Tag Archives: Michigan State

“Xavier: A Coaching Gold Mine”

Xavier Head Coach Chris Mack is just the latest great coach that has led the Muskie basketball team to tournament success.

I realize that most Xavier fans are deeply disheartened today by a loss to their 2nd biggest rival Dayton (Cincinnati is the biggest).  Nobody foresaw the number 1 seeded Muskies bailing out in the Quarterfinals of the very weak A-10 Tournament.  I unfortunately was unable to watch the game today due to work commitments. 

But from reading and hearing about the game, it sounds like the Muskies played pitiful basketball for well over 2/3rds of the game, yet they did just enough to be in it when the game was on the line.  And was it a foul on Lyons?  The refs called it, so I guess it was.  Is this loss a reason for Muskie Nation to panic? Continue reading

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“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

“National Championship Game Preview”

This year's Heisman Trophy Winner, Cam Newton (pictured above) has had a monster season both on and off the field. Expect him to make a final statement in willing his team to a victory over Oregon tomorrow night.

Tomorrow is finally the night of the big game.  It has taken a full 4+ months to get to this point, but the time has come.  34 Bowl Games down (after tonight’s Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl), 1 monumental one to go.  It is the matchup that everyone has wanted since mid way through the season.  It is the matchup that not only the entire College Football Fan base has wanted for a while now, but it is exactly what the BCS wanted.  Two teams that were not ranked in the preseason AP top 10 go head to head (this has never happened in the BCS era).   The BCS dodged some major bullets this year with how things worked out. 

Auburn could have easily taken an L in the Iron Bowl this year, when Alabama had them on the ropes.  What if Michigan State did not blunder at Iowa this year, or Ohio State at Wisconsin?  What if Boise State’s Kyle Brotzman does not have the worst game of his life versus Nevada?  There are a lot of “what ifs,” but there are only two teams left standing.  The two very best in College Football.

Grab your popcorn, because there are about to be some fireworks.

Now I am not going to ram the stats down your throats.  You have been forced to listen to the minutia and buildup to this game for well over a month now.  The fact of the matter regarding this National Title Game is simple.  The teams pitted really like to light up the scoreboard.  They both rank in the top 4 in the land for points scored a game.  The Ducks have been held under 35 points once the entire season and Auburn has scored over 50 on 6 different occasions.

The intriguing thing for both of these squads is that neither is pass happy.  Though football at nearly all levels has become a pass first game, both of these squads accomplish most of their damage via their rushing attacks (they can throw the ball with authority too)  Granted they both have two very mobile quarterbacks that can make plays with both their arm and their feet. 

I do not see this game being as high scoring as all analysts are predicting.  Many are calling for this one to have more points than the legendary National Title Game of 2006, when Vince Young propelled Texas over USC 41 to 38.  Generally the first quarter of National Title games feature offensive blunders, while each team shakes off major nerves.  Now I do think each team will put up points, but I do not see both teams scoring 40 plus.

The X Factor in this game will be Cam Newton and Auburn’s overall team speed.  Now I realize that Oregon has some players that have what I like to call the “burners.”  But they have not faced a team with the speed that Auburn features across their entire roster.  Many have been saying that the fact Oregon has a stronger defensive unit will be the differentiating factor that gives the Ducks the advantage.  Lets be real though.  The PAC 10 is a very good conference.  But it is nowhere near the caliber of the SEC.  Auburn’s defense played phenomenal competition all year and still held its own enough to give their offense a chance to win every game.

Look for a Vince Young like performance out of Cam Newton.  Just hopefully he does not pan out like Young in the NFL.  I got Auburn winning a very exciting game 34 to 31. I will admit that I said in my College Football Preview that this would be the year the SEC’s reign of National Championships ended.  I had no idea that Auburn and Cam Newton would come along back in September. Cam Newton and the Tiger’s overall team speed will give the SEC its 5th straight National Championship. 

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“College Football Outlook”

Boston College All American Linebacker Luke Kuechly (pictured above), will be the difference in helping BC pull off the upset over Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

Bowl Season is finally beginning to wind down.  What a few weeks it has been.  Sure there have been plenty of dud games, but there have also been plenty of classic battles.  TCU flexed their “undersized” muscles against a very good Wisconsin team out in Pasadena.  The Big Ten had possibly the worst New Year’s Day of all time going 0 for 5 on the day.  And Connecticut continued to add to the futility of the Big East, in getting pounded by Oklahoma.  Not to mention their coach left them the next day for Maryland.

In other College Football News, Andrew Luck has shocked the world and apparently is staying in Palo Alto.  It takes a committed kid to pass up that type of bankroll.  Could you imagine passing up on over 40 million dollars in guaranteed money (Bradford was guaranteed 41.7 million last year)? Also, the Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes continue.  People are now saying that he is heading to Miami.  You got to love the media.  And nobody knows who is going to fill the Rich Rod void in Ann Arbor.  But I digress.  Lets take a look at the remaining matchups other than the National Title Game.  I will hold off on that one for now.

