march madness

march madness

Let the Madness Begin! The NCAA Tournament is Here Again

It’s mid-March, and I’m not sure what’s more mad: the NCAA Tournament itself or all the drama it causes year after year. For an annual event, it sure knows how to create controversy. Everything from complaints about the team rankings to the supposed difficulty of the region is called into question and discussed at great length.

March Madness

If you’re in to that sort of thing, you’re in luck because the NCAA Tournament, better known as March Madness officially starts today.

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Final Four: Shockers and Injury Highlight Last Week of March Madness

As the old saying goes, March Madness brings April Sadness. The tournament field is down to four teams, and if the first two weeks of the tournament served as any indication, the last three games have all the makings of a classic finish in Atlanta. In fact, only nine people out of 3 million participants in the Yahoo bracket challenge picked the Final Four teams correctly.

Florida Gulf Coast’s Cinderella run ended with a whimper against big brother Florida, Michigan staged an unbelievable comeback against Kansas in the only overtime game thus far, and nine seed Wichita State is in their first Final Four since 1964. Jim Boeheim and Syracuse’s oft-shaky squad have used a seamless 2-3 zone defense to get to Atlanta, while Louisville hasn’t let off the gas since their opening round throttling of North Carolina A&T.

The two games on Sunday afternoon weren’t even close, and the most shocking aspect of the day was Louisville’s Kevin Ware breaking his leg after contesting a shot from Duke’s Tyler Thornton. When Ware landed, his right shin snapped in half, exposing a considerable among of bone and leaving the entire arena shuddering. ABC News’ Liz Neporent explained the injury. Louisville players fell to their knees and wept on the court, and gathered around Ware as he was wheeled off on a stretcher. He told them to go win the game, and they abided. With the score knotted at 42, Louisville used a stellar 17-2 run to ice the game. Louisville’s stellar guard play, size and athleticism in the paint, and emotional crusade to win for their fallen teammate, the Cardinals are the favorite to win it all. Read the rest of this entry »



Wichita State and Florida Gulf Coast are Sweet 16’s Cinderella Stories

The 2013 NCAA Tournament field is down to 16 teams, your bracket is destroyed, and apparently Florida Gulf Coast University has a basketball team. Upsets abounded, the madness was unparalleled, and the first three rounds of the Big Dance reminded us that the title “Expert Analyst” is flimsy at best.

Of the remaining 16 teams, 30% are between seeds six through 15. For the first time in history, a number 15 seed team (Florida Gulf Coast) is in the Sweet 16. Ninth seeded Wichita State upset number one Gonzaga in a stunning third round match in which the Shockers shot an incredible 54% from three. La Salle, a 13th seed, shocked Kansas State and Mississippi to advance. The games have been unprecedented from a competitive standpoint, as Kansas and Gonzaga nearly became the first one seeds in tourney history to lose to a 16 seed.

Though predicting how the rest of the mayhem will play out makes me as mad as a March hare, I’ll play Cinderella and give it the old college try.

Midwest Region

Shocking Upset: No. 12 Oregon 74, No. 4. St. Louis 57

Sweet 16 Match Ups:

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 12 Oregon

Two teams that are playing devastatingly efficient, I think Louisville’s size advantage and inspired guard play will topple the under-seeded Ducks.

No. 2 Duke vs No. 3 Michigan St.

Michigan State will finally meet some complimentary size in the paint, but with Mason Plumlee dominating down low and Seth Curry lighting up all over the court, the Blue Devils will roll over the outmatched Spartans. Read the rest of this entry »



March Madness 2013: Breaking Down the Big Dance

Dweebos, geeks, hipsters, foodies, motorheads and burnouts take notice: March Madness is here, and I know you all care. Parity in college basketball has helped small schools play significant roles come NCAA tournament time. Athletes at blue blood programs are declaring for the NBA draft earlier than ever, giving mid-major programs the opportunity to develop quality players that challenge big name schools with unsexy, yet seasoned, team-oriented recruits. That’s right smart kids, your schools are in the mix this year. Private schools, Jesuit universities, and mid-majors, and even an Ivy League school are in the Big Dance.

Let’s break down some of the NCAA tournament’s impact players, possible upsets and exciting potential match ups.

