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Posted on: March 18, 2009 5:26 am
 

Member Mayhem Entry: Round 1

In March of 2008, red and white clad warriors took the court in Raleigh, North Carolina, led by a gun slinging deadeye and a wizard at the point. Stephen Curry, Jason Richards, and the Davidson Wildcats were a relative unknown across the nation, lurking in the shadows cast by the leviathan programs that inhabited a stretch of North Carolina known as "Tobacco Road". The Wildcats had already tested their mettle earlier in the season, pushing the Tar Heels to the brink in Charlotte, and heading cross-country to Westwood to take on the Bruins.

Davidson began wearing their glass slipper against mid-major power Gonzaga; the Bulldogs marking their tenth consecutive tournament appearance. The teams played tight for most of the game, before a second-half scoring barrage by Stephen Curry led the Wildcats into the second round, 82-76. The next game proved to the doubters that Davidson was no slouch, and murmurs of another George Mason-esque run began to swirl. The size and strength of a battle hardened Georgetown team threatened to fast forward the clock to midnight for Davidson, before Curry put the Hoyas and the eyes of avid viewers and fans alike through a whirlwind tour-de-force, singlehandedly outscoring Georgetown 25-22 in the final 14 minutes.

It is moments like these that spur my passion for the game. The will to win, the never say die attitude, the refusal to lose. All of these characteristics are embodied in my favorite March Madness moment.

 

Posted on: March 14, 2009 2:22 am
 

March Mayhem Entry: Part Deux

My first attempt got nixed because of a coding error, so here goes my second try at getting this entry posted:

Smith, Jordan, Worthy, Ford, McAdoo, Rosenbluth, Hansbrough, all names etched upon the face of a storied program and that resonate deep within the soul of college basketball; names that conjure up such emotions as joy, hatred, heartache, and elation. 1,978 wins, 40 NCAA tournament appearances, 44 combined ACC titles, 12 number one seeds, 17 Final Fours, 5 national championships, numbers that all comprise the magical fabric of Tar Heel lore. 21,750 Carolina Blue fans screaming "TAR......HEELS" at the top of their lungs. The bitter taste left in your mouth after losing to Duke, the agony of the 2000-2001 season, watching young men struggle to find themselves in the midst of an unthinkable loss to Binghamton, and a 4-12 ACC record. The elation of 2005, when names such as Felton, May, McCants, and Williams imprinted their names within the lexicon of all time greats.

Madness, a fever that spreads throughout the veins of America as March rolls around and the deep freeze of winter begins to thaw. Watching 15 seed Hampton knock off Marcus Pfizer and a heavily favored Iowa State team. the improbable run to the national championship by a North Caorlina State team that defeated the vaunted Phi Slamma Jamma, Bryce Drew draining an improbable shot to claim the first tournament win in Valparaiso history. All reason why I love college basketball and will pass this same appreciation and passion on to my daughter.

 

Posted on: March 12, 2009 6:43 am
 

March Madness Update: March 12

 Two more teams are going dancing, as the Vikings of Portland State take the Big Sky crown, and Robert Morris defeats defending conference champion Mount Saint Mary's to capture the Northeast Conference title. With these two schools claiming automatic bids, the total number of qualifiers assured a spot in the Big Dance increases to 13. The breakdown of conference champions is as follows:

East Tennesse State (Atlantic Sun)

Portland State (Big Sky)

Radford (Big South)

Virginia Commonwealth (Colonial)

Cleveland State (Horizon)

Siena (Metro Atlantic)

Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley)

Robert Morris (Northeast)

Morehead State (Ohio Valley)

Chattanooga (Southern)

North Dakota State (Summit)

Western Kentucky (Sun Belt)

Gonzaga (West Coast)

There will be no automatic bids up for grabs in today's action, however, there will be plentiful games to watch today as the last 3 major conferences open tournament play today. The ACC will begin play at noon from the Georgia Dome, with Miami and Virginia Tech squaring off. The Big Ten will also tip off at noon from Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, with Minnesota and Northwestern meeting up to determine a date with third seeded Purdue. Kentucky and Ole Miss face-off in the opening game of SEC play, with the winner advancing to face LSU.

