Wednesday, February 24, 2010

GMU What!?!?!?

George Mason (16-12, 11-5) at Delaware (7-21, 3-13)

Mason is reeling with just 2 regular season games left before the CAA Tournament. They have lost 5 of 6 and are in danger of falling out of the top four of the CAA. However, Mason does control their own destiny and would earn a first round bye in the CAA Tournament with a win tonight, and then Saturday at home against Northeastern. A win Saturday is not likely, especially with the way the team has played in recent weeks, but a win tonight should be a sure thing. If Mason can't beat this horrible Delaware team then they might as well pack it in for the season.

The Blue Hens are in last place in the CAA and are essentially a two man team. G Jawan Carter averages 18.1 points per game, and G Alphonso Dawson averages 12.4 points per game. Every other player on the team averages 6.1 points per game or less. So game planning for the Blue Hens isn't very hard, Carter and Dawson can score their points, but shut down the rest of the team and you win. Mason G Cam Long has been struggling mightily during Mason's slide. Maybe a inferior opponent like the Blue Hens can help his confidence. Whether Cam wants it or not, he is the leader of the team. The chances of Mason winning when he doesn't play well are slim to none.

Mason has uncharacteristically struggled on the defensive end this season. Usually, a Coach Larranaga team that would score 83 points like Mason did Saturday against Charleston, would have been guaranteed a win. Since the Blue Hens have such few offensive weapons, a strong defensive effort should be expected for the Patriots.

This game has two possible extremes. If Mason plays how they should then it can be a much needed confidence building game for them. If Mason struggles and somehow loses to Delaware then the team will be completely deflated. I think Mason will play well enough to win and get some of their swagger back.

Prediction: George Mason 78, Delaware 66

Monday, February 15, 2010

GMU What!?!?!?

William & Mary (18-7, 10-5) at George Mason (16-10, 11-4)

The Tribe or the Pugs or whatever the heck they are now called come to the Patriot Center to take on the Patriots. This is a crucial game as these two are battling to finish in the top four and earn a first round bye in the CAA Tournament.

Mason will be without F Mike Morrison. He earned himself a 2-game suspension for getting two technical fouls against ODU on Saturday. He was only suspended a game by the conference, but then had another game tacked on by coach Jim Larranaga. I don't really agree with Morrison getting 2 games for this, whereas Tony Skinn in 06' got one game for hitting another guy in the nuts. I get that Larranaga is trying to send a message but I think the 1-game suspension by the CAA was sufficient.

William & Mary was garnering some at-large talk earlier in the season but a three game losing streak in January put an end to that. However, they are still a very dangerous team, and just knocked off first place Northeastern. Their best player is senior guard David Schneider, who leads them in points (15.6 per game) and rebounds (6.1 per game). G-F Quinn McDowell is their second leading scorer averaging 14.3 points per game. Another player for Mason to watch out for on the boards is F Marcus Kitts.

Mason has struggled all season with rebounding and the loss of Morrison for this game won't help. However, with Schneider, a guard being tied for the team lead in rebounds Mason should have a good chance to actually out rebound a team for a change. Mason will need Cam Long to be on his game, as when he struggles they stand almost no chance of winning. With Morrison out, forwards Ryan Pearson, Johnny Williams, and Louis Birdsong will need to rebound and pick up their scoring.

The Patriots have won 18 in a row at home in conference play and that is the biggest reason I think they can overcome the loss of Morrison and get a much needed win.

Prediction: George Mason 64, William & Mary 61

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Alley Oop

22 games this weekend feature Top 25 teams, but just one pits Top 25 teams against each other, as Tennessee travels to Kentucky. However, the game of the weekend will be the one I am attending, Maryland at #7 Duke.


#4 West Virginia (19-4, 8-3) at #23 Pittsburgh (18-6, 7-4)

The Backyard Brawl got ugly last time these teams met up with West Virginia fans throwing things onto the court. Hopefully, the Panthers fans will show a little more class. The Panthers were exceeding everyone's expectations to start the season but now seem to be coming back down to Earth. That fall will continue Friday night.

Prediction: West Virginia 75, Pittsburgh 69

#22 Cornell (20-3, 6-0) at Pennsylvania (3-15, 2-2)

Prediction: Cornell 82, Pennsylvania 49


Iowa State (13-11, 2-7) at #1 Kansas (23-1, 9-0)

Kansas has a legitimate shot at going undefeated in the Big 12 this season. Iowa State figures to put up little resistance.

