Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tiger Wins at Bay Hill for First PGA Tour Win Since 2009

On Sunday, Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill to earn his first PGA Tour victory since 2009.  He bested playing partner Graeme McDowell by 5 shots, finishing at 13-under for the week on a very tough Bay Hill setup that really showed its teeth on the weekend.  While Tiger had won a tournament late last year, it was his own event, an 18 man event at that.  Woods reentered the winners circle and is ready for Augusta National come Easter weekend.

Now, we know things have been rough for Tiger Woods' personal life and playing career these past few years, but it was a relief to finally see him notch a win in a pretty strong field. Woods is now a seven-time winner at this event.  While there was no flare for the dramatic this time like in years previous, Woods' steady play stood the test of the weekend as he was able to edge McDowell, who previously had erased a four-shot deficit in the final round against Tiger in the past to win. 

McDowell rolled in some pretty incredible putts in the final round, but Woods stayed composed, hitting beautifully struck iron shots to within a few feet, and he also putted great all week from inside of 10 feet.  His total driving was also remarkable as he hit many fairways in addition to being long off the tee.  This was a win that reminded fans of the dominant Tiger era, a time in which Tiger would win by 5-7 shots while fans knew it easily could have been more.

I felt the same about this week.  Thirteen-under is a great score, but it could have been even more.  Heading into The Masters, Woods' confidence has to be very high because of his track record there and the fact that he is playing pretty darn well right now.  With a little practice at Augusta National, Tiger should be ready to contend for his fifth green jacket.  I see his biggest competition being Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Phil Mickelson, and Lee Westwood.  If one of these five guys (Tiger included) does not win it, I'd be pretty shocked.  Tiger is in good form obviously, McIlroy is playing lights out, Donald just regained world #1, Mickelson knows how to handle Augusta, and Westwood is hungry for his first major.  If one of these guys doesn't win it, please tell me who will and why.

When the azaleas are in full bloom at Augusta in April, I don't know if there is a more beautiful scene.  Jim Nantz and the peaceful introduction music give me the chills every time.  Amen Corner instills fear in players, pimento/cheese sandwiches are dirt cheap, and patrons roam the grounds with all their Augusta gear on.  The Masters holds a special place in my heart, and I dream to go there some day and roam the grounds where the greats have made their names.

So who's your pick to take home this year's Masters?  Let me know who will win and why you think so.

Manning to Broncos, Tebow to Jets

For those who have been reading my blogging material on a regular basis for these past few months, please understand that I did not mean to slack on my posts.  Just understand that I have been going through a personally trying time in my life right now and have had bigger concerns than the world of sports that I have been so accustomed to writing about.  I love sports, but there have been things in my life that have been demanding my attention and focus.

I have not been scouring sports websites with quite the same vigor lately, but I am not oblivious to the news of Peyton Manning in a Broncos uniform and Tim Tebow in a Jets uniform.  I think I would have to be living in a bubble to not know this.  Let me first give my take on Manning and how all of this went down.

I understand many people are upset that Elway went behind Tebow's back in doing this, but I want you to put yourself in the Hall of Famer's shoes:  You have a chance to get a surefire Hall of Fame quarterback in Peyton Manning for your franchise.  Yes, he has been hurt, but nobody is more determined to get back on the field than him.  While he is an uncertainty and may never be the same Peyton Manning again, Tim Tebow is not necessarily what he had in mind for the future.  Yes, Tebow won them a lot of games last year including a heroic playoff effort, but he doesn't possess the conventional mechanics and mantra to make him a great player in this league.  Elway did not endorse Tebow initially, did so eventually out of obligation, but then turned his attention to Manning like any smart businessman would have.  Manning is signed for five years and while he may not play that many, he is an immediate upgrade to what they had with Tebow.  It is great to see Manning back and ready to go, and Elway didn't stop short there as he got guys like Jacob Tamme and Andre Caldwell to help out Manning, who will also be throwing to emerging receiver Demaryius Thomas.  