Posted on: March 11, 2009 9:26 am
 

The Picks

Two more tickets to the Big Dance will be punched by the end of tonight, as both the Big Sky and Northeast conferences title tilts take place. The Big Sky championship features the Bobcats Montana State, who defeated top seeded Weber State, and the Portland State Vikings. The Northeastern conference title games pits the Colonials of Robert Morris versus defending champion Mount Saint Mary's. In the spirit of boredom I will offer up my picks on tonight's title games, and select other games taking place today. All three of my title picks yesterday panned out, so hopefully my steak of prognosticating luck will continue.

Northeast Conference Championship: Robert Morris over Mount Saint Mary's

The title game is being played in the Sewall Center, home court to the Colonials of Robert Morris. The Colonials swept the season series between the two schools, winning 77-70 at Mount Saint Mary's and 66-63 at home. With the Colonials playing at home, I think they take the win and get fitted for their glass slippers as they head to the Big Dance

Big Sky Conference Championship: Portland State over Montana State

The Vikings of Portland State made some noise earlier in the season by taking Pac 10 champion Washington to the wire, and knocking off Gonzaga on their home court. Montana State enters this title bout fresh off a stunning upset of top seed Weber State. These two teams split the season series, with each team claiming the win on their home court. I am taking the defending champ in this matchup, as the Vikings sport more experience and solid guard play behind All Big Sky player Jeremiah Dominguez.

Big East Conference Second Round

Providence over DePaul: The Blue Demons pulled of a shocking upset yesterday, but don't have enough gas in the tank to knock out the Friars.

Marquette over Saint John's: The Golden Eagles get the win sans Dominic James, taking down the Red Storm in the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden

Syracuse over Seton Hall: The Orange are comfortably situated for an at-large bid regardless of the outcome of this game. I still think they go out and play hard and come up with the win against the Pirates.

Notre Dame over West Virginia: I was tempted to chalk all the higher seeds through to the quarterfinals, but I figured the one upset of the day would come from the Irish, who are desperately struggling to keep their NCAA tourney hopes alive.

I'll try to get around to the other conferences later if I have time, if not I will rotate tomorrow and cover another major conference tournament as the ACC, Big Ten, and SEC kick off first round action tomorrow.

Posted on: March 11, 2009 7:03 am
 

March Madness Update: March 11th

Another exciting night of college basketball wrapped up with 3 more teams punching their tickets to the Big Dance. Representing the Horizon league will be the Vikings of Cleveland State, who pulled off the upset of Butler in Hinkle Fieldhouse to take the conference crown. These two teams played a very tight season series with Butler being the victor in both regular season matchups, but with the Vikings playing for their tournament lives they delivered. The Bulldogs loss in the conference finals spells bad news for bubble teams, as the Horizon League just became a two bid conference with the Vikings claiming the conference crown, and Butler assuredly claiming an at-large bid.

In Summit League action, first year memeber North Dakota State demonstrated that they belong by knocking off Oakland in the championship game. Summit League player of the year Ben Woodside nailed the game winning shot on a leaning jumper, and completed the comeback bid for the Bison, who were down as much as 14 points in the first half.

No surprises from the Sun Belt conference tourney, as top-seeded Western Kentucky held off a pesky South Alabama team to earn their 21st NCAA tournament berth. A.J. Slaughter led the Hilltoppers with 18 points, helping WKU hold off the Jaguars after they squandered a 15 point first half lead by allowing South Alabama to go on an 18-4 run to start the second half.

