Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fantasy Baseball

Had our fantasy baseball draft for the Lushbucket Baseball League the other night as the Flying Cave Donkies look to defend their championship in 2011. Here's the squad I came away with. One thing we did different this year is establish our league as a keeper league. You're allowed to keep up to 3 players provided you draft them and they stay on your roster for the entire season and then in subsequent years, you get to take the player you kept in the round you originally drafted him.

Round 1 Pick 3 - Carlos Gonzalez - OF, Colorado
Round 2 Pick 14 - David Wright - 3B, New York Mets
Round 3 Pick 19 - Ian Kinsler - 2B, Texas
Round 4 Pick 30 - Shin-Soo Choo - OF, Cleveland
Round 5 Pick 35 - Joe Mauer - C, Minnesota
Round 6 Pick 46 - Ubaldo Jimenez - P, Colorado
Round 7 Pick 51 - Justin Verlander - P, Detroit
Round 8 Pick 62 - Jered Weaver - P, Los Angeles Angels
Round 9 Pick 67 - Yovani Gallardo - P, Milwaukee
Round 10 Pick 78 - Jonathan Papelbon - P, Boston
Round 11 Pick 83 - B.J. Upton - OF, Tampa Bay
Round 12 Pick 94 - Starlin Castro - SS, Chicago Cubs
Round 13 Pick 99 - Jose Valverde - P, Detroit
Round 14 Pick 110 - Corey Hart - OF, Milwaukee
Round 15 Pick 115 - Ryan Franklin - P, St. Louis
Round 16 Pick 125 - Aroldis Chapman - P, Cincinnati
Round 17 Pick 131 - Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta
Round 18 Pick 142 - Stephen Strasburg - P, Washington
Round 19 Pick 147 - Bryce Harper - P, Washington
Round 20 Pick 158 - Tim Stauffer - P, San Diego
Round 21 Pick 163 - Trevor Cahill - P, Oakland

I don't know if this is a guaranteed winner or anything. Corey Hart is starting the year on the DL, and I'm conceding roster spots for Strasburg and Harper in hopes they'll be long term keepers so that's a gamble. I think I have a nice balance of guys who can both hit for power and run well though. And I once again have a lot of arms which certainly can't hurt me. I'm opening up the season against Frank "not afraid to draft Doug Mirabelli" Reed who has half his pitching staff on the DL so it's probably a good matchup to get settled in. We'll see how it all turns out.

Opening Day is Here!!

One of my absolute favorite days of every year is major league baseball's opening day. It's the one day when your team is guaranteed to be unbeaten and in first place and for just a little while, whether you follow the Red Sox or the Royals, you have hope that THIS could be the year. Only a handful of games today as the rest of the teams open up tomorrow, but still. You've got to love it. Here's a list of today's action:

Detroit at New York
Atlanta at Washington
Los Angeles Angels at Kansas City
Milwaukee at Cincinnati
San Diego at St. Louis
San Francisco at Los Angeles Dodgers

NBA Eastern Conference Race

The race for the top spot continues with all three teams stumbling a bit the past week. Chicago dropped just their fifth home game of the year to the 76ers 97-85 despite 31 points for Derrick Rose. Boston meanwhile has dropped 3 of 4 losing home games to Memphis and Charlotte, barely escaping Minnesota on the road 85-82, and falling in Indiana on Monday night. And then Miami, after making history with each of the Big Three scoring at least 30 points and grabbing at least 10 rebounds in the same game, immediately went to Cleveland and lost by 12 to the worst team in the Eastern Conference.

So as it stands right now, Chicago has 2 1/2 game lead over both Boston and Miami with Boston having 1 less loss than the Heat. With Chicago and Boston own the tiebreakers against Miami so Miami will have to finish ahead of them in order to get home field advantage. This basically means they're 4 losses in back of the Bulls and 2 behind the Celtics. The remaining schedules for all three contenders:

CHICAGO (54-20)

4/1 @ Detroit (26-48)
4/2 vs Toronto (20-54)
4/5 vs Phoenix (36-38)
4/7 vs Boston (51-22)
4/8 @ Cleveland (15-59)
4/10 @ Orlando (47-28)
4/12 @ New York (37-38)
4/13 vs New Jersey (23-51)

BOSTON (51-22)

3/31 @ San Antonio (57-17)
4/1 @ Atlanta (32-32)
4/3 vs Detroit (26-48)
4/5 vs Philadelphia (39-36)
4/7 @ Chicago (54-20)
4/8 vs Washington (18-56)
4/10 @ Miami (52-23)
4/11 @ Washington (18-56)
4/13 vs New York (37-38)

MIAMI (52-23)

4/1 @ Minnesota (17-58)
4/3 @ New Jersey (23-51)
4/6 vs Milwaukee (30-44)
4/8 vs Charlotte (32-42)
4/10 vs Boston (51-22)
4/11 @ Atlanta (43-32)
4/13 @ Toronto (20-54)

Hockey Playoff Races

The NHL Playoff Picture becomes a little bit clearer as we get closer to the finish line. Here's what the Eastern Conference Race looks like:

As you can see, four teams have clinched and it's really down to just the Hurricanes having a realistic shot of moving from the outside in. Out West, things are still pretty cluttered with the Canucks having clinched the #1 seed, but only two teams (Colorado and Edmonton) having been eliminated and no one else having clinched a spot:

Phoenix, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Nashville have all been playing well lately, with none of them losing more than two games over their last 10. Dallas meanwhile has lost 4 in a row which has kept them on the outside looking in.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

MLS Power Rankings - Week 2

Welcome to Week 2 of the Master Power Rankings. Last week's ranking in parentheses.

1. Real Salt Lake 2-0-0 6 pts (1) - 54 pts
2. Colorado Rapids 2-0-0 6 pts (2) - 51 pts
3. New York Red Bulls 1-0-1 4 pts (4) - 47 pts
4t. Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0-1 4 pts (3) - 44 pts
4t. Philadelphia Union 2-0-0 6 pts (7) - 44 pts
6. Chicago Fire 1-0-1 4 pts (9) - 39 pts
7. Sporting Kansas City 1-1-0 3 pts (5) - 34 pts
8. New England Revolution 1-0-1 4 pts (11) - 33 pts
9. San Jose Earthquakes 1-1-0 3 pts (12) - 32 pts
10. Vancouver Whitecaps 1-1-0 3 pts (10) - 26 pts
11. DC United 1-1-0 3 pts (6) - 25 pts
12. FC Dallas 0-1-1 1 pts (8) - 19 pts
13. Seattle Sounders 0-2-1 1 pts (13) - 17 pts
14t. Houston Dynamo 0-1-1 1 pts (14) - 15 pts
14t. Toronto FC 1-1-0 3 pts (18) - 15 pts
16. Columbus Crew 0-1-1 1 pts (15) - 9 pts
17. Portland Timbers 0-2-0 0 pts (17) - 5 pts
18. Chivas USA 0-2-0 - pts (18) - 4 pts

Photo Courtesy:

ESPN, MLSNET and I all had Real Salt Lake at #1 this week. After their 4-1 route of the L.A. Galaxy I had to bump them ahead of the Rapids despite improving to 2-0 themselves. Philadelphia has been making some waves by going undefeated their first two games without allowing a goal, but they have a tough challenge ahead of them this week when they take on the Galaxy.

Some Final Four Numbers

Here are your statistical leaders from the 4 teams still left in the tournament:


Kemba Walker - Connecticut - 26.8 ppg
Shelvin Mack - Butler - 21.3 ppg
Jeremy Lamb - Connecticut - 18.3 ppg
Matt Howard - Butler - 16.3 ppg
Bradford Burgess - VCU - 15.8 ppg

 Photo Courtesy:


Alex Oriakhi - Connecticut - 9.5 rpg
Josh Harrellson - Kentucky - 9.0 rpg
Matt Howard - Butler - 7.0 rpg
Jamie Skeen - VCU - 6.8 rpg
Terrence Jones - Kentucky - 6.8 rpg

Photo Courtesy:


Joey Rodriguez - VCU - 7.6 apg
Kemba Walker - Connecticut - 6.7 apg
Brandon Knight - Kentucky - 4.3 apg
Shabazz Napier - Connecticut - 3.5 apg
Shelvin Mack - Butler - 3.3 apg
DeAndre Liggins - Kentucky - 3.3 apg

Photo Courtesy:


Josh Harrellson - Kentucky - 1.8 spg
Joey Rodriguez - VCU - 1.6 spg
Kemba Walker - Connecticut - 1.5 spg
Bradford Burgess - VCU - 1.4 spg
Brandon Rozzell - VCU - 1.2 spg

Photo Courtesy:


Terrence Jones - Kentucky - 2.0 bpg
DeAndre Liggins - Kentucky - 1.8 bpg
Bradford Burgess - VCU - 1.6 bpg
Josh Harrellsson - Kentucky - 1.5 bpg
Roscoe Smith - Connecticut - 1.3 bpg
Darius Miller - Kentucky - 1.3 bpg

Photo Courtesy:


Kemba Walker - Connecticut - 38.5
Bradford Burgess - VCU - 37.2
Matt Howard - Butler - 37.0
Josh Harrellsson - Kentucky - 36.0
Brandon Knight - Kentucky - 35.5

 Photo Courtesy:


Brandon Rozzell - VCU - 17/35 48.6%
Shelvin Mack - Butler - 14/40 35.0%
Bradford Burgess - VCU - 13/22 59.1%
Jeremy Lamb - Connecticut - 11/15 73.3%
Kemba Walker - Connecticut - 10/29 34.5%

Photo Courtesy:

Cricket World Cup Wrapup - Semifinals

New Zealand put up more of a fight against Sri Lanka than the first time they met, but they still came up short losing 220-217 by 5 wickets with 13 balls remaining sending Sri Lanka on through to the finals for the second straight World Cup and third time overall. In their previous meeting back on the 18th of March, New Zealand didn't have a single batter score more than 33 runs as they were held to 153 for the match. This time was different though as the Kiwis had 3 players eclipse that mark led by Scott Styris's 57 runs off 77 balls. It wouldn't be enough though as Sri Lanka got 73 runs off 93 balls from Tillakaratne Dilshan and 54 runs off 79 balls from captain Kumar Sangakkara who was named the man of the match. Sri Lanka has lost just one match, 277-266 to Pakistan back on the 26th of February, as they will now try and win their first World Cup Championship.

