Tag Archives: Big East

Orange or Big Red for Paulus?

After weeks of deliberation, Duke basketball alum Greg Paulus will unveil his plans for his college football future at a press conference today at 10 a.m. EST.  He’s announced that he will definitely be playing football, but where?  Nebraska or Syracuse?

According to ESPN, Paulus is expected to choose the ‘Cuse.  It would appear that he wouldn’t be getting the starting quarterback job at either destination though, as junior Zac Lee should lead the Huskers and redshirt freshman Ryan Nassib, the Orange, this fall.

But with a 3-9 record a year ago, Syracuse can probably use all the help they can get.  And though Nebraska finished 9-4 last season, it has an inexperienced quarterback staff.  Both could certainly benefit from having a high school All-American’s arm on their team.

If ESPN’s predictions are right, it looks like Paulus’ll be headed back home to the blustery cold northeast to continue his athletics career. At least the home games would be indoors, which would be a welcome reprieve from the multiple-feet-tall snowdrifts he’d undoubtedly trudge through to get to class.  But hey, he still has 6 ½ hours to change his mind.

UPDATE: It’s confirmed. Paulus is heading home to play for the Orange.

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Sweet 16 notes

Big East continues domination

In an otherwise unexciting tournament, one storyline has emerged: the Big East has been unstoppable.  Five of the Sweet 16 teams were Big East squads: No. 3 Villanova, No. 3 Syracuse, and a trio of No. 1 seeds: Louisville, Pitt and UConn.  Now only 12 teams remain (six of the eight games have been played, Kansas-Michigan State and UNC-Gonzaga are playing now).  The Big East will have four teams representing the conference in the Elite 8, as only Syracuse was eliminated this round.

In other news seeds 1-3 in every region advanced to the Sweet 16.  Yawn.  The only two “exciting” seeds, No. 5 Purdue (is that even exciting?) and No. 12 Arizona, were dismissed last night and tonight respectively.  If Gonzaga falls to UNC, the Elite Eight will be populated only by 1, 2 and 3 seeds.

Naismith POY finalists announced

Midway through the first half of tonight’s early games, CBS announced the four finalists for men’s college basketball’s Naismith Player of the Year.  The candidates?  Three forwards and a center: Blake Griffin (Oklahoma), Tyler Hansbrough (UNC), DeJuan Blair (Pitt) and Hasheem Thabeet (UConn).  While I don’t debate the talent of these players, there is one very noticable finalist that made me think, why is he in there?

Though undoubtedly a gifted player, I disagree with Tyler Hansbrough place among those considered for this year’s award.  Though he picked up just about every player of the year award offered last year, I don’t think that warrants his inclusion among this year’s finalists.  In my opinion, he’s not even the best player at North Carolina this year (his teammate Ty Lawson picked up ACC Player of the Year honors).  Was Hansbrough the ACC POY runner-up?  No, actually Florida State’s Toney Douglas was.

I’m not arguing that Hansbrough isn’t among the 10 top college players in the country.  I just don’t think he’s #1, this year.

As a Texas alum it pains me to say this, but I think the Naismith Award should go to Blake Griffin.  Averaging 21.9 points and 14.3 rebounds per game, Griffin is a beast under the basket.  He doesn’t just get double-doubles, he averages double-doubles.  And playing in this year’s tough Big 12, no less.

I’d be OK with Blair or Thabeet winning the award as well, but I think Griffin has been the most consistent all season.  Seven-foot-three center Thabeet had an impressive year, but was lackluster in his team’s two losses to Pitt, arguably the most important two games of UConn’s regular season.  Blair had a great season as well, but was streaky.  He really hit his stride towards the season’s end.  Blair dominated his first regular season matchup against Thabeet, but in Pitt’s second win against UConn, Sam Young (Blair’s teammate that averages 18.9 points of his own) was the one who took care of business.
Tourney’s ugliest unis unveiled

For those who hadn’t had the opportunity to see much Big 12 action this year, last night’s Missouri-Memphis game was a rude awakening.  What was the unwelcome disturbance?  Mizzou’s jerseys.

How bad can they be, you ask?  Bad enough to harken comparisons to Gulden’s Spicy Brown Mustard.  A “lovely” hue, I tell ya.

I’ll let you decide for yourself:

mizzou-unis1“Do you like your mustard spicy?”
“Ohhhhh yeah!”

