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Games To Watch: College Football Week 6

Posted by Mike on October 6, 2007

#5 Wisconsin at Illinois (12:00 ET, ESPN): Despite being the #5 team in the land, the Badgers haven’t looked very impressive this year, and they’re the Vegas underdogs against Zook and the Illini. Can Wisconsin prove their skeptics wrong?

Kansas at #24 Kansas State (12:00 ET, FSN): It’s the Battle for the Governor’s Cup (aka the Sunflower Showdown), and for the first time in recent memory, both teams are good heading into this matchup. It’s “GET IN MY BELLY!”…

…versus the Power Towels. Who ya got?

Miami at North Carolina (12:00 ET, ESPN2): UNC comes home after a road trip against two ranked opponents, and the next two home game’s aren’t any easier. But the Hurricanes didn’t look too impressive against Duke, and UNC pulled the miracle upset against a top 5 Miami team the last time they came to Chapel Hill. A  s always, the live blog is at Tar Heel Mania.

#10 Oklahoma vs. #19 Texas (3:30 ET, ABC): One week ago this might have been the week’s premier game, between two top 10, undefeated conference opponents in one of the nation’s biggest rivalry. Unfortunately for them, Kansas State and Colorado spoiled that party. Well, at least there’s always the artery-clogging experience that is the Texas State Fair. Seriously, they found a way to fry soft drinks!

deep_fried_coke.jpg

#12 Georgia at Tennessee (3:30 ET, CBS): Without a successful season, Phil Fulmer could be in serious trouble in Knoxville. In the way of a win today is the Bulldogs, who are a staggering 23-3 on the road in SEC play under Mark Richt.

#15 Virginia Tech at #22 Clemson (6:00 ET, ESPN): Past history says that this is the kind of game that Clemson will lose. Can Tommy Bowden’s team change the status quo against the Hokies’ tough defense?

#4 Ohio State at #23 Purdue (8:00 ET, ABC): Both teams are undefeated, but neither have really been challenged this season. Now is the time for them to prove whether or not they are true contender.

#20 Cincinatti at #21 Rutgers (8:00 ET, ESPN2): Of all the BCS teams in the top 25, the Bearcats probably have to be the biggest surprise. At 5-0, they face a Rutgers team reeling from a loss to Maryland last week, and looking for revenge after Cincy dashed their conference title hopes last year.

#8 Florida at #1 LSU (8:00 ET, CBS): The big matchup of the week, possibly the entire year. Even though Florida lost to Auburn last week, they’re right back in the title hunt with a win in Death Valley. But can anyone beat the Tigers right now?

Needless to say, today will be a great day in college football.

Posted in ACC, AHHHHH!!! MY EYES!, Big 12, Big East, College Football, Florida Gators, Get Pumped!, Kansas, Kansas State, LSU, Mel Kiper Has No Idea What's Going On, NCAA, Ohio State, Patriotism at its finest, Rutgers, SEC, Tar Heels, Texas, UNC, Virginia Tech, what is this hyperbole of which you speak?, YAW YAW YAW CAWLEDGE FOOBAW! | 2 Comments »

Tennessee vs. Rutgers Live Blog: 2007 NCAA Women’s National Championship

Posted by Mike on April 3, 2007

Tonight Tennessee plays Rutgers for the National Championship in Women’s basketball. The Vols will look to run a high tempo offense to tire their opponent, while Rutgers looks to stop them with their suffocating team defense in the halfcourt. Their game against LSU was a clinic on how to stop the fast break, and tonight they look to do the same. Whether or not they can pull it off will determine who wins this game.

8:28 pm: It’s official: Gail Goestenkors is leaving Duke to replace retiring legendary coach Jody Conradt at Texas. WHOOOO!!!

8:43 pm: Bobbitt vs. Ajavon and Anosike vs. Vaughn could go a long way to determine this game. All four players are from the New York metro area. Small world. Now would be a I time I should say something awkward like, NYC REPRESENT!!! But I think I’ll resist.

8:46 pm: 3-0, Tenn. The Vols win the tip. Anosike makes a great offensive rebound, and ultimately Shannon Bobbitt hits a three from the right wing.

Both teams are showing their cards early. Tennessee is trying to dictate a pace akin to a track meet, and Rutgers wants to make me watch paint dry.

8:47 pm: 5-0, Tenn. Sidney Spencer hits a turnaround jumper.

8:49 pm: 5-3, Tenn. We’ve already got controversy two minutes in. The refs are trying to determine whether a jumper by Ajavon hit a two or three point jumper. Ultimately it was called a three, which was a good call. But come on, refs, Ed Hochuli could make a call faster than that!

8:51 pm: If Rutgers wants to dictate the pace of this game, they need to get their defensive rebounds and prevent the Lady Vols from getting second chance points. They’ve already given up three or four offensive rebounds.

8:53 pm: 6-4, Tenn. Tennessee is running a full court press, trying to force turnovers. But the Scarlet Knights have thus far done a good job of offensive ball control. If only they can rebound now.

Official timeout, as we’re treated to a little of “The Message” by the Furious Five. A rare move in coolness by ESPN.

8:59 pm: 6-6. Essence Carson hits a nice midrange jumper to tie the game.

9:01 pm: Tennessee continues to dominate the boards, but they’re having a hard time making their shots.

9:02 pm: 8-6, Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights force a turnover, and are rewarded with a quick basket to take the lead.

Rutgers’ offense is decidedly faster tonight than I had expected, at least in their scoring possessions.

9:03 pm: 8-8. As we hit an official timeout, the fouls are already starting to pile up on Rutgers.

9:07 pm: 12-8, Tenn. The Vols take the lead as Candace Parker hits two straight jumpers, the first an easy one off a great inbound pass.

9:08 pm: 12-12. Kia Vaughn gets two straight baskets of her own to tie the game. Both of them came off offensive rebounds.

9:11 pm: 14-12, Tenn. The Vols take the lead off of free throws, but their press is paying off, as Rutgers commits two consecutive turnovers.

9:14 pm: 16-14, Tenn. Official timeout. The Scarlet Knights are going to reap the rewards of consistently attacking the inside, which Tennessee isn’t doing enough of right now.

9:18 pm: 18-14, Tenn. Parker gets a tough basket in the paint, but how does Horn buckle not shoot that open three?

Rutgers has done a good job of slowing the pace of the game, but their turnovers (7 so far) and lack of rebounding prevent them from taking full advantage.

9:21 pm: 22-14, Tenn. Alberta Auguste is playing well off the bench for Tennessee.

Sidney Spencer’s jumper extends the lead to 8.

9:22 pm: 22-16, Tenn. Ajavon hits a tough shot before the official timeout.

9:26 pm: 27-18, Tenn. Vaughn’s return to the lineup is helping Rutgers on offense, but Tennessee continues to win the battle in the offensive glass. The last one by Anosike leads to a three pointer by Spencer. The Vols have 13 second chance points.

9:33 pm: As the first half ends, Tennessee leads, 29-18, at halftime. Candace Parker is doing a good job of passing the ball, even if she isn’t shooting lights out. The Lady Vols are playing great defense, and while Rutgers has dictated tempo, they haven’t used it to their advantage, going cold on offense (they stopped attacking the inside) and letting Tennessee dominate the glass. For the Scarlet Knights to come back they will need to get rebounds and start hitting the three.

10:00 pm: 35-24, Tenn. I missed the first four minutes of the second half. Fortunately for me, not much has changed.

10:01 pm: 35-26, Tenn. Kia Vaughn gets another basket inside. She needs to get the ball more.

10:04 pm: More referee controversy, as Rutgers is wrongly called for a shot clock violation. The call is ultimately corrected, but Rutgers was denied an opportunity at second chance points.

10:05 pm: 35-28, Tenn. Vaughn scores again, this time off a putback. She has 12 tonight.

10:06 pm: 38-28, Tenn. More offensive rebounding by Tennessee leads to an open three by Bobbitt, and the Vols have a double digit lead once again.

10:08 pm: 43-28, Tenn. More great play by Bobbitt (a three, a steal, and an assist) gives Tennessee a 15 point lead with less than 12 points, and C. Vivian Stringer is forced to call a timeout. The wheels are starting to come off of Rutgers.

10:16 pm: 46-30, Tenn. Shannon Bobbitt cannot be stopped. She is on fire from the bonusphere, as Tennessee is finally beginning to dictate their tempo.

10:19 pm: 46-33, Tenn. The biggest reason why Tennessee is winning: 20 offensive rebounds. Even if they slow the game down, they aren’t in control is they can’t win the battle of the boards.

7:34 left.

10:25 pm: 48-35, Tenn. Vaughn gets the basket and the foul but Rutgers isn’t setting up their offense fast enough.

At this point I think that the Final Four’s MOP would be Nicky Anosike of the Lady Vols. She has done everything that’s been asked of her and more.

10:27 pm: 50-35, Tenn, 5:00 left. The Vols steal it, Hornbuckle hits the jumper, and the lead is back to 15. Against Rutgers’ gameplan, Tennessee has this game sealed.

10:29 pm: 50-39, Tenn, 3:44 left. Rutgers hits two straight baskets, the latest by Essence Carson, to bring the Scarlet Knights within 11. However, it’s likely too little, too late.

10:31 pm: 50-42, Tenn, 2:00 left. Matee Ajavon hits a three, but Tennessee’s offensive rebounds continue to kill Rutgers.

10:37 pm: 56-44, Tenn, 1:08 left. Wow. I just heard that the Russian Women’s Professional league is willing to play players like Parker over a million dollars per year. Meanwhile, as of 2004 the maximum salary of a WNBA player is $90,000. This has to change. Players like Lisa Leslie, Ivory Latta, Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker are worth a lot more than $90,000. I don’t care what you think about women’s basketball, these girls are that talented.

10:43 pm: 59-46, Tennessee, Final. The Lady Vols win their 7th Women’s National Championship, and their first since 1998. Even though Rutgers slowed the game down, the Lady Vols dominated this game from start to finish, not allowing the Scarlet Knights to get comfortable at all. In particular, Tennessee dominate the boards, which is why I think Anosikie should be the Final Four MOP. Congratulations to Tennessee for winning the National Championship, but I can’t but wonder what could have been, if UNC had managed to hold on to their lead in the end on Sunday night.

Posted in #1, Basketball, Big East, Bracket, Championship, College Basketball, Digital Headbutt, Final Four, Live Blog, NCAA Tournament, Pat Summitt, Rutgers, SEC, Tennessee Volunteers, women's basketball | 4 Comments »

LSU vs. Rutgers Live Blog: NCAA Women’s Final Four

Posted by Mike on April 1, 2007

Tonight LSU plays Rutgers in the first game of the 2007 NCAA Women’s Final Four for the right to go to the National Championship game. The Tigers are looking to dominate the paint on the back of Sylvia Fowles. The Scarlet Knights hope to stop LSU with their stifling defense.

lsu_fowles.jpgrutgers_women.jpg

6:33 pm: Wow. I’m shocked that Stacey Dales even knows what chopped & screwed hip hop is. She just used it to describe this matchup. These ESPN gimmicks piss me off.

6:37 pm: If you know you to rearrange the word “LOHIDAY”, you can win $15,000. Wow, that’s a tough one. If that’s not a scam, I don’t know what is.

6:42 pm: This is LSU’s fourth consecutive trip to the final four. They are building a dynasty in Baton Rouge. It’s too bad that the team’s architect won’t be coaching them anymore. As serious as the allegations are against Pokey Chatman, I was really looking forward to seeing her coach the Tigers for the next 20 years.

7:02 pm: Tonight’s announcing crew: Mike Patrick, Doris Burke, Mark Jones, and Holly Rowe. The lack of Erin Andrews is thoroughly disappointing. Still, it beats Jim Nantz and Billy Packer.

7:06 pm: C. Vivian Stringer’s motto: Feed yourself first. Now that’s a coach I can get behind.

7:07 pm: 3-0, Rutgers. Tamee Ajavon (#22) hits a three to open the game and give Rutgers the early lead.

In a game where 60 points will give you the win, LSU cannot afford to miss their free throws.

7:09 pm: 6-0, Rutgers. On the next possession, Epiphanny Prince gets three the hard way.

7:10 pm: 6-2, Rutgers. Fowles gets the ball inside and gets the easy layup. LSU seems to be trying to dictate a faster pace, which is uncharacteristic of them. Maybe they want to throw the Scarlet Knights off guard.

7:12 pm: The Tigers have given Rutgers quite a few early opportunities. If they don’t convert them, it could haunt them later.

Just as I say that, Heather Zurich hits a three. 9-2, Rutgers.

7:13 pm: 12-2, Rutgers. Essence Carson hits another three for the Scarlet Knights. As we hit the first official timeout, Rutgers is baffling LSU so far. Their defense leads to bad shots or turnovers, which in turn leads to opportunities on offense. LSU’s guards aren’t coming up to defend the three.

7:17 pm: LSU finally contests a three attempt, and Rutgers misses badly. Erika White gets a nice reverse layup on the next possession. 12-4, Rutgers.

7:19 pm: The Scarlet Knights have not allowed a single easy shot since Fowles’ first basket. Even when White was on a Tigers fast break, Rutgers caught up and stopped her from getting the layup. Ajavon hits the three on the next possession. 15-4, Rutgers.

7:21 pm: 18-6, Rutgers. Ajavon is on fire, as she hits another three.

Official timeout, 11:16 left. LSU’s three baskets have all been inside attacks. The guards need drive the ball inside more if LSU wants good scoring opportunities.

7:24 pm: The need to attack the inside increases for LSU, as Rutgers center Kia Vaughn is on the bench with 2 fouls.

7:25 pm: 18-9, Rutgers. LSU finally gets an outside shot, from White.

7:26 pm: 20-9, Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are running a clinic on how to stop the fast break.

7:28 pm: 23-13, Rutgers. If LSU is going to come back, it looks like it’s going to be on the shoulders of Sylvia Fowles’ defense and Erika White’s offense. However, it means nothing if the Tigers can’t defend the three.

Official timeout.

7:34 pm: 25-15, Rutgers. 5’3″ Erika White is taking over for the Tigers. My mom would be proud.

7:36 pm: 27-16, Rutgers. LSU continues to struggle from the free throw line. Every point is magnified in a defensive game like this; the Tigers have to make those.

7:37 pm: What a block by Sylvia Fowles! Rutgers attempts a seemingly easy layup off a great pass, but Fowles comes out of nowhere to swipe the shot off the backboard.

7:39 pm: Official timeout.

7:42 pm: 29-16, Rutgers. LSU puts defensive pressure on Ajavon, but she creates space with a devastating crossover, and hits the fadeaway jumper. She has 11 in the first half.

7:42 pm: 31-16, Rutgers. The Tigers can’t control the defensive rebound, and Carson makes them pay.

7:44 pm: 37-16, Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are shooting lights out, and they’re bullying LSU on defense. As Just Call Me Juice would put it, Rutgers is playing like a team of density…err, destiny.

7:48 pm: As the first half ends, Rutgers leads, 37-19 at halftime. The Scarlet Knights are shooting very well from outside (8-11 from the bonusphere), but more importantly they’ve rendered Sylvia Fowles a non-factor, even though Kia Vaughn has spent most of the game on the bench. If LSU wants to come back, they must put pressure on Rutgers’ guards, do a better job of passing the ball and penetrating the defense. Even if they don’t shoot the ball well, they stand a chance of coming back if they can dominate the boards and not commit turnovers.

8:06 pm: 37-21, Rutgers. The second half starts, and Sylvia Fowles finally gets a good look and scores.

Erika White tries to score on the fast break, but 3 Rutgers players close in on her as she tries to make a layup. It’s nearly impossible to run a fast break on the Scarlet Knights.

8:09 pm: 37-21, Rutgers. RaShonta LeBlanc hits a three for the Tigers, only their second of the game.

8:13 pm: 39-24, Rutgers. Kia Vaughn gets the offensive rebound against three LSU players, scores the putback and draws the foul.

Official timeout.

8:17 pm: Vaughn picks up her third foul. LSU needs to drive the lane.

Quianna Chaney hits a three for the Tigers. 39-27, Rutgers.

8:20 pm: Vaughn gets another offensive rebound.

Essence Carson looks like she’s hurt pretty bad.

8:22 pm: I can already tell that LSU is unlikely to come back from this one. Rutgers continues to dominate the boards, and that keeps you ahead even when the shots aren’t falling.

8:25 pm: 41-28, Rutgers. With 10:42 left in the game, Rutgers’ shooting has gone cold, but LSU hasn’t been able to take advantage of their good defense; they’ve been taking very bad shots in the second half.

8:28 pm: 43-28, Rutgers. Vaughn hits a tough shot inside, stretching the lead back to 15.

More than midway through the first half, neither team has scored in double digits.

8:32 pm: 45-28, Rutgers. 7:24 left.

If you look at the scoreboard, this may be one of the ugliest games I’ve seen in a while. But Rutgers has played great basketball in this game, preventing LSU from being effective at all.

8:36 pm: 50-28, Rutgers. More great passing by Rutgers, Brittany Ray hits an open three, and rutgers has taken their lead above 20 with less than seven minutes left.

8:37 pm: 50-31, Rutgers. LSU finally breaks their scoring drought, but it seems far too little, far too late at this point.

8:39 pm: 52-33, Rutgers, 4:56 left. The Scarlet Knights will know Tuesday if they have the best team in the nation. There is no doubt, however, that their players have the best names:

  • Kia Vaughn
  • Epiphanny Price
  • Essence Carson
  • Dee Dee Jernigan
  • Matee Ajavon
  • Rashidat Junaid
  • Myia McCurdy

How can anyone compete with that? I challenge you to find a team with a better collection of player names.

8:47 pm: 56-35, Rutgers, 1:58 left. I didn’t think it was possible to render Sylvia Fowles useless, but Rutgers has done exactly that. Candace Parker, Erlana Larkins, and/or Camille Little will have a very hard time with this team.

8:52 pm: The game ends. Rutgers wins, 59-35 in an absolutely dominating performance. I cannot believe that such a good team could be bullied so badly with so much at stake.Rutgers will go to the National Championship game against the winner of Tennessee vs. North Carolina, which promises to be a much faster game. I’ll be liveblogging it at Tar Heel Mania.

Posted in #1, Basketball, Big East, Bracket, College Basketball, Digital Headbutt, Live Blog, LSU, NCAA Tournament, Rutgers, SEC | 1 Comment »

Previewing the Women’s Final Four

Posted by Mike on April 1, 2007

Between Billy Packer, the unceremonious exit of the Tar Heels, the potential for boring games , and the fact that I may lose a bracket challenge to a penny, I’m not paying too much attention to the Men’s Final Four this year. Thankfully, in the Women’s Final Four, none of those factors come into play. There’s no Billy Packer (or Dick Vitale for the matter), my Tar Heels are still alive, all of the game have the potential for excitement, and I don’t have a women’s tournament bracket. I might mention the fact that I will get stare at women for two nights, but I would need professional help if my intimate fantasies involved Rashanda McCants and Sylvia Fowles.

rashanda_mccants.jpgsylvia_fowles.jpg

On to the previews:

LSU vs. Rutgers. Normally I would be at all surprised to see the Tigers in the Final Four. They are one of the most talented teams in the nation, Senior Sylvia Fowles is perhaps the best pure post player remaining in the tournament, and they beat Tennessee to win the SEC Tournament in March. But LSU has had to deal with the resignation of their coach Pokey Chatman, who left due to allegations of her “les-ing out”, as Cartman would say, with one of her former players. Bob Starkey, the interim coach, has done a great job of keeping the Tigers focused, and they crushed UConn to win their regional and get to Cleveland.

Rutgers is the surprise of the Tournament. They managed to beat the heavily favored Duke Blue Devils, 53-52 in the Sweet 16 (although it didn’t hurt that Lindsey Harding absolutely choked at the end) on their way to the Final four, prompting Tar Heels like me to dance in the streets. The Scarlet Knights pride themselves on defense, having allowed no more than 57 points in postseason play (7-0, Big East and NCAA Tournaments). Still, they will need a great defensive effort out of center Kia Vaughn and good perimeter shooting if they want to beat the talent of the Tigers.

Pick: My heart says Rutgers, but my head says LSU. I’ll take the Scarlet Knights in overtime.

North Carolina vs. Tennessee. A lot more attention will be paid to this game. It features perhaps the nation’s two current most prominent women’s programs, coaches (Sylvia Hatchell and Pat Summitt), and players (Ivory Latta and Candace Parker). Ivory may be the emotional leader of the Tar Heels, but make no mistake. UNC is here because of their frontcourt. The Tar heels perform at their best when Camille Little gets offensive touches, Latoya Pringle plays good defense, and Erlana Larkins is able to get UNC’s offensive rebounds, where she is most effective at scoring. Pringle will most likely be assigned to defend Candace Parker, who is by far the best athlete in women’s basketball right now. If the Heels are able to shut down Parker (and that’s a big if), it will be up to underclassman point guard Alexis Hornbuckle to bail the Vols out. Tennessee’s road to the final four was decidedly unimpressive, with wins over a 16 seed, an 8 seed, 13 seeded Marist, and 7 seeded Ole Miss. They haven’t had to play under pressure yet in the tournament.

Pick: The Tar Heels beat Tennessee by 13 in December at Carmichael Auditorium, but this crowd will be decidedly less favorable for UNC. I will still pick North Carolina in a very close game.

Championship: North Carolina over Rutgers.

I’ll be liveblogging game one of tonight’s action here, and game 2 on Tar Heel Mania. Even though we won’t get to see Maryland or Duke like last year, this will be a very exciting end to the Women’s Tournament.

Posted in #1, ACC, AHHHHH!!! MY EYES!, Basketball, Big East, Billy Packer, Bracket, Championship, College Basketball, Digital Headbutt, Live Blog, LSU, NCAA Tournament, North Carolina, Pat Summitt, Rutgers, SEC, Tar Heels, Tennessee Volunteers, UNC, women's basketball | 1 Comment »