What you missed this weekend: 3/29-3/31

As the Basketball season wraps up and looks to put an end to all the madness next weekend, things are just starting to swing off in the MLB.

This past Thursday was opening day of the Major League Baseball season and you can see what we at Fourth Quarter Sports thought about the divisions and playoffs here. 

Don’t forget about the NBA playoff picture and where we are entering the few games of the season. So let’s see what we missed?

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PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA by Dan Gaken is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

NCAA Basketball

Two No. 1’s go down an ugly fashion:

Despite Auburn’s best player Chuma Okeke getting injured, Auburn still defeated North Carolina astoundedly 97-80. Malik Dunbar accumulated 13 points in this game while Bryce Brown and Daniel Purifoy won 12 points each. Jared Harper got nine points, but more importantly, 11 assists. This win is important as Auburn aim for their first Final Four in history.

While Auburn is aiming for Final Four, Texas Tech have made it with their 75-69 win over Gonzaga. Though close, throughout the last minute, it was even tighter. Josh Perkins of Gonzaga’s five points in the next half-minute wasn’t enough as Gonzaga stumbled in the hunt for a win.

Though Perkins is not perfect. In the last minute, when Gonzaga was just trailing by two points, Perkins stepped outside of bounds, allowing Texas Tech the free throws they needed to win.

Perhaps earlier Gonzaga could’ve used a window of opportunity to win. When Texas Tech’s Tariq Owens was caught out of bounds while defending the ball, when Gonzaga should’ve been awarded the ball, they fouled seconds later, allowing Texas Tech to score more. The stars of both teams did show up. For Gonzaga, Rui Hachimura scored 22 points, Brandon Clarke with 18 and Perkins with 16. But what cost Gonzaga were the 16 turnovers.

Along with the excess of free throws, Texas Tech’s Jarret Culver scored 19 points and Matt Mooney surprisingly scored 17 himself.

Virginia finally makes the Final Four:

For the first time since 1984, Virginia has made the Final Four! Tony and Dick Bennet become only the second father-son coaching duo in history to be coaching in the Final Four. In Bennet’s words, he described the sensation as, “I’ve always dreamed of coaching in a Final Four…This seems [easy]’ — I didn’t realize how hard it was.”

Auburn makes first ever Final Four with thrilling OT win (By RahimAli Merchant):

Coming into the tournament as the conference tournament champ, you should be one of the favorites to go far in the tournament. That was necessarily the case for Auburn as they reach their first ever Final Four.

Auburn was on the edge of an upset in the first round as they won by a point against New Mexico State. They used that to fuel them to two huge wins over Kansas and No. 1 North Carolina before finally taking down their conference rival Kentucky in overtime. I knew Auburn was a sleeper team in the tournament, but they proved a lot in the NCAA tournament and I think they could beat Virginia and fight the Spartans for the National Championship next Monday night!

Duke’s 17 turnovers cost them a Final Four berth:

The reason this was an upset was that Duke was the no. 1 seeded team. And Duke lost by one point. Michigan State won 68-67. R.J. Barrett had the chance to win the game for Duke, but only one of his free throws went in. And Michigan State move on to the Final Four.

Players declaring for NBA Draft:

UCLA’s small forward Kris Wilkes
Oregon’s center Bol Bol
San Diego State’s forward Jalen McDaniels

MLB

Bryce Harper’s first homer as a Phillies player:

Expectations on Phillies’ new signing Bryce Harper were high, but his maiden home run for the team shattered all of that. Harper’s home run went for 465 feet and the Phillies went on to beat the Atlanta Braves 8-6.

Yu Darvish’s big return:

For the first time in nearly 11 months, Yu Darvish stepped onto the grass to pitch. Unfortunately, it didn’t go to plan. Darvish’s only two innings saw seven batsmen walk. The two runs which Asdrubal Cabrera was able to score off of Darvish resulted in the Texas Rangers triumphing over the Chicago Cubs 8-6.