Photo credit: The Charlotte Observer

Sadly, since Missouri is a No. 3 seed, it’s very likely they’ll be wearing these jerseys the rest of the way.  Who’s up next for the Tigers of Columbia?  No. 1 UConn.  With any luck Mizzou’ll be sent packing after tomorrow night’s next matchup.  I’m not necessarily rooting for UConn, I’m just rooting for my eyes to stop burning.
Why does that guy on Oklahoma wear long sleeves under his jersey?  Isn’t he burning up?

Well I know in my basketball playing days (I played, I never said I played well), I usually was a sweaty, disgusting mess.  Maybe I didn’t lose 10 lbs. every time I played like I hear that Shaq and other NBA players do, but let’s just say if I played, my jersey wasn’t dry at the end of the game.

I’ll stop with those gross details now.

Well all tournament I’ve been wondering, why does Oklahoma’s #5 (I’ve since found out his name is Tony Crocker), wear long sleeves under his jersey?  As an ex-player I could never envision any circumstance when I’d want to have more clothes on while playing an indoor basketball game.

Well it turns out Crocker has “a condition that slows his ability to stay warm,” according to the Tulsa World. Check out more commentary on it here (just be sure to ignore Anonymous’ ignorant comments).

tony-crocker-sleeves1Photo credit: Tulsa World

Coach K versus Obama

As you may or may not have heard last week, Duke’s coach Mike Krzyzewski was less than pleased to hear that President Obama wasted valuable time to fill out a bracket.  Who was in his Final Four?  Not Duke.  And even worse, he had Carolina winning it all.

Really Coach K, is that why you’re mad?  Because to me it just seems you’re upset that the President didn’t pick your team, and even worse, chose your archnemesis to win it all.

Some argue that Coach K was just joking, but it didn’t seem that way to me.  I’m pretty sure his “really the economy is something he should focus on” jab seemed more out of disgust than a light-hearted jab at an old pal.

Well, as it turns out, it was a pretty wise decision on Obama’s part not to pick Duke for his Final Four.  He actually had them going out in the Elite Eight round, one round further than they actually did.  Villanova blew out Duke last night, 77-54.

coach-kThe face of a coach that should spend more time getting his team to the Final Four instead of judging political officials who fill out brackets. Zing.

Photo credit: The Boston Globe

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ACC thoughts

Even though I’ve liked past Maryland jerseys better, I love that their jerseys incorporate Maryland’s flag.  (I think South Carolina’s palmetto flag edges Maryland’s design for the country’s best state flag.)  I was not, however, a fan of their alternate yellow home jerseys, though I believe they only lost once this season while wearing them.

maryland-flag-jersey
Left: Maryland flag,  Right: past Maryland jersey, with yellow-and-black piping, mimicking the Maryland flag

I think it’s awesome that Adrian Bowie plays for Maryland, considering that Bowie, Md is one of the state’s largest cities.

I also like that Missouri native Tyler Hansbrough chose to play basketball for North Carolina.  It’s pretty fitting, considering the state already has a Greensboro (where UNC is playing its first two rounds of NCAA tournament games), Goldsboro, Asheboro, Tarboro, Roxboro, Roseboro, Wadesboro and a Bladenboro.  Hansbrough just sounds like another North Carolina town.

By the way, Maryland tore Cal up in the second half.  Watch out for those No. 10 Terps!  And UNC broke into triple digits with its 101-58 win over Radford.

On a non-ACC note, UConn trampled all over Chattanooga, winning by a whopping 56 points!  The Huskies won 103-47 with associate head coach George Blaney at the helm while ailing head coach Jim Calhoun recouperated.

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6 OTs and the magic is back!

In case you missed this wonderful, funderful day of college basketball madness-before-the-madness, here’s a Cliff’s Notes version of it all:

SYRACUSE TOPS UCONN IN EPIC 6 OT BATTLE. (There’s your headline.) Cuse’s Jonny Flynn scored 34 points in 67 minutes of the 70 minute basketball game [(2 x 20 min halves) + (5 x 5 min OT periods)]. Eight fouled out (guess that’s what happens when you ask two teams to play 1.75 games in a night). Oh yeah, UConn is also #3 in the country (Syracuse is #20). Awesome, awesome game.

