Tag Archives: North Carolina

“Sweet 16: Day 2 Predictions”

North Carolina super freshman Harrison Barnes (pictured above) continues to improve his draft stock as UNC will creep one step closer to the Final Four tonight.

As if last night’s games weren’t wild enough.  We get another full dosage this evening with 4 big time matchups.  The winners tonight will find themselves one game away from dancing to Houston.  A trip to the Final Four.  College Basketball’s ultimate dream. Continue reading

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“NCAA March Madness Preview Part 1”

The brackets are out. Let the journey to Houston begin!

The Brackets are finally officially set.  No more speculation.  No more bracketology.  I will admit that what ESPN Bracketology specialist Joe Lunardi does is pretty remarkable.  But it is made out as if his bracket is more important than the real thing some times.  I will take the bracket presented by the CBS Selection Show every day of the week over Lunardi’s.  Anyways, after watching the Selection Show this evening, here are a few initial items that really jumped out at me: Continue reading

“Weekly Nickel”

Can the NFL solve their issues by late Thursday night? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (pictured above) is doing all in his power to ensure that their is no labor strike.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of March. Hard to believe. But anybody who does not live in the South or on the West Coast is begging for spring time. You know what March means though.  “Its the most wonderful time of the year.” 

March Madness.

Here is a look at the top 5 for this upcoming week though. Continue reading

“College Basketball Preview”

Super frosh, Kyrie Irving (pictured above on the right) has a lot to live up to at Duke. Could he be the next Jay Williams (pictured above on the left) and lead this team back to the Final Four?

College Basketball is back and better than ever folks..or is it?

Many of you probably do not even realize that regular season games have already been played.  I am not sure what the deal is with the lack of publicity thus far, but you better believe that come mid January (when College Football is done), College Basketball will be the center of attention again.  For many, it will become the prime event within the next week in that their College Football team is down and out.

In my opinion, NCAA Basketball has the best and most exciting tournament of them all.  March Madness may be the most consistently well done event that we have in American sports today. It never dissapoints. And yes, I realize that they expanded the tournament field, but you better believe the excitement will still be there come mid March.  Now a few years down the road when they hit their eventual goal of 96 teams, some of the luster may be faded.  But at this point, it will still be a top notch thrilling event.

A long while back, on July 13th to be exact, I gave my “Early Preseason Top 5.”  It read as follows:

1.  Duke

2.  Ohio State

3.  Michigan State

4.  Purdue

5. Butler

And my sleeper picks to make a run at the Final Four were UK, Syracuse, WVU, and Kansas State.

Not much has changed in my eyes from my super early preseason top 5.  There are a couple of minor changes though. 

Here is my real “Preseason Top Five.”

1.  Duke-The defending National Champs return the majority of last year’s squad.  Look for Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler to play at an All American level all year.  Expect the Plumlee brothers to emerge into a formidable post combo.  And do not forget about the arrival of super frosh point guard, Kyrie Irving.  This kid can flat out play with the top guards in the country already.  Plus a little Curry (Stephon Curry’s little brother) will be mixing in with the backcourt.  Coach K has much to like with this very deep and talented squad.

2.  Ohio State-I have said it numerous times, and I will say it again.  It is Final Four or bust this year for Ohio State.  With 4 returning starters, and arguably the best and most college ready Freshman Class in the country, this team will have the talent and the experience to ride all the way to the National Championship.  Thad Matta should be smiling all day and every day with this group.  The freshman class includes the likes of arguably the best big man in the entire country, Jared Sullinger,  a small forward in Deshaun Thomas that can get up and down the floor with the best in the country, a lock down defender in Aaron Craft, and the very smooth all around talent that is shooting guard Jordan Sibert.  Not to mention the Buckeyes feature a junior, that could take home Big Ten Player of the Year in William Buford, plus returning starters, Diebler, Lauderdale, and Lighty.  This team could definitely go the distance.

3.  Michigan State-Tom Izzo has been to 6 Final Fours in the last 12 years for a reason.  The only difference this year is Tom Izzo actually has a team with Final Four talent.  I can only imagine how good this team could be.  Kalin Lucas will be running the point and poised to show why he was Big Ten Player of the year 2 seasons ago.  Durrell Summers, Delvin Roe, Draymond Green, and Korie Lucious are full of experience and ability.  Plus Izzo brought in arguably the best Freshman Power Forward/Center in the country, in the very long and versatile Adreian Payne.  This team could be flat out scary.  I cannot wait to see them match up with Duke on December 1st and Ohio State on February 15th.

4.  Pittsburgh-This Pitt team appears to be the cream of the crop in the Big East.  Though they struggled against a tough Rhode Island team the other night, that is how Jamie Dixon likes it.  His Pitt squads over the years have typified the term, “Winning Ugly.”  This team brings back some very talented mainstays off of last year’s 25 win team such as Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker, and Gilbert Brown.  I will state that this team does not wow on paper as some of these other top teams I am discussing do.  But Pittsburgh always seems to find a way to win 25 plus games in the rugged Big East and I expect no different this year.  Look for Gibbs and Wanamaker to really lead this team to the top of the Big East.

5. Kansas State-Frank Martin’s Elite 8 team of a year ago looks poised to make another deep run this year.  And we all know if they don’t, they will have to deal with the wrath that is their Coach, Frank Martin.  This team is relatively young and will deeply miss guard Denis Clemente, but they will be led by two very talented seniors in Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly.  These two will provide one of the more formidable high low combos in the entire country.  Look for this team to be similar to Pittsburgh.  Very tough and hard working.  A team that beats you with defense and exceptional effort, especially on the boards.  Would you expect anything else from a Frank Martin coached team?

My sleepers to make a Final Four run are UK (depending on Kantor’s elgibility), North Carolina, Illinois, and Butler.

Key Items to Note

Number 1: Purdue will be Hummel-less this year.  Due to this fact, Purdue will no longer be a top 5 or even top 10 team.  They will be solid and make the tournament, but they are no longer a real “contender” in my eyes.  My condolences go out to Hummel, his family, and all of Boilermaker Nation.

Number 2: The Big Ten looks to be the cream of the crop without a doubt.  Basketball has been dominated by the Big East for the past 4 or 5 years, but the torch appears to have been passed to the old school Big Ten.  ESPN and many of the experts jumped the gun last year saying that the Big Ten was the elite conference.  Well now they are.  Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Purdue all look to be sure fire tourney squads.  And without Hummel going down, I would have said that Ohio State, Michigan State, and Purdue were all National Championship contenders.  Also do not sleep on a very experienced Illinois team and a very solid Bo Ryan led Wisconsin Badger team.  All of these squads are dangerous.

Third: Can Coach K bring home his 5th National Title?   You better believe that he can.  But will he?  There is a lot of basketball to be played, but on paper, Duke is definitely the team to beat.  Keep an eye on Super Frosh, Kyrie Irving.  He will provide fireworks for the Cameron Crazies.

Fourth: Can Brad Stevens lead Butler to another magical tournament run? The talent is there once again.  Shelvin Mack, Ronald Nored, and Matt Howard all return from last year’s National Runner Up.  Will the run continue?  Will Stevens stay through his entire 12 year contract?  We will find out soon.

So there you have it.  It is the Big Ten’s year to shine.  What a season we have in store.  The unpredictably of March Madness is always one of the most fascinating things that happens in sports.

In the words of Dickie V, “Its totally awesome baby!”

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“College Football Week 3: Dud Saturday”

Ricky Stanzi (pictured above), looks to lead Iowa to a big road victory over 24th ranked Arizona on Saturday, in a weekend full of lackluster matchups.

 After last week’s “Monster Saturday”, College Football has managed to put together a “Dud Saturday.”  I mean in all honesty, when looking at this coming weekend versus last, not sure exactly what happened, but it wasn’t good (for entertainment value that is).  People like to see ranked teams go head to head.  Preferably highly ranked ones at that.  It is human nature for fans to want to see good teams go to battle.  Well this weekend, there is only one match up between two ranked teams.  And one of them is ranked 24th (Arizona). 

So here is my inside look at a few of the main matchups in what I am proclaiming “Dud Saturday.” 

Arkansas at Georgia:  Ryan Mallett and the Razorbacks bring the offensive juggernaut that is Arkansas into Georgia for an SEC rumble.  Now Georgia did not look great in a loss to South Carolina last week, as freshman phenom Marcus Lattimore ran all over them.  And the Bulldogs will still be without star receiver AJ Green.  Georgia’s highly touted freshman quarterback, Aaron Murray, has shown glimpses of greatness in his first two games.  And definitely looks game to live up to the hype that has surrounded him since his early high school days.  But sadly for Mark Richt, he may be in deep trouble if this game turns into a track meet.  Ryan Mallett is arguably the best quarterback in the country, with great weapons and a plethora of experience at his disposal.  Could we be seeing the year of the Razorback in the SEC?  I got Arkansas winning this SEC duel by 10.  

Georgia Tech at North Carolina:  Two of the ACC’s best go to battle.  Or at least these are two of the ACC’s most hyped teams.  After the weekend of death for ACC football (last weekend), two of the League’s titans go to battle in what should be a great game.  Georgia Tech still boasts the old school triple option threat and is one of the few well-known teams in the country to really have no passing attack.  Their quarterback, senior Josh Nesbitt, has been a three starter, and knows the offensive scheme inside and out.  Sadly for GTech, Nesbitt has not only been their quarterback and leader offensively, he has become their whole offense.  This could be a major problem when facing the swarming type defense of a Butch Davis led Tar Heels team.  The Tar Hells almost pulled off the unthinkable upset against a pro LSU crowd in a primetime matchup in Atlanta.  Not to mention they had over 12 players suspended.  After 2 weeks rest and a little chance for the program to clear its head a little, look for the Tar Heels to come out and take care of business at home over the Yellow Jackets.  Hard to believe that GTech could come out and lose 2 of their first 3 games (after playing in the Orange Bowl last year). 

Iowa at Arizona:  In the only match up of two ranked foes on this dud of a weekend, the Big Ten and Pac 10 go to battle in the desert.  Iowa has looked solid in its first two powder puff games of the year.  They appear to have the look of a team ready to take that next step and compete with OSU for the Big Ten title (I don’t think they can beat OSU though).  Ricky Stanzi is one of the most poised, experienced, and battle tested quarterbacks in the country.  He is also yet to throw an interception yet this year, which has been his achilles heel in the past.  This team is one of the few teams in the country that is able to both run and pass the ball effectively.  This makes a team very hard to stop in today’s College Football stratosphere.  Arizona on the other hand has looked awesome both offensively and defensively so far.  Granted they have played Toledo and the Citadel.  Arizona started the year unranked, and is one of those schools that has always been a basketball first University.  Well times are changing as Sean Miller failed to take the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament last season.  Is this team, behind 2nd year starting quarterback, Nick Foles, the real deal?  Well they will be solid in a very weak Pac 10, but they will not be able to secure the victory this weekend even though they are at home.  I got Iowa by 7 stealing one on the road. 

It was a struggle to choose 3 intriguing matchups in this dud of a weekend.  “Monster Saturday” had 5 or 6 big time matchups and made me have to leave a major game or 2 out, because there were so many good ones.  Either way, football is football.  And I, along with the rest of America will watch.  

Also, there is always the NFL on Sunday.. 

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze. 

-TheSportsKraze