Tag Archives: Kansas State

“OSU/Wisconsin Preview”

It feels like OSU Senior David Lighty (pictured above) has been in Columbus for an eternity. Well he will partake in his last home game come Sunday. And you better believe he wants to go out with a victory.

Tonight we are in for a special treat.  We have yet another new writer out of Columbus. His name is Grant Freking and he is a certified “Sports Freak.”  Grant will serve as our Ohio State correspondent from here on out.

Grant Freking is a Lantern (OSU Newspaper) sports writer. Ology magazine managing editor. OSU football featured columnist for Bleacher Report. High school football reporter for Newark Advocate.  You can follow him on Twitter @GrantFreking.

To borrow a Godfather axiom, Ohio’s State game Sunday against Wisconsin is not just business, it’s personal. Continue reading

“Food for Thought 3-1-11”

Back on February 12th, Jacob Pullen (pictured above) and Kansas State appeared on their way to missing the big Dance in March. 5 games later they are back in the picture and are one of the hottest teams in America.

There is so much going on in the wide world of sports.  You got the NFL Combine, the NFL CBA soap opera, and MLB Spring Training.  It is March now though, and you all know what that means.  It is time for some Hoops Mayhem!

Here are some of the main thoughts that have been running through my head today.

When the East Returns to Prominence, so do the Chicago Bulls

-When was the last time the Eastern Conference was as good as or better than the Western Conference?  Lets go back to Michael Jordan era in Chicago.  It has been well over 10 years.  Hard to believe how fast time flies by.  Well the Eastern Conference has arrived, and appears ready to stay on top.  With the East back on a level playing field with the West, wouldn’t you know that the Windy City would have a great team for the first time since the Jordan days.  Chicago has had 2 winning seasons since Jordan helped the city rip out Utah’s heart for a 2nd consecutive year (1998).  The most wins they have had in a season is 49 back in the 06-07 campaign.  Want to know how many wins they have this year?   

Try 41 with 24 games remaining.  And this team only appears to be getting stronger as they get healthier.  Former Chicago Bull’s star Scottie Pippen has been blowing up the Twitter world with his tweets as of late.  The gist of Pippen’s message is that the Bulls are a contender and that they have the ability to bring back the title to Chicago.  Most of America thought Chicago lost big this off season in the epic “Free Agency Bonanza.”  In actuality, they won big with the pickups of Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver.  Two pieces that may have completed the puzzle.

People do not realize that this Bull’s team has gone 18 games without their best big man, Carlos Boozer, and 30 games without Joakim Noah, one of the scrappiest players in the League.  Yet they are still 3rd overall in the East, and just one game behind a Miami team that they are 2 and 0 against.  I will admit that Boston is still my pick to represent the East in the NBA Finals.  But the Bulls were my sleeper pick for a reason.  They have something that none of the other Eastern Conference contenders have.  A point guard who can do it all.

Sure the Celtics have Rajon Rondo, who is an elite PG.  But Rondo simply cannot shoot from the perimeter.  Rose can do it all.  He can fly all over the court.  He has tremendous vision.  He can score at will both by driving and shooting the jump shot.  Plus he is a leader who has a knack for hitting the big shot.  A point guard who can penetrate and shoot like Rose is capable of is nearly unstoppable.

Chicago has the perfect formula for a championship contender.  They have one superstar in Derrick Rose.  An All Star caliber big in Carlos Boozer and a possible future All Star in Joakim Noah.  A sharpshooter in Kyle Korver.  And a great talent on both ends of the floor in Luol Deng.  Maybe we should ask King James what he thinks of Mr. Deng. Each player on this team seems to know their role. Lastly, their effort level is tremendous.  They are currently 2nd in the League in both overall defense and rebounding.  Who says that guys in the NBA do not try.  Well that does not seem to be a problem in the Windy City. They could be scary come April/May and dare I say June.

Greg Jennings Who?