The updated automatic bid list looks like this:

East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun)

Radford (Big South)

Virginia Commonwealth (Colonial)

Cleveland State (Horizon)

Siena (Metro Atlantic)

Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley)

Morehead State (Ohio Valley)

Chattanooga (Southern)

North Dakota State (Summit)

Western Kentucky (Sun Belt)

Gonzaga (West Coast)

In Big East tournament action, play started off with a stunning upset as bottom seeded DePaul effectively ended whatever remote hopes the Cincinnati Bearcats had of making the Big Dance with a 67-57 victory. The Blue Demons will move onto the next round and matchup with the Providence Friars. Georgetown's chances of making the dance are also kaput, as the Red Storm of Saint John's used their comfortability of playing in Madison Square Garden to their advantage and posted a 64-59 win over the Hoyas. Saint John's advances to a second round matchup with the Golden Eagles of Marquette. In later action, both top seeds moved on as Notre Dame kept their Big Dance aspirations alive by defeating the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers by a 61-50 margin. The Irish will take on a scrappy West Virginia team in the next round. Seton Hall also moves on after defeating South Florida by a score of 68-54, earning a duel with the Orange in the nightcap of today's play.

In Big Sky play, Montana State shocked top seeded Weber State by handing them a 70-61 loss and dealing a severe blow to whatever minute chance the Wildcats had of making the tourney with an at-large bid (which is basically none). The Bobcats of Montana State provided the only blemish to Weber State's regular season conference record, and came back to bite the Wildcats again in the conference semifinals. The Bobcats advance to the conference tital game to take on the second seeded Portland State Vikings, who moved on with a 61-53 win over Idaho State. The Vikings made some noise earlier in the season with a near upset of the Washington Huskies, and followed up that performance a few days later by knocking off the Zags nine days later in Spokane.

The Big West conference tournament opens play in Anaheim today, with UC Irvine and UC davis squaring off, followed by UC Riverside and defending champion Cal State Fullerton matching up in the late action. Cal State Northridge captured the regular season crown for the first time in school history, with an 11-5 conference record.

The Conference USA tournament tips off today from the Fedex Forum in Memphis, with the first round matchups featuring Marshall and Rice, Central Florida and Southern Mississippi, Tuland and Eastern Carolina, and Houston and Southern Methodist. The top 4 seeds all received byes, with Memphis, Tulsa, Alabama-Birmingham, and Texas El-Paso all getting the first night off. The Tigers of Memphis at this point are the clear cut favorites at this point, and will enjoy a homecourt advantage throughout the tournament. Don't be surprised if they get pushed by Tulsa or Alabama-Birmingham in the later rounds though, as both teams are gonna try and claw their way into the Big Dance.

After the first round of MAC tournament play, Central Michigan advances with a win over Eastern Michigan, Kent State eeks out a win over Northern Illinois, Ohio knocks off Western Michigan, and the Zips of Akron survived a strong effort from bottom seeded Toledo. In today's action, Ball State will matchup with Eastern Michigan, Buffalo takes on Kent State, top seeded Bowling Green duels with Ohio, and the Redhawks of Miami of Ohio will take on Akron.

In MEAC tournament action from Winston-Salem, Hampton easily dispatched Delaware State by a score of 51-32, and Florida A&M defeated Howard by a score of 71-58. Today's action tips off with Bethune-Cookman taking on Maryland Eastern Shore, South Carolina State matching up with Hampton, North Carolina A&T taking on Coppin State, and top seeded Morgan State taking on Florida A&M. The winner of Bethune Cookman and Md Eastern Shore will advance to take on Norfolk State.

The Mountain West conference begins championship play today from Sin City as Colorado State and the Air Force Academy square off in the play-in game.

The Pac 10 begins play today from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, with Oregon State taking on the Cardinal of Stanford, and Washington State taking on bottom seeded Oregon, who is having an uncharacteristic down year. The winner of Stanford and Oregon State will advance to take on top seeded Washington, while the Oregon/Wazzu winner moves on to battle UCLA.

The SWAC kicks off play today with all eight teams meeting up in first round action. Top seeded Alabama State faces off with Alabama A&M, Arkansas-Pine Bluff meets with Southern, Prairie View takes on Mississippi Valley, and Jackson State will square off with Texas Southern.

