Phil Jackson’s time at the Knicks is an unavoidable smudge on his legacy

Early 2014 was a strange time to be a Knicks fan.

After three straight playoff appearances and the best season since the mid-90s, the Knicks were in the midst of an injury-riddled and disappointing 2013-14 campaign. It was the same old Knicks, a glimpse of hope before an eventual painful decline. Then in March the team announced what had seemed like pipe-dream forever.

Phil Jackson was a Knick once again.

The prodigal son had returned. Not as a head coach, but Phil Jackson was still back and he was going to change the course of the franchise and finally build a contender.

But for many Knicks fans, in just two short years Jackson has gone from the GOAT to just another one of the franchise’s numerous goats, embodying everything that’s been wrong with the Knicks for the last 15 years. And they certainly have a point.

Phil Jackson may be a great basketball coach, but he is not a good basketball executive and this should not just be a footnote on his illustrious career.

Since Jackson took over as team president the Knicks have gone a combined 67-139, finishing 15th and 13th in the Eastern Conference with another bottom of the barrel finish coming in 2017.

The bigger problem here is not even the losing, it’s the circumstances of the losing. The Knicks went 17-65 in the 2014-15 season and it was the best thing they’ve done in years. In fact it got them Kristaps Porzingis. But Jackson has tried to avoid completely rebuilding and that has caused the team to get stuck in no-man’s land.

Jackson has refused to commit to consistency in any facet of the franchise and these are the results. First he decided to hire Derek Fisher, a first time coach, and essentially force him to run the triangle offense. That team won 17 games.

Then he fired Fisher halfway through his second year and replaced him with an even worse coach, Kurt Rambis. He thankfully didn’t rehire Rambis, but kept him on staff as an ever lurking shadow behind new head coach Jeff Hornacek. That’s three head coaches in three years; something that the Cleveland Browns have shown us is not a recipe for success.

Still, nothing has been worse than his decisions to add Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose this past offseason. It was a blatant win-now move for a franchise that has tried and failed the same move multiple times over the past decade. The franchise was in decent shape heading into late 2016, and Jackson threw it all in the trash for a washed-up center and an injury-prone point guard in the middle of a sexual assault trial.

Then when said point guard disappeared, Jackson left both the team and Hornacek twisting in the wind and forced to answer questions that he, the team president, should have been answering.

Now not only are the Knicks still an Eastern Conference doormat, but they’re stuck with an older win-now team that can’t even do the one thing it was built to do. Win.

The closest similarity to Jackson’s Knicks tenure is Michael Jordan’s time as an executive for the Charlotte Bobcats, now Hornets. Most of Jordan’s decisions were disasters, but that still doesn’t affect his legacy. He’s still the greatest basketball player ever, and nothing he does in the front office will change that.

That is not an out Jackson should be allowed.

No one knew if Jordan would be a good executive, everyone thought Jackson would be a killer executive. But it turns out that Jackson has trouble assessing talent, and doesn’t have the patience to let it develop. It even brings into question the validity of the most popular criticism of Jackson, that he rode two of basketball’s greatest players, Jordan and Kobe Bryant, to all his coaching success.

He still has a chance to improve things, but it currently looks like Jackson’s Knicks tenure will go down as an abject disaster and his legacy should reflect that.

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Week 1 NFL Picks

Here’s just a quick post with my week one picks, I didn’t have time for a lot of analysis, but here’s who I think win in week one. You can ridicule me later. 

Home team in CAPS

PATRIOTS over Steelers

I made this pick before Thursday I swear. Thought the Pats offense was good and the Steelers defense was real bad. I was right.

BILLS over Colts

Rex Ryan’s first game and the Bills defense is good.

Packers over BEARS

Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler is 1-11 against the Packers

JETS over Browns

Two bad teams, but the Jets are better.

Chiefs over TEXANS

Chiefs defense destroys Brian Hoyer.

Seahawks over RAMS

The Seahawks are still the better team. It’ll be close though.

Dolphins over WASHINGTON

Washington is bad

Panthers over JAGUARS

Again, two bad teams, but Cam Newton is better than Blake Bortles.

CHARGERS over Lions

I don’t think the Lions are good. I do think Phillip Rivers is.

Saints over CARDINALS

Don’t feel great about this but the Saints to show something early in the season. Also I have Drew Brees on my fantasy team.