It was sad to see Manning leave Indy, though, as he has meant so much to that city.  That city was a part of him and hates to see him go, but Andrew Luck is their future and they couldn't hold on to Manning with that in mind.  Manning and Irsay were both sad to part ways, but sometimes these things have to happen for the betterment of both parties.

All right, let's talk a little Tebow.  One would think it would make sense to have kept Tebow in Denver to learn from Manning, but it just wasn't possible with all that happened.  Tebow is an ambassador in this league and will not say it publicly, but I feel he was hurt by this a slight bit.  He felt he had the support and adoration, but now he has to start over in a very hostile environment in New York where dysfunction is commonplace.  Jets' cornerback Antonio Cromartie basically called the signing a dumb decision, and Tebow goes into a locker room where backstabbing and gossip is the norm.  Not to mention, Rex Ryan isn't exactly singing the song "Amazing Grace" as he spews words out of his mouth.  Tebow is in a rough situation, but it is clear that Ryan wants him to play in unique packages such as the Wildcat, serving as a weapon for a team in desperate need of one.  The only problem, however, is this weapon does not exactly help Mark Sanchez's confidence of arsenal of few weapons.  Sanchez was brutal last year and I've never been a fan of his, but I still don't feel he always gets a fair shake because I personally do not consider guys like Holmes, Burress, and Keller to be elite players.  I've always had a dislike for guys like Holmes who are "me" first and aren't truly elite, so this may explain why Sanchez's growth has stunted in the NFL.  He claims to work hard, but if he saw the preparation a Peyton Manning does, would he still say that?  Tebowmania coming to the New York Jets is already a frenzy.  Let's just see if these Jets can return to playoff form with him.

Feel free to weigh in on this whole situation and voice your opinion. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Friday of Madness Provides Two Remarkable Upsets

Just when I had been saying that Thursday was a little uneventful for March Madness, Friday produced a pair of stunners, as Missouri fell to Norfolk State and Duke went down to Lehigh.  Both Missouri and Duke were #2 seeds, as this day saw these two become the fifth and sixth victims of all time to fall to a #15 seed.  It hadn't happened since 2001, when Hampton beat Iowa State in remarkable fashion.

These two games provided thrilling action, as Missouri and Norfolk State lit the lamp all day long.  Missouri played well on the offensive end, but they couldn't stop Norfolk State's offense, in particular Kyle O'Quinn, who had 26 points and 14 rebounds.  Missouri had a look from 3 to win it, but they could not hit, losing 86-84.  In the other major upset of the day, Coach K's Duke squad fell to Lehigh 75-70.  C.J. McCollum had a performance for the ages, scoring 30 against the Blue Devils.  Duke hadn't been bounced from the first round since an Eric Maynor-lead VCU squad did it to #6 seeded Duke in 2007.

These two games showed the remarkable propensity for anything to happen in this tournament.  I had Missouri in the Final Four, and just like that they were eliminated.  I did not having Duke making it past the Sweet 16, but stuff like this never happens to a Coach K team.  This just shows the wild nature of this great sporting event.  There were also three other upsets, including NC State over SDSU, #13 Ohio over #4 Michigan, and USF defeating Temple.  None of these upsets surprised me that much, though, because I did not have that high of a regard for the teams that got upset.

So it was definitely a wild day of hoops with the Round of 32 now set.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Minor Upsets, But Otherwise Tame Day One of Madness

I parked myself in front of the television just after 11 a.m. and began watching the great event that is the NCAA Tournament.  There is nothing like this grand event, and I have come to expect the unexpected.  However, Thursday didn't have anything too crazy, as minor upset winners such as VCU and Colorado were the only real surprises on the day.

This isn't to say that it was a boring day of basketball.  Kentucky, Indiana, Murray State, Marquette, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Gonzaga all rolled in their games, but other games were a lot closer or had interesting outcomes.  Jim Calhoun's UConn bunch simply gave up and didn't have pride.  The defending national champs were bounced in easy fashion by a good Iowa State squad, but it was a pretty humiliating effort from the Huskies, who won the whole thing last year.  Jeremy Lamb is a good player, but it was clear that he was not the leader that Kemba Walker was last year.  For a team that had the talent, they just simply couldn't put it together.  They have high future draft picks such as Lamb and freshman Andre Drummond, but the great thing about college basketball is that that doesn't matter unless you can play as a team.

