Upsets abound

Well, well, it looks like the Proletariat is rising up. Last night Georgia Tech ended Duke’s 41 game home winning streak, temporarily keeping the Dukies from clinching the ACC regular season title. Hours later, Maryland won at NC State, eliminating State’s chance of catching Duke at the top.
The Georgia Tech win was interesting because they again looked like the team they were early in the year, using their depth and quickness to flumox the opposition. Back in January, GT was as hot as any team in the country and a favorite on SportsCenter (well, Isma’il Muhammad was). Then, they added Arizona transfer Will Bynum to their lineup. I was worried at the time, and my concerns seemed to come to bear. It’s always dangerous to add a significant piece to a team that’s already playing well. Bynum is very good and he quickly took key minutes from both Jarett Jack and Muhammed. Both Jack and Muhammad had been key pieces to Tech’s early success, forming (along with BJ Elder) one of the top backcourts in the country. So, while Bynum looked really good, he affected the team chemistry. Particularly, I think he hurt the team because he’s a strong scoring guard, a Stephon Marbury type, who looks good, but hurts his team because he doesn’t pass enough. When the point guard is driving and shooting every time he has the ball, the other guys start standing around on offense and get frustrated.
Back to last night – Bynum played only 14 minutes and GT looked like the team of old. Coincidence? Maybe, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see his minutes stay down below 15 for the rest of the season.
As for the MD – State game, it goes back to what I’ve always said. In an ACC game, if one team clearly needs the game more than the other, that team usually wins. MD had to have that game to keep their NCAA hopes strong, while State really didn’t have much to play for. They were pretty much locked into second in the conference and their NCAA bid was locked up long ago.
So, now there are three ACC teams at 6-9 (FSU, MD and UVA) with one game to go. UVA plays at MD and FSU travels to GT. It’ll be interesting to see which combination of 1 or 2 of those teams makes the tourney. I’ll post an RPI analysis a bit later.

Virginia on the Bubble?

Shhhhh….
No one say a word, but with an 84-82 win over #11 Wake Forest tonight, UVA has moved up onto the NCAA bubble. They are now 6-9 in the ACC. Their only remaining regular season game is at Maryland. It would be yet another upset, but considering they have beaten Georgia Tech, UNC and now Wake in the second half of the season, it’s not unimaginable. If Virginia did manage to win that game, they’d be 7-9 and very tough to overlook for a bid.
This late season run by UVA has to rank as one of the most surprising stories of the season, in a season full of surprises. A month ago, UVA looked dead, and everyone was ready to bid farewell to Pete Gillen. Now, they have not only secured an NIT bid, but they are one win away from a likely NCAA bid. Pretty amazing stuff.

Barry Bonds

Now, normally I don’t care too much about baseball. I used to follow it, but decided that it just bores me now and I don’t have the time for it.
But one thing I always have an interest in is insincerity, especially when it pertains to sports.
This Barry Bonds and steriods things has gone off the charts. For some reason, now that there are formal charges going on all around, people seem to be afraid to make the terribly obvious observation that the guy is juiced like an East German swimmer. Instead, reporters just want to needle him (and other bulked up apes like Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield), asking him questions around the main topic without ever saying the obvious.
Well, I’ve had enough. Barry Bonds takes steriods and God knows what else, and he’s been doing it for a while.
Let’s take a look at the signs of steriod use:
1. The player is abnormally huge – check.
2. The player didn’t used to be abnormally huge – check.
3. The player went from normal sized to abnormally huge in a small period of time – check.
4. The player’s performance suddenly jumped up another level – check.
5. The player seems to actually get better at an age where he should be declining – check.
6. The players head has gotten so huge that his batting helmet sits on top like a chicklet on a pumpkin – check.
7. The player’s trainer and “nutrionist” are indicted on federal charges of distributing steriods, including modern ones that can’t yet be tested for – check.
I think you get the point. Let’s just stop beating around the bush, saying things like “I don’t know if Barry is on ‘roids or not” (actual Jim Rome quote) and move on.
ps. We may actually be getting closer to this point – (Bonds Implicated)

Tiger = Duke?

In the interviews before yesterday’s World Match Play finals, Davis Love III compared Tiger Woods to Duke. Comparing the golf tournament to the NCAA tourney (don’t all tournaments now?), he said about Tiger, “It’s like Duke coming out of the East. You know you’re going to see him in the final game.”
A pretty accurate comparison, but a surprising one, considering that DL3 is a Tar Heel alumnus. Maybe he was just trying to get in a dig at Tiger’s Stanford Cardinal, currently sitting at #1 in the country.
Either way, it turned out just like most Duke-UNC contests in recent years. Tiger whipped Davis for the trophy.

FSU and MD Screw the Pooch

One month ago, it was a given that the ACC, the best conference in the country, was going to get seven NCAA bids.
Things have changed.
FSU lost to Duke last night to drop to 6-9 in the conference, with only a game at GT left. Looks like 6-10 for them.
Maryland has done even worse, falling to 5-9 with a game at NC State and a home game against UVA. Barring a big upset, they’ll probably finish 6-10, although UVA has been coming on strong of late.
I wouldn’t be too sure that 6-10 will get anyone in. I don’t think it should, frankly. And remember, the NCAA committee could care less about giving a certain number of bids to any conference. They look at each team separately. Just because the ACC is clearly the strongest conference this year, they won’t get any favors on Selection Sunday. If the chips fall favorably, a 6-10 might get a bid based on their overall season, but there’s no way that two teams do.

Big Win For Heels

While I was watching the NC State – UNC game last night and UNC’s halftime lead was dwindling, I knew what I was going to write about. I remember back when Dean Smith was the coach at UNC. They were always good and they always came back on you. Even if your team was playing great and built a nice lead, you just knew they would come back. Hell, everyone knew. It was a huge psychological advantage, because once they got a few buckets, their fans would get into it and the opposing team, coaches and players, would get tight.
These days though, that magic is gone. UNC seems to have made a habit of building a lead, usually in the first half, and then blowing it. They’re like the anti-Heels.
But then, UNC did manage to hold on their lead last night.
So, I won’t write all that.
Instead I just say that it was a huge win for them, effectively locking up their NCAA bid, as it’s impossible for Clemson to win in Chapel Hill. That means that the worst UNC can do is 7-9 in the ACC which is good enough for a bid this year.
For State, this loss doesn’t really mean much. And that’s probably why they lost. These days in the ACC, your best bet for predicting a winner is often by assessing who needs the win more. State has second place locked up while UNC is still fighting for an NCAA bid.

Billet does it again

Did you see what Todd Billet did the other night against UNC? He hit a game-winning 3 with about 13 seconds left. It was the third time in four games that Billet has hit a three to win. Three times in four games! Consider also that Virginia was the underdog in all three games, UVA trailed for most of each game and UVA trailed by 1 or 2 when Billet took each shot.
Just incredible.
Three game winning three pointers is the making of a solid career. To do it in nine days is something special.
If the ACC had a Clutch Player of the Year award, he’d be a lock.