Archive for January, 2011

AP Ballot this week
January 26, 2011

Hey, at least Ohio State didn’t crumple under the weight of my number one ranking like Syracuse. Syracuse in fact continues to plummet following the most confusing result of the season, a 90-68 loss to the now 12-9 Seton Hall Pirates. Stunning. That much talent offering that listless a performance reminds me that Jim Boeheim has only a single national championship despite some of the greatest teams in history.

The Buckeyes meanwhile reaffirm their number one status. They put forth a beat down of biblical proportion on Purdue (12th on my ballot). Thad Matta is the most unheralded top level coach in the country. Nobody ever talks about this guy as a great coach. His worst season at OSU was his first when he went 20-12. 21-0 to start this season in a conference with three other ranked teams (plus Michigan St.) is remarkable. Imagine is his top players stayed for more than one year.

At the back end of the poll, and not just to boost G.P.A, we have Harvard. I received a pair of interview requests regarding this selection. One from Dennis Zheng who writes for the Harvard Crimson, and another Brian Kotloff from the Daily Pennsyvanian. They both wanted to understand my thoughts on including the Crimson (the only pollster to do so). More pointedly they asked, why did I pick put them in the poll.

Their high level of curiosity leaves me wondering if I’ve lost my brain, but the more I study the selection the more I like it.

Harvard at 13-3 has wins over Colorado and at Boston College plus a road win last week at George Washington. The last one piqued my interest as their leading scorer Keith Wright went 3-9 from the field scoring just seven points. A team that finds a way to win on the road against a quality opponent with its top player contributing almost nothing, that’s a team of substance.

Not top 25 related, but if you’re looking for some quality hoops in town this weekend, check out a pair of games at Reitz Arena. Friday Loyola faces nemesis Siena then Sunday against Iona. Can I have teams that end in “a” for a thousand Alex?

Here’s my ballot, have a great week..

1. Ohio State
2. Pittsburgh
3. Duke
4. Kansas
5. Texas
6. San Diego State
7. Connecticut
8. Villanova
9. Syracuse
10. BYU
11. Texas A&M
12. Purdue
13. Missouri
14. Notre Dame
15. Kentucky
16. Florida State
17. Washington
18. Wisconsin
19. Minnesota
20. Louisville
21. Florida
22. Vanderbilt
23. Illinois
24. Arizona
25. Harvard

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1/17/11 Ballot
January 20, 2011

Monday morning, when I put together this list, I really liked the way Syracuse not only was winning, but beating quality teams in convincing fashion. Ohio State and Kansas also kept winning but in less convincing fashion, hence the bump of the Orange to number one. 12 hours later Syracuse lost. Maybe this was the basketball gods way of saying to stop listening to Qadry Ismail. Gods, I hear you loud and clear..

1. Syracuse

2. Ohio State

3. Kansas

4. Pittsburgh

5. Duke

6. San Diego St.

7. Villanova

8. Texas

9. Texas A&M

10. Connecticut

11. BYU

12. Kentucky

13. Purdue

14. Missouri

15. Louisville

16. Gonzaga

17. Notre Dame

18. Colorado

19. Florida State

20. Washington

21. Arizona

22. Michigan State

23. St. Mary’s

24. Wisconsin

25. Illinois

Playoff Parallels
January 14, 2011

If this were a movie, I would feel awfully confident that the Ravens were on their way to a 2nd Super Bowl win (I would also enjoy a leading role of some sort, probably.) The parallels from their 2000 Championship Season, while not mirror images, they are similar enough to make you pause.

First, they posted the same regular season record of 12-4, but had to go into the playoffs as a Wild Card. They enjoyed a win at Pittsburgh, but also lost to the Steelers at home. They went through stretches where the offense completely failed to live up to expectations leaving fans to call for any number of people to be fired. I’ve heard and seen all of that as well this season.

In the post season ten years ago, they earned a convincing, rather easy first round win (21-3 over Denver). This season already includes the 30-7 victory at KC. In the Divisional Round, on the road at their most fierce divisional rival, the Ravens survived a blood bath at Tennessee. Here we are again, with a different team, but the same scenario. In the AFC Title Game, the Ravens went on the road to face the team with the best record in the AFC. That is a likely option this season if New England manages to hold off the Jets.

There also is the sense of the Ravens rallying around one of their own. Ten years ago, Ray Lewis was dead set on redemption following his incarceration on flawed murder charges. Right now, as Ed Reed deals with the disappearance and assumed death of his brother Brian Reed, they lean on each other once more.

Because this is not a movie, the previous paragraphs may prove a fruitless exercise in typing of wishful thinking. But sometimes, maybe by accident, the game does follow a script.


January 12, 2011

For those of you waiting with baited breath, my apologies for the delay in posting my ballot this week. Ravens on the brain and that won’t change anytime soon. Just finished a converstation with Chad Unitas about the state of the team. Chad (yes the son of Johnny and spitting image to boot) offered an unsolicited compliment that has to rival any a quarterback could receive.

“Joe really reminds me of my Dad. He doesn’t give a @#$% how you get the win, just get it.”

I’ve heard others say Joe Flacco’s demeanor reminds them of John Unitas, but it didn’t hold much credibility for me. Hearing it from the legend’s son hits home a like a Unitas to Berry out pass.

This will be a fun week in Pittsburgh. We are heading to the Steel City on Thursday, coverage to begin Thursday Night at 11, and all day Friday and Saturday. Make sure to tune in Friday at 7:00 for an hour long pre-game show.

1. Duke
2. Ohio State
3. Syracuse
4. Kansas
5. Pitt
6. San Diego St.
7. Purdue
8. Villanova
9. Texas
10. Connecticut
11. Texas A&M
12. BYU
13. Notre Dame
14. Missouri
15. Kentucky
16. Illinois
17. Louisville
18. Washington
19. Cincinnati
20. Gonzaga
21. Oklahoma State
22. Temple
23. Vanderbilt
24. Kansas State
25. Georgetown

AP Hoops Ballot
January 4, 2011

A new bottom 3 of the ballot, and I’m glad to get Gonzaga back in the mix. Not a Bulldogs fan per say, but I respect a program that will play anyone, anywhere. Duke almost had a hiccup Sunday night against Miami, and still went on to win by double figures. Still seven teams unbeaten in division one, impressive for that many to go this far without a blemish.

1. Duke
2. Ohio State
3. Syracuse
4. Kansas
5. Pittsburgh
6. Missouri
7. San Diego State
8. Connecticut
9. Kentucky
10. Purdue
11. Villanova
12. Texas
13. Georgetown
14. Central Florida
15. Cincinnati
16. Texas A&M
17. Kansas State
18. BYU
19. Louisville
20. Vanderbilt
21. Illinois
22. Notre Dame
23. Washington
24. Michigan State
25. Gonzaga

NFL Playoff Bracket (complete with winners)
January 3, 2011

Why not? We fill out, with confidence and gusto mind you, many an NCAA Tourney bracket. Here’s one for the NFL.

AFC first: WILDCARD
6) NY Jets vs. 3) Indianapolis.. Jets advance
5) Baltimore vs. 4) Kansas City.. Ravens advance

DIVISION
1) New England vs. 6) NY Jets.. Patriots advance
2) Pittsburgh vs. 4) Baltimore.. Ravens advance

CHAMPIONSHIP
1) New England vs. 4) Baltimore.. Patriots advance

NFC WILDCARD
6) Green Bay vs. 3) Philadelphia.. Eagles advance
5) New Orleans vs. 4) Play In Game.. Saints advance

DIVISION
5) New Orleans vs. 1) Atlanta.. Saints advance
3) Philadelphia vs. 2) Chicago.. Eagles advance

CHAMPIONSHIP
5) New Orleans vs. 3) Philadelphia.. Saints advance

SUPER BOWL
New Orleans vs. New England.. Saints win.