Michael's Sports Blog

One and Done NCAA Basketball Players

In recent news, Bob Knight, a Hall of Fame coach and college basketball’s winningest coach, talked about his distaste for college basketball players attending school for one year and then leaving for the NBA.  In an ESPN article, Knight brought up how Kentucky University coach, John Calipari, has a “habit of recruiting players who spend just a year on campus before bolting for the NBA.  The Wildcats started five underclassmen last spring, four of whom went on to become first-round NBA draft picks last June.”  He even did the same thing at the University of Memphis when he was there.

I agree that Kentucky has a practice of bringing in players who only attend school for rarely more than a year, but there are many other teams that use this same tactic (for example: Ohio State).  With the rule change a few years ago that got rid of players being able to go to the NBA straight out of high school, many athletes are attending college specifically to be eligible for the NBA draft.  They go to school, but don’t really care about learning or the team very much.  This degrades college basketball because you know that some people would rather be in the NBA, but are forced to play in college before they are able to do so.  Although the players are improving their game in college, you know that if the rule wasn’t in place that makes the players attend college, they would be in NBA uniforms right now.

I am not a fan of players attending school and leaving early.  I remember before the rule change that many players would stay much longer than a year in college because they enjoyed playing at the collegiate level.  I was able to follow a team and know their big name players because they had been there for a long time.  Now, there are so many players leaving early that it’s hard for me to keep track of who is on a team.  For example, the Kentucky team in the 2009-2010 season had a completely different starting five from the team of the 2010-2011 season.  The coach was able to get many new recruits, who most likely will leave early for the NBA like the many who did on the previous year’s team.

I can’t fault the coaches, however, for getting these recruits who then leave after their first season.  Someone has to take these players.  If the NCAA wants to try and put a stop to college basketball players abusing the college system, then a new rule needs to be enacted that will change the amount of time players have to stay in college.  If a new rule is put into place, maybe those who would like to leave after one year will play in Europe instead of college to be eligible for the NBA.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Basketball, Sports | , , , , | Leave a comment

The End of March Madness

UConn 2011 College Basketball Champions

A new NCAA college basketball champion was crowned today.  UConn beat Butler 53-41 in what some called, “the game of the unlikelies.”  Although people thought this was the case, Butler made it to the finals last year, and UConn ended the season on a roll, winning the best conference in college basketball fairly easily.   Many people picked these teams in their brackets to make it to the finals, so some believed it was a likely matchup.

This national championship game was a very “ugly” game of basketball.  I’m sure many people think the same way about the game.  I have never seen so many shots missed in a big time game like there was in this one.  Butler shot the worst percentage in the history of NCAA tournament finals (12-64=18.8%), and UConn didn’t shoot much better (19-55=34.5%).  The defense by both teams was spectacular, however, both teams missed many shots that they usually are capable of making.  I was not expecting such a low scoring game, and with the poor shooting by both sides, this made the game very boring to watch.  There were spurts of a few minutes where either team couldn’t score a bucket.

The game was very close for the first half, with Butler actually up three at halftime.  However, Kemba Walker and the rest of the Huskies proved to be too much for Butler to handle in the second half.  The size and tough matchups took over, causing Butler to fall behind for good.  Butler tried to make a late run, but the UConn guards and big men were able to seal the deal for the Huskies.  This win was Jim Calhoun’s third national championship title for UConn.

The thing about this game was that I felt that these really weren’t the best teams in college basketball this year.  Each team came in with nine losses on the season, something that is unheard of in the tournament finals.  The problem is that there really isn’t a dominant team in college basketball.  With a lot of athletes coming to college for one year and then leaving, some of the big name programs are unable to keep their top talent.  The underdog schools from smaller conferences are able to keep their players for the four years, making them able to compete against the best teams.

I’m hoping that players begin to stay longer, so that the talent stays in college basketball, instead of people leaving early for the NBA.

April 4, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Basketball, Sports | , , , , , | Leave a comment

NCAA March Madness Finals

Now there are two teams left in the tournament: Butler and UConn.

As the announcer said at the end of the Final Four game between Butler and VCU: “The Butler Bulldogs said let’s do it again.”  Butler advanced to the finals for the second year in a row- an improbable feat.  Who would have thought a small liberal arts school in Indianapolis would be able to be playing in the biggest game in college basketball not only once, but two years in a row?

I believe the reason they have made it so far is that they play as a full unit- all five players play so well together.  Butler showed this today, and got great play from their senior center and junior guard to help lead them to the victory.  You could tell after their performance today that the team really wanted to be back in the finals.

Although they are out of the tournament, I just wanted to say that I thought VCU played with a lot of heart throughout the tournament, and I am sad to see them exit.  However, one of the cinderella teams had to be eliminated today, and it just so happened to be VCU.

UConn defeated Kentucky by one point in their Final Four game, a close contest between two basketball powerhouse schools.  After making the NIT last season, it seemed unlikely that UConn would be a great team this year.  However, after winning the Big East championship, they have been on a roll, winning their last 10 games.  The team has been getting a lot better as the season has progressed, and right now, everyone seems to be playing to the best of their ability.  Although they aren’t a cinderella story like Butler is, they are still a team that many didn’t think would make it this far in the tournament.

Butler and UConn will face off Monday in Houston in what should be a very exciting matchup.  The two teams have very differing styles, which makes it an intriguing game to watch.  My Prediction is that UConn will beat Butler 65-63.  I think that Kemba Walker and the rest of the UConn team are too much for the Butler Bulldogs to handle.  It will be close because of Butler’s determination, but in the end UConn will come out on top.

April 2, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Basketball, Sports | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jacob Tucker Wins NCAA Slam Dunk Contest

Jacob Tucker

I blogged earlier about Jacob Tucker trying to make it into the NCAA dunk contest from a division three school, which had never happened before.  He was awarded the chance to participate in the Denny’s Slam Dunk Contest by the NCAA three days ago, and participated in the contest yesterday.  And guess what?  He won!

The ruling by the NCAA to allow Tucker to participate was definitely the correct decision.  To not have someone as good as Tucker compete in the contest would have made the contest less exciting.  It was amazing to see a kid from a smaller school beat all the division one athletes in the dunk contest.  He showed that it doesn’t matter what division you come from, everyone should have the opportunity to take part in the contest.  At 5’10, he also showed that even those under six feet can bring down the house with an amazing slam dunk.

He started off with an in the air between-the-legs dunk and then did an off the side of the backboard 360-degree dunk.  In his last dunk, he jumped over a kid while doing a reverse dunk, receiving a score of 49 out of 50.  Each of Tucker’s dunks brought the crowd to their feet, with everyone going crazy.  It’s not everyday where you see a 5’10 guy do what Tucker is capable of doing on the basketball court.  With those three dunks, he was able to win the contest.

Here’s the video of his dunks from the contest:

Although his dunks were impressive, I was a little disappointed that he didn’t try some dunks that were different from the ones in the Youtube video he made.  All of the dunks he did in the contest were the same ones that he did in his famous Youtube video, which took away from the creativity of his dunks.  However, he still deserved to win the contest with the dunks he did.  I was just blown away by his ability to jump so high and be so explosive, even though he is not taller than I am.  I can only say I wish to be able to dunk as well as Tucker can.

Now, after becoming an internet sensation and the winner of the NCAA Slam Dunk Contest, what is next for this kid from Illinois College?  Will an NBA team be willing to give him a tryout?  Hopefully, he gets another shot to show off his talent.  I am looking forward to seeing what ends up happening to Tucker.