Photo Courtesy:

India defeated Pakistan 260-231 as they too advanced to the World Cup Finals for the 3rd time. India won the Cup back in 1983 and lost to Australia in the finals back in 2003. Sachin Tendulkar led the way for India tallying 85 runs off 115 balls en route to being named the man of the match. All 5 Indian bowlers took 2 wickets as Pakistan, the top seed from Group A, missed a chance to make the finals for the first time since 1999. Wahab Riaz took 5 wickets in his 10 overs of bowling for Pakistan, but it wasn't enough as they lost for just the second time in this World Cup.

 Photo Courtesy:

So the final is set with co-hosts Sri Lanka and India face off against one another, each in search of their second championship. Sri Lanka's offense is led by Dilshan (467 runs), Sangakkara (417 runs) and Upul Tharanga (393 runs) while India has been carried by Tendulkar (464 runs), Virender Sehwag (380 runs) and Yuvraj Singh (341 runs). India's Zaheer Khan has taken the second most wickets in the tournament (19) behind only Pakistan's Shahid Afridi (21). Muttiah Muralitharan leads Sri Lanka having taken 15 wickets. The two teams will face off on Saturday to determine the 10th World Cup Champion.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MLS Wrap - Week 2


The Sounders finally got on the board in the 80th minute of their third game of the season to avoid falling to 0-3 when Steve Zakuani tapped in a deflection off a corner kick from Erik Friberg. Seattle had opportunities all match long, but up until that point they were unable to convert as Dynamo keeper Tally Hall had just a sensational game stopping everything that came his way. Houston took a 1-0 late in the first half when Lovel Palmer's free kick hit the cross bar and the rebound eventually popped out to Geoff Cameron who slammed it home for his first goal of the year. Seattle finished the game outshooting Houston 26-6. The Sounders head South to take on the Earthquakes on Saturday while the Dynamo head East to take on the unbeaten Red Bulls.

Photo Courtesy:


Javier Martina scored once in each half to give Toronto FC their first win of the season and drop the expansion Timbers to 0-2. Martina got Toronto on the board in the 14th minute when he received a pass from Dwayne De Rosario deep in the box and tucked his shot past Adin Brown. Brown left the game at half time and was replaced by 20 year old New Zealander Jake Gleeson. Gleeson played well and had absolutely no chance on Martina's second goal. Toronto keeper Stefan Frei hit Martina in stride with a brilliant service and Martina one timed the bouncing ball past a diving Gleeson and off the post for just a sensational strike to make it 2-0. Things got a little interesting in the 84th minute as Mikael Yourassowsky received a second yellow card and was sent off for "delaying a restart" forcing Toronto to play a man down for the final few minutes, but Frei and the Toronto defense held fast as they rebounded from last week's abysmal showing in which they allowed 4 goals. Toronto will host Chivas USA on Saturday while the Timbers will travel to Foxboro still in search of their first win.

Photo Courtesy:


A week after being the star in Vancouver's big win last week against Toronto, Eric Hassli was arguably the goat in this one. Hassli picked up a pair of bad yellow cards and was sent off in the 57th minute opening the door for Philadelphia to break through the Whitecap defense and pick up a 1-0 win. Stefani Miglioranzi's long range shot deflected to a wide open Sebastien Le Toux who quickly found Carlos Ruiz in front of the goal for the easy finish. 39 year old Colombian keeper Faryd Mondragon posted his second shutout in as many matches for the Union who only had two clean sheets all of last season. Things will get tougher for Philadelphia as they head west to take on the Galaxy next weekend while Vancouver looks to bounce back from their first loss as they host Kansas City.

Photo Courtesy:


Kansas City may have come up short against Chicago, but having to play the final 60 minutes a man down and still falling short by only a goal, they showed they're going to be a force to be reckoned with this season. Omar Bravo, last week's hero, was sent off in the 30th minute for tripping up Gaston Puerari on a breakaway attempt. Chicago's Diego Chaves converted the penalty pick and just 6 minutes later Puerari made it 2-0 when he was able to get in behind the Kansas City defense and beat Jimmy Nielsen for his first goal of the season. But Sporting would battle back getting a goal from Matt Besler off a corner when the initial cross was bobbled by Sean Johnson to make it 2-1. But not even ten minutes later, Marco Pappa showcased his talents beating FOUR Kansas City defenders at the top of the box before slotting home his first goal of the 2011 campaign to make it 3-1. Still Sporting would not go quietly as second half substitute Teal Bunbury flew past the Chicago defense on a through ball and beat Johnson to cut the deficit back to one. While Sporting didn't earn any points for their efforts, their impressive performance despite being a man down on the road definitely turned some heads this weekend. Kansas City will travel to Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps next weekend while the Fire are idle.

Photo Courtesy:


Despite the absence of goalkeepers Bouna Coundoul and Greg Sutton, defenders Tim Ream and Rafa Marquez, midfielder Dane Richards and strikers Juan Agudelo and Thierry Henry, New York still managed to play the Crew to a 0-0 draw to remain undefeated through two matches. Coundoul (Senegal), Ream (USA), Richards (Jamaica), Agudelo (USA) and Marquez (Mexico) were all tied up with national team duty while Henry was out with a hamstring injury and Sutton was suffering from concussion like systems allowing the Red Bulls to showcase their depth. Columbus dominated the run of play but keeper Alex Horwath, who signed with the club on Friday and replacement centerbacks Stephen Keel and Carlos Mendes were up to the challenge as they helped New York post their second consecutive shutout. Joel Lindpere had perhaps the best scoring opportunity but his left footed drive to the near post in stoppage time was stopped by a diving Will Hesmer. Columbus, still in search it's first win of the season will play host to Dallas on Friday night while New York will take on the Dynamo on Saturday.

Photo Courtesy:


New England scored twice in the first 20 minutes getting a goal from Zack Schilawski and a penalty kick from Shalrie Joseph, his second goal of they year, to take a commanding 2-0 lead in their home opener against DC United. DC managed to get on the board late when Charlie Davies, again used as a second half substitute, converted a PK of his own in stoppage time giving him 3 goals already this season. However, it was too little too late for United as they dropped to 1-1 on the season. Dejan Jakovic was sent off in the 93rd minute for a run in with New England keeper Matt Reis sealing United's fate. DC heads to Colorado to take on the defending champions on Sunday while the unbeaten Revs play host to winless Portland on Saturday night.

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After getting shutout in the opener, reigning Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski would not be denied two weeks in a row. Wondo scored twice in the game's first 25 minutes and Jon Busch did the rest after that. Dallas outshot San Jose 19-6 but Busch was up to the task making 5 saves and pitching his first shutout of the 2011 season. Designated Player Fabian Castillo made his debut for Dallas coming on as a substitute in the 57th minute and while he showed his skill in several one v one situations with defenders, FC Dallas was unable to capitalize. Wondolowski has now scored the Earthquakes' last 12 regular season goals which is an MLS record. Dallas heads to Columbus where they will play the Crew on Friday night with both teams still in search of their first win while Wondo and company play host to the Sounders on Saturday night.

Photo Courtesy:


You could make a lot of excuses for why the Galaxy seemed so out of sorts against RSL on Saturday night, but one thing was clear, Salt Lake meant business. It took less than two minutes for RSL to get on the board when Andy Williams redirected a cross from Paulo Jr past a helpless Josh Saunders for the early 1-0 lead. L.A. nearly equalized two minutes later when a David Beckham free kick hit off Williams and then deflected off the post, but the Galaxy were unable to take advantage. Still not 10 minutes into the game RSL was awarded a penalty kick when Saunders took out Paulo Jr. and Javier Morales easily converted for his first goal of the year. Morales wasn't done though as he would pick up his second goal of the half when he took a throw-in from Chris Wingert and fired it into the top corner beating Saunders again. RSL made it 4-0 in the 68th minute when Paulo Jr. got in on the action slotting home a lovely cross from Fabian Espindola. The only blemish on an otherwise perfect night was Juan Pablo Angel getting on the end of a Beckham free kick for his first goal in a Galaxy uniform making it 4-1 in what was an otherwise dominating performance. Yeah there was no Landon Donovan, or Donovan Ricketts or Omar Gonzalez, but make no mistake, this was still an impressive win as the boys from Utah improved to 2-0 on the young season. Salt Lake is off next weekend while the Galaxy will try and rebound with a home game Saturday against the unbeaten Union.

Photo Courtesy:


The defending champs are 2-0 to start the 2011 season after knocking off winless Chivas 1-0 on Saturday night beating them for the 4th straight time. Colorado started the match with Omar Cummings away on international duty and Conor Casey on the bench with tightness in his calf but it didn't matter. Jamie Smith found Quincy Amarikwa on a through ball that Amarikwa made a lovely touch on to get by Zach Thornton for the 1-0 lead. Chivas USA never really threatened to score as they dropped to 0-2 on the season. Conor Casey came on as a substitute for the Rapids in the 79th minute, but still had time to pick up his second yellow card in as many weeks. The Rapids ended up with 5 yellow cards all together. Chivas USA heads to Toronto this weekend as they look to get in the win column while Colorado hosts DC United on Sunday.

Photo Courtesy:

Monday, March 28, 2011

AL East Update


Spring Leaders

Hits - Vladimir Guerrero 23
Home runs - Jake Fox 10
RBIs - Vladimir Guerrero 19
Stolen Bases - Matt Angle 5
Innings - Zachary Britton 20
Strikeouts - Jake Arrieta 14

News: Jeremy Guthrie will be getting the ball on Friday as the Orioles open the season against the Tampa Bay Rays. Guthrie went 11-14 last year with a 3.83 ERA and eclipsed 200 innings for the 2nd consecutive season. A 10+ game winner in each of the past 3 seasons with the O's, the 31 year old righty will look to extend that streak in 2011... Jake Fox has 10 home runs and 7 doubles in 73 spring at bats. Last year in 198 at bats he had 10 doubles and 7 home runs but hit just .217.


Spring Leaders

Hits - 2 tied with 19
Home runs - Jacoby Ellsbury 3
RBIs - 2 tied with 9
Stolen Bases - Ryan Kalish 5
Innings - Daisuke Matsuzaka 25 1/3
Strikeouts - Daisuke Matsuzaka 17

News: The Sox finalized their bullpen on Monday with Matt Albers and Dennys Reyes making the club and Hideki Okajima and Alfredo Aceves getting sent down to AAA Pawtucket. Albers had a 2.84 ERA over 9 spring appearances striking out 13 batters in 12 2/3 innings and Reyes had a 2.70 ERA over 10 appearances. Aceves, who was with the Yankees in 2010, made a pair of starts and had a 4.05 ERA this spring while Okajima, the former all-star struggled a bit over his 7 appearances giving up 6 runs and 10 hits in 7 innings. Boston's bullpen figures to be a strength this year with the likes of Bobby Jenks, Daniel Bard, Dan Wheeler and Jonathan Papelbon.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Alex Rodriguez 19
Home runs - Alex Rodriguez 6
RBIs - Alex Rodriguez 14
Stolen Bases - Eduardo Nunez 6
Innings - Phil Hughes 22
Strikeouts - Bartolo Colon 17

News: Eric Chavez and Bartolo are both going to be breaking camp with the Yankees this spring. Chavez will make the team as a backup corner infielder behind Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira after hitting .405 (17/42) this spring. Chavez has been plagued by injuries in recent years playing just 154 games over the past 4 seasons with A's. The Yankees are hopeful that the change of scenery does him good and allows him to perform close to the level that saw him win 6 gold gloves with the A's in the early 2000s. Colon will head to the bullpen after losing out to Freddy Garcia for a spot in the starting rotation. Colon pitched well this spring in 4 starts allowing just 4 earned runs over 15 innings and leading the team in strike outs with 17 while posting a 2.40 ERA. Colon has not pitched in the majors since 2009.


Spring Leaders

Hits - 2 tied with 17
Home runs - 3 tied with 4
RBIs - 4 tied with 10
Stolen Bases - Elliot Johnson 11
Innings - David Price 22 1/3
Strikeouts - David Price 20

News: Infielder Elliot Johnson has made the Rays opening day roster after a strong spring where he hit .314 (11/35), drew 7 walks and stole 11 bases. Johnson has not appeared in the majors since he made the opening day roster in 2008 and went 3 for 19 in 7 appearances before getting sent back down to the minors. He's coming off a strong season in AAA where he hit .319 last year with 24 doubles, 11 homers and 30 stolen bases.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Yunel Escobar 24
Home runs - 2 tied with 4
RBIs - Jose Bautista 13
Stolen Bases -Anthony Gose 9
Innings - Jesse Litsch 22
Strikeouts - 2 tied with 20

News: Rajai Davis has had a huge spring in his first season with Toronto batting .362 (21/58) with 8 doubles, 2 triples and 4 homers. He's also scored 14 runs and driven in 8. The 4 home runs is somewhat surprising considering he only hit 5 last season in 525 at bats in all of 2010 with the A's. The 30 year old Davis did steal 50 bases last year and could add an element of speed to an otherwise power-happy lineup in Toronto.

Top Tens

Men's Tennis Rankings - No Change from Last Week

1. Rafael Nadal (Spain) - 12630 points
2. Novak Djokovic (Serbia) - 8710 points
3. Roger Federer (Switzerland) - 8280 points
4. Robin Soderling (Sweden) - 5735 points
5. Andy Murray (Great Britain) - 5545 points
6. David Ferrer (Spain) - 4510 points
7. Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) - 4320 points
8. Andy Roddick (USA) - 3260 points
9. Fernando Verdasco (Spain) - 3095 points
10. Jurgen Melzer (Austria) - 2695 points

Women's Tennis Rankings - No Change from Last Week

1. Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) - 9850 points
2. Kim Clijsters (Belgium) - 8895 points
3. Vera Zvonareva (Russia) - 7505 points
4. Francesca Schiavone (Italy) - 5111 points
5. Samantha Stosur (Australia) - 4716 points
6. Li Na (China) - 4300 points
7. Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) - 4045 points
8. Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) - 3610 points
9. Venus Williams (USA) - 3465 points
10. Marion Bartoli (France) - 3235 points

FedEx Cup Points Leaders

1. Mark Wilson 1161 (1)
2. Nick Watney 960 (2)
3. Gary Woodland 945 (3)
4. Martin Laird 937 (-)
5. Rory Sabbatini 820 (4)
6. Bubba Watson 807 (6)
7. Jhonattan Vegas 791 (5)
8. Aaron Baddeley 754 (10)

9. D.A. Points 737 (7)
10. Luke Donald 718 (8)

Out: Jonathan Byrd (11)

NCAA Baseball Rankings (Previous Week)

1. Virginia 24-2 (3)
2. Vanderbilt 22-3 (2)
3. Florida 21-4 (1)
4. South Carolina 18-5 (4)
5. Texas A&M 19-5 (9)
6. North Carolina 23-3 (12)
7. Florida State 18-6 (5)
7. Texas 17-7 (6)
9. Arizona St. 18-6 (8)
10. Georgia Tech 21-4 (15)

Out: Oklahoma (11), LSU (16)

Photos Courtesy (in order of appearance):

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What, you didn't have VCU-Butler?

What a weekend for college basketball. The past 3 days we saw a pair of number ones and a pair of number twos both go down leaving an improbable Final Four field consisting of a number three - Connecticut, a number four - Kentucky, a number eight - Butler and a number... eleven? - VCU. And the best part is, Butler and VCU will play one another meaning the championship this year will at the very least, contain a number 8 seed. So how'd we get here? Well...


Shelvin Mack scored 27 points and Khyle Marshall grabbed 7 rebounds (all of them on the offensive glass) as Butler overcame 25 points from Vernon Macklin and a double-double (14 points 10 rebounds) from Alex Tyus to knock off the Gators in overtime. Matt Howard had a chance to put Butler up in regulation at the line, but missed the second of two free throws giving Florida a chance to win it, but Erving Walker's three point attempt at the buzzer was no good sending the game into extra time. Down 1 with under a minute and a half to go it was Mack hitting a big three pointer to put Butler up 72-70. Florida would get within one but Kenny Boynton missed a 3 with 19 seconds to go and Matt Howard dove on a loose ball forcing a tie up which went Butler's way. Mack made both of his free throws, and Walker missed a three that would've tied it giving the Butler Bulldogs an improbable second straight trip to the final four.

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Derrick Williams was limited to just 26 minutes with foul trouble in the first half and the Huskies took advantage winning the West Regional Final over the Wildcats. Kemba Walker had 20 points and 7 assists and Jeremy Lamb chipped in 19 as Connecticut won despite being outrebounded 39-28. Connecticut only turned the ball over 5 times and held Arizona to just 4 of 21 shooting from long range. Arizona, down 7 at the break, came back to take a 55-52 lead following a pair of free throws by Williams with 6:36 to go, but Jeremy Lamb hit jumpers on back to back possessions, Walker hit a jumper, Alex Oriakhi hit a layup and then Jeremy Lamb had a steal and a dunk to punctuate a 10-0 run over nearly four minutes. Arizona was able to get back within two on a 3-pointer by Jamelle Horne, but Williams and Horne both missed 3s in the closing seconds giving Connecticut a trip to the final four a year after not even making the tournament.

