Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - First Round, Day 2

Just a quick recap of what I saw in my Sportz Room -- filled with TVs that I can watch all four games going on at the same time.

GAME OF THE DAY: Nevada vs Texas. We'll get to that other game in a moment. That Nevada-Texas game was just so good. Both had leads where they felt they had the win. Both made plays to get back in the game. Caleb Martin was huge in this one, the crowd was alive and we got a rather energetic Eric Musselman dropping f-bombs on live TV.

UPSET OF THE DAY: UMBC vs Virginia. Uh, let's see, who could it be?

CONFERENCE OF THE DAY: ACC. The ACC went 4-1 today, though everyone will remember that 1.  North Carolina and Clemson took care of business while Syracuse and Florida State pulled off upsets. Still ... what happened to Virginia?

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD DAY: ACC. I've never put the same conference as the good and bad on the same day. But Virginia? You won 20 ACC games this year. You went 17-1 during the regular season and coasted to the ACC tournament championship.  The No. 1 team in the country and the top overall seed in this tournament. And you become the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed? They ACC couldn't beat you but a team from the America Easat could?.  

DUD OF THE DAY: Florida State vs Missouri. Neither team evoked confidence heading into this one, but Florida State jumped all over Missouri and made this a sorta blowout. Sure, Mizzou made a few comebacks to get this close, but the Seminoles made quick work of this up-and-down Tigers squad. Not the usual No. 8 vs No. 9 matchup.

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: UMBC. It wasn't just that they beat Virginia, they just blew them out. That Cavaliers defense is so, so good but the Retrievers put 53 points on them in the second half.

UNDERLYING STORYLINE OF THE DAY: It finally happened. Every year, we heard that one day a No. 16 seed will beat a No. 1 seed. It was out there though no one believes it will happen in that year. There have been a few close calls but it never happened. Teams who earned No. 1 seeds found their main motivation was not being that first team to lose that game. Well, Virginia became that team and, as all before them have feared, will always be that team. This tournament will forever be known as the one where the No. 1 seed lost to the 16-seed.  Forever and always.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - First Round, Day 1

Just a quick recap of what I saw in my Sportz Room -- filled with TVs that I can watch all four games going on at the same time.

GAME OF THE DAY: Loyola Chicago vs Miami. There were a couple of a good candidates but none of the others had a shot like the one Donte Ingram hit. Down one, Ingram hit a three with 0.3 seconds remaining for the win. Not only did they get the win, but they also had Sister Jean ... their 98-year old chaplain ... give an outstanding interview postgame. Great story.

UPSET OF THE DAY: Buffalo vs Arizona.  Arizona was a popular pick to go to the Final Four as many felt their seed was rather low for their talent. Well, Buffalo wasn't having any of it. The Bulls owned the Wildcats, stomping them 89-68. What was surprising was how Arizona kind of quit in the second half of this game. They showed no fight.  

CONFERENCE OF THE DAY: SEC. The SEC won all four games today (Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida and Alabama). The conference seemingly got no respect from the selection committee with their seeding. The first three won games they were supposed to while Alabama pulled a mild upset over Virginia Tech.

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD DAY: Pac-12. The ACC lost three games today (NC State, Virginia Tech, Miami) and would normally occupy this space, but the Pac-12 wins this by watching Arizona eliminated. This is the first time in decades that one of the power conferences didn't place at least one team in the Round of 32. The Pac-12 finished this tournament 0-3.  

DUD OF THE DAY: Tennessee vs Wright State. Wright State was looked at as a team that could give Tennessee some problems. They didn't .

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: Buffalo vs Arizona. I mean, Buffalo looked like a title favorite with all the NBA prospects while Arizona looked like an overwhelmed mid-major.  Unbelievable.

UNDERLYING STORYLINE OF THE DAY: Fading stars. Deandre Ayton and Trae Young will be among the first people picked in June's NBA Draft. Both played alright (Young played better) in their first NCAA Tournament game but that experience was also a one-and-done.

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - First Four

Just a quick recap of what I saw in my Sportz Room -- filled with TVs that I can watch all four games going on at the same time.

GAME OF THE DAY: Syracuse vs Arizona State. Two teams that many thought shouldn't even be in the tournament faced off in the best game of the First Four. I mean, it was the lone game that actually had a game winner attempt from Arizona State that was off the mark. The Orange, who are used to sneaking into the tournament and making a run, is set to face off against TCU next.

UPSET OF THE DAY: St. Bonaventure vs UCLA. Upset is a bit strong, but not many people are familiar with St. Bonnie at all and they just ousted one of the NCAA Tournament blue bloods in impressive fashion. It was the Bonnies first tournament win in 48 wins. Courtney Stockard dumped 26 points on the Bruins.

CONFERENCE OF THE DAY: SWAC. The SWAC beat fellow HBCU conference MEAC in an NCAA Tournament game. Texas Southern went out and played a daunting schedule (their first 13 games were on the road and against power conference teams). They went 0-13, but that experience against better talent allowed them to get back to the NCAA tournament and win a game.

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD DAY: Pac 12. Only three Pac-12 teams made the tournament. Two of them lost in the First Four. Now only Arizona remains in the field of 64.  

DUD OF THE DAY: Texas Southern vs NC Central. Both schools returned to the tournament for a second straight year. In the battle of HBCU schools, Texas Southern owned this game for the final 30 minutes.

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: Texas Southern. Once they jumped all over North Carolina Central, they coasted to an 18-point win.  They held NCCU to just 46 points.

UNDERLYING STORYLINE OF THE DAY: Uniqueness of the First Four. The First Four gets mocked as not really being part of the tournament, but it shouldn't. Since the First Four began in 2011, at least one team has advanced to the second round (round of 32, in you wish). If you didn't pay attention, UCLA and Syracuse were playing in it. The city of Dayton does a fantastic job of hosting the event no matter if it is four mid-majors you are unfamilar or two schools from the west coast the fans support the event every year. I know for a program like UCLA that has won 11 championships may be bummed to end up there, but it still is the tournament. It feels like the tournament and usually gives us good games.

The Annoying Things That Bracket People Do ...

It is bracket time again, so people all across our great land are taking pen or pencil to brackets at hoping for the best.  They reason, they debate, they flip a coin.  Most of all, they think they are correct.  They go to blogs and websites to get that last bit of info to make their selections.

This isn't that post.

This is for those people who collect the brackets.  Those people who tirelessly print the brackets, make copies, convince people to enter a sheet in, chase people down for their money and enter in all the results into some sort of program ... or do the scoring themselves.

Here are the people you are likely to deal with this week and this is just to let you know, you're not alone.

WHAT'S THIS?:  I love when you hand someone a bracket and they respond this way.  If you don't know by now, you never will.  

THE "FLORDIA" PEOPLE:  I love when people cannot spell Florida.  It is sometimes "Floirda" or "Florda" but usually I see "Flordia".  First off, you should be able to spell every single state with the exception of Massachusetts and Connecticut with relative ease.  Plus, it is only printed in type in the line right next to your dumb spelling.  

THE NUMBERS PEOPLE: I love those people that refuse to write the names of the teams in the lines but instead write their seedings.  So you  get those 1s and 5s and 12s all over the place so it is awesome when you get to enter that sheet into a database.  Plus I love when they have two #1s facing off in the Final Four and write "1" as the winner.  Thanks.

I'LL GET THE MONEY TO YOU ... :  We all know this.  Those people who just never have the $5 or whatever to pay.  It is the Final Four and you are still telling me to wait until payday?  Great.  God forbid they actually have a shot to win because they'll just hang onto their money with the ol' "well, you'd be giving it back to me anyway" jive.  Oh, and those late payers are usually the ones who are up your butt when they do win and complainin when all the money hadn't been collected yet.  

CAN YOU MAKE A COPY FOR ME:  No.  I can't.  If you can't rewrite your brackets on another sheet for yourself or find a copying machine to make your own, why must I do it for you?  Am I your mother?

THE 2:00 SHEET:  You always have someone a couple hours after the first game started handing you a sheet.  "Well, I couldn't find you and I had the sheet done before the tournament started."  Yeah, but you will end up winning and telling everyone you turned your sheet in late.  Thanks for that.

ABBREVS THAT D'T MAKE SENSE:  Like that.  I can get with the UKs, KUs, OSUs, UNCs and G'towns.  I can get with state abbreviations like NC, FL or IN.  But what is L'lle?  Or Mhst?  

WHO'S WINNING?  It is Thursday night on the first night of the Dance and you are asking who is in first.  What does that matter now?  That's like on Opening Day figuring out all the playoff scenarios in the baseball postseason.  Too soon, bruh.

THE CRITIC:  People who look at people's Final Four picks and immediately slam them.  Look, Wichita State got there a few years back so who knows what picks are smart or dumb.  

MULTIPLE BRACKETS:  Now, I don't care about people turning in as many brackets as they want.  But if you filled out 10 and had on one of them Florida Gulf Coast beating Georgetown, don't go around claiming your superiority over everyone in the bracket pool.  

PROMISE UNFULFILLED:  There is nothing better than the person who spends Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday telling you how deeply they've been working on their brackets, breaking down to you why they picked who they picked, feeding you what some website said ... and then doesn't turn in a sheet.  C'mon man!

NON-BASKETBALL PERSON:  It is like the Super Bowl -- everyone gets in on it even if you haven't watched a second of it all season long.  But some of those people wanna chat you up as if they are Clark Kellogg or Billy Packer.  This sheet they turned in makes them feel as if they are a big-time poker player on a weekend bender in Vegas and they can't handle it.  

WHOSE RELATIVES?:  I don't care if your entire family fills out one, but please put down somewhere on the sheet that you are the one handing it in.  I will forget who this sheet belongs to about 20 minutes after you hand it to me.  So I have no idea who it belongs to three weeks later.  

I WAS IN IT UNTIL ... :  Look, there are over 100 sheets in this thing.  I don't remember your sheet off the top of my head.  So don't come in telling me about how close you had things if (a) broke one way and (b) broke another and (c) happened instead.  It didn't.

FORGOT TO FILL IN THE BLANKS:  You usually spent the entire week carefully making your picks.  And then you leave some blanks ... blank.  Thanks.  It really isn't hard to fill out the entire bracket.  Oh, and thank you in advance for calling me up during the Sweet 16 to decide to make a pick then, and then get mad at me for telling you it is too late. 

THE FIRST FOUR GUY:  Usually we just throw out the first four games.  Hey, you won them all.  But someone always advances BOTH TEAMS FROM THE GAME!   

WHO DO I NEED TO ROOT FOR?:  How about the teams you picked?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sportz Assassin's West Region Preview

TEAM TO BEAT: Xavier. The Musketeers reached the Elite 8 last year before losing to Gonzaga. This year, they will attempt to take that next step and reach their first Final Four. They have the studs to do so (Trevon Bluiett) and an offense that can pile points on anybody. 

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: North Carolina. There are some great teams in this region but I think the North Carolina-Michigan winner in the Sweet 16 comes out of this region. UNC beat Michigan handily earlier this season. The Tar Heels have won 11 of their last 12 NCAA Tournament games (the one they lost was at the buzzer) and beat more Quadrant 1 teams than anyone in the field. They could also be upset early on but they have the pedigree and experience to get back to the Final Four. 

TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are being overlooked in this region.  The defending runners-up lost a lot from last year's team but just retooled for another run. Killian Tillie, Johnathan Williams and Josh Perkins lead a pretty formidable offense that is 9th in scoring and 14th in rebounding.  

YOUR CINDERELLA: Providence. The Friars played three overtime games in the Big East tournament, including a win against Xavier and a loss to Villanova in the title game. They did beat Villanova in February so while they aren't the best team in the tournament, they have the team that won't quit and be a thorn in the side in whomever they play..   

WORST SEEDING ERROR: Missouri. The Tigers were a team that was on the secure side of the bubble before bringing Michael Porter, Jr. back after a season-long back injury. His return didn't go well as he was clearly rusty and disrupted the rotation. This isn't a horrible seeding error, but an 8-seed?.    

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Gonzaga. North Carolina has a great home court advantage in Charlotte the first two rounds but it ends there.  Gonzaga will play nearby in Boise before possibly heading to Los Angeles. 

MUST WATCH GAME: Texas A&M vs Providence. Two teams that don't always play up to potential will go at it in Charlotte on Friday. Coming into the tournament, A&M doesn't exude confidence while Providence made an inspired run in the Big East tournament. Neither team piles up the points so the game should be close throughout with the winner getting North Carolina.

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: Gonzaga vs Ohio State.  Gonzaga hasn't played a tournament team since before Christmas which was exactly the same time Ohio State went on that 8 game winning streak (and 12 of 13) where they beat Michigan State and Purdue. These two could make a run deep into the tournament ... yet one's season will definitely end by this day..

Sportz Assassin's Midwest Region Preview

TEAM TO BEAT: Kansas. The Jayhawks are back on their perch. Ho-hum. However, this Kansas team isn't as talented as usual and suffered three home losses on the year. Still, they have national player of the year candidate Devonte Graham and former one-and-done prospect (and transfer) Malik Newman. 

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: Duke. The Blue Devils are the most talented team in the nation. They aren't the best team, meaning the sum of its parts isn't greater than the individual parts. Their switch to the zone late in the year has been a boon for Duke and allows guys like Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter to stay out of foul trouble and rests them offensively. Grayson Allen is still around and his play ... and behavior ... will be key to how well Duke does.

TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): Clemson. The Tigers have had their best season in quite some time. The injury to Donte Grantham has forced them to pivot to a more defensive minded team and a less efficient offensive one. If they can get by New Mexico State (a big if) then they could get hot and make an Elite 8 run.  

YOUR CINDERELLA: New Mexico State. Now forget what I just said. Clemson is banged up and have lost 4 of 6 so they are ripe for an upset. New Mexico State is tournament tested and are one of the best rebounding teams in the nation. Wing player Jemeriro Jones is second nationally in rebounding and will attempt to pound the glass against Clemson. This is a good, hungry team.   

WORST SEEDING ERROR: Oklahoma. I don't think Syracuse should even be in the tournament, but their spot in the First Four is appropriate. Oklahoma is another bubble team that many felt didn't play well enough down the stretch to deserve a bid. Not only did they get in, but they didn't even have to play in the First Four.    

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Kansas. First weekend in state in Wichita then the next week in Omaha? Huge home court advantage.

MUST WATCH GAME: Seton Hall vs NC State. The Wolfpack are talented. They have great guards and a big man in Omer Yurtseven that's a load to deal with. Seton Hall also has a talented big man in Angel Delgado and good guards. This should be a great, great game.

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: Duke vs Oklahoma.  Duke would most likely bury the Sooners if this happened. Still, Trae Young against all those NBA prospects at Duke? Young against Grayson Allen? Young against that make shift zone defense? This would have the star power that most second round games don't.

Sportz Assassin's East Region Preview

TEAM TO BEAT: Villanova. The Wildcats have had an outstanding run the last few seasons and are in line to win their second championship in three years. They have two national award winner candidates in Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges. They have coughed up a few games this year but this team has a deadly combination of experience and efficiency rarely seen in the one-and-done era. 

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: Villanova. The East Region is seen as the weakest of the four which sets up nicely for the Wildcats. Not to say there aren't landmines, but they are clearly the best team in this corner of the bracket. Of course, they seemed that way a year ago and lost in the 2nd round.

TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): West Virginia. If only the Mountaineers could close out games, they would be a top two seed in this tournament. They have a disturbing trend of blowing huge leads to good teams and that's not a cross you want to bear right now. However, they got those leads using their Press Virginia defense which is so difficult to prepare for, especially on that second game of the weekend. If they can clamp down on their choking ways, they could do some damage.  

YOUR CINDERELLA: Alabama. Any time you come into the tournament with a guy like Collin Sexton, you are dangerous. This isn't a great Crimson Tide squad but Sexton is the real deal. If they can get past Virginia Tech, their matchup against Villanova should be fun to watch.   

WORST SEEDING ERROR: Alabama. The seeding in the region is a bit off by design. Butler is a No. 10 so they can avoid fellow Big East member Villanova in the second round. That knocked Alabama up a line to No. 9 despite them losing 15 games this season -- most by an at-large selection in history.    

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Villanova. Texas Tech and Stephen F. Austin should have a nice fan base when the two face off in Dallas but 'Nova's itinerary of Pittsburgh and Boston should enable Wildcats fans to fill both arenas to watch their school attempt to get back to the Final Four. 

MUST WATCH GAME: Virginia Tech vs Alabama. Sexton is a must-watch talent. Virginia Tech has a lot of athletic wings and forwards to work on Sexton. The Hokies have beaten Virginia, North Carolina and Duke this year so they won't be in fear of Bama. Should be an exciting game..

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: Wichita State vs West Virginia.  Wichita State has a lot of good guards (led by Landry Shamet) who can handle the ball and make plays. West Virginia loves to press opponents and force them into turnovers. To see both those teams strengths collide should be a treat. Add in the Mountaineers penchant for blowing leads and this game could come down to the wire. 

Sportz Assassin's South Region Preview

TEAM TO BEAT: Virginia. The Cavaliers comfortably take their position as the No. 1 overall seed. Their patented pack-line defense is playing at its best right now while their offense is just so efficient. They lost two games all season long and Tony Bennett's team, while not pretty to watch, frustrates opponents into submission. Can the Wahoos finally break through to the Final Four? 

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: Arizona. The Wildcats are extremely talented and have something that no other team in the nation has -- Deandre Ayton. Ayton is one of the best players in the country and a likely top five pick in this summer's NBA draft if he decides to become a one-and-done. He's not all they have as Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins are beasts as well. This isn't a very good defensive team, which would make for an interesting matchup with Virginia in the Sweet 16.

TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): Arizona. It is almost unfair that Arizona is a No. 4 seed but when you go back and look at their season, it fits. With the "eye test", they are on the short list or true national championship contenders. They are playing with a major chip on their shoulder after an ESPN report linked Sean Miller and Deandre Ayton in a pay-for-play deal. They can get on a tear and win this whole thing.  

YOUR CINDERELLA: Texas. Look, they aren't the best team out there nor are they scary to deal with. But they have Mo Bamba and he can be scary to deal with when you dare enter the paint. The Longhorns have a lot happening to them this season so just getting to this point is quite a feat. Shaka Smart is an experienced tournament coach and the bottom half of the South bracket isn't as daunting as the top. They could slide into the second weekend.   

WORST SEEDING ERROR: Arizona. Look, I'm not shocked they are a No. 4 seed since the metrics seem to point that out. But when you watch them play, you are in awe of their potential. The fact that the top overall see in the tournament, Virginia, might have to play them in the Sweet 16 seems wrong.    

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Virginia. While not playing in Virginia, their trek to Charlotte is an easy one for Hoos fans. Get to next weekend and Atlanta is also very doable. Two weeks in ACC country is a nice reward for the top overall seed.

MUST WATCH GAME: Kentucky vs Davidson. Kentucky, who seemingly has stocked the NBA with its players, takes on Davidson, who is the alma mater of two-time MVP Steph Curry. This isn't your typical Kentucky tournament team as they have been so up and down all season long that you don't know what team will show up. Davidson is back in the tournament after winning the Atlantic 10 for the first time. Count on the Wildcats to win!.

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: Arizona vs Kentucky.  Wildcats win this one too. Both teams feel as if they are underseeded and neither feel it is fair to meet each other in the 2nd round. The game must be played and there will be a lot of guys who will be playing in the NBA this time next year on the floor. While Kentucky will struggle to deal with Ayton, they do have the wings who can hang with Arizona. Should be a blast to watch.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sportz' Bubble Watch (3/11)

Okay. I've been doing my whole Sportz' Bubble Watch for a few years now and I think it is time to start back up. With only a few weeks left in the season before conference tournaments, let's see how the bubble looks.

So, here are my locks ... yes, by conference. Locks are teams that I think are in no matter what.  Looking good are teams that are in, barring a total collapse.  I split the bubble teams either In or Out; self explanatory.  Also there's a spot for teams that need a miracle.  No more losses and maybe a deep conference tournament run.

I figure there are 21 conferences who are one-bid leagues and 11 conferences that could net multiple bids. So who should be going?

LOCKS:  Virginia, Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, Miami, Virginia Tech
LOOKING GOOD:  Florida State, NC State
BUBBLE OUT:  Syracuse, Louisville, Notre Dame
The ACC will get 8 in ... but can they get more? Syracuse likely has no shot. Louisville probably is out as well. Their losses at the end of the season, albeit to really good teams, kills their chances. Notre Dame is a trickier deal. On paper, they don't get in. But they missed Bonzie Colson for much of the season. He's back now, making them a different team. Now comes the question of if the committee believes they deserve to be in off of a projection more than a resume.  I think not. 


  Villanova, Xavier, Creighton, Butler
LOOKING GOOD:  Seton Hall, Providence
BUBBLE OUT:  Marquette

The Big East is pretty much set. The only thing up in the air is if Xavier can nab a No. 1 seed, giving the conference two. 


Michigan State, Purdue, Michigan, Ohio State
BUBBLE OUT:  Nebraska, Penn State, Maryland

There will be a lot of huffing and puffing about Nebraska ... who went 13-5 in the Big Ten ... not getting in. That's one of the issues with these new super conferences. With the lack of a round robin and the fact that there can be even more dead weight at the bottom of the standings, this kind of stuff happens. The Big Ten was down, but they've got four teams locked in. Show us what you got. 


Kansas, Texas Tech, West Virginia, TCU
BUBBLE IN:  Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma
BUBBLE OUT:  Oklahoma State, Baylor

The Big 12 is a great league and the fact that only Iowa State (who, ironically, won the league's automatic bid last year) is the lone school not in consideration for a bid. That bubble line is so tough. Oklahoma was such a lock early on but has stunk it up over the last two months that including them would almost be insulting. Oklahoma State beat Kansas twice (they are a No. 1 seed) and may not get in. K-State looks alright and Texas will probably get in but with this weird bubble you can't be too safe. 


BUBBLE OUT:  Arizona State, Oregon, Utah, Washington

The Pac-12 is down. Only Arizona is a lock, though the two Los Angeles team should be able to wiggle in. The fact the league is bad puts Oregon, Utah and Washington as long shots to get in. Then there is Arizona State who, like Oklahoma, has stunk up the joint since the calendar switched to 2018. The Sun Devils have beaten Kansas and Xavier ... two No. 1 seeds ... but may miss.


Kentucky, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, Texas A&M
LOOKING GOOD:  Alabama, Arkansas
IN BUBBLE:  Missouri
OUT BUBBLE:  Mississippi State

The SEC seems to be cut and dry. Even the "Looking Good" and "In" teams look pretty solid.


Cincinnati, Wichita State, Houston

Nothing to see here.  These three are in and no one else was close .


Gonzaga, San Diego State, Marshall, Davidson
LOOKING GOOD:  Rhode Island, Nevada, Saint Mary's
IN BUBBLE:  St. BonaventureOUT BUBBLE:  Middle Tennessee, Boise State

Let's look right here for the bubble issues. San Diego State, Marshall and Davidson were bid stealers. None of them were going to get bids if they didn't win their conference tournaments. Since they did, Rhode Island and Nevada will nab at large bids while Middle Tennessee State will end up sitting at home. St. Bonaventure will probably still be in the dance. But these surprises really sting those on the bubble.


OHIO VALLEY: Murray State
BIG SOUTH: RadfordMISSOURI VALLEY:  Loyola Chicago
MAAC: Iona
SOUTHERN: UNC Greensboro
HORIZON: Wright State
SUMMIT: South Dakota State
PATRIOT: Bucknell
AMERICA EAST: Maryland-Baltimore County
BIG SKY: Montana
MAC: Buffalo
MEAC: NC Central
SOUTHLAND: Stephen F Austin
SWAC: Texas Southern
BIG WEST: Cal State-Fullerton
WAC: New Mexico State

IVY LEAGUE: Pennsylvania
SUN BELT: Georgia State

Monday, February 5, 2018

Looking Back at the "52 Stops to Super Bowl LII"

Super Bowl LII is over and the Philadelphia Eagles are champions. So let's see what hit and missed on my stats for the "52 Stops to Super Bowl LII":

#47-SUPER BOWL SQUARES:  I had mentioned that there were 15 different combinations that never came up in the 204 quarters in Super Bowl history.  Well,

The first quarter numbers of 9-3 happened for the first time.
The halftime numbers of 2-2 happened for the first time.

Now there are 13.

#46-FEBRUARY LOVES THE AFC: The AFC fell to 10-6 in February Super Bowls.

#45-SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN: The team that scores first is now 35-17. The Patriots became the third team to score at least 30 points to lose a Super Bowl. In fact, the Pats set a record for most points scored by a losing team. Teams who score the first TD is now 38-14 and teams leading at the half are now 38-11.

#44-PATRIOTS AND EAGLES ARE BACK: Patriots tied to Broncos for most Super Bowl losses with five.

#38-DIVISION ALL IN:  The NFC East became the first division to have all its members as Super Bowl champions.

#37-NFC EAST TOPS THEM ALL: The NFC East extended its lead by winning its 13th Super Bowl ... five more than the AFC East and AFC North.

#32-CHAMPIONSHIP CITIES:  Philadelphia joins New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston with Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup and NBA Championships.

#27-BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: The Super Bowl newbie quarterback has now won five of the last seven Super Bowls against the veteran quarterback.

#25-STICK WITH THE FAVORITES: The underdog Eagles won, meaning the favorite is now 33-19

#23-NFC OWNS THE COIN TOSS: The AFC won the coin toss for just the third time in the last 21 Super Bowls.

#22-MAKING SURE YOU SCORE: There have been successful field goals in 50 of 52 Super Bowls.

#21-NFC EAST VS AFC EAST:  The NFC East is now 9-3 in Super Bowls against the AFC East. That includes the Colts win over the Cowboys in Super Bowl V when the Colts were in the AFC East.

#19-WEARING WHITE IS KEY:  The white team lost?  The team wearing the white jersey lost for just the second time in the last 13 Super Bowls.

#12-PASSING FANCY: Tom Brady set a Super Bowl record for passing yards in a game ... and lost.

#11-DON'T TRAIL BY DOUBLE DIGITS: Teams who trail by double digits in a Super Bowl are now 4-44.

#9-STILL HAVEN'T WON ONE: The Eagles are now officially off that list.

#7-MVPS WINNING SUPER BOWLS: Brady lost, meaning Kurt Warner in 1999 is still the last NFL MVP to win a Super Bowl in the same season.

#5-ALL TIME SERIES: The Eagles are now 8-6 all-time against the Patriots.

#2-BELICHICK AND SABAN: Those two still haven't won a championship in the same season since 2003.

#1-WHO WINS:  I was wrong. Again.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

52 Stops to Super Bowl LII

Every year since Super Bowl XL, I have used this blog for my "Stops To Super Bowl" list.  Every year, I create a list of smart, dumb, inane and chat worthy items for you to use in any banter leading up to and during the Super Bowl.

This year, it is 52 Stops to Super Bowl LII and I'm back with some more (and some of the same) little items for you about the upcoming big game.
#52-PATRIOTS AND EAGLES DO IT AGAIN:  The Patriots and Eagles will play in their second Super Bowl against each other. This will be the sixth pair to have a Super Bowl rematch and the seventh game to be a rematch.

These two met in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville with the Pats winning, 24-21.

Other Super Bowl rematches are the Dolphins-Redskins, 49ers-Bengals, Cowboys-Bills, Giants-Patriots and Steelers-Cowboys. Only the Steelers-Cowboys have met three times in the Super Bowl.

History doesn't tell you much about who will win. The 49ers beat the Bengals twice, as did the Cowboys over the Bills and Giants over the Patriots. The Steelers beat the Cowboys twice before Dallas beat Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XXX. The Redskins would win their rematch with the Dolphins ten years after their first meeting.

 As I've said, I've done these "Stop to Super Bowl" since Super Bowl XL. Most of the stats stay true year to year. Well. Super Bowl LI simply broke the mold.

The record for largest comeback in a Super Bowl was 10 points, which was done three times. The Patriots overcame a whopping 25-point deficit.  It was also the first overtime Super Bowl ever. The Pats were also the first team to win a Super Bowl despite throwing a pick-six.

Records were set for most passing yards (442), completions (43), pass attempts (63) and first downs (37) by a team and a player.  The Patriots became the only team to win a Super Bowl despite having the lead for zero seconds.
#50-BELICHICK KNOWS SUPER BOWLS:  Bill Belichick heads to his eighth Super Bowl appearance as a head coach. Belichick's eighth appearance and five Super Bowl titles are best all-time.
Belichick was also the defensive coordinator for the Giants in Super Bowls XXI and XXV and an assistant head coach for the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. That's eleven Super Bowls he's coached in.
Amazingly, in his 18 seasons as the Patriots head coach, Belichick has taken his team to 12 AFC Championship games including a current streak of seven in a row.
Eagles' head coach Doug Pederson has Super Bowl experience as well, though not as a coach. He was Brett Favre's backup during their Super Bowl XXXI championship season (beating the Patriots) as well as on the team that lost Super Bowl XXXII.