#MLB Expansion

Last season I wrote of how expansion in MLB could work. I feel as though we need to expand upon my original idea. This past week we witnessed the Oakland Raiders obtain a vote to leave and turn the Silver State (Nevada) into the Silver and Black State. That’s right if you haven’t heard the Raiders are ¡Viva Las Vegas! now. I know that song is now stuck in your brains. So now that that has happened, the Athletics should get some sweet new digs or at the very least renovate. They have a few years to figure this all out, but I’m sure it’ll happen. That was one part of my solution that I thought would figure itself out. Another part of the problem we have is the Tampa Bay Rays. Despite them being well run for many years and being smart and all that, they still ranked 29th in attendance last season. They’re always in the bottom third of MLB and more often than not they are in the bottom 2. Again I say move to Montreal! Let’s bring back the Expos! The next two spots I proposed to expand were Portland and Vancouver. I’ve read recently that now Commissioner Manfred is thinking that Las Vegas could be a possibility for MLB. There are certainly pros and cons here. Once the Raiders (again with the football, geez) and UNLV move into their new fancy stadium, that opens the possibility for Sam Boyd Stadium to be turned into a fine MLB facility. It has the capability to seat 40,000 fans and this isn’t a from-the-ground-up kinda deal. Honestly this could work. On the other hand, how can we expect Las Vegas to support 3 major sports franchises? I know that Las Vegans know that their city is growing, but they don’t quite have the infrastructure ready. They may have put the cart ahead of the horse with the Raiders and may have looked over some key things such as education and whatnot. So let’s not get too carried away. Plus, would you want to play baseball in July and August when the average temperature is 103-106 degrees? I think not. So we can keep Portland and Vancouver on our short list. Now we keep our lineup of divisions as follows:
AL East-Baltimore-Boston-New York-Toronto
AL North-Chicago-Cleveland-Detroit-Minnesota
AL South-Houston-Kansas City-Los Angeles-Texas
AL West-Oakland-Portland-Seattle-Vancouver
NL East-Montreal-New York-Philadelphia-Pittsburgh
NL North-Chicago-Cincinnati-Colorado-Milwaukee
NL South-Atlanta-Miami-St. Louis-Washington
NL West-Arizona-Los Angeles-San Diego-San Francisco

How would we fit 162 games? First we will have a home and home 3 game series. So if you take 1 team and do that against every other non divisional league member that’s 12 teams times 6 games and that equals 72 games. Then you factor in the regionalized inter-league play. Say you play in the AL South, you play a home and home against the NL South. That equates to 6 games times 5 teams. There’s another 30 games and we are at 102 games. Now divisional play: 15 games apiece against every divisional opponent makes the last 60. As for playoff structure we will have 4 divisional champions seeded 1-4 and 2 wild card winners seeded 5-6. Earning a division championship should at the very least earn you a home field advantage. The top 2 seeds in each league shall earn a bye from the new wild card format. I think everyone is in agreement that the winner take all wild card games are must see TV. So let’s expand upon that. So seed 3’s will play seed 6’s and seed 4’s will play 5’s. I proposed a Thursday thru Sunday 4 game stretch of prime time games. So Thursday AL-3 vs AL-6, Friday NL-3 vs NL-6, Saturday AL-4 vs AL-5, Sunday NL-4 vs NL-5. The 3/6 winner plays the 2 seed and the 4/5 winner plays the 1 seed. Just for fun let’s seed the teams that would’ve participated in the playoff last season.

AL-1 Texas Rangers (South Champ)
AL-2 Cleveland Indians (North Champ)
AL-3 Boston Red Sox (East Champ)
AL-4 Seattle Mariners (West Champ)
AL-5 Baltimore Orioles (Wild Card)
AL-6 Toronto Blue Jays (Wild Card)

NL-1 Chicago Cubs (North Champ)
NL-2 Washington Nationals (South Champ)
NL-3 Los Angeles Dodgers (West Champ)
NL-4 New York Mets (East Champ)
NL-5 San Francisco Giants (Wild Card)
NL-6 St. Louis Cardinals (Wild Card)

Thursday prime time
Blue Jays @ Red Sox

Friday prime time
Cardinals @ Dodgers

Saturday prime time
Orioles @ Mariners

Sunday prime time
Giants @ Mets

I think that we have solved some things here. I need a grassroots movement to help me propose my plan to the powers at MLB. I’m sure ESPN, Fox, and TBS would get in a bidding war to broadcast those Thursday-Sunday night winner take all wild card games. Maybe even another network might get in the bidding for something like that. I know I’d be glued to them. My wife would no doubt hate that. But she does like baseball so maybe we are on to something.

