Thursday, March 01, 2007

Thursday 03/01 A.M. Quickie:
It's March! It's March! It's March!

March 1. That means March is here. Which means that we've entered March Madness. Which means that even the casual college basketball fan begins to pay a little more attention to the regular-season finale games and the conference tournaments (small, "Mid" and big), all in the hopes of gleaning that extra bit of insight that will help you pick an office-pool bracket that much smarter (or luckier) than the rest of us.

The debates over 1-seeds vs. 2-seeds is boring to me. First of all, being a 1 is no guarantee of making the Final Four, let alone winning the title. The most amazing part of last year wasn't George Mason's Cinderella run (and, no, it wasn't Florida's title run); no, I believe it ushered in a new era of parity and unpredictability.

So, for the time being, who's a 1-seed (or a 2-, 3- or 4-seed) is totally irrelevant. (5-seed? Maybe. But only because it's the "dreaded" seeding spot.)

The relevant question is: Who's in and who's out? Who's on the bubble and who's a lock? Which teams need strong conference-tourney showings? And, in the Comments, I'd love to get your picks for the biggest Bubblers – the teams we should be watching over the next 10 days.

(And not those teams that are going to eke their way in, only to lose in the first round in embarrassing, "What-was-all-the-fuss-about" fashion. Otherwise known, annually, as "The Big Ten's 5th and 6th bids. No: The best Bubblers are the ones who might actually have the stuff to win a game or two.)

It's worth a hat tip to ESPN.com college hoops editor Andy Glockner, who, with the change of month, has upgraded his "Drive to 65" Bubble Watch to daily. (Shanoff Trivia: Who knew that very early in my career, I was the college basketball editor at ESPN.com, complete with creating the very first edition of a "Bubble Watch?" I'm hard-pressed to remember a stretch of time that I worked harder, longer or more ludicrously than March 1997.*)

Do I sound immersed enough? Good. It's March. Finally.

PS: The Bracket Project is one of my new favorite Web sites. Now THAT is a service!

More storylines we'll be talking about today:

Texas tops Texas A&M in 2OT, behind Durant's 30 and 16 (in what was likely his final home game). The loss may have cost the Aggies any shot they had of being a No. 1 seed (if they, say, won the Big 12 Tournament) and may have boosted Texas beyond contention for the dreaded No. 5 seed.

I am convinced that the Selection committee will reveal a bracket that has Texas and Ohio State on a collision course to meet. (At least, they'd be smart to have that.) Are UT's freshmen just naive enough for a deep Tourney run?

(Meanwhile, I don't mean to overlook A&M's Acie Law. Sure, he's a first-team All-American, but what does it say that in this Year of Durant, he can present a legitimate alternative for Big 12 Player of the Year? I'm not saying Durant won't win it, but just that there's a fair debate. And that says a lot about Law. Wow: Texas A&M is going to just tilt so many pool sheets.)

Maryland wins at Duke, sweeps Duke: Tell me again how Duke was ranked No. 14 and Maryland was UNRANKED? (KenPom has the Terps now ranked at No. 11 in his RPI.) This Maryland team is scary in its unpredictability. Add them to my "How Far Do THEY Go?" List of Mystery.

It's been a sick year for freshmen, and not just Durant: Did anyone else catch highlights of Villanova's Scottie Reynolds, who had 40 in Nova's win over UConn? (Or how about Maryland freshman PG "General" Greivis Vasquez, with 13 points, 12 assists and 9 rebounds?)

Three words: Stephane. Lasme. Rules.

Lovie Smith gets his deal: It took the Bears a little while, but I hope Lovie thinks it was worth it. 4 years, $5.5 million a year? Seems reasonable for a Super Bowl coach, even if history suggests the Bears won't make the Super Bowl again during these next four years.

Ravens cut Jamal Lewis: Remember when he was THE running back?

NFL Free Agency starts: Rumors, innuendo, salary cap. Whee!

Randy Moss to Green Bay for Aaron Rodgers? I don't know why the Raiders would do this, except that Rodgers is better than any QB that Oakland could either (a) draft or (b) get in free agency, to pair with taking WR Calvin Johnson with the No. 1 overall pick. (Tip-off: PFT)

Mark Cuban isn't going to buy the Cubs. Too bad.

Roids Scandal: Well what did you EXPECT that Gary Mathews Jr would say? "You got me! I'm all about the steroids!"

Bonds gets death threats: Unsurprising, unfortunately. Maybe the blog Leave The Man Alone can take this up as a signature effort.

Responses to Murray Chass: I felt more than a little outrage at Chass' anti-stats column from Tuesday in the New York Times. (What kind of self-respecting baseball columnist doesn't even have a smidgen of curiosity about statistics?) Baseball Prospectus' talented Nate Silver has a thoughtful response, which is more than Chass deserves. That's why there's Fire Joe Morgan. And here's Seth Mnookin on Chass, too.

NBA Last Night: Did the Suns really lose to the Sixers? Philly must really not want Oden or Durant... The Wizards are sinking (and so is Arenas); what the hell is it about my college and pro teams right now?... AI (34 points) and Melo (23) flash why the West should fear the Nuggets in the playoffs if the pair get it together.

NBA Injury Watch: This is touchy for me, because Wade and Livingston were my fantasy NBA backcourt (sigh) and I've gone, in one week, from contender to obliterated, but here's an interesting theory from Brooks.

Cedric Maxwell apologized for his sexist remarks against ref Violet Palmer. He then expressed surprise at the "firestorm" he created. Seriously: What did he expect to have happen?

Arena League season kicks off tonight, most notably with its new partnership/ownership with ESPN. I remain convinced that this move is what takes AFL from "growth sport" (and you're foolish if you mock it, if you look at the fan and revenue growth) to the top of the "niche" sport pile, just behind NASCAR and NBA.