The WAC kicked off action last night from Reno with the Warriors of Hawaii losing to Fresno State by a score of 62-58. The Bulldogs of Fresno will meet up with the top seeded Aggies of Utah State today.

Posted on: March 10, 2009 6:07 am
 

March Madness Update: March 10th

 Four more teams punched their tickets to the Big Dance last night, bringing the number of automatic qualifiers to nine. Virginia Commonwealth, Siena, Chattanooga, and Gonzaga all took care of business in their respective conference tournaments, with bubble teams breathing a sigh of relief with wins by Siena and Gonzaga. At this point in the race, the shakedown to the Big Dance looks like this:

Automatic Bids:

East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun)

Radford (Big South)

Virginia Commonwealth University (Colonial)

Siena (Metro Atlantic)

Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley)

Morehead State (Ohio Valley)

Chattanooga (Southern)

Gonzaga (West Coast)

Three more bids will be decided later tonight as Butler battles with Cleveland State in the Horizon League final, Western Kentucky takes on upstart South Alabama in the Sun Belt championship, and the Bison of North Dakota State will tango with Oakland for the Summit League crown. I am taking Western Kentucky, North Dakota State, and Cleveland State as my dancers. I think the closest game will be in the Horizon league final, and I am gonna take a risk and go with Cleveland State. Both regular season matchups between the Bulldogs and Vikings were decided by two points, with Butler being the victor both times. But with the Bulldogs basically assured an at-large bid regardless of the outcome of this game, and the Vikings fighting for their tournament lives, I think Cleveland State will prevail. Bubble teams should be holding their breath for an alternate outcome though...

A few other conference tournaments are still in progress, and should be wrapping up later this week. In America East action, top seeded Binghamton takes on sixth seeded Maryland-Baltimore County on Saturday. The second round of the Big Sky tourney gets underway with Weber State taking on Montana State, and Portland State doing battle with Idaho State. Things could get interesting between Weber State and Montana State, as the Bobcats provided the only blemish on Weber's conference record this season. However, I doubt there is much to be made of it as the only assance into the Big Dance from this conference is the automatic bid, and I dont think the Wildcats are going to pass up this opportunity.

The Mid-American conference tips off action from Quicken Loans Arena today, with Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan opening up the early action. Kent State and Northern Illinois follow the early game, with Western Michigan and Ohio playing later that evening. Akron takes on bottom-seeded Toldeo in the nightcap.

The Mid-Eastern tournament opens play from Winston-Salem, North Carolina today with Bethune-Cookman taking on Maryland Eastern Shore, Florida A&M facing off with Howard, and famous 15 seed Hampton squaring off with Delaware State. In action from the WAC, the play-in game between Hawaii and Fresno State tips off at 10:30pm Eastern Time.

Finally, the Big East tournament opens up from world famous Madison Square Garden with Cincinnati taking on cellar dweller DePaul, a tilt between Georgetown and Saint Johns, the Irish of Notre Dame looking to advance against Rutgers, and the late action will feature Seton Hall and South Florida. The winners of these four matchups will continue through the gauntlet that is the Big East tourney.

Also, thanks to CBS for featuring my blog on the homepage ysterday Wink

Posted on: March 9, 2009 6:27 am
 

Rebel's Top 25

 

An exciting week in college basketball, as some of the conference tournaments got underway with 5 teams punching their tickets to the Big Dance. Here is how my poll stacks up for this week:

1. Pittsburgh: The Panthers move into the top spot after big wins against Marquette and UConn. This team has a very physical frontcourt, and just out-muscled the Huskies enroute to a season sweep of the boys from Storrs.

2. North Carolina: A more fitting end for this senior class could not be asked for, defeating Duke at home for the outright ACC title. Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, Bobby Frasor, and Mike Copeland will forever remembered as an important part of Tar Heel lore, being the only members to sweep Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

3. Louisville: Rick Pitino and the Cards clinch the Big East regular season title with a tough win over a scrappy Moutaineer team led by Bob Huggins.

