Monday, March 29, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
In fact, the term "mid-major" should be defunct after this great run by Butler. And they may not be done yet.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Also in the dance are a few teams who on any given year figure out a way to make it to the round of 16: the Tennessee Volunteers, the Butler Bulldogs, the Xavier Musketeers, the Kansas State Wildcats, the Washington Huskies, the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Purdue Boilermakers. Kudos to these squads for more often than not putting on a good performance in the NCAA tournament.
Then there's the No. 10 St. Mary's Gaels, the No. 12 Cornell Big Red and the No. 9 Northern Iowa Panthers. Now it's safe to say that these three squads are not Sweet 16 regulars. St. Mary's is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1959 and Northern Iowa and Cornell are making their Sweet 16 debuts.
By conquering the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks, Northern Iowa is now known (in the sports world) for something other than being Kurt Warner's Alma mater. St. Mary's (with it's 5 Australian players) has shown that boys from down under know how to play b-ball too. And Cornell has proven that even guys who score 1600 on their SATs can (on their spare time) grab the rock and take it strong to the hoop.
We can call them Cinderellas or whatever, but these three squads are relishing the moment and their new found fame like the Spanish Conquistadors conquering the New World. And I'm sure there's a lot more land they want to conquer. Let's not fall asleep on them.
To be continued....
The above logos are courtesy of their respective universities and are being used for entertainment purposes only.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
The No. 9 Northern Iowa Panthers STUN the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks, 69-67. Now this has to be the bracket-buster of the ages.
Wow! I'm so shocked, I honestly don't know what to write. Let's just say, a star was born in the Mid West nebula.
What a day!
Kudos to the No. 10 St. Mary's Gaels on their upset win over the No. 2 Villanova Wildcats, 75-68. The doldrums continue for the mighty Big East conference. Last night the No. 8 California Golden Bears sent the No. 9 Louisville Cardinals packing, 77-62. The Big East who sent the most teams of any conference into the tournament with 8, was an unimpressive 4-4 after the first round. With Villanova's loss today, the conference is already in an 0-1 hole in the second round. Only the No. 1 Syracuse Orangemen, the No. 2 West Virginia Mountaineers and the No. 3 Pittsburgh Panther are still alive from the conference considered by many the best in the nation.
On the other hand, the Pac-10, who many didn't care for this season, are 3-0 in the tournament. The No. 11 Washington Huskies are going to the Sweet 16 after their very impressive dismantling of the No. 3 New Mexico Lobos, 82-64. So far Washington and California are proving that "this ain't no comeback, the Pac-10 has been here for years". Good for them!
On another front-- a special SHOUTOUT to the No. 5 Butler Bulldogs on punching their ticket to the Sweet 16 and to the Baylor Bears who also advanced to the big party. The Bears are one of the most intriguing teams in the tournament. They had a total of 0 tournament wins in a 60 year span and so far they have 2 wins in 3 days. Go figure.
But the stage belongs to NORTHERN IOWA. Not Iowa. Not Iowa State. Northern Iowa.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire
Logo courtesy of the University of Northern Iowa
Friday, March 19, 2010
I guess we can call the No. 14 Ohio Bobcats-- the little team that could. Their 97-83 stunner over the No. 3 Georgetown Hoyas was by far the biggest surprise of Day 1, Round 1 of the NCAA Tourney. I'm sure this game was an afterthought for most of us outside of Bobcat country. To be honest, I pencilled in G'town with my eyes closed. I mean, the only reason why the Bobcats made the tournament is because they upset every team in the Mid-American conference tournament and earned the automatic bid as conference champions. If I'm not mistaken they were seeded 9th in their conference tournament, which is not exactly a power-6 conference. But they are living proof of the old adage, "that's why we play the game." Kudos to them on probably the biggest win in school history.
Overall it was a rough day for the mighty Big East conference. They were barely 1-3 on day one. And I say barely because the Villanova Wildcats were lucky to escape alive.
The other big upset was the No. 11 Washington Huskies over the No. 6 Marquette Golden Eagles, 80-78. Another Big East team who bit the dust. The win was huge for the Pac-10 because, let's face it, they barely entered 2 teams (Washington and the California Golden Bears) and neither one was given much credibility. I mean, the Pac-10 is a power-6 conference and all they could muster is a No. 8 seed and a No. 11 seed. Not good! Washington's win was huge (extremely huge) for all the bruised egos out west. Let's see how California fairs today against another Big East bigwig, the Louisville Cardinals.
