Archive | March, 2012

my new love for college hockey and what it means for you

29 Mar

im about to admit that i never really had a liking for the sport of hockey. but before you go all crazy on me, im about to tell you that i have changed. my friends kept telling me that if i just watched 1 game, i’d be hooked. well, they were right. this past weekend i sat down with a few of my friends and watched the second round of the college hockey championship. it featured the minnesota golden gophers and the north dakota fighting sioux. both teams were trying to punch their ticket to the “frozen four” in tampa.

where im from in new jersey, college hockey isn’t really that big. people don’t follow it like they follow baseball, football and basketball. even though i didn’t know that much about the game, i was able to get into it very quickly. every time there was a penalty and one team was down a player, i was nervous and every time north dakota got close to minnesota’s goal, i was nervous (yes, i was rooting for minnesota).

now that im rooting minnesota and they’re in the frozen four, i figured i would need to give my self a crash course in division-1 hockey. i sat down and did some research on the four teams vying for the division-1 college hockey championship.

since i now have this new love for college hockey, this means you will now get to know all about the sport too. and because you were wondering, here’s some need to know info:

the 4 teams that have made it to the 2012 frozen four are union college of new york, ferris state, minnesota, and boston college. each team has their own interesting story.

ferris state and union college play each other in the first game of the championship (April 5th). union beat out michigan state and mass-lowell in the first two rounds to get to the frozen four. union was the #1 seed in the east region but had to beat out mass-lowell in overtime to get here. this is also the first time since 2003 that a team from the ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference) has made it to the semi-finals.

ferris state is a pretty cool story. the #1 seed in their region was michigan but they didn’t even have to play them because cornell did that. they did in fact have to beat cornell 2-1 to get to their first ever frozen four.

both ferris state and union college are making their first ever trip to the frozen four. this is new for both teams. ferris state’s stars are senior jordie johnston and goalie taylor nelson. they’ve had some pretty tough losses this season but also some pretty big wins. union college depends on sophomore goalie troy grosenick who had 19 saves in their game vs. mass-lowell. they also have kelly zajac, younger brother of devils center, travis zajac. to say there is not history on both of these teams would be lying. they come from programs that have worked their way up the ranks and continue time and time again to prove themselves. the winner of this game would show just how far they have come.

so the 1st game is unique because both teams are newcomers but the 2nd game features two storied powerhouses. #1 overall seed boston college and the #2 seed from the west, minnesota. boston college last won the championship in 2010 and minnesota in 2003. neither team is a stranger to the other as they have played  27 times.

to get to this game, boston college had to beat defending champion minnesota-duluth and minnesota had to beat the #1 seed in their region, north dakota. both teams have too many stars to name and feature plenty of talented guys who will soon be in the National Hockey League. obviously, each have tons to gain from a win here. minnesota would prove that they are back at the top and boston college will avenge their loss last year in the regionals. minnesota is the highest scoring team of the ncaa tournament while boston college has not surrendered a goal in the tournament yet. which team’s tempo will win out? either way, this could be the best game of the tournament.

if minnesota plays like they did against north dakota, i think they can win this game but like many hockey games, it could get ugly. two storied teams that both want the victory.

i wouldn’t call myself qualified enough yet to predict who will win the tournament but i do know it would be pretty cool to see the underdogs win. however,  i think the winner of the boston college/minnesota game will win the championship. there is too much experience on either of those teams and i think both have been battle-tested enough to pull out a championship victory.

im already counting down till the 2012-2013 season of college hockey starts…

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Final Four thoughts

26 Mar

So the stage has been set. The final four features 4 really great teams. #1 seed Kentucky, #2 Ohio state, #2 Kansas and #4 Louisville.

Final Fours are always filled with what ifs and stories about which teams didn’t make it but this is about what teams made it and how they have gotten where they are.

The only team I’m really surprised by is #2 seeded Ohio state. I’m thoroughly impressed by their resilience and the path they have taken to reach the final four. They played a great game against a Syracuse team that was struggling. We can’t sit here and ask the questions “what if” about Ohio state. They have made it. Great for them. Jared Sullinger and Thad Motta have taken this team far.

I really like this Kansas team because I honestly feel like they are a complete and together team. Bill self has done a great job making them a team and they did just beat UNC.

