Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Five Biggest Stories for Big Ten Basketball Thus Far

The Big Ten is having one of the most memorable basketball seasons we’ve seen in some time. The conference leads the country with five top-25 teams and ranks number one in the RPI/Sagarin ratings.

Along with being regarded as the best conference in the nation, the Big Ten is full of intriguing stories. Here are the top five on the year thus far:

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

All Hail Rory Linton, the 2011 Fantasy Champion

What a year 2011 was for the game of fantasy. Record numbers were achieved across the board and the playoffs ended up being more excited than anticipated. In the end, long-time fantasy member, Rory Linton, came through in the clutch with his first-ever championship. Here's his interview following the sweet sweet win:

1.) Hey Rory, what a year, huh? Do you have some opening comments, maybe regarding the fantasy championship, best draft award, or your spots in the record book?

After the draft this year, I really liked my team, but I never really thought I had a chance to win the championship until we were down to the Final Four in the playoffs. I was very fortunate that I was able to avoid any major injuries, my players all played well late in the season, and I didn't have anyone sit out week 17. In addition to this luck, I tried to put in the work every week in the waiver wire, and it seems that it paid off.

2.) Is there any one moment in the fantasy season which sticks out in your memory? Something you might remember for years to come.

I'll remember the first round of the playoffs when I scored 164 points. That same week I had 3 bench players score at least 25 points. My team, including bench players, scored 258 points that week. I think this is a record that may never be broken in our league. My team just got really hot late in the season.

3.) I wouldn’t be able to conduct this interview without asking who was your fantasy MVP this season?

My MVP has to be Matt Stafford. He was huge for me all year, plus he had 3 of his 4 best weeks in the fantasy playoffs. I'll put him ahead of Calvin Johnson because I got better value from Stafford, having taken him in the 9th round of the draft.

I'd give my unsung hero award to my 2 49ers, David Akers and the 49ers D/ST. These 2 were my rocks late in the season, and I could pretty much always count on them for 20+ points. Akers even threw for a TD in the championship game.

4.) You had a great draft this season, any tricks that you can reveal which helped you become a league champion?

This year I came in with a clear strategy and a few key players that I was targeting. I have always felt that it is best to wait as long as possible to draft a QB. Because QBs get so many points and each team only needs one, there is always a lot of value at QB in the late rounds. I was targeting Bradford and Stafford and got both of them in the 8th and 9th rounds. This allowed me to get more depth at RB/WR.

Also, I knew going in that I was going to take 2 WR with my first 2 picks because I drafted late in the first round, and I felt that they were safer picks then some of the RBs taken early in the draft.

5.) With the crazy "Year of the QB," do you think the way fantasy football is played is changing?

I think that because of the "Year of the QB", more QBs will be drafted earlier next year, but I think that this also makes waiting for a QB even more viable because there are more QBs that can get you big numbers on a weekly basis. Also, where RBs have dominated in the past, I think WRs are becomming relatively more valuable.

6.) We’re going to wrap it up here with one final question. As your league commissioner, is there anything I need to change about the league to make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone?

I have always enjoyed this league and how active and competitive everyone is. If I could change one thing, I think that I would like to see fewer playoff teams. I think this would make the regular season more important and exciting. Personally, I'd like it if there were 6 playoff teams and structure the playoffs like the NFL playoffs with the 1 and 2 seeds getting byes, or have just 4 playoff teams and have the first round occur in Weeks 14 and 15 and the championship round take place during Weeks 16 and 17.

Update: We will be switching to the six team playoff format for 2012. The one and two seeds will receive a bye and week 16 will mark the end of the fantasy season. I'm also glad to announce that we have all 14 spots filled for the league next season. Stay in touch for the annual Bracket group and any fantasy updates!

What did you think of Rory's first ever championship? Let me know by commenting below!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why Brewers Fans Should Be Happy for the Detroit Tigers Prince Fielder

On Tuesday, the Detroit Tigers shocked the world by signing free agent and former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder to a lucrative nine year deal worth $214 million.

As rapper/producer, Kanye West, so eloquently put it, "And if they hate let 'em hate. And watch the money pile up, the good life."

It's not uncommon-place to hear people say the Tigers made a ridiculous move, but here's why Brewers fans should be happy for the guy who established himself as a franchise great in Milwaukee over the past seven years.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Brewers Ryan Braun Accepts MVP Award and References "Adversity"

At the annual Baseball Writers Association of America awards dinner in New York, the Milwaukee Brewers star outfielder Ryan Braun made his first public appearance since ESPN leaked his positive test for a banned substance back in December.

In his speech following the acceptance of the 2011 MVP Award, Braun thankfully didn't give the award back as ESPN's Buster Olney suggested earlier in the day, but he did provide some insight on his status through these troubling times.

"I've always believed that a person's character is revealed through the way they deal with those moments of adversity," said Braun.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

With Joe Philbin in Miami, Could the Packers Matt Flynn End Up In South Beach?

On Friday, the Miami Dolphins ended their search for a Head Coach by naming the former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator, Joe Philbin, to the position. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what Philbin's first course of action should be in Miami.

The Dolphins' most glaring need is at quarterback. Whether they have already planned to draft one in April or stick with the inconsistent Matt Moore or Chad Henne has yet to be determined.

Another idea would be for Philbin to urge the Dolphins' front office to pursue Packers back-up QB Matt Flynn in free agency or a sign-and-trade.

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Ryan Evans is Having a Breakout Season for the Wisconsin Badgers

No longer known for just his insanely cool Kid ‘n Play haircut, the Wisconsin Badgers junior forward Ryan Evans is starting to get noticed for his solid production on the court.

Evans has scored double-digits in ten games this season and is one of the best defenders on a squad which ranks tops in the NCAA when it comes to locking down opponents.

The native of Phoenix, Arizona is one of the biggest surprises of a wild-and-crazy season in the Big Ten.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

New York Giants Take Full Advantage in Upsetting the Green Bay Packers

During the regular season, the Green Bay Packers lost a total of six fumbles. In their playoff game against the New York Giants, they lost three. And that was only part of went wrong for the Packers in their shocking 37-20 loss to the Giants.

Aaron Rodgers was far from efficient and the receiving core dropped a season-high eight balls.

This weekend’s big winners were the San Francisco 49ers who will get another home game when they host the Giants in the NFC Championship game.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Pack of Wisconsin Badgers Will Appear in the 2012 Senior Bowl

Over the last decade, the University of Wisconsin has become an underrated hotbed for NFL talent. In the spirit of continuing the trend, six Wisconsin Badgers will showcase their talents in Mobile, Alabama for the annual Senior Bowl.

Quarterback Russell Wilson, wide receiver Nick Toon, offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler, fullback Bradie Ewing, punter Brad Nortman and long snapper Kyle Wojta will star on the North squad at Ladd-Pebbles Stadium on January 28th. The game is scheduled to appear on NFL Network at 3:00 PM CT.

“This is the most players we’ve ever had at one time from Wisconsin and it speaks volumes to the amount of talent the Badgers had year,” said Senior Bowl President and CEO Steve Hale.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Early Headlines for the Packers and Giants Divisional Playoff Match-Up

After an entertaining Wild-Card Weekend, it’s safe to say that the best four NFC teams remain on the road to Indianapolis, the site of Super Bowl XLVI. On one side of the bracket we have the high-powered New Orleans Saints heading to San Francisco to take on the defensive-oriented 49ers and on the other, a high-powered Green Bay Packers team hosting a balanced New York Giants squad.

While both games are intriguing, the bout between the Packers and Giants is the most appealing to us in the Midwest. Let’s take a look at some of the headlines in a rematch of the 2007 NFC Championship Game.

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

NFL MVP Award Should Be Split Between Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees

Through most of the 2011 NFL season, the Green Bay Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers was the run-away favorite for the NFL Most Valuable Player Award. It wasn't until the New Orleans Saints' QB Drew Brees' started shattering long-time passing records and a Packers loss to the Chiefs that it became a close race.

In the fifty three year history of the AP MVP Award, the award has been shared only twice, in 1997 (Brett Favre and Barry Sanders) and 2003 (Peyton Manning and Steve McNair).

With Brees' hot finish to the season and Rodgers' safe ending, here's why I think the award should be split for the third time in history.

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Detroit Lions Give It Their Best Try, But Fall Short to Brees and the Saints

The NFL's Wild-Card Weekend started off with a bang in the NFC with the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints battling in a close game that eventually was decided in the fourth quarter. Drew Brees and the Saints proved to be a bit too much to handle for the Lions' defense in a 45-28 win.

Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson both had great games (211 yards and two touchdowns accumulated between the two), but the difference in this one was multiple missed opportunities on the defensive end.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wisconsin Badgers Montee Ball Has Officially Decided to Return for his Senior Season

During a Thursday afternoon press conference, the Wisconsin Badgers running back and Heisman Finalist Montee Ball officially announced his intent to return for his senior season.

"I believe that I am mentally ready (for the NFL),'' Ball said, "but I think I need to become stronger and faster and I believe another year in the program will most definitely get me to that level."

Ball’s team lost the Rose Bowl 45-38 to the Oregon Ducks, but he tied Barry Sanders for the most touchdowns scored in a single season. Right now, some think his NFL draft stock is about as high as it can be.

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Where Does the Wisconsin Badgers Aaron Henry Fit in the NFL Draft?

Besides being one of the best interviews in college football, the Wisconsin Badgers Aaron Henry is also a talented prospect at the safety position.

The senior Henry will enter the NFL Draft this spring and as of now ranks as a top-five safety. With a strong showing prior to the draft, he could go as high as the second round, but shouldn’t go any lower than the third or fourth round.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Matt Flynn for the Win: Packers Embarrass Lions Without Key Starters

With Aaron Rodgers resting on the bench, who would have thought the Green Bay Packers would put up 550 total yards of offense and 45 points?

Back-up QB Matt Flynn had a career day with a franchise record six touchdowns and 480 passing yards in the 45-41 shootout win at Lambeau Field.

Since 1970, Flynn is the 3rd QB to throw for 3 or more TDs in his first two starts. The other two were Dan Marino and Kurt Warner.

For the Lions, QB Matthew Stafford put up college-like numbers with 520 yards and five touchdowns. And there was that Calvin Johnson guy with 244 receiving yards as well.

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