December 4, 2013

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In Case You Missed It – November

By: Joe Williams

How about that finish in the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn? Pretty crazy right. We’ve all heard about that by now. And that game between the Patriots and Broncos was pretty good too. They are just two of the big sports stories we’ve seen in the last few weeks, but there are a lot more that are just as strange but don’t get as much attention. Here’s a few that I like.

One of the fastest sprinters in history, Usain Bolt, recently revealed that he ate around 1,000 chicken nuggets from McDonalds during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing while he was winning gold medals in the 100 meter, 200 meter, and 4×100 meter relay events.

Speaking of Olympians, swimmer Ryan Lochte was injured by a teenage girl. She was an excited fan and ran at him and when he caught her, they both went down and he hit his knee on a curb and wound up with a torn MCL and sprained ACL.

Ryan Lochte

We found out in November that Ryan Lochte had been injured when he was run into by a teenage fan.

A cross country runner in Kentucky opted not to run in the regional championships because she was assigned the number 666 for the bib she was to wear on her chest. She requested to change numbers for religious purposes and the request was denied by race officials.

A man was arrested for using a taser on his wife because of a bet between the two regarding the outcome of a Monday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. The couple had agreed that the loser of the bet would be tasered by the winner and after the Bears pulled out the win, the man used the stun gun on his wife’s butt twice and once on her thigh. She called the cops and he went to jail.

Kansas State attempted to lure students to attend the women’s basketball season opener by giving away five slices of bacon to any student that presented a valid ID.

A freshman player on the Georgetown women’s basketball team tried to stop an opponents shot in a game against Richmond by throwing her shoe at the ball while it was in flight.

The NCAA took away a year of eligibility from a cross country runner at BYU because he “competed” in a recreational costume race.

Toronto Blue Jays‘ slugger Jose Bautista received a letter from a young fan who tried to recruit him to the Texas Rangers and even recommended the contract Bautista would be worth to the new team.

Corey “Thunder” Law of the Harlem Globetrotters set a new world record for the longest basketball shot by making a bomb from just over 109 feet away.

An assistant football coach in Tennessee was arrested and charged for vandalizing his own school. He committed the crime in an attempt to frame the opponent in his teams rivalry game with the hopes that it would inspire his team to win the game. They lost 35-17.

A coyote stole the show when it joined in the Arizona cross country state championship race. It disappeared back into the brush after making a short appearance at the front of the pack.

Jacksonville defender Jason Babin came away from a tackle with a handful of Arizona running back Andre Ellington’s dreadlocks.

Michigan State got some help from the crowd in avoiding an upset loss against Columbia. The Spartans led by just two points with about three minutes to play when the student section helped out the defense by mistiming its shot clock countdown on two consecutive Columbia possessions. The Lions didn’t attempt a shot either time and turned the ball back to Michigan St. who ended up winning 62-53.

Just over a year after Jack Taylor of Grinnell College set the single-game collegiate scoring record with 138 points, Taylor was at it again, scoring 109 points in a 173-123 win over Crossroads College.

J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks received $60 in the mail from a fan as part of a “NBA 2K13″ bet.

A Wisconsic couple named their newborn after Aaron Rodgers after the baby was born with the same injury (broken left collarbone) that the Packers quarterback is currently healing from.

David Murphy’s free agent signing with the Cleveland Indians was leaked by his young daughter at her daycare.

The PBA started using blue dye to show viewers the oil on the lanes in an effort to help fans better understand the challenges facing the pros.

North Carolina whipped Old Dominion so bad (80-20) that both teams agreed to shorten the fourth quarter to end the misery.

A golfer from Wales made a hole-in-one to get into contention in the World Cup of Golf and then played himself out of contention on the very next hole by carding an 11.

The Chicago Cubs, a team that is known for having a loyal fan base despite not winning a World Series in more than a century, has asked one of their biggest fans, an 11-year-old girl no less, to stop getting so excited at the games.

The Georgia Southern Eagles were paid $550K to play at Florida and entered the game as a four touchdown underdog. They beat the Gators 26-20 without even completing one pass in the entire game.

