Monday uber-Quickie: Mason Mania! Duke thuggery! Putting the "ill" in "So. Ill."! Moss to the Pats? Pippen to the Lakers? Wright is the new Jeter! And more! (Keep reading!)
Today's analysis (with a heavy emphasis on college hoops), as I ponder if anyone in sports TV uses a more shit-eating grin than Seth Davis...
The biggest college hoops storyline coming out of the weekend? George Mason is back. Left for dead (or, at least, .500 and the NIT) this season after last year's uber-Cinderella NCAA run, the Patriots upset Old Dominion in the CAA Tourney semis – and are one win away from an improbable return to the NCAA Tournament.
(It's worth noting that the "Mason Strategy" is phenomenal: Do OK – but by no means Tournament-worthy – during the regular season, but then simply win the few games in a row necessary to win the automatic bid via conference tournament.)
UNC beats Duke in bloody mess: As this game wound down, I was all set to talk about how, for the second time this season, the UNC-Duke rivalry shows it ain't what it used to be. And then The Foul. What does it say that the image of the game was Tyler Hansbrough's face after getting clocked on a hard foul late? (He DID finish with 26 and 17, sewing up first-team All-American status – even if his NBA prospects roughly mirror Craig Smith's.)
Gerald Henderson's protest that the foul wasn't intentional doesn't pass the smell test. (And the ACC agreed, suspending Henderson for Duke's first-round ACC game vs. NC St.)
Kudos to USAToday.com lead blogger Beau Dure for being all over this story with some very interesting links. Here's the link, and kudos to USAToday.com on the redesign, particularly the more prominent placement of Dure's SportsScope blog.) And here's some audio I just got from the Duke flagship AM station.
Creighton tops "So.
And, from Saturday, in case you missed it: UCLA lost at
(If you're keeping track, that means my current 1-seeds are:
Teams Worthy of a 1-seed, in this order of priority if they win their conference tournaments (or in case anyone ahead of them on this list stumbles):
1. UCLA if they win the Pac-10 Tourney title.
3. UNC if they win the ACC Tourney.
4b. Texas A&M if they win the Big 12 Tourney.
7. Pitt if they win the Big East Tourney.
* - With the Big Ten tournament final happening AFTER the brackets are essentially in place, if Ohio State and Wisco both make the tournament title game, they will likely both earn 1-seeds. I don't want to hear the Big Ten griping EVER AGAIN about the timing of the OSU-Michigan football game vis a vis other conference title games and the BCS process. If the Big Ten title game happened Saturday, you know the runner-up between
Bubble Watch 1: My pick (last week) of Georgia Tech to be IN looks awfully good now that they've knocked off UNC and BC in back-to-back games...
BW2: Speaking of ACC, what the hell will the Committee do with Clemson? The Tigers won at Tourney lock VA Tech to get a 7th ACC win. Could they really give bids to 8 ACC teams?...
BW3: Did Drexel play its way out of an at-large bid by losing in the semifinals of the CAA Tournament to VCU? (Old Dominion might have played its way out, too.)
NBA: Pippen to the Lakers? Phil Jackson thinks he can work his mystical ways to get Scottie to be the Pippen to
More NBA: Redd-Gordon duel! The pair combined for 100 points (Redd 52, Gordon 48), but BG has the last laugh, as the Bulls beat the Bucks.
More NBA: Wild ending to the Wizards-Warriors game! Down 2, Arenas was fouled while shooting with virtually no time left (tenth of a second). Don Nelson argued the call so vociferously that he got T'ed up. Arenas sank all three shots – the two free throws and the technical – to earn the win for the Wizards. Don't blame the refs; blame Nellie.
I'm sorry: Forbes.com has Kevin McHale ranked No. 1 on the list of Best GMs in Sports. That's "McHale" and "No. 1" and "Best" in the same list. There are contrarian viewpoints (which are often appreciated) and then there is simply the ludicrous and unbelievable.
NFL Rumor Mania: Randy Moss to the Pats?! That's what ProFootballTalk is hearing (via the Boston Herald). I don't know what Belichick and Pioli are smoking this offseason, but whatever it is, I like it. They must REALLY want to re-ascend to Super Bowl champ status.
NFL Free Agency: Cowboys sign OL Leonard Davis (too bad he can't hold on field goals)... The Jags signed Dennis Northcutt, who gives them an extra presence at WR and as a return guy... Ahman Green is not Reggie Bush, but he is an improvement on Dom Davis in the Texans backfield (if he can stay healthy)...
NFL Draft: Brady Quinn has his (Pro) Day. Vikings coach Brad Childress is quoted, which should fuel speculation that Minnesota will take Quinn if he's there, looking for the Cutler/Leinart-style steal as the draft sequence hits double-digits. (Romeo Crennel was also quoted, but I cannot believe the Browns would take him that high.)
MLB: I got my copy of Baseball Prospectus 2007 over the weekend, and -- needless to say -- it's an absolute must-have, as it is every year. It's very possible that this edition is the best one yet. (And, it's worth noting, the price point makes it arguably the best value of any get-you-ready-for-the-season publication.)
Well, here's one reason David Wright is the new Derek Jeter: Where Jeter was a huge (and anatomically improbable) dick/pussy (call it a "Der-maphrodite") about A-Rod's arrival to the Yankees, refusing to give up his position at shortstop even though A-Rod is the superior fielder and it would have been in the best interests of the team (but, yeah, sure, what a Captain!), Mets 3B David Wright said that if A-Rod came to the Mets, Wright would gladly give up 3B to have him.
If the Mets weren't in New York and about to pass the Yankees as the best team in the city, I'm quite sure that the Mets have the trade pieces (not to mention the cash) to get A-Rod from the Yankees.
It's a trade that would benefit both teams. The Yankees would get the next Bernie Williams (Lastings Milledge) and one of the Mets' many starting pitching prospects; the Mets would get the best 3B in the league and instantly one of the Top 5 hitters in the NL. And consider Rodriguez, Wright and Delgado as 3-4-5 in the Mets lineup.
NASCAR: It didn't take long for F-1 refugee Juan Pablo Montoya to win his first NASCAR race – or get into his first controversy. He spun out teammate Scott Pruett in order to take the lead and win the race. Pruett is predictably pissed, but Montoya is such a huge star-in-the-making that his griping is likely to be eclipsed.
Soccer: I totally missed talking about Beckham's knee injury this morning. Here's the reality: MLS doesn't need Beckham on the field as much as they simply need him to be the visible spokesperson for MLS' legitimacy. Oh, and to sell Galaxy jerseys.
Finally: You know, my biggest problem (of many) with Billy Packer is that he brings absolutely no joy to it. He's so humorless. Now, it's totally possible that the anti-Packer – Dickie V – brings TOO much joy and not enough critical eye. That's why the best analyst in college basketball is Bill Raftery (and when he tag-teams with Jay Bilas, creates the best two-headed analyst team in any sport). Show how smart YOU are: Sign up for the Daily Quickie Readers group of ESPN.com's Tournament Challenge.
(Update: Properly, Packer is getting crucified for his blind defense of Henderson's foul. It's not as bad as his performance last year on Selection Sunday, ripping on the mid-majors -- and, in particular, George Mason -- but it's up there among his Greatest Hits. Great link here via Gunslingers, h/t Deadspin.)
Reminder! NYC readers, don't forget that this Wednesday is the latest Varsity Letters Reading Series event at Happy Ending on the Lower East Side, featuring... well, me, among others that include writers from Deadspin, WithLeather, TrueHoop, The Dugout and Fear and Faith in Flushing. Click on the link for details -- and participant interviews!