Most Folks think of Danica like this...
and not for this...
Greetings from the Hoodwood, where your humble scribe is adjusting to a new work schedule so this week will have a couple thoughts, the Spec Sheet and the Phat Dap/Head Slap…there will be more next week.
Danica shows the boys up
Being a father of two lovely daughters, I try to use every opp I can to show them that they can do anything that they put their mind to. NASCAR driver Danica Patrick stunned many racing wonks by winning the pole for the 2013 NASCAR season opener in Daytona. A pole for a NASCAR race was a first, but of course a woman in the sport of the good ole boys. The odds are stacked against her, no driver has won the pole and finished in the top 5 since 2001. The hype machine is already cranked up but Im of the thought that even though Danica drove hard enough to win the pole there is a big difference between winning the pole and winning the race. There is a game to drafting on a superspeedway, there is a toughness to driving in a NASCAR race and Im not inclined to believe that Danica will win The Great American Race next week.
Jerry Buss (1933-2013) Passing of a Sports Iconoclast
I like the word iconoclast, it means nonconformist or rebel. And Dr. Jerry Buss was the definition of an iconoclast, he was a real estate mogul, worked in aerospace and had a doctorate in chemistry at the age of 24. All of this and was the owner of the Lakers, owned the Kings in the 80s, started Prime Ticket and was the first owner of the LA Sparks as well as LA’s pro tennis team. He was one of the first to sell naming rights of the venue that his team played in as the Lakers and Kings played in the Great Western Forum. He embodied the image of the Hollywood High Roller. If you realize that in the 34 years he owned the Lakers they went from Kareem to Magic to Worthy to Kobe to Shaq. If you think how many players, coaches and general managers worked under his ownership. He basically said get the players, and I’ll get ‘em paid. Under Jerry West and Mitch Kupchak the Lakers have been one of the NBA’s signature teams. Consider in the 31 seasons before Buss bought the team the Lakers won 6 titles but only 1 in LA and had a winning percentage of .572 in the 34 years of his ownership the Lakers won 10 titles and had a winning percentage of .659 and have only missed the playoffs twice in the entire span. Dr. Buss was the standard of NBA owners, deep pockets and though always close to the players never a meddler. He was the real symbol of the Lakers and showtime as he was the head honcho of it. Buss had been fighting cancer for a number of years and finally succumbed to its effects and passed due to kidney failure. He was 80
Spec Sheet Feburary 15th
“Your subject love is minimal, its sex for profit” Chuck D of Public Enemy.
Its no secret that im no fan of Valentines Day, I return to my true love basketball at this time of the year. As it stands now there is little movement though there are some teams that have pushed their way onto the working list. The list remain speculative and very fluid.
Solid: Miami Duke, North Carolina State,
Work to do: North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland
Skinny on the ACC: The ACC is wondering what did Arizona, Indiana State and Florida Gulf Coast know that we don’t. Those are the 3 teams that have beaten Miami which is something that an ACC team has yet to do. The dodged an mammoth upset against Clemson on Sunday and continued to angle for an #1 seed. Im not totally convinced that Maryland is a tournament caliber team, but they made themselves look a whole lot better with their win over Duke Saturday. The Tar Heels got a badly needed win over Virginia and are still in decent shape to make the field.
Key Game: Virginia at Miami Tonight 9p (ESPNU) The Cavs are in need of a statement win to keep out of bubble trouble but beating the rampaging Canes in Coral Gables is quite the tall order.
Projected Bids: 5
Conference Class-Mid Major
Solid: Va. Commonwealth, Butler
Work to do: Saint Louis, LaSalle
The Bulldogs took another puzzling loss and their bulletproof status is in jeopardy, though they are still ranked. The Rams are still on and the safer of the two solid squads, though there is a morass of teams (6 to be exact) within 2 games of the top slot. This scenario is far from settled. The Billikens are the sneaky good team here and could push their way into the solid category.
Key Games: VCU at Saint Louis Tonight 9p (CBSS) The Billikens could make a royal mess of the A-10 with a win over VCU
Projected Bids: 3
Solid: Syracuse, Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Pitt
Work to do: St. Johns, Villanova
Big East Skinny: Nova, found something to plug their sinking boat with a needed win over UConn, Im still leery of increasing my projection to 8 bids. Though with the sudden shaky status of another Wildcat team in another conference, these Wildcats look to be a better bet to make the tourney.
Key Game: Cincinnati at Connecticut Thursday 7p (ESPN) The maddeningly inconsistent Bearcats are the weakest of the solid teams and need to beat the nothing to play for Huskies to right their teetering ship.
Projected bids: 7
Solid: Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Wisconsin
Work to do: Minnesota, Iowa
The word on the Big Ten is: Wisconsin bounced back strong from their tough OT loss to the Gophers to whip Ohio State but both teams are way safe. Just when you are thinking that the Gophers are good to go they come out flat and get housed by the suddenly surging Hawkeyes. They are still in need of a lot of work to secure their invite.
Key Game: Minnesota at Ohio State Thursday 7p (BTN) Both teams are coming off getting woodshedded on the road, which team will bounce back?
Projected Bids: 6
Solid: Kansas, Oklahoma State, Kansas State
Work to do: Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma
Skinny from the heartland: The Wildcats hold the lead in the Big 12 for now after they rolled the Mountaineers but who will join them at the top will be determined with the high stakes showdown in Gallagher-Iba with the Jayhawks and Pokes. The Sooners blew a golden opportunity to force their way into the conversation. The Bears and Cyclones are still way way weak for serious consideration but face one another Wednesday with the winner having a better chance to make a serious move.
Key Game: Kansas at Oklahoma State Wednesday 9p (ESPN) The Pokes stunned the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse and the stakes are higher for this rematch
Projected Bids: 4
Work to do: Central Florida, Tulsa, Southern Miss
Oh Say Can You C-USA Spec: Memphis is getting close to being bulletproof and is burying the competition, Southern Miss needs to keep winning if anything to stay on the other conference tourney playoff ahead of a title game showdown.
Key Game: Southern Miss at UTEP Wednesday 8p The Golden Eagles better not look past the Miners at their do-or-die showdown in Memphis
Projected Bids: 1
Conference Class-Mid Major
Solid: Wichita State, Creighton
Work to do: Indiana State
Missouri Valley Skinny: The Shockers are now in the lead here, while the Sycamores have utterly failed in their quest to solidify their tourney resume and may need to win out to and through Arch Madness to get serious consideration for a bid. The Jays are a mess struggling to beat a mediocre Evansville and while are just a single game off the MVC lead are a team in trouble. Could this also be a one bid conference?
Key Game: Wichita State at Indiana State Tonight 7p (ESPN3) The Shockers head to Terre Haute to face a near desperate Sycamore squad.
Projected Bids: 2
Solid: UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State, New Mexico
Work to do: Air Force
Spec from the Mountains: The Lobos and Rams are starting to pull away from the rest of the conference and are getting more and more bulletproof. They are headed for a showdown at the end of the week but the Rebels and Aztecs are looking a bit shaky. The Rebels are just 2-3 this month, but beating the Aztecs was a badly needed win. The Aztecs are also 2-3 this month but have lost a pair of games that would have made their tourney resume stronger. Air Force keeps blowing chances to get noticed and with the MWC not being a power conference they wont get the benefit of the doubt.
Key Game: Colorado State at UNLV Wednesday 10:15 (CBSS) The Rams better not look pass the Rebels to their Saturday showdown with New Mexico
Projected Bids: 4
Solid: Oregon, UCLA, Arizona
Work to do: Arizona State, Colorado, Cal
Spec from the left coast: My previous key game called it and was spot on, the Buffs got zapped by the Sun Devils right after their emotional win over Arizona and as a result failed to put heft on their resume. The aforementioned Sun Devils are still in the picture following a thrilling win in Colorado. The Cardinal is off the list with their ill timed losing streak and getting outgunned at home by the Bruins. No change in the solid teams though. Arizona State are as of now the best candidate to move up.
Key Games: Cal at Oregon Thursday 9p (ESPNU). The Golden Bears head into the woods and could really put weight on their resume by beating the conference leaders.
Projected Bids: 3
Solid: Mizzou, Florida, Alabama
Work to do: Ole Miss, UK
Spec is Down South: Friday I said that UK would make the tourney, but after watching them get choke-slammed in Knoxville by a mediocre (at best) Tennessee squad, they are down to the working level and fading fast. The loss of Nerlens Noel hurts the Wildcats more than they want to admit and they could be only the 8th team to not make the tourney the year after winning it all the year before (North Carolina was the last in 2009) Bama is on the solid line only because they are 2nd in the SEC. Ole Miss is another team that Im not really sold on despite their 19 wins. Mizzou’s profile gets weaker and weaker after an inexcusable loss home loss to Arkansas (yeah I know the Hogs still have designs on a bid but it wasn’t a game they should have lost)
Key Game: Missouri at Florida 9p Tuesday (ESPN) The Tigers fading profile could come right back solid if they go into Gainesville and knock off the SEC leaders.
Projected Bids: 4
Conference Class- Major
Solid: Louisiana Tech
Work to do: New Mexico State, Denver
Spec on the WAC: Let me know if you have heard this…Louisiana Tech is unbeaten and rolling…ho hum, But here’s where the story changes. New Mexico got stung in Logan by the Aggies and are now in 3rd behind Denver…the Pioneers are still the team you’ve never heard of and are still in contention. Im projecting 2 teams but this is another conference that could be a 1-bid.
Key Game: Central Baptist College at Louisiana Tech Tonight 7p You want to know why the Bulldogs wont get an at-large bid if they stumble in the WAC tourney? Playing a cream puff (no offense meant to the Conway, AR school) in February may be a reason. The Bulldogs had better not even let this one be close.
Projected Bids: 2
Conference Class- Mid Major
Solid: St. Marys, Gonzaga
Work to do: BYU
West Coast Spec: The Bulldogs are marking time till March and still have realistic designs on a #1 seed. The Gaels are trying to stay in contention to get a tourney bid. I think that they have enough cred to get it. The Cougars shook off a nasty losing skid but are still light years from the top and are running out of chances to move up, but guess who is up on the docket…
Key Game: BYU at St. Mary’s Thursday 11p (ESPN2) The Gaels won a thriller in Provo on a buzzer beater. If the Cougars want any inkling of a shot to merit continued consideration on this sheet they must win in Moraga, period
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, Horizon, Ivy, MAC, MAAC, MEAC, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Sun Belt, Summit, and SWAC projected bids from these conferences will be posted here starting February 22nd
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 Sheet: Feb 22
PHAT DAP/HEAD SLAP
To Gil Cheung of Brandon University outside of Winnipeg, Canada. Chueng, who is the mens basketball coach made a halfcourt shot on behalf of Mason Kaluzniak to win a semester’s free tuition. Check the video out here.
Having had seen Cory Clouse do this at Cincinnati in 1994 on national TV, Im always impressed to see someone do this and win tuition. The best thing is he did it in a suit!!!
To Buccaneers DE Da’Quan Bowers who was arrested in New York trying to board an airplane with a handgun. What is this blockhead thinking, with security as tight as it is and New York not being very tolerant of having a handgun, Bowers royally screwed up. Bowers wasn’t thinking and may have jeopardized his career with this mental lapse.
The Next Spec sheet will be out Friday. Until Next Post Fellow Sports Fans!