For those coming in late, I argue that the NBA has become a "niche" sport, just like NASCAR. That's not an insult by any stretch. Both are HUGE niche sports, but niche sports all the same. There are only three truly "national" sports: NFL, Baseball and College Football (with college hoops enjoying a halo effect from CFB). Among niche sports, there is the NBA and NASCAR on one tier; then PGA, tennis and now Arena League; then NHL. AFL is going to zip past NHL (if it hasn't already).

I might break out a discussion of Arena League later in its own post. I'd be curious for your take on it.

Speaking of NASCAR, I don't know what "Car of Tomorrow" means, but it sure sounds pretty cool. Drivers are iffy on it, as you'd expect them to be. Of course, NASCAR teams also apparently cheat more pervasively than any other sport, including the NFL, so there you go.

Finally, I'm late on this, but I missed the Colbert Report on Tuesday night, but caught the replay last night. And not only did he name-check the Toronto Raptors, he put them on his "On Notice!" list. But then he took it a step further! And he put them on his "Dead to Me!" list. For NBA fans, this is a bit ironic, given that the Raptors are the breakthrough success of the year.

-- D.S.

* - Then there was 1999, when I created and wrote the "Dance at a Glance" column for SI.com. You might notice that it's quite Quickie-ish, particularly if you peek through the archive on the lower right. It was a critical moment in my development of a "short-form-content" philosophy that would later manifest itself most purely in the Quickie.)

106 comments:

Danielle said...

Best sports month of the year!! Or at least it's tied with October for Baseball and January for Football.

Mikepcfl said...

Thanks Dan that someone else could notice how Duke was ranked #14 and Maryland was unranked by the coaches. Maybe 'Dukie" V was running the rankings. I just love watching Maryland beat Duke at Cameron. It is becoming one of my yearly traditions.

Michael said...

It is no suprise that the Wizard and particularly Hibachi aren't doing well. As a team they are not the same without Antawn. He is consistently one of the best shooting threats and double double guys in the game and never gets the national credit he deserves. Without having another great scoring threat (sorry Butler but it isn't you)Gilbert is being guarded and played way to hard for him to put up the same numbers he does when Jamison is in the game.
How many games do the Heat have to win without Flash before people start to realize that they are still a bball team that can play .500 ball and hang out in the cellar of the east?

Luke Bell said...

I say October is better. NFL is just getting going, and MLB has the playoffs. March is only great because of the madness, which is made even greater because there is nothing else to watch. Spring training games? NBA? Nascar? Bah!

Todd Ching said...

Maryland does seem to be heading in the right direction after some bumps early on. Vasquez really has been huge for them taking on more responsibility. They're still a little too inconsistent (Mike Jones and DJ Strawberry seem to be really streaky), but they're certainly headed in the right direction. They're 7-5 in road/neutral games though (16-2 at home), so it'll be interesting to see how they do in the tourney.

Also, Maryland is ranked 24 in the AP I think...

Daddy Rosee said...

Find me one person who cares about Arena football.

Richard said...

Massive bubbler DS, is your Final Four pick Georgia Tech.

Wins over other bubblers Perdue, Georgia, Florida State and Clemson help the cause as do wins over Duke and Memphis.

rafael said...

When I watch AFL (very rarely, though), I just can't shake the feeling that I'm watching the bottom of the barrel as far as football talent. Americans are easily amused, so that helps explain why it is popular (wow! they can knock each other over walls!) To me, it just doesn't seem skilled. Glorified backyard football is all. meh
Dan, you're so eager to bury hockey. geez

Texas will not get past out of the first weekend. That team is Durant or nothing. As a frosh, I don't think he'll have the mental fortitude to carry his team.

I think people felt ashamed when Duke fell from the rankings. They were top 15 after only 3-4 games weren't they? Overcompensation.
However, I bet Duke still gets to the S16...which would be a success this year.

Jason said...

If you didn't see Texas-Texas A&M last night, what the hell were you doing? GREAT GAME...and I'm convinced Texas A&M is going deep now even with the loss.

Mid-majors to definitely watch: UNLV is 1, but I constantly say them. I also like Old Dominion a lot, but I'm not sure they're going anywhere this moment. Xavier's getting hot right now and they pulled an elite 8 run out of nowhere a few years ago.

Under the radar high-majors worth considering to at least the Sweet 16: Texas Tech might be able to get to the Sweet 16 if they get in. Purdue had the hardest Big 10 schedule (played Ohio State and Wisconsin) and are at 8-7

Jason said...

And Dan, Maryland was like 12 going into last night. That's why UNC fell from 2 to 3 with the loss.

The ACC is crazy loaded this year.

jhawkjjm said...

Acie Law will probably win Big 12 player of the year. Durant will win freshman of the year. That game last night was fantastic! And not just because I'm a KU alum and KU now can win the conference outright (and a 1 seed?) with a win at home against Texas Saturday.

Jon said...

The rankings are completely flawed especially this season it seems. Maryland not being ranked, UNLV with an rpi of 12 and not being ranked, Duke almost jumping back into the top 15 the weak after they were knocked out...do the voters actually watch games?

Scottie Reynolds was sick last night. Scored 40 and he fouled out, so no end game free throws included in that 40. This Villanova team could cause some problems in the brackets if he keeps playing this way.

Acie Law with the ball and up by 3 should be an automatic foul before he tries to tie the game because if you give him that three he will tie the game.

Andy said...

Bubble teams to watch? I'm not really sure. I haven't paid a lot of attention to CBB this year. All I know is that my Northern Iowa Panthers need to win the MVC Tourney to get in. Honestly, what the heck happened to them?

Honestly, I have lost a little respect for Lovie Smith. I don't think that he should get too greedy. Has he done a fantastic job? Absolutely. But he's also a Christian and Christians shouldn't really go around demanding more money like that.

Jamal Lewis may not have been very good this year, but he was so freakign steady on my FFL. I never benched him because he consistantly gave me 20 points (we have a high scoring league). When I did bench him, it was to gamble in the championship and it cost me the title. He's not great, but he's steady.

Mark Cuban needs to reconsider. PLEASE MARK!!!

Daddy Rosee said...

If Dan tries to start an AFL thread I say we only talk about hockey on it. Seriously why does he hate hockey so much?

From Sports unleashed.....
"Despite criticisms for low TV ratings and empty seats, the NHL posted an attendance record for the month of January this year. 3,193,093 total fans in the 187 games played averages out to just over 17,000, or 92.3% capacity crowds. Who said hockey was dying? Now, if they could just fix that scheduling and get on a TV channel we’ve heard of…"

Up yours Dan

Patriots64 said...

NHL >>> Arena Football but I am Canadian so what do I know!

April is 2nd only to October in my books as a Sports month. Technically the NCAA Championship game is in April plus The Masters and NFL Draft. Also NHL/NBA playoffs first round, MLB begins and everyone figures they have the best fantasy baseball team.

Gary said...

If ESPN puts it's arena football games in High Def, I'm hooked. I have ESPN and ESPN2 HD at my house, and I'll watch any football, basketball or baseball game if it's offered in High Def, it's just that much more fun to watch!

Arena football isn't all bad...but I'd rather see canadian football, at least there is some semblance of being "real" football involved.

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

MARCH IS HERE!!! Best things about March:
1.) My birthday
2.) March Madness
3.) St. Patrick's Day

WOW...I could seriously put any of those #1...but since I in fact kick ass, I will leave my bday #1.

PS...Sure I'm an A-10 homer, but Stephane Lasme from UMass is a STUD. 4th Triple Double this year (3rd time i think that that he has had 10+ blocks in a game).

Brian in Oxford said...

I think March is the best BECAUSE of all the baseball games. You get the optimism of spring training to go with the Madness of the NCAAs. Contrast that to later months, when you know your team officially sucks. And in theory, you could care about NBA and NHL teams closing in on playoffs, although that supports May as a great sports month, more.

I threw 46 down one night at Gampel, so 40 for that 'Nova guy doesn't impress. (Of course, my 46 were in a bunch of one-on-one games after we noticed nobody stopping us from playing on the court.)

Wasn't Thad still coaching Xavier during their run a few years ago?

I gotta start checking out the ESPN360 stuff...are they really streaming low-major tourney games live all day?

Lastly, that bracket website was kinda cool. I used to have a client that did the same thing for financial advisers' stock picks, so it's good to see the same concept put to better use here!

Andy said...

@daddy rosee

Don't take offense to this, but hockey is just not that entertaining, especially if you're not from a hockey state. Now I like just about every sport, but hockey is just not there for me. You need to come from a hockey state and most states aren't like that. I'm from Iowa. There's no hockey in Iowa. No one in Iowa likes hockey. I now live in Minnesota. Everyone here loves it.

It's just the culture. Dan comes from.....I can't remember. But he went to school in Chicago, where there isn't much hockey besides the Black Hawks, if you consider that hockey. He lives in DC right? Hockey's not real big around there. It's just not a popular sport.

I love golf. I would love Dan to talk about professional golf more. Did he even mention that Stenson beat Ogilvy in the match play tourney this weekend? No. You don't hear me bitching. It's Dan's blog. He can talk about whatever he wants. If it wants to talk about the Arena Football League, that's his choice. Don't get pissed at him for it.

Gary said...

Ah, the UConn tradition of sneaking onto Gampel's floor and playing pickup games at 3am on a friday night while hammered...those were the days

Jason said...

I don't say this often because DS doesn't talk about it but I love hockey and I love my NJ Devils. Them stopping Ovechkin in DC on Sunday was my thrill for February.

Repeat after me, Dan. Do not (and I mean DO NOT) write about Arena Football. NO ONE gives a shit.

Jon said...

Love the name to know part on your old SI.com page....Quin Snyder. What a great coach he was....

Gary said...

rev scott: I am also a big A-10 fan...how cool is it that they are having their conference tourney in Atlantic City this year? Or is that Pathetic? I can't decide yet.

I think it'll be interesting to see if UMass and Xavier match up in the tourney. Also, lets not forget the Rams...Fordham and URI are both potential spoilers in that tourney.

IF anyone besides Xavier wins the A-10, that could take an at-large from somewhere else...so that's one bubble possibly burst!

Dave said...

People don't hate hockey. People just don't care. Unless you have a team or you're fortunate enough to attend the games, there's no other reason to care. Even if the NHL was on a real channel, I'm not sure how much it would help. The excitement, speed, and skill of the sport just don't translate to TV. Nor do most potential fans have the personal experience of knowing the difficulty of just skating at that level, much less playing hockey (I think soccer has this problem to a degree as well. Most of the time when you watch a match on TV you hardly ever get to see the amazing foot work that the professionals are accomplishing the whole time they are out there.)

There are no casual hockey fans. I'm pretty sure that's the definition of a niche sport. As opposed to NFL, MLB, CFB in which it's easy to keep up casually "around the water cooler."

I'd argue the same thing for the AFL as for hockey. If it manages to become a feeder league/minor league for the NFL, hard core fans will become more interested. I'm sure its exciting in the stands and to a certain degree on tv (football works better on TV then hockey), but unless you have a team to root for, no one is sitting down to watch a game between the Desperado's and the Dragons just because.

Jason said...

