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Musings From the Hoodwood 2-21
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NFL NBA NCAA Picks & Predictions

 

For those that wonder...that is your humble scribe with the lovely Lady Bandit, we took in the Bearcats win over Seton Hall this past Saturday.

 

Greetings from the Hoodwood, where the locals are enjoying Fat Tuesday but not sure of what they will give up for Lent.

Leading off: Linsanity and KD make the NBA watchable

You know that when it comes to basketball, Im a college guy as evidenced by the picture of the Lady Bandit and myself. Sunday, I took in some of the pro game. As first told to you by my Phat Dap two weeks ago, Jeremy Lin continues to take the NBA by storm. The haters waved off his initial run as a fluke “Wait till he plays a good team.” When he torched the Lake Show for 38 it was “Meh, the Lakers aren’t any good any more.” Many pointed to the Sunday matinee against the defending NBA champ Dallas Mavericks. Many also were hooting and sneering at Lin’s 9 turnovers in Friday’s loss to the lowly Hornets. But in front of a national audience and a rapt MSG crowd. Lin dropped 28 points dealt 14 dimes and 5 steals. The Knicks won their 8th out of 9, beating the Mavs 102-97. You know its on when dedicated fan Spike Lee is sporting a Jeremy Lin Harvard jersey (How does he get those???) Its looking more and more like Lin is the real deal and cats like Baron Davis and Mike Bibby might be looking for jobs elsewhere.

That night it got even better Kevin Durant and the Thunder were going head up with the Nuggets in an absolute thriller. Time and time again, Durant put the Thunder on his back and made clutch shot after clutch shot, not only did Durant lead the Thunder to an overtime win, he scored a career high 51 points. Oh snap! No he didn’t drop Fiddy on someones head. Oh yes he did. And it gets better, lost in that performance was Russell Westbrook adding 40 points. Lost even further in the shuffle was a triple double by Serge Ibaka, he had 14 points 15 boards and 11 blocks…that is just so wrong on so many levels. Now this may have been a meaningless mid February game but you have to give dap where its due. Its games like this that when showcased properly are helping the NBA get past the acrimony of the latest labor strife, and action packed games with likeable players that are easy to root for are things that will make me watch the pro game even before the One Shining Moment gets played the First Monday in April.

 

Peyton’s messy divorce from the Colts

Ive never been married and my parents were divorced when I was in grade school so I know little about what goes on in a divorce. Ive been told by many a divorcee that it is nothing like a messy breakup with a girlfriend. In any case, its just excruciating to watch the slow breakup between the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning. The date of March 8th when Manning is due a $28 million roster bonus is fast approaching and the Colts, mostly owner Jim Irsay seems to be waffling between bringing Manning back to be a mentor to their top draft pick, either Andrew Luck or Heisman winner Robert Griffin III or to let him go. The longer that this plays out the more painful it becomes. First it was looking like the Colts were totally cleaning house with the dismissal of GM Bill Polian, coach Jim Caldwell and the hiring of a defensive minded coach and offensive guru Bruce Arians. Instead Irsay keeps hedging about letting Manning go. Manning who already owns just about every Colts passing record and is one touchdown short of 400 doesn’t look to be the type to defer his starting position to a rookie and should rightfully have his starting position is left to wonder what his fate will be. He has said that he is willing to stay but knows that he could be given the gate. Like in any divorce, there are people caught in the middle.  Already psychologically damaged from the nightmare 2-14 season of 2011 and the prospect of returning to also-ran status after better than a decade of being one of the NFL’s elite poor Colt fans are left to twist in the wind. Manning is about a big a legend in the Hoosier state as any basketball legend and is rightly revered as a franchise savior. But this drama should not have to play out in a most painful manner. I have the feeling that this will go right up to the deadline of when Manning is due his roster bonus.

 

Speaking Frankly: Kobe on Pau

Im not a Kobe fan, I do appreciate his game but I think he is aloof and arrogant. I chronicled his impending divorce and how that’s going to impact him but that is another story. Kobe spoke out after the Lakers got throttled by the Suns in Phoenix Sunday about the Lakers leaving Pau Gasol hang in the midst of rampant trade rumors. Ive heard of no less than six teams that are supposedly in talks with the Lakers for the Spainard and the talks have affected his play. Kobe was quite outspoken in his pointed criticism of the Lakers management. Kobe said Sunday postgame in part “I wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade (Gasol)." Bryant has repeatedly and openly stated of his desire for Gasol to remain a Laker. Gasol has been with the Lakers since 2008 after coming over from the Memphis Grizzlies in a trade for the draft rights to his brother Marc, Aaron McKie, Jarvis Crittenden and super bust Kwame Brown. Gasol played in Memphis  6 ½ years after being drafted by Atlanta and traded to Memphis in 2001 where he won rookie of the year honors.

When Words Fail

Having written this column for better than a year, I know the power of a word. Having also worked in radio for a number of years, I also know that words can be said out of context. There were a pair of cases the past weekend, both involving Jeremy Lin and the same phrase. On ESPN the Headline Chink in Armor was used in a derogatory way to describe Lin. Max Bretos an anchor for ESPN News used the phrase “Chink the Armor” when asking Knicks legend and color analyst  Walt “Clyde” Frazier about Lins game. The editor Anthony Federico who wrote the headline was fired. Bretos was given 30 days suspension. Now what the editor did was stupid, it was a weak attempt to make a play on words but calling someone a chink went out with Archie Bunker. Its insensitive. The phrase that Bretos was using in his question to Frazier was asking an NBA Hall of Famer to gage if Lin had weaknesses and was not with any pun or malice.

 

 

I think that the PC went a little too far. I took some time to dig the clip of Bretos asking the question and had to sift through so many You Tube wannabe investigative journalist ripping both Bretos and Federico. Me myself, I think Bretos should have made an on-air apology, I don’t think he was being malicious. Federico apologized but he got what  he deserved…the gate. The tendency to get cute and try to turn the eye popping phrase is too easy to try and Federico crossed a line in that attempt. Bretos had the unfortunate happenstance to be caught up with the same phrase at about the same time.

 

Spec Sheet 2-21: Grinding

These are the so-called dog days of the college basketball season. Its too close to the end of the season for any bad losses or pronounced losing streaks, but too far away from the conference tournaments to really give anyone a lock on their bid. I mean on the real, if a UK or Mizzou or Duke or Ohio State suddenly lost their last four or five games, it would do them no worse than cost them a 1 or 2 seed.

Atlantic Coast 
(Conference Class-Power) 
Solid: Duke, North Carolina, Florida State , Virginia 
Work to do: North Carolina State, Miami
Skinny on the ACC: No real changes here all the Solid teams did nothing to hurt themselves. The Wolfpack missed a real chance to make a big impression and the Canes while winning did nothing to impress.  

Key Game: North Carolina at North Carolina State Tuesday 8p The Pack get another chance to make a big impression and with an expected rowdy crowd at the RBC center there to honor the 89 Sweet 16 team, the Pack will be emotionally charged.

 Projected Bids: 6 

Atlantic Ten 
Conference Class-Mid Major 
Solid: Temple, Saint Louis
Work to do:  UMass,
The A-10 Spec is: While Temple and Saint Louis continue to circle one another at the top of the A-10 like snarling dogs protecting their turf. No real change in their status. Xavier may have saved its season with a thrilling OT win over Dayton

Key Games: Temple at LaSalle Wednesday 8p Temple had best take care when playing their in-city Big 5 rival, they can ill afford a loss now with Saint Louis hot on their heels.

Projected Bids: 2 

Big East 
Conference Class-Power 
Solid: Syracuse, Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, Notre Dame

Looking Good: Cincinnati

Work to do:   South Florida, West Virginia, Seton Hall 
Big East Skinny: Hate on them all want but the Bearcats I think still have enough to get them in the tourney. Though the win against Seton Hall was not the most aesthetically pleasing to watch, especially from right under the basket. The Bearcats continue to pile ugly wins together and are looking at least a first round bye in the Big East tourney. South Florida is a tough team to figure. They have 10 wins in conference but only 17 overall and no signature wins, having lost to all 4 ranked teams that they have played and have losses to Old Dominion, Penn State weighing their resume down. West Virginia is in as big a trouble. Having lost five of their last seven with the wins coming both in OT, struggling to beat Providence will not curry any favor with the selection committee. I wasn’t impressed with Seton Hall in any way though they have seemed to caught the eye of some so-called experts. I don’t think that they are tourney worthy but still have some time to change minds.

