Archive for the ‘NCAA’ Category

Back to School Week One

Posted: August 30, 2012 by centennialsports in NCAA

by Dane Belbeck

It’s kickoff week for the 2012 NCAA Football season, which many will refer to as Christmas or the start of betting season.  Football represents the best sport in the world to lay a wager on, but like a savvy veteran at the bar, you never blow your bank roll on the first girl you see, so approach week one betting with caution.  Using that idea let’s limit ourselves to 3 games we like in week one to pad the bank account before NFL kickoff happens next week.

SOUTH CAROLINA (-6.5) at Vanderbilt

Heisman candidate Marcus Lattimore returns to the lineup after missing most of last season with a knee injury.  Scoring 30 touchdowns over his first two seasons with the Gamecocks, Lattimore will surely improve the nation’s 61st-ranked offense as they open the season in Nashville.  The Commodores were able to sneak up on some teams last year barely losing to Georgia, Arkansas and Tennessee in coach James Franklin’s first year.  With the Gamecocks returning all-world pass rusher Jadevon Clowney and a stout defensive line to stop Vandy running back Zac Stacy, quarterback Jordan Rodgers (brother of Aaron) and the nation’s 97th-ranked passing attack will have to win the game for the Commodores.  That won’t happen, take the Ole Ball Coach Steve Spurrier to handle the pesky Commodores and cover the 6.5 spread.

Boise State at MICHIGAN STATE (-7.0)

Life without Kellen Moore begins at Boise State, and anytime you replace the all-time leader in wins for NCAA FBS football, it’s not going to be easy.  Boise State also lost first-round NFL draft pick Doug Martin at the running back position and offensive coordinator Brent Pease to Florida, so the offense comes in fairly limp needing some of what this guy has…

Not exactly what you want when you are facing the nation’s 3rd-ranked defense at home in Michigan State. Sure the Spartans lost starting quarterback Kirk Cousins, but the defense returns All-American candidate William Gholston as their leader and running back Le’Veon Bell carrying the load behind an experienced line on Offense.  Boise State will surely struggle to move the ball with new quarterback Joe Southwick. A defensive game will get opened in the second half and look for the Spartans to win this won by a couple scores covering the 7.0 point spread.

Georgia Tech at VIRGINIA TECH (-7.5)

Virginia Tech returns the nation’s 10th-ranked defense which should be able to stay disciplined and handle the Georgia Tech option attack.  Logan Thomas comes off a season at the quarterback position where he set the single season record for total offense at the school.  And yes that includes Michael Vick.  Virginia Tech may see a drop-off on the offensive side of the football losing 8 starters including the Boss of the NCAA running backs David Wilson, they reload with quality talent including highly touted redshirt freshman RB Michael Holmes, and should have no problem covering a 7.5 point spread at home against the 44th-ranked defense from a year ago.

 

Enjoy the first week of games, let’s ease into it with some wins and as always…Go Gators!


 

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Final Four….One for the Kids

Posted: April 5, 2012 by centennialsports in Hoops, NCAA

By Matt Parker

The stage was set.

Fake smiles all around....these two men hate each other

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the largest fixed-domed structure in the world.

New Orleans, Louisiana, a city recovering from natural disaster, the founding of Lob City, and Bountygate.

For one long weekend residents could forget the torture they’ve endured in recent years and focus on a multi-billion dollar business built on the exploitation of unpaid labor.

Ahhhhhh the NCAA.

The first matchup had all the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood production; the Final Four, an inter-state rivalry, future NBA stars,and two big-name college coaches who can’t stand each other.

It was the Calipari family versus the Pitino family, and they were going to the mattresses in the Big Easy.

Yet another version of Calipari’s lottery pick factory was making a run at a national title, even though someone messed up Anthony Davis’ face on the assembly line.

A lock for the first overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Davis is best known for this cameo on Family Guy:

Kentucky’s superior talent had them as 8.5 point favorites so it came as no surprise when they jumped out to a quick lead, but Louisville weathered the early storm and seemed determined to deny the Wildcats their predicted destiny.

Louisville sparkplug Peyton Siva was held in check by the Wildcats’ athleticism on the perimeter, and was held scoreless for the first 30 minutes. Louisville shot just 35 percent but, it was their rebounding that kept the game close, finishing with a 19-6 advantage on the offensive glass.

Future Stars

With 90 seconds remaining the Kentucky lead was only five, but the nail in the coffin came courtesy a thunderous Davis dunk. Still, the scrappy Cardinals had the mighty Wildcats on the ropes and could leave New Orleans with their heads held high.

Kansas-Ohio St. didn’t exactly bring the same kind of hype, but the final product delivered.

Ohio St. controlled the tempo from the outset. Their half-court offense slowed the pace of the game, while Kansas seemed clueless and error-prone. Jayhawks’ star Thomas Robinson was frustrated by Deshaun Thomas, and Big Ten defensive player of the year Aaron Craft was wreaking havoc. The Buckeyes were in cruise control.

Then all of a sudden, Ohio St. fell apart.

Foul trouble in the second half relegated Thomas to the bench, and Robinson reaped the rewards. Kansas rallied from a 13-point deficit to take the lead late on.

Sullinger's reaction when he saw how far he dropped in draft status

Jared Sullinger shot a dreadful 5-19, as the first-team All-American finished with just eleven points. Let this be a lesson to all: when the NBA says it wants to give you big money, take it before they change their minds. If you’re a projected lottery pick, returning to college can only hurt you and your wallet. If you don’t think you’re good enough to go to the NBA don’t be the one to tell them, let them learn the hard way. Sullinger may be teaching a course on this next year at Fall So Hard University.

Kansas led by a total of 3 minutes, 48 seconds. It wasn’t pretty but it was enough to earn a date with Kentucky on Monday night.

The title game presented matchup of ideologies between the two winningest programs in college basketball history. Calipari‘s one-and-dones against Self’s juniors and seniors. Could Calipari finally win a title? Could Kansas pull off the upset?

One thing we know for sure is that Self is one helluvacoach. Eight straight Big 12 titles, a national championship in 2008, and this year’s Naismith Coach of the Year award leaves no doubt he’s one of the best in the biz. Another national title would cement his place in history.

But under the intense spotlight, Calipari’s prodigies dominated. Kentucky jumped out to an 18 point first half lead and weathered a Jayhawks’ run late on to hold on for an eight-point victory.

Throughout the tournament Kansas showed an innate ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but Kentucky refused to fall prey Monday night. The best team doesn’t always win in college basketball, but the Wildcats left no doubt Monday night.

A one point loss at Indiana, and a setback to Vanderbilt in the SEC title game were their only losses all year. Poise, toughness, and unselfishness are qualities rarely held by teams led by freshmen, but Calipari’s kids are changing the landscape of college basketball.

This is a squad that can beat you in a number of ways. Against Louisville, Kidd-Gilchrist had an off night and Davis, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, picked up the slack on the offensive end. In the title game, Davis had only six points but led the team in assists, rebounds, and blocks as Doron Lamb led the team in scoring.

But this title is all about Calipari. He joins a very exclusive club of coaches with national championships and stakes his claim as one of the best in modern college basketball history. He can exhale. But he’s not about to rest on his laurels, on Friday he’s going recruiting.

The factory rolls on.

That is all.

Self vs. Calipari II: Redemption?

Posted: April 2, 2012 by skrizznasty in Hoops, NCAA

By Michael Skrzyniak

Cal versus Self 2.

Mirrors in letters, gameplan.

Legacy versus relief.

This haiku represents everything you must know for Monday night’s clash between the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats and Bill Self’s resilient Kansas Jayhawks squad.

With Self at the helm in 2008, Kansas defeated a Memphis Tigers team led by John Calipari in one of the most memorable NCAA championship games. Everyone remembers where they were when Mario Chalmers launched that three-pointer that sent the game to overtime, where Kansas eventually won 75-68. Derrick Rose does, and the Mario Chalmers curse has followed him in the NBA.

Too soon, D-Rose fans? Sorry about that. But you got to hit those free throws…

The rosters are eerily similar. Once again Calipari is blessed with a future overall number one draft pick, 2012 AP Player of the Year Anthony Davis. However the surrounding cast is vastly stronger. Joey Dorsey and Chris Douglas-Roberts were no Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, or Marquis Teague.

Bill Self’s philosophy hasn’t changed much since his title run. Experienced guards: In 2008 it was Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush. This year it’s seniors Tyshawn Taylor and Connor Teahan. Self is also blessed with dominating big men. Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey are Cole Aldrich and Darrell Arthur … only better.

Future Raptor Thomas Robinson leads the Comeback Jayhawks

Kentucky has dominated the tournament thus far, winning most games by double digits. Last night’s eight-point victory over Louisville was the lowest margin of victory for Calipari and the Cats.

The Jayhawks’ journey is a different story . It started in the Big 12 tournament when Kansas overcame a 19-point deficit over Missouri. The trend has carried throughout March.

Purdue was up 11. Ohio State, 13.

The story however, ends the same way: Bill Self smiles with arms raised in victory.

The key to the game is Anthony Davis. How Calipari decides to attack Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey is what we’re all looking forward to. Withey is the X-factor. Withey’s staunch defence limited Jared Sullinger to 5 of 19 shooting. Withey also blocked seven shots, including one that led to an Elijah Johnson lay-up that put the Jayhawks up three with 64 seconds left.

Withey’s next challenge is just as frightening: Anthony Davis and his 15 points per game and 23 total tournament blocks. The problem with Davis is not just his length, but his versatility. His ability to knock down shots away from the basket means Self needs to find a way to not only contain Davis, but also try and limit Jones, Teague, Kidd-Gilchrist and Doron Lamb, all future NBA players.

Louisville ranked third in the NCAA, holding opponents to 38% shooting.

Kentucky didn’t get the memo.

The Wildcats hit 57% of their shots last night, featuring numerous alley-oop finishes.

Speaking of which…

http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/1034991/Animation2.gif

Ridiculous.

It’s difficult to examine Bill Self’s coaching performance throughout the tournament and declare this year’s run as his most impressive. The Jayhawks have played just one complete game, when they defeated a depleted North Carolina team in the Elite 8. However, Self continues to unriddle his team’s early lacklustre performances and he now finds himself one win away from his second national championship.

John Calipari is also one win away. He is 40 minutes away from overcoming the last hurdle in his incredible career, a championship.

He’s been close before, though. We have already mentioned his 2008 heartbreaking tale and in 1996 Calipari took a fortuitous UMass team to the Final Four, where it lost to Kentucky, the eventual champion.

Is the time now for Calipari to finally win the big one? He is arguably the best college basketball coach of the last five years and he is unquestionably the best recruiter.

Brandon Knight, John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Demarcus Cousins, and Derrick Rose were all coached by Calipari. However, the depth of talent on the 2012 Wildcats trumps any starting five Calipari has ever put on the court.

If he doesn’t win it this year, I really don’t know what else Calipari can do.

Whether Bill Self further cements his legacy or Calipari has his one shining moment, Monday night’s championship game will answer many questions.

Most of us are just praying the game is better than last years.

Nick Saban: The $6 Million Bargain

Posted: March 31, 2012 by centennialsports in NCAA

By Dane Belbeck

The University of Alabama may wear the colour of crimson, but the colour best associated with head football coach Nick Saban is definitely green.

For the coach of the current National Champion Crimson Tide, it’s a colour he will be seeing for a very long time.

Saban signed a two-year contract extension on Monday that will keep him in Tuscaloosa until 2019 at an average of $5.6 million per year.

And that may be a bargain.

The Crimson Tide are coming off a 12-1 season which saw them win their second national championship in three years, yet many critics are claiming the extension for Saban is too lucrative and allocates valuable university resources improperly.

This is absurd.

Since Saban took over the Crimson Tide in 2007, following an unsuccessful run with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, he has led them to two Bowl Championship Series national championships and four consecutive seasons with ten or more wins.  Previous to Saban taking over, Alabama had not won a national championship since 1992.

In the five years that Saban has been in control at Alabama he has compiled a 55-12 record for an astonishing .851 winning percentage.  This is even more remarkable considering that the Crimson Tide play in the ultra-competitive Southeastern Conference.  The SEC is the most decorated conference in the BCS era having won the last six national championships.

The football program isn’t just a varsity team at Alabama, it is a highly lucrative business entity as well.  Since Saban took over the program the Crimson Tide have risen to the sixth most valuable NCAA football team according to Forbes magazine valued at $93 million.  In 2011 the revenue generated by the football program exceeded $77 million and represented 11 percent of all revenue generated by the university.

Prior to the Saban regime the waiting list for priority-seating tickets, which require a donation atop the price of the seat, was at 1200.  It currently sits at 15000 and is growing each year.

The yearly salary of $5.6 million is an astronomical amount of money for an educational institution to be paying a man to coach their football team.  Saban isn’t a professor teaching students the methods of finding a cure for terminal disease.  He isn’t teaching students how successfully run their own business and he certainly isn’t teaching students how to properly practice law.

To put into perspective how much money Saban is making, the University of Alabama interim President & Provost Judy Bonner will earn $368 000 in 2012.  That is 14 times less than what the head football coach is making … 14 TIMES!  Alabama will pay Saban $14 566.21 per day in 2012 and his yearly salary is equal to what 116 university employees combined will make in a year (average salary of $45 758).

And he is probably worth it.

When Nick Saban is the head coach of your university’s football team you are guaranteed a few things.  You are guaranteed to be an elite program and compete for national championships.  You are guaranteed to see a massive spike in the revenue generated by your football program because everyone loves a winner.  With that large increase in revenue generated by the football program, the school will benefit greatly in other areas.  In 2011 the Alabama football program donated over $6.5 million to academic programs at the university.  Considering Saban’s salary is less than $6 million a year, I’d say the Crimson Tide got a bargain.