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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On Second Thoughts

At first glance, this Final Four seems to be a weak one. Where none of the power house teams from the season made it there. Kansas, Kentucky, and Syracuse were the teams that dominated the regular season polls and pretty much made up the #1 spot for most of the year. But after Kentucky's Saturday loss, it was a gaurantee that none of them were going to win the championship or even make it to the Final Four for that matter. So my first reaction was this was bad for the sport, the team that wins the championship is not going to be one of the best teams from the year. But upon further review, the 4 teams that made up the last 4 standing actually do have legitimate arguments to be there. Michigan State, Duke, and West Virginia were all ranked in the top 5 at one point this season. West Virginia, Duke, and Butler for that matter won their respective conference tournament championships. Also, Butler has the nations longest win streak going, but I'm sure they are hoping to tack 2 more home victories on to that streak. None the less, this Final Four should turn out to be a great, the rest of the tournament was why would we expect anything less.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday

After watching the NCAA games on Thursday night, there were a few things that really stuck out to me. All but one of the games were pretty competitive, other than one, which for the most part you would expect. Think in each game we learned a little bit more about the teams that won, but a little more about the teams that lost.
The clock the definitely struck 12, and struck 12 hard for the Cinderellas left in the tournament. The double digit seeds met their match last night. The Washington Huskies hung around for most of the first half with West Virginia, but even without their starting point guard, the 'neers were to much for them to handle and began to pull away in the second half. As for the other Cinderella, the people's (as chosen by ESPN) favorite, Cornell met their match last night. UK was too long, too fast, and too talented for The Big Red to even get a 3 point shot, much less make one. For the most part it looked like a good high school team trying to compete with a Division 1 college team.
As for the other side of the bracket, the games were much more evenly matched. As shown in the Kansas St. versus Xavier game that ended up in double overtime. Neither of these 2 teams wanted to lose and they both fought until the last horn sounded. It was, from an all around perspective, the best game thus far in the tournament. But the back court of the Wildcats proved to much to handle in the end. After seeing most of the teams play, I think of the teams left, K-State may be the only team that could compete with Kentucky. And I'm not for sure they even could.
As for the last game last night. I believe it was the most disappointing of all of the games. Especially for me, considering I had the Orange winning it all. Syracuse came out and just couldn't seem to hold on to the basketball. It looked like a greased pig. They were dropping rebounds, dribbling off their foot, and throwing the ball away. It was as ugly as they played all year. And Butler took advantage. They didn't even have to use their 3-point shooting as a weapon because of the turnovers. And I don't remember a team ever getting so many friendly rolls for a team in the last 2 minutes of a game than what Butler got at the end of that game.
But the Elite 8 is beginning to take form here, and after tonight we will learn the other 4 teams in. But judging from last night it may not matter who makes it because it sure seems like Kentucky is by far the team to beat right now, and everything (upsets) seems to be going their way. Is it lucky number 8 for the bluegrass?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Derby City Classic

The rosters for the annual Derby City Classic basketball game in Louisville, Ky have been announced today. The 19-man roster features 3 future Cards(Elisha Justice, Justin Coleman, and Russ Smith),1 future Wildcat(Stacey Poole Jr.) and a host other future NCAA stars that spans 7 conferences. Over the years this event has had it's share of big name players, DeJuan Wheat, Paul Pierce, Anthony Epps, and The Lopez Bros!, just to name a few, and with the local talent thrown right into the mix it makes to be a great and fun game to watch. In addition to the actual all star game, there is a Slam Dunk contest and a three point contest as well.

The game takes place on April 1oth at 7pm. Last year I was at the game and I watched Rakeem Buckles score 13 straight points to get the black team back into the game. Hopefully he can produce some of that nastiness on the court next year.

Kentucky lands Turkish bigman

Evan Daniels reported yesterday that Turkish bigman "Big Enes" Kanter has committed to the Cats. Kanter had previously committed to Washington before reopening his recruiting back in February. Good news for the Cats who will lose DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, and possibly Daniel Orton to the league this year.

Monday, March 22, 2010

How's Your Bracket Now?

