And so the Madness has begun… One day in and we’ve already got upsets, tears, heartbreak, and elation. I can’t tell you how much I love this time of year. David Vs Goliath match ups, the big power conference vs the little guy next door, but one thing always in common…. MADNESS! This tournament I feel will go down as one of the craziest ever. With no clear cut favorite, I have a feeling we will see a lot of upsets and surprises… I’m talking to you New Mexico! As always, the brackets have been filled out… and the games have begun. So, let’s take a look at some predictions.
First off let me get one thing off my chest… the NCAA absolutely places teams in situations to create ratings, so please stop telling people it is all computer generated. Oklahoma State would back me on this… as should the entire ACC (minus Duke) for their seedings. Moving on, let’s talk some pretenders and contenders.
Gonzaga: I’m sorry for all of those loving the ‘Zags, but this team will be the first 1 seed to bow out early. They almost became the first ever 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed last night… to the national powerhouse, Southern University. A potential match up with Wisconsin does not bode well for Gonzaga.
New Mexico State: I know, it already happened, but had I written this yesterday I would have told you the same. Overrated with a weak conference schedule… and it showed.
UNLV: See New Mexico State.
The entire SEC: Sorry, but after Florida, there are no SEC teams with a chance to make any noise in the dance.
Duke: Up and down end to the season, but a team that struggles against teams that can match up well inside and have speed to guard the three.
Indiana: Fairly consistent team with some hiccups along the way this season. But as far as all around talent, if this team can get hot and play good team basketball they will be tough to beat. however they have struggled at times this year to put it all together consistently.
Ohio State: Finished strong with a Big 10 tourney championship, could be getting hot at the right time.
Louisville: I don’t have a lot of faith in Rick’s boys here, they seem to disappear at times. But just like Ohio State, they are playing their best basketball of the season right now.
Kansas: See Louisville and Ohio State.
Miami: Somewhat of a sleeper here, but they have played well in the last half of the season minus their last couple of regular season games. Solid all around team with a good inside/outside game.
North Carolina: After a rough start to the season, Roy’s boys have played well with the small ball. Unfortunately, they will live and die by the “3 ball” and one off game could send them packing. And, no thanks to the NCAA selection committee they will have a rough road to the sweet 16. UNC vs Kansas 2nd round? Computer selected, okay NCAA…
Michigan: Probably boasts the best backcourt in the tournament… but will have to play better on defense to make a deep run. Speed and talent can carry them a long way, but they have a tough draw as well.
Wisconsin: Had some signature wins against good Big 10 opponents this season. They play a style that can be frustrating and can slow down faster more athletic teams. Plus, they have a very favorable draw being in Gonazaga’s bracket.
Saint Louis: A stretch here, but have to give the A-10 champ some respect. They are an athletic team that can put points on the board, if they get hot, watch out.
Kansas, Ohio State, Indiana, and Michigan State (Izzo always seem to find a way)
Weigh in folks, let’s hear how you think this madness is going to go down!
So, according to reports Lance Armstrong, the 7 time Tour De France winner, has admitted to Oprah (I thought she retired) that he cheated throughout his career. The same Lance Armstrong that paraded for years around denying that he ever cheated, even going as far as to ridicule those that were caught cheating. And now we find out he was just like the rest of the cheaters. The most decorated cyclist of all time, the inspiration to millions, and the face of one of the largest cancer research organizations in the world… a cheater. Millions of dollars in endorsements and prize money over the years…. and he was “unclean”. Repeatedly lying to the media, the fans… hell, the world. And now, he thinks he can save face by admitting to Oprah that he cheated…. he’ll have excuses, he’ll beg for forgiveness… all to hold on to the little bit of positive celebrity status he still owns(not so he can continue to race in marathons/triathlons etc). I’m looking forward to this interview, I want to hear what he has to say. I’m sure Oprah will ask the riveting questions… or the ones that Lance’s publicist tells her she can ask. But let’s be honest, the real losers here are those associated with the Livestrong Foundation.
For all of those who have put their hard work and time into the Livestrong organization, my heart breaks for you. To have been repeatedly lied to, and to constantly have to defend the face of their organization… and now, the confession. I truly hope that people will be able to look past the confession from Lance and continue to support the cause. It would be a complete injustice to allow this man’s selfish actions to destroy the organization that is completely innocent in this whole situation. Guilty or innocent, clean or tainted, the fact of the matter is the Livestrong Foundation still is a positive force. One that should continue to be supported and funded. At the end of the day, the man will ride off into the sunset and eventually be forgotten…. but until a cure for cancer is found, we must continue to cycle forward until we cross that finish line that keeps getting closer and closer. Lance, you lived wrong… but the fight against cancer, continues to Live Strong.
