March Madness: Florida Gulf Coast University

The Madness of March: By now you are all probably aware of who and where Florida Gulf Coast University is. However, before all of this madness began, they sounded like a made up college straight out of a Disney movie in which a team of lovable losers is lead by a hardball coach and go from zeros to heroes.

But Florida Gulf Coast University isn’t a fairytale, just ask Georgetown or San Diego State and they will tell you they are as real as can be.

The Eagles story began at the end of their regular season. Finishing at 24-10 overall and in second place behind Mercer in the Atlantic Sun Conference at 13-5 , FGCU fought their way through their conference tournament and surprisingly won to punch their ticket to this year’s big dance.

Then FGCU drew second seeded Georgetown as a 15 seed. Georgetown had spent the regular season atop the Big East with Louisville finishing in second place with a 14-4 conference mark going 25-7 overall. The Hoyas appeared poised to end their streak of early tournament exits and make a run in this year’s big dance behind the play of forward Otto Porter Jr. and Co. Unfortunately for Georgetown, the Eagles had a date with destiny.

Dunk City: March 22nd, 2013: The Eagles went neck and neck with the Hoyas in the first half of their first round battle with Georgetown. Impressively, FGCU hung with the tournament seasoned Big East bruisers, in what was the teams first ever tournament appearance. The Eagles would lead by two at the half by a score of 24-22.

The second half began and the unimaginable happened, The Eagles slowly but surely went on a 21-2 second half scoring run to stun Georgetown, bust brackets across the country and show the world what Dunk City was all about.

The signature moment of this first-round shocker came late in the game when FGCU point guard Brett Comer threw up an alley-oop from the corner and found forward Chase Fieler who sent the crowd into a frenzy with a one-handed jam for the finish. (As Shown Below)

FGCU became only the seventh 15 seed in the history of the tournament to beat a number two seed. Not to mention the Eagles didn’t just defeat Georgetown, they won by an impressive 10 point margin over the Hoyas. FGCU guards Sherwood Brown (24 pts) and Bernard Thompson (23 pts) led the Eagles in scoring and helped pace them to a 78-68 victory.

It would be more of the same on March 24th when Dunk City took on San Diego State in the tournaments second round of games. The Aztecs led by a point at the half (35-34). However, the Eagles were not to be denied and came roaring into the second half, led once more by Thompson (23pts) and Brown (17pts), to finish with another 10 point victory 81-71. (Highlights of FGCU’s history making tourney play can be seen below)

FGCU beating the Aztecs and advancing to the Sweet 16 marks the first time in tournament history that a 15 seed has ever made it that far.

Fun Facts About FGCU:

Here are some notes on the Eagles from their athletic website fgcuathletics.com.

The Players for FGCU are older than the college itself, as the university was established in 1997 (only 16-years-old).

FGCU started their athletics program in 2002-2003.

FGCU entered Division I in 2007-2008.

FGCU became post-season eligible in 2011-2012.

FGCU is located in Fort Myers, FL (also home to the Red Sox during Spring Training)

Head coach Andy Enfield became the bench boss in 2011.

Before taking the job in Fort Myers Enfield began his coaching career as a shooting coach for then head coach Mike Dunleavy and the Milwaukee Bucks from 1994-1996.

Enfield went on from the Bucks to Boston where he was an assistant coach under then head coach Rick Pitino for the Celtics from 1998-2000 where he worked with then rookie Paul Pierce on his shooting.

Finally, before taking the job with FGCU, Enfield was an assistant coach for Florida State University from 2006-2011. Enfield helped lead the Seminoles to a pair of sweet 16 finishes in the big dance during his time in Tallahassee.

Final Thoughts: Fort Myers-Slamma-Jamma, Dunk City, FGCU, the Eagles, whatever you want to call them, have shocked the nation and made their mark in college basketball.

When they play the third seeded Florida Gators this Friday, they won’t be wearing a ball gown or be running up and down the court in glass slippers, they will be in uniform just like UF and will play 40 minutes of high octane, in your face, no fear in their eyes basketball, just like everybody else.

