Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten to watch as many March Madness games as I usually do, but last night I saw a terrific back and forth game between Nevada and Loyola-Chicago. The result : Sister Jean is beaming and still on a mission and her Ramblers (31-5) are going to the Elite Eight.
They won 69-68 Thursday, an 11 seed over a 7 seed in a South Region gone haywire. And they did it by going peak Loyola when they needed to most, outscoring the Wolf Pack 20-4 to end the first half and then — incredibly — making their first 13 shots of the second half in building a double-digit lead that wasn’t enough. The maroon and gold eventually went cold for a brief spell and the Pack roared back, tying the game 59-59 on a Cody Martin laying with 4:06 to go. That’s what good teams do in March. That’s what Sweet 16 classics look like, and this one was a classic.
With Loyola clinging to a one-point lead and only 6.3 seconds remaining, Marques Townes sank clutch a 3-pointer from in front of the Ramblers' bench to continue their improbable NCAA Tournament run. The win leaves the Cinderella Ramblers one victory (69-68) from a Final Four appearance. Not bad for a program that hadn't been in the Sweet 16 in 33 years.
In my opinion, last night’s game was the best game of the tournament so far thanks to the cardiac Ramblers who did it again. Sister Jean is smiling and I’m rooting for the Maroon and Gold!
Borrowing from the Grateful Dead; “What a strange trip it’s been” (so far).
Where does one start? Well, let’s start at the top.
Virginia’s 74-54 defeat at the hands of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, wasn’t that close. The Cavaliers were unequivocally the best team in Division I this past season. It was the first time a No. 16 seed had beaten a No. 1 seed since the Division I men’s tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 — that is 33 years and 136 matchups of 16 versus 1. It doesn’t end there.
Sunday was a feeding frenzy for the underdogs in this epic tournament as five top seeds went down one after the next. Xavier, in the West region, became the second No. 1 seed to lose before the Round of 16 this year — the first time that’s happened since 2004. You can thank Florida State for that.
No. 2 seeds Cincinnati and North Carolina were eliminated, as were Michigan State, the No. 3 in the Midwest Region, and Auburn, the No. 4 in the Midwest. Yikes!
No. 11 Syracuse, the last team chosen by the tournament selection committee to enter the field of 68 crushed the dreams of No. 3 Michigan with a stunning 55-53 upset over State, the Orange officially crashed the Big Dance, as did No. 7 Nevada who trailed at halftime only to see a shot by Caleb Martin tie the game with 57 seconds remaining, as part of a 10-2 run. They beat No. 2 Cincinnati by two . Then there was No. 2 North Carolina, who saw Texas A& M go on a 25-8 run to close the first half. The Tar Heels never recovered in the second half.
Oh and let’s not forget No. 5 Clemson, which closed the first half with a 25-4 run that helped it beat No. 4 Auburn by a score of 84-53 on Sunday. And then Loyola advanced to the dance of sixteen.
They weren’t kidding when the “experts” said there was parity in college hoops this year. I had no horse in this race but it was certainly an historical and entertaining weekend in NCAA land. Brackets busted, point spreads destroyed and some unfamiliar faces in the Sweet Sixteen. Yep, what a strange trip it’s been.
Here we go again. Just when you think Odell Beckham Jr. has had a quiet offseason … a video pops up on social media featuring one of the best receivers in the NFL. In the video, which was first tweeted by the Fameolous, Beckham is in bed with a woman, pizza, a credit card, and a white substance. Beckham is holding some type of brown cigarette. A Dobie perhaps? One word..STUPID.
As it turns out, the Yankees were not comfortable going into the 2018 season with two rookie infielders. Or even one rookie infielder, for that matter. So, Brian Cashmen made what appears to be another good move. He signed free agent infielder Neil Walker. Let me repeat-Good Move.
It is worth mentioning once again that not only have the Knicks only won one playoff series in the past 17 years, and lost more games than anybody else in the league in the past 17 years, but they are now about to lose 50 games three times in a row for the first time since the 1960s. Nice going Mr. Dolan
YES Network announcer Ken Singleton said he is stepping away from broadcasting after the season to spend more time with his family. He’s been calling Yankees games since 1997, back when they were on the MSG Network, and he joined YES full-time when the network launched in 2002. He will be missed, class guy.
NHL rinks right now are serving as proving grounds for four of the Rangers' young defensemen, all of whom have spent at least half the season in the AHL. Neal Pionk and John Gilmour have led the way. I’m impressed.
