jacket at the Masters than 11 straight victories on the PGA Tour, but at this rate, he might have a chance to get both.

All that matters to Woods is his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record 18 professional majors. Woods has won two majors during his PGA Tour streak, taking him to 12 for his career. Woods recently left for the Dubai Desert Classic (an 18-hour flight) and said he wasn't sure if his next PGA Tour event would be the Nissan Open at Riviera that starts Feb. 15, or the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona a week later. He no doubt wants his game to be at its climax as he rolls into Augusta.

All this talk is great and I could hit you readers with almost all the stats on Tiger that you want, but I want to address some other questions that Tiger brings upon himself. As a sports fan, having even the slightest knowledge of statistics, one can deduce that Tiger (barring some golf-inhibiting injury) will break Nicklaus' record for Major titles. And also that Tiger will likely go down as the most prolific player in the history of golf (if he isn't already considered so).

One could argue that Tiger dominates his field of opponents like no one else in sports does; period. You just can't compare even what Peyton Manning does in the NFL as to what Tiger does to the PGA Tour. Not only will he go down as the most prolific golfer in history, but possibly the most prolific athlete in the last decade. What about when things are all said and done? Tiger retires to his luxurious abode in Orlando and spends everyday sitting between his beautiful blond wife and neighbor Roger Federer while watching Jr. hit it around the backyard. When we get to this point is it possible that we will be calling Tiger the best ATHLETE ever?

Monday, January 29, 2007

No sooner said than....

Done. The high-octane Phoenix Suns finally ran out of gas Monday night (all be it immediately following The Sports Flow recognizing their streak) falling to the Minnesota Timberwolves 121-112. Steve Nash did all he could pouring in 20 pts., 5 reb, and 18 assists, however it was no match for what Kevin Garnett had up his sleeve. KG dropped 44 pts., 11 reb., 2 assists, 3 steals, and a block Monday night: nearly single-handedly ending the Suns' 17 game winning streak.

Down the stretch "The Big Ticket" was everywhere in the final period against the Suns, dropping turnaround jumper after turnaround jumper to give Phoenix its first loss of 2007. With the win the T-wolves pulled up dead even at 22-22 and the Suns fell all the way down to a dismal 36-9. Even though the streak is over you can look for the Suns to give it another go starting with #1. They will get their first shot at starting over Thursday at home against the Spurs.

17 and Counting...

The Phoenix Suns have posted a 33-2 mark over a 35 game stretch. Only three other teams have been able to do that in NBA history.

The Suns extended their win streak to 17 with a 115-110 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Steve Nash scored 23 points and added 15 assists for the high-flying Suns.

The Suns boast the leagues best offense with 111.6 ppg. while leading in shooting percentage as well with a 50% avg. With Steve Nash averaging 19.8 and both Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire averaging 18.8 respectively, there is no doubt that this offense will take a significant dip.

With 3 more victories Phoenix would match the second best streak of 20 wins, set by the Milwaukee Bucks during the 1970-1971 season. If the Suns stay consistent and keep riding the wave of Nash, Marion, and Stoudemire, they could soon challenge the Los Angeles Lakers record of 33 straight wins set back in 1971-1972.

Phoenix has improved drastically since starting off 1-5. But everyone knew it was just a matter of time. They also matched a 9th straight road win and are now 20-1 vs. the Eastern Conference.

All the Sun's need to do now is beat the West's elite. Phoenix is a combined 0-6 vs. the Mavs, Spurs, Lakers, and Jazz. Everyone will be watching when the Suns host San Antonio and Utah this week. That's the only thing the Suns have left to do; prove they can top the western conference perennial powers. Oh yeah, and of course, finally put their supercharged offense and blinding speed to use by winning an NBA Title.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

WCHA Men's College Hockey: The Plot Thickens

I know this may not be an incredibly popular topic, but to each his own. Here on The Sports Flow we intend to try to talk a little about here we go. Oh yea, and because my UND Fighting Sioux just came off a HUGE sweep of the #1 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) is packed full of well above-average teams this season. But this is nothing unusual. If you follow college hockey much you can probably remember back just a few years ago when the Frozen Four was made up entirely of WCHA teams. This truly an amazing feat if you think about it. Imagine if the Final Four was comprised of USC, Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona (All Pac-10 teams)? This should be considered just as amazing.

This year the WCHA features a very highly contested race to the WCHA tournament.
Here are how the up-to-date standings look:
1. Minnesota- 29 pts, 13-4-3, .725 win %
2. St. Cloud State - 26 pts, 11-5-4, .650 win %
3. Denver- 24 pts, 11-7-2, .600 win %
4. Colorado College- 21 pts, 10-7-1, .583 win %
5. North Dakota- 20 pts, 9-9-2, .500 win %
6.(tie) Wisconsin- 17 pts, 8-9-1, .471 win %
6.(tie) Michigan Tech- 17 pts, 7-10-3, .425 win %
8.(tie) Alaska Anchorage- 15 pts, 7-12-1, .375 win %
8.(tie) Minnesota State- 15 pts, 6-11-3, .375 win %
10. Minnesota Duluth- 12 pts, 5-13-2, .300 win %

Now, with such a highly contested race featuring such good teams the parody in this league is incredible. For instance, Wisconsin is coming off a year when they won the National Championship last year and they can be found in the middle of the pack. You have a talent-packed North Dakota team that struggled mightily early on (1-7-0 in the month of November) who just completed a sweep of the #1 team in the land in Minneapolis (the first UND sweep of Minnesota in Minneapolis in 26 years!). This leaves a young and talented UND team poised to make a run for a repeat WCHA Championship. With Jonathan Toews (featured right), TJ Oshie, and Ryan Duncan (all super Sophs) the Sioux sport arguably the best first line in the nation. All three of these guys can score at will and you can count on seeing all 3 of these guys' names being announced at next year's NHL Draft (unfortunately).

Also don't forget, after this weekends action you have a St. Cloud State team that is only 3 pts. out of the conference lead. Stay tuned folks! Because you are in for one wild ride as we come down the stretch in WCHA conference play. And please don't be surprised to see at least 2 of these teams in the Frozen Four. Because as good as East Coast collegiate hockey is, I think that the top 6 teams in the WCHA can skate with the best from the East. Come tourney time it should be interesting.

Other WCHA Scores from this weekend:
N. Michigan 2 at. Minn- Duluth 4
North Dakota 5 at Minnesota 3
North Dakota 7 at Minnesota 3
Minn. State 3 at Wisconsin 1
Minn. State 1 at Wisconsin 4
St. Cloud State 3 at Denver 2
St. Cloud State 0 at Denver 2

Oh yea, and GO SIOUX!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

North Carolina vs. Arizona Post-game Analysis

North Carolina dominated from the beginning of the game. I made a mistake in picking Arizona, but I think it's mainly because of how much hatred I have for UNC. Like I said before, the team that can make stops and force turnovers on defense would be the one that came out on top. The young guns for UNC took charge right away and proved themselves even more. These freshmen are not playing like typical freshmen.

North Carolina broke it open just about right away. Lawson scored the first 8 points and looked very smooth in transition. Hansbrough wasn't much of a factor as I thought he would of been. Especially with Brandan Wright's game-time decision to sit out due to illness.

UNC's only weakness is their perimeter defense. They gave up quite a bit of wide open, outside shots. Luckily for the Tar-Heels, few went in. Arizona struggled on the outside and continued to throw up shots as the game went on. I also thought UNC did a great job of containing Mustafa Shakur in the transition game. That's where he is best. They made him force things that wasn't there and made him look a little uncomfortable in his game.

It also didn't help that Marcus Williams injured his ankle in the 1st half and Chase Budinger sat out nearly the whole 1st half with 2 quick fouls. This forced Lute Olson to go deep into his bench, which is something he doesn't normally like to do.

I can only imagine how much worse it could of been if Wright had played. This North Carolina team I believe now, is the second best team in the country only behind Florida. These freshmen know their roles and fit in well. Roy Williams really knows how to utilize them with his offense. Lawson is not only the best PG in the ACC, but is starting to show he is one of the best in the country.

As for Arizona, overall, they took a step backwards after this game. Last week they almost came out and topped #2 UCLA. And today they struggled against a superior UNC team. I truly do believe this Wildcats team has the potential to be a Final Four threat. They have the experience, coaching, and the personal to do so. They just need to find another way to win when they have an off-shooting night and Lute Olson will make sure these things happen by NCAA Tournament time.

Leaders: UNC Arizona
Points: Lawson 18 Budinger 16
Rebounds: 4 tied with 6 Hill 10
Assists: Lawson 8 Shakur 4

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Superbowl XLI Preview

This year's Superbowl matchup has the potential to be one of the best in recent years. Anytime that you have the best offense in the league going up against the best defense in the league you know you are in for a treat.

The Indianapolis Colts' highpowered offense, headed by Peyton Manning, always has the ability to light up the scoreboard, no matter who they are facing. However, Peyton is looking to improve on a less than stellar playoff campaign this year. Needless to say, winning the big one will do that for you.

The Chicago Bears sport the leagues best defense, which they have relied on heavily this season. Look for them to do the same in this game. With the inconsistently bad Rex Grossman behind the center they are going to need their defense to create turnovers and generate some scoring opportunities or even some points for the offense.

This game really could go either way. When both the #1 rated offense and defense collide something has to give.

The Colts defense and running game have really come alive in the postseason. I think you can look for a heavy load of runs, screens, and dump-off passes to the likes of Joseph Addai and Dominique Rhodes. This will allow Peyton to sell the Play-Action fake and open up receivers down the field. This is when the likes of Dallas Clark (U. of Iowa Grad), Reggie Wayne, and Marvin Harrison will make their mark.

