Imagine if there really was a playoff system in college football, and that we really knew Alabama was the national champion.
Ever wish you could change the world? How about the world of sports?
If the SportsLifer had the power, here’s 10 changes he would make:
1. A College Football playoff system
Let’s get it right…..finally. Give us an 8-team playoff. It’s a no-brainer
2. A daytime World Series game….and a doubleheader, too
Mandate one daytime Series game and one doubleheader per team, per season
3. Change in NFL OT rules so both teams get a chance
Each team gets the ball once in overtime….after that it’s sudden death
4. Change the NHL system for regulation wins
5. Schedule last two NFL games with division rivals
To lessen the chance of teams tanking, schedule the last two game within division
6. Call palming violations in NBA and NCAA
The palming violation is still a basketball rule, so call it once in a while beyond CYO
7. Charge a team error in baseball
If you can’t find a culprit on a pop-up or other botched play, give the team an error
8. A national holiday day after the Super Bowl
9. One replay per team, per MLB game (no balls and strikes)
Not a big fan of replay, but let’s make use of technology to get the call right
10. NCAA Basketball Tournament, don’t change a thing
If if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. March Madness still works just fine, thank you
It says here, sometime around midnight on Monday night, April 6, Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals will be celebrating a win over the Oklahoma Sooners and cutting down the nets in the Motor City.
Pitino is due to join a select group of coaches whose teams have won at least two NCAA championships. And if Louisville wins, as forecast, he’ll become the first coach to win championships with two different schools.
Pitino coached the 1996 Kentucky team that beat Syracuse to win the National title. He also led Providence to the Final Four in 1987.
UCLA’s legendary coach John Wooden is far and away the all-time leader with 10 championships (all between 1964 and 1975). The Baron, Adolph Rupp, won four titles with Kentucky. and Indiana’s Bob Knight and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski took three apiece.
Pitino would join a group of eight coaches with two championships, including Louisville’s Denny Crum, Florida’s Billy Donovan and UConn’s Jim Calhoun.
Multiple Championship Coaches
Coach School Championships
John Wooden UCLA 10
Adolph Rupp Kentucky 4
Bob Knight Indiana 3
Mike Krzyzewski Duke 3
Dean Smith North Carolina 2
Billy Donovan Florida 2
Denny Crum Louisville 2
Ed Jucker Cincinnati 2
Hery Iba Oklahoma State 2
Jim Calhoun UConn 2
Phil Woolpert San Francisco 2
Branch McCracken Indiana 2
The Cardinals will win because they have the most athletic team in this year’s tournament. They’re deep, and they play 40 minutes of relentless defense.
Louisville won both the regular season and post-season tournaments in the Big East, generally regarded as college basketball’s toughest conference in years.
In addition to Louisville, the SportsLifer Final Four features top-seeded Pitt and second seeds Memphis and Oklahoma.
NCAA tournament pools are often decided in the early rounds, especially in pools where points are awarded for picking lower seeds..
Some sleepers to watch in the early rounds:
– 13th seed Mississippi State will beat both Washington and Purdue
– Western Kentucky will beat Illinois in the annual 12-5 stunner
– 11th seeds VCU and Utah State will eliminate UCLA and Marquette respectively
– 10th seeds Maryland, USC and Minnesota will all advance to the next round
Remember, when it all comes true, you read it here first.
The Last Amateurs, John Feinstein’s highly acclaimed chronicle of a season in the Patriot League, talks about playing for glory and honor in Division One basketball — but not for NCAA basketball championships. That’s left to the big guys, the elite.
In fact, for the vast majority of the 342 Division One combatants — the small schools of the Patriot League, the Ivy League, the Summit Conference, the mid-majors, even the long downtrodden programs in the major conferences — just getting a ticket to the Big Dance is the Mecca, that one shining moment, the equivalent of the North Carolina or UCLA or Kentucky making the Final Four and more.
But for the College of the Holy Cross, which lost in the Patriot League championship game to American University. it wasn’t always that way.
Once upon a time, Holy Cross (my alma mater), a small Jesuit college located in Worcester, Mass., with undergraduate enrollment around 2,700, was the best team in the country. In 1947, the Crusaders, behind coach Doggie Julian, NCAA tournament MVP George Kaftan and a freshman point guard named Bob Cousy, right, beat Kentucky at Madison Square Garden to win the NCAA championship.
The Crusaders finished third in the tournament the following year, and were ranked No. 1 in the 1949-1950 campaign as they won 26 straight games to start the season.