AT&T Cotton Bowl

LSU vs Texas A&M

-This game is arguably the best Non-BCS matchup of the entire Bowl Season. Many thought the Capital One Bowl would steal the show as the best battle outside of the BCS games, but Alabama put an end to that thought real fast, laying an absolute whooping on the Spartans.  In this matchup however, a red-hot Aggies team plays what is somewhat of a home game against one of the best teams out of the rugged SEC.  These teams are very different in their styles of play.  LSU relies on a strong rushing attack and a very stout defensive unit.  Texas A&M likes to play a shootout style of football and relies heavily on their aerial attack.  The Aggies have won 6 straight games while the Tigers lost the last time they suited up, in a heartbreaker to Arkansas.  In my opinion though, the dominance of the SEC will be exhibited in this one.  Plus A&M has not beaten a team from College Football’s best conference since 1995.  Each of these teams went 6 and 2 in tough conferences.  Unfortunately for the Aggies, the Big 12 is just not nearly as tough as the brutal SEC.  The SEC reigns supreme in this one behind an outstanding defensive effort.  Tigers by 3 in a very competitive game.

BBVA Compass Bowl

Pittsburgh vs Kentucky

-This is actually a pretty decent matchup.  The Co-Champions of the Big East taking on a lower tier SEC team.  A team from the BCS’s best conference versus a team from the worst BCS conference.  Seems like a perfect fit.  Now I do not understand why this game is being played after New Years.  But there is a lot about the College Football Bowl System that does not make sense.  Either way, Pitt is going to have their hands full trying to stop UK’s two lethal playmakers, Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke.  Both of these kids are electric and can change a game on any given play.  Now Pitt has a pretty good playmaker themselves in Dion Lewis.  A guy that did not have as good of a sophomore campaign as many expected, but he has come on as of late, rushing for 261 yards and 4 TDs in the season finale versus Cincinnati.  Now if Pitt had not gone through all of the coaching turmoil that they have experienced over the past month, I would have picked them to win this game.  But unfortunately for them, their staff is in shambles and Kentucky is just another one of those speedy SEC teams.  Let the Big East disaster continue.  Wildcats by 7 even without starting QB Mike Hartline.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Nevada vs Boston College

-The BCS is still thanking Nevada as we speak.  They are the team that saved the BCS from having both TCU and Boise go undefeated and causing a major dilemma.  Could you imagine if Stanford had missed out on playing in a BCS Bowl due to Boise and TCU getting into BCS games?  Stanford put on the best performance of this bowl season thus far.  But back to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Matchup.  Nevada sports one of the best rushing attacks in the country and has had an outstanding season.  Boston College, after a suffering an early season 5 game losing streak, has now ended the year on a 5 game winning streak.  Granted none of their foes during this winning streak were ranked teams.  Either way, I am liking Boston College’s stout defensive unit, that is number 1 in the country against the run, to slow down Nevada’s vaunted rushing attack.   The difference in this game will be Boston College’s outstanding linebacker group led by none other than sophomore, first team All American, Luke Kuechly.  Kuechly burst onto the scene last season setting a record for tackles in a season by a freshman.  This year, he picked up right where he left off recording 171 tackles to lead the nation.  I realize how dangerous of a duel threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick of Nevada is, but can he handle Luke Kuechly?  I do not think so.  BC in a shocker by 3. 

So there you have a look at the remaining Bowl Games other than the highly anticipated National Championship game.  It has been a heck of a bowl season as we all wait anxiously for the final showdown in Arizona on Monday.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“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”

The Heat have now won 12 games in a row. The "Main Event" this week involves a matchup between the Heat and the Lakers on Christmas Day.

Its Monday.  And you all know what that means…

It is the start to another stellar week in the wide world of sports.  Lets take a look at the pulse of the action.

5.  Come Thursday, there should be a heavy focus on the NHL.  It should be no surprise to you why people should tune in to NHL Hockey.  Sure two of the top teams in the NHL are going head to head.  But it is the Kobe/Lebron matchup of the NHL.  Sid “the Kid” Crosby leads his Penguins to the nation’s capital to take on Alex Ovechkin.  Who you got?  Crosby or Ovechkin?

4.  College Football Bowl Madness continues.  3 of 35 are complete.  Lets keep them coming. 

Tuesday

Beef “O” Brady’s Bowl:  Southern Miss vs Louisville-America will get to see 1st year Louisville coach, Charlie Strong, lead his team into their first bowl game in 4 years.  Contrasting styles should make for a fun one in St. Petersburg.  Louisville has lived on its defense all year while Southern Miss has lived on its O.

Wednesday

MAACO Bowl:  Utah vs Boise State-This is hands down the best game of the week.  Two teams that were both ranked in the top 5 at different points during the course of this season.  Plus, this could be the last time we get to see Kellen Moore suit up in the Bronco Blue.  If you get to watch one College Football Game this week, watch this one.  You will not want to miss Titus Young and Austin Pettis play in their last game.  Outside of a kicking breakdown, Boise has played a near perfect season.

Thursday

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl:  Navy at San Diego State-Navy can straight pound the rock.  Not the most appealing game to watch.  But if you want to see some old school, smash mouth football, Navy is the team to watch.  San Diego State will provide some pass heavy offense, led by their QB, Ryan Lindley.