VCU pulled out a tight one against a very good Wichita State team, a team many expected to make some noise in this tournament.  Shaka Smart did it again, finding a way to win his sixth tournament game in the last two years.  The run to the Final Four was remarkable last year, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Smart find ways to keep winning.  Colorado, the surprise Pac 12 champ in their first year, beat a good UNLV team in the 6/11 matchup.  I could see these guys beating Baylor.  I feel they still have a chip on their shoulder from last season when the Alec Burks-led team got snubbed from the NCAA Tournament last year.

Powerhouse Syracuse nearly got beat by UNC-Asheville, as the outcome wasn't decided until fairly late in the game.  The absence of Fab Melo clearly hurt this team, and they need to figure it out quick.  Baylor struggled with South Dakota State, but I see them as a team that will get stronger as the tournament goes on.   Vanderbilt also didn't dominate against Harvard, but they got the job done.

Regarding the first day, I am now looking to Saturday for some good matchups with Thursday's winners.  Most notably, I am looking forward to the Murray State-Marquette matchup.  Both teams play a similar brand of ball, and this will be the real test for the Racers to see if they belong with the big boys.  I can't wait to watch that one.

Vanderbilt and Wisconsin will also be an excellent game as Wisconsin's defense will attempt to hold down the Commodores.

I will provide a recap of Friday's game at a later hour.  Let the Madness roll on.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March Madness 2012 is in Full Gear

Well we are going strong with the official start to this tournament, and I just wanted to share my picks here on my blog.  My bracket is fairly save, but it does have some bold moves that could pay off in the end.  I'm a believer in one sheet of integrity, meaning I do not fill out multiple versions of my bracket.  My picks are locked in on one sheet, and that is how I believe a bracket should be filled out.  I'm excited for this particularly because I am a true college basketball fan who has been watching since the start of the college season.  I do not just jump on the bandwagon come March, but I watch as many games as I can.  While I feel well-educated on the matter, I feel my bracket could easily crumble at any point too.  I would rather have a crazy and fun tournament with upsets than a boring one without any cinderellas.  Last year, my bracket was in shambles after the first weekend, but I was happy to see such a crazy tournament with the unexpected Final Four of VCU, Butler, Kentucky, and UCONN.  

So, without further ado, this is what my bracket looks like:
To advance to Round of 32:
South: Kentucky, UConn, Wichita St., IU, UNLV, Baylor, Notre Dame, Duke
West: Michigan State, Memphis, New Mexico, Lousiville, Murray State, Marquette, Florida, Missouri
East: Syracuse, Kansas St., Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, Cincy, FSU, WVU, OSU
Midwest: UNC, Creighton, USF, Michigan, NC State, Georgetown, St Mary's, Kansas

Sweet 16:
Kentucky, Wichita St., Baylor, Duke
Michigan State, Louisville, Marquette, Missouri
Syracuse, Vanderbilt, FSU, OSU
UNC, Michigan, NC State, Kansas

Elite 8:
Kentucky, Baylor
Michigan State, Missouri
Vanderbilt, Florida State
UNC, Kansas

Final 4:
Kentucky, Missouri, Vanderbilt, Kansas

National Championship:
Kentucky vs. Kansas , Kentucky wins 71-66

Later today/tonight I will give my reasons on some of these picks, but for now let's enjoy the Madness!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Let the Madness Begin!

I will delve more into my March Madness predictions in my next post, but I'm just excited that it's this time of the year.  We were already treated to some crazy hoops games tonight in the "first round" as we saw Western Kentucky rally from a huge deficit to pull out an amazing 59-58 win over a stunned Mississippi Valley State team that thought they had a free pass into the second round.  President Obama was on hand to witness the action, and he saw a dandy in the second game as well as the high-scoring Iona Gaels, led by star point guard Scott Machado, played the BYU Cougars.

