Off Season Rules

Ever wonder how much or how little your favorite players or teams are practicing during the off season? I was curious to see what practice regulations were like for Division I sports teams.  The NCAA has very strict rules on how many hours a week teams can practice during the off season.  I found the NCAA’s official regulation outline for all Division I sports.  Take a look and see what your team has been up to! Enjoy those Spring sports even though none of them compare to the thrill of March Madness!

What about next season?

Hey guys,

Now that this years tournament has come to a close what else is there to do but look towards next years March Madness Tournament?  I found this other blog that does a great job of outlining some of the strengths and weaknesses of the top teams.  The blog also goes on to explain which teams are getting the help they need from this years recruiting class.  It is never too early to start research about your college team for next season. Check it out!

Enjoy the NBA Finals for those of you who are planning to watch it!

NBA vs. March Madness

While doing my weekly research for this blog I found an interesting segment from another blog that compares the thrill of March Madness to that of the NBA.  I found it really interesting to read because I am a big fan of college athletics and don’t really follow any professional sports.  I thought you guys might be interested to read it as well so Click Here to check it out! Get ready for the big game where UConn will take on Kentucky!

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What makes these teams special?

Now that there are only four teams remaining in the tournament, I felt that it would be important to take a deeper look into what really makes these teams tick.  Who or what is the underlying engine to the explosiveness and competitiveness of these teams?

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Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky is coached by John Calipari, who is a very well known (not necessarily liked by all) coach in the grand scheme of basketball.  So why did no one think his team would succeed in this tournament.  Looking hard at Kentucky’s roster I was able to come to one sound conclusion and that is, they are overwhelmingly YOUNG.  The roster is mostly filled with freshman and lacks a sturdy anchor of senior leadership.  Because I am a college freshman, I can’t be too down on them.  Clearly they aren’t letting their lack of collegiate experiences affect their chances of winning the national championship.  Hey, they’ve made it this far, so I think they have a shot at winning it all.

 

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Connecticut Huskies

When I think of UConn, I don’t necessarily think basketball powerhouse (for the men), but I do think of one particular name that is almost always associated with UConn and that’s Shabazz Napier.  He is most definitely a standout player for the huskies and has been a key component to them making it so far in the tournament.  As a basketball player, I know that one player can’t make an entire team, but I do know that they can inspire and make plays for the team. It isn’t always the person who scores that makes a play happen.

 

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Florida Gators

The Gators have been the only #1 seed that has stayed consistent throughout the tournament.  They are the only reason that some people’s brackets are still hanging on by a thread.  The questions is whether or not they will stay consistent with their seeding and finish out the tournament as champions.  I think skill wise they have the capability as a team to win.  I think at this point the games come down to heart and hustle plays which is why these next three games are always so exciting.

 

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Wisconsin Badgers

Last but definitely not least, we have the Badgers.  Bo Ryan is rightfully getting the attention he deserves in this tournament.  His team earned their spot in the Final Four.  The media has also been focused on his personal connection to the Final Four.  Ryan always went to the Final Four (as a spectator) with his father and sadly his father passed away this past year and this is the first year they won’t be at the games together.  This is also a staple in his coaching career because it is the first time he has taken a team to the Final Four.  The Badgers are a hardworking, well-coached team that have just as good a chance as any of the other teams to take the title.

Final Four

The Elite Eight had some super close games and all around it was great basketball to watch.  The largest margin of defeat between the four games was ten points.  Florida was able to comfortably defeat Dayton and end the “Dayton Dream” for those players.  They had a great run and will definitely be remembered as an important team in their schools history.  I was sad to watch UConn defeat Michigan State with a six point differential.  So many people predicted them to go all the way and after watching a few of their games I honestly thought they would prevail.  I wasn’t able to tune in to the Kentucky vs. Michigan game but I can imagine that game was intense and hard fought.  I’m sure Michigan fans were disappointed with the final outcome.  Before these games were played I was really hoping for a Michigan State vs. Michigan final, everybody would love an in-state rivalry for the NCAA title.  The finish of the Arizona vs. Wisconsin game came right down to the wire in OT and Wisconsin was able to slip into the next round by defeating Arizona by one point.  So as a result of this years Elite Eight games we have a #1 seed, #2 seed, #7 seed and #8 seed in the Final Four.  The Final Four game will take place on April 5th in North Texas.  The Florida Gators will take on the Connecticut Huskies followed by a battle between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Kentucky Wildcats.

Even though the tournament is still heating up, I wanted to take a minute to look back at some of the games that made this tournament as exciting as it’s been.  I found this awesome picture blog, take a look!

Enjoy the Final Four, I’d give a guess as to who the championship game will be between but I’ve been so off with my predictions this year that I’ll probably get it wrong! Good luck to those of you who have money riding on the next couple of games!

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Surprises, Surprises

Here we are, the Sweet Sixteen is officially over and it is time for eight lucky teams to advance.  Last night I had trouble deciding which game to watch because there were two great games being played simultaneously.  I was constantly flipping back and forth between the Louisville vs. Kentucky game and the Michigan State vs. UVA game.  Both games practically went down to the wire and it was a night like that I was thankful for social media.  I was able to watch the Michigan State game on television while checking twitter during timeouts to see what was going on in the Louisville vs. Kentucky game.

Taking a look at the rankings for the teams that made it to the Sweet Sixteen, I can’t be the only one surprised that we had two 11 seeds competing at this stage in the tournament.  Both Dayton and Tennessee competed in this round and did so with high regard.  Dayton was able to defeat 10 Stanford and move on to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1984.  Unfortunately, Tennessee fell to Michigan with a loss of 71-73 in a close, competitive game.

The Elite Eight has some surprising teams filling the bracket this year.  I’m sure no one predicted that Dayton would be facing 1 Florida in the Elite Eight.  Out of all four games, I’m most excited to see Michigan State take on UConn. I think that both of these teams have a lot of potential and the game will be hard fought and close.  However, I predict that Michigan State will have the speed and rebounding skills to defeat UConn and move on to the Final Four.  Many people chose Florida to win this year and I think that’s a probable choice, but like I said in my first post on this blog, people should not underestimate Michigan State.

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ELITE EIGHT

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Mercer over Duke…

So the tournament is off to quite the start and some of our favorite teams have already been sent home.  While there have been quite a few upsets, I think that so far the upset of the tournament has to be Mercer  over Duke in the first round.  As a Dukie from birth this game was a tough one for me to watch.  However, I felt that the game was a well fought one.  Mercer played an outstanding game and won fair and square.  It was clear while watching the game the Coach K of Duke was not happy with the way his team was performing.  Despite how angry he was at his players right after the game he still made the time to keep his classiness.  Instances like the one in the video below are why I love sports.

Click Here to Watch Video

We have also had some other upsets, like Dayton over Ohio State and Harvard over New Mexico.  These games weren’t easy to watch either, but without games like those where would the thrill of the NCAA tournament be???  The games have just started and we have a long way down the road to the Championship game.  Keep counting those bracket points and stay tuned into games!

Bracketology Breakdown

Selection Sunday came and went, and now it is time that we start strategically filling out those brackets.  Personally, I only fill out one but I know that there are those people out there who fill out dozens.  Truthfully you can put as much thought into your bracket selections as you want but when it comes right down to it, you don’t know whose going to get the win.  As an avid March Madness follower I feel that this years tournament has a different vibe to it.  For me, it really seems like the title is up for grabs.  In past years there have been some powerhouse teams that people lean towards in their selections.  However, this year seems different.  Just in trying to predict which teams were going to receive #1 ranking spots analysts and fans seemed to be all over the place.  Before the results came out I had heard rumors that teams like Syracuse, Michigan, Villanova, Duke, and possibly even Michigan State could receive top seeds.  Obviously none of these teams ended up receiving #1 seeds in the tournament, but they all could have easily.