April 1, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Basketball, Sports | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NCAA March Madness Final Four

And then, there were no number one seeds left in the NCAA Tournament.  This is the third time zero number one seeds have been in the Final Four.  The teams left in the tournament are UConn (three seed), Kentucky (four seed), Butler (eight seed), and VCU (eleven seed).  These teams are from the Big East, SEC, Horizon, and Colonial conferences.

VCU pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament so far, beating the last number one seed, Kansas, fairly easily.  They became the third number eleven seed ever to make the Final Four.  For a team that people didn’t think deserved to be in the tournament in the first place, they have definitely proved those people wrong.  Who would have thought that this team would have been able to make the Final Four after losing six of their last nine before March Madness began?  However, here they are.  VCU is playing very well as a team right now, and their cinderella story continues.

VCU Win over Kansas

Butler defeated Florida, making it to their second Final Four in a row.  With their senior, Matt Howard, and NBA ready guard, Shelvin Mack, they were able to defeat a very good Florida team.  The two compliment each other well, with a high and low presence.  Who would have expected this small school to be able to make it to the Final Four two years in a row?  I didn’t expect this, but they seem to be the cinderella team of the decade so far.

Kentucky defeated UNC, getting a lot of help from their freshman.  John Calipari has managed to get a lot of great talent to come to Kentucky, and this young team was able to make the Final Four.  Although inconsistent at times, the team has the chance to win the title if they can play with more consistency.

UConn defeated Arizona in a hard-fought game.  It went down to the very end, but Kemba Walker proved to be too much for Arizona to handle.  Derrick Williams of Arizona did all he could to try and defeat UConn, but was unable to come through at the very end.  UConn managed to get great play from their freshman during the game, and if this continues, they will be hard to stop.

For me, some good news came from the Elite 8 games.  I won my bracket I did with some friends of mine even though I only managed to only get 53 points.

Predictions for Final Four: VCU over Butler.  UConn over Kentucky.  UConn over VCU.

I think that VCU will end Butler’s season before allowing them to make it back to their second finals in a row.  VCU has a better overall team, and if they can play as a unit, will be able to put a stop to Butler’s run in the tournament.  Either city will be going nuts if their team wins.

UConn is on a roll right now, winning their last nine games.  Their young players are stepping up their game, and Kemba Walker is so hard to guard.  I think that because of this, UConn will win the National Championship.

March 27, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Basketball, Sports | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NCAA March Madness Elite 8

My bracket was busted on Thursday when Duke lost to Arizona.  The team I thought would win the finals because of their seniority and talent was ousted by a Pac-10 team.  I am fine with the loss, but only because a school from our conference was the one to beat them.  Arizona is playing so well right now that I don’t know if anyone can beat them, but they are also playing a very hot UConn team next.

In another cinderella year, Butler has advanced to the Elite 8.  I’m hoping that they can beat Florida and advance to the Final Four for the second straight year.  Although when looking at the team you wouldn’t think they would be very good, they have a lot of chemistry and are on a roll at the right time.  I am excited to see how far they end up going this year, although they are facing a good Florida team next.

SDSU, my hometown team, was beaten by UConn ending their best year in school history.  I was disappointed that they lost, but losing to the winner of the best conference in college basketball isn’t something to feel bad about.  The team will be losing a few key players next year, so who knows if they will still be as good as they were this year.

Ohio State lost to Kentucky in the final seconds.  The loss by Ohio State was a bracket buster for many other people who picked Ohio State to win the whole tournament.  I was not expecting Kentucky to be this successful with their lack of upperclassmen, but they managed to pull off a great win.  They will play a young UNC team next, and this should be a fun game to watch.

Kansas and North Carolina each advanced easily over their opponents.  Kansas is now the only number one seed left in the tournament, after Duke and Ohio State both lost in the Sweet 16.  Those who have Kansas winning the tournament are feeling really good that there team is still left in the field.

In the game between the two teams seeded ten and eleven, VCU prevailed in the final seconds over Florida State.  I cannot believe that the team USC played to get into the tournament is now in the Elite 8.  VCU has a lot of upperclassmen and plays tough defense, which is why they have been so successful.  They will now have to face the only remaining number one seed, which will be a tough team to beat.

An interesting statistic is that of the eight teams left, seven of the teams come from different conferences.  The only teams to come from the same conference are Kentucky and Florida, who both come from the SEC.  The Big East, Big 12, Pac 10, ACC, Horizon, and Colonial conference all have one team left in the field.

My Predictions Now: UNC over Kentucky, UConn over Arizona, Florida over Butler, Kansas over .  UConn over UNC, Kansas over Florida. Kansas winning the national championship.

Best Game of Elite 8: I think the UConn versus Arizona game will be the best game of the Elite 8 games.  I think it will be a really close game, and that the winner will make it to the finals.  As of right now, I think UConn will win that game because of how well Kemba Walker and the team is playing right now.

March 25, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Basketball, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NCAA March Madness Sweet 16

The NCAA Tournament has made it to the Sweet 16, leaving only sixteen teams in the field.  There were plenty of upsets in the past two days; one number one seed, one number two seed, and two number three seeds were eliminated.  There are four seeds of ten or higher that have made it to the final sixteen teams: Richmond, Florida State, VCU, and Marquette.  I picked none of these teams to make it this far, but I applaud them for making it this far.  VCU will face off against Florida State to make it to the Elite 8, so there will be at least one team seeded ten or higher that will make it to the final eight teams.

Butler, an eight seed, upset number one seeded Pittsburgh to eliminate the only number one seed so far.  This team was the surprise of the NCAA tournament last year making it to the finals as a number five seed.  They seem to have a little “cinderella” in them this year again, making it to the Sweet 16 already.  With a few more victories, they could be back in the finals.

VCU, from the Colonial Conference, is an eleven seed trying to become the next George Mason.  George Mason (also from the Colonial Conference) was an eleven seed who made it to the Final Four in 2006.  No one expected this team to do that, making them a true cinderella story.  I think this year VCU has a legitimate shot to make it far into the tournament because of their seniority and passion.

Duke, the winner of the NCAA Tournament last year, escaped a narrow victory against Michigan.  I still think that Duke will win the championship this year because they have a lot of talent inside and outside.

Arizona is the lone Pac-10 team left in the tournament, but will face Duke in their next game, a tough competitor.

There are two Big East teams left in the field- Marquette and UConn.  For a conference that got eleven teams into the tournament and was deemed the best conference this season, the teams don’t seem to be doing too well.

Predictions: Ohio St, UNC, Duke, Kansas, VCU, Butler, and Florida advance to Elite 8.  Ohio State, Duke, Kansas, and Butler advance to Final Four.  Duke and Kansas advance to Finals.  Duke defeats Kansas in the finals.

March 21, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Basketball, Sports | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

March Madness First Two Days

The first two days of March Madness are over, and I managed to get 23 out of 32 picks correctly (not too bad, but also not too good).  There were many fascinating games to watch, with a few major upsets that I did not think would happen.  Four of my upset calls were correct, so if you had the confidence to put those into your bracket as well then you’re probably doing alright so far.  What I find hard about the first two days is the eight versus nine or seven versus ten matchups because those teams are pretty even usually, and it is hard to determine who will win.  You might as well flip a coin to decide on what team will advance because the game usually goes down to the wire.

I managed to watch mostly all of the games thanks to the new television deal that put the games on four different channels.  I thought the two most thrilling games of the two days were Morehead State versus Louisville and Butler versus Old Dominion.   The game went back and forth the whole forty minutes, but Butler ended up beating ODU on the final shot as time expired.  Although it wasn’t a mid-major team upsetting a power conference team, I still enjoyed watching this game.  Morehead State upset Louisville in what I would call a “shocker” because Louisville made it to the Big East finals, and Morehead State came from a small conference.  They also won in the final seconds.  Morehead State won because they played with more heart and desire to win the game.  This is the reason I love college basketball because players believe they can win even if no one thinks they belong.  Analysts didn’t think that VCU deserved to be in the NCAA tournament, however, they managed to beat USC and Georgetown to advance to the round of 32.