I am sure many of you have seen the infamous Greg Jennings YouTube video where he puts the team on his back with a broken leg.  Well Jacob Pullen has been doing his best Greg Jennings impression as of late in the College Basketball arena.  He has literally put Kansas State on his back.  And now has them sitting pretty for a tournament bid.  A little over 2 weeks ago this was far from the story in Manhattan, Kansas.

Lets rewind back to February 12th.  On this date, Kansas State lost a heartbreaker to a mediocre Colorado team and sat at 16 and 9, with a conference record of 4 and 6.  They appeared on their way to arguably the most disappointing season of any College Basketball team in the country outside of Michigan State.  These guys were highly touted preseason (ranked #3).  They had made it all the way to the Elite 8 last year.  This was not supposed to be the case.  Then something happened.  Something magical. 

The senior, Jacob Pullen, decided to put the team on his back.  First the Wildcats put a whooping on in state rival, and the number 1 team in the country at the time, Kansas.  Then the rest was history.  Kansas State has now won 5 straight games.  3 of those wins were against top 25 teams and last night’s victory over #8 ranked Texas on the road was the icing on the cake.  During this 5 game stretch, Jacob Pullen is averaging 27.2 PPG and shooting a remarkable 59% from the floor.  Want to know what is even more amazing?  He is 16 of 27 from 3 point range in this 5 game stretch.  This is also 59%.

Pullen has epitomized what a senior leader should be over these past two weeks.  I do not foresee Kansas State making a run to the Final Four this year.  But I do feel they are capable of going a few rounds deep, which is far better than not dancing at all.  Pullen has put Kansas State on his back.  The real question is how far can he lead them? I will tell you this much, I would not bet against Pullen at the end of a close game.

Just some “Food for Thought.”

Let me hear your thoughts though.  Please comment below with any questions or insights that you may have or shoot me an email at contact@thesportskraze.com.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Weekly Nickel”

Come next Saturday, Dick Vitale (pictured above) will be screaming at the top of his lungs with a plethora of big time matchups to cover. It should be "Totally Awesome Baby, with a capital A!"

I know there has been a brief hiatus from the typical “Weekly Nickel.”  But now it is back, and better than ever.  What a week of sports that we just had, and what a week we have ahead.  Lets jump right into the list. Continue reading

“The SEC Basketball Preview”

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari (pictured above), took the SEC by storm in his first year in the conference. Will he have a repeat performance in year two?

Today we are in for a special treat.  We have our debut post from our SEC expert out of Lexington, Mr. Matt Murray.

Matt is the Editor in Chief for the University of Kentucky’s student run newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel.  You can follow him on twitter @MurrNation

Six weeks into the college basketball season, teams are gearing up for conference play, and their non-conference schedule has helped provide a litmus test for just how good they are, while other teams still haven’t quite figured it out. While the SEC hasn’t been the best league from top to bottom the decade or so, it has produced the second most Final Four teams over the last five years, and ties the ACC for the most national championships over the last five years.

The SEC has surprised many critics in the early stages of this season, but it’s the lopsidedness of the conference that is glaring. The East appears to have 6 teams that could rightfully make their way into the NCAA tournament, while you’d be hard-pressed to find a single team from the west that could legitimately find themselves in the field in March.

 

SEC WEST
1. Mississippi- Ranking the teams in the SEC West is like playing pin the tail on the donkey. You are just as likely to nail it as you are to accidentally stick the pin in your great aunt Edna’s ass. The Rebels are 7-2, but they have yet to play a ranked opponent. However, the Rebels have an experienced squad and are able to put up points. Senior guard Chris Warren averages more than 19 points a game and shoots nearly 92% from the free throw line. The Rebels average almost 80 points per game, but that offense is yet to be tested by a worthy opponent. The Rebels first real test comes in their SEC opener at #19 Florida. This team will have a better feel of how good they are after they see how they play on the road in Gainesville.

2. Arkansas Razorbacks– Arkansas is currently 7-2, and each of their two losses has come in overtime. However, head coach John Pelphrey has much to prove. He has only won 14 games in each of his first two seasons at Arkansas. Arkansas’ rich basketball history will have Pelphrey on the hot seat if he can’t push his team above a .500 record this season, and there’s reason to believe he finally has the pieces to do so. Sharp-shooter Rotnei Clark has another year of experience under his belt and is currently the Razorback’s leading scorer. The good (and bad) news for the Razorbacks is that they have no real star. Clark is the leading scorer with a mere 13.8 a game, while their second leading scorer is senior Delvon Johnson with 11.1 per game. The Razorbacks have an even scoring distribution and get decent production out of their bench. The problem is that unlike many of the marquee teams in the SEC, they lack playmakers that can get them out of a bind, but if their squad continues to gain experience and play smart, they can become one of the deeper teams in the division.

3. Mississippi State- Sitting at 7-3 after finishing last season with an eye-opening deep run in the SEC tourny taking a stellar Kentucky team into overtime in the SEC Championship game last season, the Bulldogs are working on rebuilding, particularly after losing swat machine Jarvis Varnado. However, like most of their SEC West counterparts, this team has yet to face a ranked opponent, and thus has no real way of knowing exactly what they are capable of.  In fact, all they know as of now is that they’ve lost to a 4-5 East Tennessee State and ACC bottom-feeder Virginia Tech. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they kick off SEC play against three straight SEC West opponents, which might give them a chance to get their feet under them before facing a surprising Georgia team in Athens, kicking off a stretch against three straight tough SEC East opponents. However, if senior guard Ravern Johnson continues his outstanding play, which has him averaging 22 points per game, this team has reason to believe they can rise to the top of the SEC West.

4. LSU Tigers- Unlike the others in their division, the Tigers have faced a top 25 team, and held their own, losing to #19 Memphis by nine. The problem is that the 7-4 Tigers have posted three additional losses to teams that won’t be dancing in March and that they have the daunting task of playing their games against SEC East leaders Kentucky and Tennessee on their home floors. This LSU team will most likely stumble their way through SEC play, and would be lucky to finish out their season at .500.

5. Alabama Crimson Tide- The Tide has a faced a host of respectable opponents. The problem is that they are 5-6 as a result. The Tide puts up a measly 64 points a game, and has no real leadership. The young squad is led in scoring by a sophomore and junior, and find two freshman in their starting lineup. In a conference full of teams boasting rosters that are either full of experience or freshman that are far more talented than those on Alabama, the Tide are going to find themselves outmatched in the majority of their SEC match-ups this season.

6. Auburn Tigers- The Tigers are bad. In fact, they’ve been bad for quite some time, and there’s no reason to expect any change this season. They rank in the 200s in almost every major statistic and already find themselves in a 4-7 hole, despite having yet to play a ranked opponent. They barely average 60 points a game, and their latest recruiting class was lackluster at best.  The Tigers would be lucky to post 14 wins this season.

SEC EAST
1. Kentucky Wildcats- The fight for the top of the SEC East should be a slugfest. Tennessee and Florida find themselves at the bottom of the division with three losses a piece, while every other team has only two losses to their name. So far, the East has collectively knocked off opponents like Pitt, Notre Dame, Villanova, Washington and  Kansas State. The Wildcats sitting at 9 and 2, are responsible for two of those wins, and their only two losses have come to ranked opponents away from Rupp Arena. Kentucky is young, and there is no doubt this class lacks the talent of last year’s highlight reel squad. But what the Cats do have is an intelligent team that has come off as very coachable so far this season, as well as one of the top NBA prospects in freshman forward Terrance Jones. Jones is averaging a double double this season, with 19.8 points and 10 rebounds a game as a freshman. Additionally, Calipari has reloaded yet again in the point guard position, as Brandon Knight has replaced John Wall, who replaced Tyreke Evans, who replaced Derrick Rose. Knight averages 17.2 points per game, but the problem is that he only averages about four assists per game. Unlike Wall, Knight isn’t a true point guard, but also unlike wall, Knight is a much better shooter. In fact, this Kentucky team is in many ways the polar opposite of last year’s team, which was the tallest team in the NCAA. With Cousins, Patterson and Orton, the Cats could push the ball and earn points in the paint. This year’s team lacks a big man, as Josh Harrellson is its starting center. However, now the Cats are a real threat from behind the arc. The Cats are likely to finish about 12-4 in the SEC, which would likely put Calipari in position to post yet another 30-win season. Lucky for the Cats, no team in the SEC has a dominant big man, which is the only real kryptonite for this team and Calipari has the Cats playing the kind of defense he is known for, and their length has proven to be a big challenge for opponents.

2. Tennessee Volunteers- Of those marquee wins listed for the SEC, the Volunteers are responsible for some of the biggest as Tennessee has already knocked off Big East powerhouses Pitt and Nova. Had I written this preview 10 days ago, Tennessee would’ve been my hands-down favorite to finish at the top of the SEC East. However, after starting 7-0 and knocking off two top 10 teams, the Volunteers have dropped two straight to non-BCS conference teams Oakland and Charlotte, and a third straight to USC. Two-faced Tennessee is capable of beating any team in the NCAA by double digits, but they’re just as capable of losing to anyone. More than likely, these early loses will bring the naysayers back out of the woodwork, but there’s no reason to expect this Tennessee team won’t get back on track and make a serious run for the top of the conference and an equally deep run into the NCAA tournament. Their match-ups against Kentucky and Florida could likely determine who comes out on top of the conference, but then again, every SEC East matchup could be that pivotal this season.  What will be interesting to see is whether or not Bruce Pearl’s eight-game SEC suspension will really affect his team. During that stretch, Tennessee will have to face Florida and Vanderbilt, outcomes which could very well effect the SEC East standings for the season.

3. Florida Gators- Florida may be just as two-faced as Tennessee, posting wins against top 10 Kansas State, and turning around to lose to the Jacksonville Dolphins that very same week. At 8-3 Florida has no reason to panic, especially as one of their losses came from a very realistic title contender in Ohio State in the early stages of the season. Donovan has yet to recapture the talent he had in his back-to-to back title teams 3 years ago, but the addition of Kenny Boynton last year was a good first step. The sophomore averages 12.4 points per game, and in tandem with Erving Walker, Florida is finally building a team that could be a real threat in the NCAA tournament. The Gators have built up a great deal of depth, which will make them tough to beat due to their ability to give guys ample rest. The Gators should win the rest of their non-conference schedule and enter SEC play at 12-3, and pick up an SEC-opening win against Mississippi before having to travel to Knoxville to face Tennessee in one of the first big SEC clashes of the season.

4. Vanderbilt Commodores- The Commodores have found a way to put themselves in the mix for the past four years, and head coach Kevin Stallings has been the primary reason. He finds ways to put his team in position to win games, and while the ‘Dores have never been outstanding, no one plays them expecting an easy win. Playing in Nashville is always a nightmare and the team plays equally well on the road. However, there’s reason to believe that the strength of the SEC East this season could see the Commodores having a less-than-stellar season.  Fortunately for Vanderbilt, they face rival Tennessee during Pearl’s suspension, and any help is welcome. If Stallings can keep his team on their current pace of scoring, which has them at 24th in the country with 80.1 points per game, he can likely get his team into the NCAA tournament, but the graduation of center A.J. Ogilvy is going to be his biggest road block. However, like Kentucky, Vanderbilt too can benefit from existing in a league that lacks a dominant big man.

5. Georgia Bulldogs- Georgia is on the upswing. Junior Trey Thompkins stormed onto the scene last season with a posterizing dunk on Kentucky’s Demarcus Cousins and he’s never slowed down since. He averages 16.2 points per game, and fellow junior, guard Travis Leslie, adds 14 a game. The duo has led the Bulldogs to a 8-2 start, their best start since 2006, and their only losses have been at the hand of now-ranked opponents. There’s no reason to believe this Georgia team won’t enter SEC play at 11-2, and contend for a spot at the top of the conference. The only thing working against them is the strength of the other teams in the East, but if they can win the games they’re supposed to win, and stack that with some surprises, this team could find itself back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since their surprise SEC tournament-winning run in 2008.

