Smart wasnt smart at all...
Greetings from the Hoodwood, where we still haven’t come out the deep freeze and the Groundhog is chuckling saying you cant blame me for this one.
College Basketball: Smart not so smart
I never understood the hype about Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State. Good player with a stylish funky game but one I think is still a little too unrefined for the NBA game. He wisely decided to come back for his sophomore season but so far it has been an uneven season, a season that got worse in Lubbock at the tail end of a loss to Texas Tech. After trying to block a breakaway dunk by Jaye Crockett late in the game, Smart tumbled behind the basket and was helped to his feet. A foul had been called but it wasn’t flagrant and was a good, clean hard play. As Smart was being helped up he whirled to confront someone he thought had said something abusive to him and then delivered a two handed shove to the Red Raider fan. Smart was given a technical and as common practice for players that get teed up was benched with 2.1 seconds. Smart was visibly agiatated and maintained that the fan, Jeff Orr, had used a racial slur. Orr for his part, denied that he had used the slur but had said that he had been heckling Smart. Smart was escorted from the floor at games end and the Tech crowd happy over the upset win stormed the court. Smart, to his credit, took full responsibility for the shove but maintained that he was provoked. The Big 12 conference could have really socked it to him, but instead gave him a 3 game suspension. Ironically, the first game that Smart is eligible to play in will be against Texas Tech on February 22nd. This suspension will have serious ramifications to the already struggling Pokes who with the loss to the Red Raiders have dropped four in a row and five of their last six. Check the spec sheet for how I think this will affect their tourney chances. No matter what the alleged provocation, there is no excuse for a player interacting negatively with a patron. I know that there are some fans who take their heckling and hectoring too far, but a player has to be and stay above it. Many people hearken back to the farce that was labled the Malice the Palace, where Ron Artest charged into the stands and belted a patron whom he thought threw a beer at him. This was nothing like this sorry incident, but nevertheless Smart will have to pay for his transgressions and now likely be the target of every neck in a visiting arena for the rest of his college days. Has he cost him self money with that outburst? No, but don’t think that there aren’t a couple GHM’s that suddenly got really leery about picking up the talented yet tempermental player.
NFL: Sam comes out and the big deal about it
Michael Sam is an all american defensive end Missouri and many people in the know think that at best Sam will be a mid round pick. Sam made the announcement that he is gay. As a person who has no bias toward anyone because of their sexual orientation and has friends who are gay and lesbian as well as relatives that are as well so I have some perspective. My thing is, I dont understand what the big fuss is about. Sam is a decently talented player, he has to be if he was an All-American the prospects for his pro career is decent. The NFL is not just made of first rounders and 5 star players, its made up of yeomen and mid rounders as well. My thinking is, Sam is (or should be) NFL's first openly gay player. If hes talented, what is the problem.
Solid: Syracuse, Duke, Pitt, Virginia
Work to do: Clemson, Maryland, North Carolina
Skinny on the ACC: Clemson gave it a go but got thumped in the Carrier Dome and the Orange roll on. But they have to stay hot as the seriously underrated Cavs are hot on their heels. Pitt keeps tottering on the edge but is still on the solid list. The Heels are back on the list after stringing together a run of ho-hum wins are now on the fringes of being back in contention. They still have much work to do, but their hated contry cousins are on the docket and that could give them a serious resume boost.
Key Games: Syracuse @ Pitt 7:00 Wednesday, Duke @ North Carolina 9:00 Wednesday (ESPN) In a doubleheader that some programming geek undoubtedly got a raise for setting up: The Top ranked Orange head into the Oakland Zoo and a serious threat to their unbeaten run and the Devils head 8 miles up the road to tangle with their depsied rival who though having a nondescript season could make a serious move with a win
Conference Class- Major
Solid: Saint Louis
Work to do: George Washington, VCU, UMass
The A-10 Spec is: The Billikens still lead the conference though they nearly got zapped at Gola by Lasalle. The working teams are beating each other up so its getting harder to project another team coming out here, but I stand by the projection. The basketball here is still high quality
Key Game: George Washington @ VCU Wednesday 7:00 (NBCSN) The winner here moves into the catbird seat chasing the Billikens and gets a key win closing in on the A-10 tourney in Brooklyn.
Projected Bids: 3
Solid: Cincy, Louisville, UConn, Memphis, SMU
Work to do: None
All-American Spec: OK, SMU, OK…you earned your moving papers to the solid line after blasting the conference leading Bearcats in front of a Moody Coliseum fast earning a rep as tough home venue. Memphis and UConn are tottering a bit but this conference is a have and have not league. The teams that are solid are playing for seed.