Although not all Big East teams are having a hard time as the No. 2 West Virginia Mountaineers are "cleaning house" as I write this. And I mean "CLEANING HOUSE!" The Mountaineers look mighty strong.
If I'm John Calipari down in Lexington, Kentucky-- I'll have my people looking at video tapes of the Mountaineers as of this moment.
To be continued....
Logos courtesy of Ohio, West Virginia and Washington. They are trademarks of these respective institutions and are being used for entertainment purposes only.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
The NCAA Men's Basketball Tourney brackets are in. All the office pools, online pools and everywhere pools are officially buzzing. Let the games begin!
But I'm not going to make any predictions or anything like that on here because we all know how these tournaments can play themselves out.
I mean, who can forget the George Mason Patriots, who as an 11th seed reach the Final Four in 2006 and the Missouri Tigers who as a #12 seed reached the Elite 8 in 2002. While I'm at it, I might as well give the Chattanooga Mocs a shoutout who as a #14 seed made the Sweet 16 back in 1997. In other words, we can make all the predictions we want but we all know anything can happen.
Congratulations to the Kansas Jayhawks on being the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament. The Jayhawks will rumble out of the Midwest Bracket. The other No. 1 seeds are the Kentucky Wildcats, Duke Blue Devils and the Syracuse Orangemen. The Wildcats will do battle out of the East Bracket, the Blue Devils out of the South and the Orangemen out of the West.
What is interesting about this year's tournament is--
- No North Carolina (16-16)
- No UCLA (14-18)
- No Connecticut (17-15)
- No Indiana (10-21)
- No Arizona (16-15)
Just to put it in perspective, in 17 out of the last 20 years, at least one of these five schools has reached the Final Four. Never mind just simply making the tournament-- at least one has reached the Final Four year after year after year. Only in 2003, 1996 and 1990 did anyone other than (at least) one of these juggernauts play in the Final Four in the last 20 years. So to see all 5 out of this year's tournament is mind-boggling.
My! Oh my! How the mighty have fallen.
But anyway, the show must go on. Good luck to everyone who enters a pool this year.
Logos courtesy of flickr.com
All logos are trademarks of their respective universities and are being used for entertainment only.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
In the words of legendary broadcaster Jack Brickhouse (when asked about the Chicago Cubs championship drought): "Anyone can have a bad century."
Well that century 'ole Jack was referring to, ended 2 years ago. In year one of the second century the Cubs had a so-so year (83-78). Bad by Cubs standards but nonetheless it was a winning record. So 2010 kicks off year 2 of century 2 for the Cubs.
But to be honest, the Cubs 101 year championship drought is not my biggest curiosity. We all know how difficult it is (in any sport) to win a championship. My biggest curiosity with the Cubs is that they haven't even won a PENNANT since 1945-- 65 years and counting. Now that's inexcusable.
With the exception of 3 expansion teams: The Texas Rangers (est. 1961); The Seattle Mariners (est. 1977) and the Washington Nationals (est. 1969)-- these 3 teams are the only teams who have never won a pennant-- every other major league team has won at least one pennant in the last 30 years (never mind 65 years)-- except the Cubs.
In other words, 26 out of the 30 teams have gotten it done in the last 30 years (even the Pittsburgh Pirates - 1979 World Champions). Although I'm not excusing the Rangers, Mariners and Nationals futility (it's time for them to get it done also)-- but they are infants compared to the Cubs (est. 1876).
Even the Boston Red Sox (2004, 2007 champions) when they were battling their funk were at least winning a pennant (1946, 1967, 1975, 1986) every 15-20 years or so. Other teams thirsting for a championship-- the Milwaukee Brewers (1982); the Houston Astros (2005); the San Diego Padres (1984, 1998); the Colorado Rockies (2007)-- have all won pennants in the last 30 years.
We can blame the "billy goat" all we want, we can run Steve Bartman (or whatever his name was) out of town all we want, but at the end of the day, 65 years is inexcusable. Their pennant drought is longer than the next two team's championship droughts-- Cleveland Indians (62 years); San Francisco Giants (56 years). But at least the Indians (1995, 1997) and the Giants (1962, 1989, 2002) win pennants.
