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Archive for March, 2007

Grading the SportsMaven’s 2007 NCAA Basketball Tourney Picks

Posted by sportsmaven on March 27, 2007

So now is the time to really see if the SportsMaven knows his stuff in college hoops. Below are my 2007 NCAA picks for this season’s men’s basketball tournament. I have to say that I think I did pretty well with my picks. On second though, I think I did quite well with my picks? Does SportsMaven know his college hoops? You be the judge.

Grading the SportsMaven’s NCAA Basketball Tourney Picks

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Below are my picks, with the misses in bold:

Second Round: Florida, Arizona, Old Dominion, Maryland, Notre Dame, Oregon, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin, Kansas, Villanova, Virginia Tech, Southern Illinois, Duke, Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, UCLA, North Carolina, Michigan State, Arkansas, Texas, George Washington, Washington State, Boston College, Georgetown, Ohio State, Xavier, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisville, Texas A&M, Creighton, Memphis (Record: a very respectable 22-10)

Sweet 16: Florida, Old Dominion, Oregon, Wisconsin, Kansas, Southern Illinois, Pittsburgh, UCLA, North Carolina, Texas, George Washington, Georgetown, Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Memphis (Record: a strong 12-4)

Elite Eight: Florida, Oregon, Southern Illinois, UCLA, North Carolina, Georgetown, Ohio State, Memphis (Record: a powerful 7-1)

Final Four: Florida, UCLA, Georgetown, Ohio State (Record: batting 1.000, 4-0)

National Championship Game: UCLA vs. Georgetown

National Champion: Georgetown

So through the Final Four, the SportsMaven is 45-15, for a winning percentage of 75%. I’d say that’s pretty good prognosticating for the NCAA Tourney, don’t you think?

Posted in Fighting Illini | 3 Comments »

Chicago Bulls Win Again In the Drive To 50 Wins

Posted by sportsmaven on March 26, 2007

It may be highly improbable that the Chicago Bulls win 50 games this season, but it’s not for lack of effort if it doesn’t happen. The Bulls played tough defense tonight and got a great scoring game from F Luol Deng tonight in beating the visiting Portland Trail Blazers, 100-89.

Bulls Win Again Vs. Portland Trail Blazers

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

A couple of things to note from tonight’s game:

1. A New Bulls Scoring Machine: F Luol Deng had a career scoring night with 38 points. This is a good sign that Deng’s game is peaking as the Bulls drive to a first round home court advantage in the playoffs.

2. Big Ben Tolls: C Ben Wallace had 16 rebounds and played all over tonight. He looked pretty good. He will be announcing tomorrow at Steve & Barry’s in Mt. Prospect, IL that he will be launching a new $15 basketball shoe a’la Stephon Marbury. I knew I liked this guy’s game both on and off the court.

3. Defensive once again: The trademark Bulls defense made a guest appearance tonight, forcing 22 Trail Blazer turnovers, 7 steals, and 6 blocked shots. The close your eyes Bulls defense also made a guest appearance, allowing the Blazers to shoot 52.5% from the field, 50% from three point land, and narrowly outrebounding the Blazers 39-37. The game was tied late into the third quarter until the Bulls pulled away late. The Bulls gave away a 14 point lead at one point tonight.

4. Duel of the Rookies: LaMarcus Aldridge had a very nice game for the Trail Blazers. His line: 34 minutes 20 points, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, 0 free throws. He hit some nice jumpers and showed some strong moves to the basket, possibly letting the Bulls know what they were missing by trading him to Portland for Tyrus Thomas. As for Thomas, 22 minutes, 2 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks — decent, but not spectacular by any means. Thomas is a work in progress, although I like what he is showing now and his playing time is increasing.

The Bulls are barely winning games, but that’s not all that bad. This team needs to learn how to win the close games because for the most part, the NBA Playoffs are all about fairly evenly matched talented teams. Close game experience will be key in the playoffs and the Bulls are getting a ton of it now. Keep it coming. At 42-30 with 10 games to go, the Bulls need to finish 8-2 for the 50 win plateau.

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Mr. Briggs Goes To Washington?

Posted by sportsmaven on March 26, 2007

I just finished watching the Chicago Bulls game on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and Comcast SportsNite is reporting that Bears GM Jerry Angelo is due to meet with LB Lance Briggs while attending the NFL Owner’s Meetings in Arizona this week. Topic is whether or not the Bears will be interested in signing the two-time Pro Bowl LB to a long term contract or possibly trading Briggs to the Washington Redskins. Multiple news sources are now reporting that the Redskins have offered their #1 draft pick (6th overall) to the Bears in exchange for the Bears #1 pick (pick #31) and Lance Briggs. Reports from Arizona also indicate that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder did confirm the interest and the terms of the proposed deal.

Mr. Briggs Goes To Washington?
(Photo courtesy of JSOnline.com)

Is this proper value for Lance Briggs? Will the Bears sign Briggs to a long term contract? (that is highly doubtful). So looking at the numbers from the Jimmy Johnson NFL draft value chart, the #6 pick in the first round is worth 1600 points. The #31 pick is worth 600 points. So to make the deal even from a points standpoint, the assumption is that Lance Briggs is worth the #16 pick in the first round, or 1000 points. So essentially, the deal is the #16 and #31 picks of the first round in exchange for the #6 pick in the first round. So the question is whether or not Lance Briggs is worth the #16 pick in this year’s draft?

Second question is who would be available at the #6 pick? Well this is where the scenarios get interesting. It seems the consensus Top 5 picks are QB JaMarcus Russell, RB Adrian Peterson, OT Joe Thomas, WR Calvin Johnson and QB Brady Quinn. Could Calvin Johnson slip to #6? What about Joe Thomas or an even more interesting scenario, what about Brady Quinn? The Bears would have some flexibility here. Option A would be look at any of the consensus Top 5 that might slip, especially the non-QB’s. Option B would be to upgrade the secondary. S LaRon Landry and CB Leon Hall would be the choices there (I don’t see this option playing very well). Option C would be drafting one of the two stud ends, either DE Gaines Adams or DE Jamaal Anderson (I don’t see this option playing very well either.) Option D would be looking to trade down and draft either LB Lawrence Timmons or LB Paul Posluszny or WR Ted Ginn, Jr. (adding speed/big play making ability to the WR position as well as giving the Bears the best return tandem in the NFL) or WR Dwayne Jarrett or DT Amobi Okoye or DT Alan Branch while adding a pick or two in the mid-later rounds of the drafts, where the Bears have done quite well in the recent past.

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Is Derrick Rose Reconsidering Illinois?

Posted by sportsmaven on March 24, 2007

With Tubby Smith leaving Kentucky to coach the Minnesota Gophers basketball team, there is speculation regarding the Kentucky coaching job. Latest rumors have it that John Calipari is a leading candidate for the job. If that’s the case, Derrick Rose may very well reconsider his committment to Memphis.

Is Derrick Rose Reconsidering Illinois?
(Tribune photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo)

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, that certainly is a reality. Michael O’Brien wrote a very interesting post in yesterday’s High School Confidential blog in the Sun-Times. He states:

Tubby Smith’s resignation at Kentucky could have a significant effect on Rose’s future. Memphis coach John Calipari is considered one of the top candidates for the Kentucky job. Rose signed a National Letter of Intent with Memphis in November. He could ask to be released from his letter of intent if Calipari leaves, but those requests aren’t always granted.

It’s too early to speculate about which schools would be in the running for Rose if Calipari left Memphis, but Reggie Rose did let something slip. ‘

‘We may have to get back on the highway and head down to Champaign,’’ Rose said.

Now if this is truly the case, this would be a MAJOR coup for Bruce Weber and the Illini. Derrick Rose would make up for losing Eric Gordon. He would provide instant offense, suffocating defense, would be the one person on the Illini team that teams would fear. Opposing coaches would gameplan for Derrick Rose. With SG Quentin Watkins, PG Demetri McCamey from St. Joseph’s and PF Bill Cole from Peoria Richwoods, the Illini would have a very solid core entering next season. McCamey could compete for time at the point with Chester Frazier. A McCamey/Frazier/Rose backcourt would be very strong and would kick the Illini up a notch. If Greg Oden/Mike Conley leave Ohio St. after this season and Wisconsin taking a hit losing star players Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor, the Big Ten would be wide open. Illinois could find itself competing for top conference honors once again.

It’s a nice thought, but many dominoes have to fall in place before Derrick Rose ends up in Champaign, but crazier things have happened….

Posted in Fighting Illini | 1 Comment »

Chicago Bulls Absorb Yet Another Terrible Loss

Posted by sportsmaven on March 21, 2007

Tonight, I was able to watch most of the Chicago Bulls game versus the Los Angeles Clippers and at the end, I was not sure exactly what happened or why the Bulls lost to this sub-.500 team that is barely in playoff contention in the NBA’s Western Conference. All after the previous day, Scott Skiles lit into this team for potentially being too young not to recognize that good playoff teams that have title aspirations need to win games like this game and the Memphis game on Saturday night.

Bulls Absorb Yet Another Terrible Loss
(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

The Bulls team that I watch mystified me in many ways tonight. First off, G Ben Gordon had an off night, which happens to players over the course of an 6-8 pre-season games, 82 regular season games, and if you’re lucky, more than a few playoff games. What I didn’t see is Ben Gordon adjusting his game, contributing in other significant ways, attacking the basket when his jump shot left him. Ben Gordon didn’t step up tonight and that was one of the reasons the Bulls are sitting at home wondering what happened.

Another reason to look back upon is the sloppy play, too many turnovers once again, and virtually no defense played, especially in the 4th quarter. Coach Scott Skiles virtually implied that the Bulls didn’t follow the game plan, which is absolutely amazing to me at this point in the season. The Bulls are a talented team, but will only go as far as their defense takes them. The lapses in these past two games, including losing at home tonight to a Clippers team that won only 9 road games all season, is inexcusible. Was it only 3 days ago that F Luol Deng made his now infamous proclamation that the Bulls could win every remaining game on their schedule? I believe since that comment was made, the Bulls haven’t won a SINGLE game, losing to the dregs of the NBA. The Bulls goal of a 50-win season seems far fetched. They wil have to finish 11-2 to do that. Avoid double digit losses at home? The Bulls will have to go 7-0 in their remaining home games to accomplish that.

My suggestion for the Bulls is tighten up that defense and play hard for 48 minutes. The Bulls looked like they tried to turn it on and off in this game and they are not nearly good enough a team to do that. The Bulls were terribly dominated in the 4th quarter of this game. They gave up 20+ points to three different players on the Clippers. They lost a chance to pick up a game on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the standings in the quest for home court advantage. Now they face a dangerous Denver Nuggets team on Thursday at the United Center. The end of this season gets tougher and tougher….

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