Saturday, December 26, 2015

State Of My Teams 2015

The end of 2015 is near, which means it is time to take a look at the state of my favorite teams.  The good, the bad, the firesale.  So let's get to it.

NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS BASKETBALL:  I feel pretty good about the Heels.  While their preseason #1 ranking is gone and they have lost the lone two "true road" games this season thus far, I like what this team should be when March rolls around.  They are talented, deep and experienced.  The "ifs" are pretty easy to see.  If Marcus Paige and the rest can be healthy for the tournament.  If the team plays hard, especially defensively, every game.  If they can continue their good perimeter shooting.  All those could equate to UNC's sixth title.  Plus, if Brice Johnson keeps playing like he has over the last few weeks, then this team could be the best in the nation.

That's what is interesting about the Heels.  It is a NOW thing.  Next year's recruiting has picked up, but the 2016-17 Tar Heels won't be elite.  Paige and Johnson will graduate and Justin Jackson could go pro.  A look at 2015 as a whole saw some so-so play from last season that saw late leads squandered and the investigation into the program by the NCAA heating up.

NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS FOOTBALL:  What a season for Carolina!  Sure, it was book-ended by losses to South Carolina teams (South Carolina at the beginning; Clemson at the end).  There was an 11-game winning streak in the middle and some lofty offensive performances.  Now, several of the guys who made this a magical season will be gone after the Russell Athletic Bowl game against Baylor, but that doesn't take away from a year where UNC won the Coastal Division and gave Clemson (the top ranked and undefeated Tigers) a tough game in the ACC Championship.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS:  A wild year, to be sure.  The Redskins started 2015 in a rebuilding mode and it all looked bad.  The great promise of 2012 is gone.  Robert Griffin III was given his final shot at proving he was the future of the Skins.  The defense was overhauled.  There was a new GM.  The draft wasn't sexy, and neither was the free-agents being brought in.

Which was perfect.  Washington got more bang for the buck and head coach Jay Gruden's decision to dump RG3 during the preseason for Kirk Cousins has proven right for the team.  While this hasn't been a dominant season by any means, the Redskins are a win (today) away from being NFC East champions and a playoff team.  How?  This was a franchise stuck in the mud.  Nothing of value and having to find the quarterback of the future again.  The nickname was in the news again and Daniel Snyder's money grabbing was looking unattractive.  It just looked like another 3-13 year.

Now?  Well, there could be a playoff appearance, the Redskins are trying to keep Cousins as our franchise QB, RG3's contract will be off the books and the GM looks like a guy that can bring a lot of talent into the fold.

CINCINNATI REDS:  My final two teams aren't as feel good.  The Reds are rebuilding and for many around here, it is tough to watch.  I've always said the Reds were in a weird position as a franchise.  They cannot spend with the best in the league (or the division, like St. Louis or Chicago) but they don't have to keep rebuilding to make a run (like the Pirates).  A couple of years ago, the Reds attempted to be like the former, but are now turning into the latter.  The Reds gave huge deals to Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Homer Bailey but now having to sell off players like Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier to start over again.  The Frazier deal hurt Reds fans as he was a favorite.  But it is the reality of where the Reds are in the pecking order.  The Reds made a great attempt early in the decade and just couldn't get past the first round.  Now it is time to start over.

The problem is that it is tougher than you think.  The Reds still have Votto and Bailey who are getting paid a lot of money.  The deals for Phillips and Chapman fell apart so they are still Reds.  Feast or famine Jay Bruce and oft-injured Devin Mesoraco are among the more expensive players.  The 2015 season was a last-ditch effort to see if there was anything left in this team.  It didn't, and now Cincinnati is heading into a new era.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS:  The Lakers are in the same boat, albeit a nice, bigger boat.  The Kobe Bryant era is ending and he will be retiring at the end of the season.  While sad, it is good because it finally allows the team to move on to the next phase.  Not only was Kobe's contract (the biggest in the NBA) hurting the Lakers, his style of play was hindering the development of the young guys and a detriment to free agents.

Outside of a few players (namely Julius Randle, DeAngelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson), most of these guys won't be in Los Angeles when the good times roll.  The key for the future is (a) being bad enough to be able to keep their 1st round draft pick next summer (if it is outside the top three, it moves to Philly) and (b) being able to pull some big free agents into the fold.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Could The Redskins Really Win The NFC East?

In life, goals change.

When I was a little kid, I wanted to draw cartoons.  That was until I wanted to be a baseball player.  Then a basketball player.  Then working for Nike.  Then work in marketing.  Finally, I ended up doing none of those things and taking a job that paid well but has zero allure.  So on the side, I write about sports and the teams I love.

One of those teams I love is the Redskins.  Their goals have also changed.  If you told any Redskins fan that the season would end at 7-9, many would have been pleasantly surprised (including yours truly).  I mean, this was a franchise in August that finally gave up on RG3, the head coach was on everyone's chopping block, the nickname was being debated on every talk show and the owner was charging $50 envelope fees.  Yes there was talent on the roster, but there was no reason to think this team would be the best in the division.

Yet here we are.  The Redskins are a win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday away from winning the NFC East for the second time in four years.  I mean ... how?  What?  Really?  Sure, it is more an indictment of the division than the Redskins dominance, but this wasn't supposed to be.  It still may not.  A loss at Philly would be catastrophic for Washington.  Philly would own the tiebreaker and the Redskins would need to win at Dallas in the season finale and hope the Giants beat the Eagles.  But right now, the Redskins control their own fate.

So what will happen?  The Redskins have won 3 of 4 and are the hotter team.  The Eagles have lost 4 of 6 (though one of those wins came in New England) and their defense has been lit up over the last two months.  Bad Kirk Cousins is a memory.  Since that season-changing comeback win over the Buccaneers in Week 7, Cousins has thrown 16 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions.  Cousins also has more rushing TDs (5) than the Eagles' huge free agent pickup, DeMarco Murray (4).  I mean, just give them the division crown right now!

However, your gut says that this is the NFC East and Philly will be ready to knock the Redskins down a peg.  Many Redskins fans (including myself) are just enjoying the ride but are prepared for the rug to be ripped from under them any game now.  I admit, I was in that camp.  But, like the Redskins' goals, I've changed as well.  This may not be a team that will do much damage in the postseason but they are the cream of the crop in a division that went sour this season.  No matter, the Redskins beat the Eagles this Saturday.  ,

Redskins 24-22

Monday, December 21, 2015

What Week 17 Game Should Be Flexed

Week 15 is nearly over (the Lions and Saints face off Monday night in the week's finale) and the end of the season is near.  What game could be the flex game in Week 17 and the final game of the regular season?  The NFL likes to have a game with a lot on the line (mainly a playoff spot up for grabs).

1-EAGLES AT GIANTS:  The NFC East has practically owned the final game of the regular season slot since its inception.  This season could be no different.  Now, a lot of things have to happen for this to be the game.  First, the Eagles need to beat the Redskins this coming Saturday.  If the Redskins win that game, they win the NFC East and this game is moot.  However, an Eagles win puts them in the driver's seat.  If the Giants also win this coming weekend (a hard task at Minnesota), then this could be for all the marbles.  The only risk comes is if the Redskins lose to the Cowboys in Week 17 (after a Giants loss in Week 16), then this game could be meaningless as the Eagles would clinch prior to the game.

2-JAGUARS AT TEXANS:  This could be for the AFC South championship.  First off, the Texans could need this win to clinch the division.  But, like other games, its relevance could depend on the fortune of another team (this time the Colts).  But, if the Jaguars find a way to win Week 16 and the Texas and Colts lose Week 16, then this game is guaranteed to mean something.  See, a Texans and Colts loss plus a Jags win in Week 16 means that Houston is 7-8, Indy is 6-9 and Jacksonville is 6-9 entering the final week.  The Colts result earlier in the day wouldn't spoil this game at all.  Colts win and this game comes down to the Texans/Colts for the division.  A Colts loss means this game would be for the AFC South championship between the Texans and Jaguars.

3-VIKINGS AT PACKERS:  Could be for the NFC North crown.  However, both teams may already be in the playoffs by then so all this would be for is the division.  But, Minnesota may not be a playoff team ... yet.  Of course, that would take a miracle of the Vikings losing to the Giants in Week 16, the Seahawks losing their last two games and the Falcons winning their last two games (one of which is against the Panthers).

4-BUCCANEERS AT PANTHERS:  If there isn't a guarantee of a playoff spot anywhere, you could see the NFL elect to go with the 16-0 storyline.  Carolina's pursuit for the second 16-0 regular season in history could be the feast of the night. I wouldn't blame them.  However, the NFL would try to demand the Panthers attempt to for the undefeated season and not just rest their starters.

5-REDSKINS AT COWBOYS:  I doubt this would be the game.  If the Redskins beat Philly this Saturday, they clinch the NFC East.  A Redskins loss and the Eagles control the division.  Putting this game on Sunday night is risky because an Eagles win earlier in the day would eliminate Washington.

Monday, December 14, 2015

How Are QBs Getting Hurt When We Have All These QB-Protection Rules?

Tom Brady had his knee run into by Bernard Pollard in Week 1 of the 2008 season, and since then we've seen rules protecting quarterbacks get stiffer.  You can't touch their helmets, you can't tackle them low, you cannot hit them hard unless they pretend they aren't a quarterback for a second.

The thinking was that we were seeing all these quarterbacks injured and QBs, as you know, are the faces of the league.  Guys were getting hurt and it was bad business.

Yet it doesn't seem to have helped.

The 2015 NFL season has seen a lot of QB injuries.  Andy Dalton (Bengals) is the latest, breaking his thumb trying to make a tackle and will most likely miss the rest of the regular season.  He joins Tony Romo (Cowboys), Joe Flacco (Ravens), Josh McCown (Browns)

Peyton Manning (Broncos), Andrew Luck (Colts), Drew Brees (Saints), Sam Bradford (Eagles), Jay Cutler (Bears), Marcus Mariota (Titans) and Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) have also missed time this season.  You also had Geno Smith (Jets) injured with a punch to the face and a broken jaw prior to the season.

That's one-third of the NFL that's lost their starting QB to injury.  Some have come back, some are lost for the season and some are in limbo.  Several are Super Bowl winning quarterbacks.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

King Me: Transforming College Conferences Into 10-Team Memberships

The ACC logo in 1995 when only nine teams made up the league.
Now 15 teams are in the basketball league making for an
oversized conference where teams don't play each other as often.

I've felt this way for a long time.  I have felt that the college conferences should be no more and no less than ten teams.  Ten members.  Each conference.  That's it.  That's simple.

Now, in all of the conference realignment over the last 25 years, I've sat back and absorbed all the chaos.  As an ACC guy, I've seen what this can do to a league.  The ACC added Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Louisville over the last 15 years ... but lost Maryland along the way.  While the conference is neat to navigate at times (my Tar Heels get to face some great programs) it has also killed a lot of what I held dear in this league.  Playing everyone and visiting all those great stadiums and arenas.  The kinship of being in a league.

Now, North Carolina and Wake Forest don't play every year in football (to that point, they actually scheduled "non-conference" games against each other).  Clemson and UNC don't face off twice in basketball anymore.  The round robin feel of football and basketball is gone and conferences just don't feel the same anymore.

That's why I'm taking it back!  If I was King Of Sports, I'd make this happen.  The 10-team conference is set up perfectly.  It causes a 9-game football schedule in which each team gets to play every other conference member and a basketball schedule where you get an 18-game schedule where you face everyone twice ... meaning you visit every other conference member's gym.  We get true champions and a fair shake in the standings.

If you still love conference championship games in football, we can make it where the top two teams in the standings will face off in a title game.  Hell, throwing out the divisional format would usually mean better matchups in those title games.  Last year, for example, we could have had Florida State-Clemson and TCU-Baylor in title games.  I actually prefer that idea and the ACC has even toyed with proposing that under the current setup.

So what would the conferences look like?  Glad you asked.  I've realigned them using some thought and compassion.  I'm basically resetting things back to 1990 and starting from there.  I'm not looking at the now and lopping off teams in the current memberships.  Then I'm moving from there.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Looking At The Three Remaining Undefeated Teams


How they got here:  Some dismissed the Panthers because of their relatively underwhelming early schedule.  However, Carolina has now beaten the Seahawks in Seattle and the Eagles, Colts and Packers in Charlotte.

Most impressive win:  27-23 at Seattle.  Anytime you can win in Seattle is impressive.  Marching down the field with time running out and scoring a game winning touchdown is all the more sweeter.

How long could this last?:  Carolina has three of the next four on the road (Titans, Cowboys, Saints), with a home date with the Redskins lodged in there.  Those roadies won't be easy, but they aren't against the elite teams they've been facing of late.  They still have both matchups with the Falcons to look forward to.


How they got here:  Cincinnati has been flexing its offensive muscle.  Their bend-but-don't-break defense has been pretty good and Andy Dalton is looking like a MVP candidate has been making this a scary team.  This team is getting comparisons to the 1988 team that went to the Super Bowl.

Most impressive win:  27-24 vs Seattle.  Not trying to pick on Seattle, but many fans felt that this was where this team could falter.  This was a big game on a big stage and the Bengals have struggled in those situations.  It looked like this would be the case again, falling behind 24-7 in the fourth quarter.  But Andy Dalton led a comeback for the ages in Cincinnati and pulled out the overtime victory.

How long could this last?:  In two weeks, the Bengals go to Arizona to face Carson Palmer and the Cardinals.  That's going to be tough.  Aside from that, their Week 16 game at Denver looks to be the most daunting task.  


How they got here:  These are the defending champions and Tom Brady didn't have to serve that four-game suspension.  New England has been winning impressively all season long.  But this hasn't been the toughest of slates.

Most impressive win:  34-27 at Indianapolis.  No, this isn't the Colts that we though we'd have this season or even the one that the Pats beat for the AFC title a year ago.  But this was the revenge of sorts for Deflategate.  Plus it was a tough game ... probably the toughest test they've had this season.

How long could this last?:  The schedule toughens up now.  In the next three weeks, the Patriots travel to New York to face the always dangerous Giants and to see old rival Peyton Manning and his Broncos.  .

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ranking The NFL's 10 Biggest Disappointments

The Lions Matt Stafford has already been benched in a game this season.

What is a disappointment?  A team that didn't meet our expectations for where they should be at after Week 6 of the NFL season.  There is a variety of reasons the teams who are featured here are on this list.  Injuries have hit a few hard.  Age has hit a couple.  Tough schedules have felled others.  Some, it is just perception.  Some of these might snap out of it while others will realize that they are as bad as their record indicates.  So let's check out the list.


Sure, if before the season began I told you that the Cowboys would be 2-3, you'd put them much higher on this list.  However, the fact is that Tony Romo and Dez Bryant have been out and will be out for a while.

Good news:  They have already beaten Philly and the Giants, which will pay dividends down the road.  They get both again plus the Redskins twice.  At some point, they'll get Romo and (hopefully) Bryant back.  It isn't like the NFC East is a runaway by any means.  As long as Dallas can stay afloat, they can win this division.

Bad news:  But when will those two get back?  And how good will they be when they do?  The Eagles are warming up and the Giants let two games get by them or they'd be ahead by a nice margin.  And staying afloat means navigating through the next few weeks when they get the Giants (in NYC),  Seahawks and Eagles.  They could be at 2-6 really quick and needing an exceptional finish to make the postseason.  That will be hard to do with the Panthers and Packers down the line.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Ranking All 30 NBA Logos

The NBA season is almost here and we have an opportunity to look at the NBA logos. I've been wanting to do this for some time, so here it is. Ranking the logos.

Now, this is all me and what I like. So here we go.


This is awful.  Their longtime one was bad too, but at least I get it.  This is just bad.  Looks like the NBA Live logo from the 1990s and 2000s.  Change it back.  Hell, even go back to the San Diego Clippers logo.  By the way, I count one basketball logo.  Let's see how many we'll find.


A bad, uninspired look.  Nothing on this makes me think of Oklahoma City or Thunder.  It looks like the old Bobcats and Nets logos mated.  Sure, it probably was a rush job when the Sonics moved to OKC, but you've had time to change it.  Please do.  Two basketball logos.

LeBron deserves better.  In fact, the Cavs went to this logo when they drafted LeBron in 2003.  Before that was the splash and the boring V-net logo.  While the uniforms were awful, I rather the splash era came back.  The Cavs just can't get this right.  Three basketball logos and one full name logo.


Two things: I like them making an old logo more modern.  However, there is absolutely nothing about this logo that is interesting.  Nothing.  At least the horsey is gone.  Hey, four for four on basketball logos and a second full name.  On we go!

Looking At The NFL's Undefeated Teams After Week 6

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady know a thing or two about starting seasons
off strong, but there are three other teams who are enjoying record starts.


How they got here:  It isn't like the Panthers have been blowing teams out all year.  Their first four wins were over underwhelming opponents and made people feel this team was fools gold.  However, their win over the defending NFC Champion Seahawks is making people's eyes perk up.

Most impressive win:  27-23 at Seattle.  Anytime you can win in Seattle is impressive.  Marching down the field with time running out and scoring a game winning touchdown is all the more sweeter.

How long could this last?:  Carolina has a relatively tough schedule ahead, though the next three are in Charlotte.  The Panthers will host the Eagles, Colts and Packers over the next three weeks.  Get through that and the schedule lightens up a bit until Thanksgiving.


How they got here:  Cincinnati has been flexing its offensive muscle.  Their bend-but-don't-break defense has been pretty good and Andy Dalton is looking like a MVP candidate has been making this a scary team.  This team is getting comparisons to the 1988 team that went to the Super Bowl.

Most impressive win:  27-24 vs Seattle.  Not trying to pick on Seattle, but many fans felt that this was where this team could falter.  This was a big game on a big stage and the Bengals have struggled in those situations.  It looked like this would be the case again, falling behind 24-7 in the fourth quarter.  But Andy Dalton led a comeback for the ages in Cincinnati and pulled out the overtime victory.

How long could this last?:  The Bengals have to go to Pittsburgh next week.  Usually a tough win for Cincy, but Ben Roethlisberger won't be playing for the Steelers.  From there, the two games to circle would be Week 11 at Arizona (against Carson Palmer) and Week 16 at Denver.  Both have stellar defenses and both have a lot to play for.  


How they got here:  Not the storyline you're used to.  It is Peyton Manning managing the offense and the Broncos top ranked defense that is carrying this team to an undefeated mark.  They aren't winning by wide margins, but they are winning.

Most impressive win:  31-24 at Kansas City.  This is to be their toughest AFC West test and they passed.  Arrowhead is a tough place to play and Manning showed a lot in the fourth quarter to keep people believing he can get to one more Super Bowl.

How long could this last?:  Not long.  Denver gets its bye week next week before heading on a brutal schedule.  They will host fellow undefeated Green Bay on Sunday Night football in Week 8, then traveling to Indianapolis for a matchup with the Colts (who knocked Denver out of the playoffs last year).  Soon after, they'll get the Chiefs again before getting the Patriots and Bengals to come to town.  Add in two games against the offensive juggernaut Chargers and this undefeated season could fall hard.


How they got here:  Doing what the Packers do.  Aaron Rodgers keeps making big plays and the Packers keep chugging along.

Most impressive win:  27-17 vs Seattle.  Maybe I need to stop picking on Seattle?  Sure, but this was a gorilla on the Packers' backs.  The season could have been derailed early with a loss in this Week 2 game, but Green Bay helped wash that sting off the meltdown of the NFC Championship game with this win.

How long could this last?:  Well, that Denver game in Week 8.  Like the Broncos, the Packers will get a bye next week before this showdown.  The very next week, the Packers will travel to Carolina to face fellow undefeated Panthers.  After that, it could be smooth sailing.  They have five games inside the woeful NFC North as well as a home title with the Cowboys (who could have Tony Romo by then) and then traveling to Arizona.


How they got here:  These are the defending champions and Tom Brady didn't have to serve that four-game suspension.  New England has been winning impressively all season long.

Most impressive win:  40-32 at Buffalo.  The Bills were poised to be a playoff contender and Buffalo is always a tough place to play for New England.  Add in the rivalry with Bills' new head coach Rex Ryan and this was the Pats' best victory yet.

How long could this last?:  Well, they could run the table again as the Pats have three straight home games.  However, there are some legit landmines.  Five of their final eight games are on the road, including trips to the Denver, Miami and twice to New York (Giants and Jets).  Yes, those pesky Jets get the Patriots twice, starting with next week's game in Foxborough.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

2015 NFL Super Bowl rematches

There are 19 games this NFL season which feature matchups of old Super Bowl foes.  With this being the NFL's 50 Super Bowl season, the league wants to make a note of these games ... though I haven't really seen much of anything they've done.  I'd like to see maybe the uniforms worn in those Super Bowls reused.  Maybe have a notable presence of those who played in the Super Bowl on site.  Something.

Anyway, let's look at the Super Bowl rematches and see who won this time around.


What happened then?  They played twice and split those Super Bowls.  The Phins completed their perfect season in Super Bowl VII with a 14-7 win ... and the Redskins won their first Super Bowl a decade later, 27-17.

What happened now?  The Dolphins won in a tighter than expected game.  Miami won 17-10 on a Jarvis Landry punt return for a touchdown.  Redskins ran the ball well, but Kirk Cousins had some key mistakes.

Since it was a Super split, the Super Bowl winners went 1-1 in the rematch.


What happened then?
 One of the most famous Super Bowls, Joe Namath led the Jets to the biggest upset in Super Bowl history as the AFL finally beat the NFL in the title game.  Broadway Joe guaranteed a Jets victory and got one, 16-7.

What happened now?  In another bit of a shocker, the Jets went into Indy and beat the Super Bowl contending Colts, 20-7.

Super Bowl winners are now 2-1 in rematches.


What happened then?  The final title of the amazing run the Steelers had in the 1970s.  The Steelers won their fourth title and second straight Super Bowl, 31-19, over the then-Los Angeles Rams.

What happened now?  This one wasn't a game to remember.  The Steelers won 12-6, but lost their star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a month with a leg injury.  The now-St. Louis Rams lost their second straight game.

With the win, Super Bowl winners are 3-1 in the rematch.


What happened then?  Well, this was the first Super Bowl ... or, NFL-AFL Championship Game.  The Packers flexed the NFL's muscle by blowing out Kansas City, 35-10.  Who knew this game against rival leagues would turn into something huge?

What happened now?  The 38-28 final score is closer than the game really was.  The Packers, again, blew out the Chiefs.

Super Bowl winners:  4-1.


What happened then?  One of the best Super Bowls ... and the one who is at the mid-point of Super Bowls ... the Giants won 20-19 when a Scot Norwood field goal went wide ride.  Everything, from the game play to Whitney Houston's performance of the National Anthem, was epic.  It is still the only Super Bowl who hinged on a last second field goal where the kicking team could lose with a miss.

What happened now?  This one wasn't that close.  The Bills were bungled their way to another loss, this one 24-10 to the Eli Manning Giants.

Super Bowl winners are now 5-1.


What happened then?  A more recent Super Bowl, the Ravens won their 2nd Super Bowl title with a 34-31 win over the 49ers.  This was a significant Super Bowl for a variety of reasons.  It was San Francisco's first (and only) Super Bowl loss, it was just the second time a team scored 30 points and lost a Super Bowl and there was the whole power outage during the game in New Orleans.

What happened now?  Maybe Colin Kaepernick's best game since that Super Bowl.  The Niners won, 25-20, and keeps the Ravens horrible season down in the dumps.  Yeah, Baltimore is 1-5!

Finally a Super Bowl in avenged!  The Super Bowl winners are now just 5-2 with this Niner win.  Remember the other win was from the Redskins-Dolphins split.


What happened then?  One of the most thrilling Super Bowls I have ever seen.  Kurt Warner and the Cardinals look a late lead before Ben Roethlisberger marched down with an epic TD pass to Santonio Holmes to pull out the championship, 27-23.

What happened now? Kurt Warner has long since retired and Roethlisberger is out with an injury.  Instead it was Landry Jones (after Michael Vick pulled a hammy) that led the Steelers to a 25-13 win over the Cardinals.

Super Bowl winners get another notch.  Now they are 6-2.


What happened then?
 Week 6 featured three rematches, but this one wasn't recent at all.  Hank Stram's Chiefs won a second straight Super Bowl for the AFC by dismantling Minnesota, 23-7.  This game is most notable for Stram being mic'd up during the game.  Also, this was the final game for the AFL and the merger with the NFL occured the following season.

What happened now?  No epic here.  An ugly game that we will all soon forget, the Vikings beat the Chiefs 16-10.

Another payback.  Super Bowl winners fall to 6-3.


What happened then?  An early onside kick, a key pick-six and the unprobable Super Bowl title for the New Orleans Saints over the Peyton Manning-led Colts.

What happened now?  Manning may be long gone, but Drew Brees is still a Saint and he still put a hurting on Indy.  Saints won this one 27-21 and the boo bird rained down on Andrew Luck and coach Chuck Pagano.

Super Bowl winners are now 7-3.


What happened then?  The Broncos ended the NFC's 13-year reign over the Super Bowl by beating the defending champion Packers.  Remember the John Elway running for a huge first down?

What happened now?  Denver's defense just owned Aaron Rodgers in a battle of unbeatens.

Super Bowl winners are 8-3.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ranking All 30 NHL Logos

The NHL season is here and we have an opportunity to look at the NHL logos.  I've been wanting to do this for some time, so here it is.  Ranking the logos.

Now, this is all me and what I like.  So here we go.


Where do I begin with this?  I don't like the leaping in 3-D panther ... or is it walking towards me on its hind legs?  Plus when up against the Carolina Panthers logo, this gets left way behind.  It just doesn't do it for me at all.


The Canucks seemingly can never get it right.  They are in logo hell.  Whether it is the boring stick logo of the 1970s or the colorful skate of the 1980s and 1990s or this ... whatever ... they just have yet to find the one.  Heck, I prefer this alternate logo of about 8 years ago.  Anything but this shark/whale thing cracking ice.


There's gotta be a way to make a coyote look cool.  I did kind of like that artsy logo when the 'Yotes first started up.  I get that the 90s-ish look wouldn't stay forever, but their current rendition is boring.  So much so that it even looks like the logo is yawning.  Again, to put it up against a similar logo, I like the Minnesota Timberwolves wolf much better.


There it is.  A lightning bolt.  Neat.  Well, it is better than their arena football looking logo from before.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

NBA Makes Playoff Change ... Now Let's Scrap Divisions

The NBA has decided to seed playoff teams according to record and not if they are division champions.  This means that a division champion with a poor record could end up as an 8th seed.

Moving in the right direction.

The next step is just eliminating divisions altogether.

While I understand the point of divisions in sports and even like when some leagues add or subtract divisions, they are pointless right now in the NBA.  The NBA divisions do really nothing for the sport.  In the NFL, NHL and MLB divisions do greatly impact scheduling so keeping them is important.  In the NBA, there is no scheduling advantage going on.  Western Conference teams all play pretty much the same schedule.  You play each Eastern Conference team twice, 10 Western teams four times and four Western teams three times.  So why have divisions?

I've been trumpeting this for years.  Even sports media thumb their noses at the NBA division format.  I mean, when have you really ever seen SportsCenter show you the Atlantic Division standings?  Rarely, if ever.  But the Eastern Conference standings are up there.

In the NFL, a division winner is guaranteed a home playoff game.  You also play each fellow division team twice and you don't do so against anyone else.  In the NHL, you play a weighted division schedule.  In the playoffs, the division winners get favorable matchups.  In baseball, division winners are in the postseason with wildcard teams having a one-game playoff to join them.  Also in baseball, schedules are heavily weighted for divisions.

In the NBA, weighted scheduling doesn't really work.  Do we need more Clippers-Lakers game at the expense of Cavaliers-Heat games?  It really isn't what the NBA wants.  If so, they could force division foes to face off 5 times apiece and non-division conference opponents 3 times apiece, then play the teams that finished at the same division finish as you in the other two divisions a fourth time.  But the NBA doesn't do that.  They like how it is due to the more favorable matchups they get (Spurs-Lakers in the day, Heat-Cavs),

So let's dump the divisions and just go 1 thru 15 in the conference.  We're doing that anyway.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

NFL's Head Coach Hot Seat

10-CHUCK PAGANO (COLTS):  I know.  I must be smoking something.  However, Pagano's contract expires after this season and it isn't out of the realm of possibility that if he fails to get to a Super Bowl or back to the AFC title game then he could be replaced for a closer.  We've seen it happen in other places (namely Tampa Bay with Tony Dungy, plus what Denver just did with John Fox).  Pagano is a good guy and a good coach, but he could feel some pressure to make the next step.

9-SEAN PAYTON (SAINTS):  He's done so much in New Orleans, but sometimes a coaching era runs its course.  If sometimes feels that way in N'Awlins.  The Saints have had a soft division to win over the last few years and haven't been able to cash in.  Drew Brees ain't getting any younger and it may be the time for the team and Payton to part ways and start a new coaching era.

8-MIKE MCCOY (CHARGERS):  San Diego is in limbo.  They want to move to LA and the team is kind of stuck in mediocrity.  I like McCoy and the Chargers surprised many in the first half of last season, but he's a bad season away from being removed.

7-MIKE PETTINE (BROWNS):  I like him, but the Cleveland Browns are a complete mess.  Complete.  Mess.

6-KEN WHISENHUNT (TITANS):  Tennessee was horrible in Whisenhunt's first season in Nashville.  This season, he'll have a rookie behind center and a very young roster.  He might survive if they show moderate gains.  Still, in this day and age, patience isn't a virtue and another crapped season could end with his dismissal.

5-TOM COUGHLIN (GIANTS):  Another year, another Coughlin sighting on this list.  And another caveat:  Coughlin most likely won't be fired.  He will be given the forced retirement treatment.  He is just four years removed from a Super Bowl ring, but the Giants have had two straight losing seasons.

4-JEFF FISHER (RAMS):  Fisher has a few things against him.  He hasn't won during his stay in St. Louis; with Nick Foles now his starter, he doesn't have the Sam Bradford-injury excuse anymore; the Rams are trying really hard to move to Los Angeles.  Many times, we see a team relocate and then fire their coach as a sign of a new era.  The Rams also have a championship level defense and if Fisher can't make a move this season, it may be time to move along.

3-GUS BRADLEY (JAGUARS):  No coach in the NFL has been asked to work with less.  Bradley should be getting the benefit of a bad roster.  But this is his third season and second with "franchise" QB Blake Bortles.  Jacksonville did spend some money this offseason and would like to see a few more than three wins.

2-JAY GRUDEN (REDSKINS):  Gruden is stuck between a rock and a hard place.   He needs to win to impress his ownership ... but that ownership wants him to do that with Robert Griffin III.  That may not be possible.  One season after trying to use tough love on RG3, Gruden is coddling him, evidently bowing to Daniel Snyder's demands.  Add in a poor defense and injuries, and the Redskins look to be back at the bottom of the NFC East.

1-JOE PHILBIN (DOLPHINS):  Some are surprised he hasn't been fired yet, especially a couple of years ago when that taunting scandal came around.  But Philbin has kept Miami around the .500 mark during his time.  But the Phins spent some dough this year and see an opportunity to make a move in the changing AFC East.  Another non-winning season and Philbin will be replaced.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sportz Assassin's NFL Predictions

Will Russell Wilson and Tom Brady meet up again in another Super Bowl?

I love predictions because they are useless.  Yep.  I'm writing this knowing it is pointless.  We all can make these predictions with educated guesses ... and some picks will be spot on and some will be way off.

Knowing this, I'm making my predictions is a very unlike-me way.  Instead of burying my head in stats and books and articles, I am just going to go by one main point:  Starting quarterbacks.

Yes, I'm just going by the quarterback play.  I know, I know, there are some great defenses and running backs and coaches and blah blah blah blah.  Who cares?  I mean, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Andrew Luck, Tony Romo, Cam Newton, Matt Stafford, Andy Dalton ... and whoever the Cardinals QB by the end of the season ... guided their teams to the playoffs. Yeah, some good ones didn't, but it's hard to argue that you need some really good play behind center to make the postseason in this pass-heavy league.

So I will blind myself to most of the other parts of the roster and use the quarterback as my main reasoning for ranking these teams.



Yeah, you can say Eli Manning has accomplished way more than Tony Romo ever will.  You can say that Eli is a better quarterback.  I'll buy that.  However, Romo had a great season last year while Eli had some up and down moments.  Both have outstanding receivers to get the ball to.  I'm just hitching to the fact that Romo will have better opportunities.  Sam Bradford is now the starter in Philly and when he stays healthy, he's not too shabby.  He just can never stay healthy.  RG3 is getting another shot in Washington and who knows what we will get.  By the way, the starting QBs in this division are two #1 overall picks and a #2 overall pick.  Yet my top passer in these ranking is the guy that went undrafted.



Drew Brees is clearly on the downside of his career, but dude is still a stud.  He's lost some weapons, but he knows how to play.  I love Matt Ryan and his two big-time receivers ... it is just something doesn't click all the way in Atlanta.  Cam Newton is a playoff veteran now and is climbing into the upper levels of NFL QBs.  He just isn't there with Brees or Ryan yet.  That leaves Jameis Winston, the overall #1 pick from this draft.  I really like him, but a rookie taking over a bad team is always a tough deal.



This is where my philosophy could trip me up.  I like the Vikings more than the Bears to make noise this season, but I think Jay Cutler is a bit better than Tedy Bridgewater right now (but maybe not for long).  We'll see.  Aaron Rodgers is, to me, the best in the biz right now.  Matt Stafford's roller coaster career should see him have a pretty good season in 2015.



Russell Wilson is the class of this division.  Carson Palmer is the cagey old vet who did a great job running Arizona's offense last season before suffering a season-ending injury.  I haven't been sold on Colin Kaepernick, but he is talented.  So is St. Louis' Nick Foles, who apparently wasn't good enough to stop Philly from taking on a guy that is always hurt to replace him.



Even if Tom Brady truly misses a month of the season, their QB situation is still better than anyone else in this division.  I do like Ryan Tannehill in Miami and agree with the experts that he's going to take a big leap this season.  Buffalo is a trendy pick and Matt Cassell isn't bad.  He's not the guy you really want to lead your franchise, but he's better than E.J. Manuel and Tyrod Taylor.  Oh, and better than anyone the Jets are putting out there.  Geno Smith?  Ryan Fitzpatrick?  Doesn't matter.



Andrew Luck is so much better than anyone in the AFC South that it isn't even funny.  I mean, can you even name the quarterbacks for the other three teams?  Houston's QB is ... Brian Hoyer!  Hoyer had his moments as the starter in Cleveland last year.  Blake Bortles is entering his second season as the starter in Jacksonville and he has next to nothing to work with.  Marcus Mariota is now the head man in Tennessee ... I think.  He looked a bit off in his first preseason game and Zach Mettenberger could end up getting the regular season nod as the starter.



Big Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco are Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, making this the lone divisions with multiple starting QBs who won Super Bowls as starters.  Andy Dalton has led the Bengals to the playoffs in each of his four seasons in Cincinnati.  And Cleveland?  Well, Josh McCown is now their starter and not Johnny Football.



I think, as many do, that we could be seeing the end of Peyton Manning's career.  He still plays at such a high level, but he really tails off as the season moves along.  Philip Rivers had an MVP-type of season before his own second half troubles last season.  Alex Smith is still chugging along in Kansas City.  Derek Carr is still getting the nod in Oakland and he could turn into a pretty decent starter.


Why?  Well I think losing Brady will hurt the Pats chances at getting home field advantage for an AFC championship game.  I also think the Packers are the best team in the league.  I hate the Steelers defense, but this just has a feel that Big Ben and Pittsburgh buck the odds and move onto another Super Bowl.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

MLB Wants To Expand? C'mon Montreal and Charlotte!

Will the Expos return to Major League Baseball?

The MLB is talking about expanding for the first time since 1998.  Nice.  Expansion in pretty much all the major league sports has died off since the early 2000s yet all we see are skyrocketing values in franchise values.  Makes sense for leagues to start to kick around expansion.

Baseball can see itself expanding soon and two teams make the most sense.  For one, it would place a 16th team in each league.  Second off, it can right one wrong.

Any baseball expansion needs to include Montreal, provided they can get a new stadium built.  The Expos were a fine franchise during its time and was basically crushed into moving to Washington DC.  I would love a return of the Expos to baseball and think that's a no-brainer.

The other franchise is debatable.  Portland, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, New Jersey, Vegas and Charlotte top the list.  Maybe a Mexican city or Puerto Rico would be viable.  Since I grew up in Charlotte, I'm "bullish" on the Queen City.  Of the cities mentioned above, they are the only one with two professional franchises already (unless you consider New York's NFL teams as "Jersey teams").  They have no territorial team already (it is Braves country, but that isn't a rock solid thing).

Forget arguing, I'm going with Charlotte.

That brings us to the next issue -- realignment.  With the two leagues at 16 teams, do you realign to four divisions now?  Do you move teams to different leagues yet again?  Can I find a way to move the Astros back to the National League where they belong?

Well, I think moving to four divisions will happen.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What Cities Should Host World Cup Matches If The United States Has To Host?

What if FIFA decided to strip Russia and/or Qatar of their World Cup bids in 2018 or 2022, respectively?  That could happen if the bribery and kickback scandal reaches to the awarding of their bids.  While that would be a historic decision, it isn't one that is out of the realm of possibility.  If that did happen, there must be another country willing to step in on short notice to take on the huge task of hosting the World Cup.

The United States is one of the few countries that could pull that off.  America has plenty of available stadiums and corporate help to make an event like this happen.  So s
ay the USA is told to do such a thing.  Where would they hold the games?  What stadiums will we use?  Here is a list.  

I'm going off of stadiums that are already in place right now and would be available as early as the 2018 World Cup that is currently scheduled for Russia.  I'm also listing 12 as my picks as Russia will have that many stadiums hosting the actual World Cup.  I'm not having any city with two host stadiums either.  I also took out any baseball stadiums due to their use for the MLB season.  That knocked out some interesting picks like Yankee Stadium or Tropicana Field.

1-ROSE BOWL, PASADENA CA:  Pretty easy pick.  It's huge, historic, the weather would be nice and the city is obviously a destination place to have some matches.  The Rose Bowl also hosted the 1994 World Cup Final.  Plus, if it was hosting the 2022 World Cup, that would mark the Rose Bowl's 100th birthday. The Los Angeles Coliseum is an option but I just like the Rose Bowl better.  If the US was awarded the 2022 games, that could be enough time for one of the projected NFL stadiums in L.A. to be built and used.

2-AT&T STADIUM, ARLINGTON TX:  The Dallas Cowboys' stadium is a marvel and of any arena in the United States, this is the one we'd love to show off.  It has a retractable roof and would be an outstanding place to have the World Cup Final ... just like it has held a Super Bowl and the first College Football Playoff championship.  It is the largest non-college football stadium in the country. The Cotton Bowl would be an option but, c'mon, you gotta show off this place.

3-FEDEX FIELD, LANDOVER MD:  You have to include the stadium in our nation's capital.  Maybe it isn't the greatest stadium, but it is big and very capable of hosting World Cup matches.  RFK Stadium would bring nostalgia as well as a stadium actually in DC, but FedEx is just better.  While not in the works, there has been rumbling of the Redskins trying to get a new stadium in the near future.

4-METLIFE STADIUM, EAST RUTHERFORD NJ:  Same as FedEx Field, you have to have New York host several games.  Beautiful stadium in our largest metro area.  It has been a host of a Super Bowl, and since it hosts both the Jets and Giants, it is used to having to change up on short notice.  Yankee Stadium is the home of the New York City FC of Major League Soccer, but it won't be used during baseball season.

5-CENTURYLINK FIELD, SEATTLE WA:  We all know that Olympic and World Cup stadiums tend to have unique architecture.  This place has it.  This place is loud and a soccer lovin' city (huge MLS draw).  It is a world class city and a base for many companies.  It also allows the Cup to be featured in the Pacific northwest. Husky Field at the UW campus would also be a good spot.  

6-UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX STADIUM, GLENDALE AZ:  Another retractable roof and another with nice architecture.  They've hosted multiple Super Bowls, multiple college football championships and will have the 2017 NCAA Final Four.  Great weather as well as a city that would feature another aspect of Americana.  Think about it.  So far we have the Hollywood of the Rose Bowl, the big size life of Texas, the history of Washington DC, the hustle and bustle of New York, the Pacific northwest and the desert area of Arizona. 

7-SUN LIFE STADIUM, MIAMI GARDENS FL:  You may not realize it, but Sun Life Stadium has had quite a run in the over two decades it's been around.  You got to have South Beach on the list and with a diverse population.  Plus it has been a Super Bowl staple.

8-GILETTE STADIUM, FOXBOROUGH MA:  Old Foxboro Stadium hosted the 1994 World Cup and I think the newer Gilette Stadium would work fine as a host.  Not to mention the cultural aspect of having the world cup in the Boston area.  It has been a staple of soccer events since its opening. 

9-SOLDIER FIELD, CHICAGO IL:  The Second City makes great sense hosting some Cup matches.  Soldier Field has a unique standing in America stadiums as it is old yet has been renovated as a basically new stadium. However, Soldier Field was rejected as a venue when the 2022 bid was up.  

10-RELIANT STADIUM, HOUSTON TX:  I'm a bit weary of having Texas with two venues, but Reliant is a perfect stadium to host World Cup matches.  Houston is different than Dallas the distance between the two cities is virtually the same as the distance between New York and Washington.  A Super Bowl city that will host next year's Final Four.

11-ARROWHEAD STADIUM, KANSAS CITY MO:  One of the most unappreciated stadiums we have, Arrowhead is a great place to watch a football game and would be great hosting a World Cup match.  It is loud, centrally located and the city is interesting.  It, like many of the others mentioned, has previously hosted soccer matches. 

12-INVESCO FIELD AT MILE HIGH, DENVER CO:  Okay, I may have gone with the whole "let's see a lot of the diversity of America" slant, and that's why I have Denver here.  You have the beautiful Rocky Mountain setting, a nice stadium and a different geographic setting.  The air will be a factor in any match played there.  Oh, and the mountains in the background.

So these are my 12 cities.  It makes the tournament spread across the country and, literally, all four corners of the nation (Seattle, LA, Miami and Massachusetts).  Joining them would be New York City, Washington, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Denver, Kansas City and Phoenix. 

I hate that a few cities I would've loved to have it I left out.  There are reasons I did leave them out.

DETROIT:  Is Detroit the world class city it used to be?  To be honest, that's what it would come down to.  I'm not sure if Ford Field would be the right fit, but these games could be played in Ann Arbor.  When I look at the 12 cities I used, I notice that the east coast isn't as represented as much as you'd think (four cities in the Eastern Time Zone).

INDIANAPOLIS:  Right at the cut line.  Indianapolis has hosted a Super Bowl and plenty of Final Fours.  Also, due to its location, it is a good city to have teams travel around from.  

TAMPA:  Another close cut.  In 1994, the US used both Miami and Orlando for World Cup matches, so it isn't adverse to using two Florida cities.  I just think that the event would be spaced out a little bit more this time.  

SAN DIEGO:  The Chargers have spent two decades trying to get a new stadium to replace Qualcomm.  Now the Chargers are rumored to be interested in moving to a new Los Angeles stadium.  A World Cup would play in L.A. and that would be enough for the SoCal area.

BALTIMORE:  Great city, but like San Diego's proximity to L.A. hurts them, B-more's distance to Washington would hurt them.  

ATLANTA:  Atlanta would bring the American South to the mix, but where would a World Cup be played?  The Braves and Falcons are building new stadiums which could work.  Turner Field's (formerly an Olympic stadium) future is up in the air when the Braves move, but what will it be in 2022?  Plus, is Atlanta a soccer city?  

COLUMBUS:  The city has really embraced soccer and the MLS' Crew.  They even had the foresight to build a soccer-only facility.  Now, a World Cup would be played at Ohio Stadium where the Buckeyes roam, but which other city should be knocked out?

NEW ORLEANS:  No way would a World Cup game be played indoors like that.  NOLA would be an awesome World Cup city, but it would be logistically tough.  And, remember, the last big sporting event there was when the lights went out during the Super Bowl.  

Sunday, May 31, 2015

NBA Should Come Up With 'Legacy' Contracts For Long-time Players

The Miami Heat would love to keep Dwyane Wade around for the rest
of his career.  However, they are a bit worried committing the kind of
money it may take to do so.  What if we had a 'legacy' clause that could
remedy these kinds of situations?

By now, most of you have heard about the contract issues with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.  In a general nutshell, Wade has had a great career in Miami and has taken a lot of sacrifices for the team to be able to make moves to win championships.  Now he's in the latter end of his career, he's banged up, but he wants some financial security from the team.

I get that.  It is one of the more difficult things in sports.  When to let go.  Should you let go?  Do you owe a player that meant so much to your franchise even as his skills decline?

Look at the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant.  The Lakers gave Bryant a two-year deal that made him continue to be the highest paid player in the NBA.  That, despite Kobe coming off two serious injuries and entering his 19th season in the League.  The contract limited what the Lakers could do last offseason and the payoff was another injury-plagued season that saw the most losses in franchise history.

Miami doesn't want that to happen with Wade.  Sometimes, those lifers do take smaller deals to help their teams stay competitive.  Just ask Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki.  If you don't, you could end up with a Patrick Ewing SuperSonics jersey or a Hakeem poster when he was with the Raptors.

That's where I'd like the NBA to do something that would benefit the team.  A legacy clause.  If a player has been with you for ... say ... ten or 12 straight seasons, then his cap number would be half of what his salary is.  So if Kobe is getting paid $25 million this season ... he only counts $12.5 million towards the cap and all the payroll tax brackets.  You are able to keep your legend in house late in his career and still have more financial flexibility to make the team around him better.  It would allow Dwyane Wade to earn extra money he deserves for years of signing less than max deals but allow the franchise to transition to the next era.

This isn't a big list of players, either.  The names would include Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Wade, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Udonis Haslem, Nick Collison and Anderson Varejao.   Some are Hall of Famers; others are role guys.  Either way, it works.  A guy like Udonis Haslem could stick around Miami if the Heat's cap number for him is half his salary.  A guy like Wade could finish his career with the Heat and in front of their fans.  He'll get his pay and the Heat can still have some flexibility.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - Final 4

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.  This one will take the entire Final Four as one day.

GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Wisconsin vs Kentucky. This was what everyone outside of the Bluegrass state wanted.  To see Kentucky beaten.  Maybe that's a bit drastic, but the SEC wasn't challenging enough for a team of Kentucky's stature, so it would be interesting to see how they'd perform against the best teams in the NCAA.  After all, the Wildcats only played one game against teams ranked in the top 14 of the final regular season AP poll.  Wisconsin, who clearly had a chip on its shoulder, came in swinging and it paid off.

UPSET OF THE WEEKEND: Wisconsin vs Kentucky. It's hard to call a game featuring two No. 1 seeds as an upset, but Kentucky was undefeated and staring directly into history.  Wisconsin, while one of the best teams in the nation, came in with no McDonald's All Americans.

CONFERENCE OF THE WEEKEND: ACC. The ACC won another title.  Since 1982, that's 34 years, the ACC has won 11 National Championships (Duke 5, UNC 4, NC State 1, Maryland 1). The ACC finished an amazing 17-5 in the tournament, with five Sweet 16 teams and three Elite 8 teams.

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD WEEKEND: Big Ten. Two Big Ten teams made the Final Four, and both were beaten by Duke.  The ACC is now 6-1 against the Big Ten in National Championship games, with a nice six game winning streak (Duke-Michigan, UNC-Michigan, Maryland-Indiana, UNC-Illinois, UNC-Michigan State, Duke-Wisconsin). 

DUD OF THE WEEEKEND: Duke vs Michigan State. After the Spartans looked like they were set to give Duke a game, the Blue Devils just owned them.  The other two games were tight.  This one, not so much.

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEKEND: Duke. They blew out Michigan State and then toppled Wisconsin and the player of the year, Frank Kaminsky.  That is Duke's fifth title in 25 years.

UNDERLYING STORYLINE OF THE WEEKEND: Talent. I've always said that the NCAA tournament is two different tournaments.  One is that first weekend where we see those small schools pull off a few upsets and the Georgia State's of the world become darlings of the sports world.  Then there is the the Sweet 16 on forward, where the best teams usually do their thing.  Look at this Final Four.  According to, there were 9 guys in this Final Four who are projected to be first round draft picks this June -- including six of the top 11 picks.  Duke and Kentucky were loaded with one-and-done players.

ACC Dominant In NCAA Title Game Again

*Since 1982 (34 years), the ACC has won 11 NCAA tournaments.  That's nearly one-third of the time.

*Current ACC membership has won 13 of the last 34 NCAA tournaments (and 14 of 36).

*The ACC is now 6-1 vs Big Ten in NCAA title games.

*Conferences in that span ...

ACC: 11 titles (13 from current members)
Big East: 7 titles (only 2 from current members)
SEC: 6 titles
Big Ten: 3 titles (4 from current members)
Pac 12: 2 titles
Big 8/Big 12: 2 titles
American: 1 title (4 from current members)
Metro: 1 title (conference disbanded)
Big West: 1 title (0 from current members)
MW:  0 titles (1 from current members)

*The ACC has had four different programs win titles in that time span.

Big East: 5 (Georgetown, Villanova, UConn, Syracuse, Louisville)
ACC: 4 (North Carolina, NC State, Duke, Maryland)
Big Ten: 3 (Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State)
SEC: 3 (Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida)
Pac 12: 2 (UCLA, Arizona)
Big 8/Big 12: 1 (Kansas)
Metro: 1 (Louisville)
American: 1 (UConn)
Big West: 1 (UNLV)

*Under current membership:

ACC: 5 (North Carolina, NC State, Louisville, Duke, Syracuse)
Big Ten: 4 (Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland)
SEC: 3 (Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida)
Big East: 2 (Georgetown, Villanova)
Pac 12: 2 (UCLA, Arizona)
Big 8/Big 12: 1 (Kansas)
American: 1 (UConn)
Mountain West: 1 (UNLV)

*The state of North Carolina trails only California for total NCAA titles ever.

California (15 titles)
North Carolina (12)
Kentucky (11)
Indiana (5)
Connecticut (4)
Ohio, Kansas, Michigan (3)

*Since that 1982 mark

North Carolina (10 titles)
Kentucky (6)
Connecticut (4)
Florida, Kansas, Michigan (2)
Indiana, California, Pennsylvania, New York, Nevada, Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, District Of Columbia (1)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Imagine If We Did Have The Best 16 Teams In The NBA Playoffs ...

Remember that whole thing about the NBA just ditching the current playoff format and just having the top 16 teams in the playoffs?

Let's see how that would look right now ... as of April 6th.

1-WARRIORS (63-14) vs 16-BUCKS (38-39)
2-HAWKS (57-19) vs 15-SUNS (39-38)
3-ROCKETS (53-24) vs 14-PELICANS (41-35)
4-GRIZZLIES (52-25) vs 13-THUNDER (42-35)
5-CLIPPERS (52-26) vs 12-WIZARDS (44-33)
6-SPURS (51-26) vs 11-RAPTORS (45-32)
7-TRAIL BLAZERS (50-27) vs 10-MAVERICKS (46-31)
8-CAVALIERS (50-27) vs 9-BULLS (46-31)

Here are the main differences.

First off, the Pelicans and Suns would be in the playoffs, while the Nets and Celtics (currently sitting 7th and 8th in the East) would not.  That's a great trade-off.  The Pelicans are a very talented team with a budding super star on their roster.  Phoenix is an exciting team to watch.  The Nets and Celtics have each tried to purge their rosters to shave money and get young talent.  With the shoddy Eastern Conference, you can do that and still make the playoffs!

Next, well look at these matchups.  Cleveland is in an 8-9 series instead of being a No. 2 seed in the current format.  That means they'd get the Bulls in the first round instead of the Nets.  Again, a much better series.  Six of the eight home field advantages would be to Western teams because they are better.  On the flip side, the Warriors would face the Bucks ... and much weaker team than the Thunder they are currently trending to play.  Right now, the Bucks would face the Bulls in the first round.  Think about that!  The Bulls would get the Bucks in the first round, while the NBA's best team ... Golden State ... would have to face the Oklahoma City Thunder?

One interesting thing to look at is the travel.  Here is where the series look as far as distance:

New Orleans to Houston
Cleveland to Chicago
Memphis to Oklahoma City
Milwaukee to Oakland

Toronto to San Antonio
Dallas to Portland
Atlanta to Phoenix

Washington to Los Angeles

Sure, DC to LA is quite a ride ... but that happens in NBA Finals. And look at Dallas-Portland?  That would be a normal Western Conference series.  Imagine a Memphis-Portland series?  Or Minnesota-Los Angeles?