Yelich making history:

Christian Yelich is already such a good player, being the reigning MVP, but this season might just be even more fun to watch. In all of MLB history, Yelich is now the sixth player to be an MVP who opens the following season with a home run in each of his first four matches. The last one was truly special as in the ninth innings, Yelich won the game for the Milwaukee Brewers against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Yankees SS Troy Tulowitzki homers for the first time since ’17:

It’s been a two-year wait for Tulowitzki, but he finally was able to score. After suffering through ankle and heel injuries, Tulowitzki was able to hit a homer in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles. However, the Yankees still went on to lose 5-3.

Goldschmidt hits 3 HRs in 2nd game with Cards:

It’s hard enough to score one home run, but Paul Goldschmidt hit three home runs in his second ever match for the Cardinals against the Brewers. His first came after facing nine pitches from Freddy Peralta before his tenth one was hit far enough. By the end of the game, Goldschmidt had accumulated three homers and five RBIs as the Cardinals won 9-5.

NBA:

Despite their poor effort in make the playoffs, Lakers Vets want to return next season: (By RahimAli Merchant)

With the arrival of LeBron James in LA, the Lakers expectations were huge! It was a playoff or bust type of season and as we can see from their 35-42 record. The Lakers will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season, but they are hopeful for a better run next season. With a lot of cap space and roster spots available, the Lakers front office has to decide what they want to do.

Two of the teams veteran players, Rajon Rondo and Javale McGee, have made it clear that they want to be back. McGee has an a career season offensively and Rondo has been the Rondo Lakers fans once hated when he was a member of the Boston Celtics. They have both managed to play a lot of minutes due to injuries to guys like Lonzo Ball and Tyson Chandler and when given the chance, they made the best of it.

As of now, the Lakers have been officially checked out as most then half the roster is injured and will sit the rest of the season. Can Rondo and Mcgee be apart of the 2019-20 Lakers and help lead them to a playoff?

Spurs retire the jersey of one of Argentina’s greatest athletes:

The Spurs’ most beloved player, Emanuel Ginobili was rewarded with the retirement of his no. 20 jersey. The ceremony was held at the AT&T Center after the Spurs beat the Cavaliers 116-110. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich reflected on Ginobili’s career afterward. He noted that with him in the team, were Spurs able to win the championships they won. Ginobili was also accomplished with an Olympic gold which he won for Argentina in basketball in 2004. En la termina, gracias Manu. 

Wade-Dirk final battle:

Dwayne Wade and Dirk Nowitzki played their final game against each other when Miami Heat took on the Dallas Mavericks. Wade found success in the last chapter with his eleven points pushing Heat to a 105-99 win over their opponents. Though the rivalry between the two people at times did heat up, a public jersey swap earlier made things much more positive. In the loss, Nowitzki scored two more points than Wade, but the Heat’s win allowed them an eighth-place spot in their conference.

Thunder striking:

Oklahoma City Thunder’s 107-99 win over the Indiana Pacers including an amazing 24-0 run in favor of the Thunder. In total, Paul George scored 31 points that night. Steven Adams pitched in with 25 points and 12 rebounds while Russell Westbrook made his name in 17 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists, being his 29th triple-double of the season.

What you may have missed this weekend in sports: 1/18 – 1/20

Well, we’re only three weeks into 2019, but it may be hard to find another weekend later on in the year as entertaining as this past weekend was. Despite there being only two NFL games, the two ended up playing with fans’ hearts. Interesting headlines were also made in boxing, college basketball, the NBA, the English Premier League and in cricket. But first and foremost, the Super Bowl teams have been decided.

Tom Brady, a National Football League player.” by Jeffrey Beall is licensed under CC BY 4.0

NFL Playoffs

Tom Brady and the Patriots not done with Atlanta yet

As if what the New England Patriots did to Atlanta two years back wasn’t bad enough, this year, Atlanta will have to see the Patriots in the Super Bowl in their own backyard. Despite both the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots being close in the AFC Championship, with the Patriots winning by one touchdown in overtime, 37-31, it was clear from the start who would win, as Tom Brady’s side was winning 14-0 at the half. Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs were struggling offensively, as he faced constant pressure from the Patriots’ defensive line. However, through the use of shotgun passes, the Chiefs came back and managed a 31-31 tie before falling in OT.

Favorites Saints knocked out in New Orleans

Despite beating them once this season already, Los Angeles found a win against the New Orleans Saints in overtime, 26-23. As expected, being at home in New Orleans, the Saints dominated early, ending the first quarter 0-13. However, a Los Angeles touchdown eased the pressure as the half-time score read 10-13. In the dire final moment, the Rams secured a field goal to tie 23-23 and then followed up with another monster 57-yard field goal to win 26-23.

However, it could be argued that Saints should’ve progressed to the Super Bowl before overtime. When the score was tied at 20 with just 1:45 left, Robey-Coleman of the Rams made helmet-to-helmet contact with a Saints receiver and should have been called for pass interference, but their was no penalty called. If a penalty was called, the Saints would’ve been in prime scoring position to put the Rams away.

 

Boxing

At the age of 40, Manny Pacquiao did not just win against Adrien Broner, he out-classed him. Pacquiao won unanimously, but even statistically, the fight was his. Within the first three rounds, Broner faced 70 jabs from the Filipino, and in total, Pacquiao won 118-110 on points. Afterwards, Pacquiao claimed he’d be willing to fight Floyd Mayweather as well.

 

NBA

Cousins’ impressive debut

After injuring his Achilles while playing for the New Orleans Pelicans and signing with the Golden State Warriors, DeMarcus Cousins made his debut. It was as Stephen Curry describes, “Poetry in motion”. In the Warriors’ 112-94 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, Cousins scored 14 points, along with six rebounds and three assists. He did fouled out after just 15 minutes, but if he played longer, we surely would’ve seen more from him.

Russell Westbrook, Joel Embiid rivalry renewed

When asked if Joel Embiid had fouled Russell Westbrook in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 115-113 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers, Westbrook simply responded with, “Go home bro.” This clearly frustrated Embiid, who defensively responded by saying Westbrook was the one who needed to “go home.” The conflict started on-court when it appeared that multiple times, both players fouled each other. Both sides play each other again on February 28th.

 

College Basketball

Losses by top 25 teams

2 Michigan to Wisconsin (64-54)
4 Virginia to 1 Duke (72-70)
7 Kansas to West Virginia (65-64)
8 Texas Tech to Baylor (73-62)
14 Auburn to 12 Kentucky (82-80)
20 Oklahoma to Texas (75-72)
25 Indiana to Purdue (70-55)

 

Soccer

Arsenal stun Chelsea

When fifth-placed, defensively weak Arsenal took on organized, fourth-placed Chelsea, it only made sense for Chelsea to win, but The Emirates had other plans that night. Chelsea’s pacy attack failed to score any goals, as they fell to the Gunners 2-0, thanks to goals by Alexandre Lacazette and Captain/Defender Laurent Koscielny. Despite this, the teams’ positions in the Premier League table did not change.

Crystal Palace temporarily trouble Liverpool

Liverpool got themselves the three points against Crystal Palace on Saturday, but Crystal Palace left Anfield making a statement. Within the last six minutes, the score went from Liverpool 3-2 Crystal Palace to Liverpool 4-3 Crystal Palace, goals by Sadio Mané for Liverpool and Max Meyer for Crystal Palace. Liverpool managed to grab three points and retain their position at the top of the table on an entertaining night at Anfield. Crystal Palace currently sit 14th with 22 points.

US Women’s team gets off to losing start

The US Women’s team, ranked number one, lost in a friendly against hosts France. USA lost 3-1, with the US’ only goal being Mallory Pugh’s late in the 91st minute. The US play Spain next tomorrow at 20:30 (8:30 PM) GMT or 2:30 PM EST and will be live on ESPN2 in the United States.

 

Cricket

India wins ODI series in Australia

Despite winning the first ODI is spectacular fashion, Australia was quick to succumb to the Indian batting line and Wicket-keeper MS Dhoni’s fine finishing abilities. India won the series 1-2 after beating Australia in the third ODI by seven wickets, with the Aussies setting the Indians a low total of 231. India’s bowling was dominated by spinner Yuzvenda Chahal, who upon being called up to the team for the third ODI, was gifted six wickets for 42 runs. In the second innings, captain Virat Kholi taught the Australians batting with his 46(62) and two half-centuries followed suit in MS Dhoni’s 87(114)* and Kedhar Jadhav’s quick 61(57)*. Chahal received Man of the Match while Dhoni got Man of the Series.

