Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tourney thoughts and MLB Picks...

The Elite 8 games today and tomorrow certainly set up to be pretty dang good. The 4 matchups in the regional finals feature all 4 #1 seeds against 2 #2's and 2 #3's. Should be fun to watch. The matchup of Griffin-Hansbrough will be very fun to watch as will Nova-Pitt. A year after all #1 seeds made it to the Final 4 for the 1st time, we may have repeat the very next year. Villanova and Oklahoma have the best chance to spoil the party.

Next week opens up the MLB season and I have a few predictions to make. There doesn't seem to be a clear-cut favorite, and I think there are 12-15 teams that believe they have a legitimate shot of winning it all. I really like what the D-Backs have done this off-season mixing with their young players. They signed Garland to solidify their rotation after aces Haren and Webb. Hard-throwing Max Scherzer will also provide depth. Their young outfielders Chris Young and Justin Upton are on the verge of becoming stars and Conor Jackson, Mark Reynolds, and Chad Tracy are solid hitters in the middle of their lineup. Throw in Stephen Drew, who I think will make the All-Star game this year, and you have a pretty good team. The bullpen just needs to hold up.

NL East - Philly
NL Central - Cubs
NL West - D-Backs
Wild Card - Braves

AL East - Boston
AL Central - Tigers
AL West - Angels
WIld Card - Rays

NL MVP - H. Ramirez
AL MVP - M. Cabrera

NL CY Young - Lincecum
AL CY Young - Halladay

NL ROY - C. Maybin
AL ROY - E. Andrus

NLCS - D-Backs over Cubs
ALCS - Angels over Red Sox

WS - Angels over D-Backs

Anyone else want to go on record???

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tourney Thoughts...

While the 1st 2 days of the NCAA tournament did not produce any monumental upsets, there were still a few surprises in my eyes. The most surprising results were the four ACC schools that decided not to show up for a large portion of their games (BC, FSU, Clemson, Wake) and West Virginia. It has got to be frustrating to be a Wake fan, gutting out the post-Chris Paul years of bad basketball only to think you were back on the map this year. Then, after a #1 ranking in January, you lose in the 1st round of the NCAA tourney and will possibly lose 3 underclassman to the NBA Draft.

Teams that have looked the best? Memphis against MD, Nova vs UCLA, and UConn vs Texas A&M. Everytime I see Memphis, I think about how ridiculous they might be next year. They are in their 4th straight year with 30+ wins now, and could add the top 3 HS players in the nation. Taggert is a junior and will probably stay one more year, but Evans is likely gone to the NBA.

What kind of players have been in the top 3 in recent years? Think about a college team last year with Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, and Eric Gordon? Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, and Brendan Wright? Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, and Al Jefferson? Or Lebron, Luol Deng, and Shannon Brown? Just goes to show you the type of players that make the top 3 of the recruiting rankings.

But, for this year, UNC with Lawson probably has the easist path to Detroit, but the 3 #1 seeds from the Big East can beat anybody. After seeing Memphis yesterday, they could be there as well. Should be fun next weekend.

Roy Oswalt against Japan tonight in the WBC semi-finals. Evan Longoria was just added to the USA roster, why wasn't he there all along?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More Madness...

The field is becoming more clear after more madness yesterday. Bubble teams like Penn State and Creighton cringed when USC beat Arizona St and are rooting hard for Tennessee this afternoon. Maryland played their way in - the UNC, Wake, and Michigan State wins will put them in the field. I think Auburn should be in - you can't always just look at RPI, this team is playing well now and finished very strong. The interesting part will be what the committee does with the Big 10. I would leave out Minnesota, Wisonsin, and Penn State. Minnesota beat Louisville early, but finished 4-6 and lost their last 6 road games including the conference tourney. Wisconsin has a decent non-conference win in Virginia Tech, but UGA also beat them in December. They were a pretty good home team this year, but no NCAA games are on their court. Losing in the 1st round of the Big 10 tourney sealed it for the Badgers.

Here is how I would seed the tourney:

#1 - UNC, Pitt, Memphis, Louisville
#2 - UConn, Oklahoma, Kansas, Duke
#3 - Gonzaga, Michigan St, Missouri, Villanova
#4 - Washington, Missouri, Wake Forest, Florida St
#5 - Purdue, West Virginia, UCLA, Syracuse
#6 - LSU, Clemson, Tennessee, Illinois
#7 - Xavier, Marquette, BYU, Ohio State
#8 - Oklahoma St, Butler, Texas, Utah
#9 - Cal, Texas A&M, Dayton, BYU
#10 - Utah St, BC, South Carolina, St Marys
#11 - Maryland, Temple, Auburn, Michigan
#12 - USC, Creighton, VCU, Siena
#13 - N. Iowa, Cleveland St, Akron, WKU
#14 - SF Austin, NDSU, ETSU, Binghamton
#15 - Radford, Portland St, CS-Northridge, Cornell
#16 - American, Morehead St, Robert Morris, Morgan St-Alabama St

Butler and Xavier losing in their conference tournaments really hurt the bubble teams. Creighton is on the outs if Mississippi State beats Tennessee today. I think St Mary's is in easy and Michigan has the best resume of the Big 10 teams trying to get in.

