Archive for the ‘NCAA Basketball’ Category

Dakarai Tucker (Utes #14) drills 3-pointer with 40 seconds left to give Utes 63-60 lead.

Dakarai Tucker (Utes #14) drills 3-pointer with 40 seconds left to give Utes 63-60 lead.

The Washington Huskies pushed Utah to the edge, overcoming a 12 point first half deficit, but the Utes hold out late and beat UW 67-61 in the first game of the opening round of the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

This win locks up Utah’s second round matchup against No. 1 seed Arizona tomorrow.

The turning point and play-of-the-game both came on a clutch 3-point basket made by Dakarai Tucker with 40 seconds left to give the Utes a 63-60 lead over UW.  After that, Utah hit four free throws to Washington’s one.

Utah’s player of the game was undoubtedly Delon Wright who recorded 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and 2 blocks.

The Utes led early, getting out to a 30-18 lead with 4:37 remaining in the first half.

That lead was chipped away at by the Huskies behind 16 points off the bench from Darin Johnson, who led all scorers, until Washington eventually took a 41-40 lead with 11:34 remaining on a Johnson layup.

It was back and forth from that point until eventually the game was tied 60-60 with just over a minute remaining.

I have gone over and over my Southwest region and get the same result. I can’t get any confidence when picking the Notre Dame/Purdue game and then when picking the Kansas/winner of previous game. Oh well, that’s the madness aspect of March Madness.

Game 1: Kansas is another favorite to win the whole tournament and I fully expect Kansas to be on cruise control past Boston University.

Game 2: UNLV and Illinois was a tough pick, but I think UNLV’s quickness and toughness in the paint will prevail over Big 10‘s Illinois.

Game 3: I know this game is going to destroy me since I seem to be the only one picking Vanderbilt to win, but 30 wins against nobody is not enough to push Richmond over the top but we’ll see.

Game 4: Louisville has not been the same powerhouse from the last couple years, but Coach Rick Petino has been to the dance many times before and will get through the 1st round safely.

Game 5: VCU won a spot in the field of 64 and has been yapping to the media about how deserving they are to be in the tourney for beating USC in their play-in game. Well, beat Georgetown and we’ll talk, but I don’t see that happening.

Game 6: Purdue had a lot of success this season in the Big 10 and even though they lost guard Kelsey Barlow to misconduct, St. Peter’s will not be able to cool the Boilermakers.

Game 7: Another tough game to pick was Texas A&M over Florida State. The Seminoles have been gaining a lot of steam in pick popularity but I think the Aggies pull this one out. Either way, winner of this one loses to Notre Dame next round.

Game 8: As mentioned before, Notre Dame will not have any trouble with Akron. I fully expect the Irish to make an appearance in the “Elite Eight”.

Round 1 Bracket Breakdown: West Region

Posted: March 16, 2011 by Dan Condie in NCAA Basketball

The West Region has a few contenders I think, but not more challenging than the slate in Region 1 with Ohio State, North Carolina, Syracuse, and Kentucky.

The teams to look for here are Duke, UConn, San Diego State, and Texas.

Game 1: Duke is a favorite to win the tournament, let alone get out of the first round. Duke will not be upset by Hampton.

Game 2: Michigan, you could argue, plays in a bigger, more talented conference playing in the Big Ten. Tennessee has a lot of good wins this season but also, a lot of bad losses in a less-than-impressive SEC this season. I think both teams have the ability to win this game, however, I give Michigan the edge. (either way, this winner will lose to Duke)

Game 3: Arizona has had a better overall season than Memphis but were defeated by Washington in the Pac-10 Conference Tournament in a down year for the conference. Memphis, since losing John Calipari, has not been nearly as dominant. I give Arizona the nod here based on depth of the team and their offensive weapons.

Game 4: Texas has been an inconsistent team at times but plays big and tough down low on defense. Texas is a power team and I think they’ll be able to take Oakland without too much concern.

Game 5: When I think of Bucknell, I remember the bracket they ruined when they beat Kansas as a 12 or 13 seed a few years ago. They’ll be the 14th seed against 3 seeded UConn. I have UConn picked to win the tourney so I hope Bucknell doesn’t have any more surprises up their sleeves.

Games 6: Cincinnati had a middle of the pack year in the Big East, but that is more than enough to get a spot in the “Big Dance” this year. Missouri was nearer the top but still in the middle of the Big 12. I think Cincy has more experience against tougher competition and the edge goes their way.

Game 7: Temple, I’m realizing, is a much more popular pick than I would have thought. Penn State made a good run in the Big 10 tournament and have shown they can come up with good production in big game situations. Temple is a regular these days to the NCAA Tournament, though, and should be favored. I’m going Nittany Lions though.

Game 8: San Diego State’s last victory was against BYU in the MWC Tournament. Their lone 2 losses came at the hands of BYU earlier that season. With their only loss revenged, who’s to say who they can;t beat. Sure not gonna lose to Northern Colorado.

The UConn Huskies won the Big East Championship Saturday night March 12th.

That in and of itself is a major feat and worthy of respect and recognition. Add in the fact that the championship game against the Louisville Cardinals was the 5th game UConn had played in 5 days. Can you say ironmen?

UConn has the best player in the NCAA in Kemba Walker (Jimmer fans, calm down. Jimmer is the best scorer). Walker, in the Pitt game, buried a 19 footer at the buzzer to win the game and upset the #1 seeded Pittsburgh Panthers.

I tend to favor the chances of the teams that don’t just blow their opponents out (Duke), but win close games where they come from behind or swap leads in the last 2 minutes. Teams that win those games, are the teams that win the NCAA Tournament 4 times out of 5.

The Big East Championship Game came down to the final shot. UConn was up 65-64 and Louisville was inbounding the basketball. UConn tipped the pass and Kemba Walker recovered it and drew a foul with just 16.4 seconds left. Walker hit both free throws to put the Huskies up by 3.

Louisville got the ball to Mike Marra, who drew a foul on Kemba Walker while shooting from behind the arch with 3.3 seconds left.

You talk about nerve-racking. Marra needed all 3 just to tie. He drained the first one and missed the second. Trying to miss the third free throw and get an offensive rebound, Marra accidentally made the 3rd free throw. UConn inbounded to freshman Shabazz Napier and the Cardinals sent him right to the line. He drilled both of them to put the Huskies back up by 3.

The final shot attempt for Louisville was clean but hit iron and UConn secured the Big East Tournament Champion title.

If UConn can continue this level of play into the “Big Dance”, they have a great shot at not only going deep into the rounds, but winning the tournament altogether.

Wow.

For those of you who didn’t watch or hear about the fiasco from the Big East tournament game between Rutgers vs St. John’s Wednesday Mar. 9th, watch this:

Obviously, St. John’s forward Justin Brownlee not only travelled with time left on the clock, but stepped out-of-bounds with 1.7 seconds left on the clock. He then proceeded to throw the ball into the crowd (which many people believe warranted a technical foul).

The referees booked it to the locker room without review or discussion of the previous play.

National coordinator of NCAA men’s basketball John Adams commented on the situation calling it “…unacceptable.”

This incident has set in motion a number of heated disputes regarding NCAA officiating. All 3 referees involved in the missed call have been released from further officiating in the tournament and the NCAA is looking into hiring younger officials (the 2 referees that should have called the play were both 60+ years old).

BYU recently released Brandon Davies, starting center for the Cougars’ men’s basketball team. Reason given, “honor code violation”.

Now, growing up in Utah and being Mormon myself, I’m more than familiar with BYU and their honor code, which stems loosely from standards expected of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I also happen to be a fan of BYU’s rival school, the University of Utah, so I find myself in a life canundrum. On the one hand, I respect the Church for standing by their rules and guidelines and am completely in agreement with Davies being kicked off the team and possibly out of school.

On the other hand, I hate BYU…fans. If you have ever had the pleasure of meeting a BYU fan during a down year for their current sporting program, nicest people you could ever meet. Now, if you meet that same fan during a year where their team (football or basketball) is having a great season, or in this case, the best year they will ever have…ever, the story is the exact opposite.

BYU fans have trouble handling success. If you think this statement is false or biased in any way…watch this video of a mass celebration in the streets following BYU’s victory over then ranked Oklahoma week 1 of the 2009-10 season.

Week 1. Over a team ranked #3 in the preseason before ever playing a game. These fans act like they just won the BCS National Championship game. Fast forward through the season, Oklahoma losses 5 games and ends the season unranked. BYU gets slaughtered on their own field by Florida State, TCU, and ends up 2nd place in the Mountain West with yet another invite to the “illustrious” Las Vegas Bowl.

Arrogance, self-righteousness, having a sense of entitlement, all great ways to describe the Cougar fan-base. Ever since BYU started to get recognition, or should I say since Jimmer Freddette started to receive recognition, the rumblings started again for the team down south.

“We will win the tourney this year”. “Jimmer Freddette is the best shooter ever to live”, and of course “Jimmer is gonna be unstoppable in the NBA” are all ridiculous comments I have heard personally from friends of mine that attend BYU. Don’t even get me started on the comments I’ve read online.

Because the Cougar fans can never seem to learn to hold off talks of greatness until they actually acheive it, I am thrilled at the prospect of another early exit for the “kitties”.

Once upon a time, there was a modest sports program out of Salt Lake City that went undefeated and shook the college football world in 2004. They liked it so much, they did it again in 2008. As an added bonus, their school was invited to the PAC-10 to play with the big boys.

BYU, meanwhile, went on to lose in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament. They also lose Jimmer Freddette to the NBA, Jackson Emery to graduation, and Coach Dave Rose to a higher paying position. They move on to “solitary” in football and the West Coast Conference for basketball and a few other sports, where they strengthen their rivalry with increasingly competitive Utah State and fade into obscurity.The End

Good story huh?

Jimmer Fredette (32) of BYU shooting a floater over the helpless Portland defenders.

Yeah, I admit it. I caught Jimmer fever.

Everyone had been talking about Jimmer Fredette the last couple days. ESPN had exhausted its talk on the Packers and Steelers victories over the Bears and Jets, and it’s far too early to really delve into Super Bowl talk. College signing day for football isn’t for another week and the Heat didn’t play the Knicks until tonight (Jan. 27th).

Far and away, the #4 San Diego State vs #9 BYU NCAA basketball match-up was the talk of the day. The story here? Jimmer Fredette. This kid puts the ball in the hoop. The end. Watching him is a thing of beauty. His shot is so pure and refined that he can shoot from 5+ feet beyond the NBA 3-point line, uncontested, better than some guys shoot their free throws.

Watch what Jimmer did to my boys.

Yeah, the Utes got it handed to them and yet I could watch this clip 200 times on loop because when you watch Jimmer Fredette play, there are no faces on his victims, there are no names or “U’s” on those jerseys. There is only Jimmer Fredette, the basketball and whatever he has to do to get that basketball in the hoop. That’s it.

The downside (there always is one) is that Jimmer Fredette will get worked on defense in the NBA. He has a long way to go. But he can be taught. The other issue with Fredette, is that shooting distance and accuracy will translate directly over to the NBA as far as open looks go. Problem is, NBA defenders are harder to shake. Even Kobe Bryant doesn’t get open looks more than 10% of the time maybe.

I think that Jimmer is like a mix of Manu Ginobili and J.J. Redick.

Watching Fredette shoot from deep, deep range reminds me of J.J. Redick. While at Duke, Redick was draining deep range shots like it was nothing. He would light up scoreboards on a nightly basis, much like Fredette. The problem with Redick, though, was that he was very much a catch and shoot type shooter. He was at his best coming off the pick, catching the ball 3+ feet away from the 3-point line and draining insanely difficult shots.

The reason I think Jimmer will have much more success in the NBA than J.J. has, is his Manu side. Fredette can beat almost anyone off the dribble and weaves through defenses at will. If he’s not open, he’ll get open. If his shot isn’t there he’ll get to where a shot is, and drill it. The kid is the Cam Newton of NCAA Basketball this season. They both touch the ball at least once every possession anyway…

image

What a year 2010 turned out to be in sports. From the Alabama Crimson Tide winning the national championship to the Giants winning the World Series.

2010 saw Tiger Woods’ first full calendar year without notching a single victory, neither in majors nor non-major events.

2010 was host to both the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the World Cup in South Africa. Surprisingly, South Africa seemed to handle the role better with seemingly less to work with. Really, the only negative throughout the World Cup were those Vuvuzelas (they haunt my dreams).

2010 was the year of the media. Endless talk of where LeBron James would play the ’10-’11 season and beyond hijacked every sports radio station, column, channel, etc. until finally, it built up to “the Decision”, a poorly thought out plan by the LeBron James group to publicly announce his contract plans live on ESPN.

“The Decision” badly backfired when James chose against returning to Cleveland, where he was drafted 6 years ago, and left to play in Miami with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The backlash was instant in Cleveland and soon even the media, which profited greatly from “the Decision” threw James under the bus, calling his actions classless, selfish, and pretty much all the things the audience was wanting to hear.

Nearing the end of the year, and with the season under way, many of the media are forgiving of James and are more focussed on his play on the court.

2010 was a shaky shaky year for college football. It started with expansion rumors out of the Big East and the Big 10. The Big 10 fired first, inviting Big 12 member Nebraska into their ranks. Nebraska accepted the invite. The PAC-10, not to be outdone, fired next. They invited Colorado, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M. Colorado was the only school to accept. They later invited the University of Utah, who gladly accepted.

BYU, being passed over and no longer sharing a conference tie with rival Utah, left for far greener pastures as an Independent in Division 1A football, and far browner pastures in everything else, joining the West Coast Conference in all other sports.

TCU left for the Big East, and the top half of the WAC in football shifted over to the Mountain West Conference, to fill the holes left by the power trio that had, for nearly a decade, ruled the top of the conference.

Cam Newton burst onto the scene, dominating all in his way to winning the Heisman trophy and leading the Auburn Tigers into the national championship game. Looming over his accomplishments, however, were allegations that he was involved in a pay for play scheme with his father and an agent. Cam was ruled eligible for lack of evidence that he knew anything about the scheme. Let’s hope 5 years from now that we don’t have another Reggie Bush situation.

2010 was the year of the pitcher in the MLB. Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Cliff Lee, and numerous others were in the spotlight this season. The Giants’ pitching staff received praise all season and they showed why. Solid pitching and late season play from Rookie Buster Posey led the Giants into the playoffs and hot bats at perfect times in the World Series sealed the deal for them.

The Lakers won their 2nd straight title, beating the Celtics and avenging their 2008 defeat in the finals to that nearly identical Celtics team.

Jimmie Johnson won his 5th straight Sprint Chase for the Cup title in a row (first ever to do so).

The UConn women’s basketball team broke the once thought impossible win streak record of 88 wins, set by the UCLA men’s basketball team under coach John Wooden. The lady Huskies’ record ended at 90 games.

All in all, a very crazy year. Can’t wait to see what 2011 brings.

It started at birth…

Posted: December 17, 2010 by Dan Condie in NCAA Basketball, NCAA Football, Utah
Tags: , ,

image

I knew the Utah fight song “Utah Man” by the time I was 3. I heard it from birth, sung to me by my parents, while my Dad attended the University of Utah Law School.

Oh no, that’s just the trunk of my “Ute fan” tree. My roots go much, much deeper.

My maternal grandfather got his Ph.D. in medicine at the University of Utah. He was also a Professor at the U.

Deeper…

My paternal grandfather played for the University of Utah basketball team in the early 50’s.

These roots helped me to endure life as a fan outside the comfort of Salt Lake.

Being LDS (Mormon), and growing up outside of Utah, I was surrounded by BYU fans my entire life. 50 Mormon kids graduated in my  High School class with me, only 2 of us went to the University of Utah. Probably 40 went to BYU or one of its satellites. That’s a 20:1 ratio reflecting the BYU to Utah fan, aka my friends/enemies to myself.

You wanna know how I come up with snide BYU comments, harsh criticisms, and cutting comebacks on the spot? I trained my whole life standing up for myself when associating with my BYU fan friends.

With how passionate I am about the U, you can bet I was never spared any abuse from those live-right gentlemen from down south. The Sunday church proceedings, following a Utah loss, were filled with smirks and an air of boastful haughtiness that made your blood boil.

The combination of all these things equates to the person I am today. When people ask me how I can like a team/school so much, I really can’t convey how instilled and intertwined the University of Utah and Dan Condie are.

“Who am I, sir? A Utah man am I. A Utah man, sir. I will be till I die…so fill your lungs and sing it out, and shout it to the sky. We’ll fight for dear old crimson, for a Utah man am I.”

Go Utes

image

On December 22nd 2010, Utah and Boise State will meet in Las Vegas, NV where they look to face off for the first time since 2006, when Boise State beat Utah soundly, 36-3.

Whether it gets any attention in the media or not, there is an unspoken rivalry between Utah, TCU, Boise State, and BYU, collectively, as the cream of the non-AQ crop. TCU and Boise State’s rivalry has been under the spotlight the last 3 seasons as each team has been playing outstanding football.

Utah and Boise State have a very intertwined relationship that goes back to Utah becoming the first non-AQ team to play in a BCS bowl game in January of 2005.

That year, Boise State was also undefeated through the regular season but had to settle for playing Louisville in the Liberty Bowl, losing 44-40.

Boise got their chance in 2006, when they beat Oklahoma in that same Fiesta Bowl that Utah played in a couple years earlier.

In ’08, another undefeated Boise State team watched as Utah received more respect and got the BCS bid again. Boise State was forced to play in the Poinsettia Bowl against fellow BCS at-large hopeful TCU. Boise State once again lost.

Utah enters the Vegas Bowl with the most to lose. The Utes currently own the longest active bowl winning streak at 9 games. Boise State comes in with nothing to lose.

Kellen Moore is coming off his trip to New York, where he came in 4th in the Heisman voting.

Coach Kyle Whittingham is a bowl game genius. The man knows EXACTLY how to come up with a gameplan and gets his guys to execute that game plan.

Utah’s defense will need to play a flawless game and force turnovers. The key here will be getting pressure on Kellen Moore quickly with the D-line to force ill-advised throws. If you give that kid time, he will give you fits, carving up your defense on short slant routes.

The most crucial aspect of this game, though, will be a combination of back-up QB Terrance Cain and Utah’s Offensive Coordinators. In Utah’s last game, the play calling was a little frustrating when Cain was in the game.

It seemed the Schramm/Roderick combination was more interested in running plays so conservative, you’d think the Utes were  winning by 20 and trying to run clock off, instead of  the reality of Utah being down 13-0.

The best chance for a Utah victory will come if Utah’s defense is lights out, their coordinators call plays like September and October, and if Boise can come out a little flat and disappointed over their late season loss to Nevada.