I listened to the first half on the radio driving back to school, and it sounded like this game was going to be a bloodbath after 15 minutes of play.  The Gaels simply couldn't miss and dazzled with their play.  They were proving they belonged in the field, as they eclipsed the 50 point marker in less than 15 minutes of play.  BYU, however, did not give up and finished the half very strong to close the gap to 55-40.  The second half was a remarkable turn of events as the Cougars outscored the Gaels 38-17 in an amazing turnaround to win 78-72.  The Gaels scored over 50 points in 15 minutes, and in the final 25 minutes, they were only able to score around 20 points.  I don't know if both of these games would be considered great comebacks or monumental collapses.  The deficit of 25 points the Cougars overcame was the biggest in NCAA Tournament history, a pretty remarkable feat.  The Cougars had the experience and returning players from a squad led last year by Jimmer Fredette, so this shouldn't have come as a huge shock that this team would have it in them to muster a comeback.  They are experienced, but I am not optimistic they can knock off Buzz Williams' Marquette squad on Thursday.  Despite this, tonight was a great effort and start to the tournament.

In my next post, I will delve into my bracket, predictions, and other random tournament thoughts.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rose Wins WGC Cadillac Championship, Tiger Hurt

Justin Rose won the WGC Cadillac Championship by one shot over Bubba Watson on Sunday at Doral, winning his fourth PGA Tour title.  Watson hit an amazing shot an 18 to 9 feet, but could not make the putt to force a playoff as he shot a 74 on the day.

Rose shot a steady 70 on Sunday to capture the victory.  A charging Rory McIlroy shot 67, but he could not pull off the win late, and his 73 on Thursday hampered his chances despite shooting 65-67 on the weekend.  Rose has to be considering in the running for The Masters next month because of his steady all-around game.  He looked good on Sunday, and I wouldn't count him out for The Masters.

The weekend, however, was somewhat overshadowed by what happened to Tiger Woods.  Tiger stood at -9 through three rounds.  He was unlikely to win, but a steady Sunday would have probably given him a top ten finish and assert that he is back and ready to come for this year.  However, Woods had to withdraw after hitting his drive on number 12 on Sunday, citing a left leg injury.  It was later discovered that it was his left Achilles tendon that had flared up on the range and got worse as the round went on.  He tried switching shoes at the turn, but that didn't help at all.  Woods said that he normally would have tried to gut it out in the past, but thought it would be smart to retire and go in for further evaluation early this upcoming week.  This definitely puts into question his ability to compete in The Masters.  At 36, Tiger is only getting older, and it hurts to see him continue to suffer like this.

Golf has been great this year with many great finishes, Sunday included.  But golf is riveting and has an amazing energy when Tiger is in the hunt a tournament on Sunday, especially The Masters.  News on his status will be coming this week, but I certainly hope it isn't anything too serious and was more precautionary than anything else.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Selection Sunday

Pardon my blogging hiatus this past week or so.  I was in San Diego visiting my roommate from school for my spring break, and I had a blast out there.  It was really the first time I had been to California, and I had an amazing time even in the short time I spent there.  I was able to watch a good amount of college basketball/conference tourneys, and I am excited for what today holds.

The day is finally here.  For me, it is one of my favorite days of the year.  All the watching of games since November is finally going to be rewarded with a bracket, compliments of Greg Gumbel and the boys at CBS.  The NCAA Tournament is sure to be exciting, but the process of getting there has been amazing too.  We have seen so many great things in college basketball this year, and it is only going to get better.  This week is also special for those smaller conferences as teams fight to get in and celebrate that they made it to the Big Dance.  It is cool to see all the blood, sweat, and tears bring 68 teams to the tournament in a single elimination thriller that is always a thrill to watch.