Wow. What a weekend of college basketball. No doubt the discussions around the workplace today will begin with, "How's your bracket?" I must admit, I'm a UK fan and I have them winning it all, however, I never thought we would see Kansas exit BEFORE the sweet sixteen. And honestly, how many people have Cornell, Washington, AND Saint Mary's ALL making through the first weekend? I gotta say, even though I've got UK winning it all, my bracket is totally screwed. But, I can't worry about that now. The Cats are hot and there is plenty of good basketball yet to be played. Here's a rundown of the sweet sixteen matchups and my early predictions(for what it's worth):

9 Northern Iowa v. 5 Michigan St. - Hard to go against Izzo and the Spartans here but with Kalen Lucas banged up, I like the Panthers to keep the magic alive

6 Tennessee v. 2 Ohio St. - I hate Tennessee and Bruce Pearl. 'Nuff said.

1 Syracuse v. 5 Butler - Wesley Johnson is a machine and Butler doesn't have a player named John Connor to stop him

6 Xavier v. 2 Kansas St. - Hard not to root for the Muskateers, one for all and all for one!

1 Kentucky v. 12 Cornell - It's a good thing this game will be played on a basketball court and not in the classroom. Kentucky rolls.

11 Washington v. 2 West Virginia - It's all relative in West Virginia, and relatively speaking WVU is the better team

1 Duke v. 4 Purdue - Chris Kramer punches Kyle Singler in the face, unfortunately he's tossed and Duke moves on

3 Baylor v. 10 Saint Mary's - Baylor's too much, even for three Australians

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

8 Ways to Bust Your Bracket Pool

Its that time of year. What time is that you ask? The least productive time for most companies because for the next 3 weeks, on Thursdays & Fridays, most people will be keeping up more with their brackets than with any amount of work. And for next 2 days everyone is going to fill out their brackets for all the pools they are going to join. So, I put together a few things to consider when your filling out your brackets so you can rake in a few extra dollars.

1) The Midwest will produce your National Champion. Kansas is definitely the team to beat in this bracket that is stacked with 4 teams that could easily make a run. Michigan St., OSU, and Georgetown could all make a run to the championship game. But none of these teams have the mixture of experience, shooting, rebounding, and talent that Kansas has and they should be the favorite to be the last team standing in this bracket. Quick question, how does the #1 overall seed draw this bracket?

2) Louisville has a better chance at beating Duke than they do at beating Cal. I've never seen a team that plays more to their competition than this team. So, if this team does end up beating Cal I would almost consider them a lock to take down Duke.

3) Syracuse fans should already be booking their flights and hotels to Indy. Other than the fact this is the west bracket and they will have to travel an awful long way in the Sweet 16/Elite 8 rounds there doesn't seem to be any one in the bracket that could legitimately contest the Orange.

4) Teams to Watch (Upsets):
SDSU over UT, Georgia Tech over Ok. State, Minnesota over Xavier, Cornell over Temple, Mizzu over Clemson, Utah St over Texas A&M, St. Mary's over Richmond

5) Potential Glass Slippers:
Minnesota - Tubby seems to have his team playing his brand of basketball at the right time.
St. Mary's - Experienced gaurd play always helps out in the tourney.
Murray St. - 1 of only 3 teams to have won 30 games this year. The other 2 are #1 seeds.

6) Names you'll be hearing:
Wes Johnson - The best all around player out of the best conference.
Scottie Reynolds - Villanova will only go as far as he will take them. Which I think is a long way.
Evan Turner - He will prove why he was the player of the year.

7) This will be the year that Huggy Bear will break through. Bob Huggins has always been considered a really good coach. But when it comes to the big dance he always seemed to leave before the clock struck 12. This is the year that he will make a deep run and finally have a chance to be considered with some of the best.

8) Teams you better have as the last one standing:
Kansas, Syracuse, or UK

Disclaimer: Widespread Sports is not responsible for any losses rendered from bracket pools.