Bengals over RAIDERS

The Raiders are bad.

Ravens over BRONCOS

I’m a Ravens fan.

Titans over BUCS

Marcus Mariota.

COWBOYS over Giants

The Giants defense is really really bad.

Eagles over FALCONS

Chip Kelly is a genius. (For now)

Vikings over 49ERS

Teddy Bridgewater!!

2015 Record: 1-0-0

2015 NFL Predictions

Wow, so I haven’t updated this page in over 5 months, (so much for updating it regularly) But baseball season was a disaster so I didn’t exactly want to write about that.  I figured I might as well throw something together for the start of the NFL season.

Remember this is completely factually based and not at all random guesses that I made by looking at the schedule. Also yes I do hate your favorite team, thanks for asking. 

*The win totals do add up to 256 so this is all, in theory, possible.

AFC 

AFC EAST:

New England Patriots – 11-5

For the 25th season in a row, (it’s only 12 out of the last 14 but whatever), the Patriots will win the AFC East, it’s just what they do. Seriously, they haven’t won less than 10 games since 2002, when they won 9. I’m pretty high on the Dolphins and the Bills, but with Brady’s suspension being nullified, the Pats once again coast to a division title.

Miami Dolphins – 10-6

Ryan Tannehill is a pretty good quarterback and the Dolphins defense will be really good. That combo is enough to make me feel somewhat confident in the Dolphins chances this season. I think they win 10 games and sneak into the playoffs as the six seed.

Buffalo Bills – 8-8

New York Jets – 7-9

The Bills will be decent but the offense won’t be good enough to contend, and you can say the same exact thing about the Jets. This division may have three Top Ten defenses, but it’ll only have two playoff teams.

AFC NORTH:

Baltimore Ravens – 12-4

Yes, I am incredibly biased but I still think the Ravens are going to be really good this year. The defense is still good, the offense got better, they have so few flaws right now that I’m having flashbacks of Rashaan Melvin in the playoffs last year. Anyway, the Ravens will be good and I’m a huge homer.

Pittsburgh Steelers – 9-7

The Steelers have the opportunity to pull off the impressive feat of a top five offense and bottom five defense this year. They have arguably the best running back and best wide receiver in the league, along with a great quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger. (I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence) The defense is a different story. It’s going to be really really bad. They don’t really have any linebackers and the secondary is even shakier now that Troy Polamalu is gone. This team is going to have to win some games 45-42 if they want to make the playoffs.

Cincinnati Bengals – 7-9

I think the Bengals regress, for no other reason than that they were really lucky last year. I won’t mention any details, but Max Gelman knows what I’m talking about. They’ll be okay, but finish under .500 in a tough division.

Cleveland Browns – 4-12

The Browns are the Browns, they play in Cleveland, their quarterback is Josh McCown. Sorry Ari. #FailForCardale

AFC SOUTH:

Indianapolis Colts – 13-3

The Colts will finish with the best record in the NFL because that’s just how good this offense is going to be. Andrew Luck and company are going to put up a ton of points, and he’ll even have a decent running back this year in Frank Gore. I think the Colts go 6-0 against divisional opponents and easily run away with the league’s weakest division.

Houston Texans – 8-8

Sadly being on Hard Knocks will not help improve the Texans quarterback situation, although it did make Vince Wilfork my favorite non-Raven NFL player. The defense drags them to 8 wins, but the quarterback play holds them back.

Tennessee Titans – 6-10

Mariota will be good in his rookie season, but not good enough to drag the Titans to anything more than six wins. The rest of the roster just isn’t good enough, they might be a sleeper pick next year, but they’ll be mediocre this year.

Jacksonville Jaguars – 4-12

I actually think the Jaguars will be okay this year, just not record wise. They have almost all the pieces, just not a competent quarterback. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t trust Blake Bortles.

AFC WEST:

Denver Broncos – 11-5

The Broncos will once again have an offense near the top of the league, but they’ll be less reliant on throwing the ball this time around. I think they rely more on their running game and defense in an attempt to keep Peyton healthy. Whatever they do, they’re still the best team in this division and they shouldn’t have too much trouble winning it for the fourth straight year.