Key Game: South Florida at Syracuse Wednesday 7p If the Bulls want to shut all the naysayers up, they win this one. I will move them up to Solid if they can stop the rampaging Orange

Projected bids: 8 

Big Ten 
Conference Class-Power 
Solid: Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Indiana,

Looking Good: Purdue
Work to do: Northwestern, Iowa

The word on the Big Ten is: Still marking time until March the PFS teams are not jostling for the better position in the Big 10 tourney. Read nothing into the Hoosiers The Boilers aren’t in trouble, but they still aren’t home free just yet. Im still waiting for one more big win before I move them up just yet. Northwestern and Iowa replace Illinois and Minnesota who have dropped off the radar. But the newcomers still have to build resumes

Key Games: Michigan at Northwestern Tuesday 7p; Wisconsin at Iowa Thursday 8p The newcomers to the Spec sheet can gain credibility with wins over ranked visitors.

Projected Bids: 6 

Big 12 
Conference Class-Power 
Solid: Kansas, Baylor, Missouri

Looking Good: Iowa State, Kansas State 
Work to do:  Texas

Skinny from the heartland: Not much change here, and no Texas isn’t going anywhere at least till they play Baylor next week. Iowa State is in the same kind of situation but their schedule is a bit easier Shaddap, Texas fans your team took an awful loss against Oklahoma and may just need to win out and make a deep run in Kansas City to get seriously considered.

Key Game: Kansas State at Missouri Tuesday 7p The Wildcats could move on up to thesolid line if they win at Mizzou..

Projected Bids: 5 

Conference USA 
Conference Class-Major 
Solid: , Southern Miss

Work to do: Tulsa, Memphis, Central Florida
Oh Say Can You C-USA Spec: You laugh at some of the Key games I post, but when the upset happen you wonder where they come from. Southern Miss picked the wrong time to cross the Cougars and got zapped with an ill-timed loss. The Tigers couldn’t  take advantage and took a bad bad loss to UTEP themselves and remain in a tie with the Golden Eagles for the C-USA lead. The Golden Hurricane is just a half game back but the upper two teams have better resumes. They and the Knights might need to get to the Saturday morning C-USA final to get serious considerations.

Key Game: Southern Miss at UTEP Wednesday 9p Stung by a needless loss to the lowly Cougars the Eagles face a UTEP team brimming with confidence after knocking off Memphis

Projected Bids: 2


Horizon 
Conference Class-Mid Major 
Solid: Valpo,
Work to do:  Cleveland State,  Butler, Detroit

Spec on The Horizon: The Crusaders are 1 ½ games up with two to play and could lock down the Horizon top seed which would mean home games for the Horizon tourney. The Vikings, Bulldogs and Titans are trying stay on the far side of the bracket to avoid the Crusaders until a winner take all final.

Key Game: Loyola-Chicago at Valpo Tuesday 8p The Crusaders lock up the Horizon title and make the road to the NCAA go through their gym

Projected Bids: 1 

IVY 
Conference Class-Small 
Solid: Harvard 
Work To Do: Yale, Penn 
Spec on the Ivy Vine: The Crimson thrashed the Bulldogs and are getting close to pulling away.
Key Games: Princeton at Harvard Friday 7p; Penn at Harvard Saturday 7p The Tigers are the only team to have beaten the Crimson in conference and the Quakers are in dire need of a win in Cambridge to pull the Crimson back to the pack.

Projected Bids: 1 


Missouri Valley 
Conference Class-Mid Major 
Solid: Wichita State 
Work to do: Creighton
Missouri Valley Skinny: The Shockers thumped Davidson and added some weight to an already solid resume. The Bluejays won a thriller over a good Long Beach squad and stopped their frightening slide. Is it too little too late? I don’t think so, they have enough to get them in.  