Follow me @originaldaveo on Twitter

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#Bracketology

Selection Sunday is one week from today. Championship Week has landed on us and now the craziness of conference tournaments are underway. We already have had some madness out of the Horizon Conference. 9th seeded Youngstown State defeated 1st seeded Oakland in the second round. Could be the beginning of things to come in the big dance. Two weeks ago I arrived at a UCLA vs Maryland nation championship game and the Terrapins proceeded to go on a losing streak. This is not an exact science. So I will no longer fear the turtle (even though Melo Trimble confirmed some things by nailing a last second 3 to help Maryland beat Michigan State yesterday). I’ve recently came across from facts that will help us decipher the bracket. At least give us a better chance of being that 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance that has a perfect bracket. First the easy: 1 seeds are 128-0 against 16 seeds. Here’s one that is very interesting: For 5 straight seasons a 14 seed has knocked off a 3 seed. Another one maybe more well known: 12 seeds have a 36.1 winning percentage, I do love those 5/12 matchups.  Since 1985 (when the tournament expanded to 64 teams) 1 seeds are 33-29 against the 2 seeds: that is close to evenly matched. This one isn’t really a stat but multiple double digit seeds often wind up in the Sweet 16. Here is a really interesting stat: 11 seeds are 3-3 versus 1 seeds and 11 seeds have 3 Final Four appearances since 1985. Since the inception of the First Four they have 2 games Tuesday and 2 on Wednesday preceding the big dance. Tuesday winners are 0-pher. Wednesday’s winners almost always win at least one more game. Lastly, there is usually a 2 seed in the Sweet 16, but Middle Tennessee spoiled Michigan State’s (and my bracket) party last season. Lets pick some games! I am using the latest Bracketology from ESPN.

Midwest

1) Kansas vs 16) Texas Southern

128-0 are the 1 seeds, Rock Chalk Jayhawk KU

8) South Carolina vs 9) VCU

I’m not sure I trust either, I’ll take VCU here

5) Purdue vs 12) Nevada

Boilermakers will make a run after getting bounced early last season

4) Virginia vs 13) Akron

Akron may be climbing up, but Virginia smothers them

6) Saint Mary’s vs 11) Illinois State

Both are good mid major teams, Illinois State close

3) UCLA vs 14) CSU Bakersfield

I think it is a crime that UCLA is a 3 seed, they win easy

7) Oklahoma State vs 10) Providence

2 of the hottest teams in the nation, I give the edge to the Friars

2) Louisville vs 15) Green Bay

No Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson, Cardinals roll

1) Kansas vs 9) VCU

Rock Chalk Jayhawk KU

4) Virginia vs 5) Purdue

I will take Purdue’s size in this matchup

3) UCLA vs 11) Illinois State

The run for the Redbirds ends here, Bruins win

2) Louisville vs 10) Providence

Rick Pitino led Providence to the Final Four in 1987, history lesson folks. Louisville wins

1) Kansas vs 5) Purdue

Purdue has Kansas’ weakness, size. Boilermakers with the upset

2) Louisville vs 3) UCLA

This would be a good game, I think UCLA is the best team in the country. Bruins win

3) UCLA vs 5) Purdue

UCLA has the best player in the country, Lonzo Ball. I’ve been saying this for awhile now. I really like this Purdue team and its big guys, but UCLA has lottery picks with size as well. This would be a back and forth game for about 25-30 game minutes and after that I see UCLA pulling away. Bruins to the Final Four.

West

1) Gonzaga vs 16) North Dakota

Sorry you had a long flight to Salt Lake UND, 128-0 vs 16 seeds

8) Wichita State vs 9) Arkansas

This is not the Shockers team of the last few years, Woo Pig Sooie

5) SMU vs 12) USC / 12) Xavier

SMU is playing very well right now, and they win this game whoever shows up

4) Duke vs 13) Princeton

Would the real Duke team please stand up? Feels like maybe an early exit…nah Duke wins

6) Iowa State vs 11) Wake Forest / 11) Vanderbilt

Iowa State has screwed me and someone from the First Four will win. I’m picking Vanderbilt

3) Butler vs 14) Bucknell

This will be the 6th year in a row a 14 upsets a 3, MADNESS!

7) Miami vs 10) Michigan State

2 years in a row Izzo sent home…is he on the hot seat?

2) Oregon vs 15) UC Irvine

Ducks roll easy

1) Gonzaga vs 9) Arkansas

Gonzaga will likely be 33-1 or so at this point, but I still don’t trust them, Woo Pig Sooie!

