Tuesday, June 14, 2016

2009 NCAA Final Four Predictions

The NCAA tournament is the greatest event in all of sports. 65 teams have a chance at winning the National Championship in a tournament. There is not a more pure and more exciting tournament in the world of sports. Every year brings a new Cinderella story and a superstar in the making out of nowhere. Here are my 2008-2009 NCAA Final Four predictions:

Final Four Teams

Michigan State Spartans: It would only be fitting that the 2009 NCAA Final Four held in Detroit Michigan have the Michigan State Spartans take part in it. The Spartans are on the rise and have more talent then they know what to do with but not much experience since the departure of Drew Neitzel. Durrell Summers, Kalin Lucas, and Chris Allen showed an amazing amount of potential in only their first year of college basketball. Seniors Goran Suton and Travis Walton should bring stability, and junior Raymar Morgan will continue to shine and improve. The Spartans will battle with the Purdue Boilermakers for the Big Ten title but will end up on top and into the Final Four.

North Carolina Tar Heels: Did anyone think Tyler Hansborough would stay in school another year? With Hansborough staying in school the Tar Heels should be favorite’s to win it all in ’09. Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, and Danny Green are all NBA shoe-ins and are all returning to win a National Championship. Even if you like an underdog it is hard to keep the Heels out of any National Championship talk.

Marquette Golden Eagles: The shifty tempo-changing Golden Eagles will capture the attention of the basketball world in 2009 with an impressive season and tournament. There is no question that the Eagles have the best overall guard lineup in the nation with Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, and Wesley Matthews. Marquette is ranked around 10th in many preseason National rankings. Don’t overlook the Eagles in ’09.

UCONN Huskies
Ranked 2nd in preseason ranking the Huskies have one of the most fierce lineups of big men in the history of college basketball. Just look at the roster. What other team in college basketball can defend or score against two guys who are over 7 feet tall? Expect a healthy A.J. Price and a hungry Huskies basketball team. Don’t count on another early exit this year for the Huskies. UCONN will make it all the way to the Final Four in 2009.

2009 NCAA Final Four Champions
North Carolina Tar Heels:
Too much talent, experience, and passion for the game. Hansborough showed in several games over the last few years that he will take a beating for his team. Danny Green is a pure scorer and Ty Lawson may be the fastest man in basketball pro or college. 2009-2010 will be another rebuilding year after the Tar Heels win it all and lose all of their talent to the NBA draft. Don’t feel too sorry for the Heels they will be back in a year or two to contend for another title. The Tar Heels will win the National Championship in 2008-2009.

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2009 NFL Draft Feel Good Stories: Mr. Irrelevant, James Casey, Demetrius Byrd

There were several feel good stories in the draft, but none as big as Michael Oher’s. Most people know of Michael Oher’s story as it was told in The Blind Side: The Evolution of the Game. Oher was one of 13 children and he never knew his father. His mother was a drug addict and Oher was placed in several foster homes. He ran away a lot, and was fortunate enough to meet the Tuohy family, who took him in. After a lot of hard work, Oher received a four year scholarship to Ole Miss, and the rest is football history.

Now, the kid who was once homeless, has become the first round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL draft. Listening to Oher during his interview after his selection, you can see the passion he has for football. You believe this guy appreciates this opportunity and he seems ready to give the Ravens everything he has.

Another great story is, James Casey. Casey is a 24-year-old tight end from Rice University. As a teenager Casey lost his mother in a house fire. Casey would later sign a minor league baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox. Casey remained in the White Sox system for a few years, but ultimately couldn’t make it as a major league baseball player. Casey’s story reminds me of the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken. For James Casey, there were two roads diverged and he’s got to travel them both.

The Houston Texans selected James Casey in the 5th round and I think he’ll have a chance to contribute quickly. Casey is a smart player who played several positions at Rice and I’m sure the Texans will find a way to get him on the field. Wherever he plays, Casey will play hard.

Demetrius Byrd, the wide receiver from LSU, was drafted in the 7th round by the Chargers. Byrd was involved in a car accident and is in critical, but stable condition. The Chargers have given Byrd something to fight for, an opportunity to realize his dream and play in the NFL.

Of course, the last feel good story, is Mr. Irrelevant. Pick #256, the last one of the draft was, Ryan Succop K, going to the Kansas City Chiefs. Getting drafted in the 7th round is still getting drafted and being the final pick in the draft, still means your in the NFL. When you think about it, that’s all any of us can ask for, a chance at our dream, and Mr. Irrelevant you’ve got it, so feel good.

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2009 NCAA Tournament Results: LSU Holds Off Butler, 75-71

2009 NCAA Tournament Results. Nr 8 seed LSU (27-7) led by Marcus Thorton’s 30 points , was able to hold off a late surge by the Butler Bulldogs (26-6) to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The win today marked the first NCAA tourney win by the LSU Tigers since they made the Elite Eight in 2006 sending the late-season surging Butler Bulldogs home early after coming into the game having won four first round NCAA tourney games in a row. The loss marked the third time in the last three seasons that the Bulldogs had been beaten by an SEC team.

2009 NCAA Tournament Results – LSU Tigers

The LSU Tigers came into the came picked by many to be upset by the Butler Bulldogs after sagging a bit in the SEC tournament and the end of the regular season. SEC Play of the Year, Marcus Thorta wasn’t going to let that happend today however, achieving his seventh 30 point game of the season. He was aided by Tasmin Mitchell who had 14 points and Chris Johnson who chipped in for 12 points and 4 blocked shots. The Tigers had a 13 lead early in the game but almost let it get away at the end holding on to win by four points. On Saturday, they will take on the number 1 seeded North Carolina Tar Heels, who demolished Radford today, 101-58.

2009 NCAA Tournament Results – Butler Bulldogs

Butler lost in the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in six NCAA tournament appearances to a SEC team today. The Bulldogs were led by Matt Howard who scored 22 points with Shelvin Mack chipping in with 18. Butler got to within three points twice in the last minute but were not awble to tie the Tigers to force the game into overtime. The loss today marks the first time that the Horizon Tournament champion lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament since 2000.


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2009 NBA Western Conference Predictions First Round

Jazz at Lakers:

The Lakers find themselves at the top of the Western Conference for the second consecutive year finishing with a record of 65-17. While they were a good team a year ago, the Lakers are even more dangerous with Bynum in the lineup, who will provide the inside presence the team was missing in the playoffs last year. The Jazz fell to the 8th spot in the conference and unfortunately have the task of taking on the defending Western Conference champions. The Lakers eliminated the Utah Jazz in the semifinals last year in 6 games and I look for a pretty similar ending in this series as well. Look for the Lakers to advance to the next round in five games.

Rockets at Blazers:

The Rockets have not made it past the first round of the playoffs in quite some time and that is even when their all-star guard McGrady was in the lineup. He will miss this year’s post-season due to an injury which means that Ron Artest and Yao Ming will have to step up big time if they are to turn this trend around. On the other side, the Portland Trailblazers are making a return to the post-season after missing the last five years. With guard Brandon Roy leading the way, along with Stephen Blake and Lamarcus Aldridge, the Blazers hope to make their playoff run a deep one. This series is difficult to pick as I believe Portland has more weapons on the offensive end but the Rockets are bigger in the paint with Ming, which could cause problems for the Blazers. I’m going to pick the Blazers to win the series in six games.

Mavericks at Spurs:

These two teams are no strangers to one another in post-season play but the Spurs have come out on top more times than not in their previous matchups. A couple of weeks ago, the Mavericks were in the conference’s last spot and were trying to hold off the Suns. Since then, they have moved up to the 6th spot and are looking like a formidable opponent to anyone except for the Lakers. The Spurs were holding the #2 seed in the conference for most of the season but have fallen to the 3rd spot and will not have Manu Ginobli, who completely changes how teams have to guard them. The question in this series is whether or not Duncan and Parker will have what it takes to offset Nowitzki, Kidd, and Terry. If the Spurs can keep the game in a half-court setting, they will more than likely be successful. However, if the Mavericks are able to turn this into a track meet, they should emerge as the winner. I like the Spurs as they have won 4 championships in the past 10 years, I don’t think they have enough offensive firepower with the injury to Ginobli to beat the Mavericks this time around. Look for the Mavericks to win a long, hard-fought series in seven games.

Hornets at Nuggets:

The Hornets have battled through injuries to their all-star point guard Chris Paul and forward Tyson Chandler as well. Last year the young team pushed the then defending champion Spurs to seven games. The Nuggets haven’t made it past the first round of the playoffs in quite some time but seemed primed to do so this year with the 2nd seed in the conference. The mid-season trade for Chauncey Billups seems to have them playing better on the defensive end of the floor. While Chris Paul is a touch matchup for any team in the league, I think that the Nuggets finally have the depth missing in previous years to advance past the first round and possibly to the conference finals as well. I look for the Nuggets to be victorious in 6 games.




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2009 News Stories I Hope Won't Carry Over into 2010

The old year is almost gone, and a new year is on its way. There was a lot of news in 2009, some of it actually newsworthy, some maybe not. In order to make 2010 a really great year for me, there are a few things I hope will be left behind in 2009. These are

2009 news stories that for me, at least, were so ubiquitous, I got burned out on them, and hope never to hear of them again.

2009 news stories (or maybe not really news) I burned out on, in no particular order:

Jon and Kate + 8. If I never hear the name Jon, Kate, or Gosselin ever again, I could die happy. If I never see that ‘interesting’ Kate haircut again, I’ll be happy. If I never hear about a family with twins and sextuplets again, yes, you’re right, I’ll be happy.

Octomom. Nadya Suleman had eight babies-all at once-when she already had six at home. If I never hear again about people who have really large families, regardless of how well they get along, what their financial situation is, or any other aspect of them, I’m pretty sure I could die happy.

The Duggar family. They just had their 19th kid! Plus the oldest child just got married and now he has a kid, too. See above.

Rihanna and Chris Brown. I’m obviously not ‘cool,’ ‘hip,’ or ‘with it,’ because I’d never heard of Rihanna before the whole abuse thing hit the media. I’d like to go back to my nerdiness on this issue in 2010. That would make me happy.

Tiger Woods cheating. As I’m writing this, this story is starting to pick up steam. I’m already over it. So I hope it burns itself out quickly, and I don’t have to hear about it in the new year. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

The above may not have been real 2009 news stories, but the following are:

H1N1. I know the swine flu was-and is-important, a major deal, dangerous to all kinds of people, but there was a time when no matter where I went or what I was doing, I was hearing about the swine flu. Who had it, how many people died of it, and the vaccine. I hope the flu is done, and I don’t have to hear about it in 2010, so I can be happy.

The economic crisis and unemployment. Again, I know this is a big deal, I know it’s affected a lot of people, and there’s a lot to be said about it. Even so, so much was being said about it, I was beginning to feel like I was getting a Chinese water torture: story after story after story after story after story, being slowly fed to me drop by drop until I wanted to scream. I’d be really happy if the economic news in 2010 was of a different nature.

The death of Michael Jackson. This might bring me a lot of grief, but I’m not a real big Michael Jackson fan. And in the days immediately following his death, there was a LOT of coverage. Everywhere. Once, almost an entire national news broadcast was devoted only to this topic. I try not to look for problems, or think about ‘what may be,” but I’m kind of dreading the thought of what will happen on the anniversary of his death. If it’s a big deal, if I can somehow avoid it completely, I’ll be happy. (I struggled to decide whether this was a news story or not. News won out.)

Bailout companies making bad choices. Personal jets, astronomical bonuses, lavish parties. If I never have to consider the moral/ethical character of big business again, I’ll be happy.

Health care reform. I know, I know. This is important legislation, and it will actually impact me, but just too much coverage. I just have to scream ‘UNCLE!’ Happiness is having this resolved-pass or fail, before 2010 arrives.

So no resolutions this New Year’s Eve, just a bunch of prayers, wishes, and hopes that these stories have burnt themselves out, and that next year at this time, I won’t be writing another article like this.

A person can wish, can’t she?

Tags:2009 News Stories I Hope Won’t Carry Over into 2010

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