Tiger to return at The Masters

The man known worldwide as Tiger Woods will finally step out of his own shadow and return to the world of golf in Augusta this April. It's been nearly 4 months since anyone has seen Tiger play let alone see him at all, except for his press conference a couple of weeks ago(where he eerily seemed like a robot) he has been confined in "clinics" working on his family and personal issues since early December. A return to the golf course is no doubt what he needs to find an outlet and to try and get back to being the man that everyone knew and loved throughout the last 13 years of his career.

It's been 6 months since Tiger has played on the PGA Tour, the second longest lay off of his career after recovering from his knee surgery. Will he be the same Tiger?, probably not, but the mere fact that he will be out on the green is enough to justify that he is and will be back stronger than ever. Many are predicting already that he won't win the Masters, but what if he does? Would that be the greatest victory in his legendary career? To come back to his game after everything that has happened to him and his family, to his private and his public persona. To be victorious in Augusta would be the ultimate medicine for a man ailing to get things back to what they used to be. Welcome back Tiger, we've been hoping and now we can't wait.

Monday, March 15, 2010

65 Are Set And Ready To Roll

      As Sunday evening approached and the anticipation grew, you could feel the madness in the air. Who will be dubbed the #1 seeds? who's in and who's out? where will my team be placed? It's one of the few times during the year that feels like Christmas Eve, between the hours of the last conference championship game and the selection show, and Christmas morning when it's time to unveil the teams.

      Now that the brackets are out, everyone should just move forward. We need not talk and debate weather the Mississippi States, Illinois and Virginia Tech should be in. Do I think VT should have made it in over Clemson? Absolutely. But that has no relevance now, and none of these team will have a chance to play for the title so it really doesn't matter. I apologize, I've already spent too much time talking about that topic....moving on.

      There are some very interesting match ups that are already set in place, and that we're hoping to see down the line if things play out in the way they are supposed to. The first one that jumps out at me is Cornell & Temple. Cornell is under-seeded if you ask me and I think that is going to be a great game. Also watching Siena take on a Robby Hummel-less Purdue team should be interesting also. Purdie has been struggling since he has been out. Can JaJuan Johnson carry the load or will they fall because 1/2 of their dynamic duo is out? Also looking toward the future, if things play out Kentucky & West Virginia should be a great game with explosive offensive scorers like John Wall, Demarcus Cousins and Da'Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks. Also when looking ahead I would love to see Evan Turner and the Buckeyes take on Austin Freeman and Georgetown in the sweet 16.

      Cinderella teams as we all know make up great tournament play. Here are my top few Cinderella teams to watch out for (10-16 seeds) The Murray State Racers (13) who take on Vandy in the first round and who could possibly upset either Butler and or UTEP in a trip to the sweet 16. Cornell (12) starts out with a tough game against Temple but with a bunch of white guys who can shoot the lights out they could easily get out of the first round and then beat, Wisconsin and even give Kentucky a run for their money as Miami OH did early in the Wildcats season.

      Some teams that could make some noise that are considered middle of the road teams (5-9) would be Texas A&M who finished their season strong in the top 25, winning 9 of their last 12 games, and out of the games they lost 2 of those losses were to #1 overall seed Kansas and Baylor. Marquette and Notre Dame are two other you should keep an eye on. Two teams from the Big East who has made some noise as on late and has good momentum going into the big dance.

      Finally, some top seeds that may fall early....you have to look at Syracuse not having Arinze Onuaku  in their starting line up. Also a very young Kentucky team in a tough, tough region also might bite it early. Kansas State who I think could make a Final Four run could have some trouble with BYU in the 2nd round.

      I could be wrong about all these teams, but thats the great things about basketball in March. Nobody knows whats going to happen, and we all can't wait for Thursday to come and for tournament basketball to get rolling.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dream Game Rematch?

      Here we go folks, were heading into one of the most exciting days of the year. Selection Sunday. It's full of conference championship games, then the anticipation leading up to the selection show. Here in the bluegrass state we already know Kentucky and Big Blue Nation will be receiving a #1 seed. However when Louisville lost in their first game in the Big East tournament, fans in the Ville were wondering where they may land in the big dance. Fans were hoping if Louisville made a deep run they may be able to squeeze themselves into a 6 or 7 seed. Now with the loss where will they wind up? The 8-9 game? The 7-10 game as the 10 seed? or even worse?

