Tuesday, April 5, 2016

It Really, Really, Really Hurts ... But Congrats To Villanova


I was stunned.  I actually knew it was going to happen, but I was still stunned.  Kris Jenkins hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to win the National Championship against my Heels.



It certainly stings.  It was the first buzzer beater to win an NCAA Tournament since NC State did in against Houston in 1983.  So, yeah, as a North Carolina fan, three of the most famous buzzer beaters in my life were NC State and Duke hitting them, and UNC getting one hit on them.


I've mentioned this in the past, but I have been pretty lucky when it comes to this.  My favorite teams (UNC football/basketball, Redskins, Lakers, Reds) have rarely lost like this.  Not just a buzzer beater, but in a title with a winner take all deal.  The Tar Heels hoops team had won their last four trips to the title game (1982, 1993, 2005, 2009).  The last title loss was in 1981 to Indiana, and I would turn six years old just a few months after that game.

My Redskins would lose Super Bowl XVIII in January 1984 (I was eight and it was rather devastating).  They'd win the next two Super Bowls (1988, 1992) and haven't sniffed that success since.

The Lakers have done it.  They lost Finals in 1983, 1989, 1991, 2004 and 2008, which sucked, but none of those went to a winner-take-all.  Two of those were sweeps and two others went just 5 games.  But the Lakers did have 1984 when they lost Game 7 of the Finals to the hated Celtics.  They also won Game 7 of the 1988 and 2010 Finals.

So I have been lucky.  I haven't seen my team lose in a winner-take-all championship game since 1984 when I was about to be 9 years old.  Since that game, I have watched North Carolina, Redskins and Lakers win 7 of these games and those teams win 14 championships.

So it is hard to go out like this.  However, I am glad it did happen this way.  There has been debates about losing on a buzzer beater and losing in a blowout.  Buzzer beater any day.  At least my team competed and had a shot to win it.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Sportz' MLB Predictions

Okay, let's take another stab at this:



Sportz Assassin's Final Four Preview

TEAM TO BEAT: North Carolina. The only No. 1 seed remaining, the Tar Heels look like a title team.  Their inside game is elite and clearly is advantage against the other three teams in Houston.  Add in their recent ability to stretch defenses with their three point shooting, and they are playing nearly unbeatable basketball. 

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP: North Carolina. For all the reasons above.  The best team doesn't always win, we know, but the Heels have the most going for them.  The other schools have weaknesses that Carolina can exploit.

TEAM TO WATCH FOR: Villanova. The Wildcats can be that team that imposes their will on UNC.  Their defense has been great and no team has had a more impressive path to the Final Four.  They can make UNC's guards uncomfortable and their defense intensity to rock a confident Tar Heel squad.  

YOUR CINDERELLA: Syracuse. The Orange aren't supposed to be here.  Like, the tournament.  Many felt after losing five of their last six games, they shouldn't have even gotten a bid to the dance, but here they are.  Getting to the Final Four isn't just about domination, it is about some luck.  They avoided Michigan State and needed an epic comeback to down Virginia.  Still, a Hall of Fame coach and a zone defense that causes trouble could be enough to carry Syracuse to an unlikely title.  

WORST SEEDING ERROR: Oklahoma. Going by the true seeding, Oklahoma was the "fifth No. 1 seed".  They were the No. 2 seed in the weakest No. 1 out West.  Not only did Oklahoma win the region, but they destroyed No. 1 seeded Oregon in the Elite 8 to do it.  The Sooners have a punchers chance to win this thing as Buddy Hield is having one of those transcendent tournaments.  He could be the next in a line that includes Danny Manning and Carmelo Anthony to carry a team to a title.    

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Oklahoma. North Carolina and Syracuse have huge fan bases, but none should fill up NRG Stadium in Houston more than Oklahoma's.

MUST WATCH GAME: Oklahoma vs Villanova. The scrappy team defensive team against the best player in the tournament.  Yes please.

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: North Carolina vs Oklahoma. Well, the preseason No. 1 team against the Player Of The Year.  What a matchup it could be.