San Diego Chargers – 10-6

The Chargers are going to be what they always are: a competitive team with a good quarterback that wins some big games but loses some stupid ones.  Despite that, I think they sneak into the playoffs over the Chiefs simply due to the fact that Phillip Rivers is better than Alex Smith.

Kansas City Chiefs – 10-6

Speaking of Alex Smith, he actually has a real receiver this year! In fact Jeremy Maclin is probably the best receiver that Alex Smith has ever had. The Chiefs’ defense will be good again too, and honestly you could switch the Chiefs and Chargers and I wouldn’t really mind.

Oakland Raiders – 3-13

The Raiders will be better than they were last year, but still bad. I don’t see them winning a single game in division.

AFC PLAYOFFS:

  1. Colts 2. Ravens 3. Broncos 4. Patriots 5. Chargers  6. Dolphins

AFC WILD CARD ROUND:

              4. Patriots OVER 5. Chargers       6. Dolphins OVER 3. Broncos

The Patriots beat the Chargers because that’s what they do. The Dolphins pass rush makes Peyton uncomfortable all day and Miami pulls off the upset in Denver.

AFC DIVISIONAL ROUND:

  1. Colts OVER 6. Dolphins          2. Ravens OVER 3. Patriots

The Dolphins keep it close, but the Colts offense is too much and they win somewhat easily. Playoff Flacco appears and the Ravens handle the Patriots because THEY’RE ACTUALLY PLAYING AT HOME IN THE PLAYOFFS FOR ONCE.

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:

  1. Ravens OVER 1. Colts

God I hate this, why did I make this pick? Anyway, Luck gets knocked around by the Ravens pass rush and Playoff Flacco leads the Ravens back to the Super Bowl.

NFC  

NFC EAST:

Philadelphia Eagles – 12-4

The Eagles will be really good this year as long as Sam Bradford stays healthy. More importantly though, the defense is going to be really good again. Even if Bradford gets hurt, the running game should be good enough to get them to the playoffs. This is only a Super Bowl team with Bradford however.

Dallas Cowboys – 11-5

Tony Romo is still is a premiere NFL quarterback and Dallas’ offense line is still the best in the league. They may not win the division, but they’ll be fine.

New York Giants – 7-9

The Giants might have one of the most exciting offenses in the league, especially with Odell Beckham Jr. Unfortunately I think he’s going to be catching a lot of passes against the prevent because this defense isn’t good.

Washington Football Club – 2-14

LOL

NFC NORTH:

Green Bay Packers – 12-4

Jordy Nelson is out for the season and Randall Cobb is banged up, but the Packers still have the best quarterback in football. If you doubt this please go and watch the replay of the Bears-Packers game from last year. Rodgers is inhuman. Oh also Eddie Lacy is pretty good too.

Minnesota Vikings – 9-7

The Vikings are my sleeper team for the 2015 season. I think Teddy Bridgewater is going to be a top ten quarterback this season and having Adrian Peterson certainly won’t hurt either. Mike Zimmer will put together a solid defense and the Vikings will be the surprise team of the year.

Chicago Bears – 7-9

The Bears won’t be bad, but they won’t be good either. There’s not enough there on either side of the ball to make me confident in this team in any way. They have to get rid of Jay Cutler if they want to become a contender again. Also improving the defense wouldn’t hurt either.

Detroit Lions – 5-11

I’d like to personally apologize to Henry Burg, but the Lions won’t be good this year. The offense will be okay as long as Calvin Johnson stays healthy, but the defense will take a massive step back. They already lost their two best players in Suh and Fairley and Stephen Tulloch is coming back from injury. Also the secondary is due for a step back as they played out of their minds last season. Finally, the Lions were exceptionally lucky in close games in 2014, and unfortunately they won’t get to play against Mike Smith again this year.

NFC SOUTH:

 Atlanta Falcons – 9-7

The Falcons weren’t that bad last year, but Mike Smith cost this team two if not three wins. With Smith gone and Dan Quinn replacing him, the Falcons will be just good enough to win a very bad division. I have confidence in Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.

New Orleans Saints – 8-8

I think the window on the Drew Brees Saints has closed. The offense will be decent again because Brees, but the defense is too horrible for this team to make the playoffs. Still, I think they stay alive until Week 17 where they lose a winner takes all game to the Falcons.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 6-10

Jameis Winston will improve this team but in similar fashion to Mariota he won’t be able to pull them out of mediocrity just yet. However, I hope everybody is ready for the 2018 Super Bowl matchup: Titans vs. Bucs.