6. South Carolina Gamecocks- The loss of Devon Downey is the primary reason for the Gamecocks likely slide to the bottom of the east this season. Yet, somehow South Carolina has earned a 7-2 start, losing only to top 10 teams. This is the biggest question mark in the SEC East, as this team has no reason to finish better than 8-8 in the SEC, but their play against teams like Michigan State has shown the talent and ability that could be extracted from this team if head coach Darren Horn can pull it out of them. Despite any true big man presence, South Carolina is 9th in the NCAA in rebounding, and in a league with no truly talented big man, the Gamecocks’ ability to crash the board could earn them invaluable second chance opportunities if they can stay on that pace. Their biggest problem will be finding offensive production in a league full of a tenacious defense. If the Gamecocks play to their potential, they could get to 10 wins in the SEC, but there are only so many wins to be divided among the conference, and its more than likely a host of talented SEC East teams will be taking a fair share of them from South Carolina.

Only time will tell whether or not this fast start for the SEC East is the real deal, but so far their games against big-time opponents seem to show there’s reason to believe it could be. College basketball as a whole is down this season, and so far, the SEC seems to be capitalizing on this fact.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Weekly Nickel”

Amare Stoudemire (pictured above) has put the Knicks on his shoulders and led them to 8 straight wins. Can he keep the Garden buzzing with two major matchups vs the Heat and Celtics this week?

It is Monday.  And you all know what that means.  It is the beginning of another amazing week in the wide world of sports.

We got NFL action.  College Football minutia and Bowl Madness debates.  NBA Action.  NCAA “totally awesome time.”  MLB blockbuster signings.  And we even got hockey hysteria.  It is a great time to be a sports fan.

5.  NHL Action continues on.  And on Tuesday night, the battle for the state of Pennsylvania takes center stage.  The two top teams in the League, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers square off in Philly.  Can the Flyers make a statement and slow Sid the Kid and the seemingly unbeatable as of late Penguins?  Make sure to tune in for this one.

4.  So it is not the greatest week for College Hoops.  There is only one matchup of ranked foes all week.  This game pits #5 Kansas State vs #24 Florida next Saturday.  But College Hoops are College Hoops.  The unpredictability and excitement are always there.  Plus, if the men’s game is not that appealing this week, you could always tune in and watch Geno Auriemma’s Lady Huskies continue to make history next Sunday at Madison Square Garden right?

3.  The Bowl Game Madness begins this weekend.  We got some barn burners set for Saturday.  Here is a closer look.

-New Mexico Bowl: BYU and UTEP square off in a hotly anticipated matchup.  Okay, this game is not on everybody’s “to do” list, unless of course you attend or attended one of the schools.  I am not quite sure how either of these teams find themselves in postseason play.  But they both won the mandatory 6 games to get an invitation.  Other than a 4 game losting streak early in the year, BYU has played pretty solid football.  I expect their overall depth to prove too much against a UTEP team that are losers of two straight coming in to this one.  BYU wins this very lackluster matchup by 3.

-Humanitarian Bowl: A tough Northern Illinois team squares off with the always dangerous Fresno State Bulldogs.  This is definitely the marquee matchup of the day.  These are both pretty solid teams that have each taken down some decent foes this year.  NIU had won 9 straight games until being shocked by Miami in the MAC Title game last weekend.  The Huskies feature a special running back in Chad Spann.  He is one of the best backs in the country that you have probably never heard of.  Expect him to put on a show in his last collegiate game.  Fresno State on the other hand has been extremely Jekyll and Hyde all year.  I have not been able to figure them out.  Sadly for them, I do not see their good side showing up in this one.  Expect NIU’s blend of an outstanding rushing attack and a solid defensive unit to defeat the Bulldogs by 6.