The conference tournaments have been exciting, and today some of the big ones are coming to a conclusion with A10, Big Ten, SEC, and ACC tournament titles being settled.  The whole week has been filled with analysis/banter/debate on who should be in or out.  Analysts debate the credentials of certain teams, but I think these debates sometimes are pointless.  In my mind, the committee simply has to put the best at large teams in the field.  They can crunch numbers and look at RPI and SOS, but I think it really should come down to picking who they think are the best teams in that group.  They always talk about who they played and beat and their body of work, but I do not feel like they take into account just how good they play as a team and what their players contribute on the court.  Too much is made of all these computer numbers, but rarely do they consider the players and how they play.  They almost make the teams robotic instead of actually watching the games to see exactly how they look on the court instead of just a final score.  In my opinion, if a team like say, Vanderbilt, loses to Kentucky by 3 but beats someone like Arkansas by 5, which is more impressive?  That is a tough call, but I'd say the Kentucky one is more impressive even though it was a loss.  The tough part about this one, though, is that losses do matter.  You can't have a 13 or 14 loss team in the tournament that had close losses to good teams.

My blogging took a rest also in part because of the extensive coverage I will provide for the NCAA Tournament.  There is so much analysis to be done and I can't wait for it to begin.  I have watched a lot of hoops this year and feel ready to discuss the bracket one it is unveiled at 5 p.m. central time today.  Let the fun begin with these conference championships today.  It is sure to be a great day for college basketball with the Selection Show.

Monday, March 5, 2012

McIlroy Wins at the Honda Classic to Ascend to World Number One

Rory McIlroy moved to the top of the world of golf on Sunday when he won the Honda Classic over a surging Tiger Woods, who shot 62 to put the heat on the young Irishman.  The win vaulted him to the top of the World Golf Rankings, ahead of Luke Donald.

McIlroy's 12 under par total was good enough to win by two shots over none other than Tiger Woods, who shot an astounding 62 on Sunday, including a birdie-eagle close, to finish at 10 under.  McIlroy was steady on the front as he saved par a few times, but he really saved himself on the back nine with three up-and-downs after nervous iron swings.  Those three saves won him the tournament and put him on top of the golfing world.  While the kid may have forgotten to wear sunscreen this week, he can now say he is the best in the world at what he does.  This has been his dream in the making since he was a little kid, so it's nice to see him fulfill that and do so at such a young age.

As a Tiger Woods fan (understatement), I want to talk about just how well he played and what I see for him down the road.  The 62 was his best final round score ever.  When the man figures out his putting, like he did for the final two days of this tournament, he still can be unstoppable.  Minus a few rounds, he has been hitting it great and just struggled with the flatstick, but yesterday was thrilling for me to watch him play great.  It's good to see the fist pump back in action and can't wait to see what he has in the tank in the coming week, especially with The Masters just a month away.

I know many of my readers may bash me for being a Tiger Woods fan because of his behavior issues and all that's gone wrong in his recent post.  I do not support what he did off the course, but I want to see him get back to playing magical golf.  And let me put it this way: I'm loyal and still believe he is the best golfer on this planet.  While many golf fans had given up on him, I have watched this ugly mess knowing that good golf from Tiger is to come.  People have jumped from player to player following giving up on Tiger Woods, supporting the likes of Donald, McIlroy, Kaymer, Westwood, etc.  I do not mind that these fans have jumped off the train, but I don't want them back when Tiger starts winning.  You can keep rooting for those guys all you want, but I don't want you to suddenly start shouting the praises of Tiger when the tides turn.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

BountyGate Uncovered

The Saints were finally caught by the NFL for offering cash incentives for hurting other players.

This news story, now known as "BountyGate", broke a couple of days ago, but has been an ongoing investigation by the NFL, who found that the Saints defenders were being offered money from 2009-2011 to hurt players such as Kurt Warner and Brett Favre.  These revelations are surprising but not stunning considering what was seen on the field by the Saints, mainly in the NFC Championship game as Brett Favre took many violent hits.  The Saints went on to win that game in overtime and ultimately beat the Colts in the Super Bowl.  One can wonder if a fully healthy Favre would have put his team in the Super Bowl if he hadn't take some violent hits after plays.  This story raises questions about the integrity of the NFL.