Rudy Gay has banned stat sheets from the Toronto Raptors‘ locker room.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers are trying to distract kickers with a dramatic gopher video when the kickers are facing the giant video board.

Jason Kidd was fined $50,000 for intentionally spilling his drink on the court when he didn’t have any timeouts left an needed to stop the game to set up a final play against the Lakers.

January 11, 2013

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NCAA Men’s Basketball Weekend Watch List

By: Tyler Vespa

Just about halfway through the college basketball season, we are beginning to find out who’s for real and who’s a pretender. After Arizona’s loss Thursday night to Oregon, there are only two more teams left undefeated; Duke and Michigan. Now were going to party like it’s 1992. Yes it’s been a little over 20 years since Duke played Michigan for the national title, with the “Fab 5” as freshmen. For Duke, almost nothing has changed, Mike Krzyzewski is still the head coach, and Duke is number 1 in the country. However, in Ann Arbor, pretty much everything has changed. The only slight similarity is the youth movement that features a starting 5 with 2 freshmen and 1 sophomore. The Big Ten has officially dethroned the Big East as college basketball’s top conference, and the ACC is having a down year without Florida State and North Carolina in the top 25. That being said, the Blue Devils will have to beat themselves to lose the ACC.

With that I give you the marquee matchups this weekend in college hoops:

1. Duke (15-0) (2-0 ACC) at 20. North Carolina State (13-2) (2-0 ACC) Saturday 12 noon (ESPN)

The Blue Devils are without starting senior forward Ryan Kelly who is out indefinitely with a foot injury. The Blue Devils don’t have the depth to replace a guy who averages 13.4 PPG and 5.4 RPG. The Wolfpack are balanced with 6 guys averaging double figures in scoring. Mark Gottfried’s club also ranks 1st in field goal percentage. Duke will have no answer for C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell on the interior.  Prediction: Duke-69 NC State- 73

Michigan State, a perennial Big Ten power, fell earlier this season to Minnesota.

8. Minnesota (15-1) (3-0 Big Ten) at 5. Indiana (14-1) (2-0 Big Ten) Saturday 12 noon (BTN)

Since their lone loss to Duke on November 22nd, Tubby Smith’s Golden Gophers have won 11 in a row including two big conference wins against Michigan State and Illinois. Indiana has won their last 5 since losing to Butler. The Gopher’s Andre Hollins may be the best point guard in the country. That in combination with Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams in the post is too much for the Hoosiers. The Gophers will do it by committee to pull the upset at Assembly Hall.  Prediction: Minnesota-67 Indiana-63

2. Michigan (16-0) (3-0 Big Ten) at 15. Ohio State (12-3) (2-1 Big Ten) Sunday 1:30 (CBS)

There hasn’t been this much excitement in Ann Arbor since the “Fab 5”. The Wolverines have 4 guys averaging over 12 points per game. Their backcourt is the best in nation with Wooden Award candidate Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. Big Blue’s frontcourt is also scary with two fabulous freshmen in Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III. This balance will be too much for the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes are 12th in turnovers per game while the Wolverines are 2nd. The Buckeyes will struggle to find high percentage shots and Michigan’s depth will dominate from start to finish.  Prediction: Michigan-66 Ohio State-58.

November 8, 2012

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NCAA Men’s Basketball Preview: 10 Teams That Could Win It All

By: Tyler Vespa

With the 2012-2013 college basketball season set to begin on Friday, this could be one of the most wide-open seasons in recent memory. I don’t believe there are one or two teams loaded with all the NBA talent as in past years with Kentucky.  To me, you see the result of that parity evident near the top of all the preseason polls with teams like Indiana, Michigan, and North Carolina State, who is picked to beat North Carolina in the ACC. Let the madness begin.

Will Louisville keep the National Championship in Kentucky?

With that I give you 10 teams that could win it all this season:

Indiana

Cody Zeller might be the best player in the country. Put that on top of key returners Christian Watford, Will Sheehey, and Victor Oladipo and an experienced coach in Tom Crean and the Hoosiers have arrived.