If/When the Eagles defeat Florida this Friday to continue their tournament journey, don’t call it an UPSET…call it for what it will be…a WIN. Florida Gulf Coast University is no longer Cinderella…they’re Competition.

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March Madness 2013

It’s that time of year once again college hoops fans. That’s right get ready to breakout the pens, print off brackets, start up office tournaments/pools and be prepared to go absolutely mad!!!

March Madness is upon us with Selection Sunday (this Sunday March 17th) only a few days away. So, without further adieu here’s a rundown of teams you CAN and CAN’T trust and some Sleepers/Cinderella’s to watch in this year’s NCAA Men’s Division One College Basketball Tournament:

You Can Trust:

Duke– Likely number one seed, went 14-4 in the ACC and 27-4 overall. Has one of the richest tournament histories and recently got back playmaker Ryan Kelly. Kelly dropped 34 points in Dukes revenge win over this year’s ACC Champion Miami Hurricanes. All reasons to trust the Blue Devils.

Key Wins: Nov.24th vs. then second ranked Louisville 76-71, Nov. 28th vs. then fourth ranked Ohio State 73-68, Mar. 5th vs. then fifth ranked Miami 79-76. Key Losses: Jan.12th vs. North Carolina State 84-76, Feb. 16th vs. Maryland 83-81, Feb.28th vs. Virginia 73-68.

Indiana– Likely number one seed, went 14-4 in the Big Ten and 26-5 overall. Spent time this season as the number one ranked team in the nation and have a sensational offensive/defensive combo in playmakers Cody Zeller and potential POY Victor Oladipo. Led by coach Tom Crean the Hoosiers are as reliable as they come this year.

Key Wins: Nov. 20th vs. Georgetown in OT 82-72, Feb.2 vs. then first ranked Michigan 81-73, Feb.19 vs. then fourth ranked Michigan State 72-68. Key Losses: Dec. 15 vs. Butler in OT 88-86, Feb.7th vs. Illinois 74-72, March 5th vs. Ohio State 67-58.

Miami– Likely a second seed team, won the ACC championship outright. Started the season unranked and have been ranked as high as second in the nation. Led by seniors Kenny Kadji and Reggie Johnson along with coach Jim Larranaga (coached the 2006 George Mason Patriots to an improbable final four appearance) the Canes can be trusted.

Key Wins: Nov.28th vs. then thirteenth ranked  Michigan State 67-59, Jan.23rd vs. then first ranked Duke 90-63, Feb.2nd vs. then nineteenth ranked North Carolina State 79-78. Key Losses: Nov.13th vs. Florida Gulf Coast University 63-51, Dec.25th vs. Indiana State in OT 57-55, Feb.23rd vs. Wake Forest 80-65.

Gonzaga– Likely a number one seed, went undefeated at 16-0 in the West Coast Conference and 31-2. Gonzaga is the number one ranked team in the nation and have been led by the likes of Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris, don’t let the WCC schedule fool you, the Zags are trustworthy this year.

Key Wins: Nov.23rd vs. Oklahoma 72-47, Dec.31st vs. then twenty second ranked Oklahoma State 69-68, Mar.11th vs. Saint Mary’s 65-61. Key Losses: Dec.8th vs. then thirteenth ranked Illinois, and Jan.19th vs. then thirteenth ranked Butler 64-63.

Louisville– Likely a number one or two seed (depending on whether or not they win the Big East Conference Tournament), went 14-4 in the Big East and 26-5 overall. The Cardinals have a good chance of winning the Big East tournament and securing a number one seed because of the dynamic play of Russ Smith, Chane Behanan, and Peyton Siva. Coached by tournament hardened veteran Rick Pitino, the Cards offer a solid sense of security this year.

You Can’t Trust:

Kansas– Yes the Jayhawks went 14-4 in the Big 12 and have a 26-5 record, and yes they will likely earn a second seed in the big dance, however, given Kansas’ tournament resume’, they don’t have a leg to stand on this year. Since 2005 Kansas has been upset a total of four times, two of which came in the tournaments first round. To their credit the Jayhawks were in last year’s National Championship Game and won it all in 2008, but given their topsy-turvy tournament track record don’t be shocked to see them going home early…

UNC– The Tar Heels went 12-6 in the ACC with a 22-9 overall record and suffered some struggles this season. While UNC has one a pair of National Championships since 2005 (05′ and 2009) the Heels have fallen short of the Final Four a total of four times, with a Final Four loss to Kansas in 2008. With their up-and-down style of play UNC is far from a safe bet in this year’s tourney.

UCLA– The Bruins were once a household name when it came to the Big Dance, but the glory days of the 60’s and 70’s have long been over. UCLA had a stretch of tournament success from 2006-2008 with three Final Four appearances and a National Championship appearance, however they have also been upset three times as well (2005 1st round, 2009, 2011 2nd round)and didn’t even make it to the dance in 2010 and 2012. Given UCLA’s inconsistency, they simply can’t be trusted.

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Syracuse– The Orange Men have been feeling a bit blue lately going 2-4 in their last six games losing recently to Georgetown 61-39. Cuse did manage to go 11-7 in the Big East and 23-8 overall but have struggled thus far in the Big East Tournament. Since their one and only National Championship in 2003 Syracuse has failed to advance beyond the Sweet 16 in six of the previous seven tournament appearances, the most recent was an Elite 8 loss last year to Ohio State. With the Orange Men having the longest case of an Upset Stomach I’ve seen in a while, they have yet to earn any amount of trust.

Notre Dame– Aside from a 5 OT thriller victory over Louisville this season the Fighting Irish have had a lack luster season posting identical numbers to Syracuse (see Cuse’ numbers above). Notre Dame’s tournament history is riddled with first and second round upsets over the decades that have past since the schools one and only final four appearance way back in 1978. The last time the Irish broke into the Sweet 16…2003. Needless to say, the Luck of the Irish has been absent for Notre Dame year-in-and-year-out. Moreover, the Irish are a historical lock to be upset.

Sleepers That Could Open Your Peepers:

Michigan State– The Spartans finished second in the Big Ten standings going 13-5 with a 24-7 overall record. Coached by tournament veteran bench boss Tom Izzo and led by the likes of Keith Appling and Gary Harris the Spartans are ranked eight in the AP Poll and will likely garner a number three seed. Michigan State has made five Final Four appearances with two National Championship appearances (won it all in 2000, lost to UNC in 2009) in the last 12 years. The Spartans have made runs before and could be poised for another deep run this year.

Saint LouisThe Billikens have only made two tournament appearances in the last 12 years (2000,2012) but they managed to make it to the second round last year and only missed making the Sweet 16 by four points losing to the aforementioned Spartans 65-61. Led by playmakers Dwayne Evans and Kwamain Mitchell Saint Louis finished in 1st place of the Atlantic-10 Conference going 13-3 and 24-6 overall. The Billikens are ranked sixteenth in the AP poll and could surprise a few teams this year.

ButlerDespite some early exits pre-2010 and missing last year’s tourney, the Bulldogs have managed to play in two of the last three National Championships and finished 3rd in the Atlantic-10 with an 11-5 record going 24-7 overall. Given the Bulldogs recent success in the big dance, Butler should not be counted out of this year’s potential sleeper group as they can surprise teams the same way they did in 2010 and 2011 this year.

Marquette– The Golden Eagles ended the regular season with a four game win streak that included W’s against Cuse and ND and have stayed hot in the Big East tournament. Marquette is ranked fifteenth in the AP poll going 14-4 in the Big East and 23-7 overall. The Golden Eagles last Final Four was in 2003, however, they have posted back-to-back Sweet 16 finishes recently. Marquette may be able to pull off a similar run like the UCONN Huskies did in 2011.

Oklahoma State– Despite recent tourney woes the Cowboys were on fire in the second half of season going 11-3 in their last 14 games with wins over higher ranked Big 12 foes Kansas and Kansas State. Led by Marcus Smart and Markel Brown (both averaging 15PPG) Oklahoma State may have the offensive scoring ability to trip a few teams up in the tournament.

Cinderella Stories:

Iona– The surprise MAAC Conference Champions finished the regular season with a overall record of 20-13 going 11-7 in MAAC play. The Gael’s will likely be a sixteenth seed in the tournament and as we all are aware no sixteen seed has EVER upset a number one seed in the history of the tournament. Nevertheless, this year’s crop of sixteen seeds will be some of the strongest yet and could give those trustworthy teams I mentioned early a scare…at least in the first half anyway.

South Dakota State– The Summit League Champions went 25-9 overall with a 13-3 conference record and will likely be a fifteenth seed, which gives the Jackrabbits a slight chance at an upset. Only six teams all-time have ever been a fifteen seed and upset a two seed. However, two of those upsets happened in last year’s tourney with Lehigh knocking off Duke, and Norfolk State defeating Missouri. So there’s hope for the Jackrabbits still.

Florida Gulf Coast University– This would certainly be a textbook Cinderella story as the Eagles are making their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance!!! FGCU won the Atlantic Sun Conference title and will likely be dancing as a fifteen seed. The Eagles went 24-10 overall with a 13-5 conference mark. Their a feel-good-story team that could win the hearts of millions while busting millions of brackets at the same time.

Belmont– The Bruins won the Ohio Valley Conference tournament in their first year as a member going 14-2 with an overall record of 26-6. Belmont has been a rising mid-major program and will likely earn an eleventh seed, meaning they could legitimately make some noise if they catch fire this year.

James Madison– Won the CAA Conference Championship to punch their ticket to the tourney going 11-7 in CAA play with a 20-14 overall record. The Dukes will likely be a sixteenth seed, but just like Iona, this team could play a number one seed tougher than we’ve ever seen.

Side Note: The odds are stacked against these Cinderella teams yes, but in March…ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!!!

Final Thoughts: Granted there were plenty of teams I left out in what will be an eventual field of 68 teams, however I personally felt as though these teams stood out amongst the rest of the field. Who do you have going all the way? Who is most likely to get upset? Leave a comment below.

Kettl For Shooting Touch

shooting_touch_logoAttention readers! My buddy Kevin Kettl is one of five finalists (out of 70 applicants) for an amazing opportunity to go to Rwanda for 10 months in October through an awesome nonprofit called Shooting Touch. I’d probably butcher it trying to go into detail so check out their website, http://www.shootingtouch.com/, to learn more about the organization. Anyways, long story short, Kevin would use the game of basketball to create a positive social change in this country. To help him out, take a few minutes to watch this awesome video he put together. Enoy!

Introducing AJ McCarron’s Girlfriend – Katherine Webb

Gallery

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Once ESPN realized that Notre Dame did not come to play, they needed a reason to keep folks watching, and I’m sure the guy manning the camera last night got a raise because he certainly succeeded. With the game getting … Continue reading

BCS Shakedown: Upsets Bring Big Changes to the Championship Race

Upset City: Just when Kansas State and Oregon thought it was safe to drive on their roads to the  National Championship game, Baylor and Stanford threw up road blocks and hard.

By now we all know The Wildcats (upset by Baylor 52-24) and the Ducks (upset by Stanford 17-14) have been taken on a detour to their new BCS destinations…one of the four other BCS Bowls. So, with that said, here’s a look at the new top four in the BCS Standings:

BCS Top 4: As of November 18th: 1. Notre Dame 2. Alabama 3. Georgia 4.Florida

Both Kansas State and Oregon fell out of the top four and are now sitting and sulking in their new BCS spots. Oregon is now ranked fifth with K-State ranked sixth. As mentioned in my last BCS article, this is exactly what Alabama and Notre Dame wanted to and needed to happen, in order for a shot at the title game.

With the upsets to K-state and Oregon, Notre Dame simply has to beat USC and their a lock for the title game. Bama meanwhile, just needs to beat Auburn and defeat either Georgia/Florida in the SEC championship game at seasons end. If Notre Dame and Bama win out, they will finish as the number one and number two ranked teams in the country and will play for all the marbles in Miami.

BCS Bowl Breakdown: With such a seismic shift in the BCS Standings, here’s a look at the new BCS Bowl Series Projections as predicted by ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards:

1. Discover BCS National Championship: Georgia vs Notre Dame (Schlabach’ pick) Alabama vs Notre Dame (Edwards’ pick)

2. The Rose Bowl: Nebraska vs Stanford (picked by both)

3.  Allstate Sugar Bowl:LSU vs Clemson (Schlabach’ pick) Florida vs Oklahoma (Edwards’ pick)

4. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs Oregon (Schlabach’ pick)  Kansas State vs Oregon (Edwards’ pick)

5. Discover Orange Bowl: Florida State vs Rutgers (picked by both)

Here’s a link to the other bowl projections: http://espn.go.com/college-football/bowls/projections?season=2012

Final Thoughts: Seeing as I’m now 0-2 in calling the BCS National Championship outcome, I’m just going to leave it up to the fans on this one. What do you think will happen? Who do you have winning it all? Leave a comment below.

Jack Taylor of Grinnell Drops 138

If you haven’t seen it all over ESPN or heard it on the radio this morning, here it is. Jack Taylor of Grinnell dropped 138 points last night in their D3 matchup against Faith Baptist Bible. You read that correctly. I don’t mean to stereotype, but the small, white point guard of a college basketball team scored 138 points on his own en route to winning 179-104. Obviously this will make headlines because, well, 138 points is usually closer to the over/under of a college basketball game let alone what one team even puts up. But 138 for one player? That’s just unheard of. Granted the kid did take 108 shots. A bit Kobe-esque if you ask me. He was averaging a shot every 20 seconds. Straight selfish. I mean at what point, with your team up by 70 points, was the coach thinking, alright Taylor, I think a hundy spot is solid. Good game kid, why don’t you grab some pine. While that might have been the normal thing to do, I’ll give the coach some credit here. We live in the land of the free, let the kid play it out. Why hold him to 100 when he can clearly put up 38 more?…’Merica!

 

With that said and after watching the video, there’s no doubt his performance was impressive. But the question is, was it more selfish than impressive? What do you think?

BCS Shakedown: Ducks and Wildcats and Leprechauns Oh My

ImageComputer Crash: By now we all know 9th ranked Texas A&M (15th ranked during the upset) and “Johnny Football” Manziel, sent shock waves down the spine of the BCS computer ranking system, as the Aggies knocked off Alabama last Saturday 29-24 in Tuscaloosa.

With that said, here’s a check up on the new top 4 BCS Standings and Projected Bowl Predictions according to ESPN.com:

BCS Standings: Top 4 as of November 11th: 1. Kansas State 2. Oregon 3. Notre Dame 4. Alabama

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With the Crimson Tide rolling to 4th in the BCS polls it is likely that they will be on the outside looking in for this year’s national championship contest. Alabama would have to win out (including the SEC championship game) and hope Kansas State, Oregon, or Notre Dame loses, to even have a chance at the title.

This means Kansas State and Oregon will likely be on a crash course to meet up in Miami for the title game. The Wildcats remaining opponents include Baylor and newly ranked number 15 Texas, while the Ducks will face number 13 Stanford and number 11 Oregon State.

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Both programs could see upsets coming their way, ( K-State falling to Baylor or Texas, Oregon dropping either Stanford or Oregon State) but both are projected to play in the championship game for now. While we can’t count out Notre Dame, with games left against Wake Forest and USC, they simply would not outrank the Wildcats or Ducks if all were to win out. Dame, much like Bama, would need K-State or Oregon to lose.

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Predicted Bowl Projections: While there are 35 bowl games in all, I will only focus on the BCS Bowl games. Here’s the projections as picked by ESPN’ Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards:

1. Discover BCS National Championship: Kansas State vs Oregon (both projected the same pick)

2.  Rose Bowl:  Nebraska vs Notre Dame (both projected the same pick)

3. Allstate Sugar Bowl:  Georgia vs Clemson (both projected the same pick)

4. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs LSU (Schlabach’ pick) or Oklahoma vs Texas A&M (Edwards’ pick)

5. Discover Orange Bowl:  Florida State vs Rutgers (both projected the same pick)

Here’s a link to the other 30 bowl projections: http://espn.go.com/college-football/bowls/projections?season=2012

Final Thoughts: Seeing as how my last BCS article prediction (Oregon beating Bama in the title game) is shot out of the water now, I’d like to re-do my prediction. I whole-heatedly believe Oregon will win this year’s BCS National Championship against Kansas State, with the Ducks beating the Wildcats 30-24 in Miami.

BCS Championship Breakdown: Ducks Quack Up The SEC 7-Peat, Beat Bama

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As the college football regular season begins to wind down the BCS National Championship race is beginning to heat up. While there are 25 teams ranked in the BCS standings, and most will certainly make a trip to some kind of a bowl game in December or early January, I’m focusing on the top 4 rated teams for this post. (Georgia is ranked 5th, but I don’t see another all SEC BCS title game so I’m excluding them for now)

Here’s the top 4 as of November 4th: 1. Alabama 2. Kansas State 3. Oregon 4. Notre Dame

Now let’s look at the roads each team has left to travel in their quest to play for this year’s crystal football.

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Alabama: Remaining Schedule: #15 Texas A&M (home), Western Carolina (home), and Auburn (home).

BCS Champ Chances: Alabama (much like last season) is as close to a championship lock as it gets. The Tide have been rolling all season long and look poised to return their third BCS National Championship in four years. With Play-makers like QB A.J. McCarron, T.J. Yeldon, and CB Dee Milliner, Bama seems unstoppable at this point and could very well earn the SEC it’s unprecedented 7th straight BCS title.

Potential Roadblock: The only road block I foresee is the Tide’ upcoming bout with A&M. The Aggies have played tough in their first year as an SEC newbie and could give Bama a fight early. But I believe the Tide will roll on and make it to the ship.

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Kansas State: Remaining Schedule: TCU (away), Baylor (Away), and #17 Texas (home).

BCS Champ Chances: I think K-State actually has a chance to run the table and has a legitimate shot at making the championship game. The Wildcats should be able to handle a pair of Big-12 road games against the Horned Frogs and Bears and has home-field advantage against the Longhorns.

Potential Roadblock: The only pothole I see stopping Kansas State from running the table is no doubt their finale against Texas. The Longhorns are certainly good enough to upset K-State. That game will come down to how the Defense handles Wildcats QB Collin Klein (pending he’s back and healthy). Sadly even if they win out, I don’t see them outranking Oregon at seasons end.

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Oregon: Remaining Schedule: California (away), #14 Stanford (home), and #11 Oregon State (away).

BCS Champ Chances: The Ducks can certainly dump on the points (as exampled against USC in a 62-51 W) and the USC game has been the closest contest they’ve had all year (11pts). Oregon has a tough finish with two ranked opponents to close out the season. But if the SEC has taught us anything, speed kills and the Ducks have lightning in a bottle with guys like RB De’Anthony “Black Mamba” Thomas. I see the Ducks quacking there way into the BCS National Championship game.

Potential Roadblock: Oregon should have no trouble with Cal or Stanford. The only thorn in their side I see is Oregon State at the end of the year. The Beavers could play BCS spoiler for the Ducks. They’ve upset USC and other Pac-12 company before in past seasons. However, as stated above, the Ducks should cruise to a championship.

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Notre Dame: Remaining Schedule: Boston College (away), Wake Forest (Home), and USC (away).

BCS Champ Chances: While ND does have a good chance to go undefeated I don’t see them getting the at large bid and don’t see them outranking K-state or Oregon at seasons end. Basically a lot would have to happen for the Irish to make it to Miami. Both Oregon and Kansas State would have to lose and I just don’t see that happening.

Potential Roadblock: As mentioned above there are a few bumps that will keep the Irish out of this year’s BCS title game. Dame should beat BC, and Wake as USC would be the only potential loss that would certainly keep them out of the race. I see Notre Dame in one of the big four BCS bowls, just not “The Big One”.

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BCS National Championship Bold Prediction: With all that said, I predict, well, a predictable title game this year. I have Alabama taking on Oregon for all the BCS marbles in Miami and will boldy choose the Oregon Ducks as your National Champions beating Bama 24-21.

Your Thoughts: What do you think will happen? Who do you have winning it all? Leave a comment below.