      Let's just imagine for a moment that Louisville does grab a 8 or 9 seed. At one point Joe Lunardi had Louisville and Kentucky in the same region matched up with those seeds. That would mean if Louisville and Kentucky both advanced in their first round games they would meet again in the 2nd round. How great would that be for basketball in Kentucky? Now maybe some Louisville fans wouldn't enjoy playing Kentucky in the tournament after what happened early this year. But would it be safe to say that Kentucky fans wouldn't want to play Louisville either? The Cards would be looking for revenge after a wild game in Lexington this past January. I think you would see different opinions on both sides on the fence in this rivalry. Some wanting to avoid it at all costs, and some relishing the thought of the in state rivals playing each other in the tournament.

      If you are a true basketball fan in the state of Kentucky you should want to see this game. The two teams haven't met in the tournament since 1983 in the first "Dream Game" this would truly be another dream game for basketball fans in Lexington and Louisville. Since the last game between these 2 programs was such a heated contest, I think players, fans and even Coach Cal and Coach Pitino wouldn't mind locking up again. Even though the teams would be pretty far apart between seeds. Anyone could imagine the game being much closer then the seeds would indicate. We'll just have to wait and see....

Check out the selection show Sunday Night on CBS @ 7pm....Also for your enjoyment, here is a clip of the build up between Louisville and Kentucky's first "Dream Game"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Smith out of Tournament

According to Louisville Basketball coach Rick Pitino, his starting senior shooting guard and towel wielding maniac Jerry Smith will miss the duration of The Big East tournament due to a severely sprained thumb. "It's all swollen and black and blue", says Pitino about Smith's thumb. The team doctor said it could be two days or two weeks for Jerry to recover from his injury. Everyone is hoping to get him back before the NCAA's but only time and rest will tell the tale.

Smith has started 29 out of 30 games this year and has been THE ultimate cheerleader when on the bench, jumping up and down and swinging towels with no regard for human life. Peyton Siva and Edgar Sosa will finally get a chance to play on the court together for the first time all season while Saturday's hero/legend Kyle Kuric will definitely be in the mix as well. Louisville starts off their postseason tonight at 9pm against The Cincinnati Bearcats on ESPN.

Hey, I Know You

So here we are, Championship week and the second round of The Big East Tournament. Pretty much everything has gone according to plan so far except for St. John's destruction on UCONN( who saw that coming?). All the second round matches have been set, Marquette vs. St. John's, eh. Notre Dame vs. Seton Hall, probably gonna be good, and then we've got Louisville vs. Cincinnati. Stop me if you've seen this before, The Cardinals and Bearcats, both in the same conference, both in the postseason tournament, both have something to prove. Louisville must come up big and prove that Saturday's win over Syracuse wasn't a fluke and Cincy has to make a case for the committee to get into the tournament, which won't happen unless they win the whole thing and that is unlikely, but nevertheless, tomorrow's game is a BIG game in a BIG time rivalry and I'm guessing it will be a fight til the end.
Their first meeting was in 1921 and they've been at each other's throat ever since. From the Missouri Valley Conference in the 1960's through the Metro Conference, Conference USA and now the Big East, it seems these two teams are destined to be with each other. Louisville holds the edge in the all time battle 52-39 and looks to keep their winning ways going Wednesday night in Madison Square Garden. Big East Tournament with NCAA implications, historic rivalry,ESPN, what's not to like.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Turning Off The Hall Lights

      The University of Louisville's Basketball team made sure that Freedom Hall would close it's doors in the most positive manor possible. The Cards Surprised a lot of people when they beat Syracuse, the #1 team in the country on Saturday. Senior Jerry Smith started the game out with a hot hand scoring the first 8 points for the cardinals. He injured his hand and didn't play a single minute during the 2nd half, which opened up extra minutes for Louisville bench players. One being Mr. Kyle Kuric, who scored 22 points and hit four 3 pointers to help stretch the Cardinals lead. The Cards did what they had to do and won the most important game this season, if not Freedom Hall history.

