Saturday, March 03, 2007

Saturday 03/03 A.M. Quickie:
Clements, Salukis, Shaq, Matsuzaka, More!

UPDATE: Via TheBigLead, here are my official seeds, 1-4 (16 teams in all). Yes, I'm serious about So. Ill. as a 1-seed. I created the seeds very early Friday morning. Based on today's results, I want to make a few changes:

I'm not sure I'm ready to drop UCLA from a 1-seed, but they certainly aren't the top 1-seed anymore. (More importantly, when you watch a loss like that one -- even at a tough place like Washington -- it changes your bracket-picking perception of a team.)

Meanwhile, I'm nearly ready to vault Kansas into a 1-seed, though I'll wait until the Big 12 Tournament is over. I think Georgetown should be a 2-seed, short of an early loss in the Big East Tourney. Wisconsin stays a 2 after beating Michigan St. I need to devalue Virginia after they lost to West Virginia. Vandy ended any shot they had of cracking a 4-seed by getting thumped at Arkansas.

Very quickly this morning on the top storylines:

NFL: Free Agency Mania! CB Nate Clements signed the largest contract for a defensive player ever. (Funny: I didn't see "Urlacher" on the back of his jersey.) 8 year, $80 million (with $22M guaranteed). If nothing else, don't call the 49ers shy about upgrading.

(They also came close to signing Pro Bowl LB Adalius Thomas, who ended up going with the Pats. Given that the Pats usually don't do much spending in free agency, either they went against their usual blueprint to grab Thomas, or swayed him with the promise of a better chance at a Super Bowl ring than he'd get in San Francisco.)

Last NFL FA biggie: OG Eric Steinbach signed a 7Y/$49.5M deal with the Browns. Given Cleveland's history with high-profile offensive-line free-agent signings, you can expect Steinbach's season-ending injury any day now.

Is Jake Plummer retiring rather than being traded to the Bucs?

College Hoops: Southern Illinois wins 12th straight, heading into the brutal Mo Valley Conference Tournament semifinals tomorrow. They are No. 5 in the RPI right now, zeroing in on a lock as a 2-seed. Some (me) even have them slotted as a 1-seed.

(No, I'm not kidding: If they streak to a Mo Valley Tournament title, considering the quality of opponents they'll see in the semis and finals, I think they absolutely deserve a 1-seed. They won't get it, but they should.

See yesterday's A.M. Quickie post for a full preview of the weekend in college hoops. I'm settling in for an afternoon of conference-tournament title games. Bid THIS, bitch!

NBA: Shaq is coming on strong. Season-high 31 poins AND a season-high 15 rebounds leads the Heat over the Pistons. I thought the Heat were supposed to be d-u-n and the Pistons were supposed to have smooth sailing to the Eastern Conference title.

Meanwhile, the Sixers beat the Grizzlies in a battle of bottom-feeders, proving that Philly has no idea how to tank a season, while Memphis is expert at it. I hope they enjoy the Greg Oden Era (but will it be in Memphis or elsewhere?)

MLB Spring: The biggest headline? Matsuzaka makes his debut, and it was a solid one: 25 pitches (19 for strikes), 2 innings and zero runs allowed. I stand by the prediction I made the day he signed with the Red Sox: Matsuzaka is going to be the AL Cy Young winner.

Re-design: USA Today's Sports Section (online) has been a daily staple of my research and reading for years. They just re-launched as part of a larger USAToday.com redesign. Worth your time to check it out, because there's a lot of cool new features in there.

Any other big storylines today? Throw them out there (and discuss) in the comments. DON'T FORGET TO SIGN UP FOR THE "DAILY QUICKIE READERS" GROUP OF THE ESPN.COM TOURNAMENT CHALLENGE!

-- D.S.

13 comments:

ryan from boston,ma said...

OG Eric Steinbach signed a 7Y/$49.5M deal with the Browns.

Wrap him in bubble wrap now.

Ma4tt (the 4 is silent) said...

The Pats had a lot, lot, lot of talent in 2001. They've slowly been losing it, and they're at the point now where they *have* to sign big-name guys to continue to compete. I mean, they can't keep taking guys off the street and sticking them in their starting lineup... I think their playoff meltdowns the last two years have shown that.

Brian said...

How about first team to earn an automatic bid? Penn wins the Ivy.

thirdstringjd said...

