Devil Of A Game


Say what you want, but the Duke Blue Devils reached the top of the NCAA world after a nine year absence.

In a season that was reigned by Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, and a few other teams, Duke was never mentioned. They quietly did their thing, and while doing that all regular season, they quietly won the ACC, the ACC tournament, and earned their position in the tournament.

The naysayers and critics believed that Duke was the weakest of the #1 seeds in the tournament, and had the easiest road, but Duke went out and handled their business. Breezed through the South Region and the Final Four for a trip to Indianapolis.

Then the stage was set for the National Championship. They faced a team that had the crowd, and a “Hoosiers” like story behind them in the Butler Bulldogs. Like Duke, this was a team that handled their business. 25 straight wins, knocked off Goliaths such as Syracuse, Kansas State, and Michigan State. Playing down the road from the championship site (Lucas Oil Stadium), Butler was looking for a great story and cap off a Cinderella run.

Butler showed nothing but heart in a game where they were a 7.5 point underdog, and many people felt that Duke would steamroll them and make it no contest. The Bulldogs showed nothing but grit and grind in this game, when Duke got up by six, Butler responded with seven straight points. When the Blue Devils wanted to pull away, Butler would not let them, it took a 48 foot heave by Gordon Hayward that hit the backboard and off the front iron that gave Duke its first championship since 2001.

For the Blue Devils, it was their fourth championship, in a tournament where they knocked off a seed higher than four for the first time since 2001 (last time they won), and they used their strengths and improved their weakness. From Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler’s ability to shoot from the outside and the length and height of Brian Zoubek and the Plumlee brothers (Mason & Miles), coming home to Indiana to win a national championship. And Coach Mike Krzyzewski, coming off the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, claims another title, which ties him with Adolph Rupp of Kentucky for the second most championships among coaches with four. (Behind John Wooden’s 10).

Finally how about Nolan Smith. 30 years after his dad, Derek Smith won a National Championship with Louisville in 1980 in Indianapolis at the old Market Square Arena, he wins one himself in the same city at Lucas Oil Stadium. A great story indeed.

The National Championship stays in the ACC, and in the state of North Carolina continues to reign supreme in college hoops. And it will just add more fire to the already heated UNC/Duke rivalry. Celebration is on in Cameron, congratulations Duke. You earned it.

2010 Bracket Series: West Region- Sweet 16

The 2010 Bracket Series is back along with the Madness, as the Sweet 16 resumes with the games out west in Salt Lake City. The Syracuse Orange had no problem in their first two games, but they are going against a Butler team that has not lost in 2010 (22 straight wins). A newfound rivalry is resumed in the Beehive State as the Kansas State Wildcats go up against the Xavier Musketeers

(1) Syracuse Orange vs. (5) Butler Bulldogs- This will not be an easy task for the Orange, no Arinze Onuaku for this game, but Jim Boeheim stressed that he is focused on Butler and nothing else. The Bulldogs are the underdog, but they have also won 22 straight games. They have what it takes to beat Syracuse, and if they can get by that 2-3 Zone, and slow down the transition game, they have a chance to win. However, Syracuse is too talented, and are playing very well. Orange win.

(2) Kansas State Wildcats vs. (6) Xavier Musketeers- People are wondering why this is a rivalry. 1) Xavier blew K-State out by 26 in 2007, and K-State won this season by 15. 2.) Frank Martin’s familiarity with Xavier (being in Cincinnati). This is a game between two scrappy teams who want to go to the Elite Eight. Jacob Pullen & Jordan Crawford are two guards who will not let their teams go down without a fight. At the end of the day though, Xavier has been here before (only them and Michigan State have been this deep each of the past three years) and Kansas State has not been here. The tournament is when the Musketeers usually shine. Beware of the X, K-State. Musketeers in an upset.

On Friday, TSX will look at the Midwest & South Region’s Sweet 16 matchups. Enjoy the games everybody!

2010 Bracket Series: East Region- Sweet 16

The Madness resumes tonight, and the two regions in the Sweet 16 that will be playing tonight is the East Region & West Region. The Midwest Region and South Region matchups will be posted tomorrow night to TSX! Right now, the focus will be on the East Region, and some two intriguing matchups. Starting with the Kentucky Wildcats vs. the Cornell Big Red, which will be preceded by the Washington Huskies and the West Virginia Mountaineers

(1) Kentucky Wildcats vs. (12) Cornell Big Red- Cornell has the potential to be an Elite Eight, or dare we say, a Final Four team. A lot of people are going to think that the young and high flying Wildcats are going to steamroll the Big Red, but this Cornell team is a veteran bunch, that took the Kansas Jayhawks to the wire. If Cornell and keep Kentucky grounded and play solid defense, they have a great chance. What Kentucky must do is continue to play good perimeter defense. They have allowed just 18% from 3-point range, and if they continue to do that, it should be a win. Calipari wants that National Championship, so advantage goes to UK, but do NOT be surprised if Cornell pulls off an upset.

(2) West Virginia Mountaineers vs. (11) Washington Huskies- Who would’ve thought the Pac-10 would be better than the Big East in this NCAA Tournament? The Huskies are looking like the team that was supposed to dominate a weak Pac-10, and definitely have their swagger back and are playing with a boatload of confidence. The odds for Washington to make an Elite Eight run have been more evened out with the unfortunate injury to West Virginia player Darryl Bryant. Two schools with guys that have been together for a long time, is going to make for a great game. In terms of coaching, the advantage definitely goes to West Virginia, but the game can go either way.

Check back Friday for a look at the Elite Eight Matchup from the winners of these games! Next up: The West Region Sweet 16 matchups.

The Tainted Rule

Today, the National Football League passed a rule that changes the overtime format of the NFL Playoffs, pretty much giving it a college style type of overtime.

Bad idea. Bad rule. Everything about this is just spells bad.

The reason: Sudden-death overtime is what made the NFL what it is today. How you ask?

Read up on the 1958 NFL Championship. The Greatest Game Ever Played. This was the first sudden-death overtime game in NFL history. Nobody even heard of the term overtime, as most NFL games ended in ties after regulation, but with a championship on the line, there had to be a winner. This created the sudden death overtime format, which was implemented in the regular season in 1974. It was simple. First team score wins. If you want the ball, play defense, and get the ball, and prevent the other team from scoring.

As the game has shifted into more of the offensive side, it has been clear that the NFL wants to give both teams a chance. After a 28-4 vote by owners, the NFL is going to do the college-style OT for the playoffs, with the possibility of implenting this rule in the regular season for 2011. It’s understood that the game changes, but the history shouldn’t. Fans and teams have complained that they don’t get a chance, but the simplicity of it is. First team to score wins the game. The team that does not win the toss has proven to win the game (as in Karlos Dansby’s GW TD against Green Bay in the 2009 NFC Wild Card game).

Sudden death is what made the NFL what it is today. The owners need a refresher on its history.

2010 Bracket Series: West Region- 2nd Round

The West Region 2nd Round has some very intriguing matchups, and only one low seed made it out of the first round: the Murray State Racers on Danero Thomas’ game winning jumper. Murray State has the task of facing a Butler team that has won 21 straight games, and overcame the 12 over 5 curse by dispatching UTEP. This region also features the three second round matchups the committee thought would be perfect, and those matchups will be broken down individually.

(1) Syracuse vs. (8) Gonzaga- This will be probably one of the best games in the second round. Two teams loaded with talent, two great coaches, and this game has put Syracuse in the most vulnerable spot of all the #1 seeds. Gonzaga has a good inside and outside game, along with Syracuse, and this is where Arinze Onuaku would be a factor. But since he is unlikely to play this weekend, this is a game that can go either way.

(2) Kansas State vs. (7) BYU- BYU’s mission: to play in their home state, but this will be boiled down to how Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen can do. BYU will have not as fresh legs, but Jimmer Fredette is a scoring machine himself, and if they can get a spark from Michael Loyd like he gave the Cougars in the Florida game, Kansas State will be in trouble. BYU just might not have enough in the tank to pull off the upset, but do not be surprised if they do win the game, and go on to Salt Lake City.

(3) Pittsburgh vs. (6) Xavier- Another great matchup. The X is not afraid of Pitt, and they could pull off the upset, but Pitt has a lot of weapons, and those weapons can be just a little too much for Xavier to overcome. A Sweet 16 without Xavier would be weird, but in this game, it just looks as if the Panthers will overwhelm the Musketeers by the end of the game.

(5) Butler vs. (13) Murray State- UPSET ALERT! Hate to put Butler on the upset alert again, but Murray State is deep, they have such a good rotation, but the thing that could work against them is if they still living off that emotion from Thomas’ buzzer beater. They have to stay focused on the Bulldogs or they will be out of the tournament very quick.

Enjoy the 2nd round games later today, TSX will return the Bracket Series for the Regionals next Wednesday & Thursday.

2010 Bracket Series: South Region- 2nd Round

The South Region of the 2010 NCAA Tournament featured probably the only matchups where the seedings are in some kind of order. Only two double digit seeds moved on in St. Mary’s & ODU. The top-seed in this region, the Duke Blue Devils, had no problem with Arkansas Pine-Bluff, and should not have a problem with California in the 2nd round. The dark horse of the tournament coming in, the Siena Saints, disappointed and were eliminated in the first round. The most disappointing team in the region that’s still alive is the Villanova Wildcats. More on that in their matchup preview.

(1) Duke vs. (8) California- If Louisville was in this matchup, I would put this as an upset alert, but with Cal winning the game, it made Duke’s road to the Sweet 16 so much easier. Blue Devils advance with ease.

(4) Purdue vs. (5) Texas A&M- Purdue had no problem with Siena, but Texas A&M is a different animal. If Robbie Hummel was playing, the pick would be easier to do with Purdue, but he’s such an x-factor to the Boilermakers’ game that one has to go with Texas A&M.

(3) Baylor vs. (11) Old Dominion- Old Dominion wasn’t even supposed to be here, but they are. But they are going against a very focused Baylor team. Lacedarius Dunn & Tweety Carter are playing some great ball, and Baylor should have no problems w/ ODU in this one.

(2) Villanova vs. (10) St. Mary’s- Villanova played horribly and did not deserve that win over Robert Morris, but they found a way to win nonetheless. One thing is for certain, if they play that way against a even better St. Mary’s team, this game is over. The Gaels will not be a tall order for Jay Wright’s bunch, so whatever issues on AND off the court they have, they need to fix it and fix it immediately.

The final region in the Bracket Series will be done in the West Region.

2010 Bracket Series: East Region- 2nd Round

The East Region 2nd round will present some interesting matchups. After dispatching East Tennessee State with ease, the Kentucky Wildcats face a team with a similar style to them in the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, but how much is drained from the Deacs emotional OT win over Texas? The Cornell Big Red took out the Temple Owls with ease, and if the Wisconsin Badgers look anything like they did against the Wofford Terriers, Cornell should have no problem with Wisconsin. Washington took out Marquette and will face the New Mexico Lobos, in an interesting matchup. Finally a very interesting matchup between the Missouri Tigers and West Virginia Mountaineers.

(1) Kentucky vs. (9) Wake Forest- These two teams are similar. They have quickness, they have size, and they have two of the fastest point guards in the college game right now in John Wall (Kentucky) and Ishmael Smith (Wake Forest). Kentucky’s size is much bigger than Wake’s w/ DeMarcus Cousins & Daniel Orton. UK should pull off the upset.

(4) Wisconsin vs. (12) Cornell- UPSET ALERT! The Big Red have a great inside-outside game, and if they continue the hot shooting and strong defensive play, Wisconsin is in trouble. The Badgers will have to guard the perimeter with no flaws if they want a chance to win.

(3) New Mexico vs. (11) Washington- Both teams haven’t played tough opponents all season, but the Huskies were tested against Marquette and passed. This is going to be a big test for the Lobos to make it to the Sweet 16. Are they up for the challenge?

(2) West Virginia vs. (10) Missouri- Missouri is definitely no Morgan State. With Mike Anderson’s 40 Minutes of Hell in effect, and the way Missouri exploded on Clemson, the Mountaineers can not have another 0-11 start like they did against Morgan State. If they do, Mizzou will definitely make them pay. West Virginia has more weapons though, and should pull it off at the end of the day.

Next on the Bracket Series: The South Region.

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