Carolina Panthers – 4-12

The Panthers don’t have an offense and the defense declined last year. Also their schedule is absolutely brutal. In weeks six through nine they play Seattle, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Green Bay. Wow. That’s pretty much an automatic 0-4. I just don’t see this team being good enough to overcome their schedule.

NFC WEST:

Seattle Seahawks – 11-5

I expect a bit of a Super Bowl hangover especially with how brutal that loss was last year, but they’re still the most talented team in this division. They’ll have a little bit of trouble, but still coast to a division title.

St. Louis Rams – 8-8

The Rams defensive line is absurd. Their backups might still be a top five line in the league. Unfortunately, Nick Foles is their quarterback and they have nobody at wide receiver. Todd Gurley will be fun when he gets back, but still the offense isn’t good enough to win anything more than eight games.

Arizona Cardinals – 8-8

I don’t trust Carson Palmer, that’s pretty much it. The defense is good, they have solid receivers, but the schedule is tough and Drew Stanton may be starting games again. They may be better than I think, but I’m not hopeful.

San Francisco 49ers – 4-12  

This team is going to be bad. After losing about half of your roster it’s hard to be a good NFL team. Also are we sure Colin Kaepernick is a good quarterback? I’m a fan of Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, but I’m sure how many on target throws they’ll be seeing from their quarterback.

NFC PLAYOFFS:

  1. Packers 2. Eagles  3. Seahawks  4. Falcons  5. Cowboys   6. Vikings

NFC WILD CARD ROUND:

                   3. Seahawks OVER 6. Vikings       5. Cowboys OVER 4. Falcons

The Vikings put up a valiant fight, but the Seahawks are just the more talented team. Pretty much the same thing can be said about the Dallas vs. Atlanta game.

NFC DIVISIONAL ROUND:

  1. Packers OVER 5. Cowboys         3. Seahawks OVER 2. Eagles

The Packers solidly defeat the Cowboys and everybody stops complaining about the Dez play (Not really). Mark Sanchez throws three interceptions and the Eagles crash back down to earth against Seattle.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:

  1. Packers OVER 3. Seahawks

The Packers get revenge for last year’s NFC Championship game as Rodgers throws three touchdowns to whoever is currently their fourth string receiver.

SUPER BOWL:

Packers OVER Ravens

I didn’t want to pick the Ravens to win the Super Bowl. Also Aaron Rodgers scares me.

Anyway thanks for reading, i’m assuming you just clicked on the link that I posted on Facebook, but if you made it all the way down here, Thanks! 

I’m planning on posting my NFL picks for the week here every week, but we’ll see, I’m not exactly consistent with these things. Also if you want to read stuff I write about college football head on over to insideNU.com, it’s a pretty swell site. Thanks Again!

15 Overreactions from Opening Day

Everyone always likes to make a big deal out of Opening Day, so I thought I’d use some of my observations from today to predict the rest of the season. 

  1. 2015 World Series: Red Sox vs Rockies. 2007 REMATCH, LOCK IT IN WE DON’T EVEN NEED TO PLAY THE NEXT 161 GAMES.
  2. ALCS: Royals vs Red Sox
  3. NLCS: Rockies vs Dodgers (No other NL team really stuck out today)
  4. Dustin Pedroia is going to hit 324 Home Runs and Hanley Ramirez is going to have 810 RBIs this season
  5. The Red Sox are going to go 162-0 and win the World Series
  6. The Indians aren’t going to score any runs for the rest of the year

  1. The Padres need to gut the team and start over after losing to the Dodgers
  2. They should start by trading Craig Kimbrel to the Braves, and reunite him with Jacob Murphey

  1. The Nationals are Overrated (But Bryce Harper’s hair isn’t)

  1. Kyle Kendrick is the NL Cy Young and Nolan Arenado is the NL MVP
  2. Samardzija was the worst signing of the offseason
  3. Travis Snider was the best signing of the offseason (GO O’s!)
  4. This is finally Houston’s Year
  5. Bartolo Colon is the best pitcher on the Mets

  1. There’s always next year Cubs Fans

NCAA Tournament Recap: Day 4

I was going to put something witty here and then the Terps lost.