-R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl:  Hey, at least this game is being played in New Orleans.  One of the most fun cities in America.  Sadly, the caliber of the teams participating in this game are not the greatest.  Troy has a lethal passing attack, but OU was a game away from playing in the MAC Championship.  I am going to go with my conference rankings on this one.  The MAC is a stronger conference than the Sun Belt in my eyes.  Go with the MAC team.  The Bobcats will win this less than stellar matchup by 9.

2.  The NBA is full of major win streaks.  Will they continue for another week?  There are some great matchups as usual all throughout the upcoming week.  Here is a look at the “key matchup” of each night.

Monday

New Orleans at Miami:  The South Beach boys appear to finally be getting it together.  Winners of 8 straight.  They look outstanding.  Lebron and D Wade claim that they have figured things out.  Well it appears that way.  New Orleans on the other hand is a team heading in another direction.  They are losers of two straight, and the hot start appears to be a mere memory.  Can New Orleans cool off the trifecta in the heat of South Beach?

Tuesday

Orlando at Denver:  Orlando is no longer in first place in their division, or in the state of Florida.  They trail the Miami boys by half a game.  The Nuggets are coming off of a tough loss at MSG and appear to be in for more tough losses in the near future.  It is likely that the Nuggets will be “Carmeloless” at any time now.  So the Magic are dealing with the soaring Heat while the Nuggets deal with a star player’s outcry. Which team will overcome and conquer?

Wednesday

Boston at New York:  The two hottest teams in the East square off at the “Mecca.”  Boston appears to be the cream of the East again while the Knicks have now turned into a playoff bound team.  It is always exciting when a good team comes to Madison Square Garden.  Which team will go cold first?

Thursday

Atlanta at Boston:  Following a date at MSG, the Celtics head home the next night to take on a high-flying Hawks team.  Will Boston once again show the Hawks that they are not quite at that “elite” level yet?  Or will the ATL guys take another step in the right direction?

Friday

Miami at New York:  To cap off the week, one of the best rivalries of the late 90s is renewed.  This is the first time in a decade where both teams sport winning records.  And you know that Lebron always gets up to play in the Big Apple.  You better believe that LBJ will not receive the warmest of welcomes.  This may be the most hostile crowd he faces all year, outside of Cleveland.  Are Lebron, D Wade, and Bosh up to the challenge of yet another very hostile environment?

1.  NFL Football.  Enough said.  It is Week 15.  There are teams looking towards next year’s draft.  There are teams clinging to a last hope of desperation to make the playoffs.  There are teams looking to secure home field advantage.  And I could go on.  Key matchups next week feature the Jaguars looking to stake claim on the AFC South against the Colts.  The Jets looks to wake up after a two-week nap against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Could it be a rude awakening?  And of course Green Bay heads to Foxborough to take on the NFL’s best team of the moment.

There are also plenty of other things going on in sports as well.  MLB Free Agency continues featuring the “Cliff Lee Sweepstakes.”  The NFL impending lockout discussions continue.  And of course there is High School Basketball going on in every one of your hometowns. 

So enjoy the sports for the week.  It should be another memorable one.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Food for Thought on 12-8-10”

Kansas Junior, Marcus Morris (pictured above), has turned into one of the most talented forwards in the country. Could he lead Kansas to a Big 12 Championship and a run to the Final Four?

Due to popular demand, I am going to bring back the “Food for Thought” concept and make this more of a weekly type of ordeal.  People want to hear my thoughts on the various topics going on in the always busy, wide world of sports, and this is a way for me to do that on a weekly basis.

So here are some of the main topics making headlines and my incite on them:

-The “Old School” Texas basketball squads are not looking so old.

Is anybody else amazed by the red-hot starts of both the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks?  Both of these teams that many called “too old” at the beginning of the season sport the League’s two best records.  The Spurs  are a formidable squad that has 5 players averaging 11 or more points a game.  This team is full of experience, deep, and led by one of the best coaches in the NBA.  And then you have the Mark Cuban squad out of Dallas.  The Mavs have now won 10 straight games and are just blowing away the competition.  Dallas also plays a great brand of team basketball and is being led by arguably the game’s greatest shooting 7 footer ever, in Dirk Nowitzki.  Nobody talked about either of these team’s as contenders in the Western Conference.  It appears the Wild Wild West will have to go through Texas come playoff time.