Key Games: SMU at Rutgers 7:00 (ESPNN) We will see how the Mustangs play as the team with a target on its back, ranked for the first time in nearly 30 years they now have to guard against a team looking for a visitor to upset
Projected Bids: 5
Solid: Creighton, Villanova
Work to do: Providence, Xavier, Georgetown, St. John’s
Big East Skinny: The Wildcats and Bluejays are marking time till March and are safe,though the Bluejays took a nasty pratfall in MSG. After that is where it gets interesting. Xavier might have saved its season with a taut win against Providence and while the Friars aren’t flatlined they are in serious bubble trouble. The Hoyas and Johnnies have played markedly better and they both have big wins over ranked teams at MSG to burnish their respective resumes. The Hoyas stunning the then #5 ranked Spartans of Michigan State, the Red Storm stunning the Blue Jays before an unusually amped up crowd. Both still have much work to do, but are going to be real factors in the big picture before its all said and done.
Key Game: Creighton @ Butler Saturday 3:00 (FS1) I remember when this used to be a marquee bracketbuster game, but now it’s a conference game with the Bluejays needing a bounceback win but Hinkle has long been a house of horrors for visitors
Projected bids: 3
Solid: Michigan State, Michigan, Iowa
Work to do: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern, Indiana
The word on the Big Ten is: Sparty got zapped in Madison Sunday and failed to open up some breathing room after Michigan got housed in Iowa City and shushed talk of the Hawkeyes coming apart. The Badgers kept their cred with the win over Michigan State. Look who’s back ranked, fighting off rumors of infighting and possible collapse the Buckeyes ripped off back to back road wins over Wisky and Iowa as part of a recent 3 game win streak to clamber back into contention.
Key Game: Michigan at Ohio State Tuesday 9:00 (ESPN) The bitter rivals square off as Big Blue tries to get a leg up on Sparty in conference and the Bucks need the win to continue their recovery from their midseason swoon
Projected Bids: 6
Solid: Kansas, Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma
Work to do: Oklahoma State ,Kansas State, West Virginia
Skinny from the heartland: The Marcus Smart incident clouds this picture considerably and the Pokes have been subsequently demoted to the working list. Their 5 of 6 skid isn’t helping them either. My aplologies to the Sooners who I thought I had on the solid list but overlooked them, they have been there with their instate brethren for the last two weeks. West Virginia stays on the list after just housing the Cyclones in front of a raucous partisan crowd in Morgantown, Kansas State also hangs tough on the list after a gutty, gritty OT win over their hated in-state rival in front a rowdy crowd at Bramlage who joyously stormed the court after the win.
Key Game: Oklahoma State @ Texas Tuesday 7p (ESPN2) the Pokes are in serious trouble but beating the Horns in Austin would prove a lot of naysayers wrong.
Projected Bids: 4
Solid: Southern Miss, UTEP
Work to do: La. Tech, Middle Tennessee
Oh Say Can You C-USA Spec: UTEP and Southern Miss are jostling hard for the lead position here. Though my money is still on the tourney tested Eagles.
Key Game: Southern Miss @ UAB Thursday 9:00 (CBSSN) Long time conference foes, the Golden Eagles know Bartow Arena is never a fun place for visiting squads
Projected Bids: 1
Conference Class-Mid Major
Solid: Wichita State
Work to do: Indiana State
Missouri Valley Skinny: Joey Brackets doesn’t think that the Shockers are #1 seed material, but they are the first team since 2008 to get this deep into a season without a loss at 25-0, now they are the signature win of the season for the remaining six opponents not to mention the team to beat in Arch Madness next month. The Sycamores best bet is to win out and get to the final and either play a down to the wire honorable loss or bid steal and win the MVC tourney outright.
Key Game: Southern Illinois at Wichita State 9:00 Tuesday. The Salukis took a 15 point whipping in Carbondale, what makes you think that they can go to the Roundhouse and win…hey anything is possible
Projected Bids: 1
Solid: San Diego State
Work to do: New Mexico, UNLV
Spec from the Mountains: Aztecs are still running things but the Lobos are hot on their tail. The Rebels are the only team that is tottering now. The Wolfpack are off the list after getting housed in San Diego and being at .500 overall doesn’t help their cred in any way.
Key Game: San Diego State @ Wyoming Tuesday 11p (ESPNU) This game has trap written all over it, the Aztecs in the high plains against a Cowboy squad that could pull the upset.
Projected Bids: 4
Work to do: UCLA, Cal, Arizona State, Colorado, Stanford
Spec from the left coast: 2 ½ games clear in the lead the Wildcats have seemed to have shaken off their lone loss and pounded the Beavers, The Bruins sidestepped their crosstown rivals and are solidly in 2nd. The Sun Devils need another quality win as their win over Marquette was too long ago to make mention of now. The Buffs, Cardinals and Bears are in the same boat and the clock is starting to tick. Better stack your bread in wins now, or go begging on Selection Sunday
Key Games: Colorado @ UCLA Thursday 9p (ESPN2) The Buffs signature win was a shootout win against Oregon, a win that barely registers now. Winning in Pauley would give them a better win to show off
Projected Bids: 4
Solid: Florida, UK
Work to do: Ole Miss, LSU, Tennessee, Mizzou
Spec is Down South: Florida and UK are headed to a titanic showdown next Saturday but have to avoid the look aheads before then, Ole Miss got a thrilling win over Mizzou that damaged the the Columbia Cats resume building aspirations. The Bayou Bengals are going to need to string some wins together in a hurry as 15-7 doesn’t impress anyone. The Vols need a signature and having failed in 4 tries to beat a ranked team…but looky who’s on their docket
Key Game: Florida @ Tennessee Tuesday 7p (ESPN) The Gators had best be careful not to look past a solid Vols team in need of a resume boosting win to a Saturday showdown with the Wildcats or they will be sorry.
Projected Bids: 4
Conference Class- Mid Major
Work to do: BYU, San Francisco, Saint Mary’s
West Coast Spec: The Bulldogs lost a slugfest to Memphis but should not have dropped from the AP poll. As it stands BYU is the only legit team that
Key Game: Pepperdine @ Gonzaga Thursday 9p (Root Sports) Despite the loss that knocked them from the legion of the ranked, you have to the think the Bulldogs will be looking to take it out on the middling Waves who haven’t won in the Kennel in quite some time.
Projected Bids: 1
There are others in the mix to be sure. Teams from the always dangerous Colonial and Big South always are in the mix and can send multiple teams. Of course the champions from the following conferences get an automatic bid: Amer. East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big West, Horizon, Ivy, MAC, MAAC, MEAC, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Sun Belt, Summit, and SWAC and Western Athletic projected bids from these conferences will be posted here starting February 25th
Since this is still early spec, nothing here is solid and we haven't even brought up the possibility of upsets. But those never happen, right?
Next Spec Feb 14
To ESPN reporter Holly Rowe who clambered up on the scorers table to interview a Kansas State forward Thomas Gipson who was celebrating with his teammates. Talk about getting the story, she got the on the spot interview and with a wild celebration ongoing after the Wildcats upset win over 7th ranked and in state rival Kansas. You gotta love the tenactity of a reporter going to get the story. Also a dap to the oft beleagured Grambling State who faced Alcorn State with- a 45 game losing streak against D-1 teams, they had a win over Houston Baptist who is a D-3 school and struggled to get that 85-78 win but they handed the Braves a stunning 95-80 thumping to break their losing streak, they shot 60.8% and got their first win since the end of the 2012 season. Good for them.
To the hapless Philadelphia 76ers who were blasted by the Clippers on Sunday night. Chris Paul made his return to the Clippers after a month long injury absence and the Clips faded the 76ers all night. They raced out to 13-0 lead and lead 46-15 after 1 period. They had a 100-51 advantage after 3 and never were headed at any point. The Sixers shot 15.4% in the first half and 27% (exactly 27 for 100) for the game. Halfway through the 3rd quarter after a Jamal Crawford jumper they trailed 89-33…that’s 56 points in Hoodwood math. The Sixers did outscore the Clips from that point 45-34. But that still made the final 123-78, the largest win for the Clippers in franchise history dating back to their old Buffalo Braves in the early 70’s. The only redeeming thing for the Sixers? They got hammered in the Staples Center, could you have imagined the vitriol that Philly fan would have come up with? And to make things worse on Monday night they went up the coast to Oakland to play the Warriors and did no better, losing by the almost identical score of 123-80, after a tight first quarter the Warriors outscored the Sixers 69-31 over the balance of the 2nd and 3rd quarters...and handing the Sixers their 2nd beatdown in as many days...damn.
Thats the view from the snowy hoodwood. Until Next Post Fellow Sports Fans!