Wow. I am so impressed by Louisville. I actually have them in my final four because I was so impressed by their play in the big east tournament. They have definitely shown that they are a team to be reckoned with and if I was Kentucky, i would beware right now. Rick Pitino is one good coach.

Oh. But then you have Kentucky. The lone #1 seed left in the tournament. I still have them winning it all. Now I know, Kentucky is the “safe” pick but they are the most complete and the best team in this final four. They have star power,Coach Calipari, play as a team, and can now make their free throws!

So I picked Kentucky because I think they will win but I’m not going to lie, I would love to see Louisville pull the upsets.

There are so many great things about the final four. What I love about it is the hoopla that leads up to the games, the states, and the effort and excitement that follows it all.

Here we go….

the battle of the coaches

23 Mar

so syracuse vs. ohio state, louisville vs. florida. or should i say boeheim vs. matta, pitino vs. donovan?

i bet if you heard all 4 of these names you would probably know how huge they were. if you didn’t know 4 of probably the biggest names in ncaa basketball coaching right now. just another reason why the 1st two games of the elite 8 are going to be fun.

so first you have syracuse and ohio state. so many people thought syracuse would be the first #1 seed to lose because of their recent player woes. but they have actually been one of the biggest surprises so far. they have shown that they are still a team made up of great players and coaches. it wasn’t easy against wisconsin but they pulled out a win and deserve to be in the elite eight. plus, they’re led by jim boeheim, 3rd on the all time coaches win list and clearly a coach who can inspire his players to play past the scandals.

i am probably the most surprised by this ohio state team. while they are the #2 seed in the region, i honestly didn’t think they would make it this far. in the past, they have not made it past the sweet sixteen so it’ll be interesting to see how thad matta and his team handle the pressure of a big game like this and the defensive pressure of syracuse. thad matta is probably the least storied coach of these 4 but he is big time. jared sullinger and aaron craft have both proved to be important to their team and will need to have big games in order to get past syracuse.

earlier this week i said i was rooting for louisville to win and they definitely won big. louisville shocked many last night when they won a huge game versus the heavily favored and #1 seed michigan state spartans. from the beginning, louisville’s defensive pressure was too much for michigan state to handle. louisville used their defense together with some huge 3s in the second half to show everyone why they won the big east championship a few weeks ago. the big east has been here before. last year uconn took their big east tournament win all the way to the national championship and won. so can louisville do what uconn did last year? what i love about this louisville team is that they are not just a one man show. they are led by petyton siva but they have a few guys who have stepped up and could prove to be huge when they play florida on saturday. louisville is coached by rick pitino, a highly regarded coach known for his defense.

and then there is florida, the other side of this story. a #7 seed who is clearly peaking at the right time. florida has been battle tested and clearly shows why its important to play a tough schedule throughout the season. the gators are definitely not your typical #7 seed and with bradley beal playing like he is now, their game saturday will be a site to see. if florida can handle the defense of louisville, this could be the best game of the elite eight. plus, the last time billy donovan made the elite eight, he won the national championship.

this will again be a battle of coaches, pitino vs donovan, who will win?

looking forward to these games but definitely not looking past the exciting games that will be on tonight!!

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where will tim tebow go?

21 Mar

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the question on everyone’s mind right now is not how will peyton manning do with his newly found home in denver (everyone is pretty much expecting greatness) but what happens to tim tebow?

2 1/2 months ago, tebow looked like he could do no wrong for the denver broncos. he was on every sportscenter highlight, the cover of magazines and newspapers, and a myriad of commercials. oh how the times have changed drastically. now, i will admit, i am not a lover of all things tim tebow and have tried to not give in to the hype. i think at times, tebow, as a player and a person has been blown completely out of proportion, but, i think there is value to him as a player and really as a brand. tebow has the ability to change the atmosphere of a team and does have (gasp) some legitimate playmaking abilities.

so the question becomes, where will he go? denver is apparently set on trading him although i do think that he would benefit from staying there for a few years and learning from peyton. but, i get it. there is a certain air that goes with tim tebow and for a team looking to infuse some energy into their fan base and franchise, he could be the right choice.

the other thing to take into account is will tim tebow be a legitimate contender for a starting quarterback job on any nfl team? as many analysts have said, tim tebow is a great athlete and football player. but he needs more time to develop his nfl quarterback skills. if he is set on being a starting qb on an nfl team, he might need to sit back and learn from a more seasoned starter. i think quarterback competition would greatly benefit tebow so more time for him might be necessary. tebow’s completion percentage last season was lower then the average completion percentage for all the nfl quarterbacks.

so where does he go?

the biggest names that are out right now are the jacksonville jaguars, the green bay packers, the miami dolphins, and .. the new york jets (a recent development).

i think the jaguars would probably benefit the most from tebow because they will be able to create excitement again for their team. they have been a franchise that has always struggled. tebow is from jacksonville and will definitely sell tickets and create excitement. but will he really help the team out as a quarterback? plus, jacksonville has 2 quarterbacks signed already.

the packers are an interesting team because they would be gaining another well-liked quarterback in tebow but they would also be saying to tebow, you are going to be the back-up for a while. aaron rodgers is not going anywhere anytime soon and it is highly unlikely that tebow will beat him out for the starting  job.

now the miami dolphins are another florida team that would benefit from the excitement of tim tebow. however, they would probably have to change too much of their offense in order to make tebow successful. this is where the discussion of a possible position change for tebow could come in. tebow has the capabilities to be a great nfl running back or tight end and could play a lot more if he chooses to make a position switch.

lastly, the new york jets have emerged as another team interested in tebow. tebow to the jets could get interesting. they could benefit greatly from the excitement of tim tebow and it might provide a spark for a franchise and fan base that has been disappointed by quarterback mark sanchez as of late. it could be good to see some quarterback competition between tebow and sanchez but again, its a gamble.

i have no idea where tebow will end up but im sure that wherever he goes, he will not only have his loyal fans follow but he will also gain many new “tebow faithful” as well.

cinderella at the big dance

19 Mar

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its the story we love to read, its david beating goliath, the little man beating the big man, and its what march madness is all about. this past weekend was just another reason why we love to be sports fans. it was not about the best team in the country, it was about the team with the heart, the coach who takes his team to great heights, and the athletes who take everyone by surprise.

this past weekend we saw two heavily favored #2 seeds go down and in true cinderella fashion. lehigh and norfolk state showed why we love to root for the underdog. while neither team made it onto the sweet sixteen, no one will forget those wins for a long time.

this year’s tournament sweet sixteen is exactly what defines the ncaa tournament. we still have all 4 #1 seeds, kentucky, unc, michigan state, and syracuse but only two #2 seeds left (ohio state and kansas).

let’s look at the midwest region first. right now it seems that unc has the easiest game coming up playing #13 seed ohio. but if this past weekend is any indication, i don’t think unc will be taking them lightly. its going to be interesting to see how unc will respond with the injury to kendall marshall but they did well without john henson so i would not be too worried.

#11 nc state/#2 kansas is a matchup that seems to be another easy one for kansas until you look at what nc state has done these last few weeks. nc state just beat san diego state and georgetown. at this point in the tournament, seeds don’t really matter, and if you ask duke or missouri, they’ll probably tell you they haven’t mattered since the beginning.

im really looking forward to both games in the west region. #1 michigan state is looking great right now but so is #4 louisville. both teams have a highly regarded star in draymond green and peyton siva and two highly successful coaches in tom izzo and rick pitino. will it be green or siva? izzo or pitino? im a huge peyton siva fan and im rooting for louisville but im thinking the winner of this game could go to the final four.

but then you go to the other game: #3 marquette and #7 florida. again, i wouldn’t underestimate this lower seeded florida team. they have had some questionable losses this season but they played a tough schedule for a reason. im going to guess that they have learned from their losses this season and are at their peak. but, im rooting for the big east team here because i think marquette is a solid team with great coaching and star power as well.

#1 kentucky will probably be the team to emerge from the south region and into the final four (i still have them winning the championship) but i don’t think the road will be easy. they have to get through a highly successful #4 indiana team who the last time they were in the sweet sixteen, made it to the championship game. this game could be close.

and then there is #3 baylor/#10 xavier. im not surprised that baylor is in this game but i am surprised by xavier. however, xavier showed everyone that they can come back from big deficits. it’ll be interesting to see which team plays better in this matchup.

one more region, the east region. this region definitely features some surprise teams. #1 syracuse has definitely shocked people in the way they have responded to the loss of fab melo but they looked good in their last game versus kansas state. however, this #4 wisconsin team did just beat a heavily favored vanderbilt team. im excited to see what defense the badgers will use and how the orange will respond. wisconsin might have been the favorite to beat syracuse last week but so was kansas state.

and then you have #6 cincinnati vs #2 ohio state. wow. that’s the word to describe cincinnati and their win over highly favored florida state. no one saw them coming, except for maybe syracuse, who cinci beat two weeks ago in the big east tournament. im surprised by ohio state because they seemed to be a better team early in the season. however, it does not look like jared sullinger will let his buckeyes lose in the sweet sixteen again.

will some cinderella teams emerge in the sweet sixteen rounds? or will all the higher seeds prevail?

march 22nd and 23rd should be a fun-filled two days…

first round matchups ill be watching…

15 Mar

while every game in the tournament is important, here are my picks for some interesting matchups…

t-4 hours till the games start!!

#6 murray state vs. #11 colorado state (march 15th – 12:15pm) – murray state is playing really close to home and have had a great season. murray state is a good offensive team and while colorado state has some weapons, they are not too deep off the bench. look to see how much murray state can cause colorado to turn the ball over.

#5 vanderbilt vs.#12 harvard (march 15th – 4:40pm) – this game involves 2 extremely likeable teams.  vanderbilt had a few bad losses but ultimately won the SEC tournament by beating out heavily favored kentucky. while harvard is coming having won the ivy league while also beating florida state this season. i know someone who has actually picked them to make it to the final four!  both these teams have huge upsides and a few wins for harvard and they’ll be looking at homecourt advantage in boston.

#1 kentucky vs. #16 western kentucky (march 15th – 6:50pm) – who doesn’t want to see the overall number 1 seed in the tournament play? plus its already a good story being that wku beat mississippi valley state in the first game of the tournament. maybe kentucky can practice their free throws during this game.  should be a fun one to watch!

#7 gonzaga vs. #10 wvu (march 15th – 7:20pm) – this 7/10 matchup is a virtual home game for the lower seeded west virginia and this game could be interesting. west virginia is definitely battle tested having played in the big east so it’ll be interesting to see if bob huggins’ group can pull out the upset. kevin jones will probably be key in this game.

#5 whichita state vs. #12 vcu (march 15th – 7:15pm) – whichita state is seeded way higher than vcu but vcu did make it all the way to the final four last year. whichita state has some really talented seniors and are one of the best mid-major teams in the tournament this year.

#8 iowa state vs. # 9 uconn (march 15th – 9:20pm) – a pretty evenly matched game. uconn is peaking at the right time having won a few big east games but they rely to heavily on shabbaz napier and jeremy lamb.  this team does knows how to win a championship being that they won the tournament last year but the win lies in their need to bring a total team effort against a highly talented team of iowa state.

# 6 cincinnati vs. #11 texas (march 16th – 12:15pm) – both of these teams were almost out of the tournament but played well enough in the last few weeks of the season to make it and each has something to prove. cincinnati had 2 huge victories over georgetown and syracuse (with fab melo) in the big east tournament last week that will definitely have this texas team’s guard up. it seems like cincinnati is peaking at an important time. yancy gates could be extremely important in this game. this could be a game where the team that controls the offensive glass wins.

#3 florida state vs. #14 st bonaventure (march 16th – 2:45pm) – no one can deny that the acc tournament champions, florida state have the advantage in this matchup and nearly everyone will probably pick the seminoles to win this game (i picked them too)! But they can’t underestimate st bonaventure and that they are in the top 25 in the nation in offensive rebounding and in the top 90 in field-goal defense, defensive rebounding and three-point percentage. a probable win for florida state but a potentially pretty cool game to watch.

#3 georgetown vs. #14 belmont (march 16th – 3:10pm) – this game is important because georgetown hasn’t won a first round game in 2 years. you can bet that john thompson III will definitely have his guys on guard for this game but this is one that many are picking belmont with the upset. belmont only lost to duke by 1 point this season and have some really solid wins. georgetown is highly ranked and has one of the nation’s top defenses. it’ll be interesting to see how close this game really is.

here goes nothing..

13 Mar

at the request of my friends, i am starting a blog. what better way to share my sports knowledge and thoughts with the world. question my credibility and argue my points if you choose but here goes nothing…