The day started out well enough, Michigan St. upset UVA and then Wichita St. demolished Kansas. (Both games I picked correctly) Then Dayton lost, but Gonzaga and Wisconsin both won. Oh, Duke played at some point too I think. Then the disaster that was West Virginia vs Maryland happened. Too much physicality and too few ball handlers is a bad combination, especially when you compound that with sub-par refereeing. As much as I was looking forward to losing to Kentucky by 15, I guess West Virginia gets that prestigious honor now.

Lets just get to the rest of the games.

Michigan St. over Virginia

This was an ugly game, but most of Virginia’s games this season have been ugly. For Michigan State, Travis Trice was on fire early and helped them jump out to a 15-4 lead. When he cooled off UVA fought back, but never led or even tied MSU for the entire game. This game exemplified the biggest worry I had about Virginia heading into the tournament. They always play great defense, we know that, but they sometimes have trouble scoring. They played good defense again today, but shot 30% from the floor and 2-17 from three. As good as your defense is, you still need to score points to win a game. Before the tournament, I picked this Michigan St. team to make it to the Elite Eight and it looks like that might be about the only thing I get right this year.

Duke over San Diego St.

We haven’t had too many bad, boring games this year, but this was one of them. Duke jumped out to an early lead and held it for the entire game. The only thing remotely exciting was the individual performance from future Knick, Jahlil Okafor. He had 26 points and 6 rebounds on 12 of 16 shooting. In comparison SDSU scored 49 points on 19 of 58 shooting. Duke moves on to face Utah on Friday.  Utah will win. We’re getting a Michigan State vs Utah Final Four Match up. Book it.

Wichita St. over Kansas

In the battle of Kansas, the Shockers defeated the Jawhawks and it wasn’t even close. Kansas didn’t play horribly, but when Wichita St. plays like they did today they’re hard to beat. The Shockers played lock down defense and hit their three pointers, a potent combo. After a mediocre game 1, Ron Baker picked it up and along with Fred VanVleet dominated the back court of Kansas. Wichita St. will be an interesting match up for Notre Dame in the Sweet Sixteen, although I think the winner loses to Kentucky either way.

Oklahoma over Dayton

This is a game that Dayton should have won. Up 56-49 halfway through the second half the Flyers would get outscored 23-10 to finish the game and see their hopes of a second straight Sweet Sixteen fade away. Dayton’s best player was Scoochie Smith who scored 16 points and also won the (totally legit) award for best name of the day. The Sooners were led by their guards Buddy Hield and Jordan Woodward who scored 15 and 16 respectively. This Oklahoma team now has to face a hot Michigan St. team fresh off of their upset of UVA. I originally picked MSU to beat Dayton and I’m sticking with them over the Sooners.

Gonzaga over Iowa

Iowa didn’t play a terrible game. They shot 47% from the field, 33% from three and scored 68 points. Unfortunately, they were playing a Gonzaga team that was absolutely on fire. The Zags shot 62% from the field and 63% (!!!!) from three. Kevin Pangos and his hair had 16 points while Kyle Wiltjer had 24 points and 7 rebounds. The last game of Aaron White’s college career was still a solid effort, with 19 points. This is a Gonzaga team that should easily dispatch UCLA on Friday, and then the only obstacle between them and the Final Four will be Utah. Hopefully.

Wisconsin over Oregon

Joseph Young is still really good at basketball. Unfortunately for the Ducks, he didn’t get a ton of help tonight. Young scored 30 of Oregon’s 65 points and single handily kept them in this game. Wisconsin is more than just one man however, as 4 starters scored in double figures and the Badgers managed to survive. Even though this was still a relatively comfortable win, the Badgers will need to shoot better (they still shot 31% tonight) from deep if they want to beat Arizona or Kentucky.

West Virginia over Maryland

I really don’t want to talk about this.

When you turn the ball over 23 times, you’re not going to win the basketball game. When your best player gets knocked out with a concussion, you’re not going to win the basketball game. When that same best player is your only good ball handler, you’re not going to win the basketball game. When your second best player plays the worst game of his career after your best player is already out, well you get it at this point.