Pakistan turn things around against South Africa

Although Pakistan was tipped to find victory in the One-Day series against South Africa, at the innings break of the first ODI, it seemed that South Africa controlled the match. South Africa had finished their batting innings on 266-2, with Hashim Amla scoring a record-breaking 108(120)* and debutant Rassie van der Dussen scoring 93(101). However, it wasn’t enough as Pakistan chased the target in 49.1 overs with five wickets remaining. Imam Ul-Haq scored 86(101) and Man of the Match Mohammad Hafeez took Pakistan to victory with his 71(63)*.

David Warner’s unorthodox batting

David Warner, who normally bats left-handed, decided to switch to his right hand after facing three dots from Chris Gayle. What followed was incredible. On his “wrong” hand, Warner scored 14 off three, compared to the earlier zero off three. This occurred in a Bangladesh Premier League match between Dhaka Dynamites and Sylhet Sixers, in which Warner, who plays for Sylhet, scored a total of 63(43) in the Sixers’ 158-8. Dhaka ended up winning by six wickets.

College Football Games to Watch: Week 2

Trace McSorley
McSorley TD” by Penn State is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By RahimAli Merchant

After an exciting first week of football at the College level, it appearances that all eyes have turned to the NFL and their opening weekend. When you see the games scheduled this week in the FBS, you may not want to watch, but I will give you reasons why you should and should not.

Why you should not is because there aren’t many games worth watching.

Top 25 vs Top 25:

3 Georgia versus 24 South Carolina

For Georgia, the question arises as to how they will rebound from their loss against Alabama in the National Championship game back in January. Of course, they shut out Austin Peavy 45-0, but South Carolina is one of the Bulldogs’ biggest rivals and the biggest test so far this season. The Gamecocks are coming off of a 49-15 statement game and will look to prove they are back and ready for the SEC. How will Georgia do against their first elite opponent with all the new pieces on defense? Find out at 3:30 pm on CBS.

10 Stanford versus 17 USC

With Washington’s loss to Auburn last week, the Pac-12 could come down to this game. Whoever wins could play a huge role in the conference championship. Although, I wouldn’t count out Washington yet. They haven’t played a conference game, but will likely have the best chance to win. But let’s see where USC and Stanford go after this game. USC struggled early and let UNLV stay with them close at the half before pulling away with the 43-21 victory. Stanford also started off slow, going down 7-0 early before taking a 9-7 lead into the half and winning the game 31-10. We could expect a slow start to this game, and look for one of them to take control over the Pac-12. For my winner, click here.

There are also a few teams looking to get their first wins of the season and bounce back to bring their hopes of the playoffs back.

 

Bounce Back Game:

21 Michigan versus Western Michigan

Michigan has disappointed their fans again and it’s only been one game. That game was against Notre Dame, who beat Michigan 24-17. Many consider Notre Dame as an overrated football team and questions have been circling around the Michigan fan base about the coaching staff. Tim “football Jesus” Tebow  had a few words to say about it in First Take with Stephen A.  Smith. We would hope that Michigan could rebound, so stay tuned and watch.

22 Miami versus Savannah State

Miami is the favorite to win the the ACC Coastal division again this year, but they are already down one game. Fortunately, that game was against a non-conference LSU team who beat Miami 33-17. That loss dropped Miami from 8 all the way to 22 in the top 25 rankings. This weekend against Savannah State we look for Miami and coach Richt to dominate and fix all their mistakes before they get back to conference play where it all matters more.

9 Washington versus North Dakota

Washington has the best chance out of all these teams bouncing back from a loss. They lost to SEC’s Auburn 21-16 in a greatly defensive game. With Stanford and USC playing each other Saturday Night, Washington knows that they aren’t the only top team in the Pac-12 who will have an early season loss. The good thing for them, though, is that their loss came from a top 10 team not in their conference. With a bounce back against North Dakota, Washington will look to run the table and prove they are worthy.

Florida State versus Samford

Okay, so who was disappointed in the effort that FSU gave Monday against conference opponent Virginia Tech? FSU lost 24-3 and they had several chances to win the game until they made mistakes late that Virginia Tech took advantage of. As far as their hope for the Conference championship goes, I wouldn’t count on it. They would likely need to run the table and hope the Virginia Tech will finish with more loses than them. But running the table against Miami and other ACC teams will seem impossible, so let’s just count them out for the conference and hope this bounce back against Samford can fuel them to at least nine wins this season.

Speaking of other ACC teams, I will tell you about the games of interests for the week.

 

Games of Interests:

2. Clemson versus Texas A&M:

Clemson is the clear favorite to come out of the ACC and we all expect that to be true, but they have a more challenging opponent than what they faced last week. Texas A&M is one of the better teams in the SEC, but they are no Alabama. It is still another match up between the ACC and SEC that everyone loves, but could this be a tough match-up for Clemson or will they destroy A&M like Alabama did ACC rival, Louisville last week?

13. Penn State versus Pittsburgh:

How about the game that almost got away from Penn State last week? It took Penn State overtime to beat Appalachian State as they won 45-38 after their defender got an interception on App States overtime possession to end the game. Of course, Pittsburgh is no App State, but they belong to the ACC and they are looking forward to being one of the top teams this year. With an upset win over Penn State, Pitt could be on their way up.  Penn State definitely needs to get their defense together after losing a lot of players to the NFL. This could be one of those games where Pitt sneaks up and grabs it right out of the hands of Penn State. This is my upset alert of the week, especially with how each team is playing right now.

College Free Agency: Is This Good??

Shea Patterson
37907506721_59edeb400f_o” by MGoBlog is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

First off, happy Stars Wars Day, and may the fourth be with each and every one of you. Last week saw something happen that is a little bit disturbing. Shea Patterson, the five-star Quarterback from Mississippi, was granted immediate eligibility to play at Michigan after transferring from Ole Miss. This is a bad precedent that the NCAA is setting, they have now opened Pandora’s box. Every disgruntled student-athlete that is unhappy with his situation will now transfer and petition the NCAA to be able to play immediately.

One could argue that this situation may have been warranted immediate eligibility. Since Patterson signed, the school has been put on an extra year bowl ban and reduced scholarships over a four year period. In Patterson’s case, it took the NCAA FIVE years to hand down this ruling, that’s right FIVE!! Patterson wasn’t even being recruited when these violations took place.  Though the counter-argument would be that he signed with a school and a coach while they were under investigation. Patterson was also recruited by the same staff that was implicated, so who really knows how “clean” his recruitment to Mississippi was.

My take on the whole transfer issue is this: I believe that schools should not be allowed to limit where you want to transfer, that is ludicrous that in 2018 they are allowed to do this. I also believe that if a coach leaves for another position, then the athlete should be allowed to transfer and play right away. Like it or not, a high percentage of athletes sign with colleges because of the relationship they have built with the coaches, and if the head coach leaves that relationship is no longer there. If a student-athlete commits to a school and the head coach:

a) gets fired

b) retires

or

c) commits to school currently under investigation.

These three things can be reasonably assumed in the recruiting process. The only one that could be argued is if a coach up and retired and no one saw it coming. In the case of Patterson, Ole Miss was under investigation when he signed so, in my opinion, he should not have been immediately eligible after the transfer.

The NCAA transfer rules are stacked against the players, but all of that is about to change. I was reading a proposed rule change that would give the student-athletes the ability to compete for 5 years and have six years to do that. That would be a step in the right direction to make it more player friendly than it has been, at least the athletes when they do transfer will not lose a year of eligibility as they do now.

On a side note, I am thrilled that Harbaugh now has a QB and they may be able to score more than 10 points a game.  Harbaugh was touted as the quarterback whisperer, but that hasn’t been the case since he got to Michigan. Harbaugh came to Michigan as the savior and the man to turn around the program, but has gone 1-5 against the likes of Michigan State and Ohio State. Now it will be interesting to see what he can do with a highly touted QB, his first since arriving in Ann Arbor.

☘️Cheers☘️

The Impact of Grad Transfer Quarterbacks in College Football

Russell Wilson
Badgers Threatening NG Pen” by Steve Shupe is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By Furtakes

College football is a 365 or 366 days a year grind. Coaches have to constantly work to make their team better. Whether it’s coaching during the season and preparing your team each week or trying to find new high school recruits each year to constantly bring in competition so your team will have a constant talent pool and depth every year. Coaches every year are always moving from year to year without having the restriction of sitting out one year as would a college player. An FBS player has to sit out one year if he wanted to transfer from say Michigan to Florida. It seems to be an unfair advantage, in my opinion, that players can’t go from school to school without sitting out while a coach that recruited a player can leave immediately if he lands a better job.

Recently however, there is a new fad of players being able to transfer without sitting out if they graduate from their university. According to the NCAA bylaw 14.6.1 “Student-Athletes who have earned their bachelor’s degree may also participate in athletics as a graduate student at another Division 1 college provided they meet certain criteria”. However, NCAA.org also states “it has become controversial in football and men’s basketball due to the high-profile cases and data has shown that many transfers in those two sports earn fewer graduate credits and leave school when their eligibility expires,” usually to enter the NFL or NBA draft. This market has become a big hit at certain position in these sports as well.

The first example that comes to mind is when Russell Wilson graduated from North Carolina State and chose to take his talents to the University of Wisconsin to play for the badgers. The three-years prior to Wilson attending Wisconsin, they were led by quarterback Scott Tolzien, who did take them to the Rose Bowl, but in 2010 threw for only 2459 passing yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. The next year when Russell Wilson was the starter, he blew those numbers away. Wilson threw for 3175 passing yards, but his touchdown to interception ratio of 33 to 4 is just unheard of. That year they did win the big ten title as well, but ultimately lost in the Rose Bowl again. This did propel Wilson’s NFL career because NFL scouts wanted to see him play behind a big offensive line, which Wisconsin is known for having guys like Joe Thomas, Travis Fredrick, Gabe Carimi and Ricky Wagner.

The next move that some people might forget is a lot more recent, but not talked about as much. This quarterback actually has two national titles, but only started his senior year. Jacob Coker was a backup to Jameis Winston at Florida State, where they won a national title in 2013. He graduated and decided to go to Alabama to try and be the heir to the Alabama throne of decent quarterbacks surrounded by talent. Coker, in his first year, lost the competition to Black Sims, but in his senior year won the job and managed the Tide all the way to a national title in 2016 CFB playoff national title game against Clemson. That team was stacked however with guys Cam Robinson and Ryan Kelly on the offensive line paired with Derrick Henry, OJ Howard and young freshmen wide receiver named Calvin Ridley, who will be a first round pick this year. Coker had a solid game of 335 passing yards and two touchdowns to give Nick Saban another ring.

Not every grad transfer is a hit though, Vernon Adams of Oregon was hyped up to be the next Mariota essentially, but failed. They lost the second game of the season to a ranked Michigan State team, but did have some great wins in the Pac 12. However, they ended up not making the college playoffs a year after losing in the national title game. He did have solid numbers, but when you’re expected to be an immediate impact player, the expectations are high.

This is just a small example of guys, but every year you will sit down and say “oh i remember that guy.” Next year Jacob Eason will be at Washington after losing his job to Jacob Fromm at Georgia. I think this will only become a bigger and bigger thing. It’s good to bring in a quarterback with experience on basically what is a one year deal. This allows to redshirt a freshman and have them learn from the veteran. Next season while you’re watching games every Saturday, I’m sure you will hear the phrase “grad transfer”.

Ole Miss Spring Football

6961807714_c477f82d5f_o.jpg
The Grove Bowl Touchdown” by Jimmy Emerson, DVM is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Ole Miss Rebels have just completed another exciting spring of football. After a ruff beginning to last years football season, the Rebels found the man to lead their football team right in the trenches, Matt Luke. Luke played offensive lineman for the Rebels in the mid 90s and he has been a long time assistant for the team. Luke is coming off of his first spring as Ole Miss head coach, and there is plenty of excitement starting with quarterback Jordan Ta’amu.