For the other A10ers: I'm not sure Atlantic City is the place to go. It would be cool if there were A10 schools in New Jersey but to me it should be held in either Philly, Cincinnti, DC, or NYC every year. I like the idea of at least one of the schools actually playing host.

Daddy Rosee said...

@andy, yeah but he doesn't knock golf. He's only negative towards hockey and it pisses me off. He says nobody cares about it but there are several people on this site who care about it.

And don't tell me it's not entertaining, I mean you watch golf, golf! There's more action in a minute of a hockey game then in a year of golf. Golf!!!

Gary said...

I'm not trying to be rude, but I'm sure there are some great hockey blogs out there...this one is more of a college football/college basketball blog...with other stuff sprinkled in. If you don't like those sports, that's fine in my book, but that's what the majority of people here are talking about for the majority of the time...so stop trying to push hockey on people who don't care to talk about it

kirby077 said...

Dan, I dare you to name one AFL player. I don't think one person on this chat can name one without googling it.

The NHL's salary cap went from $42 million last year to $44 million this year and is reported to go up to between $48 to $52 million next year. And remember, these figures are a percentage of revenue.

The AFL would kill to have $7-8 million/year players.

Brian in Oxford said...

The actual final usually *is* in April, but it doesn't carry the same overall excitement as having the ability to switch among the games in the early rounds.

As long as arena football players make squat for their paychecks, fans will enjoy going to games....tickets will be cheap, and the players will be like "one of them". The problem comes when you can't just decide last-second to spend only $15 a seat, because they've been priced out to a bunch of corporations to fund million-dollar players.

Hockey suffers in that the average person just can't re-create it in their backyard. Hell, even for nascar, people can drive like maniacs on an abandoned highway in their ford escort. And as the media looks down on cold-weather areas, hockey is less embraced, rather than appreciated as it is even further north.

rafael said...

actually, if you go back through the weeks..you'll find a very healthy number of hockey fans.

Dan's M.O. has always been to jump on the latest thing and run with it as the 'best ever'. Nothing wrong with that. But...AFL? Some of you had high hopes for the XFL..didn't you? admit it!

Most people are not sports fans..they are basketball fans, or football fans, or hockey fans, etc.
Sports Fans, that rare beast, can watch, learn, appreciate, and enjoy all sports.
Football, baseball, hockey, soccer, cricket, curling, golf...i like them all and can follow them well.
I admit, I've even watched a nascar race this year (cmon Montoya, start representing Latinos better....wait..he's not from Spain is he?)

Anyways, the AFL? meh. even the names of the teams just smack of backyard lameness.

Jason said...

On why not to take Arena Football seriously: they have a team in Grand Rapids.

I mean COME ON, Shanoff.

I'd so much rather a post about Ryan Smyth's trade to the Islanders over a piece about the upcoming showdown between two random teams noone but an AFL fan has ever heard of or cares about.

CMFost said...

Duke in Basketball and Notre Dame in football are always going to be overrated in the polls. No matter what you do it is there name that gets them the recognition.

Dave said...

Let's put it this way regarding the AFL. I've been to local minor league baseball games and baseball, my friends, is about as boring as it gets.

The point is, if you can go see a sporting event on a whim with your buddies for $10, sometimes you go just for the fun of it.

Drink specials help. Thirsty Thursdays with $1 draft beers might have been the best minor league promotion I ever went to.

Mikepcfl said...

I'm definitely not a big fan of hockey, but even I think the NHL should be covered here alot more than the AFL. Those who do follow the NHL are passionate and that makes up for their lack of numbers. And I mean that as a compliment. Leave the AFL to Sportscenter because I know ESPN will ram it down our throats like everything else they cover.

Andy said...

@daddy rosee
That is the point of what I'm saying though. Is golf exciting from the perspective you're talking about? Probably not. But as a golfer, and there are MANY more golfers and hockey players, I understand that huge amount of skill those guys have, which makes it exciting for me. There are more golf fans than hockey because golf is more widely played by the population than hockey, which explains why no one watches hockey.
To me, all I see is people skating around when I watch hockey because I can't keep track of the puck. I might as well watch figure skating if I want that. At least they do spins and have music playing.

Patriots64 said...

@ Rafael - Montoya is from Columbia.

I agree, I am a sports fan and will watch anything sports related preferably top level not minor leagues.

Anyone know what the average AFL salary is?

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

The A-10 tourney is great, but I am in the minority. Unless it's in Dayton (2 times, record crowds...mainly b/c Dayton is a big basketball town and UD got to the finals one year) and Cincinnati (also surprisingly a big basketball town...when you consider they have the reds and bengals). Even when it was in Philly, it got terrible attendence numbers. Atlantic City will be ok I think...but nothing like it was in Dayton and Cincinnati. But that was too much of an advantage to UD and Xavier.

Gary said...

I think the A-10 should hold their tourney earlier, they wouldn't have to compete with the major conferences for crowds or TV numbers.

Its too bad that the A-10 has fallen so far...I think in 1998 or 1999 the A-10 had 6 teams in the tourney...how quick a fall from grace can occur

CMFost said...

Here is a bubble team that no one talks about but if they do not win there conference tourney they do not get in

Jason said...

Don't forget, Gary...in 2004, the A10 had 4 teams in, 1 of which was a 1 seed and 2 Elite 8 teams.

It's amazing how quickly that came to an end.

Matt T said...

The SEC tournament is key for a few bubblers. RIght now 4 of the 6 teams in the SEC West can finish 1st all the way down to 5th or 6th.

The East has UF, Vandy, UT as locks and probably UK as a lock especially after beating UGA last night (dammit). I'm hoping for a UGA win this weekend against UT, and a game or two in the tourney. Even though they lost their 2nd leading scorer two weeks ago. I'm hoping they can pull a Syracuse from last year and just win in.