Dan far be it for me to disagree with you about two things but:

1) The idea that the Patriots don't spend money is a misconception. Look at their numbers for the upcoming seasons - Tom Brady is the highest cap number player in the NFL, Richard Seymour is the third highest paid player at his position, Asante Samuel (w/ franchise tag) is the third highest paid player at his position, Roosevelt Colvin is the third highest paid player at his position and now Adalius Thomas will be in that list too.

Just because the Pats don't overpay for marginally above average talent doesn't mean they don't spend money. They just spend it wisely (enjoy that contract Niners).

2) Dice-K did not look good last night. I'm not sure if you watched the game or just read about it - but trust me as someone who watched it, he was not happy. First off he beat Boston College so let's not get carried away with the performance. His fastball was flat and he just didn't have the type of stuff that I think someone who wins the AL Cy Young would have to have.

I do think that having a college ump, and it being his first game of the spring had a large effect on how he pitched last night. But don't be fooled by the numbers, he has a long way to go before we're putting him as the ace of the Red Sox staff. Josh Beckett had a much better first spring training game than Dice-K.

oasiserfede said...

I was gonna say something clever about Dice-K, but thirdstringjd beat me to it....

Natsfan74 said...

I still think RPI is the most over-rated number in college sports that purely favors the mid majors. Southern Illinois is a perfect case for that.

They have played 2 ranked teams all season, beating Virginia Tech (unranked at the time) and losing to Indiana. They are only 2-1 on nuetral courts (lost to Arkansas), and 10-4 on the road. Going 15-0 at home is impressive, but they didn't really play anyone big at home. And playing home games against the MVC is a lot different than having Florida, Tennessee, Wisconsin, or UCLA visit for conference games.

If they win the MVC Conference Tourney, I could see them being a 3, or an outside shot at a 2. But they are definitely not a 1 Seed.

Cycledan said...

I was never a basketball fan until after college when I moved to Syracuse. The dumbest thing about basketball and I will even extend that to being the dumbest rule in any major sport is the lack of continuation in a penalty.

Basketball penalizes the team that gets fouled way too often. Syracuse just stole the ball from Villanova and had a breakaway basket except Villanova fouled from behind.

When I played rugby, the ref would hold his hand up to signal a foul but wouldn't call it until the advantage was lost. It is similar in hockey as well. In football, you can always reject a penalty.

Oh well. I don't suppose that is ever going to change.

Spartacus said...

Dan, maybe you can pass this along to the rest of the woefully uninformed media. The Memphis Grizzlies have an ironclad lease with the FedEx Forum and the city of Memphis that doesn't allow them to move without serious penalties until 2017 at the earliest. The team isn't moving to Vegas or anywhere else any time soon.

As Andy Dolich (President of Business Operations) explained it to me, the cost would be astronomical. Purchase the team including the local minority owners' share($300 million conservatively); buyout the lease ($250 million approx.); build a new arena ($400 million); assorted legal bills to accomplish all of that ($???). You're looking at nearly $1 billion to get all that accomplished -- that's a lot of cheddar, even for Vegas. The new owner would almost never be able to recoup the initial expense. Pass that along to Simmons (I already sent him an e-mail) and the rest of your contacts, if you would.

Dan Mega said...

SIU as a one seed? No. A 3 or 4 would work just fine.

jhawkjjm said...

Ok, watching the KU-Texas game today was great. What a fun game to watch, it was basically a tourney game. I love March. Texas at one point was shooting 11-13 from 3! 11 for 13! That's insane. Texas has provided fans 2 phenominal games this week.

Then Durant turned his ankle and you could almost feel the entire state of Texas, Bill Simmons, and all of Boston gasp. Unfortunately, the WWL has the story wrong in their game recap which will lead to the "KU only won cause Durant was hurt". KU was up 6 when he left the game, and was up 7 when he came back. That is not the reason KU won.

I honestly don't see how Durant wouldn't be the POY. Wow.

Tom said...

I'm sorry but if your name isn't Johan Santana then you're not going to be getting the AL Cy Young any time soon.

AWebb said...

FYI - Virginia didn't lose to West Virginia.

Sean said...

Sorry Dan, but Maryland is only a 3 seed if every team they play is from NC.There is no way they're above a 5.

SIU is also pushing the envelope. The winner of the Big XII gets that 4th spot