 Breaking down each region of the tournament I think that the region with toughest teams would be the East.  Virginia is the top seed in that region and they are still living on their adrenaline after defeating Duke for the ACC title.  Then they have Villanova as the #2 seed.  Nova had a phenomenal start to their season and they have been working to keep their reputation and intimidation factor up for this tournament, so I think that once games start they will be ready and focused to make an name for their school in this year’s tournament.  The last team I would watch for in this region would definitely be Michigan State, even though they are a #4 seeded team.  I’ve been watching this program for a long time and they never cease to amaze me in their level of intensity during games.  I honestly don’t think they receive enough credit sometimes and I feel that they have the capability to upset some of the higher seeded teams.

Lastly, lets not forget about all of those freshman stars everyone was raving about during the regular season.  It is important to keep in mind that they have all played an entire regular season and many of them have matured just over this one season.  As a fan, I will be curious to see how well they handle the pressure of the tournament and which players stand out.  Andrew Wiggins from Kentucky will have to battle against Florida’s Kasey Hill for standout freshman in the Southern Region.  Moving to the East Virginia has the ACC Rookie of the Year, Travis Watson.  Villanova doesn’t have any exact player to match Virginia’s Watson but they are known for being a very well rounded team that gets significant points from several players consistently.  Next, the Midwest Region that houses Kentucky along with its several outstanding freshman players like, Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, James Young, and Aaron Harrison.  While Kentucky has several great freshmen, they will still have to watch out for Duke’s Jabari Parker who seems to just keep heating up as the season progresses.  Lastly, in the West Region we have Arizona who recruited Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.  While some of the other teams have good freshman there aren’t any power players I would watch for.  However, Creighton still retains coach’s son, Doug McDermott who is one of the best shooters in the history of the NCAA.  Once tournament play starts fans leave behind prior reputations of players and are now searching for the NCAA tournament standout players, which could really be anyone.  I guess we’ll have to wait and watch to see which players step to the line.

Check out this USA Today tip sheet for filling out those brackets!

That is all I have for now.  Continue to fill out those brackets and get ready for the Madness to start on March 20th!bracketology

Selection Sunday, let the games begin!

March.  Who really even likes March?  It is too far past the holiday season for people to still be living off the mistletoe and Christmas tunes, but not close enough to spring to start dreaming of those beach days.  The only good thing about March is being able to always find a great basketball game on.  Those of you who are avid NCAA tournament fans are probably eagerly waiting for this Sunday.  Selection Sunday is right around the corner.  Those of you, who are planning to fill out brackets, you better start printing out your copies and researching teams.  Whether you are planning to enter a poll with hundreds of other people or just buying dinner for your friends if you lose, every game counts!

If you know college basketball then for you filling out your bracket gets easier as you go on.  However, it’s those bubble teams that tend to trip NCAA fanatics up.  Doesn’t matter how much college basketball you watch you really can’t predict the outcome.  The unpredictability of March Madness is what makes it so mad!  Who knows if that small school somewhere in mountains is going to shoot the lights out against that huge program with a recruiting staff larger than the opponents school itself?  Did anyone really predict that the 15 seeded Lehigh was going to beat the number 2 seeded Duke in the second round of the tournament in 2012? You might be nodding your head, but lets not play that game because we all know you didn’t.  The only way you would have had that game down is if you are Lehigh alum and you were on the verge of being disowned from your family if you put Duke down.

In an attempt to prevent this from happening it is crucial to understand and study up on those underdog, Cinderella story seeking teams.  Bleacher Report has come out with a very nice slideshow of teams they feel are walking that fine line on getting a spot in the tournament.  I encourage you to check it out before Sunday rolls around and the bracket madness kicks into gear.  There will be more to come next week on which teams made it and which didn’t and why that is, so stay tuned!

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