The Defense, led by Dwight Freeny, will have the opportunity to rip this game wide open. If Freeny and Co. can pressure Grossman excessively and wreak some havoc in the backfield this game won't even be close.


For the Bears the burden will rest on the shoulders of the defense. It will also be interesting to see which Rex Grossman shows up to play. You can expect to see a heavy dose of inside runs by both Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson. If Grossman struggles it will be up to the defense to keep the Bears in this game. But, this is nothing unusual for the Bears.

This game could, ultimately come down to the third, less discussed, side of the ball. This is where the Bears have an edge. The Bears sport the leagues best special teams unit, while the Colts reside amongst the worst. Sensational rookie Pro Bowl returnman Devin Hester has the ability to house it every time he touches the ball. Look for him to come up big for the Bears' offense as far as field position is concerned. You can also count on the leg of Honolulu-bound Robbie Gould to be very sore come Monday morning. If the Bears can keep this one close, their special teams unit will give them a shot to win. It is also worth mentioning that the Colts have a kicker too, and I've heard he's not too bad at making clutch kicks in the playoffs.


I don't know if there are any gamblers reading this, actually i don't know if there is anyone reading this, but i want to talk about it. The official line on the game is Colts -7 (Bears +7). I think that the Colts resurgent defense will be able to get to Grossman enough to rattle him. Peyton Manning has had a rough go in the playoffs thus far but look for him to bounce back with a good game. In the end I think the Colts win this one by more than a touchdown.


grittysquirrels= Colts 27 Bears 14 - The Colts cover the spread and the hardest working QB in the game gets his ring

ming01= Colts 23 Bears 17

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

College Hoops Weekend Preview

There are some intriguing and big games coming up this weekend. Just about the majority of them will have a heavy impact on the conference standings.

Analysis and Predictions
There's one non-conference game that sticks out most to me and I have been anticipating this game from the beginning of the season. UNC-Arizona will square off this Saturday in which will have Final Four implications. The deep and experienced Wildcats will get their shot at the young and highly touted Tar-Heels.

This is a great matchup as both teams love to get up and down the floor. I love the point guard matchup between Tywon Lawson and Mustafa Shakur. But this is where Arizona has the advantage with Shakur, as UNC's Lawson hasn't played in a hostile environment or an experienced team quite like this away from home. The other matchups will be interesting as well with Wayne Ellington guarding Jewann McClellan, Reyshawn Terry on Marcus Williams, and the freshmen on freshmen matchup of Brandan Wright on Chase Buddinger. But the matchup of Tyler Hansbrough and Ivan Radenovic will be very intriguing. Radenovic is a very good defender, but Hansbrough should be able to out physical him inside.

The Tar-Heels weakness will be their perimeter defense. They've had some lapses at times and they definitely showed that they can give up the long ball vs V-Tech. But if Arizona has a terrific shooting night, Zona will walk all over UNC and will win by atleast double digits. But this matchup will be won on the defensive side, both teams are very potent on the offensive side but whoever can come up with stops and force turnovers will come out on top.
The Pick: Arizona 82 UNC 77- Arizona will win because they're playing at home and UNC's young guns haven't played in this big of a game all year outside of Chapel Hill.

Another matchup which will have a big impact on the SEC East race is Tennessee vs Kentucky. Tennessee is a very good shooting team but not having the SEC's leading scorer Chris Lofton will hurt, very badly. Kentucky is improving but they have stuggled at times. The Wildcats have a very balanced attack with Randolph Morris leading the way and with Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley on his side. Kentucky needs to be more consistent on both sides of the court if they want a chance to win the SEC. This will be a big game for them to be able to get things going in the right direction. Meanwhile, Tennessee will need to pick up it's game without their main man and they can't always rely on the long ball. Tennessee will struggle but can easily stay in this game with their strong defense.
The Pick: Kentucky 70 Tennessee 63

The late Sunday matchup between Boston College and Duke will tell us which team is ready to step up as the ACC team that will challenge UNC. Boston College has had some on and off the court problems all year long that's been effecting their game drastically. They just can't seem to get things going as expected. BC has been way too inconsistent. Although they do matchup very well with Duke, playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium will not be an easy task. I like the matchups with first of all Jarred Dudley going at it against Josh McRoberts. Dudley should be able to handle McRoberts well but needs a lot of help from his teammates. I also like the Tyrese Rice-Greg Paulus square off. Paulus has not been his normal self but it's pretty much been the same with Rice.

With the recent departure of Sean Williams, Duke has an edge in the front court. Also depth will factor into this game as Coach K will continue to sub as the game goes on to tire and wear down the Eagles. It's hard to pick Duke in this but BC just can't seem too play well, especially on the road.
The pick: Duke 74 BC 67

Other Predictions:
Wisconsin 75 Iowa 60
UCLA 79 Stanford 71