Jason said...

And in 1998, they had 6 teams in PLUS future members Charlotte and St. Louis.

Again, amazing how quickly this fell apart.

eric said...

I don't know why you say Maryland is streaky like its a bad thing. They have no losing streaks longer than 2 games. And they have winning streaks of 8, 5, and 6 games. So why the negativity?

As for DJ/Mike Jones, again check some facts before calling them streaky. DJ has scored in double figures in 8 straight games (and 17 of the last 19). Likewise, MJ has 6 of the last 7.

As a shooter, MJ can get hot and cold just like anyone else, esp. 2-guards. Nothing new there.

Ken Dynamo said...

yeah - AFL is at NBDL level dude. that is one of your worst calls yet.

when i was in high school i was able to score 10th row 50 yard line seats at continental airlines arena back when the New Jersey Red Dogs were in exsistence. i didnt know one player on either team nor had i seen an AFL game before that time, but the game was full of exciting plays and big hits. it went into overtime and a total of 100+ pts were scored. After winning, several red dogs went into the crowd to celebrate and we all high fived.

this was easily one of the top fan experiences i have ever had. i say this because i have no seen an AFL game since and dont care if i do or not. the AFL is a side show, not a sport.

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

The A-10 is unlike any other league in college basketball. You have to top of the league being major teams/big budgets and the lower teams being mid-majors (i hate that word anyway).

Big Teams
Dayton, George Washington, UMass, St. Joseph's, St. Louis, Temple, Xavier.

Smaller Teams
Duquesne, Fordham, LaSalle, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure

Limbo Teams
Charlotte and Richmond

I think the A-10 is just as good, if not better than the MVC. The reason the MVC is good is b/c the teams beat teams from "power conferences" at the very beginning of the season and boost their RPI. Then, they just beat up on themselves and keep going up despite losses b/c they are losing "to good teams." The A-10 is the same way...the big schools beat teams from "the major major conferences" and then they beat up on each other in the league. Creighton beat Xavier...but then lost to Dayton. St. Louis lost to Southern Illinois...but then beat Missouri State.

The A-10 gets a bad rap b/c of the lower teams...when in retrospect, are not THAT bad.

Biebs said...

I know Tony Gaziani is in the AFL without looking it up, and I think either Browning Nagle or Glenn Foley was in the league. I'd venture to guess Browning Nagle, but it was some crappy Jets QB from the 90s.

That being said. Good lord, Arena Football, I can't imagine caring less about a sport, it's equivalant to Rodeo, the new lacrosse league, and something else I don't care about (College Volleyball, I guess).

Biebs said...

I just looked it up on wikipedia.
Ha. Turns out both Browning Nagle AND Glenn Foley were in the AFL.

The Arena Football League, where shitty Jets QBs go to pasture.

I did want to get an Iowa Barnstormers jersey though.

Jason said...

The problem with the A10 though is that even some of those major teams don't play anyone. GW *consistently* has one of the worst NC schedules in DI. I remember there was a near riot on campus last year when we were given an 8 seed. I only shrugged and said "that's what happens when you play such luminaries as Kennesaw State." It's kind of frustrating considering they do it every damn year.

If any conference has a real claim for hanging with the Big 6 it's the Mountain West. They've got the only school that's not from the Big 6 that's won a NC in the last 20 years, plus a handful of solid schools and the ability to consistently compete with the other conferences. BYU and UNLV are very, very good schools.

As for the MVC, I'll put them up there if they keep the momentum from last year going into next year. If they get a team to the final four, then we'll talk.

B_Washington said...

Gotta agree, people taking pot-shots at hockey like it's soccer (and that's a bad thing for both sports).

Everyone points to the NHL's low Neilson ratings as a sign (excuse) of the lack of NHL success, but they don't look at attendance, merchandise, and revenue (the real indicators of success). No one points to the NBA's low Neilson ratings as a sign of the NBA's insignificance.

I agree we start an AFL thread, I will chat hockey on it too. I would much rather talk about Ryan Smiths trade, Joe Sakic and Marty Turco's, or Kid Sid's rise to prominance than Bon Jovi's team.

Brian in Oxford said...

Well, one ex-Jets QB ended up on the NFL Today....

What's Ray Lucas up to these days?

I'd like to see the PGA Tour, at the end of the year, like November, when they're doing those faux tournaments, have a mini-golf tournament. "Here's Tiger trying to get through the windmill...."

How would that NOT be fun? At least as fun as the Skins game.

"Ooohhhh! Michelle Wie just wrapped her putter around Abe Lincoln!"

Hey, if the Big East is going to keep 16 teams, and also scrap their scheduling format now (it was locked in by TV)....then why not 4 divisions of 4. You can do home-and-home with the same 3 teams each year, and then play each of the other 12 once. 18 league games isn't hideous.

In its post-Whalers hangover, Hartford had the Connecticut Coyotes. $10 bucks got you end zone corner seats. The most fun was calling out one of the chain gang who looked like Roosevelt Grier.

Dave said...

Kid Sid? Is he the Voodoo's new starting QB?

verbal97 said...

@Brian

My aunt is on the LPGA tour and she says that she would never play mini golf until she retires, because the mini golf carpet will screw with her putting. That's what she says anyway. My parents think it's because she wouldn't want to lose to one of us in mini golf and have to hear about it.

Daddy Rosee said...

Lets go Voodoo, lets go Voodoo

Cycledan said...

Brian in Oxford, I like your idea of 4 divisions in the BE. The expanded BE is looking for the correct way to handle its teams.