Key Game: Wichita State at Illinois State Wednesday 8p The Shockers wrap up the #1 seed in the MVC Arch Madness with a win but the Redbirds are no pushover

Projected Bids: 2


Mountain West 
Conference Class-Major 
Solid: San Diego State, UNLV 
Work to do: New Mexico
Spec from the Mountains: The Lobos went from afterthought to big boss in the the MWC in the span of about 10 days. Stunning wins over San Diego State and UNLV have made the Lobos the solid choice. Are the Aztecs and/or Rebels in any kind of trouble? Nope, with 3 ranked teams and the weak Pac-12 squandering bid chances, these are the deserving teams out west right here!

Key Game: New Mexico at Colorado State Tuesday 10p Now it’s the Lobos turn to feel like the hunted. They need to watch out against a decent Rams squad.

Projected Bids: 3 


Pacific 12 
Conference Class-Power 
Solid: Cal, Washington, Arizona Oregon, Colorado

Work to do:  Stanford
Spec from the left coast: Cal is still leading here, I loath handing out bids to these middling power schools, but with 68 bids it makes it much easier for these so-so schools to get legit looks.  The Buffs and Ducks are closing in on 20 wins and will be hard to leave out. Forget what you hear about Washington being on the bubble or fence, they are good enough.

 Key Game: Cal at Utah Thursday 9p (FOX Sports Net) The Bears had better be careful, with Washington looking to get past them in the standings a loss to the weak Utes would be seriously damaging

Projected Bids: 5



Southeastern 
Conference Class-Power 
Solid: Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida, Mississippi State 
Work to do: Alabama, LSU

Spec is Down South: The Wildcats biggest opponent now is boredom short of the SEC tourney in Atlanta. Florida and Vandy are the best of the rest though Mississippi is tottering dangerously to losing its solid/PFS status

Key Game: Kentucky at Mississippi State Tuesday 9p The Wildcats go to “The Hump” and the Bulldogs could have a big trophy win to gain here.

Projected Bids: 5


Western Athletic 
Conference Class- Major 
Solid: Nevada
Work to do:  New Mexico State,
Spec on the WAC: The Lobos are marking time till March, unless the Aggies make a serious run, Im still keeping this a one-bid for now

Key Game: Hawai’i at New Mexico State 9p Thursday The Aggies need to keep piling up wins short of a showdown with the Wolfpack on the 1st

Projected Bids: 1

West Coast 
Conference Class- Mid Major 
Solid: Gonzaga, St. Marys 
Work to do:  BYU, Loyola Marymount
West Coast Spec: When will you listen to me when I tell you about these games to watch. The Bulldogs took a heartbreaking loss in San Francisco and now are a game back of the Gaels who have nothing to be ashamed of after losing at Murray State. Does BYU deserve a third bid from this conference???

Key Game: BYU at GonzagaThursday 11p Shaken after their stunning upset loss to San Francisco the Bulldogs go back to the Kennel but  the Cougars are looking to make a move up and this would be a great resume win.

Projected Bids: 2 

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, MAC, MAAC, MEAC, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Sun Belt, Summit, and SWAC. Projected winners of these conferences will start to post here on Friday.

Remember folks, this sheet is fluid, nothing here is solid and we haven't even brought up the possibility of upsets. But those never happen, right? 

Next Spec on Friday

 

 Phat Dap Head Slap

 Phat Dap

Goes to Mike Sapraicone of Long Island who hit a half court shot at the Knicks-Mavs game Sunday to win a car. He had to make five free throws just to get the shot at the whip. After making the shot Sapraicone ran over and hugged Spike Lee. This was the shortest video I could find, sorry for the letterbox

 

Head Slap

To rabbit eared ref Karl Hess of the ACC who ejected NC State legends Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta from the NC State/Florida State game on Saturday. Hess asked the two former Wolfpack players to be removed from their seats behind the scorers table and were done so by Raleigh Police. Now according to ACC officials supervisor John Clougherty the officials have the authority to remove fans when their actions are extreme or excessive but to do so in such a public manner was not needed. I still think that the refs was listening more to getting badgered than working the game. I know when the Lady Bandit and I were at the Seton Hall-Cincy game, I was heckling and hectoring the refs about their horrible officiating and many of the 13,003 that were in attendance would have agreed with me. But the refs should be concentrating on the game not listening to loudmouth hecklers. As long as the heckling wasn’t profanity laced or racially tinged, heckling is fine and part of the game. This ref should have had thicker skin.

 

Until Next Post Fellow Sports Fans!

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