-“Pistol” Pete Sampras has lost his bling.

Pete Sampras was possibly the most consistent player ever to play on the men’s professional tennis tour and arguably the greatest of all time.  He was an amazing champion who sported the greatest 2nd serve of all time and had the innate ability to stay cool during even the most pressure filled situations.  Well this situation is something he is not accustomed too.  Between moving houses, he stored many of his tennis trophies and memorabilia at a Los Angeles Public Storage Facility.  Pete always was good at taking care of business on his own during his phenomenal career.  He was not only a great player on the court, but he was a great person off of it.  This incident demonstrates to Pete why he played an individual sport where he only needed to depend on himself.  It is hard to trust in others for anybody, but I am sure Sampras will have a very hard time after this unfortunate occurrence to trust anybody.  I really hope his trophies and various memorabilia are found in the near future.

-Dave Wannstedt bids adieu to Panther Nation.

Can anybody really say that they did not see this coming?  The man with maybe the best mustache in College Football spent 6 years in Panther Nation.  And nearly every year started with high expectations and ended with some sort of downer.  This was supposed to be the year for Pittsburgh.  The Big East was way down.  Their rival Cincinnati was going through a major coaching transition.  And  the Panthers were extremely talented with the likes of Dion Lewis, Jon Baldwin, and Greg Romeus.  Instead, Pitt opened up the year with a very disappointing loss to Utah. And never really got it all together, finishing at 7 and 5. Plus they failed to nab the Big East’s automatic BCS Bowl bid.  So although Pitt finally won a share of the Big East Championship this year, it was not good enough to get into the BCS Bowl.  Wannstedt seems like a good guy.  But boy does he struggle to win big games.  And in the highly competitive and intense atmosphere that is College Football, the difference between a good coach and a great coach is the ability to win big games.  Some guys have it.  Some guys do not.  Here is a final though on this topic.  Could anybody see Bengal’s current coach Marvin Lewis on the Pitt sidelines next September?  Weirder things have happened.

-It is Rock Chalk Time as the beat goes on in Lawrence.

And the beat goes on for the Jayhawks.  Sure this team started out the year ranked in the Top 10.  But last year was “the year” in Lawrence.  And with the departures of Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, and Xavier Henry, nobody was expecting this team to be a Final Four Contender.   This team looks to have the potential to be the real deal.  Sure they have only played one real quality opponent.  Sure they struggled to victories over UCLA and Arizona.  But the Jayhawks are now 8 and 0, with a great opportunity to start conference play undefeated.  Plus they dominated a solid Memphis team on national television last evening.  This team plays phenomenally disciplined on the offensive end of the court.  They lead the country in assists per game and field goal percentage.  You know Bill Self has to be happy at the high percentage his team shoots from the floor and the way that they share the ball.  Marcus Morris has developed into one of the best forwards in the country and is extremely versatile.  The Morris twins remind me of the Lopez twins out of Stanford.  Could this team make some noise come March?  That is yet to be determined, but you better believe that these guys will contend with Kansas State for the Big 12 Title.

So there you have my “Food for Thought” on this Wednesday afternoon.  There is so much going on and I was only able to touch on a few things here.  If you want to hear my thoughts on anything else going on in the sporting world, please comment below and I will be sure to reply.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Weekly Nickel”

Mark Ingram (pictured above) and Alabama look to show the country what could have been on Friday, and spoil their rival Auburn's hopes of a perfect season.

And the beat goes on..

Football is heating up.  Baseball’s awards are being dispersed.  The NBA has taken flight and is now coasting.  College Basketball is heating up as teams look to show that their conference is the best.  Plus baseball free agency continues.

There is so much going on that it would be impossible to follow it all.  Here is my top 5 for the week though.