On another note, I have seen the Arena Football League Dragons and also the NHL Islanders at Nassau colliseum. I have a friend who arranges a large group to go to one hockey and one AFL game each year. I am not a fan of either but I did go to the hockey game this year. I decided not to go to the AFL game. It is not cheap either. If it was $10/ticket I may have gone.

Most hockey fans I know are passionate about their hockey. Like Dave said, there aren't that many casual fans. I will watch some of the NHL playoffs but not too many regular season games and that is typical of a non-fan. Hockey is a lot of fun in person. TV doesn't seem to do hockey justice. While football and baseball are better in many ways on TV, hockey isn't. Fox tried adding graphics to the puck on TV. I liked it actually but all the serious hockey fans hated it.

People watch sports that they play which is why golf is popular. So many people play it and like to watch the pros. For a couple of years I started playing golf and I watched it on TV. Now that I don't play at all anymore, I never watch it.

The one sport (if you can call it that) that is really dying in horse racing. The track used to be the only place a gambler could make a legal wager. All the gamblers my age (40) go to casinos. I seriously don't know one person who cares about horse racing. The number of race tracks keeps going down. In some ways, racing around a track with horses has been replaced by racing around a track with a stock car. It seems about time as well.

Dan Mega said...

verbal- I have heard that as well. It must be why my putting skills suck. I can drive just fine but once I get near the hole, forget it.

Jason said...

besides horse racing, I'd say boxing is pretty much dying due to a lack of heavyweights and tons of competition from mixed martial arts.

Sheldiz said...

Scottie Reynolds was ridiculous last night. If the 'cats can get in as a 8 or 9 seed, they could stir up some trouble in the tournament (and i can't freaking wait). If we lose to the eventual tournament champion for the third year in a row....

Brian in Oxford said...

Isn't carpet putting EASIER? There are some mini-golf courses that have pretty good undulating greens, but obviously, most are just concrete slabs with a rug on them. I'm always amused when the course puts in "rough" by using an extended welcome mat.

If I can work up the energy around 10:30 tonight, I may go play hockey. Anyone playing arena football tonight? Perhaps there'll be stories to swap.

I glanced past a headline the other day, and it suggested that they're only just now *starting* to switch nascar to unleaded gas? Is that for real? I wonder what percentage of oil/gas dependence is spent on THAT! (I'm not suggesting 10% by any means, just curious if it seems like as big a waste of a natural resource as it looks.)

How about natural gas cars racing, instead? :)

verbal97 said...

...or electric cars.

Gary said...

I had nightmares about Scotty Reynolds last night.

UConn is bad this year, but the last two games they played, they played their asses off and blew it at home. They missed 23 Free Throws last night...it was insane

Johnathan said...

The problem with playing mini golf and playing real golf is that mini golf will mess with the speed of the putts when you get back onto an actual green

thirdstringjd said...

DS - I am outraged at this mornings post. I'm not sure if someone else mentioned it on the comments (at work not reading 60 comments) but how do you not mention Stephane Lasme's performance last night?

It's on the main page of ESPN, and AOL Fanhouse.

For those who don't know Lasme is the center at UMass (my alma mater) and he recorded his FOURTH triple double of the season last night (17 pts, 10 boards, 10 blocks) to become only the third player EVER to do that.

Also he's the first ever center to do it - more than Shaq, David Robinson, Hakeem.

Thought that deserved at least some mention. If it had happened to Joakim Noah you'd have it be the lead item for a week.

Gary said...

unfortunately, lasme dismantled my Rhody Rams with one of those triple doubles!

The boy can leap...and Freeman ain't half bad either.

Can this be the year UMass returns to the dance? Is it true they haven't been since 1996? Seems like too long for a once proud program to be left out of the dance

Confirmation on this assertion would be useful

Jason said...

gary, UMass doesn't have much of a shot at an at-large this year. That said, Xavier's virtually assured of an at-large at this point so long as they don't go out early in the tourney. Once they're assured they might just let their finals opponent in.

The Minutmen are finally starting to recover from the post Marcus Camby era and that's good for the A10 in general.

Hawkins said...

AFL over the NHL?

No.

AFL will suffer on ESPN just like anything else in the NBA and Baseball's way.

Hockey at least had the luxury of passionate in-studio hosts like Bucci and Barry Melrose. The AFL will have NFL guys looking for something to do.

AFL is the kind of think the old ESPN2 would have on, it'll never be mainstream because we already have the best football in the country in the NFL

Shawn said...

Can anyone even name 5 AFL players? How about two coaches? Even the most casual sports fans can name at least 10 current NHL stars. I say that the AFL is on the same level as pre-Beckham MLS, but even then i'm sure most people can name 10 mls players not married to posh spice

chitown italian said...

I hope Cuban is just playing with the public. The Cubs need true ownership not a newspaper conglomerate.

Bring on Spring Training and the Brackets!

Gary said...

First, I think Jon Grudens brother is a coach of an AFL team.

Second, I'd be hard pressed to name 10 hockey players that aren't on the Bruins.

Seriously, I would have trouble with it.

Not saying that means the AFL is more popular, I'm not claiming that, I just think some people overestimate the NHLs popularity to the casual sports fan.

I think it's the lack of Americans in the NHL that make it tough to follow. IMO

Jason said...

UMass's numbers for the curious (prior to last night's game):

21-7
11-3 in conference
RPI of 58
NC SOS of 153
11-5 in road/neutral games
8-2 in last 10
7-4 against RPI top 100, 1-4 against RPI top 50.

That said, I hope they get the auto bid (which would probably give them a 13 or 14) because I think they're capable of a first round upset.

Kevin said...

Slate published an article a while ago that compared NASCAR's fuel use to that of the rest of the country. I can't find the article, but all of the NASCAR events in a year (races, qualifying, test, etc.) add up to the total pollution equivalent of only several seconds of the pollutuon caused by the rest of the contry. In other words, stopping NASCAR would make an immeasurably small difference in pollution.