The Met’s injury-plagued right-hander Zack Wheeler is trying to make the starting staff. He looked good against the Yankees last week. Oh wait, isn’t the entire staff injury-plagued?
Virginia is the best team in college basketball. Virginia holds the top spot in both the AP Top 25 and coaches poll. Through their 28 games, the Cavaliers have proven they are more than deserving of the top spot.
This group possesses as much fight and discipline as any team in the country. Tony Bennett’s teams are known for their defensive prowess. This year, Virginia has taken it to an entirely new level. The Cavaliers are the unquestioned best defensive crew in college basketball -- and it isn’t all that close. Through 28 games, Virginia is allowing a Division 1-leading 52.9 points per game. The gap between Virginia and second place Michigan State is over 10 points. At 26-2 (15–1 ACC) the Cavaliers prove once again that defense usually wins.
While their offense can be slow and plodding at times, a national ranking isn’t based upon the flashiness of an offense or the perceived NBA draft stock on a roster. Schools should be ranked on the team’s success alone, and no team -- including Michigan State or Villanova -- can compete with Virginia’s resume.
The Cavaliers are the best team in the ACC right now, and look poised to grab a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova lost to Creighton on Saturday and dropped to number 4.
Virginia has already locked up the top seed for next month's conference tournament in Brooklyn. Duke as always looms big in a potential tournament match-up. Don’t be surprised if the Cavaliers come out on top. They might be the only surefire 1-seed come Selection Sunday.
Selection Sunday is no longer the only major thing looming over college hoops, as Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Texas, USC, Auburn and of course, Arizona have been among the teams drawn into the fast-evolving specter of the FBI’s investigation into the corruption sewn across the sport.
Arizona’s Sean Miller and former Louisville coach Rick Pitino might not be the only big name coaches (Auburn’s Bruce Pearl?) exposed by the FBI as it continues its investigation into college basketball recruiting. Multiple reports last week indicated that the scandal could yet mushroom, implicating every major conference, several Hall of Fame coaches, a score of current top players and some of the nation’s most distinguished and respected programs.
The stunning revelations about one of my favorite sport’s open secret, unearthed in reports by Yahoo Sports and ESPN, have finally arrived for the NCAA and its absurd model of amateurism. This March, the madness likely means top programs worrying as much about FBI findings as RPI rankings, with their focus diverted from one shining moment by nearly 3,000 hours of potentially compromising phone conversations. Think of how nervous that number makes so many coaches.
Predictably, NCAA President Mark Emmert responded with a statement, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Referencing his appointed Commission on College Basketball, whatever that is, Emmert dropped committee member Condoleezza Rice’s (why is she even on this committee?) name in the third sentence to establish credibility and vowed what the NCAA seldom delivers. Yea, ok.
We didn’t need an FBI investigation to discover the current system lines the pockets of everyone but those who actually make the money, the players.
Now let’s talk the obvious: The time has come to adopt an Olympic-style compensation structure that permits so-called student-athletes in all sports to be paid what the market bears. This would eliminate the corruption that runs so rampant nowadays in big time college sports. A high school kid and his family can’t be on the take if there are no rules to break. The AAU coaches or middlemen like sneaker companies brokering seedy deals between schools, agents and recruits can’t wield such power in college basketball’s underworld if everything is done above board.
More leaks are expected. More programs will face accusations. More players will be forced to deny receiving goodies from agents. And it doesn’t sound like the NCAA is planning to make any of these schools ineligible for postseason play. Maybe it should. Then, just maybe we can eliminate college basketball’s worst kept secret…making millions from those so called student athletes.
The American hockey gold medal drought is finally over. They needed the first shootout in an Olympic women’s final to do it, too. Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored a dazzling, triple-deke goal in the sixth round of a shootout to claim the hard fought victory. They piled over the boards, throwing gloves in the air before huddling and hugging on the ice — 20 years after the women’s last gold medal in women’s hockey and 38 years to the day after the men’s famous “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Russians in group play at Lake Placid. Thank goodness, because the men’s team were a no show. Bring back the NHL.
The Met’s Zach Wheeler went 3-7 with a 5.21 ERA in 17 starts for the Mets last season before he was shut down in August with a stress injury to his right arm. Wheeler missed the previous two seasons rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Then after hearing of the Vargas deal Wheeler told the press he wasn’t happy. He feels he is one of this years starters. Zach... when you can stay healthy and pitcher better than a 5.21 ERA then you complain to the press, not before.