Okay, credit West Virginia for coming in with a strong game plan and sticking to it. The press destroyed the Terps especially without Melo Trimble in the game. Dez Wells and Jake Layman combined to turn the ball over 13 times. Those are the Terps other two GUARDS. That is not good. Maryland had a great surprising season that ended one game before it should have. There’s always next year. (MELO COME BACK TO SCHOOL PLEASE)

West Virginia might actually pose a pretty good challenge for Kentucky if they can execute the press well. I think Kentucky wins though because they’re more athletic and I’m still angry about this game.

Louisville over Northern Iowa

UNI’s main problem was always guard play, and man, did that problem rear its ugly head today. The Louisville guards combined for 45 points. Terry Rozier had 25 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds just by himself. To have a chance UNI needed Seth Tuttle to take over and that just didn’t really happen tonight. Tuttle had 14 points and 7 rebounds, but it just wasn’t enough, especially with the poor play of a couple of the other starters. This game was really just about Louisville’s starters playing at a higher level than anybody on UNI. I think the Cardinals make it to the Elite Eight and now with UVA and Villanova out, have a legitimate chance to make it to the Final Four. We might have a Kentucky vs Louisville Final in our future.

NCAA Tournament Recap: Day 3

Well that was a little better I guess.

After only 1 upset yesterday, we got two today, with one of them being 8 seed NC State over 1 seed Villanova. The ACC and PAC 12 are still undefeated and the Big East continues to under perform in the tournament.

The big story of the day of course, was Villanova being the first 1 seed to be defeated in this year’s tournament. Every year there is one 1 seed that is the general consensus “most likely to lose early” 1 seed. More times than not, that team does wind up being the first to lose. Last year it was Wichita State, this year it was Villanova. Nova always has a good basketball team, but almost yearly they lose early in the tournament. Now this isn’t an indictment of the quality of Villanova, but they never seem to perform when they’re the favorites.

Anyway, lets get to the rest of today’s games.

UCLA over UAB

This game was on early, wasn’t that interesting, and I was still sleeping for most of it. Tony Parker played great for UCLA with 28 points and 12 rebounds as the Bruins scored 92 points and coasted to an easy victory over UAB. I still don’t think this “validates” the committee’s decision to put UCLA in the field though. Even if a team is playing well in the tourney, getting in is all about what you did during the season. Playing well is irrelevant, there were more deserving teams than UCLA that should have made it.

Kentucky over Cincinnati

This game was close and fun, and then it wasn’t. Cincinnati did everything you need to do to beat Kentucky, except hit shots. The Bearcats kept it close for most of the first half, and then in 1 minute Kentucky took an eight point lead. This Kentucky team has such a large margin for error its ridiculous. For the second straight game they’ve looked pretty bad and still won by double digits.  Maryland or Notre Dame might pose a threat to the Wildcats, but at this point I’m not really sure.

Arizona over Ohio St.

Ohio State lost this game because D’Angelo Russell did not play well. He scored 9 points on 3-19 from the field. That’s not good. Arizona is the better overall team, so when the Buckeyes’ best player laid an egg, this game was pretty much handed to the Wildcats. They were only up 1 at half, but absolutely blasted OSU in the second half. Personally I hope D’Angelo comes back for another year because this OSU team is going to be even better next year if he does. Also I want to be able to see him play in person again.

Xavier over Georgia St.

Georgia St. is actually a pretty good team, but its hard to win when the other team shoots 68% from the field and 54% from three. Xavier just shot Georgia St. off the floor especially in the second half. Unfortunately this means we have to say goodbye to Coach Ron Hunter and his scooter. Georgia St. were the best story of the tournament and hopefully we see them back here next year.

NC State over Villanova

NC State played a great game, but Villanova laid an egg. Nova never looked comfortable the entire game and let NC State dictate the flow of the game. Even with how poorly they played, they still had an open three to take the lead with 15 seconds left in the game. So the upset is nice, but there was certainly a lot of luck involved. I think UNI beats NC State in the Sweet Sixteen, but obviously I’ve been wrong before.

Utah over Georgetown

BRING ON THE BLUE DEVILS.

There were two teams that I talked up a bunch before the tourney, MSU and Utah. So far so good, at least for Utah. While their defense wasn’t as great as it normally is, they gave up 64 points, the offense was there tonight as the Utes were able to pull away from the Hoyas in the second half. I still believe in this Utah team 100% and look forward to their victory over Duke on Thursday.