4) Duke vs 5) SMU

If the real Duke team is here then they are Final Four good, don’t believe we’ll see that. SMU wins

11) Vanderbilt vs 14) Bucknell

The Commodores make the Sweet 16

2) Oregon vs 7) Miami

Might’ve been a good football matchup, Ducks win this

5) SMU vs 9) Arkansas

Looks like an old Southwest Conference matchup, Woo Pig Sooie!

2) Oregon vs 11) Vanderbilt

The Ducks take care of business

2) Oregon vs 9) Arkansas

Dana Altman was the head coach at Arkansas for about 17 minutes, DUCKS

East

1) Villanova vs 16) Jacksonville State / 16) Mount Saint Mary’s

128-0 are the 1 seeds, Nova rolls

8) Northwestern vs 9) Virginia Tech

Northwestern’s first trip, can’t pick against that

5) Notre Dame vs 12) UNC Wilmington

Notre Dame has too much firepower in this matchup

4) Florida vs 13) Monmouth

Gators have too much firepower

6) Wisconsin vs 11) Middle Tennessee

Middle Tennessee wins this, probably going away

3) Florida State vs 14) Winthrop

Seminoles might get tested for a half, but pull away

7) Maryland vs 10) Seton Hall

Seton Hall is getting hot, they don’t fear the turtle

2) Baylor vs 15) South Dakota

Baylor can suffocate you, I think they are really really good

1) Villanova vs 8) Northwestern

Villanova is defending their title, they advance

4) Florida vs 5) Notre Dame

Please make this game a reality, both teams could get over 100. I like the Gators here

3) Florida State vs 11) Middle Tennessee

Middle Tennessee pulls another upset!

2) Baylor vs 10) Seton Hall

Baylor wins, Motley with a huge game

1) Villanova vs 4) Florida

Villanova’s experience gets them past the last school to go back-to-back

2) Baylor vs 11) Middle Tennessee

Baylor shuts down this Cinderalla

1) Villanova vs 2) Baylor

Ah we get a 1 vs 2 game, remember that 1’s are only 33-29 against the 2’s. This might be one for the ages. Baylor has the guards to run with Villanova but the one thing that Baylor has is Johnathan Motley. I think he will play up to this big state and lead Baylor to the Final Four.

South

1) North Carolina vs 16) North Carolina Central / 16) New Orleans

128-0 are the 1 seeds, Tar Heels roll

8) Dayton vs 9) Michigan

The Wolverines are making late noise

5) Cincinnati vs 12) UT Arlington

Bearcats win, they’ve been slumping late but they advance

4) West Virginia vs 13) Vermont

Press Virginia stifles Vermont

6) Minnesota vs 11) Marquette

Minnesota is going to be good for awhile if young Pitino stays

3) Arizona vs 14) Florida Gulf Coast

Arizona runs away with this

7) Creighton vs 10) Syracuse

New Big East vs Old Big East, I’ll take the Orange

2) Kentucky vs 15) UNC Greensboro

Kentucky has it back on track

1) North Carolina vs 9) Michigan

UNC has too much for the Wolverines

4) West Virginia vs 5) Cincinnati

The Huggy Bear coached at UC for 16 years, they ran him out but he gets revenge

3) Arizona vs 6) Minnesota

Arizona pulls away in the last minute on free throws

2) Kentucky vs 10) Syracuse

No Cinderella for the Orange this season. UK wins

1) North Carolina vs 4) West Virginia

UNC is on a mission to finish last year’s business. But they didn’t count on seeing Press Virginia. Mountaineers win

2) Kentucky vs 3) Arizona

This would be a really good game, both have young exciting freshmen but I think Kentucky has the upper hand

2) Kentucky vs 4) West Virginia

Another really good game here, I think that now Fox is healthy for UK and placing him beside Malik Monk (who has been nothing short of sensational) will lead UK to the Final Four no matter how their bracket sets up)

Final Four

2) Baylor vs 3) UCLA

2) Kentucky vs 2) Oregon

I think we have 4 really good teams left after the dust settles. In the first game, UCLA has Lonzo Ball and I think that is enough. Baylor does not have a guard that could neutralize him. On the other side, I think UCLA has the guys to at least keep Johnathan Motley in check. UCLA wins. The second game to me is much more difficult to predict. I think that Oregon’s upperclassmen will control this game for the most part. Kentucky’s trio of Fox, Monk, and Adebayo will have their moments but in the end Dillon Brooks and Co. will find a way to win this game.