      Not only did this help clinch a NCAA tournament birth for the Cardinals this season. It helped close out a legendary tradition in the city of Louisville. It helped solidify the magic of The Hall, it added another great memory to those that already exist. Weather it was "The Comeback" against Tennessee when Rece Gains and Bryant Northern hit three 3's in the last 30 seconds to win the game after being down six or weather it was "The Dagger" when Edgar Sosa hit the last second game winner to beat Kentucky in 2009. This game can be put right up next to all of those. Where they all rank I have no idea, but they're all just a treasure box in my mind that I can sort through from time to time and thanks to You Tube....it's a bit easier....enjoy Cards Fans

Saturday, March 6, 2010

One More Brawl in the Hall


Friday, March 5, 2010

Find Me a Fourth

With Selection Sunday just right over hills and many out there already predicting the brackets, I'd like to talk about seeding. No, not the whole tournament, but let's talk about the No. 1 seeds. The way I see it, we've got three absolute locks for the top seed in the tournament, Syracuse, Kansas, and Kentucky. Those three teams have played the best basketball out of anyone the whole entire year. They were asked to win at home, they did, on the road?, check mate. A few straggles aside, they took care of business and they are sitting pretty right now. Now here's the problem, who is worthy enough to step in and take the fourth no. 1 seed? Let's have a look, shall we?

Ohio State: Since Jan. 12th, The Buckeyes have only lost 2 games by a combined 9 points. They have 6 Top 40 RPI wins including wins at Purdue and at Michigan St. They've already clinched at least a share of the Big 10 title and they have arguably the best player in the country in Evan Turner. A strong performance is expected in the Big 10 tourney and that should be enough to give Ohio State a shot at the fourth no.1 seed.

Purdue: They were all the way there until a season ending ACL tear put their best player, Robbie Hummell, on the shelf for good. Hummell was their heart and soul, a fifth year senior that would do anything to help his team win and it showed everytime he was out on the court. With 6 RPI top 40 wins and at least 2nd place in the Big 10, it was there time. Hopefully they can come together without their leader and finish the job they started.

Kansas State: Winners of 8 out of their last 10(both losses to No.1 Kansas) the Wildcats seem to be peeking at the right time. Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente are playing great ball down the stretch while leading this team to sole possession of 2nd place in The Big 12. An Ohio State slip and a nice showing in the Big 12 Tournament could catapult them to the last spot at the top.

Duke: The loss at Maryland with ACC 1st place implications doesn't exactly help your chances at a no. 1 seed. But the ACC is down this year, UNC is a shadow of last years team and besides Maryland, no other teams in the ACC has double digit wins. Jon Scheyer can lead this team to the ACC tourney title and if he does, The Blue Devils could make a strong case.

Villanova: This team was right at the top. 7 top 50 RPI wins, 2nd place in the Big East, life was pretty good for Nova. Now they've hit a rough spot in their schedule losing 4 of 8 and dropping in the rankings. One more huge regular season game to go(at home against #10 West Virginia) and it's off to the Big East in tourney in New York, where I feel they will have to win it all to get the fourth number one seed.

There you have it, these are five teams I believe have the best shot at the No.1 seed and what needs to happen for them to get there. All of these clubs are talented enough to get the job done that I've set out for them. The question is, who will come out of the knock down-drag out festival they call Championship Week alive? The chaos starts next week and it will not be pretty.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

All Time Cardinals

A couple of weeks ago, we here at Widespread Sports sent out a poll of who YOU think are the All Time best Louisville Cardinals. Whether they are the greatest or just simply your favorite players to lace up in Cardinal red, we've got the reults in and here they are, the All Time best Louisville Cardinals, choosen by YOU:

Darrell Griffith

Terrence Williams

DeJuan Wheat

Francisco Garcia

Taquan Dean

Milt Wagner

Charlie Tyra

Wes Unseld

Pervis Ellison

Larry O'Bannon

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