Louisville

Coach Rick Pitino has one of the best backcourts in the country with the trio of Peyton Siva, Wayne Blackshear and Russ Smith. The Louisville frontcourt is also extremely talented with Chane Behanen and Gorgui Dieng. With the additions of transfer Luke Hancock (George Mason) and 4-star recruit Montrezl Harrell, a national title might be “in the cards”.

Kentucky

With no returning starters, coach John Calipari has once again brought a fountain of youth with NBA talent. Top recruits Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, and Archie Goodwin may not win a title, but a Final 4 is a strong possibility.

Michigan

Ann Arbor please welcome “The Next 5”. Coach John Beilein returns 3 starters with one of the best point guards in the country in Trey Burke, junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr. and center Jordan Morgan. The final two that make up “The Next 5” are 5-star recruit Glenn Robinson III on the wing and 4-star recruit Mitch McGary at power forward. The bench for the Wolverines adds great depth with senior Matt Vogrich and redshirt sophomore Jon Horford. With this combination of experience and young talent all may HAIL to the maize and blue.

Kansas

The Jayhawks lost their top 2 players in Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. Coach Bill Self returns 3 seniors that started a year ago starting with pre-season All-American Jeff Withey at center, who at 7 feet is his own “block party” in the post. Experienced guards Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford complete the trio of returning starters. The key will be the adjustment of freshman Jamari Traylor, Perry Ellis and Ben McLemore. If that happens it will be “Rock Chalk” time in Lawrence.

North Carolina State

With the return of star forward C.J. Leslie, the Wolfpack now have 4 starters back from a season ago. The other 3 being guard Lorenzo Brown, and forwards Scott Wood and Richard Howell. If McDonald’s All-Americans’ Rodney Purvis, Tyler Lewis and T.J. Warren live up to the hype, this pack could go the distance for Coach Gottfried.

Syracuse

Although the Orange lost 4 of their 5 starters, the four replacements all gained great experience as role players last season. The lone returner, guard Brandon Triche has a lot of talent around him with backcourt partner Michael Carter-Williams, and forwards Rakeem Christmas, C.J. Fair and James Sutherland. Top recruits Jerami Grant and Dajuan Coleman must be ready to contribute for Coach Boeheim.

Florida

Billy Donovan’s Gators return 3 starters from last season’s Elite 8 team in point guard Kenny Boynton, center Patric Young and forward Eric Murphy. If role players Casey Prather, Will Yeguete, and Scottie Wilbekin can step into the spotlight and offer major contributions, they will “swamp” the competition come tournament time.

Michigan State

Losing a player like Draymond Green was always going to be a tall order. However, Tom Izzo still has a key core returning in point guard Keith Appling, forwards Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne and sophomore Branden Dawson who was on track to have a stellar year last season before his season-ending ACL injury. Top recruit Gary Harris will bring some key depth to a Spartans backcourt that is not as loaded as Izzo has had in past seasons.

San Diego State

I really like the Aztecs. Coach Steve Fisher returns 3 double-digit scorers from last season in Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley and Xavier Thomas. Sophomore transfers James Johnson (Virginia), JJ O’Brien (Utah) and Dwayne Polee II (St. John’s) bring incredible depth and size to an already fast team. 4-star recruit Winston Shepard (Findlay Prep) will be in the running for freshman of the year. This “tribe” may rule come April.

September 7, 2012

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What We Learned from Week 1 in College Football

By: Tyler Vespa

With Week 2 of the college football season on the horizon, we look back at what we learned from  a fairly predictable first week.

All the favorites won their openers in Week 1. However, some teams proved themselves while others left much to be desired. Although there were no upsets in Week 1, we were still treated to some drama with some exciting finishes.

The Wolverines have a lot of ground to make up after their big loss to Alabama in Week 1.

No team has earned any separation, except for maybe Alabama, who routed No. 8 Michigan 41-14. So here are 5 things we learned from the gridiron after a pretty ordinary week.

1. Alabama will have to beat itself to lose the National Championship.

The Crimson Tide looked they were in a class all their own in their season opener. Now the #1 team in the nation, we will see how long Alabama can stay at the top of the polls.

2. Michigan is not of one of the 10 best teams in the country.

The Wolverines did not have their best performance on the national stage. They will look to rebound against Air Force in their  home opener.

3. Oklahoma is not as good as advertised.

The Sooners were expected to have an easy time with UTEP last week, but won only 24-7. They need to show why they are ranked #4 when they face Florida A&M on Saturday.

4. Notre Dame found its signal caller.

Playing in Ireland, Everett Golson took hold of the starting QB job for Notre Dame. The Irish beat Navy 50-10 and return home to try to keep the momentum against Purdue.

5. Michigan State is the best team in the Big Ten.

The Spartans hung on to beat Boise State 17-13 despite some trouble in the passing game. Still, Le’Veon Bell and the Defense looked good enough to be strong contenders in the Big Ten.

The important thing to realize here is that every preseason ranked team could still win a national title. Nobody’s gained anything other than points based on strength of schedule. We will learn a lot in the next few weeks about which teams are for real.

March 22, 2012

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Elite Eight Predictions (Part 1)

By: Junior

The NCAA Tournament is back underway tonight and we will find out the first 4 teams going to the Elite 8. These games have your expected #1 seeds in Syracuse and Michigan State as well as #6 Cincinnati and #7 Florida making it further than I suspect most people had them going in their bracket. In this post I will look to predict the unpredictable and pick the winners of tonight’s games.

Wisconsin vs. Syracuse

The first of 3 Big Ten vs. Big East matchups tonight, showing how well both conferences have been doing in the tournament so far. Syracuse has continued to play dominant despite not having Fab Melo for the entire NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin showed how good they can be by beating a Vanderbilt team many people saw as a dangerous draw in this tournament. While Wisconsin has 9 losses on season, 7 came against ranked teams, and the other 2 came against Iowa, who clearly gave them matchup problems. Syracuse is a long, up-tempo team that likes to push the ball and get quick points. Wisconsin is your typical Bo Ryan team, stressing tough defense and rebounding. While Syracuse is the favorite in this game, I like Wisconsin in the upset.

Louisville will look to avenge a loss to Michigan State that kept them from the Final Four in 2009.

Louisville vs. Michigan State

This game will be dominated by two coaches who know what it takes  to win in the NCAA Tournament. Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo have been to the NCAA Tournament a combined 30 times, making the Final Four 11 times and both having won a National Championship. Michigan State has had a pretty easy road thus far as a number one seed, but both teams had a scare last round. Louisville beat New Mexico 59-56, while Michigan State needed a late run to put away St. Louis, 65-61. These two teams met in 2009 in the Elite Eight, with Michigan State winning that game 64-52. While these two teams are very different than in 2009, I still think Michigan State will win this game and send the Cardinals home sooner than they were hoping.   

Cincinnati vs. Ohio State
Cincinnati wrecked a lot of brackets (including my own) when they upset Florida State on Sunday. They would shock even more people if they continued their streak with a win against Ohio State. The Buckeyes came into the season with high expectations, being ranked 3rd overall in the nation. Having to battle in the Big Ten, the toughest conference in basketball this season in my opinion, gave them a few more losses than predicted, but made them a tougher team to beat. The Bearcats will gladly accept that challenge, having beat tough teams such as Marquette and Syracuse earlier this season. However, I do think Ohio State will be going to the Elite Eight, but not without a fight.

Florida vs. Marquette

While there is no Big Ten team in this game, the Big East has yet another team playing tonight in Marquette. Marquette can score at will, averaging almost 76 ppg. Florida hasn’t been finding it hard to score either, putting up 84 in their last game against Norfolk State. Florida has 10 losses on the year, but 5 came against Top 3 opponents, so Marquette will have their hands full.  Florida has won both of their NCAA Tournament games in blowout fashion, while Marquette had a big win in the first round, and a 9 point victory in their last game. That being said, Florida’s opponents were much easier in my opinion and I think Marquette is the final Elite Eight team decided tonight.