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

@thirdstringjd

lasme was mentioned by me earlier...and i don't think UMass is an at large.

Todd Ching said...

Lasme is really nice, but it's hard to give UMASS too much credit since they really haven't beaten anyone. They're 1-4 against the top 50 RPI, and their SOS is an abysmal 139.

Because UMASS is on the wrong side of the bubble, you can't blame Dan for not mentioning Lasme more.

AtownTim said...

The hockey fans are proving Shanoff's point about the NHL being a niche sport. As a "casual hockey fan," as I don't care about hockey unless the Flyers are competitive and it is the playoffs, I couldn't name 10 other hockey players in the league that weren't in NHL 95 for the Sega Genesis.

The AFL is the same deal. I know some of the players because I played their video game and because Jaworski and Bon Jovi are the main people involved with the Philadelphia Soul. If they are good, Philly will care and they will have passionate fans. Don't bemoan the fact you don't get love from a guy who doesn't like hockey. As a former LAX player I don't get updates on the Philadelphia Wings when I come here...(which has just as passionate fans as any sport mind you).

And the Villanova love is refreshing. They are going to be sick next year since they will only lose 2-3 players.

Daddy Rosee said...

I'm a UMASS Alum as well, went there from 94-98 aka the glory years. Glad to hear they are on the rise.

@ Gary; I know you've heard of; Jagr, Crosby, Thorton, Hasek, Sakic, Federov, Kariya, Broduer, Sundin, Modano and Forsberg.

Todd Ching said...

I was friends with one of Dave Baker's (AFL commish) sons in high school, so I'd love to see the Arena League do well. But that being said, I don't think the AFL is even close to on par with the NHL right now.

The NHL may be "niche", but it does have a pretty devout following with a lot of hardcore fans. I don't think anyone here can claim they're a "harcore fan" of the AFL, right?

Brian in Oxford said...

Crosby mighta only been 7 when NHL '95 came out.

I was curious how measurable the gas spent on Nascar was. Not sure the "it's only a little" is a good argument, but it's nice to see it quantified.

I'm surprised that more rugged sports like lacrosse or rugby don't get more play. The only time I ever find lacrosse is memorial day weekend, and it's always good.

ESPN was better when they showed little bits of lots of sports, instead of tons of just one or two. (My typical "football and poker network" barb.)

Brian in Oxford said...

...and of course, the AWA action at 4 pm after I got home from school. Ric Flair, woooo!

Luke Bell said...

It's a small drop of polution compared to the rest of the country, but you have to keep in mind that Nascar (or any auto race) isn't a necessity. The rest of the country isn't driving for the entertainment of it--they are driving to go somewhere that isn't a big circle. Besides, they are using LEADED gas? Cripes.

When you compare the number of murders in any major metropolitan area to the rest of the country, it probably is a small percentage too. I guess that means we don't need to worry about fixing that problem either.

Sheldiz said...

re: brian in oxford/lacrosse getting airtime

i'm hoping MASN starts picking up more lacrosse games as we get more into spring. seems like if there's any station that could support lax games, it would be the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

Jason said...

Ric Flair reference = obligatory "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Daddy Rosee: The unfortunate thing about UMass' rise from the pit of awful they've been in the last few years is that it's partially a product of the absolute collapse of the A10. As of right now, one could make the argument that the CAA is a better conference (at least looking head-to-head at the top 4) which was unthinkable as recently as 2 years ago.

That said, Lasme is a senior. Who knows what they'll be like next year without him. If they can still play well without him, then they could lock up the A10. The conference is going to need UMass as a major team if they want to regain their previous standing.

B_Washington said...

15 NHL players almost everyone should have heard of and know of..

Martin Brodeur
Mike Modano
Joe Sakic
Peter Forsburg
Sidney Crosby
Joe Thornton
Jaromir Jagr
Jerome Iginla
Alexander Ovechkin
Brendenn Shannahan
Teemu Selanne
Paul Kariya
Nikolas Lidstrom
Chris Drury
Rod Brind'Amor
Dominik Hasek

Pretty sure the average casual fan can at least go "Yeah I recognize most of those names"

Brian in Oxford said...

Yeah, but who can tell you what team they're all on any more?

Daddy Rosee said...

I was just looking at the stats from the AFL...why doesn't anybody care that Clint Dolezel of the Dallas Desperados threw 105 TD's last year. Peyton who

Sheldiz said...

well i guess i have to downgrade from "casual fan" to "yeah, i've heard of hockey".

nooch said...

Daddy Rosee said...
Find me one person who cares about Arena football.


Jon Bon Jovi

Dave Rothgery said...

It's probably too late to mention this, but...

George Mason's run was the only unusual thing about the 2006 Final Four; if they lose to UConn in the elite 8 (and George Mason only won that game by two), it's a 1-seed (UConn), a 2-seed (UCLA), a 3-seed (Florida), and a 4-seed (LSU) playing for the title. And that's pretty normal. One or two 1 seeds and two other top-5 seeds is a typical final four.

Daddy Rosee said...

Lol Nooch, it's his life

DougOLis said...

Where does soccer exist on niche sports level? I'd say internationally for the big tournaments/national games it might be on the same level as nasacar/nba but probably on the nhl level when looking at mls or epl. I don't think afl has caught or passed nhl just because how many players/teams/recent champs are you familiar with as opposed to the nhl.

Jason said...

I'd say that soccer, even during the World Cup, is just a niche sport in the US. That said, it's a very popular niche sport during that time.

I think the NFL, MLB, NBA, and D-IA Football are the only true non-niche sports. D-I Men's Basketball hits a peak in February and March but the rest of the year only a handful of people pay real attention.

