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Posts Tagged ‘Las Vegas’

NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship: Who Do I Like?

Posted by sportsmaven on April 6, 2009

Tonight’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game kicks off a week of solid sports events, both inside and outside Chicago.  If you are even a basketball neophyte, the question everyone is asking is who do you like in tonight’s game?  Remember, it’s either the Michigan State Spartans or the North Carolina Tar Heels.  I’ll tell you who I like and I think it will be a surprise to some:

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

I like Michigan State by 6 points.  The latest Las Vegas lines have North Carolina favored by 7 1/2 points against Michigan State, with an over/under of 153 points.  See for yourself, the Las Vegas Sun has the betting line on any kind of bet you can imagine for tonight’s game.

So your next question may be: Why do you like Michigan State so much?  Who would pick them to beat the heavily favored North Carolina Tar Heels?  Below are my reasons why:

1.  Playing at Ford Field is essentially a home game for Michigan State.  Not essentially, it IS a home game for the Spartans.  Home court advantage is typically worth a few extra points in hype and comfort to start any game.  In a tournament game, it’s worth even more.  In a championship game?  It’s worth it’s weight in gold.  Championship games are played at neutral sites to avoid the appearance of giving the home team a distinct advantage.  In this case, Michigan State is playing their biggest game of the season in front of what appears to be a very strong home court advantage.  Don’t think for a moment that Spartans coach Tom Izzo isn’t pulling out all the stops in the motivation department tonight.

2.  The rematch factor — North Carolina and Michigan State played each other on this very same court in the very same venue earlier this season (December 3rd, 2008).  The game was a blowout – the Tar Heels won by 35 points.  My rabid North Carolina basketball fans will say this shows a clear and distinct advantage for the Tar Heels.   Not so.  It’s very difficult to beat a team twice in a season, especially if the teams are close to each other in terms of talent/skill.  In December, Michigan State was playing their 4th game of the week and it showed.  They were also missing F Goran Suton, who has been playing his best basketball at the right time.  He’ll be needed to joust with Tar Heels F Tyler Hansborough.  North Carolina played it’s best ball in December.  Michigan State is peaking exactly at the right time.

3.  Championships come down to defense.  Ask University of Connecticut.  Ask any team that has played Michigan State.  Their defense is on fire right now. Michigan State made it their mission to shut down UConn’s front court on Saturday, which they did quite effectively.  UConn helped by missing 12 of 33 free throws, something I don’t expect the Tar Heels to do if they were in the same position.  Michigan State knows how to play an open style of offense.  They did it to beat UConn.  They also know how to play lock down defense as well as to play against lockdown defense, as they did it all season in the Big 10 in conference play.  The team that plays as though it’s on a mission on defense will win the game.  I believe that will be Michigan State.

There you go.  The prediction?  Michigan State 83, North Carolina 77 (yes, that would mean I am taking the over on the total points as well.)

Posted in Fighting Illini | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

NBA Courts The Pretty People To Las Vegas

Posted by sportsmaven on February 18, 2007

One of the best things about the 2007 NBA All-Star weekend is that the pretty people love to see incredible athletes do their thing. The fact that this year’s All-Star game is in Las Vegas gives the pretty people even more incentive to show up to the NBA’s biggest party of the season. The NBA is all about entertainment and they are, by far, the best at doing it. The NFL certainly gives them a run for their money with the Super Bowl, especially this season in Miami, but the NBA definitely writes the playbook for high octane, luscious, sexy in your face entertainment surrounding what amounts to an athletic exhibition.

The ring leader for this year’s party is one of my favorite guys associated with the NBA, Mayor Oscar Goodman of Las Vegas.

Mayor Oscar Goodman of Las Vegas
NBAE/Getty Images

Mayor Goodman has been working the NBA for years to not only get this event to Sin City, but to eventually get an NBA team to call Las Vegas home. I believe that Las Vegas shouldn’t have any professional sports teams due to the betting issues, but for the NBA in particular, I believe that Las Vegas should be the PERMANENT home of the NBA All-Star game. The city and the NBA are a perfect match in this arena and if the powers that be in the NBA have any vision, they should make this so and do it now.

The other thing I love about the NBA is that it knows how to do cheerleaders. It’s great to be able to go to a basketball game to see the world’s best athletes, but now we get to see the world’s best cheerleaders (or dancers, or whatever you want to call them) and the NBA is doing an All-Star roster of cheerleaders, one from each team. This is fabulous. In Chicago, our all-star entry is Shanon from the Luvabulls and DePaul University.

Shanon from the chicago bullsErin from the detriot pistonsHeidi from the sacramento kings

By the way, my favorite Eastern Conference dancer is Erin from the Detroit Pistons and my favorite Western Conference dancer is Heidi from the Sacramento Kings (love her eyes!) Tell me who your favorite dancer for each conference is in the comments section of this post and I will do a post featuring your winners.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a complete NBA All Star weekend blog post without some of the pretty celebrities:

Eva Longoria at 2007 NBA All Star WeekendCarrot Top At 2007 NBA All Star WeekendDiddy At 2007 NBA All Star Game
NBAE/Getty Images

Eva is game, Carrot Top has game, and Diddy owns the game….only in Vegas, baby!

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NBA Invades Las Vegas — It’s a SLAM DUNK!

Posted by sportsmaven on February 18, 2007

The NBA wrestled and wrestled with this decision, but it finally named Las Vegas the host city for the 2007 All-Star weekend and what a great place to showcase the pizzaz and razzle dazzle of the best athletes in the world. Is Vegas not the perfect place for this event? The NBA should go ahead and announce that it will play all it’s all star games in Las Vegas, like the NFL does with it’s Pro Bowl in Honolulu. This is not a weekend of serious basketball, but rather, a weekend of fun, excitement, and a display of athleticism like no other. And Sin City is the perfect atmosphere to display the pricess wares of the NBA.

Jason Kapono Wins 3-Pt Shooting Contest at 2007 All Star weekendDwayne Wade Wins Skills Contest at 2007 all star weekend
NBAE/Getty Images

On a Chicago note, I wrote in an earlier blog posting that Tyrus Thomas would be the first NBA player to have to pay to participate in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, and sure enough, that almost was the case. After taking 4 tries to make his first dunk (and then drew a score of 37 out of 50), Tyrus was cooked. His second dunk was actually pretty good — he leaped over Ben Gordon and dunked LEFT-HANDED, and ripped the net off the rim, but the judges game him a 43 (Gerald Green did the same dunk on his second dunk, jumped over 5’9″ Nate Robinson and dunked with his RIGHT hand, and got a 47) I believe Tyrus’ comments when named to participate in the slam-dunk contest hurt his scores, although clearly, he was at best, the third best, and most likely the 4th best dunker in the contest.

Tyrus Thomas at 2007 NBA Slam Dunk ContestDwight Howard Dunk at 200 All Star Slam Dunk Contest
NBAE/Getty Images

The player that definitely got ripped off was Dwight Howard. Howard had the single best dunk in the contest when he did put the sticker of himself on the top of the backboard with his left hand while dunking with his right hand. That dunk was SICK, and should have gotten 50 pts, but only received 42 pts. Nate Robinson was what I thought the third best or even the 4th best dunker, but somehow made it to the finals. I’m saying it right here — Dwight Howard, you got ripped off. You were MY Slam-Dunk Champion…

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