North Carolina over Arkansas

This was the best game of the day. Both of these teams were going up and down the floor playing at a great pace. Everybody (other than the NCAA) loves high scoring games, and for this tournament this was a shootout. SEC player of the year Bobby Portis (18 pts, 14 reb) played well for Arkansas, but his teammate Michael Qualls (27 pts, 10 reb) played even better. Marcus Paige helped lead the Tar Heels with 22 pts and 6 boards. This UNC might have a chance beating Wisconsin if they hit their three pointers, but at this point I’m sticking with the Badgers.

Notre Dame over Butler

Our last game of the day was our only overtime game of the day. The best moment of this game was Pat Connaughton eviscerating Kellen Dunham’s game winning attempt at the end of regulation. This game was close throughout but the clutch three pointers by Connaughton and Vasturia in overtime is what sent the Fighting Irish to the Sweet Sixteen. Also Connaughton is an Orioles pitching prospect, so that’s pretty cool too.

Game to watch for day 4: Virginia vs Michigan State

There are a lot of possible great games tomorrow, but I picked this one for two reasons. First I think this game has the biggest possibility of being an upset, especially with how good MSU has been down the stretch. Also I personally know a UVA fan, Zach Pereles, so this game will be just that much more fun for me. A Spartan win makes me feel smart, but a Cavalier win makes me feel happy for my friend, so its a win win I guess.

P.S. GO TERPS!

NCAA Tournament Recap: Day 2

Chalk, chalk and more chalk.

Now I’m not saying this has been a horrible tournament, but in terms of upsets its been pretty lackluster. The higher seeds went  27-5 in round one, and 15-1 on day 2. Today we didn’t even have the luxury of close games, out of 16 games, only 2 were decided by 5 points or less. After a pretty exciting day yesterday, today was the regression to the mean.

A lot of the games today were similar, so there isn’t really a great way to categorize them. Instead I’ll just start with the first set of games and work my way down.

Kansas over New Mexico St.

Kansas is better than New Mexico State. This game pretty much just came down to that. Kansas jumped out to the early lead and never gave it up. Frank Mason III played well with 17 points and 9 rebounds, which is a good sign if Kansas wants to make a deep tournament run. Other than that, this game sort of set the tone for the rest of the day.

Michigan St. over Georgia

This was one of the best games of the day. When these teams weren’t scoring on the fast break, they were running beautiful half court sets full of screens and cuts. In a day full of some pretty mediocre basketball, this game was the oasis in the desert. Also I think Michigan St. can beat Virginia. So there’s that I guess.

Northern Iowa over Wyoming

This UNI game was not actually as terrible as the scoreline says. UNI went up big but then Wyoming caught fire from deep. This provided some entertaining basketball, but unfortunately the lead was too big for Wyoming to overcome. This is a UNI team, led by Seth Tuttle, that I think can beat Louisville and perhaps even upset Villanova. Especially if they continue to shoot 50% from three. Also Kurt Warner went to UNI, so that’s got to be good for another win, right?

West Virginia over Buffalo

This game was disappointing, I thought that Buffalo had a legitimate chance and while they almost did, West Virginia never really seemed threatened. It just seemed like Buffalo was hanging around but not taking advantage of enough chances. When they finally made their run late, Tarik Phillip hit a danger three to put the Mountaineers up 5 with 29 seconds left. That three was probably the second best moment of the day actually. Also Buffalo’s uniforms said “state university of New York” on them. You know what? Forget everything I said, this game was great.

Wichita State over Indiana

This very well might be the game that gets Tom Crean fired. Indiana played Wichita close in the first half, but the Shockers pulled away late thanks to some ice cold free throw shooting form Ron Baker. This sets up a much anticipated Wichita State vs Kansas match up in the next round. A game that I think the Shockers can win. They admittedly played pretty poorly today against the Hoosiers, so if they can clean it up by Sunday I think they win the battle of Kansas.

Virginia over Belmont

This was my personal favorite game of the day. Belmont was the most fun team I’ve seen so far in the tourney and its a shame that they lost this game. They were hitting 25 footers, calling banked jumpers (I’m looking at you Craig Bradshaw), and just all around fun to watch. UVA on the other hand was not. They’re the sort of team that wants to take 35 seconds on offense and make you use 35 seconds while on defense. They’re not the most exciting team, but I think if Justin Anderson is healthy this team might be able to make it to the Final Four.