Looks like Brain Cashman has stolen another one from the Dimondbacks. Brandon Drury isn’t exactly the Next Big Thing but the natural 3rd basemen who can play all over the place is insurance for the Yankee infield. My guess is he’s the starting hot corner guy on opening day. Drury, who turns 26 in August, has had a couple of solid seasons in Arizona, hitting .267 with 37 doubles and 13 home runs last year. Is Drury the latest notch on the GM’s belt? Would you bet against it?
The rebuilding Rangers on Tuesday traded defenseman Nick Holden to the Bruins for defenseman Rob O’Gara and Boston’s third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft in the first of what should be at least a few deals GM Jeff Gorton makes before Monday afternoon’s trade deadline. The first domino has fallen.
With the NCAA forcing Louisville to vacate its 2013 national championship, the title is now up for grabs and a group of Michigan fans are claiming it as their own. The fan blog site Maize n Brew announced they will be selling T-shirts commemorating Michigan's newfound de-facto 2013 national championship starting Tuesday. Louisville defeated the Wolverines in the championship game. In sure current Knick guards Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke will take some.
It’s no secret that the Jets absolutely would love to sign Kirk Cousins in the coming weeks, according to actual team sources. He’s a win-now AND win-later quarterback entering the prime of his career. There’s a large enough window (at least five seasons) to win with the soon-to-be 30-year-old signal caller to make it more than worthwhile to make a strong investment in him, but let’s be clear: The Jets are not going to try to bring him aboard by any means necessary. But suppose we renamed Met life The Cousins Colisuem?
Pitchers and catchers report. They’re four great words, no doubt. Spring Training is now underway and it couldn’t come sooner for this die hard baseball fan. Not much to root for in New York area this past fall and winter, unless maybe you’re a Devils fan.
Pitchers and catchers reported last week and position players are trickled in to Tampa early like Stanton, Wade, Frazier and Austin. Even the non-rostered players were arriving early. Each hoping to impress the new manager Aaron Boone and his staff. The Yankees' first full-squad workout is scheduled for today.
I am weirdly interested in hearing how Spring Training runs this year. Rob Thomson had been in charge of Spring Training since 1998, even when he wasn’t on the coaching staff, third base coach Phil Nevin and infielder coordinator Carlos Mendoza will run the show this year.
It’s a time-honored tradition to see what uniforms the non-roster invites will don. The Yankees always run out a few zany ones considering their increasingly large list of retired numbers. As for the veterans… Austin Romine will have number 28, previously worn by Girardi. Romine surrendered number 27 to Giancarlo, who is somehow on the Yankees. Let that sink in for a minute. It’s going to be a fun spring, isn’t it?
Spring training games kick off on Friday, which means that baseball season is right around the corner. I’m loving it.
To get more days off during the season, baseball will start one week earlier than in the past. The Yankees were told to pack their passports for Spring Training, as they are scheduled to open the 2018 regular season north of the border with a four-game series against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, beginning with Opening Day on March 29.
The 115th home opener in Yankees history is scheduled to be played against the Rays on April 2 at Yankee Stadium, beginning a six-game homestand that also welcomes the Orioles to town. April 10-12 marks their first visit to Fenway Park. Boston is scheduled to visit the Bronx on May 8-10, June 29-July 1 and Sept. 18-20. The Yanks-BoSox rivalry should be intense this year as the “Evil Empire” is favored to win the AL East.
The Yankees are loaded. Of course we know how close they came last October. They might get 100 home runs or more out of Stanton and Judge, and who knows how many Sanchez hits if he stays healthy? They have that kind of power in the batting order and we know how much power they have out of the bullpen. Only question is, can the starters stay healthy and the rookies make an impact?
The Astros may have the target on their backs, but the Yankees have the ammo to slay them.
So hurry up, lets get thru Spring Training and get the season going.
In an important game within the Metropolitan Division, the New Jersey Devils prevailed over the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-2. For anyone waiting for the shoe to drop, the resurgent Devils are for real. After pulling out a shootout victory to end a losing streak in Philly, the Devils won in regulation last night. What’s more, it was against another team right by the Devils in the Metropolitan Division standings, Carolina. This regulation wins matters.
New Jersey has 66 points; this puts them in a tie with Philadelphia for third place, as both teams have the same number of games.
As for the other locals, the Islanders remain on the bubble with a 3-0 shut-out of the Rangers. Again we saw shaky goal tending from the fading once spectacular Henrik Lundqvist and continued inability to score. If the Islanders played the Rangers more often, Garth Snow just might become GM for life.
Even though the Blueshirts had 50 shots on goal, nothing got by Halak. Since the All-Star break they have only scored 13 goals in eight games. Both the Devils and Islanders have scored 26 in their last eight.