I remember hearing about the Ravens having bounties on Hines Ward and Rashard Mendenhall of the Steelers a few years ago, and this was the first time I was really exposed to this type of behavior.  I thought it was a terrible thing, and I think this even more now.  The scope and magnitude of this story will surely be discussed in the coming days.  One really has to wonder now if this is an NFL-wide thing and if the Saints were just the unfortunate ones that got caught.  I feel like this corruption definitely isn't just limited to the Saints, and this type of behavior cannot be taken lightly.

Gregg Williams has bolted from the Saints, but he deserves to be suspended for at least a year, if not more in my opinion.  I think Roger Goodell will come down hard on this, with potential suspensions, fines, and forfeiture of draft picks for the Saints.  This type of behavior is inexcusable, dirty, and just flat-out wrong.  Guys are already being hurt and concussions are a huge problem, but with bounties set, we are lucky paralysis or death hasn't come from this animalistic behavior.  It makes me sick to think about that players deliberately will hurt their fellow players for money.  I can't stand players like James Harrison, who do not know the line between good, clean football and dirty behavior.  I don't know if Harrison was ever offered money to perform his illegal hits.  He may be too dumb and just likes killing people without having to be paid to do it.

This scandal reminds me of all the NCAA scandals in some ways.  USC, Ohio State, and Miami were exposed, and this is eerily similar because the Saints were seen as a model franchise.  These college programs were perennial powers and seemed to be great examples, but they were exposed to be corrupt.  Now we see this in the NFL with the darlings of the league, the New Orleans Saints.

I still sympathize with the Saints because of what that city had to go through with Hurricane Katrina, but that does not excuse them for the bounty program they ran.  They did amazing acts of community service for a city in shambles, but somewhere along the way they messed this up with their lack of integrity.  Drew Brees is seen as a model citizen and league ambassador, but a lot of people may not hold him in as high of regard if he knew that the defense was deliberately trying to injure the opponent.  If Brees knew, he may be seen as a fraud in regard to his character.  It is hard for me to believe that he wouldn't know about it.  NFL teams are a fraternity, so Brees almost had to know about this.  He and the Saints have done so much right for the city, but this black eye is going to cripple them now.

Fines and suspensions are certainly looming, so stay tuned in the coming weeks as new developments in this story are released.

DePaul Rocks Seton Hall in Final Home Game for Seniors

The DePaul Blue Demons throttled the Seton Hall Pirates early Saturday evening by the score of 86-58.  It was an outstanding performance on both sides of the ball as the Demons sent their seniors out on a high note at the AllState Arena.  I was fortunate to attend the game with my parents and my friend Tom, and I'll give a little rundown of what I saw, including my halftime roll for a shot to win a 2012 Volvo (retail value around $32,000).

The Demons came out rather sluggish, but Seton Hall wasn't exactly on top of their game either.  The Demons were in a close battle, but began to pull away in the closing stages of the first half, as freshman Jamie Crockett began to bury three pointers.  I watched the whole first half, but my attention was on what I was about to do at halftime.  At the under 8 minute timeout, I was introduced as one of the contestants for a competition to win a 2012 Volvo at halftime.  Two weeks prior, I won a shooting competition at the game against Louisville to qualify, and at halftime I would be rolling a basketball from free three throw to opposite baseline in an attempt to get it through this slot barely big enough to fit the ball through.  I was a little bit nervous, but I was more nervous with the shooting competition two weeks ago.  Plus, I had nothing to lose, so I readied myself for the halftime endeavor.

As halftime started, we were introduced and asked if we had prepared for the contest in any way.  I replied with a, "No, but I hope my bowling skills can pay off", which was a bit of a silly response.  I had drawn to go last of the three contestants, so it was nice to be able to see what the other two would do.  The first contestant, who lives in Elk Grove, missed left by a pretty decent margin, so I knew I didn't want to do that.  The second guy missed right by a good margin, so I knew I just had to balance out their two mistakes.  With this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at stake, I took a deep breath, got low, and let the ball roll with a chance to win a car and.............