Ta’amu is the Starter

There is no quarterback competition in Oxford after 5 star recruit Shae Patterson bolted to Michigan. Ta’amu has embraced the role of being the teams starter, and he also had a solid spring game completing 12 of 20 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Ta’amu has given the Rebels a reason for optimism heading into this years season with his steady presence.

Takeaways From the Grove Bowl

The Ole Miss Rebels will once again be a formidable opponent in the SEC, but they will face their challenges on defense. According to the Clarion Ledger, coach Matt Luke is concerned about the Rebels physicality on defense and their ability to stop the run. The Rebels will have to replace linebacker DeMaquis Gates, defensive linemen Isaac Gross, safety C.J. Hampton, defensive end Maquis Haynes, safety A.J. Moore, defensive tackle Herbert Moore, and defensive end Breeland Speaks, who all participated in Ole Miss pro day.

Chucky Mullin Courage Award

The Chucky Mullin Courage Award was created in 1989 to honor the Ole Miss defensive back, after he suffered a career ending injury that left him paralyzed. The tradition at Ole Miss is each year one defensive player will be awarded the Chucky Mullin Courage Award, and with that award goes the honor of wearing jersey number 38. This years award winner is defensive back C.J. Moore.

Ole Miss Pro Day

There were 31 one teams represented at Ole Miss pro day, with the Washington Redskins being the only team not in attendance. Safety A.J. Moore ran an impressive 4.39 40-yard dash. Also notable was Marquis Haynes, running a 4.56, and offensive lineman Daronte Bouldin putting up 35 reps at 225 pounds. Haynes and Speaks are expected to be drafted in the third or fourth rounds while running back Jordan Wilkins, who rushed for 1,000 yards last season and ran a 4.51 at his pro day is expected to go in the fourth or fifth rounds. Over the past five years the Rebels have recruited as well as anyone in the country. In 2016 the Rebels had six players drafted and last year they had five players drafted.

After an exciting spring, the Rebels are looking forward to returning to life as usual. I have the Rebels being bowl eligible, winning 7 games. Obviously, their offense will have to carry the team this year, but they will cause trouble for SEC foes. Look for Ta’amu to put up some big numbers in the air with a very solid receiving corp. Ta’amu should also provide the Rebels some opportunities with his ability to move the sticks with his legs.

 

Coaches On the Move!

Jeff Capel
Duke Coaches” by Bryan Horowitz is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

By WC Peters

There was movement in the college basketball coaching ranks today as Chris Mack left Xavier for Louisville and Jeff Capel left Coach K’s side to be the Head Coach at Pittsburgh. Chris Mack has inherited quite a mess at Louisville, as they fired their longtime successful Head Coach Rick Pitino last summer amid allegations that he lost control of his program. They elevated assistant David Pagett to Head Coach to get the team through the 2017-2018 season, which he did successfully. The administration decided to move on from any tie to Pitino, including getting rid of Tom Jurich as Athletic Director. Mack will have the best of a bad situation, as he is the new AD’s guy, which will give him some much-needed leeway. Mack comes from a very successful Xavier program that has produced a lot of big-time NCAA basketball coaches. Starting with Pete Gillen, who went from Xavier to the Big East’s Providence Friars to the Virginia Cavaliers.

Gillen was followed at Xavier by the late Skip Prosser, who was wildly successful and then went to Wake Forest of the ACC. Prosser was followed by Thad Matta, who also was successful at Xavier before moving up to the Ohio State University of the Big Ten. Matta was followed by the ultra-successful Sean Miller before he landed an upgrade at Arizona, which led to Mack becoming the Head Coach at the Cincinnati based university.  Whoever takes over the Xavier program will have some pressure on them to continue the stretch of success they’re currently enjoying. When they keep this machine churning there will be a payday at the end of the road for them. Louisville is getting in Mack a coach that is as good with X’s and O’s, as he is on the recruiting trail. Mack will not be intimidated by the other big name coaches in the ACC, as he has been in big pressure packed games in the tournament before. Xavier has been to the dance 8 times and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in four of those appearances. Good luck to Coach Mack at Louisville.

The other big-time move in the college basketball world this week was Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel going to Pittsburgh as the Head Coach. Capel has been a Head Coach before at the University of Oklahoma, where he was mildly successful before they let him go amid allegations of players receiving impermissible benefits. Capel was at Oklahoma for 5 years. The first three were decently successful, but the last two were some of the worst in Oklahoma basketball history. Capel then returned to Duke as an Assistant. He played at Duke from 1993-1997. Capel was instrumental in garnering Duke the top recruiting class in 4 of the last 5 years. Capel is going to Pitt of the ACC, who lost every conference game last year and most of them were not close. Capel has a rebuild on his hands, but being the great recruiter that he is, he should have the Panthers back being competitive in short order. Common thinking is that he will be the next Head Coach at Duke when Coach K steps down. In my opinion, Duke needed Capel to go to a Power 5 school, win, and not have any issues in order for them to feel good about hiring him as the next head coach. Good Luck to Coach Capel, he will need it rebuilding Pitt!

☘️Cheers☘️

What a Weekend of Basketball!

March Madness
NCAA Basketball” by Phil Roeder is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By WC Peters

We saw history on Friday and a bunch of surprises throughout the first weekend of the tournament. This tournament was like the regular season I suppose, a bunch of good teams with no real dominant team to speak of.  The madness started on Thursday with fourth-seeded Arizona Wildcats getting upset by the MAC Champion Buffalo Bulls, and Miami (Fla) losing to Loyola-Chicago and their super-fan Sister Jean! Then on Friday, the college basketball world got turned on its collective head, as for the first time in history, a sixteen seed upset a number one seed as UMBC blew out Virginia 74-54. Also on Friday, Syracuse, who won a play in game on Wednesday, beat TCU, the sixth seed out of the Big Twelve. Saturday, the only real upset was Loyola-Chicago beating up on the three seed Tennessee, but other than that the seeding pretty much held thanks to a last-second three by Michigan to hold off a feisty Houston team. Then today the mayhem hit a fever pitch when the second game of the day, Syracuse playing their third game in five days forced Michigan State to miss their last 15 shots and beat the third-seeded Spartans 55-53.  Shortly after that, second-seeded Cincinnati was beating Nevada by 22 points in the second half and looked to be cruising to the Sweet Sixteen, but the Wolfpack had other ideas and closed the game on a huge run to win the game after taking their first lead with 9.1 seconds at 75-73. Clemson, whose Coach Brad Brownell was squarely on the hot seat at the beginning of the year, blew out Auburn to secure their position next weekend. Also, in the vain of blowouts, Texas A&M disposed of North Carolina’s junior varsity since their real team refused to show up. Unfortunately UMBC lost to Kansas State, and Xavier lost to Florida State.

Next weekend is going to be wild! As of right now, Loyola-Chicago or Nevada will be playing in the elite eight in the South Region. Also in the South, this is the first region ever where none of the top four seeds made the Sweet Sixteen. Kentucky will have to beat at least one single digit seed to get to the Final Four, as UMBC fell to Kansas State tonight. Kentucky was pretty bad at the beginning of the season and now are the favorite to go to the Final Four out of the South. The East Region will have Villanova playing West Virginia and Purdue taking on Texas Tech, which are all seeds inside the top 5. Not a whole lot of upsets outside of Marshall beating Wichita State on Friday. The Midwest Region will feature the top seed Kansas vs the upstart Tigers of Clemson. Look for a lot of points in this game. Both teams like to get up and down the court and shoot the three. In the other contest, second-seeded Duke will face the daunted 2-3 zone of the Syracuse Orangemen. This will be an interesting matchup. The key will be if Duke can make perimeter jumpers and if Syracuse can score the basketball, as they average less than 70 points a game. The West Region is interesting. In my opinion, Gonzaga is the best team in the region as the four seed and they have already punched their ticket to Sweet Sixteen. They will play either Xavier, the number one seed, or the ninth seed Florida State, neither of which I think can beat the Zags. In the other half of the region, Michigan, who hit a buzzer beater Saturday night to get to the Sweet Sixteen, plays Texas A&M who, blew out UNC today.

Here is to an exciting Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight! Use the next three days to get rested up for the best weekend of college basketball.

☘️Cheers☘️