Although my bracket is not in a high percentile right now, the good news is that all my elite eight teams, final four, and final teams are still in the field.  Sometimes after the first two days upsets happen that can ruin your bracket, but I was luckily able to escape this.

March 19, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Basketball, Sports | , , , | Leave a comment

March Madness 2011 Picks

Last night I got back from Cabo San Lucas for my 21st birthday, which was a very fun trip.  As promised, I am posting my picks for the March Madness tournament.  I did some research on these teams and think these are great picks.

Upset Picks: In the first round I think there will be one thirteen seed defeating a four seed, one twelve seed defeating a five seed, three eleven seeds defeating six seeds, and three ten seeds defeating seven seeds.  I am a fan of upsets in the early rounds and think that Belmont, Richmond, Missouri, Marquette, USC, Penn State, Florida State, and Michigan State will all upset.  However, I don’t have any of these teams advancing to the next round after their victories.  They may have the possibility to win, but I like the other teams playing them to make it to the next round.

Elite Eight, Final Four, and Finals Picks: For the elite eight round, I have all one seeds playing either a two or three seed.  I think that these teams are ranked this high for a reason, and will advance.  In the final four, I have all one seeds playing.  I know that most likely the four number one seeds will not make it to the finals, but I just think these are the best teams right now, and will advance.  I think Duke and Kansas will make it to the finals.  I think these two teams are well-rounded, have depth, and have players that are older that can help lead their team to the finals.  In the final matchup, I think that Duke will win.  They crushed North Carolina in the finals of the ACC Tournament, and I think this makes them the choice to win the national title.  Kansas won the Big 12 Tournament, but not by as much as Duke won their game by.

Could be Sleeper Picks: I was tempted to pick Louisville over Kansas because I think Louisville has a good team, making it to the Big East tournament finals.  However, they can be streaky depending on how their players do, so I couldn’t put them advancing over Kansas.  SDSU is also a tempting team to advance far because they just beat BYU by eighteen in the MWC  Tournament.  They have a lot of talent and some older players, so they could be a team to watch out for in the tournament.  UConn is a team that could possibly win the national title.  They won the Big East tournament (which is considered the best conference, and has the most teams in the tournament) over Louisville by three, and are led by Kemba Walker (the fourth leading scorer in the nation).

March 16, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Basketball, Sports | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

USC Basketball Team on the Bubble?

This afternoon the USC men’s basketball team defeated California 70-56 at the Staples Center.  The team has been on analyst’s radar recently as a bubble team that may or may not make it into March Madness.  After defeating Cal today, the team needs one or two more wins in the tournament to solidify its case.

This year the Trojans have had some good wins against: #20 Texas, #18 Tennessee, and #10 Arizona.  They have also had some bad losses against: Rider, Bradley, Oregon State, TCU, and Oregon twice.  The team also almost beat #3 Kansas at their home court as well, but lost by one.  The problem is their consistency.  In an earlier post I said: “The team has talent and can make it into the NCAA tournament, but just needs to play with more consistency if they are going to be able to accomplish that goal.”  Right now that consistency would definitely help them make it into the tournament if they can put up more dominating performances like they did today.  The Trojans have won six of their last seven games, and can hopefully keep on winning so that they can get into the tournament.

USC will play Arizona tomorrow, and if they can win again against the #15 team in the nation, this should put them into the tournament.  However, the easiest way to make sure that they make it into the 68 team field is to win the Pac-10 tournament on Saturday.  If they play like they are capable of playing, I see this happening.

March 10, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Basketball, Sports | , , , , , , | 2 Comments