And just like that – with the NFL behind us, the NBA in its steady-state midseason and MLB still in its rev-up stage – college hoops emerges as front-and-center in sports over the next six weeks, from this final two-week regular-season push to the conference-tournament season to Selection Sunday and the NCAA Tournament.
As I pointed out in yesterday's post, we're starting to get to that time of year in college hoops when you start watching more games on TV and you get a little more influenced for your NCAA Tournament bracket picks based on what you see.
We've got to start with the "schadukefreude": The Blue Devils lost their FOURTH straight ACC game, this time getting absolutely man-handled by mediocre Maryland, a mere Bubble team. As Nelson Muntz (or that Dixie Chick) might say: "HA-ha!"
Duke is tied for 6th in the conference, but tied with
Let's add this: Duke has no business being ranked in the Top 25 right now. How ludicrous is it that Duke, the 6th-place team in the ACC, is ranked -- but BC, in 1st place after winning yesterday at FSU, is NOT?
(For those who don't follow the Comments area, I picked BC as one of the handful of 8-10 teams with the right mix of personnel and personality to beat
But, still: It's such a rare moment to see Duke be THIS beatable. What the hell do you do with that on your bracket next month? They could lose in the first weekend, but there's always that nagging feeling that they'll make their way deeper.
Or another example: If you saw
Don't look now, but my preseason Final Four pick Georgia Tech has won three straight and notched a huge inter-conference win over UConn. Of course, given UConn's sorry 4-9 record since their 11-0 cupcake start, it's not THAT impressive. But they are still tied for 8th in the ACC with only 16 total wins. EXTREME bubble. Speaking of "extreme bubble"...
Here's a good one: If Washington – that's "IF," given their 16 total wins and 7th-place status in the Pac-10 – makes the NCAA Tournament field, they could go from bubble entry to surprising deep run, thanks to their big frontcourt, which was on display in a win over Stanford on Sunday. (Or, UW could lose in the 1st round. And if I take them deep on my bracket, that will inevitably happen.)
And how about those suspended Gonzaga players? Pot: OK. They ARE college students. But 'shrooms... really?
On to the other big storylines around the sports world today...
How many of you agree that the NBA Finals will be the Heat and Spurs? If yesterday's game was any indication, Dwyane Wade will be ready for an encore Finals performance. He slapped the Spurs around for 26 en route to a 100-85 Heat win.
Wait: Is this the beginning of the Gilbert Arenas backlash? He's finally unable to cash checks his mouth is writing:
After vowing to torch the Blazers as retribution against Team
Let's hope this isn't an omen for Arenas heading into the All-Star break next weekend, where he is competing in the 3-point contest, starting for the East and generally expected to be ones of the weekend's uber-superstars.
Give the Celtics (who lost their 18th straight) credit for at least finding new and creative ways to lose: This time, a buzzer-beating jumper from the T'wolves' Ricky Davis.
MLB: Mauer gets 4Y/$33M extension. Credit the Twins for locking up their best young player – and arguably the best young player in the American League – with a big-market deal.
It's still probably a good $5-10 million (per year) below the value he'd get on the open market, but kudos to the Twins... and kudos to Mauer for making the commitment.
Mickelson wins Pebble Beach Pro-Am. But, more importantly, what the hell was that under Kevin Costner's bottom lip?
NFL: The best part of the Pro Bowl ending is that we dive full-on into the draft insanity that will carry NFL fans through the end of April. ProFootballTalk has their first mock draft up, and the two most intriguing items are this: (1) JaMarcus Russell going No. 1 overall to the Raiders, particularly ahead of Brady Quinn. (2) Adrian Peterson going at No. 8 to the Texans. My take: Mario Williams and Adrian Peterson are arguably a better first-round combo over the past two drafts than Reggie Bush and the best-available defensive lineman at No. 8 this year.
Really: Did ANYONE watch the Pro Bowl? Did anyone even care that it was a thrilling, walk-off finish?
(Meanwhile, I was all set to say "Good riddance, Tiki!" But then a friend of ours gave my son a copy of the Barber brothers' children's book, "Teammates," and it was inscribed specifically to Gabe. Man... how can I dislike the guy now?
Finally, Quickie readers will remember that I annually gave at least a little space to the Westminster Dog Show -- if for nothing else than a prediction. The Dog Show is back today (and probably will earn a better cable TV rating than your average NBA game... and don't even talk about out-rating NHL...) , but if for no other reason, it's an amazing opportunity to let you quote from one of the funniest movies of all time, "Best in Show." (Better than "Guffman?" Perhaps the ultimate debate among Guest-film fans. Yeah, yeah: Let's keep "Spinal Tap" out of it for now. Recent Guest films...)