It’s always difficult to predict the four teams out of 68 capable of making it deep in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament we refer to as March Madness. There’s always a bracket busting team that takes out a top competitor or even a Cinderella story making it to the Sweet 16 or even further. However, this year may be a little different and actually attending the games might just provide serious excitement for any fan. Here’s how this non-expert believes it could play out.
Small Schools Getting In
Akron and Bucknell are the most dangerous smaller schools with the ability to make it into the tournament. The reason these two top the list is due to the size advantage they bring to the game. Akron features Zeke Marshall at seven feet tall and Bucknell brings Mike Muscala standing 6’11″ tall. This will help even the playing field with any of the larger schools bringing a significant size advantage.
Other small schools with a great chance of making into the tournament include Middle Tennessee State, Belmont, Boise State, Davidson, Valparaiso, Weber State and Louisiana Tech. Although it is unlikely that all these schools will make the dance you always have to be aware of the ones that do sneak into the dance. A small school with momentum would be like the Kia Sorento winning the car March Madness Contest, unlikely but you never know! Make sure you pay attention to all the little guys before filling out your bracket.
Top Teams Most Likely for an Early Departure
The Jayhawks might take a top seed in the tournament, but they’re not as good as their record shows. They lost to a team with an RPI of 229 and nearly lost to another team they should’ve beaten easily. If they draw a team they don’t match up well against, Kansas could make an early exit.
2. Ohio State
Not considered a top five team, but in the top 20, the Buckeyes struggled in February. If this was any indication about how good they really are, this is another team potentially leaving the tournament early.
Showing their struggles on the road makes it hard to believe the Gators can go anywhere in the tournament. They’re tough to beat at home, but they won’t get a single game on their home court during the tournament. Look for Florida to fall victim to an upset early.
Final Four Predicted
Looking at all the top teams, potential Cinderella stories and those middle seeds with the ability to go deep, picking the Final Four is still difficult. However, an easy pick for one of the final four spots is the Indiana Hoosiers. This team is tough and has been ranked at the top most of the year. Another pick for the Final Four is Michigan. They’re ready to make a run and it seems they’ve already cleared their system of some of the losses.
The other two spots in the Final Four are a bit more difficult to predict. There will certainly be a middle seed, maybe a #5 or #6 involved. The team basketball of Notre Dame could support a deep tournament run, but they won’t be there in the Final Four. However, another Big East team will be out of a two or three seed in Georgetown. That only leaves one spot left and it goes to Saint Louis University.
The source said the school is leaning toward the Big Ten, but an invitation hadn’t yet been extended, and there was no indication when that would occur. The consensus within the athletic department is that Nebraska wouldn’t separate itself from the Big 12 without some assurance that a Big Ten invitation would come, the source said. The Big Ten has set no date for any announcement in the coming weeks, leaving open the possibility that Nebraska could be left in limbo.
Adding another school would allow the Big Ten to implement a championship game and expand its cable television network. Adding a title game would be exciting for fans of the conference, especially considering the Big Ten usually doesn’t play past the last weekend in November. When other conferences are still getting exposure in December thanks to their title games, the Big Ten is sitting with its thumb up its ass waiting for bowl season to start. It makes sense for them to expand.
That said, would Nebraska be a good fit? Yeah, probably. From their point of view, they get security (as everyone can see, the Big 12 is ready to fall apart at any moment, where as the Big Ten will stay intact long-term) and added revenue (Big Ten schools bring in $22 million each year thanks in large part to the Big Ten Network). A Nebraska-Iowa rivalry is also intriguing and the Huskers would no doubt bring competition to a conference that sorely lacks it.
We’ll find out by the end of the week whether or not Nebraska is Big Ten bound or will stay in the Big 12. But as of Wednesday morning, it appears that Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan are going to get some new company.
In its notice of allegations — which Michigan received Monday — the NCAA said Rodriguez “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program.” He tracked neither what his staff was doing nor whether his players were following NCAA rules, particularly those limiting the time spent on practice and football-related activities, the report said.
It also said the athletics department failed to make sure its football program was complying with NCAA regulations. Brandon said the department “clearly made mistakes,” but “there was no charge of loss of institutional control” — an allegation that in previous cases has led to severe NCAA sanctions for other schools.
Michigan has 90 days to respond and will appear at an NCAA hearing on infractions in August. The school will see how its internal investigation matches up with the NCAA findings and will consider implementing self-imposed sanctions, a move that could reduce NCAA penalties.
The NCAA said last October that it was looking into the Wolverine program following a report in the Detroit Free Press citing anonymous football players that said Michigan exceeded NCAA limits regarding practices and workouts in 2008 and 2009.
NCAA regulations allow players to spend eight hours a week on mandatory workouts during the offseason and several Michigan players have told the media that they spent two to three times that amount on required workouts. The players also said the amount of time they spent on football activities during the season exceeded the weekly limit of 20 hours, as well as the daily limit of four hours.
It would be naïve to think that other programs aren’t exceeding these practice times as well, but it sounds like what Rodriguez was doing was excessive. He, along with the Michigan program, have a serious problem on their hands.
Rodriguez has been nothing short of a disaster so far in Ann Arbor and if the Wolverines suffer another losing season (which would be their third straight), then I don’t know how the AD can keep Rich Rod on the sidelines. They’re showing support for him in light of these compliance issues, but one more bad year of football would probably end Rodriguez’s short tenure at UM.
If you listen to ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike In the Morning,” you know that former NFL defensive lineman Mike Golic is one half of the equation and the counterpoint to long-time “Sportscenter” anchor Mike Greenberg. While both share a passion for sports, Golic takes the role of the “man’s man” and frequently discusses his passion for food and in particular, his love for grilling out. Well, lucky for us, Golic recently teamed up with Kingsford Charcoal to promote their new and improved briquets (and their new flavors of KC Masterpiece sauce and marinade), as well as with chef Chris Lilly, who owns Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q and is an award winning barbecue chef. So we’ve got some of their special recipes on our Grub For Guys page on Bullz-Eye.com, but we also had the opportunity to interview Golic about ESPN, grilling out, and of course, football:
The Scores Report: Hey Mike, we know you love to eat and love to grill. What is your favorite KC Masterpiece new flavor and why?
Mike Golic: I’m an original flavor kind of guy – no bells or whistles needed for me. But, I’ve tried the new KC Masterpiece Smoky Bourbon Barbecue Sauce and the smoky, sweet taste gives the original flavor some good competition for best sauce.
TSR: What are your thoughts on the new briquets, and do you use your grill year round?
MG: I have a fairly busy schedule with “Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN analysis, and my family, but I definitely try to keep my grill fired up year-round whenever I have down-time. There is no better way to bring family and friends together than over the smokey flavors of a charcoal grill. In fact, when my boys where in high school, I used to travel to their football camps in early-August and grill for their entire teams during two-a-day workouts.
Kingsford MatchLight is my go-to charcoal – it has lighter fluid built into the briquet formula so it lights quickly and easily – which is especially convenient when I’m tailgating. I’ve heard that Kingsford briquets now light easier and faster, which I can also appreciate since I’m always crunched for time with my busy schedule.
TSR: Do you have any go-to items you like to grill for Super Bowl Sunday, or are you usually too busy working to cook that day?
MG: I will be working the whole week leading up to Super Bowl in Miami, but I’m excited to be able to go home and watch the actual game with my friends and family. But, while I’m in Miami, I will be firing up the grill with my buddy, world champion pitmaster, Chris Lilly earlier in the week. Chris has taught me quite a bit about grilling over the years and has inspired me to create a few tailgate recipes of my own. I will be demonstrating my BBQ Blitz Chicken Wraps for a few TV interviews with Chris before sharing a little tailgate with the lucky winner of the “On the Grill with Golic” sweepstakes that took place earlier this year. The recipe is attached in case your readers want to try it at home. For more great grilling recipes become a fan of Kingsford on Facebook at Facebook.com/KingsfordCharcoal.
Last week was bitter sweet as I went 4-0 straight up but just 1-3 against the spread. Keep in mind that I try to only pick top 25 games, so they’re much, much harder to predict. Like, much harder. (Or at least that’s my excuse anyway.)
No. 8 LSU at Mississippi, 3:30PM ET
Both of these SEC teams will be looking to finish the 2009 season strong when they square off this Saturday in Oxford. The Rebels snapped a six-game losing streak to the Tigers last season but they haven’t won at home in his series since 1998. The public seems high on Ole Miss after the Rebs hammered Tennessee last Saturday, but keep in mind that the Vols were in the midst of some turmoil after three of their players were arrested for attempted armed robbery last week. Dexter McCluster went off on Tennessee for 282 yards and four touchdowns, but he’ll have a hard time repeating that effort against a stout LSU front seven. Something tells me that Les Miles’ team is still pissed off about what happened two weeks again in Tuscaloosa and will play this week with passion. I see a small upset for the Tigers and an outright win. Odds: Ole Miss –4.5. Prediction: LSU 20, Ole Miss 17.
No. 25 California at No. 17 Stanford, 7:30PM ET
Stanford is playing as well as anyone in the nation right now. The Cardinal have scored 106 points combined against Oregon and USC the past two weeks and senior running back Toby Gerhart has almost been unstoppable. Without running back Jahvid Best, Cal squeaked by Arizona last week, 24-16. With Best sidelined again this Saturday, many expect Stanford to roll but don’t forget that Cal has the 19th best run defense in the nation and is capable of containing Gerhart and keeping things close. Quarterback Kevin Riley might be able to take advantage of a Stanford secondary that has been inconsistent this season, although without the threat of a running game the Bears’ offense might become too one-dimensional in the second half. I think Stanford will pull out the victory but this game will be closer than people think. Odds: Stanford –7.5. Prediction: Stanford 35, Cal 31.