I failed.  Just like the first guy, I missed right and knew it right off my hand.  I would have liked to hit the board set up, but all three of us weren't super close.  It was fun, but I was a little disappointed that I couldn't come closer.

Back to the game, the rout was on in the second half, as the Demons put a merciless beating on the Pirates.  Seven years ago to the day I saw the Demons do the same to the eventual Big East tournament champs Syracuse Orange, 108-69.  It was a stunning result as the Demons couldn't miss that day, and yesterday was no different as they may have sent the Pirates to the NIT.  The Pirates started the year great, but they have to make some noise in the Big East Tournament to have any chance.

Jamee Crockett led the Demons with 21 points, including 5 three-pointers and an incredibly acrobatic dunk over a defender on an alley-oop, good enough to make #6 on SportsCenter's Top Ten Plays.  Senior Jeremiah Kelly closed out his home career in style, going for 15 points and 10 assists.  Cleveland Melvin chipped in 14 points and 9 rebounds in the Demons' most complete game of the season.

Senior Day is always emotional across college arenas, and this one was no exception as we said farewell to Jeremiah Kelly and Krys Faber.  Kelly, a senior point guard from Chicago, played great today and had many good moments as a Blue Demons player.  Faber, a senior center from Palmdale, California, had a bucket late in the game to end his regular season career at DePaul.  While I've been frustrated with these players at times, it was great to see them finish this way.  They are superstar players by any means, but they worked hard and seem like really good kids.  I also admire how they stuck it out through this rough time in DePaul hoops.  While many guys transferred probably because they didn't like all the losing, I commend these guys for their persistence and it finally paid off on Saturday.  They serve as an example for the younger guys and hopefully this will be a stepping stone for big things to come in the future for DePaul hoops.

Up next: Big East Tournament action starting on Tuesday.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Thoughts on the Bubble in College Hoops

It's getting to be that time of the year in college basketball when the teams on the bubble either make or break their seasons.  This season is no exception with about a dozen or so teams jockeying for the final positions in the NCAA Tournament field of 68 come next Sunday.  Now I am not a big fan of the expansion to 68, and here's why:

It rewards mediocrity.  Some of the teams sitting on the fence right now are mediocre at best right now.  Bracketologist Joe Lunardi has Northwestern in as his final team in the tournament, and the Wildcats are 7-10 in the conference. Why should a losing conference record be rewarded?  I understand they have a few nice wins and are the sentimental pick to get in because they never have made it, but the whole body of work is what is really important here.  Plus, how do you distinguish between these teams such as Northwestern, Colorado State, St. Josephs, etc?  How do you really know who's better?  You don't.  The reason why the field expanded is obviously money for television networks.  I thought the expansion was stupid, but VCU made an unreal run last year that was incredible for the state of college basketball and proved that anything can happen.  Despite this occurrence, I'm not sold that any of the teams hovering on the bubble this year are capable of that.  I think VCU of 2011 and George Mason of 2006 shows that this is about a once every five years deal where something like this happens.  The people who decided on expanding to 68 look like geniuses, but I'm still not sold on the bigger field.  The bubble is a thing analysts fight over every year, but I don't really care who gets in on the bubble this year.  Sure, a team could get hot like VCU, but these teams are more than likely to be quick tournament exits.

I still do not understand the computer program that determines RPI (rating percentage index).  The committee has to take this number into consideration, but every year their job is to pick the best 68 teams to be in the field, not the ones with better computer numbers.  I think they generally do a great job.  Missouri State was an RPI of 19 about five years back, and they missed the tournament. They thought they were deserving, but when you looked at it, it was puzzling as to why the computers had them so high.  I wouldn't call RPI useless, but the fact that it is determined by computers who don't watch games is still sketchy to me.

Those are just some of my thoughts regarding the bubble and other topics in college basketball.  We are conference tournament time and the NCAA Tournament Selection Show, and I couldn't be more excited to see how things play out.