National Championship

2) Oregon vs 3) UCLA

On December 28, Oregon defeated UCLA 89-87 in Eugene and on February 9 UCLA defeated Oregon 82-79 in Los Angeles. They may meet again in the Pac-12 Tournament before we get to here but for now lets roll with those two games. In the first half of the December game, defense was optional the score was 52-47 Oregon. Same story in the first half of the February game, Oregon led 48-39 at half then. In the second half of both games, UCLA decided to clamp down. They held Oregon to 37 and 31 points in the second half of both games while they increased their offensive production to 40 and 43 points in the second half of both games. This tells me that they may let Oregon get off to a good start, but they know how to close them out. I feel like UCLA will make the plays when it counts and they might not even let the Ducks get off to that hot start after watching it happen twice to them.

UCLA 2017 National Champions

 

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#Bracketology

A lot takes place over the course of the season, teams rise and fall, teams hang around the bubble and perhaps get hot. Over the course of 31 regular season a lot of things take place to determine which 4 we will see at the Final Four. Today we are going to have a prediction exercise to get us ready for the big dance. Selection Sunday is March 12 and creeping up on us. In the last exercise we saw a lot of blue bloods, Kentucky, UCLA, North Carolina, and Kansas. How will that shake out this time?

East

1) Villanova vs 16) Mount Saint Mary’s / 16) New Orleans

No 16 has ever beaten a 1, Villanova wins

8) Oklahoma State vs 9) VCU

VCU gets by the Cowboys in a close game

5) Wisconsin vs 12) UNC Wilmington

I think the Badgers will need all the experience they can draw on to win

4) Virginia vs 13) Monmouth

Notice that Monmouth has started climbing seeds the last few years, Virginia still wins

6) SMU vs 11) Syracuse / 11) Marquette

Someone from the First Four always wins in the First Round, and Syracuse was in the Final Four a year ago. I will pick Syracuse

3) Kentucky vs 14) Valparaiso

Kentucky has really started playing well after a midseason funk

7) Northwestern vs 10) TCU

Northwestern’s first appearance!

2) Florida State vs 15) North Dakota State

Really, I’m doing it, NDSU!

1) Villanova vs 9) VCU

Villanova has that IT thing working for them

4) Virginia vs 5) Wisconsin

In a very low scoring game, I like Virginia’s defense

3) Kentucky vs 11) Syracuse

Syracuse needs some former players to deal with Kentucky this go around, Wildcats roll

7) Northwestern vs 15) North Dakota State

Northwestern gets to pack its bags for a second weekend stay in the big dance

1) Villanova vs 4) Virginia

Villanova earned a win in January and I think they are the better team

3) Kentucky vs 7) Northwestern

Kentucky has too much

1) Villanova vs 3) Kentucky

This would be a fantastic Elite 8 matchup. The defending champs against arguably the best set of freshmen in the country. Kentucky does have a few “veterans” on their team. But in the end I think that Josh Hart will make just enough plays for Villanova to make another Final Four.

South

1) Baylor vs 16) North Carolina Central

No 16 has ever beaten a 1, Baylor wins

8) Dayton vs 9) Virginia Tech

Dayton seems to always win a few in the tournament of late

5) Creighton vs 12) UT-Arlington

Creighton has lost 4 of 7, but they’ll figure it out by the time this game happens

4) UCLA vs 13) Princeton

UCLA blitzed USC by 32 last night, advantage Bruins

6) Notre Dame vs 11) Kansas State

Taking the Irish, KState has been inconsistent

3) Florida vs 14) Furman

Florida lost a key player last week in Egbunu, but they’ve kept winning

7) Minnesota vs 10) California

This isn’t the Holiday or Rose Bowl, I’m taking the Gophers because Aaron Rodgers isn’t playing….

2) North Carolina vs 15) Bucknell

I don’t see any way this upset happens, UNC rolls

1) Baylor vs 8) Dayton

I like Dayton, the Flyers upset Baylor

4) UCLA vs 5) Creighton

Take the Bruins, all bleeping day

3) Florida vs 6) Notre Dame

This is the game that the injury to Egbunu shows, take the Irish

2) North Carolina vs 7) Minnesota

Younger Pitino gets a lesson from Roy Williams, UNC rolls

4) UCLA vs 8) Dayton

Again, UCLA all bleeping day

2) North Carolina vs 6) Notre Dame

UNC got a win earlier, I think a similar game will play itself out

2) North Carolina vs 4) UCLA

This was my National Championship Game in the last exercise, see how things change? I think that UCLA is being punished for a 2 game losing streak to Arizona and USC earlier in the year and they have found their mojo again. I think UCLA is really the best team in the country and even though UNC is on a mission to finish some business from last season, I’m picking UCLA all bleeping day.

Midwest

1) Kansas vs 16) UC Davis / 16) Texas Southern

No 16 has ever beaten a 1, Rock Chalk Jayhawk KU

8) Wichita State vs 9) Miami (FL)

The Shockers get by to face KU

5) Purdue vs 12) Vermont

Have the Boilermakers learned from this point last season? I think so

4) Butler vs 13) Belmont

Butler has made itself an upper tier program

6) Saint Mary’s vs 11) Arkansas

Whoo Pig Sooie! all the way in Salt Lake? Yes I’m taking the Hogs

3) Arizona vs 14) Florida Gulf Coast

FGCU? Not this year

7) Xavier vs 10) Michigan State

Probably the most physical game in the First Round, I like Xavier

2) Louisville vs 15) Colorado State

I don’t understand the seeding here, when in doubt bet on Rick Pitino

1) Kansas vs 8) Wichita State

They don’t play it every year, but its always close. Rock Chalk Jayhawk KU

4) Butler vs 5) Purdue

I think Purdue’s size is too much for Butler

3) Arizona vs 11) Arkansas

If Arkansas is on it will be close, Arizona has more than enough athletes to run with the Fastest 40

2) Louisville vs 7) Xavier

Louisville will have too much for Xavier in this game

1) Kansas vs 5) Purdue

Can Swanigan show off and make himself a lottery pick? I think he will

2) Louisville vs 3) Arizona

This is a game that could be a National Championship Game, I think Louisville’s D will be able to contain Arizona’s athletes

2) Louisville vs 5) Purdue

Purdue has size, but so do the Cardinals. I like Louisville in this matchup. They have the guards that Purdue doesn’t have. This isn’t the sexiest matchup we have to get to the Final Four but these are two savvy and fundamentally sound teams. Should be an entertaining game, I don’t see Louisville getting beat here.

West

1) Gonzaga vs 16) Weber State

No 16 has even beaten a 1, Zags

8) USC vs 9) Iowa State

I’m taking Iowa State

5) Cincinnati vs 12) Illinois State / 12) Seton Hall

The Bearcats by a mile over both

4) West Virginia vs 13) Akron

Mountaineers with a blowout

6) Maryland vs 11) Middle Tennessee

Melo Trimble may have figured his game out, Fear the Turtle!

3) Duke vs 14) UNC Asheville

No way Duke loses

7) South Carolina vs 10) Michigan

I remember a certain Jadeveon Clowney hit in a game by these schools

2) Oregon vs 15) CalState-Bakersfield

Ducks rolls handily

1) Gonzaga vs 9) Iowa State

I expect Gonzaga to be undefeated and this will continue here

4) West Virginia vs 5) Cincinnati

Its a Bob Huggins Bowl, I’ll take the coach and Press Virginia

3) Duke vs 6) Maryland

Both teams have really hit their stride recently, this is probably the game of the Second Round. Maryland squeaks by but barely

2) Oregon vs 7) South Carolina

I think the Ducks will smash the Gamecocks in a game of poultry

1) Gonzaga vs 4) West Virginia

Gonzaga will remain undefeated

2) Oregon vs 6) Maryland

Fear the Turtle, Maryland is underseeded

1) Gonzaga vs 6) Maryland

Gonzaga has never made the Final Four, they have made the Elite 8 now 3 times (counting this appearance in our prediction reality) and now they face a team that has all the makings of a National Championship contender. Maryland has all the right pieces and Melo Trimble is finally living up to the hype. Its a sad day for Gonzaga as the 76 Indiana Hoosiers can do the Dolphin celebration and one last time: FEAR THE TURTLE

Final Four

1) Villanova vs 4) UCLA

2) Louisville vs 6) Maryland

I like the way these 4 teams are playing right now. At the end of the season I wouldn’t be surprised to see that both UCLA and Maryland have lower numbers next to their names. In the first matchup I see UCLA cruising to a win over the defending champs. I’ve been consistent with my belief that UCLA is the best team in the nation this year. I also believe Lonzo Ball is the best player in the nation. As for the next game, I like Louisville a lot. Hall of Fame coach and they are playing to erase some of the offseason drama away from the program. But like the first game, I think there is a player on the other side that’s come into his own and he’s ready to take over. Melo Trimble will lead the Terrapins to a victory. This will be the best game of the two Final Four games.

National Championship Game

4) UCLA vs 6) Maryland

Don’t look at the seedings. Maryland only has 4 losses all year and UCLA only has 3. I’m not penalizing these two like Lunardi has in his seeding. Yeah they both had a hiccup in conference play. They play in tough leagues. NBA scouts will be drooling at the Ball vs Trimble matchup. I would love to see this as well. One of the coaches, either Alford or Turgeon will get their first title. As much as you should fear the turtle, I will take the Bruins all bleeping day. UCLA gets its 12th National Championship.