Midwest Region

Top Overall Seed: No. 1 Louisville

Don’t Sleep On: No. 4 Saint Louis

Potential Upset: No. 10 Cincinnati over No. 7 Creighton

Creighton big man Doug McDermott is a versatile scorer who can reel off 30-plus points if he’s feeling it. But Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright can score too, and their team’s solid defense and rebounding should help them prevail. Read the rest of this entry »



Kendall Marshall’s Wrist Injury Fractures His Hopes of Playing in Sweet 16

By Lacy J. Hansen

It was a bitter-sweet win and advancement to the Sweet 16 for the North Carolina Tar Heels last night. The team’s star player, Kendall Marshall, fractured his wrist during the game.

Marshall is referred to as North Carolina’s most indispensable player. He’s had an incredible season serving as the team’s starting point guard. In the NCAA tournament game against Creighton last night, Marshall fractured his right wrist as he was driving to the rim. It happened late in the game and Marshall actually continued playing with the injury.

There’s a reason Marshall is one of the nation’s top point guard – the sophomore scored 18 more points and earned 36 assists as he played another 36 minutes with a broken wrist.

After the Tar Heels claimed victory over Creighton and officially advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament, Marshall showed his first signs of injury. He shook the other team’s hands with his left hand to protect his right. He was immediately taken for evaluation and discussion with his doctor and family. Read the rest of this entry »



Ralph Nader Wants to Eliminate Sports Scholarships

Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader plans to “de-professionalize” college athletics by getting rid of sports scholarships. Nader released his plan to cut them on Thursday. Unsurprisingly, he displays his contention for the scholarships at a time when March Madness creates a Super-Bowl-like hype for fans across the country.

“As we near the exciting conclusion of ‘March Madness’ — which would more accurately be described as the 2011 NCAA Professional Basketball Championships — it’s time we step back and finally address the myth of amateurism surrounding big-time college football and basketball in this country,” Nader said.

Nader, along with his League of Fans, hope to replace the scholarships with need-based financial aid, and he said that by eliminating them, student athletes would be less likely to have a “win-at-all-costs” attitude in high school.

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NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 Preview

The Sweet 16 kicks off tonight, with a batch of four games that should all be compelling. So let’s take a look at the four games:

1. Butler vs. Wisconsin: Here we go again. A year removed from a surprising National Championship Game appearance, the Butler Bulldogs are a Cinderella story again. They upset the top-seeded Pitt Panthers in the second round (Really, who hasn’t at this point?) but will need some more help for Shelvin Mack, who probably won’t go 7-of-12 from three-point range again.

Wisconsin held off Kansas State last round and can shake their postseason demons with a solid win here. But star guard Jordan Taylor better not pull another 2-for-16 from the floor, or the Badgers will be in trouble.

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NCAA Basketball Tournament Player Profile: Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor

Despite a lack of fanfare, the University of Wisconsin has quietly churned out another 20-win season under Head Coach Bo Ryan. One of the main reasons for that is the play of guard Jordan Taylor.

The 6-1 guard played in 33 games for the Badgers last season, but has really come into his own this year. He’s shooting 44% from the floor, 85% from the line (up from 71% last season) and an obscene 44% from three point range (up from 33% last season). When he’s on, few can stop him, or Wisconsin.

In the Badgers stunning comeback win over Ohio State, Taylor took over in the second half, scoring 21 of his 27 points, fifteen of which came from three point range. He buried seven three-pointers later in the season against Indiana.

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NCAA Basketball Tournament Preview

It’s time once again for The Big Dance! The 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament seriously kicks into gear today–don’t try and sell me on play-in games–and we’re giving you a preview of the round, replete with upsets and sleepers.

Best shot for an upset/sleeper: Half the games in the Southeast bracket

The Southeast strikes me as a bracket loaded with red flags and teams that constantly underachieve, making it ripe for upsets and the chance of a low-seeded team making a run. Three seed BYU is a possibility for an early exit. Yes, Jimmer Fredette is amazing. But the suspension of Brandon Davies has turned the Cougars into a one man-show. Fredette has scored 80 of BYU’s 130 points over the last two games. He can’t do it alone.

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“Sweet Sixteen” Teams Move on in NCAA Tournament

ncaa logoWell, the first round of the NCAA tournament is over. Now it’s time for the Sweet Sixteen.

Here are the teams who made it into the second round:

1.    Syracuse
2.    Ohio State
3.    Kansas State
4.    Northern Iowa
5.    Michigan State

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