5.  The Yankees continue to play “Lets Make a Deal” with the “Captain” and playoff stud, Cliff Lee.  Joey Votto awaits a possible MVP announcement at 2PM Eastern time today.  The games are done.  Now it is time for recognition.  All of Cincinnati anxiously awaits to hear the announcement of their star as the NL’s best.

4.  The NBA is coasting now with great games every night.  Basically every night this week has a big time matchup.

-Monday (Tonight):  The Magic head to the Alamo to take on the 11 and 1 Spurs.   Many thought that the Spurs were getting too old.  Many were wrong.  Tony Parker may be getting a divorce, but he is still playing at a very high level.  This should be a great game between two of the top teams in basketball.

-Tuesday:  The Bulls head to LA to take on the Lake Show.  Both of these teams lead their respective divisions for a reason.  This could be a major statement win for the Bulls if they could shock Kobe, Pau, and Co.

-Wednesday:  The Battle of Florida commences for Round 2.  Can the Magic redeem themselves after an embarrassing loss back on October 29th to their in-state rival?  Dwight Howard will need to expose the Heat’s lack of an interior presence and have a big night for the Magic to grab a W in this one.

-Thursday:  Really a rain check night with two lackluster matchups on Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving Day has always been about football anyways.

-Friday:  One of basketball’s best rivalries commences as the Mavericks head to the Alamo to take on the Spurs.  Can the Mavericks redeem themselves after their embarrassing playoff exit last season at the hands of their in-state rival?  This will be their first crack at Tim, Tony, and the boys since last April.

-Saturday:  Lebron and the traveling Miami Show head to Dallas to take on Mark Cuban’s Mavericks.  These are two of the top teams in the League.  Can Dirk lead the Dallas boys to a big time home victory?

3.  Dick Vitale is back, and more enthusiastic than ever.  A big slate of games all week highlighted by a ranked showdown between Kansas State and Gonzaga tonight.  Expect Frank Martin to occasionally yell during this one.  Continue to keep an eye on Ohio State and their stellar group of freshman.  Outside of Duke, the Buckeyes appear to be the team to beat.

2.  Did you think Week 12 of College Football was exciting? Wait until you get a look at Week 13.  What an amazing slate of games.  Plus we get 2 full days of games between Friday and Saturday.  So enjoy the NFL on Thanksgiving, but strap in for some College Football for the following two days. 

Should Friday be called, “The D-Day of the Undefeated Teams?”

Friday’s Major Matchups:

Auburn at Alabama-This should be yet another SEC slugfest.  Alabama would like nothing more than to spoil Auburn’s perfect season and show people that they are still talented enough to beat any team in the country. I am putting this game on a Major Upset Alert Watch.

Arizona at Oregon-Though Arizona has struggled lately losing their past 2 contests, they also have an opportunity like Bama to spoil a conference opponent’s perfect season.  I do not see the upset happening here, but Arizona may come out and shock the country with some very inspired football.

Boise State at Nevada-Boise faces their last test of the season.  Nevada has an opportunity to not only ruin Boise’s National Championship hopes, but also their outright WAC Championship hopes.  This could be a tragic day for Boise Football if Nevada could pull of the unthinkable.  But sadly for Nevada, I do not think they have the horses to pull this monumental upset off.

Saturday’s Major Matchups:

LSU at Arkansas-  Both of these teams are still looking to make it into BCS Bowls.  It will be stellar matchup of great offense versus great defense.  Does offense or defense reign supreme in this one?

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State- The winner of this Big 12 regular season finale looks to have a great  chance to head to the Big 12 Title Game.  Who will win the Battle of Oklahoma this year?

1.  The Turkey Bowl that is Thanksgiving Thursday.  People across the country will get to sit on the couch, eat lots of food, and watch the Lions take another Thanksgiving Day beating.  I will state that the other matchups though should be a bit more exciting.  As two playoff bound teams (Saints and Jets) take on two very talented, but underachieving opponents (Cowboys and Bengals). 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy this amazing week of sports.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze