Tag Archives: Wisconsin

“NCAA March Madness Preview Part II: BRACKETOLOGY”

Take a look at the official March Madness selections from TheSportsKraze…

Here is a brief synopsis of each region. Continue reading

“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”

Come Wednesday, College Basketball fans are in for a treat as they get to watch Jim Boeheim (left) and Jim Calhoun (right) lead their squads into another epic Big East battle. It should be a great one.

It is another Monday, and you all know what that means.  Lets get the week started with a look at the top events coming up in the sporting world throughout the next 7 days. 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

“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 8, Can I get it Straight?”

I wanted to apologize to all of my fans.  My picks last weekend were absolutely horrific.  You could not pick much worse than I did.  So in Week 8, I look to redeem myself and show you all that this past weekend was just a fluke.

Start calling Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops (pictured above), "Big Game Bob" again folks.

Just know that this will be a weekend to remember for the Big 12.

So here is a look into a few of the marquee matchups.

LSU at Auburn:  Two very surprising teams sit atop the SEC with undefeated records.  Nobody saw this coming, but these squads are both tough.  And as the year continues, they both have continued to get stronger.  Auburn put on an amazing offensive outburst last weekend against a tough Arkansas team while LSU put up some numbers against a lesser foe.  Well Saturday, get ready to see a team make a major statement.  The winner of this game will place themselves in great position to play in the SEC Title Game and possibly the National Championship come January.  These teams have some contrasting styles.  Auburn relies on a dual threat quarterback, Cameron Newton.  Mine as well start calling this kid “CN” for “Championship Newton.”  He can do it all and leads one of the most feared offenses in all the land.  LSU on the other hand uses two quarterbacks for various situations.  Relying on an old school smash mouth rushing attack and a stellar defense.  Can their defense contain the mighty CN?  I think not.  Auburn will have too much offensive burst in this one and win a real battle 20 to 17.  Tigers by 3 at home.  The raucous Auburn Stadium will be the differentiating factor in this intense battle.

Wisconsin at Iowa:  Talk about a formidable Big Ten matchup.  You better believe the old school Big Ten is wide open again.  The Badgers did the entire country a favor in knocking off a very tough Ohio State team.  Sadly for them, there is no time to celebrate.  Instead they get to travel to Iowa to take on a very tough Hawkeyes team.  This will be the Badgers last real challenge of the entire season.  A win in this game could really put the Camp Randall boys back into the Big Ten race.  Though Michigan State looks tough at the top.  Iowa on the other hand has quietly gone about their business since a tough loss out on the West Coast to Arizona.  Ricky Stanzi continues to manage games with the best of them and finds ways to win.  Can Iowa ride their defense to a victory in this one?  I am thinking so.  Look for Wisconsin to suffer a major low after a major high last weekend.  I got Iowa gutting out a big win at home by 3.

Nebraska at Oklahoma State:  Can Nebraska recover after showing that Texas was their kryptonite last Saturday?  You better believe it folks.  OK State’s offense has been absolutely electric all year.  Junior Quarterback, Brandon Weeden, aka, Old Man River, has been stellar in every sense of the word thus far.  But he has not faced a defense like the one the Cornhuskers have yet.  This will be a wakeup call for the Cowboys.  It is a shame, because they have been great thus far.  But sadly, they will drop a tough one at home as their offense struggles to find any rhythm or continuity due to a lacking rushing attack against Bo Pelini’s boys.  I got Nebraska by 7 on the road.

Oklahoma at Missouri:  A second major battle in the Big 12 of unbeatens?  What a weekend it is in the last year of the Big 12 as we know it.  Stoops and the boys head to Missouri ready to continue to make some noise.  Missouri can no longer fly under the radar folks.  This is the big time.  Can Missouri’s stellar defense stop Oklahoma’s very balance offensive attack?  They probably will hold them in check for a couple of quarters.  Expect Landry Jones, Ryan Broyles, and Demarco Murray to go to work in the 2nd half though.  Start calling Stoops “Big Game Bob” again folks.  I see Oklahoma running away with this one by 13 on the road.

So there you have it.  A huge weekend for the Big 12.  A big weekend for the SEC.  And a big weekend for the Big Ten.  Can I get it straight this week?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze