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Weekend Preview March 5, 2010

Posted by Casey in Multi-Sport Preview/Review.
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Even I can’t keep track of the day-to-day bracket-ology changes, but I do know that it is now only 9 days to Selection Sunday!  Pittsburgh clinched a double-bye in next week’s Big East tournament with their 73-71 victory over Providence Thursday night, on a half-court shot as time expired (I’ll edit a link in here once I find one).  Maryland ‘upset’ Duke at home to tie the Blue Devils for best record in the ACC Wednesday night.  For me this game was a perfect example of fans unnecessarily storming the court…Maryland fans: you have a really good team, by acting as if you’ve never won anything before, you’re taking away from your team’s excellent victory.    Elsewhere on Wednesday, Kansas clinched the Big XII regular season title with their 85-62 victory over Kansas State and Connecticut’s NCAA Tournement hopes were hurt (as Notre Dame’s were helped) by their 58-50 loss in South Bend.  On tap this weekend I’ll be watching #8 West Virginia travel to Philly to take on #9 Villanova (12:00 ET Saturday, CBS) followed by #1 Syracuse’s trip to bubble-riding (but almost certainly in) Louisville (2:00 ET, ESPN).   ESPN will feature UNC @ Duke in prime-time Saturday night (9:00 ET) and sometimes these rivalry games can help the weaker team play up to its opponent.  Sunday afternoon sees two more bubble teams make their case: Florida hosts John Wall and his #3 Kentucky Wildcats at 12:00 ET on CBS and Illinois will take on #17 Wisconsin on their home court (2:00 ET, ESPN).  Sunday marks the final day of regular season play, with the major conference tournaments beginning early next week.  Get ready for the madness!

Paul Pierce’s return has seen the Celtics start to right the ship it will be interesting to see if they can put up a fight for the East’s 2-seed (and guaranteed home-court in the second round).  They are currently 2 ½ games behind the Magic for that spot.  David Thorpe just wrote a great piece comparing Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony (you need ESPN Insider access unfortunatelty), who may be the two-best pure scorers, after Kobe Bryant, in the NBA. Cleveland keeps cruising without  Shaq and has now opened a 2 game lead on the Lakers for best record in the league, they have Detroit Friday night (7:00 ET, ESPN) and Milwaukee Saturday (8:30 ET).  I think whoever selects NBA TV’s weekly Saturday night nationally televised game should be fired, New Jersey @ New York (7:30 ET)?  Really?  Their combined record (27-93, as of Thursday) must be the worst ever for a nationally televised game.  All eyes  should be on Sunday’s NBA Finals rematch, Los Angeles continues their Eastern road trip in Orlando at 2:30 ET (ABC).  In previous games against elite big men, the Magic have felt a need to give Dwight Howard help defensively, I’m interested to see how they defend the Lakers’ combination of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

A record amount of deals were made on NHL trade deadline day on Wednesday.  No major names changed hands and the biggest acquisition remains the New Jersey Devil’s pickup of Ilya Kovalchuk from the Atlanta Thrashers before the Olympics.  Still, some interesting moves were made and the NHL run-in should be quite exciting.  The Blackhawks have pulled even on points with the Sharks for best record in the West, and that looks like it could go down to the wire.  NHL Network has Toronto @ Ottawa at 7 ET on Saturday, and Montreal @ Anaheim at 8 ET on Sunday for your viewing pleasure.  The pick of the televised games this weekend is Detroit @ Chicago (12:30 ET Sunday, NBC), nothing beats a good old-fashioned Original 6 rivalry.

For the soccer fans out there, its FA Cup Quarterfinal weekend in England with Portsmouth-Birmingham (7:30 AM Saturday, Fox Soccer Plus), Fulham-Tottenham (12:30 PM Saturday), Reading-Aston Villa (8:30 AM Sunday) and Chelsea-Stoke (11:00 AM, Fox Soccer Plus).  I also recommend catching AC Milan-Roma (Saturday 2:45 PM, Fox Soccer Channel) and Real Madrid-Sevilla (Saturday 4:00 PM, Gol-TV).  In the latest edition of American’s abroad Landon Donovan’s Everton take on Jozy Altidore’s Hull City on Sunday at 11:00 AM ET on Fox Soccer Channel.

NFL free agency starts…now.   Here is a list of the top 50 free-agents to be.   ESPN’s Todd McShay reviews the recently concluded NFL Scouting Combine.  The PGA Tour begins its Florida swing with the Honda Classic at PGA National, NBC has the weekend rounds 3 PM -6 PM Saturday, and final round coverage starts at 3 PM and goes until they’re done.  No huge news from MLB Spring Training as yet, ‘m working on a comprehensive MLB Preview article and will try and get it done in the next two weeks or so.  That’s about all I’ve got for today, enjoy the weekend!


Hump Day Report March 3, 2010

Posted by Casey in Multi-Sport Preview/Review.
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March Madness is coming.  Soon Dick Vitale, Digger Phelps and the ESPN college basketball machine will be coming at you through all types of media.  There will be countless college basketball games on the before the field of 65 is announced (March 14th), but which ones are worth more than a cursory glance?  I say Wednesday’s matchup of #2 Kansas vs. #5 Kansas State.  Kansas edged an 81-79 OT win at Kansas State a little over a month ago behind a winning layup from All-American Sherron Collins.  Collins will take center stage at Kansas’ senior night Wednesday at 8PM on ….ESPN Gameplan?  That’s right this top 5 matchup won’t be on the ‘home’ of college basketball, ESPN (or 2 or U or the ocho), unless you live in Big XII country (places to find it).  ESPN 360 also will carry the game depending on your internet provider.  For those who won’t be watching  look for ESPN’s doubleheader (UConn @ Notre Dame, ACC #1 Duke @ ACC #2 Maryland, starts at 7 ET Wednesday.

Let’s face it NBA games these days thrive based on star power, and Thursday’s Lakers-Heat matchup (TNT, 8 ET) certainly brings that.  Kobe Bryant has Los Angeles fighting for the best record in the league, while the Heat are fighting for 8th spot led by perennial All-Star Dwayne Wade.  Jazz-Suns round up TNT’s Thursday doubleheader, and ESPN has Pistons-Cavs at 7 followed by Hornets-Spurs on Friday night.  Cleveland is undoubtedly thinner inside without Shaquille O’Neal (8 weeks thumb) and Zydrunas Ilgauskas (released, can resign with Cavs 3/22, or any team now), but has a 6 game cushion for best record in the East.  The Cavs are 2-0 since Shaq’s injury and should be capable of securing at least home court throughout the Easter Conference Playoffs.

Wednesday is a FIFA international date and being that qualification is finalized for the 2010 World Cup, there’s nothing to do but play friendly matches.  An injury-hit US squad travels to Holland to face a strong Dutch team live on ESPN2 at 2:30 ET (actual KO, 2:45).  Gol TV will feature Argentina-Germany live at 2:30 ET, followed by Cameroon-Italy on tape delay at 5:00 ET.  ESPN 360 will have a selection of games live and available on replay, highlighted by Spain- France, live at 3:00 ET.  Finally, for those hoping to scout out the USA’s Group C opponents England, their match with Egypt is available on the new Fox Soccer Channel Plus, or online through Fox Soccer TV.  I’ve left out quite a few interesting games, so look for highlights on Fox Soccer Channel’s Fox Soccer Report (10 ET each weeknight with exceptions).

That’s about it for now, I’ll try to get a recap of US-Holland and how the World Cup is shaping up as well as a weekend preview by Friday.