The Big East is a mess. UConn (#3 in country, #3 Big East seed) is out. Pitt, the nation’s #2 and Big East’s #2 seed, lost to archrival WVU by 14. A few days ago DePaul, the conference’s only winless team at 0-18 beat Cincinnati to move on to the second round (and then lost). Villanova topped Marquette by 1 with a buzzer-beating basket today as well.

In the ACC, twelfth-seeded (out of 12) Georgia Tech moves on to the second round after a win over Clemson. All the other outcomes were expected, except for Virginia Tech’s 18-point drumming of Miami.

Big 12 play may be the most dizzying of all so far — seeds 1, 2 and 4 are out. Oklahoma State beat the nation’s #6 team, Oklahoma, by 1 on a controversial foul call, Baylor toppled Kansas and Texas beat Kansas State by 3.

No major upsets of note in the Big Ten or SEC, but sixth-seeded USC took down third-seeded Cal by 4 in the Pac 10.

That’s all folks. I order you to get a box of Thin Mints and chow down and enjoy the next round of conference tourneys tomorrow (errr, later today now).

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Significant Others and Team Allegiances

What do you do when your significant other has rooting interests differing from your own? Coming from relatively similar geographies, this issue is rarely broached in my own relationship. However, with the NCAA tournament showcasing so many teams, this issue has inevitably surfaced.

I’m from “ACC Country,” which means picking your one ACC team to root for regardless, hating either Duke or Carolina (for me, Duke), and talking smack about your conference’s superiority during basketball season, peaking in March. It also means once the tournament starts, rooting for all the ACC teams (except maybe Duke or UNC, depending on your preference), especially for someone like me, who gets to see their team in it about as often as Halley’s Comet.

My boyfriend, a Hoya alum, however, is a Big East fan. ACC fans and Big East fans don’t generally get along. Both tout their respective conferences’ strength of schedule, traditional matchups, powerhouses, and how many teams get invited to the Big Dance. Well the Big East got 8 bids to the ACC’s 4 this year, so needless to say, my argument this year hasn’t been particularly compelling.

Besides the ACC, I also tend to root for so-called “mid-major” schools hailing from smaller, lesser known conferences from Virginia and North Carolina. In past years that has included University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University (aka VCU), George Mason, Old Dominion, and UNC-Wilmington.

When the bracket first came out for this year’s tournament, I was particularly excited about Davidson, a mid-major out of North Carolina. I knew they were undefeated in their conference and were on a 22-game win streak, but what had impressed me most about Davidson was their ability to play with mighty Carolina in a game at the start of the season. Ranked #1 at the time, UNC escaped with a narrow 4-point victory. That’s not to say the teams are even close to the teams they were at the start of the season, but this still left a lasting impression on me. When I saw that Davidson was a #10 seed and was facing #7 Gonzaga in the first round, I was certain that Davidson would be victorious and move on to the second round to face #2 Georgetown. As it happened, the first found was a lot closer with the Zags than I had anticipated, but the outcome turned out favorably, with a Davidson victory. I thought Georgetown would face a tough opponent in Davidson in the second round, but you pick your entire bracket before any of the games happen, so only time would tell.

Then came the big showdown between David and Goliath on Sunday afternoon. My boyfriend, whose weekend plans revolved around Georgetown’s playing schedule (and reasonably so), was glued to the action. Speaking on the phone before the game, I wished his team good luck, but chose not to convey the fact that I was rooting for Davidson. Watching the game in the comfort of my home I could freely root for Davidson without apology, but I felt like a fraud inside. When Davidson slipped by Georgetown in the waning minutes, I was excited for the Cinderella possibilities, but this pleasure was immediately soured by the anguish I knew my boyfriend was experiencing.

I have found that the best solution to this predicament is to be supportive, but to keep your own rooting interests silent. Unless it’s a team you fervently root for all the time, or the “other” team in a contest featuring a team you hate, it isn’t worth being over-the-top in your rooting interests. We’ll see how this approach works in the coming weeks. I have to root for some underdog, and none of the others particularly interest me right now. Though to be honest, the tournament is addictive every year, no matter what storylines surface.

In the meantime, gooo-ooo-ooo Davidson. 2 more days ’til the return of the Madness!

Picture source: CBS News website: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/03/23/ap/sportsline/main3960789.shtml

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