Prediction: Kansas 81, Iowa State 63

#12 Tennessee (18-5, 6-3) at #2 Kentucky (23-1, 8-1)

The Vols were routed at Vanderbilt earlier this week and now have to go to Lexington to take on the Wildcats. Kentucky is led by stud freshman's G John Wall and F DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins has a great case to be named SEC Player of the Year. Vols F-C Wayne Chism will have his work cut out for him dealing with Cousins and F Patrick Patterson. The Wildcats size will provide matchup nightmares for Tennessee.

Prediction: Kentucky 76, Tennessee 68

Providence (12-12, 4-8) at #5 Villanova (21-2, 10-1)

The Wildcats bounced back nicely from their loss at Georgetown by winning at West Virginia on Monday. The Friars have lost four in a row and with them giving up 79 points a game, will have a hard time slowing down Villanova, who averages 85 points per game.

Prediction: Villanova 84, Providence 70

Iowa (9-16, 3-9) at #6 Purdue (20-3, 8-3)

The Boilermakers are coming off a statement making win at overrated Michigan State. A win against Iowa on Saturday won't register any sort of statements other than "meh".

Prediction: Purdue 74, Iowa 58

Maryland (16-6, 6-2) at #7 Duke (20-4, 8-2)

Kind of surprised that the Twerps haven't broken into the Top 25 yet. They will have not played in almost a week heading into this one, as their Tuesday game against UVA was cancelled due to the snow. Duke seems to have more of an inside presence this year with the improved play of F Miles Plumlee, F Kyle Singler, and C Brian Zoubek. Twerps F Jordan Williams has been a force inside, averaging almost 8 rebounds per game. G Greivis Vasquez is making a case to be ACC Player of the Year, averaging 18.1 pts, 4.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. This will be a fun one to watch in person. Maryland has had some success at Cameron in the past so I think they will give the Dookies a battle, but it won't be enough.

Prediction: Duke 85, Maryland 83

Colorado (11-12, 2-7) at #9 Kansas State (19-4, 6-3)

The Wildcats have been a surprise this year, I didn't them mentioned in many people's pre-season Top 10 lists. Should be a relatively easy night for them at home against the Buffaloes.

Prediction: Kansas State 83, Colorado 70

#10 Michigan State (19-6, 9-3) at Penn State (8-15, 0-11)

What the hell happened to Penn State? NIT champions last year, they have hit rock bottom this year and have yet to win a Big Ten game. The Spartans have dropped three in a row and will be desperate for a win. Good time to have the Nittany Lions on the schedule.

Prediction: Michigan State 69, Penn State 63

San Diego (9-16, 2-7) at #11 Gonzaga (19-4, 7-1)

Gonzaga doesn't impress me much, their true test will come Tournament time.

Prediction: Gonzaga 85, San Diego 57

Indiana (9-14, 3-8) at #13 Wisconsin (18-6, 8-4)

The Badgers will look to rebound from a rare home loss against Illinois earlier this week. Another Big Ten power fortunate to be playing a weak opponent.

Prediction: Wisconsin 72, Indiana 61

Nebraska (13-11, 1-8) at #14 Texas (19-5, 5-4)

Will Nebraska win an NCAA tournament game in my lifetime? The Longhorns continue what seems to be the theme of the weekend; struggling teams facing exactly the opponents they need to get back on track.

Prediction: Texas 78, Nebraska 68

#15 Butler (21-4, 14-0) at Cleveland State (12-12, 8-4)

The Bulldogs are cruising through the Horizon. Cleveland State's overall record isn't impressive but they should give Butler a challenge at home. This one will come down to the wire.

Prediction: Butler 68, Cleveland State 66

Air Force (9-14, 1-9) at #17 BYU (22-3, 7-2)

Cougars are 14-0 at home, Falcons are 0-8 on the road. A 1 month old could pick this game.

Prediction: BYU 85, Air Force 62

#18 Northern Iowa (22-3, 13-1) at Bradley (12-12, 7-7)

Northern Iowa barely survived Bradley at home last month and now get to face the Braves on the road. Another game that will be closer than the experts think.

Prediction: Northern Iowa 63, Bradley 58

#19 New Mexico (22-3, 8-2) at Utah (11-12, 4-5)

I could pretend to know something or act like I care about this game, but I don't and I won't.

Prediction: New Mexico 75, Utah 65

#20 Georgia Tech (17-7, 5-5) at Wake Forest (17-5, 7-3)

The Demon Deacons were throttled by the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta, but are a much better home team. Tech has had their struggles on the road this year. I think the Demon Deacons will get this "upset" on the strength of F Al-Farouq Aminu, and earn themselves a spot in the Top 25.

Prediction: Wake Forest 77, Georgia Tech 69

Rhode Island (19-4, 7-3) at #21 Temple (19-5, 7-2)

People are saying the Atlantic 10 could possibly get 6 teams into the field of 65 this year. Reminds me of when I was a kid and the Atlantic 10 was relevant and not considered a mid-major conference. The Rams are trying to avenge an overtime loss to the Owls from earlier this season. This will be a competitive game throughout, the Rams will win a squeaker.

Prediction: Rhode Island 63, Temple 60

#22 Cornell (20-3, 6-0) at Princeton (13-5, 4-0)

The two unbeatens in the Ivy League face off. Big Red F Ryan Wittman is one of the better players in the country you haven't heard of. Cornell crushed Harvard and I expect the same in this one.

Prediction: Cornell 68, Princeton 54

LSU (9-15, 0-10) at #24 Vanderbilt (18-5, 7-2)

Another what the hell happened to them team is LSU. The Tigers can't score at all in SEC play. With them being 0-8 on the road and the Commodores being 12-0 at home makes this an easy call.

Prediction: Vanderbilt 88, LSU 57

#25 UNLV (19-5, 7-3) at San Diego State (17-7, 6-4)

UNLV being in the Top 25 also hearkens back to my childhood. Rebels G Tre'Von Willis averages 17.7 a game. The Aztecs don't have one main guy, as four players average double figures. F Kawhi Leonard will muscle the Aztecs past the Rebels.

Prediction: San Diego State 74, UNLV 71


Louisville (15-8, 6-4) at #3 Syracuse (24-1, 11-1)

Louisville is fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives while the Orange have surprised everyone by being so dominant. F Wesley Johnson is earning most of the praise and rightfully so, averaging 16.1 pts, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. The Orange will get their twelfth win in a row.

Prediction: Syracuse 80, Louisville 74

#8 Georgetown (18-5, 8-4) at Rutgers (12-12, 2-9)

After last year's slip up the Hoyas seem poised to make some noise come March.

Prediction: Georgetown 77, Rutgers 72

#16 Ohio State (19-6, 9-3) at Illinois (17-8, 9-3)

Both these teams come into the game hot with 5-game winning streaks. Buckeyes G-F Evan Turner is the talk of the country and he is having a dominant season. He averages 19.2 points per game, 9.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. I think he can will the Buckeyes to a tough road win.

Prediction: Ohio State 77, Illinois 76

Record: 1-0

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

GMU What!?!?!?

VCU (17-5, 9-4) at George Mason (15-9, 10-3)

With football season now over (single tear) it is time to focus on college basketball. George Mason is a surprising 10-3 in CAA play, despite being one of the youngest teams in the country. I didn't expect much from Mason this year, but their recent 7-game winning streak raised mine and the rest of Mason fans expectations. Because of this, their recent two game slide has people concerned. It doesn't get any easier tonight as the Patriots host arch-rival VCU.

The Patriots are led by G Cam Long. Long is averaging 13.3 points a game and 3.1 assists. As he goes, so goes Mason. Cam will have to get back to the level he was playing during the 7-game winning streak for Mason to have a chance against VCU. Other guys that will have to step up tonight are F Ryan Pearson, who leads Mason in rebounding with 7.0 per game. Rebounding has been an issue all season for Mason, and it has been confusing to me that freshman F Johnny Williams hasn't seen more playing time, as he really the only big body Mason has. G Andre Cornelius has been shooting very well from three point land this year, while F Mike Morrison has been consistent with his inconsistency. The most promising freshman has been F Luke Hancock. Hancock is averaging 7.4 points per game, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. The future is very bright for him and when watching him play it is instantly recognizable that the talent level Mason is bringing in is light years ahead of where it was a couple of years ago.

The Rams got off to a slow start in CAA play but seem to be finding their groove. Early struggles were to be expected with them losing head coach Anthony Grant, and star PG Eric Maynor. F Larry Sanders has been an absolute beast, averaging 15 points and 9 rebounds per game. Pearson, Morrison, and Williams will have their work cut out for them. Sanders embarrassed Mason in the CAA championship last year, and he has the potential to do it again. G Joey Rodriguez is a great scoring and passing threat for the Rams, averaging 11.5 points and 6.1 assists per game. I wish Mason could get that kind of distribution from Cam. Other threats at the guard position for the Rams are Bradford Burgess and Brandon Rozzell.

I don't really have a good feeling about this game. The Rams have won 8 of their past 9 games with all 8 of those wins coming by double digits. Then again, the Patriots have always played well at home, and have won 17 straight home games in conference play. Hopefully a lot of people can make it to the game, despite the never ending snow we seem to be getting. ESPNU will be there and this is the type of game where the home crowd can make a huge difference. My head says VCU will win but my heart has to pick Mason.

Prediction: George Mason 69, VCU 65

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Hail Mary - Super Bowl XLIV

Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints (15-3) vs. Indianapolis Colts (16-2), Indianapolis favored by 5

The two best teams in the NFL all season long meet in Super Bowl XLIV to determine the greatest team in the NFL this year. These two were both 13-0 at one point and both dreaming of perfection. While those dreams didn't come true, a far greater achievement awaits one of these teams on Sunday night.

The Colts and Saints are similar in makeup. Both are led by fantastic QBs, the Colts by 4-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning and the Saints by Drew Brees. They have multiple options at the running back position. The Colts run the ball, albeit not well, with Joseph Addai and Donald Brown. The Saints have Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell (who has disappeared in the playoffs), and Reggie Bush. Both Manning and Brees have a plethora of options at WR and TE. Manning has Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and Dallas Clark. Brees has Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Robert Meacham, Devery Henderson, and Jeremy Shockey. Offensively, I would call it a wash between the two teams.

Where the difference will come in this game is on the defensive side of the ball. The Indianapolis Colts are simply better than the Saints. The big storyline heading into Super Bowl XLIV is the status of DE Dwight Freeney for the Colts. I expect that Freeney will play but will see limited action. However, I don't think him being limited will hurt the Colts enough for it to matter. The Colts have tremendous team speed on defense, which will neutralize the effectiveness of the Saints playmakers. The Saints defense is mostly smoke and mirrors. They really aren't that good, where they have been successful has been forcing teams into turnovers. Peyton Manning and the Colts won't fumble the ball six times like Minnesota did, and Manning won't throw mind-numbingly dumb passes like Brett Favre did. The Saints forced 5 Vikings turnovers and still barely won the game. They were completely dominated on their home-field in every statistical measure besides turnovers. Now I know you can't necessarily base one game on another but the Saints strength of causing turnovers figures to be a non-factor in the Super Bowl. When their defense isn't causing turnovers the Saints are usually getting shredded on the ground and through the air. The Colts haven't had a running back go over 100 yards this season so that doesn't figure to be an issue, but Manning had little trouble with a much better Jets defense, so he could put up eye popping numbers in this game.

The other strength of the Saints defense is getting to the quarterback. They didn't record a single sack on Favre in the NFC Championship but anyone watching that game knew Favre got the crap beat out of him. Once again though, their strength is likely to be nullified by Manning. Manning gets rid of the ball so fast that teams never get to hit him. Even if they do have a chance, Manning will usually fall to the ground, rather than allow himself to be pummeled. The Saints won't rattle Manning and because of this their defenses true colors will be shown.

Sometimes you just have to look at a matchup, and the Colts are a terrible matchup for the Saints. I think the Saints will be able to hang in this game because of Drew Brees and the offense, but their defense will not be able to get stops when needed. I like the Colts to win their second Super Bowl in four seasons, and Manning to win his second Super Bowl MVP in four seasons.

Prediction: Indianapolis 34, New Orleans 24

Last Week Against the Spread: 2-0
Overall Against the Spread: 133-129-4

Last Week Straight Up: 1-1

Overall Straight Up: 169-96