Friday

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl:  Hawaii vs Tulsa-Tulsa is one of the luckier teams in the country.  They first of all got to defeat Notre Dame in South Bend.  Now they get to head to Hawaii for a bowl game?  Not to shabby.  Both of these teams can really score.  Expect both offensive units to put up 35 plus in this one.  Hawaii has the most lethal passing attack in the country for a change and Tulsa is right up there as well.  The difference is that Tulsa can run the ball effectively too.  Take note of this fact when picking a winner for this one.

3.  Not the greatest week for College Hoops.  Christmas always is a time to spotlight the NBA.  But, there are some good matchups, especially on Wednesday.  Here is a look at the two marquee games on Wednesday.

Missouri vs Illinois:  One of the top dogs in the Big 12 takes on one of the better teams in the Big Ten.  Missouri plays basketball at a gut wrenching pace for all 40 minutes.  Welcome to the fastest 40 minutes in basketball.  Outside of Washington, not many teams play at this pace for the duration of games anymore.  Outside of a heartbreaking OT loss to Georgetown, a game they should have won, this team has looked pretty strong.  They will score points, averaging just under 86 a game.  Illinois on the other hand fell to the only other Big 12 foe they played this year (Texas), and are coming off of a shocking loss to Illinois-Chicago.  This team though also has beaten some very tough teams this season such as UNC and Gonzaga.  You will not want to miss this one.

Texas at Michigan State:  I applaud both of these squads for playing brutal non conference schedules.  They are already preparing their teams for March.  So what if they each have suffered multiple losses.  You cannot undervalue big game experience in November and December.  Please note though that all 3 of the Spartan’s losses are against current top 10 teams.  Texas did suffer a loss to an unranked foe in USC, but they have beaten some top-notch opponents such as Illinois and UNC.  This should just be a great all around game.  I will be very interested to see how Cory Joseph, the Longhorn’s freshman phenom, matches up with experienced Spartan guards such as Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, and Korie Lucious.  Should be a fun one to watch.

2.  I had to give Geno and his ladies some love.  Sure I realize that most are not as in to Women’s College Basketball as Men’s.  But this is history folks.  The great John Wooden’s record could fall.  Tomorrow (Tuesday) evening, Auriemma looks to make history.  The Lady Huskies go for their 89th consecutive win!  Yes I said 89th.  Can you imagine winning 89 straight games?  Can the Seminoles somehow stop this train?  Do not count on it.

1.  This week’s NBA slate will not disappoint.  Every night features a big time matchup.  Tonight, there are two great games.  The Magic bring their new look squad to the ATL to take on the always dangerous Hawks.  And the Mavs head to Miami to take on the red-hot Miami Heat.  Can the Mavericks cool off the South Beach All Stars?

On Tuesday, the Mavericks have to recover in a hurry as they head over to take on the new look Magic.  Come Wednesday, the Garden will get a taste of Kevin Durant.  Can he put on a big time performance against the overachieving Knicks?  Then Thursday, as Orlando continues on with their “hell week,” the Spurs come to town. 

Christmas is always an awesome day in the NBA though.  Boy did the League outdo themselves with the slate of games that they put together.

Chicago at New York:  Derrick Rose and the “Noahless” first place Bulls head to the Garden.  Big time players always put together memorable performances at MSG.  Plus it is Christmas.  Expect Derrick Rose to put up a triple double as he wows the New York crowd.  Now I will state, up until the 2nd half of the game vs the Heat on Friday, the Knicks had thoroughly impressed me.  They have played way above their talent level.  Amare looks like an MVP.  Gallineri is playing like an All Star and really has developed an all around offensive repertoire.  And Felton has rejuvenated his career.  So what if the New York guys are not quite at that Miami or Boston level.  They are good enough to make the playoffs this year.  Plus they have caught the attention of Melo.  You add Carmelo to this team, they are a contender in the East.  You add CP3, the Knicks are a title contender again.  Boy would that be fun.

Boston at Orlando:  The two teams that have owned the Eastern Conference the past 3 years link up in Disney World.  This is the final game of the Magic’s “Hell Week.”  Will Orlando have anything left in the tank for this one?  They will have already played the Hawks, the Mavericks, and the Spurs already before they even get to step on the floor with the C’s.  Boston is playing outstanding basketball.  Though they are missing Rondo, do not expect a huge drop off.  I am curious to see how the new look Magic match up with the Mean Green Fighting Machine.

Heat at Lakers:  Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Gasol, and Bosh on the same floor?  No this is not the All Star Game.  This is the primetime game of the day though.  And boy is it one that every basketball fan in the country has been waiting for. The Heat have gelled, winning 12 straight games.  There could not be better timing for this game.  All of the stars will be out (not just those on the floor).  Do not take away too much from this matchup though.  There is still a lot of basketball to be played.  But outside of Lebron’s return to Cleveland, this is the year’s most anticipated game up to this point. 

Also, there are two other games on Christmas.  It will be a Merry Basketball Day.

So there you have a look at this week’s main events.  And I did not even touch on the NFL’s Week 16.  You better believe that there is a ton going on.  Let me hear your thoughts.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze