March Madness ’10: Brits Can’t Ball

Well I may be an ocean away, but this time of year still means one thing: March Madness! I haven’t kept up with college basketball very well this year since basketball isn’t big here at all. Try naming one good British basketball player (and no, Ben Gordon doesn’t count even though he’s playing for the English National Team). Yeah, didn’t think so. As a result, I don’t know too much about what’s been going on other than BC’s disappointing finish, John Wall being the next great point guard, and the Big East dominating with its depth. However, I still have to fill out a bracket and go with what I remember from the ESPN.com front page over the past 3 months. So here is my 2010 March Madness bracket, aptly named “Brits Can’t Ball”

WE’RE GOING TO THE ‘SHIP!

Wow! Magic are going to the NBA Finals! I thought it was possible all along but I wouldn’t admit it until I saw it.  After all these years since Shaq and Penny, the Magic are back in the Finals and playing against the Lakers.  So here it is:

LA Lakers v. Orlando Magic: If the Magic had Jameer Nelson, I would confidently predict Magc in 6.  The Lakers have a lot of trouble defending quick, penetrating point guards (see Aaron Brooks).  And there is a tiny chance that he may be back!  But assuming he doesn’t make a miraculous comeback, the outcome will be harder to predict.  If Alston can play like he did in the Cavs series, he can cause some of the same problems for the Lakers defense.  Howard will probably not be as dominant against LA, but he has easily outplayed Andrew Bynum during the regular season.  I just hope Dwight can knock down free throws because LA has a lot of fouls to give.  Courtney Lee and Mikael Pietrus will also have their hands full with Kobe, but again the Rockets showed you can slow Kobe down and that can cause serious disruptions for the Lakers.  Overall, I am cautiously optimistic about our chances.  I know we won’t get swept again like the last time we were in the Finals.  We have momentum, focus, and the inside presence on our side.  Lakers on the other hand have cruised a lot and their role players lose confidence easily.  Game 1 should be a good barometer of how the series turns out.  I may be going out on a limb here, but I can’t pick against my team in the Finals.  Let’s Go Magic.  Beat LA!  I wish I could watch the games.  Orlando in 7.

Also in French Open news, Rafa Nadal lost in the fourth round to a 23rd seed?  Wow!  And this is the man who’s only lost 7 sets EVER at Roland Garros! Wow!

The Magic are still alive!

Magic Celtics Basketball

It appeared questionable at times but the Magic finally took care of business and looked like the smooth offensive team that everyone expected. Now it’s time to take on Lebron and the Cavs for a shot at our first Finals appearance since Shaq and Penny got swept by the Rockets. Let’s Go Magic!

Cleveland Cavaliers v. Orlando Magic: Once again Cleveland has over a week off while their opponent is coming off a 7 game series. I feel cautoiusly optimistic about our chance to upset Cleveland (yes it would be an upset) because: 1) we looked pretty good offensively in Game 7, 2) we blew out the Cavs late in the season after Jameer went out 3) Dwight will make life hard on Lebron on the defensive end and Cleveland’s big men can’t stop Dwight on offense. Now that being said, this is the Cavs team that hasn’t lost in the post season yet and with Lebron in the lineup anything’s possible. Still, I’m going out on a peronally biased limb here to call the upset. Orlando in 7.

LA Lakers v. Denver Nuggets: Up until Game 7, the Lakers looked very vulnerable struggling against the Yao-less Rockets. Denver on the other hand easily handled Denver. This series though should be different. I think LA got a wake up call in the second round and Kobe and the gang will be more focused against a higher ranked opponent. Look for a series of entertaining and emotional high scoring games. In the end though, Denver has no one to guard Kobe. LA in 6.

Enjoy the games because I probably will not be able to from Paris. Thank goodness for ESPN.com though. Let’s Go Magic!

The Amazingness Continues

So I didn’t do too bad the first round. Basically all the teams I picked advanced except San Antonio. Of course some of the series went longer or shorter, but if I were doing a bracket it would still mostly be intact. Now let’s take a look at the second round, again starting with the East.

Eastern Conference

Cleveland Cavaliers v. Atlanta Hawks: Cleveland continued to look unstoppable as it swept Detroit in the first round and I expect to see Lebron continue their dominance against the Hawks. I am sorely disappointed by the Hawks after what was probably the worst 7 game series ever as each game was a blowout one way or another. I am interested in seeing the Josh Smith/Lebron matchup and how the Cavs handle Joe Johnson, but the Hawks need to find some consistency. The Hawks should give Cleveland more of a challenge than the Pistons did, but I don’t see the results being that different. Cleveland in 6.

Boston Celtics v. Orlando Magic: I’m going to be very unpopular in this town, but I love it. If only we didn’t have finals right now, I would definitely try to go to the games. I am cautiously optimistic about my Magic’s chances. If the C’s struggled with the likes of Joakim Noah and Brad Miller, they will absolutely get destroyed by Dwight Howard. On the other hand, I am worried about our perimeter defense. I’m not too comfortable with JJ Redick defending Ray Allen. Bottom line, if we had a healthy Courtney Lee, I would definitely say Orlando. Now, I have to add the caveat that Boston is fatigued and cannot stop Dwight Howard. Orlando in 7.

Western Conference

LA Lakers v. Houston Rockets: The Rockets have finally gotten out of the first round while the Lakers handled the Jazz almost as easily as the Cavs handled Detroit. Now LA’s offense will collide with Houston’s D. Houston has both Ron Artest and Shane Battier to throw at Kobe, but LA also has Bynum and Gasol to guard Yao Ming. The Rockets were able to win with a collective effort against the young Blazers in the first round, but I think their lack of T-mac (or another crunch time scorer) will really hurt them this round and thus I think LA will prevail. LA in 6.

Denver Nuggets v. Dallas Mavericks: So I underestimated Dallas in the first round. However, I will not overestimate them now and give them any chance against Denver. Denver thumped the Hornets by 58 points in the first round. Although I don’ t think they’ll replicate that against the Mavericks, I don’t see them struggling too much either. Chauncey Billups has really turned this team around, and this Dallas team is done. Denver in 6.

The NBA Playoffs: It’s amazing. Let’s Go Magic!

NBA Playoffs Round 1

 

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Sneaking this in just before the first game tips off today.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Cleveland Cavaliers v. Detroit Pistons: If this were 2 years ago, I would be picking Detroit, but this year, Lebron has a supporting cast and the best record in the NBA and homecourt advantage. The Pistons on the other hand have lost Chauncey Billups, haven’t found a way to integrate A.I., and enter the playoffs with a losing record. All this is why I’m calling for a Cleveland sweep. Cleveland in 4.

Boston Celtics v. Chicago Bulls: This one just got more interesting in the last two months. I thought the C’s had a good shot of repeating this year, but with KG out for potentially the entire playoffs, I don’t think they can do it. Chicago on the other hand looked like they were going to miss the playoffs but the last minute trade for John Salmons and Brad Miller, coupled with the stellar play of Derrick Rose really helped this team surge into the playoffs. However, I don’t think Chicago has the low post weapons to make Boston pay for its lack of KG. Pierce and Allen have also been too good to let this young, untested Bulls team upset them. Boston in 6.

Orlando Magic v. Philadelphia 76ers: Ah my two favorite Eastern Conference teams. Why did you have to meet so early? All allegiances aside, I don’t think the Sixers have a chance. The Magic have too many weapons for them to stop and they have too few weapons of their own on offense. Having Dwight in the middle is going to make it difficult for the Andres to score inside. My only concern for the Magic is that Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis are not at full strength. However I don’t think they need to be and as long as one of them plays and the rest of the team plays well I think we could be looking at a sweep. Orlando in 4.

Atlanta Hawks v. Miami Heat: In terms of team talent, Atlanta wins hands down. Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Mike Bibby, and Al Horford make up a solid core. Miami though has the best player in Dwayne Wade. I don’t think its enough. I’m sure Wade will put in some jaw dropping performances and box scores, but in order to win he needs someone else to step up and I’m not sure anyone on his crew can. I like Wade, but he’s overmatched here. Atlanta in 6.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

LA Lakers v. Utah Jazz: Interesting first round matchup but I don’t think it’ll be as exciting as it looks on paper. Utah has the depth to test LA, but the Jazz have had problems with injury all year and they can’t win on the road. There’s a reason Utah is the 8th seed. LA in 6.

Denver Nuggets v. New Orleans Hornets: Seriously I don’t know what happened to the Hornets this year. They didn’t lose anyone and added James Posey but it seems like everyone except CP3 has gotten worse. The point guard matchup of Billups-Paul should be fun to watch, but this one is pretty much done already. Denver in 5.

San Antonio Spurs v. Dallas Mavericks: These two Texas powerhouses meet again but San Antonio is without Manu Ginobli this time while Dallas does not have a point guard that can guard Tony Parker. It will be interesting to see whether Dallas can find a way to slow him down or if Roger Mason will hit big shots. In the end I think that will be the key. As banged up as the Spurs are, I think they have the resilience and experience to pull through. San Antonio in 7.

Portland Trailblazers v. Houston Rockets: It’s the Blazers, who are in the playoffs for the first time, versus the Rockets, who are looking to get past the first round for the first time. These two teams match up well. The Blazers have Oden and Pryzbilla to guard Yao while the Rockets have Artest and Battier to stick on Roy. The big questions here are whether the Rockets will miss McGrady to come up with big plays or will the Blazers lack the playoff experience in crunch time. Either way it should be a great series, but I think this is the year Yao will make it out of the first round. Houston in 7.

Enjoy the games and Let’s Go Magic!

What a difference a week makes

Last week, my NCAA bracket was in first after correctly picking Cleveland State’s upset of Wake Forest and preserving all of my Elite 8 and Final Four through two rounds. My reign at the top was shortlived however as the Sweet Sixteen and Elite 8 were brutal to me.  One of my Final Four teams, Memphis was knocked out by Missouri while Michigan State upset Louisville and Villanova trounced both Duke and Pitt. That leaves me with only one team standing going into the Final Four and even if UNC wins, I had them losing in the finals to Louisville.  Sadly it appears as if my hopes of winning are gone so I might as well root for who I really want now: Let’s Go Tar Heels!

Just for fun though here are my predictions: Michigan State and UNC in the Finals.

final-four2

P.S. If you’ve been following my Facebook you know that I have been gushing about the Google Ventures announcement.  Expect a full post once more info becomes available.

March Madness: Round of 32

Coming into the Round of 32, I had a possible 14/16 teams that could still potentially advance to the Sweet 16, and boy did I make each one of them count.  I correctly picked 14 of the 16 games, with my only misses being Arizona-Cleveland State and USC-Michigan State.  However, since the team I picked from each of those matchups was already knocked out in the first round, I essentially lost nothing and moved up to first in my pool.  The only close calls were Purdue-Washington and Gonzaga’s last minute basket against Western Kentucky.

Looking ahead to the Sweet 16, I have Louisville continuing their strong play against Arizona and Kansas edging out Michigan State.  UConn should get mkore of a challenge from Purdue, but they should advance.  Missouri and Memphis looks to be an interesting matchup, and this has the potential to screw up my bracket, but I think Memphis, who’s in my Final Four, will squeak by.  In the East, Pitt’s been looking good with Blair inside and they should be able to beat Xavier.  Villanova and Duke looks to be another close one.  However given Duke’s strong play as of late I think Villanova will be sent home packing.  UNC will get a tougher test from Gonzaga, but I just think they have too much depth.  Finally Syracuse and Oklahoma will pitch the Orange against Blake Griffin.  While Griffin has been a force in the Tournament, I just don’t think Oklahoma has enough depth to beat Syracuse.  And if this game goes to overtime, it’s Syracuse all the way.

Can’t wait for the games to start again!

round-2

March Madness: Round 1

Well, the first round is over.  The bracket took some hits, especially on Day 2.  First off, the BC loss was a tough one considering we were up by 4 at halftime without Sanders but looked completely lifeless the second half.  Although we could’ve taken it to the hole more instead of chucking up threes and there were lots of bad calls and no-calls, in retrospect it was a predictable loss.  USC is big and athletic and we have trouble with big and athletic teams (see Wake Forest).

In other games around the tournament, I inexplicably picked Butler over LSU like most of the world and got burned by OT losses by Ohio State and FSU, two teams that can’t win when you want them to.   Missed the other two 8-9 gam

es as well with BYU and Tennessee as my picks.  Like a lot of people, I was also shocked by Dayton over WVU and Western Kentucky over Illinois.

On the bright side, I did pick Maryland over Cal and Michigan over Clemson.  A few teams like Villanova, Marquette, and Gonzaga managed to avoid upsets.  But best of all, I picked Cleveland State over Wake Forest!  Almost makes up for the Ohio State and FSU losses.

I’m tied for 6th in my pool right now, but going forward I’m in pretty good shape.  My round of 32 is a little beat of right now, but all but 2 of my Sweet 16 are still alive and all my Elite Eight and Final Four are still in.  Let the madness continue!

round-1

De-troit Basketball

As an ardent Orlando Magic fan, I have to be happy with my team’s performance this year even after the injury of Jameer Nelson.  Despite our success though, I’m becoming increasingly disturbed (and irked) that regardless of the circumstances, the Detroit Pistons seem to have our number.  The latest setback came tonight when Detroit beat us again 98-94, completing a season sweep of the series.  This is a Detroit team that traded away Chauncey Billups, has an injured Iverson, has an injured Rasheed Wallace, lost to the Wizards and OKC Thunder, and in general disappointed this season.  Yet somehow they have no problem manhandling the Magic.

Our domination at the hands of Detroit dates back to the days of T-Mac, when we lost in the first round of the playoffs after being up 3-1.  The last 2 seasons we’ve been knocked out of the playoffs by Detroit, winning just 1 game in those two series.

The worst part though is right now the Magic are the 3 seed in the East and the Pistons are the 6, meaning there’s a very real chance we’ll be playing them in the playoffs.  I hate to say this but unless the Magic can figure something out, we could be looking at an upset and first round exit.