Monday, February 28, 2011

Big East is the Big Beast in the NCAA

The Big East is arguably the best conference in the NCAA.

With a couple weeks left until "Selection Sunday" (Mar. 13), the Big East is projected to get 11 teams in the NCAA tournament, according to multiple sources.

Getting 11 teams into the tournament would set a NCAA record for most teams from one conference to play during March Madness.

The Big East currently holds eight ranked spots in the Top 25 Coaches' poll, with two in the top 10.

Pitt (25-4) is ranked No. 5, Notre Dame (23-5) ranked No. 7, Louisville (22-7) ranked No. 11, Syracuse (24-6) ranked No. 12, St. John's (19-9) ranked No. 15, UConn (21-7) ranked No. 16, Georgetown (21-8) ranked No. 17 and Villanova (21-8) ranked No. 19.

Besides the ranked teams who are automatically in the tournament, the Big East also has a few teams who are "on the bubble". Teams like, Marquette (18-11), Cincinnati (22-7) and West Virginia (18-10) all are knocking on the NCAA tournament door, and have a legitimate chance of getting in.

The Big East has a number of prolific scorers also, most notable scorer of today's Big East conference is senior forward,  Marshon Brooks of Providence, who averages 25.1ppg (second in the nation)

Brooks has broken the Big East regular season record for most points scored in a game twice this year; 43 points against Georgetown on Feb. 5 and 52 points against Notre Dame on Feb. 23 (both losing efforts).

He was also recently named to the Big East player of the week honors, according to the official Big East conference website.

It is hard to argue with the statistics and results of the Big East Conference that support them as arguably the best conference in the nation, and the verdict of who's in and who's out will be announced soon enough.

Statement Made

The New York Knicks locked down one of the top six teams in the NBA, the Miami Heat last night for the 91-86 statement win.

With seconds left in the game, Amare Stoudemire blocked LeBron James layup attempt solidifying the Knicks come-from-behind victory.

The Knicks took a 85 - 84 lead by way of a three-point bucket from Chauncey "Mr. Bight Shot" Billups with 1:01 remaining in the game. On the next possession, Billups stole the pass by Chris Bosh and left the layup for Shawne Williams, but he was fouled. Williams made the free throws giving the Knicks a 87-84 lead with 43.2 left to go.

After both teams traded free throws, James was given a good look at the basket for the game-tying three at the top of the key, but missed the Heat's final attempt with 4 seconds remaining.

Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with 29 pints and 9 rebounds, Stoudemire had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Billups added 16 points.

Miami's Big-three combined for 59 of the Heat's 86 points; James 27, Bosh 20 and Dwayne Wade 12 (5-15 from the field), and also committed 13 of the team's 18 turnovers.

The Knicks proved (for now) that they can win an elite game that ended up in the 90 point area. These types of wins will be key if they plan to make some noise in the playoffs.

The Heat are now 43-17 putting them a half game behind the East's best in the Boston Celtics 42-15.

The Knicks are 2-1 (30-27 overall) since trading for Anthony and Billups.

This game had all the elements of a playoff atmosphere, and did not disappoint the notable stars in attendance, such as, Spike Lee, Chad Ochocinco and Floyd Mayweather.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Stars Wanting to Win Together, Not Against Each Other

We have entered a new era in professional basketball that is the complete opposite of the era involving Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

Jordan, Johnson and Bird were more about competition than cohesion when playing in the NBA. They wanted to beat the other stars, rather than play on the same team with them.

In contrast, NBA stars like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Amare' Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony would rather win championships together than against each other. Some NBA analyst, owners and star-losing fans are not in agreement with the decisions by the current NBA stars.

"There should be an earlier trade deadline or no trading [among teams] during the season", NBA broadcaster and former coach, Jeff Van Gundy said.

Also, small market NBA owners will try to make changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement to put restrictions on player movement in efforts to try and keep future superstars like James and Anthony on the teams that drafted them, according to multiple sources.

Talent and competition is at a higher level in today's NBA, and having one superstar just does not cut it anymore. This trend of stars teaming up together is taking over the league with James, Wade and Chris Bosh teaming up in Miami and now Stoudemire and Anthony teaming up in New York.

This country may be opposed to change, but change will happen regardless. It is up to every one else to adjust to the new changes, starting with the NBA.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fantasy Starting Five

Today's NBA is filled with talented players on each and every team, but there are five guys I would choose as my starting five.

Their names are Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwight Howard.

Chris Paul aka "CP3" would be my point guard and leader on the court because of his raw talent and ability to create a play three steps ahead of the ending result. Even though players like, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams etc. have made a case for themselves, Paul is the best point guard in the NBA. Paul averages a double-double for his career (19 points and 10 assists), and has turned the New Orleans Hornets into a legitimate title contender.

My shooting guard, and CP3's back court mate would be "The Black Mamba". Kobe Bryant is hands down, the best closer in today's NBA. No matter the type of night he is having, down two or three with seconds left, I would put the ball in his hands because he gives his team the best chance to win every game. He has five rings, a few MVP titles and has proven that he could win a championship without Shaq (who many believed was the only reason Bryant won).

My front court would be complimented by the NBA's best scorer, Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is nearly unstoppable. There is no "Melo stopper" in the NBA, according to Anthony. He has arguably the best mid-range jump shot, and is a strong post-up threat when needed. His three-point shot has improved also, he's shooting 33 percent (better than his career average) this year from behind-the-arc.

When it comes to shooting big men, the first name to come to mind is Dirk Nowitzki. He can shoot the ball from any spot on the floor; the post, mid-range and the three. He's also a clutch performer, just like Bryant. His seven-foot frame makes it hard for anyone to block his shot. For a big man who's shots are majority jump shots, Nowitski's shooting percent is well beyond acceptable. He is shooting 52 percent from the field and 43 percent from three this season.

To anchor my defense I have Dwight "Superman" Howard. He's a dominant force on both ends of the court. He blocks shots and rebounds the ball. He also has expanded his offensive game by implementing the hook shot, and different post moves into his arsenal. Here's a guy who also averages a double-double for his career (18 points and 13 rebounds).

Many may disagree with my fantasy five, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I guarantee that my team will win in a fan's dream of a basketball game when matched up against anyone else fantasy five of today's NBA.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Phillies Rotation Revealed

The Philadelphia Phillies showed their hand on Monday when they introduced their four aces with a jack kicker pitching rotation on Monday.

The Phillies have placed their pitchers in this order: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton. This is one of the best (if not thee best) pitching rotation to exist in over fifty years, according to MLB coumnist, Hal Bodley.

Expectations are high for the Phillies this year with their legitimate pitching. Anything less than a World Series Championship will be thought of as a failure, but the Phillies are more than ready to take on the challenge in an attempt to bring back MLB supremacy to the city of "Brotherly Love".

Though three-of-the-five pitchers (Halladay, Lee and Oswalt) in the rotation have never been a MLB champion, it only fuels the Philly fire even more.

Their opponents are in for a battle this season, starting Feb. 27 when the Phillies open up their Spring Training games against the New York Yankees.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Heat is Blazing

"I am taking my talents to South beach," Lebron James said, when he made his final decision which landed him and Chris Bosh in Miami with Dwayne Wade.

Many fans and sports analyst disliked James' decision, but look at the Heat now. Miami has blazed up to the top spot in the Eastern Conference and holds a half-game lead over the Boston Celtics. The Heat record stands at 39-14 with three games left (including Feb. 13 against Boston) until the All-star break.

Their record also is second-best in the NBA behind the Spurs (44-9) and one ahead of the defending champs, Lakers (38-16).

The Heat are 20-5 at home and 19-9 on the road. James leads the team in scoring with 26.2 ppg, and also adds 7.4 apg and 7.4 rpg. Wade averages 25.2 points and 6.8 rebounds a game. While Bosh averages 18.2 points and 8.1 rebounds a night.

The 'Super Friends' combination has "clicked" so far this season, but critics and doubters' voices will only get louder if the Heat fall short of the NBA Finals this year.

Ohio St. Not No. 1, Who Will It Be?

No. 14 Wisconsin (19-5, 9-3 in Big Ten)  dropped No. 1 and formally unbeaten Big Ten foe, Ohio State (24-1, 11-1 in Big Ten) 71-67 earlier today.

Senior forward, Jon Leuer (12 points 6 rebounds) hit the clinching free throws with 2.2 seconds left to solidify Wisconsin's 14-point comeback victory.

Freshman big man, Jared Sullinger hit a fade away corner three to bring the Bukeyes within three with 3 ticks left, but it was a little too late.

The Badgers were led by junior point guard, Jordan Taylor's clutch second half shooting (27 points 7 assists). He hit five-for-eight from behind the arc, and was six-of-nine from the free throw line.

The Buckeyes were led by strong efforts from junior guard William Buford and Sullinger, both with double-digit points. Buford had 21 points and Sullinger had 19.

With this loss comes thoughts of perhaps a new No. 1 team in the nation on Monday. The No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks (23-1, 8-1 in the Big 12) and No. 3 Texas Longhorns (20-3, 9-0 in the Big 12) are the candidates to become the new No. 1.

Kansas has a higher ranking and better record than Texas, but the Longhorns gave the Jayhawks their lone loss of the season in Kansas by a score of 74-63, snapping the Jayhawks 69-game home win streak on Jan. 22. This win gives Texas a good case to be the nation's new No. 1 team, but Kansas' record is hard to ignore.

In the end, Kansas shall be the new No. 1, but the results will not show until Valentine's Day.

Cardinal Slugger on the Fence

The St. Louis Cardinals first basemen, Albert Pujols has put his team's organization in a tough position with his off-season ultimatum.

Pujols, who has 408 HR, 1230 RBI and a .331 BA in his 11-year-career (all with the Cardinals), has given his club until Feb. 16 to give him an appeasing contract, or he will "get his feet wet" in free agency after this season. Pujols is one of the Major Leagues best hitters, so why haven't the Cardinals given him what he wants?

"The Cardinals have won before you Pujols, and will win after you," PTI co-host Mike Wilbon said during yesterday's show.

The franchise has won over 9,200 games, 10 World Series Championships, 17 National League Pennants, three National League East Titles and 8 National League Central Division Titles in its 129 years of existence (1882-2011).

Pujols' deadline is in less than a week, and neither side has budged. We all just have to hold tight for a few more days to see what unfolds from this off-the-field dilemma between Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinal Organization.