Just moments ago #14 Vanderbilt beat their arch-rival #1 Tennessee 72-69, less than 28 hours after their men’s basketball team had become the number one ranked team in the nation for the first time in the Volunteer’s ninety-nine season history.  Memorial Gymnasium, Vanderbilt’s home court, is one of the most unique basketball arenas I have ever seen.  Not only did I notice that the team’s benches are at the end of the court (which creates a huge disadvantage for the visiting team), but it also looks like half of the floor section is below the court.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I was very disappointed to see the lack of court-rushage after the game.  At least to make up for it, we will get to see what know-it-all ESPN commentator Skip Bayless, and Vandy alum, has to say tomorrow morning on ESPN2’s Cold Pizza.  This morning good old Skip refused to accept that there was even a chance that the Commodores could win this game.  Good job Skippy, wrong again! 

With that here is an early look at my #1-#4 seeds.

#1 Seeds
Memphis – If these Tigers can’t beat the rest of their C-USA opponents, well, than that’s just sad.
UCLA – I really think that Stanford is the only real obstacle in this team’s way of a #1 seed, and I think the Bruins can handle that.
UNC/Duke – The March 8 meeting between UNC and Duke in Durham will have a #1 seed on the line.
Kansas – Lately, KU has been vulnerable to Big 12 upsets, but I think they will get back on track and win the Big 12 tournament, just to prove it.
#2 Seeds
Loser of UNC/Duke – The loser of the regular season finale – a second seed… poor guys
Tennessee – They had their chance, so they can’t complain
Texas – UT seems to always fold come March Madness, always.  Just keep that in mind
Georgetown – Still have some tough games left against Marquette and Louisville
#3 Seeds
Xavier – Should win the rest of their games
Wisconsin – Needs to beat Michigan State on Thursday and after that they are near the clear
Vanderbilt – They beat Tennesse, so give them their respect
Connecticut – The Big East is deep
#4 Seeds
Indiana – Even with all the Kelvin Sampson business, IU is still playing well
Louisville – The Big East is very deep
Stanford – Still have dates with USC and UCLA
Purdue – Should be able to win the rest of their games

10.3 seconds left in the game.  Oklahoma has the ball and down by one.  The United Spirit Arena is the loudest it has been all season.  Austin Johnson, OU guard, gets the ball is double-teamed and is completely swarmed by Texas Tech defenders.  He passes the ball to Oklahoma senior player David Godbold.  Godbold, six feet behind the three point line, shoots the ball and with 1.4 seconds left in the game, Dead. Silence.  OU 66, Tech 64

The fact of the matter is that it would have been very easy for Pat Knight and his Texas Tech Red Raider team to lay down and give up on this season, with their then record 13-11 (4-6).  This past week the Red Raiders got their first road win against Colorado and their first Big 12 winning streak with a subsequent home win over Iowa State.  Texas Tech is now 6-6 in the conference and tied for 4th with A&M,  Baylor, and Oklahoma.  
With tonight’s Kansas State loss to #5 Texas, the race in the middle of the Big 12 pack has become even tighter.  With four games left in the regular season, the Red Raiders are only a game out of anywhere from 3rd-10th.    Texas Tech’s task is not an easy one, with four games left @ A&M (T-4th), vs. #5 Texas (1st), @ #6 Kansas (2nd), and vs. Baylor (T-4th).  I think if the Red Raiders want to get into the NCAA tournament they need to go 3-1 in these games and win at least one game in the Big 12 tournament, which really won’t be easy.  If the Red Raiders go 2-2, which would still be a feat with the four remaining games, and win a conference tournament game, I really don’t think it will be enough to get into the Big Dance.  Even with all the talk about the Big 12’s RPI and that this is the year there could be six teams from the conference in the tourney, I don’t think it will happen.  Like recent years, the Big 12 will send four teams to March Madness, and five if they are lucky.


Team Overall Big 12 Record
Texas 23-4 10-2
Kansas 24-3 9-3
Kansas State 18-9 8-5
Texas A&M 20-7 6-6
Baylor 18-8 6-6
Oklahoma 18-9 6-6
Texas Tech 15-11 6-6
Nebraska 16-9 5-7
Missouri 15-12 5-7
Oklahoma State 14-12 5-7
Iowa State 14-13 4-8
Colorado 10-16 2-10

Texas Tech holds the tiebreaker over Kansas State and over Texas A&M (if they win on Wednesday)

If Texas Tech wants to extend their chances of making the NCAA tournament the first thing they need to do is beat Texas A&M in College Station on Wednesday.  

With the recent acquisition of Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak, Joe Smith, and Delonte West many say that the entire face of the Cavalier’s franchise has changed; I would have to challenge to the death that is false and Lebron James is still “The King” in Cleveland, Ohio.  With all his recent complaining about how the Cavs needed somebody like Jason Kidd, it’s good to hear that Lebron has given his thumbs up on the trade.

I really feel bad for Chicago Bulls fans, who are probably just now recovering from the Elton Brand trade about seven years ago, because they now have to deal with Larry Hughes on their beloved team.  Hughes has averaged only 12.3 points per game on a lowly 37% from the field this season.  Lebron James, obviously, is the reason the Cavaliers have had as much as success as they have had, and with what he has done with the players around him I think there is no doubt in my mind he is the best player in the NBA (and will be for a long time).  In his fifth season in the league, “The King” is averaging 30.2 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, 7.5 assists per game with a 48% field goal percentage.  In case you don’t keep up with fantasy basketball and were wondering, those kind of numbers definitely make him a top five ranked player in the league; my personal number one.  The Cavs should be getting back to healthy at the right time, the playoffs, as Anderson Varejao (forward/center) and Daniel Gibson (point guard) should both be back on the court by the end of March.  I will be interested to see how much Zydrunas Ilgasukas and newly acquired big man Ben Wallace will be on the floor at the same time.  

Outlook & Predictions: For the Cavaliers, I think this recent trade has made them a clear number three team in the Eastern Conference, but to be completely honest with the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons ahead of them, that really does them no good.  I think the Cleveland Cavaliers will end the season at 48-34 and the #3 Seed in the Eastern Conference; when they meet the Detroit Pistons in the 2nd round they will lose in a five or six game series.  Just like last year, any success that this team has will be because of Lebron James.

Klitschko vs Ibragimov

February 24, 2008

Madison Square Garden, New York City-

Well well well look what just crept up upon us…. A heavyweight unification bout. The 1st heavyweight unification bout since Lewis vs. Holyfield in 1999. Nine years later the best heavyweights in the division are from Europe. Klitschko from Germany and Imbragimov from Russia. So maybe for one night for an hour or so on HBO we can forget about all the cheating in sports? We can take a break from the Mitchell report. We can take a break from Bellicheck and his peeping toms. We can take a break from Kelvin Sampson and his complete idiotic self who actually managed to get himself ousted from Indiana. For tonight we go back to some old school mano y mano 6 ft 2 219 pounds vs 6 ft 6 239 pounds, pound each others head in ’till the 1st one gives. Look people not only is it a big fight, it’s also non PPV (it’s on HBO) , and they are going to show the replay of Pavlik vs Taylor from last week where you may or may not think it was to close to call. So around 9:30pm est kick your feet up, tune in to HBO, and have your girl grab you both a beer out of the fridge because it should be a good one. One last thing… those steroid rumors in boxing are not true… are they?…..Thanks for the invite J.

First off, I just want to welcome Jimmy to Sports Nation; it’s going to be great to have another writer and hopefully have some differing opinions, every once in a while, too.

With that, about a week I wrote about some basic things you can do to be successful in your fantasy baseball league.  I used the term “be smart”, but here is an in-depth look at exactly what that means.

1)Look for some young talent
When drafting your team try to get a few young, rising and upcoming stars, not old, declining from glory players; this is especially important in keeper and/or dynasty leagues.  For this upcoming season, I love players like James Shields (SP), B.J. Upton (2B, OF), Nick Markakis (OF), Hunter Pence (OF), and these are just the top few of a list of TONS of young talent.  Like I said in my previous article, don’t make stupid picks on old and injury-prone players.  Don’t take it personally Pedro Martinez, Jeff Kent, and Curt Schilling, but I don’t want you on my fantasy baseball team.  These types of players may have had great careers, but unless they are your dad or you have some kind of monetary tie to them, don’t waste your time.
2)Get a solid core of veterans
Though it is a good idea to get some young players, make sure not to get too many young players on your team.  Most of your team needs to consist of players that produce fantasy-wise numbers year in and year out.  If your team is going to be stronger in certain categories, this is the place where it needs to happen and in most cases one guy cannot make a difference completely on his own.

3)Draft a team full of players that take steroids
It’s a proven fact that players that take steroids have better stats; they hit more home runs, get more runs batted in, and steal more bases.  Plus, if you haven’t heard this year in fantasy baseball how many steroids your team’s players have taken is a new category.
Haha, okay, just kidding about this one…

Tampa,Fla – Andy Pettitte faced the media today at the Yankees spring training complex hoping to put an end to his endless summer of embarrassment . I believe to an extent he did. Pettitte stood at the podium and took all questions, except those concerning Roger Clemens. One particular question stood out “Do you consider yourself a cheater?” he was asked. Pettitte replied “I didn’t do it to try to get an edge on anyone; I didn’t do it to try get faster, or stronger, or throw harder. I did it because I was told it might be able to help me. If people want to think that I am lying, then they should call me a cheater. “He displayed the same genuine, honest, folksy personality that makes him so likeable in New York. Oh and did I mention his demeanor on the mound in a big game? Pettitte will get by this like he got by the Atlanta in ’96 with a hot John Smoltz on the mound. Like he almost did last season in Cleveland before the bugs attacked Joba Chamberlain. That’s how he needs to look ahead to this season, like a big game. He needs to pull the brim of his cap down to the top of his eyes and dig in. After all they visit Red Sox nation the second weekend of the season, where the fans will be ready for war. I look forward to it.

The Phoenix Suns are a great team, but I really think that their recent trade for Shaquille O’Neal hurt them a lot more than helped them. A Lot.  Losing one of the best forwards in the NBA is going to be a huge blow to the Sun’s forward core.  The Suns’, obviously, have a superstar center in Amare Stoudemire averaging 23.2 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game, and 59% field goal percentage.  Grant Hill, the Sun’s starting small forward, has really been the one consistent forward that the Sun’s still have this season averaging almost 15 points per game.  Brian Skinner, Shaq, and even Boris Diaw have all been very inconsistent this season leaving a huge hole in the Suns’ lineup.

That is my first concern with this team’s playoff chances – if they meet a team with strong forwards they could get dismantled.  My other main concern with the Phoenix Sun’s is the very, very thin roster.  When (and if) Shaq gets healthy then the Sun’s will be lucky to have a seven or eight man rotation and in a long playoff series fatigue could play a factor.
Outlook & Predictions: I think Steve Kerr, Suns’ General Manager of Basketball Operations, and the rest of the Phoenix Suns franchise will find that they should have kept Shawn Marion as this team ends the season 53-29 as the #5 seed in the Western Conference, and loses to the New Orleans Hornets in the first round of the playoffs.

After going to the Texas Tech – Kansas State basketball game and seeing him live, in person, there is no doubt about it – Michael Beasley is an absolute beast.  He has as many skills as any other player in NCAA Division I basketball and has single handily made the Kansas State Wildcats contenders in the Big XII.

But when the question of whether or not Beasley is better than Kevin Durant, what Complete Sports posed a few weeks ago, my answer does not take any numerical statistics into account.  The most important stat to me is maturity, and for Beasley that his lack of it.  As the Washington Post reported last March, Michael Beasley’s immaturity is really no secret.  He jumped from high school to high school five times in only four years, and he just assumes he will make it to the National Basketball Association because of his skills; but the NBA should never be considered a given.  Though Beasley and Durant’s numbers from their freshman year are almost completely identical thus far, Beasley needs to realize that is time to grow up and stop doing petty things that get him in trouble both on and off the court.  Against Texas Tech, on Wednesday, there is no doubt that Michael Beasley was frustrated and played nowhere near his ‘A’ game, but still managed to score 22 points and grab 15 rebounds.  The problem was that Beasley was noticeably frustrated and did nothing but complain the entire game; if he did that in the NBA, he wouldn’t be playing or very long.
Michael Beasley has all of the talent to be a superstar in the NBA, but now he needs to gain the maturity level too – before it’s too late.  If Beasley continues with his immature behavior it won’t be long before he is kicked to the curb like so many other young stars.

Mark Cuban never intended for Devin Harris, Desagana Diop, Maurice Ager, Jerry Stackhouse, or Devean George to leave for the New Jersey Nets.  I think that’s definitely clear, at least in my mind, until he proves otherwise. 

If you go to the Dallas Mavericks site or Mark Cuban’s blog, neither one have any mention of the potential trade.  And I know you guys don’t believe and will try to find something, go ahead, I dare you. With the NBA trade deadline looming and only six days away, I really think Mark Cuban consulted his players, especially Stackhouse and George , before the Jason Kidd trade was accepted.  He told Jerry Stackhouse to say that he will be back in Dallas in 30 days and Devean George to stand firm with his bird rights.  The reason George was able to block the trade was because of his “Larry Bird rights”, keeping him from losing contract leverage this summer as a free agent.  I really think Mark Cuban knew this when he accepted the trade and contrary to what some believe he is a very smart guy.  

What this probably means is that, in reality, Cuban is trying to get Jason Kidd for less than what he is actually worth, or instead just trying to keep the Dallas Maverick’s fans happy by “trying” to make a trade, and either way it’s a stroke of genius by Cuban.  Another possibility is that Cuban intended to trade away the rights of Keith Van Horn, who is still technically a part of the Mavs.

 Of course, all of this goes out the window in the next six days if Jason Kidd becomes a Dallas Maverick and the original trade goes through.  We’ll just have to see…

First, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.  Then, Pau Gasol, Shaq, and Shawn Marion.

The last calendar year has been full of blockbuster trades in the NBA and it looks like the end isn’t sight.  Jason Kidd appears to be heading to the Dallas Mavericks for Devin Harris, Desagna Diop, Devan George, Jerry Stackhouse, and Maurice Ager.  Yes, that’s a lot of names and that is my main concern with this trade – the Maverick’s new depth – or lack of it.  Dallas will also receive PF Malik Allen and G-F Antoine Wright in the trade and some sources say Jerry Stackhouse could re-join the Mavericks in 30 days.  When Stackhouse found out about the trade here is what he had to say about it, “I feel great.  I get 30 days to rest, then I’ll be right back, I ain’t going nowhere.”  It makes sense because Stack has only played once in the past 11 games; for the Maverick’s sake, I hope this is true.

As a Dallas Mavericks fan at first look this trade is absolutely ludicrous, but if you think back to last May against Golden State, you can’t but shrug your shoulders and applaud Mark Cuban for at least doing something.  Though Jason Kidd is almost 35 he is still playing great basketball and will be a part of a Big 3 that is close to what Boston has in Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce.

I want the Mavericks to be good in five years, sure, but as a fan I can’t help but think how close we have been to a championship (Game 3 of NBA Finals up 2-0 on Miami Heat) and how this trade could propel the Mavericks to that coveted NBA Championship.

No one really knows – this could be one of the worst trades in NBA history or we could be sitting here in June with the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.  For now, I’ll just have to hope that it’s the latter of those two.