Archive for March, 2006

The new Star

March 27, 2006

By now, most of you have probably seen the new Star.

So, what’s the verdict?

Tourney thoughts

March 21, 2006

Five minutes into Saturday’s Duke/George Washington game, I knew how it was going to turn out.

When Duke’s Shelden Williams is allowed to play that aggressively without the possibility of fouls being called, the Blue Devils are hard to handle. For one 10-minute stretch in the second half, GW was whistled for nine fouls while Duke had none. If the Colonials were jacking up threes left and right, I could buy that.

With them attacking the basket, it makes me wonder…

Credit where it’s due

Give George Mason props for the perfect gameplan against the Tar Heels. Deny Hansbrough the ball and dare the Heels to beat you from deep. The Patriots did that to perfection, and that’s why they’re playing in the Sweet 16 a taxi ride away from their campus.

Bradley bias

I’m really impressed with the Braves. They were clearly better than Pittsburgh Sunday, and don’t be surprised if they give Memphis all they can handle this week.

Saving Sendek

State fans need to get a grip. Herb Sendek has been a blessing for the Wolfpack’s basketball program. To hear fans whine and cry about his team’s style and inability to match up with Duke and Carolina is just silly.

Here’s a newsflash: Every team in the nation, short of Connecticut, Arizona and other elite teams, has trouble with the Heels and Devils. You’re no different.

Get over it.

You have a coach that runs a successful program with NCAA appearances every year, and he does it all within the rules.

Which is more than you can say for Sloan and Valvano…

A march to madness

March 15, 2006

After a rough time predicting the opening round of the ACC Tournament, you might think that I’d be gun shy about breaking out the crystal ball on the NCAA bracket.

Nah.

Here are a few things to watch:

Atlanta Regional

Final Four team: Duke

Upset special: Texas A&M over Syracuse – The Orange’s run through the Big East was special, but I think they may be out of gas.

Best nickname: Penn Quakers

Best possible game: Think Texas wants another shot at the Blue Devils?

Oakland Regional

Final Four team: Gonzaga – Someone has to emerge from a shaky region.

Upset special: San Diego State over Indiana – Mike Davis quit on his team. Now, they’ll quit on him.

Best nickname: Oral Roberts Golden Eagles

Best possible game: I’d love to see a Kansas/Memphis battle in the Sweet 16.

Washington regional

Final Four team: Connecticut

Upset special: Winthrop over Tennessee – Here’s a team seeded too low playing one seeded too high. I look at this as a 5/12 or 4/13 game. It’s crazy, but I like the Eagles.

Best nickname: Wichita State Shockers

Best possible game: Michigan State against North Carolina would be a Final Four-quality game in round two.

Minneapolis regional

Final Four team: Ohio State

Upset special: Wisconsin-Milwaukee could beat Oklahoma, but I think the seeds will hold here.

Best nickname: Montana Grizzlies

Best possible game: Boston College and Vilanova would be a war.

Finalists: Connecticut and Duke

National Champion: Connecticut

ACC Tournament

March 9, 2006

The ACC Tournament gets under way on Thursday with four first-round games. Let’s break them down:

Clemson (18-11) vs. Miami (15-14) – The Tigers still have an outside shot at the NCAA Tournament (according to ESPN guru Joe Lunardi, a way outside shot) with a good showing in the ACC Tournament, so motivation shouldn’t be a problem for Oliver Purnell’s club.

Of course, the Hurricanes will be looking to win their way into the Big Dance by claiming the ACC Tournament crown. The last time these two teams met, Miami rolled to a 62-38 win in a game that saw Clemson shoot a brutal 25.4 percent from the floor.

Still, Clemson has won four of five while the Canes have dropped six of seven.

Prediction: Clemson

Wake Forest (15-15) vs. Florida State (19-8) – The Demon Deacons have been awful this season, treating defense with the same disdain that Kate Moss has for a double cheeseburger. Still, a team with Justin Gray and Eric Williams shouldn’t be counted out. Wake has played better of late, ending its season with a 13-point win over N.C. State.

Still, the Seminoles have won four of five – including a win over Duke – and they really seem to be hitting their stride right now.

Prediction: FSU in a close one

Virginia Tech (14-15) vs. Virginia (14-13) – These bitter rivals are fighting for NIT bids in this opening round clash. The Hokies have lost five of six and were swept in two meetings with Virginia this season. But the Cavaliers didn’t close the season very well either, dropping four of five.

I say the old “can’t beat the same team three times in a season” theory plays here.

Prediction: Virginia Tech

Georgia Tech (11-16) vs. Maryland (18-11) – Georgia Tech has really slipped this season, leading to a disappointing record for Paul Hewitt’s club. The Jackets never really found themselves, and the ACC Tournament isn’t a good place to come looking.

Maryland is still building a NCAA resume, and I think the Terps will want this one a little more.

Prediction: Maryland

Live from JC – Part two

March 4, 2006

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Well, another dream has come to an end for the Runnin’ Bulldogs.

Friday’s 70-51 loss to Lipscomb puts an end to Gardner-Webb’s chances of reaching its first-ever NCAA Tournament, but it was still a good time in Johnson City.

Thursday’s win over ETSU, and the crush of national recognition that came with it, will surely pay dividends for the school down the road.

Well, time to pack up and come home for some desk work as Shelby gears up for a 2A Western Regional final against Forest Hills.

Won’t be the same as sleeping at the Doubletree, but it’s still a good way to make a living.

Live from JC

March 3, 2006

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – March has arrived.

Everything that’s good and right about college basketball was on display Thursday night as Gardner-Webb rallied from a 17-point, second-half deficit to down the host East Tennessee State Buccaneers, 64-63, in a heart-stopping affair.

There was drama, there were tears and there was a sense of magic in the air.

As usual, I hope I did it justice.

It’s pretty cool to see the Bulldogs on SportsCenter, as the highlights were on the show and the last play – Jennings’ last-second shot – was named as the top play in their daily Top 10.

Times like this make my job fun.

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles from here, Shelby will try to keep marching towards a state title in a 2A Western Regional showdown with West Caldwell.

I’d really like to see that bunch win a state title, and I say they will.