My message to manager Lou Piniella, Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and company:
If ya'll want to win a championship, these guys (above, below) were the last to do it in Cubs Nation-- take a good look at them-- I mean, they are kinda old so don't expect any of them to walk in through the door and do it for ya. It's time to get it done!
Anyway, I just wanted to debunk this whole 100 year thing with the Cubs. Personally I find 65 years more troubling than 102 years. In order for them to break their 102 year funk, they first have to worry about their 65 year funk. I mean, all the fans who were born the last time they won a PENNANT are set to retire this year. My goodness, the Tampa Bay Rays were born yesterday and they already have a pennant (2008) under their belt.
As a baseball fan all I want is for the Cubs to at least win the pennant (just win the pennant)-- then we'll take it from there.
The above photos are believed to be part of the public domain
Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Somehow I get the feeling last year was no fluke.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
A special SHOUTOUT! to the Syracuse Orangemen for reaching the regular season No. 1 ranking for the first time in 20 years. Even though they were the 2003 NCAA champions, the Orangemen never reached the No. 1 ranking that season. They won the championship as the No. 3 seed in the tournament. The last time they were the outright No. 1 team in the nation was in the 1989-1990 season.
The Orangemen (28-2) have already won the Big East outright so next up-- a No. 1 seed and bracketmania. From the looks of it, the Kansas Jayhawks, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Duke Blue Devils will join the Orangemen with the coveted No. 1 seeds in the tournament.
A look at the Top 10--
- Kansas St.
- Ohio St.
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Ok, I can see where the Senator is coming from, but I think he picked the wrong bill to try and flex fiscal responsibility. Basically what Bunning is claiming is that he's following President Obama's "Pay As You Go" orders. But the government is already in a $6 trillion hole, so what difference is an extra $10 billion gonna make? So maybe Senator Bunning could let this one go but I definitely heed his point.
But anyway, enough with the politics--
I'll leave the party bickering and the standoffs to the political blogs. I mean, it's something that's been going on for 234 years so I don't think anyone is surprised by it.
I won't vouch for Jim Bunning the Senator because, like I said, I don't know enough about the issue to form a genuine opinion-- but I will vouch for Jim Bunning, the eccentric Hall of Fame pitcher.
People in Washington can say what they want about Bunning, but no one can take away is tenacity and no-holds-barred style on the pitching mound. If he governs the way he pitched, I can see why he has the Senate in a standoff.
Bunning played 17 seasons in the major leagues mostly with the Detroit Tigers (9 seasons) and the Philadelphia Phillies (6 seasons). He compiled a 224-184 record, 3.27 ERA, and 2855 Strikeouts. When he retired, his 2855 SO were the second most ever behind Walter Johnson's 3508. Bunning was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.
When Bunning was on the mound he owned the plate. If a batter was too close he did not hesitate to pitch inside and he could care less if he hit the batter or not. On the mound he called all the shots, driving his managers (especially Gene Mauch) crazy. Mauch would signal a pitch to the catcher from the dugout and Bunning would shake his head basically saying, "No, I'm doing my own thing."
A few of Bunning's highlights--
- Pitched a no-hitter for the Tigers on July 20, 1958 against the Boston Red Sox.
- Pitched a perfect game for the Phillies on June 21, 1964 against the New York Mets.
- 7-time All-Star selection.
- He is one of only 6 pitchers to throw a no-hitter and a perfect game.
- And one of only 5 pitchers to throw a no-hitter in both leagues.
- He was at the center of the infamous collapse of the 1964 Phillies. Manager Gene Mauch overused Bunning down the stretch and in the end the fatigue got the best of Bunning and the Phillies who blew a six game lead with 10 to play. They lost 10 in a row and handed the pennant to the St. Louis Cardinals.
- His No. 14 was retired by the Phillies in 2001. Why the Detroit Tigers haven't retired his number is a mystery to many, including myself.
- As mentioned above, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.
So with all the heat the two-term Senator from Kentucky is feeling these days, as a baseball fan, I felt it was important not to forget who the man was. But somehow I get the feeling Senator Bunning could care less what his critiques are saying about him.
Compared to the pressures he felt on the mound, criticism in Washington is probably a piece of cake for him.
Senator Bunning photo courtesy of the AP
Baseball card photos courtesy of baseball-almanac.com
Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com