Louisville over UC Irvine

Northeastern would like to welcome UC Irvine to the terrible final possession club. For the second straight day an underdog was unable to get a shot off on their potential game tying possession at the end of the game. While it did look like Rozier fouled Luke Nelson on the final play, not running a play and instead just throwing the ball into the back court was UC Irvine’s biggest mistake. With this loss we unfortunately have to say goodbye to 7 foot 6 inch UC Irvine Center Mamadou Ndiaye, probably the most fun player of the tournament.

Maryland over Valparaiso

This was our other close game of the day, that coincidentally also ended with a terrible possession. I’m going to be honest real quick, I’m a Terps fan, and I was scared of Valpo’s Alec Peters for the entire game. He only hit 4 three pointers, but it felt like he hit 14. Anyway, the Terps survived yet another close game and move on to face West Virginia. I think they beat WVU by 2 and then get blasted by Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen. Yeah, seems about right.

Oregon over Oklahoma St.

This was the Joesph Young show. Young scored 27 for Oregon, and at one point scored 15 straight points for the Ducks. This was a Oklahoma St. team that I thought was slightly over rated (like the Big 12 as a whole) but they put up a good fight against a superior opponent. Side note, the uniforms in this game were…. interesting to say the least. Individually I think the uniforms are okay, but why were they both wearing brightly colored uniforms? Shouldn’t one of the teams have to wear white or something? What are the rules here? You know what? I don’t care, at least Wisconsin will be wearing white when they beat Oregon.

Duke over Robert Morris

Duke is really good. Robert Morris isn’t that good.  This was very apparent in this game and I still think Utah beats Duke in the Sweet Sixteen. That is all.

Iowa over Davidson

Talk about disappointing games. Davidson is the stereotypical fun, three point shooting, March Cinderella, but just straight up got run off the floor by Iowa. This is an Iowa team whose last two losses are to  Northwestern and Penn State, and now I think they might have an outside chance of beating Gonzaga. I also thought that Davidson would beat Iowa, so lets be honest, what do I know?

Oklahoma over Albany

I think Oklahoma is overrated and I stand by that statement. This game was by no means a convincing win for the Sooners. Sure, they won by 9, but they let Albany hang around for the entire game. I think they lose to Dayton on Sunday  and at least sort of validate my bracket. (I have no idea why I still care about my bracket, I went 23 for 32 in the first round.)

Wisconsin over Coastal Carolina

Frank Kaminsky is the most awkward really good player I’ve ever seen, and I love him for that. You watch the game and have no idea how the he’s the best player on the floor and then in back to back plays he eviscerates somebody off the dribble for a dunk and then hits a three. With him at the center of a team that also has players like Sam Decker and Nigel Hayes, this team is going to be a tough out at any point in the tourney. They might even be able to beat Kentucky. (DISCLAIMER: I have Arizona beating Wisconsin, but that doesn’t really matter does it)

San Diego St. over St. John’s

This was our third disappointing game of the day. It was close early but San Diego St. just kind of pulled away and kept the lead around double digits for most of the game. This game wasn’t exciting and admittedly I didn’t watch a lot of it, so yeah, San Diego St. loses to Duke on Sunday.

Gonzaga over North Dakota St.

Do the Zags have to have at least one guy with really good hair every year? No seriously, every time they’re in the tourney one of their players has a luscious flow. I think it might be a pre-requisite to play for Gonzaga. Anyway, Gonzaga is better than North Dakota St. but you already knew that. Now we can go back to looking at Kevin Pangos’ hair……. is that weird?

Dayton over Providence

FINALLY AN UPSET!

It took 16 games, but the last game of the day was the  first and only upset of the day. Now you can argue that this wasn’t really an upset since Dayton is practically playing at home, but it’s still an 11 over a 6 so SOUND THE UPSET ALARM! This was the one upset I actually picked right so I’m pretty happy with Flyers right, happy enough that I think they return to the Sweet Sixteen by beating Oklahoma on Sunday. As for this game, it wasn’t anything special. Dayton controlled the flow of the game and pulled away in the second half.

Game to Watch for Day 3: Utah vs Georgetown

Yes I love Utah. Yes I think Utah will win. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think this will be a great game. While it will probably be low scoring, I think this game comes down to a final possession one way or the other.