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Sweet 16 Breakdown: Part 1

Guest Writers —  Thursday, March 28, 2013 — 3 Comments

Well, just like that, the opening weekend of the Big Dance is in the books, and it certainly did not disappoint. It was filled with the usual exciting factors such as double-digit first round upsets, powerhouse conference favorites going up against mid-major Cinderella’s, and even a buzzer beater here and there. The opening weekend also graced us with a few surprises as well—spotlighted by a 15 seed finding its way to the Sweet 16, so much so, that it has been nicknamed “Dunk City” thanks to some serious white-boy alley oops.

Now, we look ahead to some potentially very exciting matchups in the Sweet 16. I will breakdown each matchup, as well as give my prediction on who will advance to the Elite 8.

We will begin by looking at Thursday’s games, and I will be back tomorrow to breakdown Friday night’s slate.

No. 3 Marquette vs No. 2 Miami (6:15 CT, CBS)

Our first matchup of the Sweet 16 brings us to the East Region for a very exciting matchup between two very-skilled teams. The biggest news coming from this one is that Miami will be without starting center and leading rebounder, Reggie Johnson. This is blow to the U. Offensively, Miami posts a 1.14 PPP with RJ. Without him, it drops to a 1.01. Even without Reggie, Miami is just the better basketball team. Marquette is well coached and has a star in Vander Blue (who BTW is playing on another level so far in this tourney), but at the end of the day, Marquette has been the luckiest team in the country. They like to do a lot of scoring inside due to their poor outside shooting, and no RJ gives them a decent shot, but Larkin and Co. will be too much at the end of the night.

Prediction: Miami 70-63

No. 6 Arizona vs No. 2 Ohio State (6:47 CT, TBS)

This game brings us an intriguing matchup between two college hoops powerhouses who both boast coaches who were assistants together at Miami (OH). The game is being played in Los Angeles, which means there are going to be a lot of Zona fans in the house. Location is often overlooked in NCAA Tourney games, but they really do play a factor, especially in games of this magnitude (Just look at Oregon’s run so far – both games played in San Jose). The big time matchup in this one is between two of the tourney’s hottest point guards in Mark Lyons and Aaron Craft. Craft is known for his outstanding pressure defense which should cause problems for Lyons and company, but what most do not know is that against high pressure teams, Nick Johnson does a lot of the distributing, leaving Lyons on the wing and Craft in an unfamiliar spot. Arizona has a height advantage in the frontcourt making OSU vulnerable on the glass, and Ohio State has struggled at times in finding a second scorer behind DeShaun Thomas. I’m calling for the upset in this one.

Prediction: Arizona 65-63

No. 4 Syracuse vs No. 1 Indiana (8:45 CT, CBS)

Indiana came into the tournament being one of the favorites to win the whole thing, but after trailing late against Temple, some fans are concerned if they really have enough consistency to cut down the net in a few weeks. Their matchup with Syracuse should bring fans some relief come Thursday night. Teams that have beaten Syracuse this year have either been able to knock down the 3-ball or rebound the ball, offensively, at a high rate. Luckily for Indiana, they do both well. Also, if Indiana can push the ball in transition avoiding Syracuse to get into a comfortable zone, then good things will happen for the Hoosiers. Temple showed what you could do to an Indiana offense by forcing them to play in their half court offense – make them look LOST. If they do, this will be a low scoring, grind it out ball game that will be close. If not, it could get ugly. Either way, I like the Hoosiers to take home the W.

Prediction: Indiana 71-61 

No. 13 La Salle vs No. 9 Wichita State

The final game of the nightcap brings us a fun one between two teams who were not expected to still be playing at this point – and one will be in the Elite 8. La Salle has made it this far due to the fact of 3-pointers falling for them at a ridiculous rate. Another common theme from La Salle has been their pathetic post defense. Wichita boasts a huge advantage in rebounding as Wichita ranks 27th while La Salle sits at a whopping 292nd. Wichita is very similar to Ole Miss, who had the game in the bag if it wasn’t for the moron we all know as Marshall Henderson chucking up shots at will, when they were successful at scoring inside. Ramon Galloway is a fantastic scorer, but Wichita’s guards should be able to out-physical him and make him uncomfortable. As long as La Salle doesn’t get unconscious from deep, Wichita should have no problem getting the win here.

Prediction: Wichita State 68-59

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By: Lyon Brown

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The tennis season is now well under way, and here are a few tipped players who look set to have impressive seasons both on the ATP tour and the WTA tour.

1. Grigor Dimitrov (rank 34, age 21):

Many pundits highlighted Dimitrov last year as the player to watch in 2013, and he has already made a phenomenal start to the new year. He began the year at the Brisbane International where he reached his first singles final sadly losing to Andy Murray. Shockingly he was dumped out of the Australian Open in the first round after losing in straight sets to Frenchman Jullien Benneteau. Despite this set back in the major, Grigor has come back into form in the past week after putting up a great display during the ATP 500 event in Rotterdam, making it to the semi finals before losing to Del Potro who went on to win the tournament. Interestingly, Dimitrov is referred to as ‘baby fed’ due to his brilliant brain which he uses to produce some superb shots and he has a great array of different plays to chose from. Just look at this shot he made at the ATP 500 event in Basel last year! (‘Absolutely outrageous!’)

2. Bernard Tomic (rank 46, age 20):

This young Aussie just can’t stay out of the spot light! If he’s not out on a wild night out, he’s underestimating the power of his elite opponents, as we heard at the Australian Open earlier this year. Federer proved in Melbourne that the joey has a long way to go if he’s to emulate the heights of the national idol Lleyton Hewitt. Still, Tomic is a brilliant player to watch as he knows how to outwit his opponent with the killer shot and he has the charisma which provides great entertainment. Earlier this year he beat Novak Djokovic at the Hopman Cup + he won his first singles title in Sydney against Kevin Anderson at the beginning of the year. He aspires to reach the top ten by the end of the year which looks improbable however when he is at his best he has the ability to outplay many of the top ten players.

3. Jerzy Janowicz (rank 26, age 22):

Many think that being ‘lanky’ would leave you at a disadvantage in tennis as your supposed to be quick and nimble across the court like Nadal and Federer however, height has become a great weapon. Standing at 6ft 8, Janowicz is one of the tallest players on the tour along with Raonic, Karlovic and Del Potro and what they all have in common is power. Janowicz is a powerful pole who can hit a sizzling serve which assists his game nicely. Despite failing to win a singles title, Jerzy has the makings of a great tennis player with his powerful baseline shots and an effective first serve.

4. Kei Nishikori (rank 23, age 23) and Martin Klizan (rank 28, age 23):

Firstly, Nishikori has become the sole force of Asia in the men’s singles and he has started this year well with 6 wins and 2 defeats. Last year Kei reached the world number 15 and won 2 titles doing this, in Tokyo and Delray beach which are both hard courts, an area where he excels. This year he reached the semi finals in Brisbane and the last 16 of the Australian Open, both fairly decent results. Klizan is a powerful Slovakian who too shows great promise. He is at his highest ranking of his career at the moment and has been very active already this season playing in Brisbane, Auckland  Melbourne, Zagreb and Rotterdam. Most recently in Rotterdam he reached the quarter finals but was forced to retire against Gilles Simon. Klizan has experienced several injuries in the past 5 years which has inhibited his game however if he is able to avoid serious damage then he could rise even further up the rankings.

5. Heather Watson (rank 41, age 20) and Laura Robson (rank 43, age 19):

These two are the youngest players in the top 50 of the WTA rankings and these ladies look certain to reset the image of British women’s tennis. Both of them had reasons to celebrate in 2012 with Watson winning her first title in the Japan Open, ending Britain’s 24 year wait for a singles title, whilst Robson reached the Guangzhou open final as well as winning a medal at the Olympics with Murray in the doubles. At the Australian open both of them reached the final 32 with Watson bravely losing out to Radwanska whilst Robson was beaten by Sloanne Stephens who we’ll get on to shortly. Watson has shown that she has the never say die attitude, for example in her round of 64 match in Melbourne saving several match points to turn the game around. Robson on the other hand has proved herself as a threatening player since the Olympics showing good defence and moments of brilliance with her double handed backhand. Hopefully these two will have as much attention as Murray does come the end of 2013.

6. Sloanne Stephens (rank 18, age 20): 

Stephens has burst on to the scene this season as she looks to carry the American torch from Serena and Venus once they retire. At just only 20 years of age, Stephens made her first appearance in the semi final of the Australian Open after beating Serena Williams (she was injured) before losing out to world number one and eventual champion Victoria Azarenka. She has gained loads of ranking points after great performances in Hobart and Brisbane, carrying on her fantastic form which she displayed last year even despite the long break after the US Open. Watch out for her in the French Open and I’m sure she’ll be a feature in top 10 come the end of November.

7. Petra Kvitova (rank 8, age 22):

Kvitova failed to find any consistency last season but she is still very young for a tennis player and this year she could really threaten for a place in the top 5.The Czech has already won 9 singles titles including a Wimbledon title in 2011 which helped her leap up to number 2 spot in the rankings. Last year she started the season well carrying on from her form in 2011 getting to the semi-finals of both the Australian open and the French open. She only reached the quarter finals at Wimbledon and the Olympics and only the fourth round at Flushing meadows. She is currently on a slippy slope after losing in the second round of the Aus open to Robson. If she wants to get back into the top 5 she will have to bounce back and she has the capability to do so with a great variety of shots and that powerful left hand!

8. Mona Barthel (rank 27, age 22):

Barthel looks to be an exciting prospect for 2013 and her form this season has been brilliant so far, she’s personal favourite of mine! The young German is an aggressive player who can hit a variety of shots and she has the power and the movement to accompany her game. This year Barthel won her second career singles title in Paris against the first seed Sara Erani after beating Marion Bartoli in the quarters as well. Unfortunately she failed to get going in the Australian Open after dropping out in the first round however she did exceptionally well in the tournaments in Hobart and Auckland before hand which still featured many top players. Depending on how threatening she can become in the major’s will determine whether she goes on to become a top ten player.

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By: Rich Waterhouse

Read more of Rich’s articles here.

We are less than nine months away from your 2013 NFL fantasy draft.  So what better time than now to put together a list of the top 50 fantasy players for 2013.  Obviously a lot will change in the coming months- but here we go:

  1. Adrian Peterson: A once in a generation player whose best comparison may be Jim Brown.
  2. Arian Foster: The best zone runner in the league, Foster gets it done week after week.
  3. Doug Martin: Martin is an every down back that spent nearly the entire 2012 season without two pro bowl guards in Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks. Their return will mean big things for Martin in 2013.
  4. Ray Rice: Rice and Martin are very similar players and the Ravens are a better team when they lean on Rice instead of Flacco.  If only they could find an offensive coordinator who understands this.
  5. Calvin Johnson: The best wide receiver in the league, Johnson’s touchdowns were down in 2012, but he surpassed Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards in a season.  Additionally, he is the primary target on a team that just set the record for passing attempts in a season.
  6. Marshawn Lynch: Beast mode runs hard, seeks contact and represents what the Seahawks are as a team.
  7. Drew Brees: Brees led all fantasy players in points in 2012. Having to keep up with teams, thanks to a porous defense, played a large part in this, but I don’t anticipate the defense getting exponentially better and having an offensive guru like Sean Payton back can only help.
  8. Tom Brady: Brady may be the most consistent fantasy player in the league.
  9. Aaron Rodgers: If Brady is the most consistent then Rodgers is likely second.  Like Brady, he has a plethora of options to throw to in a pass-first offense.
  10. Alfred Morris: He’s not the most talented running back, but Morris runs hard, and being a good zone back in the Shanahan offense has historically translated into a lot of rushing yards.
  11. Brandon Marshall: Cutler + Marshall = Lots of Fantasy Points
  12. AJ Green: Green is an elite talent in an improving receiving corps. He is on the same level as Calvin Johnson with a less capable QB.
  13. Trent Richardson: Apparently Richardson played most of the season with broken ribs. Are you kidding me? Richardson is an absolute stud.
  14. Rob Gronkowski: Gronk scores TDs and spikes footballs. Gronk cannot be covered in the redzone.
  15. Peyton Manning: Peyton has proved that the neck surgeries were only a minor hiccup in a stellar career.  Manning has recreated the high scoring offense of his Colts days with the Broncos and reminded us that he is one of the best of all time.
  16. CJ Spiller: Spiller may be the most under-utilized back in the league. Injuries to Fred Jackson allowed Spiller to really shine in 2012, and one would think that a new coach would see what we all saw in 2012 and allow him to take over the primary running back responsibilities in 2013.
  17. Jimmy Graham: Graham may be the most consistent tight end and he provides a very solid redzone option for Brees.
  18. Jamaal Charles: Charles is a home run threat each time he touches the ball.  He’s not as consistent as some players but is a threat to blow up every week.
  19. Dez Bryant: Dez really came into his own in 2012 and will be a force going forward.
  20. Cam Newton: Cam looked like a disappointment early but came on very strong late in the season.
  21. Demaryius Thomas: Peyton’s new Marvin Harrison, Thomas is an elite talent with an elite QB.
  22. Julio Jones: Lots of people questioned Thomas Dimitroff for trading up to grab Julio. The more we see of Jones, the more it looks like the right move.
  23. Percy Harvin: Harvin is not always healthy but is an explosive WR when he is on the field.  If only Ponder could get him the ball down field…
  24. Roddy White: I covet consistency in my fantasy players and Roddy exemplifies consistency in a wide receiver.
  25. Maurice Jones-Drew: Due to a combination of his holdout and injuries, MJD had a disappointing 2012, but we all know the talent that he possesses.
  26. Lesean McCoy: McCoy is a well rounded running back in the mold of Brian Westbrook.  A big determinant of his 2013 success will be who ends up being the new Eagles coach.
  27. Matt Forte: Forte is similar to McCoy in that he is a talented runner and receiver.  Much like McCoy, a new coach could significantly impact Forte’s 2013 fantasy value for better or worse.
  28. Frank Gore: Gore proved that he had more in the tank than many believed and remains the primary option on a running team with a solid, young offensive line.
  29. DeMarco Murray: Murray has injury issues but the talent is there.
  30. Steven Ridley: Ridley was surprisingly productive for a New England running back in 2012, but starting a Belichick running back is often a crapshoot.
  31. Andre Johnson: Johnson finished 2nd in the league in receiving yards and came up just 2 yards shy of 1,600.  He played in all 16 games this year but injuries are always a concern.
  32. Vincent Jackson: Jackson is in an offense that likes to chunk it down the field with a quarter back who can get it to him.  He ranked 1st in the league in yards/reception with 19.2.
  33. BenJarvus Green-Ellis: The Law Firm came on very strong at the end of the season, running for over 100 yards in 4 of his last 6 games.
  34. Michael Crabtree: Crabtree finally got the chance to show what he could do when the 49ers put in a quarterback that could get him the ball.
  35. Eric Decker: Decker scored 5 touchdowns in his last three games and led all Broncos receivers in touchdowns.
  36. Chris Johnson: CJ1k has game breaking speed but puts up duds far too often.
  37. Reggie Bush: Bush only had two 100-yard rushing games in 2012 but he is always a threat to catch the ball coming out of the backfield.
  38. Victor Cruz: Cruz doesn’t do any one thing especially well, but he is a good all around receiver.
  39. Knowshon Moreno: Moreno finished the season strong after McGahee went down.  If he can keep the starting running back job going into next season, he will be a solid option going forward.
  40. Darren McFadden: McFadden cannot stay healthy but he is a special player when he is on the field.
  41. Vick Ballard: Ballard proved to be a serviceable, if unspectacular, back for the Colts.
  42. Robert Griffin III: I likely have RG3 lower than most, but I prefer consistency over upside in the early rounds.
  43. Steven Jackson: I don’t know for certain if Jackson will remain with the Rams but if he does, he will continue to rack yards like he always does.
  44. Ahmad Bradshaw: Bradshaw may have lost some carries to David Wilson and Andre Brown in 2012, but he is still productive when he gets the majority of the work.
  45. Tony Romo: Romo may be the most scrutinized player in the NFL, but he is a solid fantasy football option year in and year out.
  46. Randall Cobb: Cobb solidified his role in the Green Bay offense in 2012 and thanks to his versatility will be a significant contributor going forward.
  47. Marques Colston: Colston has been plagued by injuries throughout his career but is an excellent wide receiver when healthy.
  48. Matt Ryan: Ryan had his ups and downs in 2012 but finished as a top 10 quarterback.
  49. Matthew Stafford: Stafford broke the record for attempts in a season, and it appears as though Schwartz will be around for 2013.  Lots of attempts = lots of opportunity for points.
  50. Shonn Greene: I do not like Greene’s talent, but he performed fairly well this year and is currently the best option on the roster.

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By: Bryce Daves