4. Connecticut: Tough loss against the Panthers this week at the Zoo. That Pitt team is the kryptonite for UConn, as it is difficult for Hasheem Thabeet to bang with the monsters Pitt has down low. The loss of Dyson hurt this team's chances to win it all, but you better not sleep on the Huskies.

5. Memphis: This team easily dispatched a Tulane team behind the great play of Tyreke Evans. This Memphis team is making a strong case for a #1 seed, but unless one of the top teams falters big time in their conference tourneys, I don't think they will get it.

6. Michigan State: Another team stating their case for a 1 seed, claiming a big win over Purdue with a strong defensive effort.

7. Oklahoma: The Sooner suffer a tough loss against Mizzou, a team that is lights out on their home court. Oklahoma followed up that loss with a shaky win against Oklahome State in the Bedlam.

8. Wake Forest: Assuming the Demon Deacons finish off Clemson at home, it would give them two solid ACC wins this week, after winning a tough road game against a desperate Maryland team.

9. Gonzaga: After a cupcake win agains South Carolina Upstate, the Bulldogs take on a solid Santa Clara team in the semfinals of the West Coast Conference tourney. Bubble teams better pray that the Zags win this tourney because otherwise they are in hot water.

10. Duke: Tough home win against Florida State is followed by a tough road loss against arch-rival Carolina. Valiant effort from the Dookies, but they didnt have enough depth to run with the Heels in the second half.

11. Kansas: After an impressive blowout of Mizzou, this young Jayhawk team follows that up by getting waxed by Texas Tech. Kansas regained their footing at home against the Longhorns and claimed the regular season Big 12 title.

12. Villanova: The Wilcats finish off their Big East regular season by dealing a major blow to Notre Dame's and Providence's tourney chances, and earn first round byes at Madison Square Garden.

13. Washington: The Huskies cap off a good week by defeating in-state rival Wazzu. This team is hot heading into the Pac 10 tourney.

14. UCLA: The Bruins finish off a great week by posting blowouts of the Oregon schools.

15. Xavier: The Musketeers finish the week with a disappointing loss to conference rival Richmond, but did manage to post a solid A-10 win against Dayton.

16. Arizona State: The Sun Devils had a tough loss against the Cardinal, but finished the week strong by blowing out the Bears from Berkeley.

17. Lousiana State: After clinching the SEC last week, it seems that the Tigers went into cruise mode-losing to Vandy and Auburn. They might want to wake up for the conference tournament and improve their seeding for the Big Dance.

18. Syracuse: The Orange team that we had grown accustomed to making late season collapses is no more. The 'Cuse finishes off the regular season with wins over Rutgers and Marquette.

19. Butler: The Bulldogs had a quiet week, defeating Wright State in the semifnals of the Horizon league tournament and setting up a conference championship showdown with Cleveland State. This another one of those games that bubble teams better have their fingers crossed for a Butler win.

20. BYU: The Cougars finished up their season with winds over Wyoming and Air Force, and have pretty much solidified a spot in the tournament.

21. Clemson: The Tigers blew out Virginia earlier in the week and finish the season with a tough road game against Wake Forest.

22. Purdue: The Boliermakers finish the season on a sour note, losing to Northwestern and conference champiion Michigan State. A lackluster offensive effort in the second half against MSU doomed Purdue, as they only scored 4 points in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

23. Florida State: The Seminoles suffer a tough road loss at Duke, before finishing off the Hokies in Tallahassee to finish at 10-6 in the ACC.

24. Illinois: The Illini finish the season with a bad taste in their mouth, losing a heartbreaker to Penn State on a last second shot by Tony Batle.

25. Texas: Couldnt really find anyone to put in this spot. I considered Marquette but they have been in a freefall since the loss of Dominic James to injury. The Longhorns played Kansas tough in Lawrence, and also posted an easy win over Baylor earlier in the week.