When talking about the MLS, I only know 1 devoted Red Bull NY fan and 1 devoted United fan amongst a throng of sports fanatics.

B_Washington said...

I don't think NHL fans mind being termed an Niche Sport, I don't have a problem with it. It's that people go out of there way to seemingly bash hockey by saying stuff like the AFL is more popular than NHL, when it's just not necessary.

Also they I think the NHL's demise has been greatly exaggerated, and media people jsut do the lazy thing and play these stereotypes without putting any thought into it.

Case-in-point: Shanoff lists AFL as higher than NHL, yet in his "Influential Sports blogs (new post)" he includes a hockey blog, but No AFL blog. It makes his comments from this morning seem like a cheap shot rather than his actual opinion.

Jason said...

The NHL is a niche sport and I love being a part of that niche. This sunday I was at Devils @ Caps and I had a lot of fun sitting in my Devils regalia and listening to drunken Caps fans scream at me and everyone else. I know it's been said before but people who like hockey are among the most devoted people on Earth. The TV ratings may not be there but everything else is.

Dave said...

What are all the hockey fans so defensive for? Why do you care about any of this? You're hockey fans! You're tough! You don't care about any of this garbage! Be a hockey fan!

You can easily order center ice and watch ALL THE GAMES. It's relatively easy to get tickets to go to games in person. You don't have to deal with idiots who think they know what they are talking about always trying to "talk hockey" with you.

Like I said, there are no casual hockey fans. You don't have to deal with anyone who only wants to watch the "big game" and then comes over and ask tons of stupid questions and ruins everything.

I wish football had some of the "problems" hockey has.

nooch said...

Daddy Rosee said...
Lol Nooch, it's his life


yeah, but does he give the AFL a bad name?

Jason said...

Without him the AFL would probably be living on a prayer.

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DrDoom said...

Told you all maryland would win... THey can go deep because they have so many weapons who can get hot at any time... Mike Jones (who) D.J. (crackbaby) Strawbaby Vasquez Ibekwe Gist even Osby or Hayes.

Fear the Turtle

DrDoom said...

and furhter more I beleive that march is by far the best month in sports... it is not even close,, however if the ncca would get smart and put in a playoffs witht he last 2 or 3 rounds in january and the nfl droppe dthe bye week (both of which should ahppen) then then January would be.

CMFost said...

This is pretty impressive:

UMASS Senior Stephane Lasme recorded 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks to etch his name in the record books as just the third player in NCAA history to record four triple-doubles in one season. The UMass forward joins current New Jersey Nets star Jason Kidd (California, 1993-94) and Michael Anderson (Drexel, 1985-86) in the exclusive club.

GuyInTheCorner said...

So I'll have to admit how insanely right I was when I said...
FEAR THE TURTLE

So the Terps are now looking like a 4 seed that could be a legitimate nightmare for a #1 in the Sweet 16. How far the go in the ACC tourney will translate into how popular of a pick they are to win that game.

I find no surprise in the top searches on ESPN.com being "Drive to 65", "Bracketology", "Power 16", "Vitale", and "Championship Week" to go along with the staple that is "Sports Guy".

If you didn't see the new power 16 this mourning (sports.espn.go.com/ncb/powerrankings) Maryland is in at #15.

I said last week that they would do this and they have.

(That isn't as much of an "I told you so" as it is an "I'm proud of them")

thirdstringjd said...

I wasnt

Johnathan said...

Martin Brodeur - Devils still
Mike Modano - Stars
Joe Sakic - Aves
Peter Forsburg - nashvile
Sidney Crosby - my Pens
Joe Thornton - sharks
Jaromir Jagr - Rangers
Jerome Iginla - Flames
Alexander Ovechkin - Caps
Brendenn Shannahan - Rangers
Teemu Selanne - Sharks I think
Paul Kariya - Nashvile I think
Nikolas Lidstrom - Red Wings
Chris Drury - Buffalo
Rod Brind'Amor - Carolina
Dominik Hasek - Ottawa

there you go brian teams matched with players

Brian in Oxford said...

I think I got 13. I forgot Brind'Amour was with the Whalercanes now. (Philly?! What was I smokin'?)

And Selanne....hey wait, he IS with Anaheim, so I got 14.

Actually, I knew Hasek was back with Detroit. Ottawa was last year. (My picture here is from ScotiaBank Place)

Johnathan said...

yeah i guess i was wrong brian; eh in my defense i only watch pens games and with the unbalanced schedule i don't get to see the western conference too often

Jason said...

UMass update:

Lunardi now has them as 7th team out on Bracketology. If they handle St. Joe's and go deep it's possible they can win an at-large if things break their way. Still unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

B_Washington said...

Hey pretty close. Selanne is with the Ducks and Hasek is with Detroit.

And to go back to Dave's point. Yes there is some nice things to being a niche sport. IT's small enough DircectTV doesn't want to limit my access to it yet. I have no problem with Hockey being a niche sport, hell everything I enjoy is Niche. Music (Guggenheim Grotto and other indie rock), sports (Hockey and Soccer with NFL), hobbies. So niche is not a problem.

Is the constant belittling and cheap shots taken at Hockey that bother us I think. (Like ranking AFL in front of NHL for niche sports, it's just a cheap shot). Now I know Shanoff is very prone to sensationalism so I wasn't that offended but it bothers me that people just say "Hockey Sucks".

Another thing that bothers me is that NBA isn't THAT much more popular than the NHL at this point. Yet it receives a massive amount of media coverage, yet Hockey receives none. I'd like to see more than a goal from 2 teams on Sportscenter every once in a while. Hell any kind of NHL tonight would be nice so I could see highlights

Kurt said...

Big D, ya boy Nick got canned on American Idol.