 

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#Bracketology

With 2/3 of the regular season over it is time to start really paying attention to college basketball. To help us get ready for March Madness we are going to start Bracketology 101. This is not your average Bracketology exercise. Here we are going to take ESPN’s version and pick the games until a National Champion is crowned. I’ll be the professor guiding you through this course weekly from now until Selection Sunday. On that day you will have all the credit hours needed to pass and select your own games.

East

1) Villanova vs 16) Morgan State / 16) Mount Saint Mary’s

No 16 has ever beaten a 1, Villanova wins

8) USC vs 9) Northwestern

Northwestern’s first trip to the dance, Northwestern wins

5) Cincinnati vs 12) Vermont

Cincinnati is on a 10 game winning streak, Cincinnati wins

4) Notre Dame vs 13) Monmouth

Notre Dame leads the ACC right now…hello! Notre Dame wins

6) South Carolina vs 11) Wake Forest / 11) VCU

Shaka Smart ain’t at VCU anymore, but maybe, no I’m betting on South Carolina’s D

3) West Virginia vs 14) Princeton

Twenty one 14 seeds have won against a 3 (including Stephen F. Austin vs West Virginia last year), make it 22, Princeton wins

7) Maryland vs 10) Middle Tennessee

Even though Maryland leads the Big 10, Middle Tennessee will win

2) North Carolina vs 15) Bucknell

UNC is out to finish the job this season

1) Villanova vs 9) Northwestern

The defending champs are too much

4) Notre Dame vs 5) Cincinnati

Really good matchup, Notre Dame’s O vs Cincinnati’s D-defense wins championships

6) South Carolina vs 14) Princeton

South Carolina will be on upset alert after seeing Princeton down WVU

2) North Carolina vs 10) Middle Tennessee

North Carolina is too much to handle

1) Villanova vs 5) Cincinnati

Championship meddle and all that, Nova

2) North Carolina vs 6) South Carolina

Tar Heels gut it out over a tough Gamecock team

1) Villanova vs 2) North Carolina

We are going to have a rematch of the national championship for the East region. North Carolina is going to get revenge and the Tar Heels are on to the Final Four.

South

1) Kentucky vs 16) UC Irvine / 16) New Orleans

No 16 has ever beaten a 1, UK wins

8) TCU vs 9) Dayton

Two really good coaches in Jamie Dixon and Archie Miller, TCU wins on a buzzer beater

5) Duke vs 12) Akron

Duke is not the #1 team like they were thought to be, Akron with an upset

4) Arizona vs 13) Valparaiso

Arizona looked like the best team in the nation yesterday, Arizona wins

6) Xavier vs 11) UNC Wilmington

Xavier is a really tough team, X wins

3) Louisville vs 14) Florida Gulf Coast

Louisville has played the toughest schedule in the country, Cardinals roll

7) Minnesota vs 10) Miami

Minnesota has that Pitino guy’s son, picking the Gophers

2) Baylor vs 15) Georgia Southern

Baylor shocked everyone being ranked #1 earlier this year, they win

1) Kentucky vs 8) TCU

Kentucky is starting to round into shape, UK

4) Arizona vs 12) Akron

Arizona blows out Akron to set up an all Wildcat game

3) Louisville vs 6) Xavier

Louisville smothers Xavier

2) Baylor vs 7) Minnesota

Minnesota’s coach gets the upset to have a game vs dad

1) Kentucky vs 4) Arizona

Might be the game of the tournament, still taking UK

3) Louisville vs 7) Minnesota

Dad still has the upper hand in this father/son matchup

1) Kentucky vs 3) Louisville

Louisville got UK earlier this year, but that was a home game. Coach Cal will remind his players of such things, Kentucky wins to set up a Final Four matchup with North Carolina.

Midwest

1) Kansas vs 16) Texas Southern

No 16 has ever beaten a 1, Rock Chalk Jayhawk KU

8) Clemson vs 9) Arkansas

Woo Pig Sooie, Hogs back in the dance

5) Wisconsin vs 12) Nevada

The Badgers D suffocates the Wolfpack

4) Oregon vs 13) New Mexico State

Oregon rolls

6) Saint Mary’s vs 11) Illinois State

Illinois State is unbeaten in Missouri Valley play, upset special

3) Creighton vs 14) Belmont

Creighton just lost an important player and are vulnerable, not this round though

7) Michigan State vs 10) Texas Tech

I’m taking Izzo, THIS IS SPARTA

2) Florida State vs 15) UNC Asheville

Seminoles have been a pleasant surprise all year, FSU rolls

1) Kansas vs 9) Arkansas

ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK KU

4) Oregon vs 5) Wisconsin

Wisconsin suffocates the Ducks

3) Creighton vs 11) Illinois State

Illinois State shocks the world

2) Florida State vs 7) Michigan State

Izzo, they learned from last season and make the sweet 16

1) Kansas vs 5) Wisconsin

Kansas has more than Wisconsin can handle, down to the wire type game

7) Michigan State vs 11) Illinois State

Michigan State wins, too much for the Redbirds

1) Kansas vs 7) Michigan State

The last time these two played it was November of 2015. Michigan State earned a 6 point victory in a close game. I expect the same will play out other than the final result. Rock Chalk Jayhawk KU

West

1) UCLA vs 16) Weber State

No 16 has ever beaten a 1, UCLA

8) Indiana vs 9) Iowa State

OG Anunoby would’ve made a big difference, Iowa State wins

5) Florida vs 12) Seton Hall / 12) Kansas State

A play in game winner usually wins at least 1 more, Kansas State wins

4) Virginia vs 13) Chattanooga

The Cavaliers just held an ACC team under 50, Virginia wins

6) Purdue vs 11) Pittsburgh

The Boilermakers are better, Purdue wins

3) Butler vs 14) Richmond

Butler got a scare from DePaul, but still won

7) SMU vs 10) Virginia Tech

Probably two of the last few teams to make it, SMU in a close game

2) Gonzaga vs 15) North Dakota State

Gonzaga is liable to be undefeated at this juncture…upset? Negative

1) UCLA vs 9) Iowa State

UCLA has the best player I’ve seen in the country, Lonzo Ball

4) Virginia vs 12) Kansas State

Virginia’s style keeps K-State from scoring until the second half

3) Butler vs 6) Purdue

Purdue has too much inside for Butler to handle

2) Gonzaga vs 7) SMU

Gonzaga is marching towards immortality

1) UCLA vs 4) Virginia

Lonzo Ball proves why he should be the #1 overall draft pick in this game

2) Gonzaga vs 6) Purdue

Gonzaga remains unblemished with a solid win

1) UCLA vs 2) Gonzaga

Earlier this year Gonzaga traveled down the coast and got a win vs Arizona. They put their undefeated record on the line vs UCLA this time. This will be the game of the tournament to that point. Overtime and UCLA gets it done. Bruins to Final Four

Final Four

1) Kentucky vs 2) North Carolina

1) Kansas vs 1) UCLA

What a bunch of bluebloods we have in the Final Four! The top 4 programs in history all gather in Phoenix to battle it out for the National Championship. In the first game it will be Kentucky’s youth vs North Carolina’s experience. Remember the last game: Malik Monk had 47 points and Kentucky won 103-100. I think another high scoring affair will be in order this time. This game is for a date in the Championship and not pre-conference affair. North Carolina will win and be back in the National Championship Game. As for the other National Semifinal. Two hyped up freshmen in Lonzo Ball and Josh Jackson. Both should go in the early lottery. Both could be franchise saving faces at the next level. I think Ball’s ceiling is the highest in this year’s draft class and UCLA has just a little more than Kansas at this point. We are really splitting hairs here but UCLA will win to setup a “for the ages” matchup with the Tar Heels.

UNC vs UCLA

The hype for this game, NBA scouts by the dozens. Roy Williams vs Steve Alford. The Blueblood lineage. UCLA hasn’t won a championship since thwarting Arkansas’ back to back attempt in 1995. Before that the last title came way back in 1975. North Carolina has had more recent success with titles in 2005 and 2009. But none of that matters for this game, these players, these coaches. Here in the now. I say this with the utmost certainty, UCLA will win the National Championship this season because of Lonzo Ball. He’s the best player in the country and they have the best team.

UCLA – 2017 NCAA Tournament National Champions

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Picking the #SuperBowl

Take a moment and look at the quarterbacks who have guided their teams into the final four. Ben Roethlisberger vs Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers vs Matt Ryan. Has there ever been a better quartet vying for the Super Bowl?

AFC Championship Game
Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots
Rematch of a game played 10/23/2016. New England won 27-16
There’s probably an argument that these 2 franchises are the best of the conference. The Brady/Belichek combo is seeking 1 for the thumb. They didn’t play their best game of the year against Houston but it didn’t matter. That type of performance will get them beat vs Pittsburgh. Ben, Brown, and Bell are dynamic, but New England statistically had the best scoring defense during the regular and Kansas City just held Pittsburgh to 6 field goals. I expect a low scoring game that’s similar to the Pittsburgh-Kansas City game last night. I believe that the Steeler running attack with Bell will be the difference as Pittsburgh wins 16-13.

NFC Championship Game
Green Bay Packers vs Atlanta Falcons
Rematch of a game played on 10/30/2016. Atlanta won 33-32
Both teams ranked in the bottom third in the league in scoring defense. I believe Atlanta’s defense is slightly better because they gave up a lot of garbage time points and yards. Aaron Rodgers had been white hot for 2 months until he threw a pick against Dallas. Atlanta is a better team than Dallas and I don’t care what their records indicate. Basically Rodgers has to have a game like he had on 10/30 for the Packers to have a chance on advancing. As for the other hand: I said it last week and I’ll say it again this week MATT RYAN SHOULD BE MVP. The Falcons have an elite offense and they displayed that against Seattle. Green Bay isn’t the defense that Seattle is (with or without Earl Thomas). I think both offenses are going to score at will at times and I believe we are going to see a very similar game to the one they’ve already played. Atlanta will win a shootout 37-34.

Disclaimer: before the playoffs I picked a Kansas City vs Green Bay Super Bowl. Now I’m picking an Atlanta vs Pittsburgh Super Bowl

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#NFL Playoffs

Divisional
3) Seattle at 2) Atlanta
1/14/16
Rematch of a game played on 10/16/16, Seattle won 26-24
Matt Ryan should be MVP of the league. The Falcons have had a week off to get healthy (mainly get Julio Jones healthy). Atlanta’s head coach Dan Quinn was Seattle’s defensive coordinator for 2013-14. Familiarity much? This was a close game then with Seattle squeaking by but I see the Falcons getting revenge on their home field. Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game

4) Houston at 1) New England
1/14/16
Rematch of a game played on 9/22/16, New England won 27-0
As much as I would like to say week 3 was an aberration, it was. Tom Brady was serving his deflategate suspension and JJ Watt was lost for the season. Does that matter this time? Probably not but maybe just maybe Brady wants to take out some suspension frustration on a team he didn’t get to play this year. Houston’s defense is very good, but they just played a rookie QB making his first NFL start. The only drama from this game could be can New England not only win but cover. Patriots host AFC Championship Game

3) Pittsburgh at 2) Kansas City
1/15/16
Rematch of a game played on 10/2/16, Pittsburgh won 43-14
This was a complete mismatch from the opening kickoff. Pittsburgh dominated in every facet of the game. Think that’s not on the minds of the Chief players? This game will be played at Arrowhead, which is the toughest place to win in the NFL this side of Seattle. As good as Pittsburgh looked today, Ben has a bad wheel now. He says he’s a go but that KC defense is relentless. I think Andy Reid will have the answers this go around and Alex Smith will do what he does, manage that game plan beautifully. Chiefs on to Gillette with a matchup against the Patriots.

4) Green Bay at 1) Dallas
1/15/16
Rematch of a game 10/16/16, Cowboys won 30-14
Right now the Packers and Aaron Rodgers are the hottest thing in the NFL. The Cowboys have had a magical season thus far. I feel this may be the best game of the playoffs so far. Did you see what happened right before halftime today? The only thing that gives me caution is Jordy Nelson’s health. But Green Bay has many weapons that can pick up the slack. Dallas’ young guns are going to make this interesting but I’m taking the seasoned vet over the rookie at QB. Packers on to Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game

NFC – Green Bay at Atlanta
AFC – Kansas City at New England

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#NFL Playoffs

6) Miami
3) Pittsburgh
Rematch of a game on 10/16. Miami won 30-15. Big Ben got hurt and Jay Ajayi went off for 200 yards. The game was played in Miami then, but it’s in a cold Pittsburgh now. Big Ben and Co. are healthy and Tannehill has been MIA for a few weeks. I’m picking Pittsburgh

5) Oakland
4) Houston
Rematch of a game on 11/21. Raiders won 27-20. The Raiders were fully healthy but jet lagged in Mexico City and Houston had them down 17-13 going into the 4th. The Texans have a -49 point differential for the season. YIKES! But, they have someone who has actually played NFL football before at QB and even though Oakland is the better team they are missing Carr and the backup. I’m picking Houston

6) Detroit
3) Seattle
Both teams have had their moments. But both are in the dance. The 12th man will make things difficult on Stafford and Co. The legion of boom is missing Earl Thomas though. Seattle struggled with non playoff teams Arizona and San Francisco to end the year. Upset of the weekend, I’m picking Detroit

5) New York
4) Green Bay
Rematch of a game from 10/9. Green Bay won 23-16. That Aaron Rodgers guy can sure fling the magic bean around. So too can Eli. Both are coming off road victories over teams fighting for their playoff lives too. The last two times this matchup has taken place in the playoffs at Lambeau the G-men have won. I don’t think that it’ll happen 3 straight. (However I believe the winner of this game has the best chance to run the T-A-B-L-E) I’m picking Green Bay

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