IN THE POWER RANKINGS WEDNESDAY'S SPORTS ZONE
WHEN SHOULD THE CARDINALS DRAFT A DEFENSIVE LINEMAN ... A FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT PREVIEW ... AND IS MARVIN BAGLEY CHALLENGING DEANDRE AYTON ATOP THE NBA DRAFT?
(FOR WEDNESDAY'S TENTATIVE LINEUP SEE BOTTOM OF PAGE)
SUNDAY, MARCH 18, 2018
A SIX PACK OF NCAA TOURNAMENT OBSERVATIONS
(TO BE UPDATED SUNDAY EVENING)
*THE SOUTH LOOKS LIKE NO OTHER REGION IN THE HISTORY OF THE FOUR: The top four seeds (Virginia, Cincinnati, Tennessee and Arizona) were all eliminated before the Sweet Sixteen leaving number Kentucky as the top remaining seed.
*FROM CUTTING DOWN THE NETS TO ROUTED IN ROUND TWO: From Carolina Blue prevailing last season in Glendale to losing 86-65 to Texas A&M, until today arguably the most underachieving team in the nation this season, handing Roy Williams his worst ever NCAA Tournament loss and just UNC's second ever tournament loss in 36 games played in the state of North Carolina.
*THE CITY OF CINCINNATI DISLIKES KNOXVILLE: Top-seed Xavier was outscored 18-4 during the final six minutes falling to Florida State after second-seed Cincinnati scored on its first eight possessions and eventually led by 22 points before losing to Nevada ... HEARD THRU THE GRAPEVINE: Louisville wants to hire Xavier coach Chris Mack.
*MICHIGAN STATE WAS NEVER AS GOOD AS THE TALKING HEADS CLAIMED: The Spartans beat up on a bottom heavy Big Ten Conference and even struggled against some of those teams, especially away from East Lansing. But, it was surprising Tom Izzo's team lost IN DETROIT to Syracuse.
*FORMER HERB SENDEK ASU ASSISTANT ERIC MUSSELMAN IS MOVING ON: His Nevada team became the first team in NCAA Tournament history to win consecutive games after trailing by at least 10 points at halftime.
*CANDACE PARKER IS ABOUT TO BECOME A STUDIO TELEVISION STAR: The former Tennessee star displayed her college basketball knowledge on the Turner stations far more than the under qualified Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith on CBS.
SATURDAY, MARCH 17, 2018
A SIX PACK OF NCAA TOURNAMENT OBSERVATIONS
*RAMBLING INTO THE SWEET 16: Loyola-Chicago has won twice in three days on final possessions shots but it was clearly the better team in the wins over Miami-Florida and Tennessee. Loyola is headed to the round of 16 for the first time since 1985, when it lost to Patrick Ewing and Georgetown. That was also the last time the Ramblers made the NCAA Tournament ... Tennessee was without its best defender 6-10 center Kyle Alexander who suffered a hip injury during the first round win over Wright State.
*DUKE AND VILLANOVA DOMINATED AGAIN: It's been a wild first three days, but Duke and Villanova, half of my Final Four, have been the most impressive teams.
*TEXAS TECH IS HEADED TO THE SWEET 16 TIME FOR THE FIRST TIME: Keenan Evans, possibly the most valuable player on any team, made all the offensive plays down the stretch against Florida.
*THE SOUTH IS WIDE OPEN: Top seed Virginia, third seed Tennessee and fourth seed Arizona have already been eliminated.
*KELVIN SAMPSON DESERVES BLAME: He chose NOT to defend the passer on the baseline allowing Michigan to easily in-bound the ball to halfcourt that led to another pass and the game-winning three in Houston's last-second loss to Michigan.
*LOOKING AHEAD: From ESPN - Purdue center Isaac Haas participated in parts of the Boilermakers' practice on Saturday, one day after fracturing his elbow, but head coach Matt Painter said he does not expect the 7-foot-2 forward to be able to return for any part of the NCAA tournament.
FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2018
A SIX PACK OF FIRST ROUND NCAA TOURNAMENT OBSERVATIONS
*UMBC MADE HISTORY, AS DID TONY BENNETT: It took 135 games before a #16 seed beat a #1 seed and when it happened you would have thought the #16 seed was the #1 seed as UMBC scored 53 points in the second half while embarrassing Virginia 74-54 ... STATISTICALLY SPEAKING - Number one seeds were previously 135-0 against 16 seeds with the average margin 24.9 points. Only five of those previous 135 games were decided by five points or fewer ... THE BOTTOM LINE - UMBC had not beaten a team from a power conference since defeating Nebraska in 2008.
*WICHITA STATE’S YEAR AS THE FAVORITE ENDED QUICKLY: Wichita State, after years of being the media’s favorite underdog, was favored by 13 ½ points, but got outplayed and lost 81-75 to Marshall, coached by Dan D’Antoni, brother of Mike and Suns assistant when Mike was the Suns head coach. Wichita did not advantage of its massive size edge and jacked 29 threes, making just eight.
*STAR OF THE FIRST ROUND: Houston guard Rob Gray finished with 39 points, including the game-winning drive with 1.1 seconds remaining as Houston, after blowing a double-digit, second-half lead, advanced against San Diego State … SATURDAY PREDICTION – Michigan covers the three-point number against Houston.
*SYRACUSE CONTINUED SOME HISTORY: The Orange beat TCU means that at least one PLAY-IN GAME winner has reached the round of 32 every since the originally field was expanded to 68.
*REVENGE DIDN'T WORK OUT: Marcus Foster who was asked to leave Kansas State and ended up with Creighton was awful in his chance for payback. Bruce Webber's Wildcats won 69-59 while Foster finished with just six points on two of 11 from the field.
*ON THE INJURY FRONT (FROM CBS SPORTS): Purdue advanced to the second round after defeating Cal State Fullerton 74-48 on Friday, but the Boilermakers will have to finish out their remaining run without senior center Isaac Haas, who fractured his right elbow during the game. Haas fell on the elbow and suffered the injury midway through the second half battling for a rebound.
THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2018
BUFFALO 89, ARIZONA 68
*1ST HALF: The all too frequent start for the UA with the opponent getting open threes and the 50-50 balls = Buff 8-4 (15:51) ... UA can't handle Buffalo isolation sets - Buffalo can't handle UA at rim - Buffalo still 50-50 balls = Buff 17-12 (11:54) ... Good news - Alkins 4 of 4 with agressiveness to the rim, bad news -game too fast for Parker Jackson-Cartwright who is 1-5 and beaten often dribble at other end = 23-23 (7:4o) ... UA defense big run with Pinder and Akot forcing turnovers = UA transition and smart Buffalo time out = UA 30-27 (4:12) ... Ayton too many face up jumpers (zero of four) but two of two in paint (3:00) ... Trier's mystifying with his slow starts ... Jackson-Cartwright DESTROYED at both ends first half.
AT THE HALF: Buffalo shot 53 percent ... The UA has been outhustled (not shocking) AND outrebounded (shocking) - Buffalo has 19-13 edge on the boards ... Alkins, Ristic and Pinder are nine of 13 from the field - the others are seven of 21 - Trier and Jackson-Cartwright are EACH one of six - Jackson-Cartwright should never been second in field goal attempts and have one fewer attempt than Ayton in any half ever ... The ,UA would be in real trouble without Buffalo's nine turnovers.
*2ND HALF: Miller justifiably furious after Ayton, Ristic and Alkins all beat down floor for easy Buffalo layup to make it 46-49 (16:25) ... UA lack of effort obvious with Trier not getting on floor twice for loose balls - Buffalo has frustrated UA which is not complaining after every call = Buff 60-55 (11:59) ... so much for improved defense - allowed 60 in 28:00 - outscored 30-4 behind arc (11:59) ... UA in complete meltdown move - Ayton taking threes and close to zero effort at defensive end = Buffalo 70-57 (9;30) ... UA players not bitching at each other (Alkins and Parker Jackson-Cartwright) ... 77-60 (5:09) - UA looks like a team that has quit ... down and nearly a shot clock violation before worst offensive player (Akot) forced to shot a three
*THE BOTTOM LINE: The UA was outhustled and outcoached from start to finish leaving Bill Walton's "Conference of Champions" 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament.
*LAS VEGAS SUPER BOOK LINE: UA 9, Buffalo (158)
*PREDICTION: UA 83, Buffalo 75
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2018
SYRACUSE 60, ASU 56
*1ST HALF: The Sun Devils have a stage fright look with Justice and Evans shooting airballs on their first field goal attempts (15:53) ... Syracuse five fouls - ASU down 10-8 (14:00) ... Syracuse six fouls - ASU in bonus rest of half - ASU down 11-12 (12:25) ... ASU has not taken advantage of SU's foul issues, missing all three free throws (8:43) ... SU has made four of nine from behind arc (6:40) ... SU freshman Brissett (14.7 ppg) took a hard fall and was injured - SU 21-16 - ASU hasn't been able to get the game up and tempo = SU tempo (6:21) ... ASU 7 fouls - didn't take advantage of early foul edge - both teams 1 of 5 free throws (5:34) ... Brissett stayed in game ... Holder one of six - made first shot (2:55) ... SU 30-28 (half)
AT THE HALF: ASU has zero fast-break points and frequently has been forced deep into the shot clock against the Syracuse 2-3 zone ... STATISTICALLY SPEAKING - ASU, which has gotten worse on the glass during the season, allowed six offensive rebounds and was outrebounded 20-15. Shannon Evans and Mickey Mitchell have combined to make seven of 11 shots - the other Sun Devils are 3-13, including one of six from Tra Holder ... THE BOTTOM LINE - ASU, an excellent second-half team much of the season, is fortunate to be down just two at the half.
*2ND HALF: ASU seven wins when down at half ... Holder three on first possession of half - Evans three on second possession of half = ASU 34-30 (19:00) - Holder layup third possession = ASU 8-0 on first five possessions of half (ASU 3 of 3, SU o of 1, 1 turnovers = 36-30, SU time out (18:30) ... Holder three makes already this half, including two threes = ASU 41-37 (13:40) ... ASU blowing chance to break it open with some sloppy trips (10:40) ... Hurley can't complain about the officiating in this half - ASU has gotten multiple 50-50 calls ... ASU didn't score for 5:30 but SU missed eight of nine shots over that span - some really bad basketball (7:59) ... ASU has had two chances to put this game away but up only 49-47 - five minues without and another three minutes without scoring = instead, SU eight straight and up 50-49 (4:35) ... Justice three 52-50 (4:00) ... ASU two consecutive misses and Syracuse two makes = SU 55-52 ... Evans missed clean look from three - ASU two scores in final eight possessions - also led 49-42
*THE BOTTOM LINE: After the 12-0 start to the season that resulted in national attention, ASU lost 12 of its last 20 games. This loss means the Pac 12 Conference has just the UA in the Field of 64.
*LAS VEGAS SUPER BOOK LINE: ASU 1, Syracuse (140)
*PREDICTION: ASU 68, Syracuse 65
BOB KEMP'S 2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET
FIRST ROUND: Virginia over Maryland-Baltimore County … Creighton over Kansas State … Kentucky over Davidson … Arizona over Buffalo … Loyola-Chicago over Miami-Florida … Tennessee over Wright State … Nevada over Texas … Cincinnati over Georgia State
SECOND ROUND: Virginia over Creighton … Arizona over Kentucky … Tennessee over Loyola-Chicago … Cincinnati over Nevada
SWEET SIXTEEN: Virginia over Arizona … Tennessee over Cincinnati
ELITE EIGHT: Tennessee over Virginia
FIRST ROUND: Xavier over Texas Southern … Missouri over Florida State … South Dakota State over Ohio State … Gonzaga over NC-Greensboro … San Diego State over Houston … Michigan over Montana … Providence over Texas A&M … North Carolina over Lipscomb
SECOND ROUND: Xavier over Missouri … Gonzaga over South Dakota State … Michigan over San Diego State … North Carolina over Providence
SWEET SIXTEEN: Gonzaga over Xavier … North Carolina over Michigan
ELITE EIGHT: North Carolina over Gonzaga
FIRST ROUND: Villanova over Radford … Alabama over Virginia Tech … Murray State over West Virginia … Wichita State over Marshall … Florida over St. Bonaventure … Texas Tech over S.F. Austin … Butler over Arkansas … Purdue over Cal State Fullerton
SECOND ROUND: Villanova over Alabama … Wichita State over Murray State … Texas Tech over Butler … Butler over Purdue
SWEET SIXTEEN: Villanova over Wichita State … Texas Tech over Butler
ELITE EIGHT: Villanova over Texas Tech
FIRST ROUND: Kansas over Pennsylvania … N.C. State over Seton Hall … New Mexico State over Clemson … Charleston over Auburn … TCU over Syracuse … Michigan State over Bucknell … Oklahoma over Rhode Island … Duke over Iona
SECOND ROUND: Kansas over N.C. State … New Mexico State over Charleston … Michigan State over TCU … Duke over Oklahoma
SWEET SIXTEEN: Kansas over N.M. State … Duke over Michigan State
ELITE EIGHT: Duke over Kansas
NATIONAL SEMIFINALS: North Carolina over Tennessee… Duke over Villanova
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Duke over North Carolina
IN THE POWER RANKINGS WEDNESDAY SPORTS ZONE
(THIS PLAN IS TENTATIVE AND SOMEWHAT SUBJECT TO CHANGE)
*AT THE TOP OF THE SHOW, THE INTRODUCTION OF THE PIPELINE
*AT 11:15, THE LOCAL ROUNDUP: topped by a Suns-Pistons rewind and ASU defensive coordinator Danny Gonzalez Meets The Press
*AT 11:30, INSIDE ASU BASEBALL: Which pitching coach Mike Cather
*AT 11:45, THE NATIONAL ROUNDUP: A Six Pack of Ripped From The Headlines, From The Scoreboard and more
*AT THE TOP OF THE NOON HOUR, UPDATED RESULTS OF THE POLL QUESTIONS AND A REPEAT OF TODAY'S PIPELINE
*AT 12:15, A FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT PREVIEW: with Michael Rathburn of Rotowire.com
*AT 12:30, THE FIRST INTERACTIVE SEGMENT WITH PHONE CALLS AND/OR TWEETS
*AT 12:45, MORE LOCAL ROUNDUP: Torey Lovullo talks about his coaching staff
*AT 1:00, IT’S THE LAST CALL AND BOTTOM LINE
*AT 1:15, THE FINAL INTERACTIVE SEGMENT WITH PHONE CALLS AND/OR TWEETS PLUS THE DAILY CAUGHT MY EYE EDITION AND SOME TELEVISION VIEWING SUGGESTIONS
*AT 1:30, THE THIRD OF OUR WEEKLY NFL DRAFT PREVIEWS: Defensive line discussion with Dan Shonka, general manager and national scout of Ourlads Scouting Services
*AT 1:45, THANK YOU TIME AND TODAY IN ROCK HISTORY
AND THREE SEGMENTS WITH INTERACTIVE ACTION – TWEETS DURING THE 11:30 SEGMENT AND INTERACTIVE SEGMENTS WITH PHONE CALLS (602-260-10-60) AND/OR TWEETS (@SPORTS ZONE 1060 OR TWITTER.COM/SPORTS ZONE 1060) AT 12:30 AND 1:15