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Bold Prediction

Posted by Decker on August 27th, 2012

Bold Prediction: This will be the year a #1 seed loses in the NCAA March Madness tournament.

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For Penn State…Where do you go from here?

Posted by thethreelions on July 23rd, 2012

One year ago, Penn State University’s future looked bright.  A historic football program, lead by one of college football elites in Joe Paterno, with focus on a hopefully promising season.  It all seems like a distant memory at this point, and while all the focus is on the coaching staff and school officials who were involved in a scandal whose roots go back over a decade, a questions still remains as to where the football program goes from here.  Like a town that has been torn apart by a unsuspecting tornado, the community that surrounds the university must rebuild from the bottom up.  But as the scandal takes all the attention, we all seem to forget that there is still a team behind all that, a group of college kids who came to be apart of one of the elite football programs, but were unfortunate in their timing.

We ourselves have a difficult time getting away from this, so how will a college football team whose centered around all of it, be able to look away and begin to look towards another college football season.  New head coach Bill O’Brien has a much deeper job than being able to lead this team to winning games, he’s in charge of being able to turn this program, as well as the name of the university around.  When morale is going to be at its very lowest, a football team is going to have to step on that field and lead by example and act as the inspiration for a college community to bring life and air back into the people of Penn State, and help us all forget  a story and scandal that ruined a college football legacy.

With the four year post-season suspension being put on Penn State earlier today, the cut in scholarships, as well as the $60 million fine, the hole just got even deeper.  But the fact that the program didn’t get the “death penalty” and shut down for a year, makes it even harder for a team to come out and play.  While all the other teams fight to make is to a bowl game, the Nittany Lions will have to spend the next four years trying to erase an image, and start from scratch.

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Tourney Time 2012 Bold Predictions

Posted by qbert1387 on March 12th, 2012

It is so great to take our attention away from Peyton Manning Palooza, Lin-Sanity, or MLB spring training talk for a while. It’s March Madness Baby! By now you’re all frantically filling out those silly brackets for your office pools, or for friendly competition, or just so you wouldn’t be the only weirdo on the face of the Earth not filling out a bracket. Whatever the case may be, I have a couple of bold predictions for this year’s NCAA Tournament that could just give you a little bit of an edge.

#1: Michigan State will be the first #1 seed out- It is hard to predict that Kentucky or Syracuse will get bounced at all with how they played this season. North Carolina is always a battle tested, tourney ready team. Though I only have the Wildcats and Tar Heels making to the Final Four, Michigan State won’t even be stiffing the Elite 8.

#2: No Big East teams in the Final Four- The Big East Conference always dominates brackets with the amount of teams invited to the big dance, but not one of them will make their way to New Orleans. Assuming Cincinnati, Notre Dame, West Virginia, and Uconn even make it out of the first round, the most likely 2nd round scenarios would have Connecticut facing #1 Kentucky, Notre Dame against #2 Duke, West Virginia faces #2 Ohio State, and Cincy get this year’s sexy pick in #3 Florida State. Let alone the Georgetown has failed me in brackets past, I wouldn’t be surprised if the get bounced by Belmont right off the bat. Marquette and Louisville could make deep runs out of the West, but I don’t see either of them pulling upsets over the likes of Michigan State or Missouri. Syracuse has dominated all year…so they won’t win. Chalk it up to karma.

#3: VCU and New Mexico are bracket busters- VCU was last year’s Cinderella and I don’t expect anything different for 2012. I think they can take Wichita State for a 1st round upset, and subsequently Indiana as their next victim. Unfortunately, they’ll walk right into Kentucky where their tourney run ends. New Mexico is a #5, which means it’s not really farfetched or surprising, but with upset over Louisville and Michigan State, that would definitely bust brackets for people going with the chalk.

#4: Upset Special in Midwest- As previously stated, I have skepticism with Georgetown. #14 Belmont has played tourney spoiler before, and they will do it again over the Hoyas. Michigan had a great season, but I think they’ve played about their talent level all year. I like Temple this year, but you can never tell with those teams in the ‘play in’ game. I’m pick Cal to come out of it and pull off one of those #12s over #5s upsets everyone looks for. I’m on the fence with #6 San Diego State and #11 NC State, and when I’m on the fence I side with the upset. Also, I was impressed with NC State in their Conference Tournement play. Last is Michigan. The Wolverines had a great season, but I have a sneaking suspicion they’ve played better than they actually are. #13 Ohio U is under the radar and is worthy of being here. They will be out to prove it, and get in on the Ohio vs Michigan rivalry.

#5: Who is New Orleans Bound?- My Final Four selection is: #1 Kentucky, #2 Ohio State, #2 Missouri, and #1 North Carolina. Call me a homer if you’d like for picking #1s and #2s, but forgive me, I’m a fan of being right.

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Temple Owls Look to Fly East

Posted by qbert1387 on February 23rd, 2012

The Big East Conference has been in a state of flux recently, but it may not be done expanding just yet. The Temple Owls are in talks in joining the Big East (in all sports) for as early as the 2012 season. The Big East is in a bind currently due to the departure of West Virginia to the Big 12, which now leaves the Big East with only a 7 team conference for this upcoming year. So, despite West Virginia, and Pittsburgh and Syracuse the next year leaving as well, the Big East will have a huge face-lift within the next couple of years. By 2013, the Conference will consist of Boise State, Houston, Louisville, South Florida, Central Florida, Rutgers, Connecticut, SMU, Memphis, Cincinnati, and San Diego State (Navy football joining in 2015). The Owls would be a welcomed addition to a star-studded cast of a revamped Big East Conference.

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It Ain’t Ova for ‘Nova

Posted by Daniel Kahaner on February 20th, 2012

It has been a season of many ups and downs for Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats. Many expected the 2011-2012 season to be a down year for ‘Nova, but few thought the team would be destined for a sub .500 finish. A few early season losses to the likes of St. Louis and Santa Clara sent the Wildcats into a tailspin, eventually relinquishing their status as Philadelphia Big 5 champions with losses to St. Joseph’s and Temple.

After the last two seasons ended in turmoil and disappointment with early exits in the NCAA tournament, it appears that ‘Nova will miss the tournament for only the second time in the Jay Wright era unless they can somehow win the Big East tournament.

Although 2011-2012 most likely will end with the Wildcats going home with their tails between their legs, there is quite a bit of hope for the 2012-2013 season. This year’s ‘Nova squad has no seniors, just like the 2007-2008 team who made it to the final four the following year with the same roster. Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek, and Mouphtao Yarou will all be seniors next year, and will undoubtedly use this year’s failures as motivation to win in the future. Wayns, if he plays up to his potential (which Villanova guards have had trouble doing in recent history), could solidify himself as a first round pick in next year’s draft. The same goes for Yarou, and Cheek could be a pleasant surprise if he can get his jump shot to fall with a little more consistency.

Below that, the Wildcats’ role players and bench will have a serious boost. James Bell is a highly underrated player both offensively and defensively, and as a junior could make a huge impact at the small forward position. Jay Wright also could choose between Maurice Sutton and enormous freshman Markus Kennedy to start alongside Yarou in Nova’s uncharacteristically large frontcourt. Kennedy has shown great poise as a freshman down low, and has 3 years ahead of him to become a dominant big man. One year under his belt should give him a big boost. The same goes for freshman swingman Jayvaughn Pinkston, who was suspended for all of 2010-2011 after an off campus altercation. After being unable to practice with the team for the entire season, 2011-2012 was a year of simply shaking off the cobwebs for the Brooklyn native. He has started to fix many of his mistakes, and looks to be in prime shape to play well as a sophomore.

Beyond the starting 5, Villanova’s bench is what will make the ‘Cats a contender in 2012-2013. Freshmen Darrun Hilliard and Ty Johnson have made an immediate impact on this year’s team, and will only be better with a year of experience under their belts. Not to mention the incoming class of guard Ryan Arcidiacono, whose game is similar to former Nova guard Mike Nardi, and big man Daniel Ochefu, who is more or less a clone of Mouphtao Yarou.

All things considered, is has been a tumultuous year for Jay Wright and his young Wildcats, but as we have seen in years past, a year of experience could make all the difference.

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Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Arkansas Razorbacks in 2012 and 2013

Posted by qbert1387 on February 17th, 2012

There has been a lot of flux in the Big East Conference this offseason, but Rutgers has the remedy to losing the likes of West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse in the near future. Rutgers has officially announced a 2012 and 2013 home and home series with the Arkansas Razorbacks. In the 2012 season, the Scarlet Knights are going to look for a little southern comfort when they head down to Donald W. Reynold Stadium in a huge SEC showdown with the Razorbacks (first ever meeting of these teams). But, that’s only the half of it. In 2013, Rutgers gets to play host Arkansas in what will be the first SEC team to ever play in Piscataway, NJ. Arkansas is now the 5th non-conference game for the Knights, which also includes: Tulane, Kent State, Army, and Howard. With the 2012 Big East Conference consisting of 7 teams, the Scarlet Knights will need to find one more dance partner to play 12 games in this season. There have been rumblings of a potential date with the Oklahoma Sooners at Metlife Stadium (home of the New York Giants and Jets), but it has not been officially confirmed.

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Big (L)East

Posted by beaston26 on October 26th, 2011

On Tuesday reports began to surface that West Virginia was being offered a spot in the Big 12, which it would undoubtedly accept. Prior to the Big 12’s offer, the Mountaineers previously requested to join both the SEC and ACC in an attempt to desperately abandon the sinking ship that is known as the Big East. Joining brief Big East member TCU as the latest school to defect from the Big East to the Big 12, the conference looks to be as vulnerable and desperate as ever. Today new reports are coming in that West Virginia has been put on hold for the Big 12. Another Big East school, Louisville, is one of the front runners to join the Big 12. Either way it appears that another school will be poached from the conference.

Prior to the start of the 2011 season, the Big East looked to be as robust as ever. New member TCU had just scored one of the biggest upsets in the BCS era with a win over the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl. 11 of the 16 teams (not including TCU) received a bid to the annual March Madness tournament with the Connecticut ending up as the national champion.

All of that momentum has been squashed as the conference hangs on dearly for survival. In September it was announced that the ACC was moving to a 14-team league with the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, two of the “founding fathers” of the Big East. Just a couple of weeks later, TCU also left the Big East without ever competing in a single conference game. The newest loss of either Louisville or West Virginia would bring the number of football schools down to a paltry 5. The biggest issue is that the conference would lose its Automatic Qualifying status for a BCS bowl game and the millions of dollars of revenue that come with it. Losing its most successful members would all but ensure that of becoming a reality.

Who is to blame for the entire debacle and downfall of the Big East? The answer falls squarely on John Marinatto’s shoulders. Marinatto is the commissioner of the Big East, but represents a small Catholic school in Providence that has very little relevance in either of the major money-producing sports. Providence does not compete in football at all and you could argue the same for basketball as they have been bottom dwellers in the conference for most of the last decade.

Instead of building on their momentum and continuing expansion, Marinatto and the rest of the Big East brass chose to twiddle their thumbs while the other BCS conferences examined which schools to poach to their liking. This whole mess could have been avoided if the conference had taken the proper time and avenues to add 1 to 3 more schools among Central Florida, Southern Methodist, Boise State, East Carolina, Houston, East Carolina, Navy, Air Force, Temple, or Memphis. It seemed as though Marinatto did not want to disrupt or taint the reputation of Big East’s basketball-only contingent which was comprised of smaller, academic, religious institutions.

Now with conference on life support, Marinatto has been making bold statements with little to back them up. He has declared on several occasions that the Big East will hike its exit fee to 10 million dollars, keep Pittsburgh and Syracuse in the Big East for 27 months, look to send invitations to 6 additional schools, establish a conference championship game for football played in New York, and retain their AQ status. Other rumored options are the combining of the remaining Big East Schools, Conference USA, and the Mountain West to form a 28-32 team super-conference. These ideas seems pretty farfetched and a last ditch effort for Marinatto to save face publicly.

The most realistic and likely scenario to play out would be for the remaining schools in the Big East (Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville/West Virginia, Rutgers, and South Florida) to be absorbed by the other BCS conferences with the possibility that one or two of the schools will be left out in the cold. It is less clear what will happen to the basketball-only schools, but it is possible that they would stick together and keep the basketball version of the Big East alive amongst themselves.A lot of what will play out in the future depends on what Notre Dame decides to do.

While a member of the Big East for all sports minus football, they hold the most leverage in the situation and have the choice of joining whatever conference they’d prefer, if they join one at all. The Irish have a television deal with NBC that pays them about 15 million dollars annually. For Notre Dame to join a conference they would likely have to give that up to join another conference.

If Marinatto was truly concerned about saving the conference he would have given Notre Dame an ultimatum. Join the Big East for all sports or get out entirely. This would force Notre Dame’s and other conference’s hand. If the Irish joined the Big East for football, credibility to the conference would have been instantly restored. If they chose to left they would have had to find another conference to join for their remaining sports. Instead of putting himself in a position of power, Marinatto relinquished that ability to Notre Dame and it will ultimately cost him his conference.

In its darkest days, the Big East will need both football and basketball schools to come together in agreement on what the future of the conference will be. Right now both sides have their own agendas and are set on accomplishing them. This has greatly hampered the ability to move the Big East forward in these troubling times. If both sides to do not come together to form a clear-cut plan, the conference will most likely be extinct on the football landscape.

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Storm Brewing in Hurricane Country

Posted by beaston26 on August 23rd, 2011

Major college football news broke in Miami yesterday. Busted ponzi-schemer and former Miami football booster Nevin Shapiro came out with allegations of several dozen, seventy two in fact, current and former Miami football players accepting improper benefits during their collegiate careers. These improper benefits included accepting money for food, booze, jewelry, women, electronics and appliances, housing, putting out hits on players, abortions, or “whatever the players needed.  Is anyone shocked by this though? The university is located in what some people call “Vice City.” The U has long struggled with an image problem over the course of the past twenty-five years and has even promoted their role as the bad boys of college football. They played in a game against Notre Dame that later became known as “Catholics vs. Convicts” with Miami starring as the latter. Initially this was not a problem for the school as its popularity soared nationwide with tremendous on-field success and an abundance of talent landing in the NFL, but the school has scuffled a bit in recent years. Lack of discipline has led to poorer records than the team was used to in recent years culminating with the firing of head coach Randy Shannon who rose through the ranks to claim the job. Former Temple University head coach Al Golden, a strict disciplinarian, was brought in to get the team under control. His efforts may come too late with the accusations from Shapiro have stirred rumors of Miami receiving the “death penalty” (ending the university’s program for at least 1 year). Southern Methodist University was the last school to receive said penalty has struggled mightily to return to their past levels of success. While rumors of the death penalty falling on Miami may be overblown with several other prominent schools receiving similar accusations, something must be done to rectify this problem that is consuming college football.

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Grand Opening Sale! Get 20% OFF to Celebrate…

Posted by GameSetMatch on August 23rd, 2011

Click here to see a larger image..

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What Makes a Game Special?

Posted by gruisecontrol on July 14th, 2011

Everyone who watches sports knows some games are more special than others. I’ve always been a basketball fan but the Syracuse-UConn 6OT game made me a college basketball fan. There are just so many things special about this game. The venue (sold out Madison Square Garden), its timing (last game of the day starting at 9:30), the legendary coaches, the players, the teams (two of the Big Easts most decorated teams), the tournament (the Big East was indisputably the best conference that year), and of course the fact that it was the longest college basketball game in the post-shot clock era. The average game usually comes down to a win or loss but some games have meaning far beyond that.

Every time I watch the game I get a new thought about what the game meant. The most recent time I watched it, about a week ago, I focused in on Kemba Walker. Then only a freshman, getting playing time because of an injury to UConn’s starting shooting guard, Kemba ends up playing 53 minutes; the only freshman to start and play over 15 minutes. While he shot only 4-18 and committed four turnovers compared to 2 measly assists, Walker made the game tying shot that would eventually lead to the first overtime. Walker’s basket wasn’t really what his coach had in mind instead the play breaks down. After a series of misses and tipped rebounds from the big guys under the rim the ball lands in Walker’s hands to the left of the basket(1:23-1:45 in the video). After Walker makes a contested lay-up his face is full of pure elation when he finally talks after making the shot it’s to A.J. Price and Craig Austrie, both of whom are seniors. It seems like he’s saying tired generic basketball phrases like “let’s go” or “we got this” but the look on his face is wanting of acceptance. Both seniors are more reserved, there’s still 1.1 seconds and presumably overtime to win the game but they may have known at that moment that Walker was in store for big things, at very least he could hang with the big boys.

Staying with the last 10 seconds of regulation the second epic shot, whether it counted or not, was Eric Devendorf’s three with time expiring. I have to admit this is one of greatest shots I’ve ever seen. Its off a full court pass that is tipped lands in Devendorf’s hands as he’s jumping but then Devendorf proceeds to hang in the air over 6-9 Gavin Edward’s outstretched arm and shoot all in one motion a perfect swish. His reaction to the shot is to go crazy. Eric jumps on top of the scoring table and starts shouting “this is my house” just like Dwayne Wade did exactly 2 days before (near the end of the video). Devendorf as much as any player on the court thought he was the best. To this point he had a rough time at Syracuse; clashing with his coach on the court and getting in trouble off it. The previous Halloween he had been arrested for hitting a woman while he was drunk. Devendorf was already a father as well. Still he thought he could play in the NBA (despite being a junior he ended up declaring for the draft after the NCAA tournament about two weeks after this game) and probably had made up his mind he was going to declare at this point. At that moment as the shot went in it must have made sense for Devendorf, he knew he was going to make it.

The powers that be weren’t having it though. Later that spring it would be the executives and general managers who would shoot down Devendorf’s NBA dreams (he would go undrafted eventually ending up playing in New Zealand) but now it was the referees. The perfect shot was a tenth of a second too late. For such a close shot the replay is amazingly clear as it shows one figure touching the ball at 0.00. When just looking at Walker’s shot versus Devendorf’s its strange how different the player’s fates would be. One was a little bit of hustle and a lot of being in the right place, the other a nearly impossible 30 foot contested jumper. Freshman Kemba just wanted to fit in and Devendorf wanted nothing more than to stand out.

Kemba Walker would go on to achieve nearly every accolade one could achieve in college. Kemba would lead the Huskies to a Big East tournament victory two years later before going on to win the NCAA tournament. Walker was named an All-American and came in second in the national player of the year voting. He was selected ninth overall in the draft by the Charlotte Bobcats and has a chance to compete for the starting point guard job right off the bat. While Walker remained on campus, Devendorf has been across the world playing basketball. First in New Zealand but later in Australia and Turkey, Devendorf’s talent has been on display, he scored 49 points in his New Zealand league debut and averages 22 points per game in Turkey. But his issues have been on display as well; a bar fight in New Zealand got him released, the second of four times he has been waived in the past two years.

All of this I got from watching the game and this isn’t from overtime at all. In fact what I’ve talked about took place in about 10 seconds game time of a game that lasted for 70 minutes of game time. I may not know Kemba Walker or Eric Devendorf but every time I watch this game they will be like old friends. Kemba Walker will always been the freshman trying to prove he fits in; Devendorf will be a tragic figure coming so close to his dream but coming up short by a finger. When a court or field with lines becomes a stage and the player’s actors, you know you have found a special game.

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