The Islanders (28-25-6, 62 points) are 3-0-0 against the Rangers (27-26-5, 59 points) this season and are 10-1-0 in the last 11 matchups. Halak is 13-1-0 in his last 14 head-to-head battles with Lundqvist. The Islanders moved within a point of the fore mentioned Hurricanes for the last playoff spot.
It wasn’t that long ago we were talking about for the first time in a long time, all three area teams qualifying for the playoffs. Not so much anymore.
Yeah, there are plenty of games left, and anything is possible, but at this stage, only the Devils look like the sure thing.
A pretty powerful and moving moment at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics was when four South Korean singers sang John Lennon’s “Imagine”. The performance of Lennon's peace message emphasizes world harmony, peace, hope and the world living as one, fit the theme of the PyeongChang Olympics' opening ceremony, "Peace in Motion." And it was way cool to watch the North and South Korean teams walk in under one flag for the first time in 12 years. But it was those four singers and their beautiful cover of a classic that stole the spotlight.
The Eagles were so paranoid about the Patriots spying on their Super Bowl practices; they held a fake walkthrough at U.S. Bank Stadium before the game to throw off any potential espionage. Can you blame them??
All you need to know about the current impasse with free agents in baseball is the headline I saw the other day about Eric Hosmer looking for an 8 or 9-year deal for in the neighbor hood of 135 million. Well, OK, Hosmer can look for a contract like that. But on what planet?
The St John’s Red Storm hoops team was having a tough go of it until it came time to play Number 4 Duke at the Garden. Since then, eight crazy days of winning (and Shamorie Ponds) have brought hope to St. John's fans everywhere. Upset wins over those Blue Devils, Number 1 Villanova and a 12 point win over Marquette have made me believe that this team could be something special come Big East tournament time. I can dream, can’t I?
Malcolm Butler a two-time Super Bowl champion cornerback may have just hit the market for the Jets and Giants. Butler, 27, is an unrestricted free agent and while it is early in the free agent process, he could still be appealing to both teams. I’ll take him.
How is it that the IOC decided to ban Russia from the games and yet there are over 40 athletes competing as an Olympic Athlete from Russia?? Please, someone explain this to me.
The LaVar Ball news is so ridiculous, I won’t even mention it.
The New York Rangers are in trouble, so is their head coach Alain Vigneault.
Management or ownership would be derelict not to review the situation following the end of this season that continued with Wednesday’s 6-1 Garden rout by the Bruins that marked the depleted, demoralized team’s fourth straight loss and seventh in the past eight games, all in regulation. The Rangers are keeping company with their hapless MSG roommates, the Knicks. Everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong.
This is Vigneault’s fifth full season behind the bench on Broadway. It is safe to say that the Rangers coach is not necessarily safe for a sixth season, even if he has two years remaining at just over $4 million per on the contract extension he was granted in January 2017.
The Blueshirts, 3-10 in their last 13 are going through their least productive stretch of hockey since the 2003-04 club wheezed to the finish line at 2-10. Is it time to purge this club and it’s coach? They were projected to be a playoff team. That’s what they were until the bubble burst almost immediately following the Winter Classic victory. The reasons are many.
Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Kreider went down for the long haul before being joined on the sideline by Pavel Buchnevich, Marc Staal and Jimmy Vesey. Recently waved Brendan Smith was a bust. No. 7 pick Lias Andersson would not only be able to make the jump directly from the draft to the NHL as a 19-year-old, but would be able to assume third-line responsibilities. The Swede was not ready. J.T. Miller hasn’t picked up the slack as management thought he would. Mika Zibanejad has under performed as well. 36 year old Henrik Lundqvist the face of the franchise, has been terribly inconsistent. He has been pulled 3 times recently. The defense has been porous, Hank is actually getting less support than he did at the damn All-Star game.
Is all of this on Vigneault? I think much of it is. After last night’s beating he was quoted as saying “I think tonight there’s no doubt that our guys were prepared to play and we knew what we had to do. We came out and we were doing it.” Really??? As Vigneault was saying that, by the way, probably-out-the-door Ryan McDonagh rightfully blasted the Rangers for not being ready and not having a compete level. At least someone in the room gets it.
McDonagh, Nash, Smith and Nick Holden may not be here next year as the Rangers will probably have a fire sale in the off season or by the trade deadline. Maybe they need to add Vigneault to that list.
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It's a somewhat tongue in cheek OPINIONATED sports blog that promises to cover baseball, football, hockey, basketball, and any other INTERESTING, stupid, and absurd STORY related to sports.