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NCAA Tournament Continues

March 26, 2015

March Madness marches on. The pretenders are gone and we now have contenders. It took just 96 hours to eliminate 48 schools. We are down to the Sweet 16. The contenders. The first week of the NCAA Tournament is always when memories are made and surprises occur. It happens every year. But week one is over now and the real hunt for the national title is on.

We are left with an exceptional Sweet 16. Leading the way are the unbeaten Kentucky Wildcats. Kentucky is four wins away from a perfect 40-0 national championship season.

Is there anyone out there that can beat the Wildcats? That has been the question of the tourney since Selection Sunday. I believe there are a few schools left who can.

The Sweet 16 this year features annual title contenders, legendary coaches, tournament-tested teams, and some new blood to the select group of elite programs.

I can see Wisconsin, Arizona, Duke, Utah, and Gonzaga giving Kentucky a game. And I would not count Wichita State, Notre Dame, or North Carolina upsetting the Wildcats.

Figuring out who will get their shot at Kentucky is the tough question. The depth and parity of the Sweet 16 will give us several hard fought matchups between even teams. Even the two remaining No. 7 seeds could easily make the Final Four.

Michigan State, a No. 7 seed, is making 13th Sweet 16 appearance in 20 years under Tom Izzo. The Spartans have been to the Final Four six times with Izzo. Of course, they could make it that far again. The other No. 7? Wichita State. The Shockers are the new blood I am talking about. Two years ago, Wichita State rode a No. 9 seed past heavily favored Gonzaga and Ohio State en route to the Final Four. Last year, the Shockers took their first loss of the season, after a 35-0 start, in the NCAA tournament. If you watched Kentucky edge Wichita State last year, you know you watched a classic. Rest assured the Shockers could find themselves back in the Final Four.

Xavier, a No. 6 seed, adds even more quality to the Sweet 16. This is the school’s fifth Sweet 16 appearance in eight years. More of that new blood I was talking about. How about North Carolina State? The Wolfpack are still alive with their No. 8 seed. How can you count out a program that beat both Duke and North Carolina this season? No one has ever done that and beat a No. 1 seed like the Pack did last week against Villanova.

You have to like the coaches vying for the 2015 national title. It is a who’s who of coaching. The coaches are a pack of Hall of Famers. You have Mike Krzyzewski and his 1,000-plus wins. Roy Williams, of UNC is now tied with Dean Smith for all-time tournament wins. Rick Pitino of Louisville knows how to win titles. Mark Few of Gonzaga is always in the tournament. Lon Kruger of Oklahoma is the only coach to take four different schools this far in the tournament. I already spoke of Tom Izzo.

And then there is John Calipari. Kentucky’s coach has also netted three Final Fours, two national title appearances and one national title. His current team is 36-0 and chasing history.

The ACC is looking strong thus far. Duke blew Robert Morris out and made a really good San Diego State team look bad. If Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow keep playing at a high level, the Blue Devils will make the Final Four.

North Carolina has been accused of underachieving all season. The Heels have the best scoring guard left in the tournament in Marcus Paige. He will have to come up big if UNC is to beat No. 1 seed Wisconsin.

Notre Dame is not playing well. They got a scare from Northeastern and edged Butler in overtime. The Irish can score with anyone but also can struggle stopping people.

Louisville and North Carolina State round out the ACC schools still playing basketball. They play each other and I have to go with the Wolfpack. I am basing that on what I spoke of earlier. The fact that they have beaten Duke, UNC, and Villanova.

Personally, I only have two schools (Kentucky and Arizona) left in my Final Four bracket. I told you my Final Four picks would not work out. Time for me, and you, to just sit back and enjoy the games.

Early Retirement

Chris Borland of the San Francisco 49ers shocked the NFL world last week when he announced his retirement. As a rookie last season, Borland led the 49ers in tackles. He finished the season uninjured.

Yes, Borland turned his back on millions of dollars and actually gave most of his signing bonus back to the team. His explanation is that the game is too dangerous.

Chris Borland

Logically, how can one not agree. Every single game has at least one concussion now. This was not the case a decade ago.

The NFL tacitly agreed when they reached a $765 million settlement with 4,500 former players who claimed they should have been warned about the potential for crippling brain trauma.

Unlike the rest of the human body, there are no exercises to increase the thickness of the skull. Players may be able to turn their bodies into muscle and avoid injuries through sheer strength, but the only thing a player can do to protect his brain is to try and keep his head out of harm’s way. That is not going to happen.

Football will never be a safe sport. Yet, Americans love it. Still, I have to wonder what the game will look like in 25 years.

Will athletes still be motivated to risk serious long-term disability for fame and fortune. The fact that a promising young football star, Borland, is opting out of the fame, glory and riches of the NFL with safety concerns could open some eyes with parents out there who are deciding if they want their child playing football.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


ARCHIVES:

March Madness

Tark The Shark

Duke Is Gearing Up For March Madness

I Don’t Get It

Yankee Hypocrisy

Honoring Dean Smith

Common Sense

Get Your Mind On The Game

NFL Championship Sunday

Panthers Eliminated

Panthers Move On

Panthers Playoff Bound

Sid’s 2014 Bowl Predictions

Kobe vs. Michael

Where Did That Come From?

Goodell Takes A Hit

Fragile Cavs

RG III Needs To Look In The Mirror

Heels AD Still Has Williams’ Back

Bumgarner Saves The Giants

Optimism Abounds With The Hornets

An Unlikely World Series

Winston Off Field Turmoil Continues

Panthers Rebound

October Baseball

Panthers Facing New Questions

Reality With Rice

Panthers Win, Panthers Win 

Carolina Panthers Preview

College Football Preview

When Will Manziel Show Some Poise?

A Tragic Racing Moment

NCAA Football Talk

Got Off Easy

ACC Football Preseason Poll Is Out

LeBron Changes Image

LeBron Still Undecided

Game Effort By USA

The Decision II

Spurs Claim Dynasty Tag

Sour Grapes

Heat Make NBA Finals Again

Cavs Win Lottery (Again)

Nasalgate

Panthers And The Draft

Not So Sterling

NBA Playoff Action

Phelps Diving Back Into It

Shabazzzzzzzz

Final Four Fodder

NCAA Hoop Madness

March Madness, 2014 Style

One and Done

Heels Heating Up

Setting The Record Straight

Martin And Incognito

Bobcats Appear To Be Moving Forward (This Time)

A Super Letdown

Super Bowl Preview

Broncos and Seahawks Reach Super Bowl

Panthers Were Not Ready

Seminoles End SEC Streak

2013 In Review

Sid’s Bowl Picks

Mack Brown Resigns

BCS Gets It Right

Did You See The Classic?

ACC Hoop Preview

NFL Coaching Hot Seats

Panthers Are The Talk Of The NFL

Ravens Not Flying So High These Days

A Jeff Gordon Sighting

World Series Preview

Craziness Within College Football

Dissension In Tar Heel Land

SEC Football Rules

Nickname Controversy

Panthers And Rivera Lose Another Close One

NASCAR Steps Up

NFL, 2013 Style

Panthers Are Cam’s Team

Heels Sticking With Hairston

NCAA Hypocrisy

Does NASCAR Need Young Talent?

Crash & Burn?

PHIL-thy Good

An All Star Night

Charlotte Signs Jefferson

NBA Free Agency And Charlotte

LeBron vs. Michael

Major Problem For Tiger

Police Blotter Hits Tar Heel Hoop Program

NBA Finals Are Set

Irish Eyes Are Not Smiling

NBA Final Four

Tiger May Be Having His Best Season Ever

NBA Playoff Action

No Draft Buzz With The Panthers

NBA Playoff Preview

Tiger Should Have Been DQed

Baseball Is Back

Final Four Fodder

Sweet 16 Madness

March Madness

He’s Back

Kelly’s A Hero

Who Said Girls Can’t Race?

Danica Is On The Pole

King James

Flacco & The Ravens Hang On


 

 

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