Photo Courtesy:


I don't even have words for this one. Kansas lost for just the third time in 38 games this season. Kansas found themselves down 14 at the break and while they were able to cut it to two in the second half (46-44), VCU promptly went on a 9-2 run to open things back up. Jamie Skeen led VCU with 26 points and 10 rebounds and VCU hit 12 of 25 3-pointers compared to just 2 of 21 for Kansas. Kansas got 20 points and 16 rebounds from Marcus Morris and another 13 points and 12 rebounds from twin brother Markieff, but Kansas managed to hit just 15 of 28 free throws and turned the ball over 14 times as they became the 4th and final number one seed to be eliminated from the tournament. VCU became just the 3rd number 11 seed to make the final four. Most recently George Mason made their own improbable run back in 2006 before losing to Florida.

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All 5 Kentucky starters finished in double digits and the Wildcats got 22 points from freshman Brandon Knight as they held off the Tarheels in the East Regional Final. North Carolina got 21 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks from Tyler Zeller, but North Carolina struggled shooting the deep ball hitting just 3 of 16 from behind the arc. Kentucky by comparison hit 12 of 22 shots, but none bigger than DeAndre Liggins' as he hit a shot from the corner to extend the lead to four with just 35 seconds to play. North Carolina would miss all three of its shots over the final 35 seconds giving Kentucky their first Final Four berth since 1998 when they won their last National Title.

Photo Courtesy:


Kentucky - Josh Harrellson (131)
Kentucky - Terrence Jones (11)
Kentucky - Brandon Knight (10)
Kentucky - Doron Lamb (51)
Kentucky - DeAndre Liggins (140)
Kentucky - Royce White (190)

Connecticut - Jeremy Lamb (73)
Connecticut - Ater Majok (201)
Connecticut - Alex Oriakhi (69)
Connecticut - Roscoe Smith (147)
Connecticut - Kemba Walker (9)

Butler - Matt Howard (183)
Butler - Shelvin Mack (59)

VCU - Bradford Burgess (122)
VCU - Jamie Skeen (132)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Who's Number One in the East?

With less than a month to go in the regular season, Chicago, Boston and Miami are all still in the running for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Chicago has the inside track right now leading Boston by 2 games and Miami by 2 1/2. The Celtics have lost 6 times in their last 10 games, and while Miami is playing well as of late they are 3 back in the loss column and don't have the tiebreaker against either Boston or Chicago. Let's take a closer look at each of the three squads:

CHICAGO (52-19)

The Bulls close out march with games against Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Minnesota. They've been playing extremely well lately though with only one loss in their last 12 games and that one coming in overtime at Indiana despite 42 points from Derrick Rose. Chicago played that game without Carlos Boozer though. April gets a little tougher as the Bulls will play Boston again and also travel to Orlando and New York. Of their remaining 11 games only 5 are at home where the Bulls are currently 32-4.

BOSTON (50-21)

Over the last two and a half weeks Boston has lost games to the Clippers, 76ers, Nets, Rockets, Grizzlies and Bobcats as they've lost their stranglehold on the number one seed in the East getting passed by Chicago. Boston has a tough road down the stretch too as they go on the road for 7 of their 11 games including trips to San Antonio (3/31), Chicago (4/7) and Miami (4/10). This is nothing new to the Celtics though as they lost 7 of 10 to finish the 2009-2010 season as well and after a 27-11 start went just 23-21 the rest of the way. Playoff tested and loaded with veterans, the Celtics have shown they can win on the road in the postseason so out of these three squads, the #1 seed probably means the least to Boston.

MIAMI (50-22)

The Heat are only a half game back of Boston but haven't beaten them in 3 tries this season. Miami seems to have fully recovered from their 5 game skid in early March having won 7 of their last 8 and 4 in a row. Of these three teams the Heat have the easiest schedule with their final ten games against Houston, Cleveland, Washington, Minnesota, New Jersey, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Boston (4/10), Atlanta and Toronto.

NL West Update


Spring Leaders

Hits - 2 tied with 24
Home runs - 2 tied with 4
RBIs - Russell Brayan 17
Stolen Bases - Willie Bloomquist 4
Innings - 2 tied with 22 1/3
Strikeouts - 2 tied with 15

News:  Kip Wells was signed to a minor league contract by Arizona on Thursday. Wells played for the Long Island Ducks of the Independent Atlantic League  in 2010 after pitching in parts of 11 different major league seasons for the White Sox, Pirates, Rangers, Cardinals, Rockies, Royals, Nationals and Reds. He has appeared in 289 games (212 starts) going 67-99 with a 4.71 ERA. He had 10 or more wins in each season from 2001-2003.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Jonathan Herrera 20
Home runs - 2 tied with 3
RBIs - 2 tied with 11
Stolen Bases - Willy Taveras 6
Innings - Esmil Rogers 25
Strikeouts - Esmil Rogers 16

News: Esmil Rogers will break camp as the number five starter for Colorado this season in place of the injured Aaron Cook. Rogers who has made 29 appearances including 9 starts for the Rockies over the past two seasons has pitched well this spring going 2-0 with a 4.32 ERA over a team best 25 innings. The 25 year old right hander will join Ubaldo Jimenez (19-8 2.88), Jorge De La Rosa (8-7 4.22), Jhoulys Chacin (9-11 3.28) and Jason Hammel (10-9 4.81) to round out the Colorado rotation.


Spring Leaders

Hits - 2 tied with 17
Home runs - Matt Kemp 5
RBIs - Matt Kemp 15
Stolen Bases - Tony Gwynn Jr. 6
Innings - 2 tied with 22
Strikeouts - John Ely 18

News:  Backup catcher Dioner Navarro will start the season on the disabled list after tearing his right oblique muscle and will likely be out at least a month. This leaves the Dodgers with a question of who will open the 2011 season as the backup behind starter Rod Barajas. The two remaining candidates are A.J. Ellis and Hector Gimenez. Ellis is batting just .161 this spring (5/31) while Gimenez is batting .300 (12/40) with 3 home runs. Ellis has appeared in parts of 3 season with the Dodgers including a 44 game stint last year where he hit .278 whereas Gimenez has not appeared in a major league game since 2006 with the Astros. Gimenez spent 2010 in AA Altoona where he hit .305 with 16 homeruns.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Chris Denorfia 21
Home runs - 8 tied with 2
RBIs - Jorge Cantu 12
Stolen Bases - Will Venable 5
Innings - 2 tied with 19 2/3
Strikeouts - 2 tied with 18

News: Tim Stauffer has been named the Padres opening day starter for 2011. Stauffer, a former first round pick back in 2003, had shoulder surgery back in 2007, missed all of 2008 and it looked like he might never realize his potential, but finally in 2010, Stauffer really established himself at the major league level. In 32 appearances (7 starts), Stauffer had a 1.85 ERA over 82 2/3 innings. He has been strong this spring as well going 2-0 with a 3.66 ERA over 5 starts.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Aubrey Huff 20
Home runs - Aubrey Huff 5
RBIs - Aubrey Huff 14
Stolen Bases - Darren Ford 9
Innings - Barry Zito 21 2/3
Strikeouts - Madison Bumgarner 25

News: Brian Wilson has been insistent that he will be ready to go come opening day as he continues to recover from a mildly strained oblique muscle. Wilson, who tore the muscle back in 2006, is not being rushed back as a tear would require significantly more time to rehab from. Wilson led the majors in saves last year with 48 and added 6 more in the postseason.

Cricket World Cup Wrapup - Fourth Quarterfinal Match

Sri Lanka got dominant performances from their top two batsmen as Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan each went over 100 runs without making an out leading the Sri Lankans to a victory over England 231-229 by 10 wickets with 63 balls remaining. Jonathan Trott had 86 runs for England, but it wasn't enough to keep them from going home. Dilshan was named the man of the match as he led all batsmen with 108 runs off 115 balls. Sri Lanka will now take on New Zealand on Tuesday in the first semifinal. The two teams have already met once during this World Cup facing off in group play with Sri Lanka winning easily 265-153. Kumar Sangakkara was man of the match leading the way with 111 runs. Sri Lanka has made the World Cup Finals twice, losing to Australia in 2007 and winning the Cup back in 1996.

Photo Courtesy:

NL Central Update


Spring Leaders

Hits - Marlon Byrd 24
Home runs - Starlin Castro 4
RBIs - Starlin Castro 15
Stolen Bases - Starlin Castro 2
Innings - Randy Wells 25 2/3
Strikeouts - Randy Wells 23

News: Braden Looper hasn't pitched in the majors since winning 14 games with the Brewers and it looks like that's going to be it for him. After 12 major league seasons with the Cardinals, Marlins, Mets and Brewers, Looper failed to crack the Cubs rotation this spring and is hanging them up. 72-65 over his career with  a 4.15 ERA and 103 saves, Looper missed the 2010 seasons and was unable to return to form this spring allowing 20 hits and 14 earned runs in just 12 2/3 innings for a 9.95 ERA. Looper, who resides in Chicago was unwilling to relocate his family again so at age 36, he's hanging them up. Originally drafted as the third overall pick in the 1996 MLB draft by St. Louis out of Wichita State, Looper was a first team all-american as a junior and was a member of the U.S.'s bronze-medal winning team at the 1996 Olympics. He was a part of 2 World Series teams winning rings with the Marlins (2003) and Cardinals (2006). With Looper out of the running for a spot in the rotation, and with Randy Wells locked in as the number four starter, the final spot is down to Carlos Silva, Andrew Cashner and Casey Coleman.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Dave Sappelt
Home runs - Chris Heisey 4
RBIs - Joey Votto 13
Stolen Bases - Kris Negron 4
Innings - Travis Wood 19 1/3
Strikeouts - Travis Wood 18

News: The Reds rotation is having all kinds of issues as we close in on opening day. Johnny Cueto will start the year on the DL with a mild inflammation in his right shoulder, Homer Bailey has been placed on the DL with a right shoulder impingement and now it's been determined that Bronson Arroyo has mono. Cincinnati's depth will be tested early on as they look to defend their NL Central title, as this string of injuries just adds to the mystery of who the best team in the NL Central really is.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Brett Wallace 22
Home runs - J.R. Towles 3
RBIs - Brett Wallace 18
Stolen Bases - Jason Bourgeois 4
Innings - Nelson Figueroa 20
Strikeouts - Bud Norris 18

News: The Astros got more bad news on the injury front when Clint Barmes was hit in the hand with a pitch by Ivan Nova fracturing a bone his hand which will cause him to miss 4 to 6 weeks. The Astros, already thin at the shortstop position, now find themselves scrambling to find their opening day starter. Matt Downs, Angel Sanchez, Anderson Hernandez and Oswaldo Navarro are the remaining players in camp who can play the position. Tommy Manzella, last year's opening day shortstop, has already been sent back down to AAA. Sanchez played 57 games at short last year after Tommy Manzella went down with a broken finger and seems the most likely candidate to be up the middle on opening day.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Erick Almonte 29
Home runs - Casey McGehee 4
RBIs - Erick Almonte 13
Stolen Bases - 3 tied with 3
Innings - Chris Narveson 21 2/3
Strikeouts - Chris Narveson 15

News: The Brewers acquired Sergio Mitre from the New York Yankees this week for outfielder Chris Dickerson. Mitre has pitched in parts of 7 different major league seasons with the Cubs, Marlins and Yankees. He made a career high 27 starts with Florida in 2007 but won just 5 of them. His best season came last year where he was used as a middle reliever/spot starter for New York. In 27 games (3 starts) he posted a 3.33 ERA and got his first career save. Milwaukee has not made it clear what role Mitre will be assuming with the club, but there's a chance he can fill in for the injured Zack Greinke until he returns from his rib injury. In Dickerson, the Brewers part with a 28 year old outfielder who has hit .267 in 173 career games. Last year between the Reds and the Brewers he batted just .206 with 0 home runs and 5 stolen bases.


Spring Leaders

Hits - 2 tied with 18
Home runs - 2 tied with 4
RBIs - Lyle Overbay 11
Stolen Bases - Corey Wimberly 4
Innings - Paul Maholm 20
Strikeouts - Kevin Correia 15

News: The Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation has been set by manager Clint Hurdle. Kevin Correia (10-10 5.40 w/ SD) will take the ball on opening day followed by Paul Maholm (9-15 5.10), Ross Ohlendorf (1-11 4.07), Charlie Morton (2-12 7.57), and James McDonald (4-6 4.02 w/ LAD-PIT). The Pirates have finished in last place in each of the last 4 seasons.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Matt Holliday 19
Home runs - Mark Hamilton 3
RBIs - John Jay 14
Stolen Bases - Daniel Descalso 3
Innings - Kyle Lohse 24
Strikeouts - Kyle Lohse 15

News: Although no decision has been made, Kyle McClellan appears to be in line to lock down Adam Wainwright's vacated spot in the Cardinal rotation. In 4 spring starts, McClellan is 3-0 with a 0.53 ERA allowing just 9 hits in 17 innings of work. The 26 year old righty has not started a game in his major league career as all 202 of his appearances over the past 3 seasons came in relief.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Breaking Down the Elite Eight

#2 Florida (29-7)

How they got here:

vs UCSB (15) W 79-51
vs UCLA (7) W 73-65
vs BYU (3) W 83-74 OT


Chandler Parsons - F SR 6'10" 218 lbs - 11.5 ppg 7.8 rpg 3.8 apg

Alex Tyus - F SR 6'8" 220 lbs - 8.9 ppg 6.1 rpg 0.9 apg

Vernon Macklin - C SR 6'10" 245 lbs - 11.2 ppg 5.4 rpg 0.8 apg

Erving Walker - G JR 5'8" 171 lbs - 14.8 ppg 3.0 rpg 3.4 apg

Kenny Boynton - G SO 6'2" 183 lbs - 14.1 ppg 1.4 rpg 2.6 apg

Photo Courtesy:

#8 BUTLER (26-9)

How they got here:

vs Old Dominion (9) W 60-58
vs Pittsburgh (1) W 71-70
vs Wisconsin (4) W 61-54


Andrew Smith - C SO 6'11" 239 lbs - 8.9 ppg 5.4 rpg 0.5 apg

Matt Howard - F SR 6'8" 230 lbs - 16.8 ppg 7.8 rpg 1.4 apg

Shelvin Mack - G JR 6'3" 215 lbs - 15.6 ppg 4.3 rpg 3.6 apg

Shawn Vanzant - G SR 6'0" 172 lbs - 8.1 ppg 3.1 rpg 1.7 apg

Chase Stigall - G SO 6'4" 195 lbs - 4.0 ppg 1.8 rpg 0.7 apg

Photo Courtesy:

#5 ARIZONA (30-7)

How they got here:

vs Memphis (12) W 77-75
vs Texas (4) W 70-69
vs Duke (1) W 93-77

Starting 5

Solomon Hill - F SO 6'6" 226 lbs - 8.1 ppg 4.6 rpg 1.7 apg

Derrick Williams - F SO 6'8" 241 lbs - 19.5 ppg 8.4 rpg 1.1 apg

Kyle Fogg - G JR 6'3" 180 lbs - 8.1 ppg 1.8 rpg 2.6 apg

Lamont Jones - G SO 6'0" 196 lbs - 9.7 ppg 1.6 rpg 2.5 apg

Jesse Perry - F JR 6'7" 210 lbs - 6.4 ppg 4.4 rpg 0.7 apg

Photo Courtesy:


How they got here:

vs Bucknell (14) W 81-52
vs Cincinnati (6) W 69-58
vs San Diego St. (2) W 74-67


Alex Oriakhi - F/C SO 6'9" 240 lbs - 9.7 ppg 8.7 rpg 0.4 apg

Tyler Olander - F FR 6'9" 225 lbs - 1.5 ppg 1.9 rpg 0.4 apg

Kemba Walker - G JR 6'1" 172 lbs - 24.0 ppg 5.4 rpg 4.5 apg

Roscoe Smith - F FR 6'8" 205 lbs - 6.5 ppg 5.2 rpg 0.5 apg

Jeremy Lamb - G/F FR 6'5" 185 lbs - 10.9 ppg 4.3 rpg 1.6 apg

 Photo Courtesy:

#1 KANSAS (35-2)

How they got here:

vs Boston (16) W 72-53
vs Illinois (9) W 73-59
vs Richmond (12) W 77-57


Markieff Morris - F JR 6'10" 245 lbs - 13.9 ppg 8.3 rpg 1.4 apg

Marcus Morris - F JR 6'9" 235 lbs - 17.3 ppg 7.4 rpg 1.6 apg

Brady Morningstar - G SR 6'4" 185 lbs - 7.0 ppg 2.3 rpg 3.3 apg

Tyrel Reed - G SR 6'3" 193 lbs - 9.8 ppg 3.0 rpg 1.8 apg

Tyshawn Taylor - G JR 6'3" 185 lbs - 9.3 ppg 2.0 rpg 4.5 apg

 Photo Courtesy:


How they got here:

vs USC (11) W 59-46
vs Georgetown (6) W 74-56
vs Purdue (3) W 94-76
vs Florida St. (10) W 72-71 OT


Jamie Skeen - F SR 6'9" 240 lbs - 15.2 ppg 7.3 rpg 1.6 apg

D.J. Haley - C FR 7'0" 250 lbs - 1.1 ppg 1.6 rpg 0.1 apg

Joey Rodriguez - G SR 5'10" 175 lbs - 10.7 ppg 3.3 rpg 5.0 apg

Bradford Burgess - G JR 6'6" 225 lbs - 14.1 ppg 6.4 rpg 1.6 apg

Ed Nixon - G SR 6'4" 210 lbs - 7.4 ppg 2.6 rpg 2.0 apg

 Photo Courtesy:

#4 KENTUCKY (28-8)

How they got here:

vs Princeton (13) W 59-57
vs West Virginia (5) W 71-63
vs Ohio St. (1) W 62-60


Josh Harrellson - F SR 6'10" 275 lbs - 7.3 ppg 8.8 rpg 0.7 apg

Darius Miller - G JR 6'7" 228 lbs - 11.2 ppg 4.7 rpg 1.7 apg

Terrence Jones - F FR 6'8" 244 lbs - 16.1 ppg 8.7 rpg 1.7 apg

Brandon Knight - G FR 6'3" 185 lbs - 17.4 ppg 3.9 rpg 4.2 apg

Doron Lamb - G FR 6'4" 195 lbs - 12.6 ppg 2.1 rpg 1.7 apg

 Photo Courtesy:


How they got here:

vs Long Island (15) W 102-87
vs Washington (7) W 86-83
vs Marquette (11) W 81-63


John Henson - F SO 6'10" 210 lbs - 11.9 ppg 10.1 rpg 0.9 apg

Tyler Zeller - F JR 7'0" 250 lbs - 15.2 ppg 7.1 rpg 0.5 apg

Harrison Barnes - F FR 6'8" 210 lbs - 15.5 ppg 5.7 rpg 1.4 apg

Dexter Strickland - G SO 6'3" 180 lbs - 7.4 ppg 3.2 rpg 2.2 apg

Kendall Marshall - G FR 6'3" 186 lbs - 6.2 ppg 2.0 rpg 6.1 apg

 Photo Courtesy:

NL East Update


Spring Leaders

Hits - Chipper Jones 23
Home runs - Chipper Jones 4
RBIs - Chipper Jones 15
Stolen Bases - Wilkin Ramirez 4
Innings - Jair Jurrjens 21
Strikeouts - 2 tied with 16

News: Brandon Beachy will be Atlanta's #5 starter to start the 2011 season. The 24 year old right hander made his major league debut at the end of 2010 and made 3 starts and while he went 0-2 he had an ERA of just 3.00. Between AA and AAA last year, Beachy was dominant posting a 1.73 ERA over 35 appearances (13 starts) and going 5-1 with a pair of saves. An undrafted free agent signed out of Indiana Wesleyan in 2008, Beachy has really been sharp this spring with an ERA of just 1.13 over 16 innings with 16 strike outs and holding opposing hitters to a meager .130 average.


Spring Leaders

Hits - 2 tied with 21
Home runs - 4 tied with 2

RBIs - 3 tied with 10
Stolen Bases - Emilio Bonifacio 5
Innings - Josh Johnson 20
Strikeouts - Anibal Sanchez 15

News: Mike Stanton missed the Marlins' first 24 games this spring. It didn't take long for the 21 year old to get back up to speed. Facing Boston's Clay Buchholz is his debut, Stanton clubbed a pair of 3-run homers and drove in 7 runs en route to a 15-7 Florida win. Through two games, Stanton is 4 for 6 with a double, 2 homers and 9 runs batted in. Stanton led all rookies last season with 22 home runs and if his spring debut was any indication, you can expect more of the same in 2011. 


Spring Leaders

Hits - Nick Evans 22
Home runs - 4 tied with 3

RBIs - Ike Davis 12
Stolen Bases - Angel Pagan 4
Innings - 2 tied with 20 1/3
Strikeouts - Jon Niese 20

News: The Mets have been eating some serious salary this spring. First they cut ties with Luis Castillo eating the final $6M on his contract, and then they cut ties with lefty Oliver Perez who was owed $12M this season. Castillo, who has since been picked up by the Phillies, was hitting .286 (8/28) with the Mets this spring but he was coming off a season where he hit just .235 with only 6 extra base hits in 86 games. A career .290 hitter, and 3-time all star with 3 gold gloves to his name, Castillo was not popular among Mets fans, and New York has decided to go a different direction at second. Perez was more of a disappointment as he pitched himself out of a roster spot this spring. On the heels of a back to back seasons with an ERA of 6.80 or higher, Perez posted an ERA of 8.38 this spring in 7 appearances with 8 walks in just 9 2/3 innings.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Ben Francisco 20
Home runs - John Mayberry 5

RBIs - Raul Ibanez 12
Stolen Bases - John Mayberry 4
Innings - Joe Blanton 28
Strikeouts - Cole Hamels 23

News: Closer Brad Lidge is going to open up the 2011 season on the disabled list with shoulder pain. Lidge who bounced back from an abysmal 2009 season (0-8 7.21 ERA, 11 blown saves) to save 27 of 32 games and post a 2.96 ERA last year is hopeful that he can return by mid-April. Ryan Madson or Jose Contreras will likely assume the closing duties in Lidge's absence. Madson has saved 20 games over the past 7 seasons and is coming off a strong 2010 where he posted a 2.55 ERA. Contreras picked up his first four career saves last season and over 67 games had a 3.34 ERA.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Michael Morse 21
Home runs - Michael Morse 7

RBIs - 2 tied with 15
Stolen Bases - Nyjer Morgan 6
Innings - Jordan Zimmerman 20
Strikeouts - 2 tied with 13

News: Jim Riggleman has announced that Drew Storen and Sean Burnett will share the closing duties for the Nats in 2011. Storen, 23, made his debut last season posted a 3.58 ERA over 54 appearances and saving 5 games. While he's struggled a bit this spring (9.31 ERA, .348 average) he has saved a pair of games. Burnett, a lefty, came to the Nats in 2009. Last year he posted a 2.14 ERA over 73 games and had a career high 3 saves.

MLS Power Rankings

Ok, so I took the mlsnet power rankings, the espn power rankings and my own power rankings for Major League Soccer and put them all together to form one MASTER POWER RANKINGS for MLS. So here's the breakdown through week 1 with where I ranked everyone in parentheses.

1. Real Salt Lake 1-0-0 3 pts (2)
2. Colorado Rapids 1-0-0 3 pts (1)
3. Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0-1 4 pts (3)
4. New York Red Bulls 1-0-0 3 pts (4)
5. Sporting Kansas City 1-0-0 3 pts (5)
6. DC United 1-0-0 3 pts (9)
7. Philadelphia Union 1-0-0 3 pts (8)
8. FC Dallas 0-0-1 1 pts (6)
9. Chicago Fire 0-0-1 1 pts (7)
10. Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0-0 3 pts (11)
11. New England Revolution 0-0-1 1 pts (12)
12. San Jose Earthquakes 0-1-0 0 pts (10)
13. Seattle Sounders 0-2-0 0 pts (13)
14. Houston Dynamo 0-1-0 0 pts (15)
15. Columbus Crew 0-1-0 0 pts (14)
16. Chivas USA 0-1-0 0 pts (16)
17. Portland Timbers 0-1-0 0 pts (18)
18. Toronto FC 0-1-0 0 pts (17)

Photo Courtesy:

I put the Rapids at #1 because they're the defending champs and they opened with a huge win over the expansion Timbers. The other two polls have Real Salt Lake as #1 and given their play in the CONCACAF Champions League I'm not opposed to that. I had them #2 after all. Game of the week this week has to be Los Angeles at Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. Honorable mentions Kansas City at Chicago and Vancouver at Philadelphia.

Cricket World Cup Wrapup - Second and Third Quarterfinal Matches

The 3-time defending champs have been ousted! For the first time since 1996, the World Cup Champion will be someone other than Australia as the Aussies were defeated by India yesterday 261-260 by 5 wickets with 14 balls remaining. India overcame a huge game from Australia's team captain Ricky Ponting who scored 104 runs off 118 balls, but they were able to grind out a win with 53 runs from Sachin Tendulkar, 50 runs from Gautam Gambhir and 57 from Yuvraj Singh. Singh also bowled 10 overs and took 2 wickets while allowing just 44 runs and was named the man of the match. For Australia it's the first time they didn't at least reach the final since 1992. India now gets ready to face Pakistan in the semifinals.

Photo Courtesy:

In a surprising upset, South Africa, the top seed from Group B was eliminated this morning by New Zealand, the number 4 seed in Group A 221-172. Jacob Oram and Nathan McCullum combined to take 7 wickets and no South African batsman was able to produce more than 50 runs. Jesse Ryder led the Kiwi Attack with 83 runs off 121 balls, but it was Oram who was named the man of the match. New Zealand, who has never been to the finals of the World Cup, is now just one match away from doing just that. They will face off against the winner of Sri Lanka vs England on March 29th.

Photo Courtesy:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

AL West Update


Spring Leaders

Hits - Howie Kendrick 18
Home runs - Mark Trumbo 5
RBIs - 2 tied with 14
Stolen Bases - Howe Kendrick 5
Innings - Ervin Santana 17 1/3
Strikeouts - Jered Weaver 17

News: The announcement that Kendrys Morales will start the season on the disabled list means that Mark Trumbo will likely be the Angels first baseman on opening day this year. Morales who had a breakout year in 2009 when he hit 34 homers and drove in 108 while hitting .306 saw his 2010 season cut short in a freak accident when his left leg was fractured when his team celebrated his walkoff grand slam against the Mariners last May. Trumbo leads the Angels in home runs this spring and is tied for the team lead in runs batted with Bobby Abreu. The 25 year old Trumbo led the Pacific Coast League in home runs last year with 36 but has only 15 major league at bats.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Coco Crisp 19
Home runs - 2 tied with 3

RBIs - Andy LaRoche 12
Stolen Bases - Jai Miller 6
Innings - Gio Gonzalez 21
Strikeouts - Gio Gonzalez 25

News: The A's have yet to decide on their opening day starter with Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden all apparently still in the running. Gonzalez is having far and away the best spring posting a 2.14 ERA in 5 starts and striking out more than a batter an inning while holding hitters to a .181 average. Cahill won 18 games a year ago and made the all-star team so he would seem a logical choice as well on the merits of what he did last season. Braden had a 3.50 ERA in 30 starts with 5 complete games in 2010 but has a 7.02 ERA and is 0-3 in 5 spring starts. And finally there's Anderson who had a 2.80 ERA in 19 starts last year. My guess would be that it's either Gonzalez or Cahill but we'll see what Bob Geren decides to do.


Spring Leaders

Hits - 2 tied with 13
Home runs - Jack Cust 3

RBIs - Milton Bradley 10
Stolen Bases - Chone Figgins 4
Innings - Doug Fister 13 1/3
Strikeouts - Felix Hernandez 15

News: 23 year old prospect Dustin Ackley is headed back to the minors to start the season. The 2nd overall pick in the 2009 draft hit .267 with 33 doubles and drew 75 walks between AA and AAA last season. He also played in the Arizona Fall League where he excelled hitting .424 in 20 games drawing 26 walks and striking out just 11 times. Ackley, a natural outfielder who is being converted to a second baseman, didn't play badly this spring posting an on base percentage of .441 in 15 games. Don't be surprised if you see him in Seattle before the year is up.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Mitch Moreland 20
Home runs - Ian Kinsler 5

RBIs - Chad Davis 15
Stolen Bases - Julio Borbon 5
Innings - Matt Harrison 19
Strikeouts - 2 tied with 12

News: It's still undecided what's going to happen with Neftali Feliz who's making a bid for a spot in the starting rotation after winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award as the Rangers closer last year. Feliz has made 4 appearances this spring including 3 starts and logged a 1.93 ERA over 14 innings. He has a 2.42 ERA in his brief career spanning 90 games and saved 42 games in 46 opportunities. Until Texas figures out what to do with him, it's still up in the air how the rest of the staff will shake out. Feliz will make his 4th start of the spring on Thursday against San Diego.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cricket World Cup Wrapup - First Quarterfinal Match

Pakistan, the top seed from Group A, breezed through its quarterfinal match against the West Indies holding them to 112 runs and needing just two batsmen to put up 113 winning by ten wickets with 175 balls remaining. Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez only needed only 20.5 overs to clinch victory for Pakistan. Hafeez was named the man of the match getting a game-high 61 runs off 64 balls and also bowling 10 overs taking 2 wickets and only allowing 16 runs. Hafeez was one of 3 Pakistani bowlers who allowed fewer than 2 runs per over, the others being Umar Gul (7 overs 13 runs) and Abdul Razzaq (3 over 4 runs). Shahid Afridi also bowled well taking 4 wickets in 9.3 overs. Pakistan now awaits the winner of the match between India and Australia as they prepare themselves for their semifinal match on March 30th.

Photo Courtesy:

AL Central Update


Spring Leaders

Hits - Gordon Beckham 18
Home runs - 2 tied with 4
RBIs - Alex Rios 14
Stolen Bases - Lastings Milledge 3
Innings - Edwin Jackson 19 1/3
Strikeouts - Edwin Jackson 20

News: Jake Peavy's attempt to break camp as a part of the White Sox rotation has come up short having been shut down with tendinitis in his right shoulder. While he was encouraged by how he felt following some light throwing Tuesday, it's clear that the White Sox aren't going to mess around with this one, and rightfully so. Peavy has appeared in just 19 games in his season an a half with Chicago and they do not want to risk further injury by pushing him back into play too quickly. This spring Peavy has performed well though his record doesn't indicate that. In 4 starts he is 0-3 with a 4.11 ERA and opponents are hitting only .241 against him.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Travis Buck 20
Home runs - 2 tied with 4
RBIs - Travis Buck 12
Stolen Bases - 2 tied with 4
Innings - Fausto Carmona 24
Strikeouts - Fausto Carmona 21

News: Grady Sizemore is back on the field. Sizemore played centerfield for 3 innings in yesterday's spring training game against Arizona marking the first time since May 16th that he had played out there in a game situation. Sizemore made his debut as a DH on Sunday. He's 0 for 4 with a strikeout in his limited action so far, but getting him out there at all is encouraging for Cleveland. The 28 year old outfielder hit 39 doubles, 33 home runs and stole 38 bases in his last full season in the majors (2008).


Spring Leaders

Hits - Andy Dirks 19
Home runs - 2 tied with 3
RBIs - Miguel Cabrera 12
Stolen Bases - 9 tied with 1
Innings - Phil Coke 21 2/3
Strikeouts - Justin Verlander 20

News:  Jim Leyland has named his opening day second baseman: Will Rhymes. Not yet a household name for people who didn't follow the Tigers closely last year, Rhymes burst onto the scene late in the year and hit .304 in 54 games after hitting .305 with 22 steals in 95 games with AAA Toledo. Rhymes, who turns 28 next week, was originally a 27th round pick back in 2005, but he beat out Scott Sizemore and Danny Worth for the job. Rhymes is hitting .271 in 48 at bats this spring. Sizemore, 26, was sent back down to AAA after only hitting .243 this spring though he did have 10 runs batted in. In 48 games last year he hit just .224 with 3 home runs. Worth, 25, hit .255 in 39 games with the Tigers last year and is still fighting for the last open roster spot. Worth is 11 for 34 (.324) this spring with 6 doubles.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Melky Cabrera 22
Home runs - Kila Ka'aihue 4
RBIs - Billy Butler 14
Stolen Bases - Jarrod Dyson 7
Innings - Jeff Francis 15
Strikeouts - Kyle Davies 15

News: The Royals have finalized their starting rotation with Luke Hochevar getting the ball on opening day and Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen, Kyle Davies and Vin Mazzaro rounding out the group. Mazzaro, 6-8 with a 4.27 ERA with Oakland last year, beat out Sean O'Sullivan for the final spot. O'Sullivan will work out of the bullpen to start the season. Francis is in his first year with the Royals after spending the previous 6 years with Colorado. He had his best season in 2007 when the Rocks went to the World Series going 17-9 with a 4.22 ERA and logging over 200 innings, but he missed all of 2009 and the beginning of 2010 with shoulder surgery. Hochevar (6-6 4.81), Davies (8-12 5.34) and Chen (12-7, 4.17) all pitched for the Royals last year.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Jason Kubel 17
Home runs - Luke Hughes 5
RBIs - Luke Hughes 14
Stolen Bases - 2 tied with 5
Innings - Carl Pavano 19
Strikeouts - Brian Duensing 12

News: Joe Mauer and Justing Morneau are both back in action which is great news for Twins fans. Mauer has appeared in 3 grapefruit league games going 4 for 8 with a pair of runs batted in. Morneau has struggled a bit in Grapefruit League play going 0 for 10 in 4 games with a walk. When these two lefties are healthy, it adds a whole new element to Minnesota's lineup. Morneau had a streak of 4 straight 100 rbis seasons snapped when he got hurt last year while Mauer is a career .327 hitter. If these guys are ready to go come opening day, the Twins could surprised some people, especially with the way their starting pitching has performed this spring. Carl Pavano (19 IP 0.95 ERA), Brian Duensing (3-0 17 IP 1.59), Nick Blackburn (2-1 16 IP 2.81),  and Scott Baker (12 2/3 IP 2.84 ERA) have all been pitching great and the only starter who hasn't been on thus far, Francisco Liriano, might be the best one out of the whole lot.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hockey Playoff Races

The Flyers and the Capitals are in in the East. The final six spots are still up for grabs. Here are the remaining schedules for the teams still realistically fighting for a spot:

Boston: Home (7) - MON, NYR, CHI, TOR, ATL, NYI, OTT. Away (3) - PHI, NYR, NJ.
Pittsburgh: Home (4) - NJ, FLA, PHI, NJ. Away (5) - PHI, TB, FLA, NYI, ATL.
Tampa Bay: Home (4) - CAR, OTT, PIT, FLA. Away (5) - CAR, MIN, CHI, BUF, CAR.
Montreal: Home (3) - WAS, ATL, CHI. Away (5) - BOS, CAR, NJ, OTT, TOR.
NY Rangers: Home (4) - OTT, BOS, ATL, NJ. Away (4) - BOS, BUF, NYI, PHI.
Buffalo: Home (5) - FLA, NJ, NYR, TB, PHI. Away (4) - TOR, WAS, CAR, CLB.
Carolina: Home (5) - TB, MON, BUF, DET, TB. Away (4) - TB, WAS, NYI, ATL.
Toronto: Home (3) - BUF, WAS, MON. Away (5) - COL, DET, BOS, OTT, NJ.

The bottom 5 teams haven't technically been eliminated, but it'd take a heck of a run for them to close the gap.

Only the Canucks are in the West right now as there are still only 3 points separating the 5 through 10 seeds. Calgary faces the biggest disadvantage as they have three fewer games than Chicago, Anaheim and Dallas. Here are the schedules for those still realistically in contention:

Detroit: Home (6) - VAN, TOR, CHI, STL, MIN, CHI. Away (3) - NAS, CAR, CHI.
San Jose: Home (5) - CAL, DAL, ANA, LA, PHX. Away (4) - LA, PHX, ANA, PHX.
Phoenix: Home (5) - CLB, SJ, DAL, COL, SJ. Away (2) - LA, SJ.
Los Angeles: Home (5) - SJ, COL, DAL, PHX, ANA. Away (4) - EDM, VAN, SJ, ANA.
Nashville: Home (6) - ANA, DAL, VAN, DET, ATL, CLB. Away (2) - COL, STL.
Chicago: Home (5) - FLA, ANA, TB, STL, DET. Away (5) - DET, BOS, CLB, MON, DET.
Anaheim: Home (4) - COL, DAL, SJ, LA. Away (6) - DAL, NAS, CHI, CAL, SJ, LA.
Dallas: Home (3) - ANA, CLB, COL. Away (7) - NAS, PHX, SJ, LA, ANA, COL, MIN.
Calgary: Home (3) - ANA, EDM, VAN. Away (4) - SJ, EDM, STL, COL.

Only Colorado and Edmonton have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but St. Louis, Columbus and Minnesota would take a long shot to get in at this point.

AL East Update


Spring Leaders

Hits - Jake Fox 18
Home runs - Jake Fox 7
RBIs - Jake Fox 12
Stolen Bases - Matt Angle 5
Innings - Brad Bergesen 16 2/3
Strikeouts - Brian Matusz 13

News: Brian Roberts returned to action Sunday after being out since March 7th with back spasms. Roberts played 5 innings and was 0 for 2 with a walk. He'll be in action again today against the Yankees. The 33 year old switch hitting second baseman was limited to just 59 games last season due to a herniated disc in his lower back. Roberts had played at least 155 games and scored at least 100 runs while stealing 30 or more bases in each of the three previous seasons so having a healthy Roberts at the top of the lineup come the beginning of the season would be a huge boost for the O's. First baseman Derrek Lee made his spring debut this weekend after dealing with tendinitis in his wrist and recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. Unfortunately Lee fouled a ball off his foot on his first swing and was forced to miss Sunday's game as a result. The MRI came back ok though so the hope is that he doesn't miss too much time.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Jacoby Ellsbury 16
Home runs - 5 tied with 2
RBIs - 2 tied with 8
Stolen Bases - Ryan Kalish 5

Innings - Daisuke Matsuzaka 19 1/3
Strikeouts - Jon Lester 16

News: The Red Sox have announced their pitching rotation that they're going to start the season with. Jon Lester (19-9 3.25) will get the call opening day and he'll be followed by John Lackey (14-11 4.40), Clay Buchholz (17-7 2.33), Josh Beckett (6-6 5.78) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-6 4.69). It has the potential to be one of the most dominant rotations in baseball when you consider what all 5 are capable of. While Lester and Buchholz were solid last season, the three veterans on the staff struggled. Lackey had his highest ERA since 2004, Beckett has has worst season ever statistically speaking after going 17-6 in 2009, and Matsuzaka, while pitching better than he did in 2009, fell well short of the expectations he created for himself after an 18-3 2.90 ERA campaign in 2008. If those three can step their game up, and with the extra offense and bullpen help the Sox brought in during the offseason, this group has the potential to do some special stuff this year.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Alex Rodriguez 16
Home runs - Alex Rodriguez 5
RBIs - Alex Rodriguez 12
Stolen Bases - Eduardo Nunez 6

Innings - C.C. Sabathia 16 1/3
Strikeouts - Bartolo Colon 17

News: Bartolo Colon, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia and Sergio Mitre are still battling it out for the final two spots in the Yankees rotation behind C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes. While no decisions have been made, it would appear the veteran Colon and the youngster Nova would have the edge at this point. Colon has issued just 1 walk in 15 innings this spring while fanning a team high 17 and posting a 2.40 ERA over 4 starts. The 24 year old Nova has allowed just 2 runs on 8 hits in 14 innings of work posting a 1.29 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .170 average. The 30 year old Mitre has pitched well this spring, but may be more suited for a role out of the bullpen where all but 3 of his 27 appearances came last year when he posted a 3.33 ERA for New York. Finally there's Garcia who has a 5.93 ERA over his 4 starts. After pitching just 23 games between 2007 and 2009, Garcia rebounded to make 28 starts last year for the White Sox going 12-6 with a 4.64 ERA. The two time all star exceeded 200 innings 7 times in 8 seasons between 1999 and 2006 and 4 times won at least 16 games, but the emergence of Colon may force him out of the rotation. Garcia has stated he will not accept an assignment to AAA, so it will be interesting to see how the Yankees handle the whole deal.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Casey Kotchman 16
Home runs - 3 tied with 3
RBIs - 3 tied with 8
Stolen Bases - Elliot Johnson 7

Innings - Andy Sonnanstine 14 1/3
Strikeouts - 4 tied with 10

News: Manny Ramirez is swinging a hot bat for Tampa this spring hitting .297 (11/37) and is tied for the team lead in home runs and runs batted in. His partner in crime Johnny Damon is also hitting .297 (11/37) and has 4 doubles. While durability for both remains a question with Ramirez turning 39 in May and Damon being 37, the Rays have to be happy with what they've seen early on. I wouldn't start making plans for October if you're a Rays fan, but there's reason to believe despite the mass exodus of personnel during the offseason that this is a group that will be able to compete.


Spring Leaders

Hits - Yunel Escobar 16
Home runs - Edwin Encarnacion 4
RBIs - Jose Bautista 9
Stolen Bases - Anthony Gose 8

Innings - Jesse Litsch 17 1/3
Strikeouts - Jesse Litsch 17

News: Brandon Morrow is looking like an ace so far this spring striking out 16 hitters in 12 innings while allowing just 1 earned run over 3 starts. The 26 year old right hander struck out 178 hitters in 146 1/3 innings in his first full season as a starter last year after making just 15 starts in 3 years with Seattle. Morrow showed exactly what he's capable of last August when he lost a no-hitter in the 9th inning against Tampa Bay but finished with a complete game 1-hit shutout with 17 strikeouts. Injuries have been his achilles heel throughout his young career, but if he can stay healthy, the guy has the potential to put up HUGE numbers.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What's up with the Big East?

11 of the 68 teams in this year's NCAA tournament came from the Big East conference. As we get ready for the Sweet 16 to tip off, only TWO remain: Connecticut, the winner of the Big East Tournament, and ... Marquette. The 11 seed in the East Region. How did this happen??

In the first round we saw Villanova fall to George Mason, St. John's lose to Gonzaga, Georgetown lose to Virginia Commonwealth, and Louisville get dumped by Morehead State. Then in the second round, Pitt, the Big East's lone #1 seed got upset but Butler, Notre Dame get blown out by Florida State, West Virginia come up short against Kentucky, and Cincinnati and Syracuse lose to Connecticut and Marquette respectively.

Syracuse lost to Marquette during the regular season as well, so that's not a real surprise despite being an 11 seed knocking off a 3 seed. Connecticut beat Cincinnati during the regular season as well. Kentucky won the SEC tournament so West Virginia's loss to them wasn't wholly unexpected. But that still leaves losses to George Mason, Gonzaga, VCU, Morehead State, Butler and Florida State.

Butler's won 11 in a row following their win over Pitt. Their run to the finals last year showed they're not to be overlooked, but Pitt was the Big East regular season champion. They only lost 5 other games all year. Yeah it was a close game with a controversial ending, but the best team in the Big East is not supposed to struggle with teams from the Horizon League.

George Mason had won 16 games in a row before losing to VCU in the Colonial Athletic Conference Tournament. Mason's no stranger to tournament success having beaten Michigan State, North Carolina and Connecticut back in 2006. Villanova meanwhile started the season 16-1 and then finished the year 6-11 with losses in their final six games including their first round exit. So while this isn't GREAT, Mason was a higher seed here, so it's understandable.

I really thought St. John's was going to go places in this tourney, but they ran into perennial cinderella Gonzaga who sent them home early 86-71. St. John's had regular season wins against Pitt, Villanova, Duke, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Marquette, Notre Dame, West Virginia and Georgetown. But they also had losses to Seton Hall, Fordham, St. Bonaventure, and St. Mary's. Gonzaga beat St. Mary's to win the West Coast Conference Tournament. So there's that.

VCU wasn't even supposed to make the tournament having to play a play-in game to even get into the field of 64. But they're now in the Sweet 16 following 3 straight double digit wins: a 59-46 win over USC,  a 74-56 beat down of Georgetown and a 94-76 route of Purdue. Not bad for the 4th place team in the Colonial Athletic Conference. Georgetown, like Villanova, sputtered down the stretch with the first round loss to VCU being their 5th in a row. Still, VCU lost to Northeastern (11-20) and Georgia State (12-19) during the regular season. And South Florida who won just THREE Big East games. You telling me Georgetown couldn't find a way to beat these guys?

I'm be willing to bet most people can't even tell you what conference Morehead State is in. Or what state it's in for that matter. If you guessed the Ohio Valley Conference and Kentucky, you'd be correct. If you told me they were going to be in-state rival Louisville, I'd have called you crazy. The only reason I'd even heard of Morehead State is the fact that their center Kenneth Faried broke Tim Duncan's modern rebounding record and led the nation in rebounding with 14.5 a game. This was a program that lost to Eastern Illinois (9-20) during the year. Louisville played for the Big East Tournament Title. Dick Vitale had Louisville going to the Final Four. This is a loss that can't happen for a team coached by Rick Pitino.

And finally Notre Dame. 14-4 in the Big East during the regular season was eliminated from the Big East Tournament against Louisville. Florida State was the 3rd place team in a weak ACC. They lost to Virginia Tech twice and Maryland during the year. Kind of makes you think the Hokies could have/should have been one of the top 68 teams instead of oh, I dunno, say USC. Or UAB. In any case, Notre Dame, a 2 seed got bested by FSU, the 10 seed. And in convincing fashion. Last year Notre Dame got knocked off by Old Dominion in the first round, so maybe this isn't a surprise after all.

So what's the explanation? Worn down after a grueling regular season? While the Big East is ultra-competitive it's not ultra-talented? Injuries? Hype? Whatever the reason, the Big East is down to two of eleven teams, and that just leaves everyone disappointed. Especially those of us put our faith in them in our brackets.