Friday, January 29, 2010

My Projected #1 Seeds

College basketball is really starting to heat up right now, so I feel it's only appropriate to name my projected number one seeds:

1.) Kansas Jayhawks: With the fast start from Texas, I was thinking there may be two number one seeds from the Big 12, but the picture has changed with Texas dropping a few games in the last couple of weeks. Since losing to Tennessee, the Jayhawks have won five straight behind strong play from Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry. If the Jayhawks are able to win on the road at Kansas State on Saturday, only a road game at Texas could realistically stand in there way of a top seed in the big dance!

2.) Syracuse Orange: I've liked this team all year, however I wasn't quite sure they had the talent to win the title of a once-again stacked Big East Conference. But a 73-56 win over Georgetown at home persuaded me to get off the fence with this team. They may not have the stars, but they have great team chemistry and a future hall-of-fame coach in Jim Boeheim!

3.) Kentucky Wildcats: Yes, this team may have lost to Devan Downey and the South Carolina Gamecocks on the road, but believe me, this team is the real deal. John Wall is an unbelievable diaper-dandy and most people forget about big man DeMarcus Cousins! The SEC has some pesky opponents (mark 2/13 and 2/27 on the calender, match-ups with Tennessee), but John Calipari and his Wildcats should be up to the test!

4.) Michigan State: A Big Ten opponent as a number one seed? The Spartans may be playing some uninspiring basketball right now, but they will improve by the end of the season, it seems like they always do! If Izzo's boys can run the table in a respectable Big Ten conference and make a decent run in the tournament, I can't see the committee denying them a #1 seed. A win in Madison next Tuesday would go a long way on their resume!

Honorable Mention:
Villanova (Scottie Reynolds oh my!), Duke (need the game at Georgetown on Saturday!), Texas (knock Kansas off and you may move up!)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

AFC Championship Preview!

Who would have thought the New York Jets would be traveling to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis just one win away from the Super Bowl? Unfortunately for first-year head coach Rex Ryan, who has done a marvelous job by the way, I think the game marks his and the Jets' last of the season. Here's four reasons why:

1.) The Jets One Dimensional Offense: What do the Jets do well, that's right, run the ball! Thomas Jones and rookie Shonn Greene have been beyond amazing this season. Greene has come on strong particularly late in the season and in the playoffs. However, Mark Sanchez has been less than stellar on the season, check out these stats; 198 for 364 (53.8%) for 2,423 yards, 12 TDs and 20 INTs. Don't get me wrong, I like the kid, but he has a lot to learn. A quarterback with 20+ interceptions in the Super Bowl, that just doesn't seem right to me.

2.) The Colts Plethora of Offensive Weapons: I think most people would agree that the significant matchup in this game is Peyton Manning and the Colts Offense vs. Darrelle Revis and the Jets Defense. I can't wait, a playoff dream in my opinion. Don't fool this matchup with the Colts' previous one, the New York Jets Defense>>>>the Baltimore Ravens Defense. As I was saying before, unfortunately for Rex Ryan, the Colts contain way too many weapons; Clark, Wayne, Collie, Garcon, Addai and the best of them all, 4 time MVP Peyton Manning will prove to be way too much for the Jets stout defense.

3.) Sanchez/Jets RBs Will Face Pressure: If you like watching the big guys bang on the offensive/defensive line, watch the Colts DE Dwight Freeney vs. the Jets LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Even though it will be a great battle, I think Freeney will wreak havoc on the young Sanchez and the Jets' running game. The Colts defense held Ray Rice to just 67 yards last week!

4.) Peyton Manning: I saved the best reason for last, the 33 year-old man from New Orleans, Louisiana is playing in his prime. He's not the only player in NFL history to win four MVP awards for nothing. Brett Favre was great this year, but he wasn't Manning good! (Quick Note: Who would have thunk; Brees, Favre and Manning would still be suiting up on Sundays this late in the year?) Peyton is on a mission to make all of his nay-sayers believe he is the best quarterback of his time and maybe ever! Moreover, there's not a more dangerous player in the NFL than Peyton Manning, he has the ability to put his team on his back and carry them to victory. Give the New York Jets their credit on a great season and get ready for Manning vs. Favre/Brees in Super Bowl XLIV (44 for those people who do not understand roman numerals)!

Nick's Prediction: Colts 24 Jets 10

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why the Leuer Injury May Be Hard To Overcome!

Fresh off a 60-51 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes (13-5), the 16th ranked Wisconsin Badgers (14-4) obviously miss the recently injured Jon Leuer. Leuer fractured his left wrist in a win over Purdue just a week ago and is out indefinitely. Leuer lead the team in points (15.4 ppg), rebounds (6.2 rpg) and blocks (1.2 bpg), but most importantly, the 6' 10" junior gave the Badgers an inside presence and an efficient post game. Without Leuer, the Badgers have had absolutely no inside presence and fellow big men Keaton Nankivil and Jared Berggren have really struggled in the post. However, the Badgers were able to travel to Northwestern on Wednesday and beat the Wildcats by the score of 60-50 behind Trevon Hughes late heroics. The Northwestern and Ohio State games showed me a Badger squad that will depend a lot more on the three-pointer without Leuer. In each of the last two games, the Badgers have shot 26 three pointers, resulting in 16-52 (.307) behind the arc. The increase in three-point attempts cannot be a good thing for the Badgers because they just don't have the shooters to come through on a nightly basis. Senior guards Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes can be hot at times, but can also be ice cold. Sophomore Jordan Taylor has also proved to be streaky at best behind the 3-point line. In order for the Badgers to overcome the tough loss of arguably their best player, Nankivil needs to step up and be stronger in the post. In the two games without Leuer, Nankivil has been overpowered by opposing big men and forced to shoot jumpers outside of the paint. Freshman Jared Berggren and Mike Bruesewitz seem like they need more time to develop their game and cannot contribute to the Badgers post game at this time. Not sure how Bo Ryan can fix the post game, but I do know if the Badgers continue to live or die on the 3-point line, they will not advance far in the NCAA tournament or even the Big Ten.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Short Book Review?

While sitting in the hot Arizona sun, I've had the pleasure to read Matt McCarthy's Odd Man Out, a telling tale of a minor league pitcher struggling to keep a profession which has been his dream since being a little boy. The book proved to be a quick read, honestly, I couldn't put it down once I started. McCarthy starts his unique story with his college days at Yale followed by his unexpected draft story where the Anaheim Angels picked him in the 26th round. The bulk of the book involves his astounding description of life in the minor leagues where he seldom holds back from even the most controversial issues (race, steroids, etc....). In addition to the great depiction of a struggle in the minor leagues, the author includes stories about major leaguers such as Bobby Jenks, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana and the big man himself, Prince Fielder! Ironically the cities of Mesa, AZ (where my father currently resides and where I'm at now) and Beloit, WI (my hometown) are mentioned a few times in the book. Even without the favorable Brewers and familiar city references, I highly recommend McCarthy's re account of his days in the minor leagues to anyone!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

So Much To Talk About!

Thoughts On University of Phoenix Stadium: From the parking lot to the stands, Glendale, AZ's University of Phoenix Stadium is simply beautiful. Not only does the stadium aesthetically please, it also provides great value to football fans. For $50 a ticket, the seats in section 435 were more than satisfactory and tailgating is just as important in this western state! The biggest surprise was the amount of Packer fans at the game, I would go as far to say the ratio was close to 50:50 if not more Packers fans. There were even people wearing Vikings stuff at the game, not to mention all of the Boise State and TCU fans checking out the stadium the day before the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (more on that a little later). I may not be an expert on football stadiums (I've only been to Soldier and Lambeau Fields), but I would recommend a stop at University of Phoenix Stadium anytime you're in the Phoenix area!

Fantasy Champion: After 17 grueling weeks of fantasy football, we have a winner! In her first attempt at the game so many men love across America, Kari Klitzman has dominated the boys and grabbed the title of 2009 Madison Fantasy Football Champion. After finishing 7-5 in the regular season and narrowly grabbing a playoff spot, she routed last year's champion Nick Lowenburg by the score of 262-181. The true test would come in the championship when Kari took on Rory Linton's team, but she would shrug off the challenge and pull out another rout by the score of 239-145. During the playoffs, Kari also won the baller pot twice (almost three times if Chad's Team Dogfighters didn't edge her out by one point)! That brings her total winnings to $140. Despite picking up who I think is the late season fantasy MVP, Jamaal Charles, Kari drafted a great team! Congrats to Kari, and just because I want to, I'll brag a little bit about naming Team Klitzman with the best draft (August 15th Post)! I received a lot of slack for this pick, but I guess I'll end this section with I told-ya-so!
P.S. Don't hate me honey for putting up your picture!

2010 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: A great game unfolded in Glendale, Arizona last night as the Boise State Broncos edged out a 17-10 win over the TCU Horned-Frogs last night! A lot of people expected these two undefeated teams to combine for more than a total of 27 points, but the two defenses were amazing. That's why I'm going to go out on a limb and say both of these teams were capable of competing for the National Championship this year. What makes Texas and Alabama so great? It's all about defense, the lone non-BCS school to be blown out in a BCS bowl was Hawaii a couple of years ago and they had absolutely no defense. Regardless of a team's conference, I think defensive rankings are an adequate indicator if a team can play with the big boys in the BCS conferences. TCU came in with the number one ranked defense in college football and it definitely showed last night. Boise State's defense looked even better, which made the difference, a great game all around, congrats to the Boise State Broncos and their fans on a perfect season!

Madison Mallards PR Intern: I decided to save the best news for last, today I was chosen to represent the Madison Mallards' professional baseball team in the front office this season as their PR Intern! I will serve essentially as the beat writer for the team, writing a lot of the stories surrounding the team among other things. I would once again like to thank all of my faithful readers of the blog, I wouldn't be where I am today without you guys! Keep reading the blog, I aim to generate some great conversation with a new year in sports upon us!