Posted on: November 25, 2008 4:33 pm
 

Panthers: Week 12 Grades

Quarterbacks: B+

Jake Delhomme snapped out of his slump, going 21-of-35 for 293 yards and a touchdown. It was great to see Jake get back on track this week, I think his play at QB and his leadership is going to be absolutely vital for the Panthers to continue their run towards the playoff. To add to his passing numbers, Jake also made a 12 yard scramble for a touchdown that began to swing the momentum in favor of Carolina (only to be broken in the 4th quarter by the Falcons).

Running Backs: B+

It appears the DeAngelo Williams is evolving into the player that Carolina drafted him to be, a fast back that can break tackles and is not afraid to run between the tackles and turn it up field (unlike DeShaun Foster). Williams picked up 101 yards on 19 carries, and also had a TD (and a 2pt conversion). Jonathan Stewart played OK in limited action, racking up 15 yards on 5 carries. Williams is now 117 yards away from eclipsing the century mark, while Stewart has rushed for 528 yards in his rookie campaign (not bad numbers for a guy who is playing primarily in a back-up role and has been playing hurt).

Receivers/Tight Ends: A

The only thing keeping this group from getting an A+ is the drop that wide-open Steve Smith had in the endzone. Other than that crucial drop, Smith exploded for 168 yards on 8 catches, and converted quite a few critical 3rd downs. Dante Rosario and Jeff King played solid games, combining for 5 catches and 53 yards receiving. Muhsin Muhammad picked up 40 yards on 4 catches in a quiet effort, but he also had the only receiving TD for the Cats.

Offensive Line: C+

The biggest markdown on the unit is that Jake Delhomme was sacked 3 times (twice by Chauncey Davis and once by John Abraham), and also had a few passes batted down. The Falcons were able to get decent pressure on Jake in this game, a definite improvement on what they were able to accomplish in the game earlier this season. On the plus side, the line did produce another 100 yard effort for DeAngelo Williams and Jake was able to have a successful passing day after breaking out of his slump.

Defensive Line: D

This is the lowest rating I have had to give the D-Line since I have started this blog, but the pass rush was almost non-existent at time during this game. A bright spot was the one sack that was picked up by Damione Lewis. Rookie Matt Ryan had a lot of time to throw, and consequently torched out secondary to the tune of 259 yards.

Libebackers: D

Michael Turner was able to rush for 4 touchdowns and 117 yards in a career day against the normally solid linebacking corps. Jon Beason registered 7 tackles and 1 assist,  other than that, there is not much on the positive side to talk about here.

Secondary: D

Apparently nobody in the Panthers secondary wanted to cover Roddy White or Harry Douglas on Sunday, as they combined for 8 catches and 162 yards. White was able to convert a few crucial first downs early in the game for the Falcons, which contributed to their 17-0 run in the first quarter before the Cats began to wake up. One positive was the fumble forced by Chris Gamble and recovered by Charles Godfrey (his second fumble recovery in consecutive weeks) that began to swing the momentum slightly.

Special Teams: F+

I'm not really sure what Mark Jones was thinking on some of the returns out of the endzone, as he was only able to average about 17.2 yards per return. We were not able to return any punts, and the return by Harry Douglas of the Falcons was basically the nail in the coffin for the Panthers. Jason Baker was able to average about 46 yards a punt, which is just about what he normally does (if not slightly better)

Coaching: D-

John Fox and company clearly did not have the players in the right mindset when this game started. It seemed as if the team waltzed into the Georgia Dome and expected to win without much of a fight, after being down 17-0, they finally began to wake up. The Cats came out firing in the second half, but the slow start and terrible finish ultimately did this team in. The staff was never able to dial up the right call to put pressure on Matt Ryan, and we had no answer for the Falcons run game. I know I gave the defense pretty bad grades, but in their defense they spent most of the first half on the field as the offensive was stagnant.

Overall: D+

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com