Last 6 in - Creighton, Auburn, Michigan, Maryland, South Carolina, BC
First 6 out - Wisconsin, Minnesota, Providence, Arizona, SDSU, New Mexico

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Who is in?

Who is in right now? I would take...

Cleveland St
Miami (OH)
Morgan St
New Mexico
Ohio St
Ok St
Robert Morris
South Carolina
St Marys
Utah St
Weber St

I think Creighton and Davidson are on the outs right now. Not enough big wins and lost before Conference Champ Games. St Marys played their way in after Mills came back - even though they were blown out, the Zags are legit.

The teams that need to win a few this weekend are VT, Auburn, Minnesota and Penn State. Penn State and Minnesota just aren't tournament teams in my eyes right now. They need strong performances in the Big 10 Tourney. Miami and Maryland can earn a birth by getting to the ACCCG. Lunardi doesn't like Providence, but after today they have 11 Big East wins and that is good enough for me.

Lots more to come the next few days, stay tuned.

Monday, March 2, 2009

March means hoops...

It is March on the calendar, so lets start talking NCAA tournament. The breakdown today will be a recurring blog, looking at teams that can win the tourney and who should be in/out. To kick off, here are the four teams I think are most likely to win the tournament...


I don't like Oklahoma but think they can make the Elite 8. Duke still has a glaring weakness inside that all of the above teams can take advantage of, and Marquette fell off the title picture when Dominic James went down for the season. Gonzaga is intriguing with their size and defensive prowess, but I don't know if they can win 6 straight in the tourney. Kansas is playing well now, but the Big 12 is not as good as it has been.

Memphis will be a trendy pick because they almost won it all last year, but this years team is not close to last seasons. I don't think the Big 10 or Pac 10 is very good either, so mark off Michigan State and UCLA.

I don't see any way I don't have UNC in my bracket. They are the most talented team and have legit scoring threats all over the place. Until Jerome Dyson went down, I was unsure if UConn might be my choice, but that injury just made it more clear.

As for the bubble teams, they all need to root for teams like Memphis, Butler, Gonzaga, Utah State, Xavier, Davidson, etc to win their conference tourneys to make sure those leagues don't get 2 bids. I think Maryland is in after winning at NCSU last night, and are a lock if they beat Wake tomorrow. Also in the ACC, BC is safe for now and Va Tech and Miami have work to do.

The Big East bubble teams are interesting. Providence should be good with 10 conference wins, but Cincy, ND, and G-town have to win out and perform well in the Big East tourney. I think the SEC will get 5 bids, but Florida has to make a late push after yesterdays loss.

Minnesota needs at least 3 more wins and Penn State, Michigan, and Ohio State all need to finish strong. The Pac-10 seems set with its 5 teams (UCLA, Cal, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State)- if Zona beats Cal and Stanford at home this week they become a lock. Dayton should be in with wins over Marquette and Auburn, but Rhode Island needs to win the A-10 tourney. If BYU wins their last 2 they are in, but New Mexico has to get the automatic birth.

It looks like the Big 12 will get 5 bids with only KU, Oklahoma, and Mizzou being locks for now. Texas looks to be good with a win over Baylor tonight and the Oklahoma State-Kansas State winner tomorrow is probably safe. Texas A&M can get in by beating Missouri on their Senior Night this weekend.

Some early predictions at some sleeper teams? Teams that are probably going to be seeded 10+ that have a good shot at advancing...

Western Kentucky

Zona has 2 lottery picks and Nic Wise and seems to be peaking at the right time. WKU owns a win over Louisville and has 3 legit players that, when healthy, make them very dangerous. Siena is a solid and very deep team that played Kansas and Pitt very tough on the road.

What about teams seeded 6-9 that have a good chance to win 3-4 games?? Depending on how the brackets turn out, look out for these teams...

Florida State
Arizona State
West Virginia
South Carolina

Florida State, while not very deep, has a big-time senior stud at point guard that can carry his team. Arizona State has 2 lottery picks that make a very good inside-out tandem. West Virginia has been under the radar, but can beat almost anyone and have an experienced tournament coach. South Carolina is mega-athletic and will give a lot of teams match-up problems.

That's a quick look at where we stand now, but 2 weeks can change a lot. Stay tuned.