So the NFL playoffs are fastly approaching, we have reached week 16 which means some very important games are at hand this weekend. Let’s look at a few:
Atlanta vs Detroit: While most are not expecting a fight from the disappointing Lions, this game has a major impact on the NFC Championship game. If Atlanta wins, they are guaranteed home field advantage for the playoffs. If they lose, SF stays alive for home field advantage. Prediction: Atl 35 Det 17
New Orleans vs Dallas: The Saints abysmal start to the season pretty much sealed their fate. However, the hot/cold/hot again Cowboy’s are in position to take the NFC East and slide into the playoffs playing their best ball of the season the last 3 weeks. But, you never know which Romo will show. Prediction: Dal 31 NO 28
Indianapolis vs KC: The young Colts have played well enough to win this year, and need one more game here to put some breathing room between them and Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Let’s see how the wunderkind, Andrew Luck, handles the late season playoff push. Prediction Ind 21 KC 10
Washington vs Philadelphia: The befuddled Eagles have nothing to play for… except for spoiling another NFC East Team’s playoff hopes. First test is vs the Redskins… RGIII or not, I see the Redskins taking this game and putting themselves in the driver’s seat for the NFC East playoff spot. Prediction: Was 24 Phi 13
Cincinnati vs Pittsburgh: This is probably the most important game of the week. This is as close to a must win for both teams as there will be all season. How healthy is Big Ben? Can the aging Pittsburgh D stop the young, flashy Bengals’ offense? Should be a good match up. Prediction: Pitt 23 Cin 17
New York Giants vs Baltimore: Giants are on the bubble (shocker). But this is normally when they turn it on. Murder Ray returns for the Ravens, unfortunately he doesn’t play on the offensive side of the ball. Baltimore continues to tumble here. Prediction NYG 17 Bal 10
Minnesota vs Houston: Minn is riding AP to the playoffs… they’ll need a HUGE day from him to get past the Texans. Houston has a stout enough defense to make the Vikes have to go to the air…. advantage Texans. Texans still working on securing home field advantage, I think they take another step towards that in this game. Prediction Hou 24 Minn 14
San Fran vs Seattle: Who would have thought this would be a big game when the season began? Seattle had a QB battle going between a lifetime back up and a rookie, and San Fran was coming off their best season in years. And narrowly missed the Super Bowl last season. Both teams have exceptional defenses, this game will come down to who takes care of the ball and can run on the opposing team. Seattle is tough to beat at home, but the pressure is on for a rookie QB. Prediction SF 23 Sea 21
There you have it, chime in as you see fit…. regardless of the outcome, this should be an exciting weekend for all NFL fans.
Week one of The French Open from Roland Garros is in the books… and as has been the norm for the Men’s side of Grand Slam competition… the “big 4” are still alive. Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray have all survived up to this point… in what is the most grueling of all the Major Championships. The slow dirt surface tests every ounce of patience, determination, heart, and talent during the two week tournament. And as cliche as it sounds, truly “only the strong survive”. History shows that Rafael Nadal is the odds on favorite… and has truly been the King of Clay in recent years. Nadal has won 6 of the last 7 French Opens, and has only lost once at Roland Garros in his career. A close second to take the title of “Dirtball Champion” would have to be Novak Djokovic. “Nole” had one of the best years ever last year, going 70-6 on the year, and winning 3 Grand Slam tournaments … all except The French Open. In 2011 Djokovic went 6-0 against Nadal in tournament finals. But just a few weeks ago Nadal Defeated Djokovic in Monte Carlo to continue his dominance on Clay. Roger Federer, the number 3 ranked player in the world continues to cruise deep into another Grand Slam Tournament’s later rounds. The fluidity and grace with which Federer moves has allowed him to stay healthy throughout most of his career, which no doubt has helped him to play at such a high level for so long. Federer and Djokovic are both 1 win away from another Grand Slam encounter. Federer ended Djokovic’s 41 match winning streak last year in the semi-finals of Roland Garros… could this year bring another classic between the two? Last but not least, we have Andy Murray… the embattled and enigmatic Brit who can’t quite seem to get over the hump for his first Grand Slam Win. A few weeks away from the annual pressure of being Great Brittain’s only hope for a Wimbledon Champion, Murray is limping through the draw at Roland Garros. Some back issues have hindered Murray early, and at less than 100% I don’t see any way he can over come any of the Big 3 in a 3 out of 5 set match. And, frankly, I don’t see anyone who can beat Nadal in a 3 out of 5 set match on Clay… when Nadal is healthy. So, baring any injuries or outside circumstances, do we see Nadal raise his 7th French Open Trophy in 8 years? Odds are in his favor… but what do the other Big 3 have to say about that?