In 1954, behind Tommy Heinsohn,, Holy Cross won the NIT back in the days when that meant something. Heinsohn and Cousy, below, are Hall of Famers, two key players in the Boston Celtics dynasty of the late 50s and 60s..
As late as 1977, Holy Cross was still considered a national power. That year, HC knocked off a good Providence team twice on last-second shots by forward Chris Potter, and led top-ranked Michigan at the half in the first round of the NCAA tournament before running out of gas down the stretch,
The following year, Sports Illustrated ranked Holy Cross and freshman of the year Ronnie Perry ninth in its pre-season poll, but the Crusaders never did achieve those lofty ranks. And they’ve never come close since.
HC and the Big East
When the Big East was founded in 1979, Holy Cross could have been a charter member. Providence, St. John’s, Georgetown, Syracuse and Seton Hall, all teams that HC once played on a regular basis, agreed to start the Big East, but the league needed more New England representation
However, athletic directors at Holy Cross, Boston College, Rhode Island and Connecticut agreed all four schools would remain a block. Take `em all or get none. If they couldn’t be separated, and the conference wanted the Boston market, which, of course, it needed, there would be a big league.
“Connecticut had been very good in the Yankee Conference. Boston College and Holy Cross was a toss up; actually, Holy Cross had the better basketball tradition. But their president couldn’t be convinced,” said the first Big East commissioner, Dave Gavitt, about the league’s founding. “He felt academics would be compromised.”
Former St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca spoke to me, Lou with the SportsLifer right, about these inside Big East formative dealings during a talk at the 2007 East Regionals at the Meadowlands. He told me that Holy Cross was supposed to join the Big East, but the school’s president, the Rev. John E. Brooks, S.J., vetoed the move for academic reasons.
Eventually, both BC and UConn agreed to join, making the Big East a seven-team league in the inaugural 1979-80 campaign.
Villanova joined a year later in 1980. and Pittsburgh joined in 1982. Also in 1982, Penn State applied for membership, but was rejected when Syracuse cast the deciding vote against the Nittany Lions application.
Crusaders Come Close
Holy Cross remained independent for several seasons, but eventually joined the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) to start the 1983-84 season. Seven years later, Holy Cross entered the Patriot League, and coach George Blaney led them to the league championship and an NCAA berth in 1992, the league’s second season.
Ralph Willard, like Blaney a Holy Cross grad, took over the program in 1999, and two years later the Crusaders were in the NCAAs .
Beginning in 2001 they made it to the NCAA tournament three years in a row. They gave both second-seeded Kentucky (2001) and a Marquette team that went on to the Final Four in 2003 major scares, eventually losing both contests by the identical score of 72-68.
And in 2002, the Cross nearly achieved immortality.
A number 16 seed has never won a game, excluding the play-in game, in the NCAA tournament. But Holy Cross came close before losing to Kansas, 70-59, seven years ago.
The Crusaders held a five- point lead with 12 minutes to go and were behind by only four points with one minute left before the Jayhawks finally secured the win.
If you like watching paint dry, you’ll love watching the NBA playoffs.
Once known for fast action, terrific player match-ups and fantastic finishes, this year’s playoffs have become as predictable as Hillary Clinton’s never-say-die mantra or the next full moon.
The home team wins all the time. The visitors don’t stand a chance. Sometimes the games are close for three quarters, before the host invariably pulls away in the fourth.
It’s tough to watch when you know what’s going to happen. Maybe the NBA should just concede the results of the first six games in each series, then play the seventh game. Save plenty on travel costs.
Even the much-ballyhooed NCAA basketball tournament was bitten by the predictability bug this year, as all four #1 seeds reached the Final Four.
Predictability can be a good thing in weather forecasting, investments, gambling, food shopping and millions of other endeavors, but not in sports.
But basketball home court predictability has become an upsetting trend.
Guess I should have listened to my math teacher.
A group of number crunchers at George Tech used two mathematical processes to correctly pick this year’s Final Four….and 30 of the 36 Final Four teams in the past nine years, according to InfoWorld. Those results are more accurate than the tournament seeding system and polls, which have picked 23, and RPI, which ID’d 21 of the Final Four participants.
The Georgia Tech system, uses two mathematical processes — logical regression and Markov chain, aka LRMC — to make selections. This year LRMC not only picked the Final Four — which was four #1 seeds — but had Kansas beating Memphis for the championship.
Don’t ask me to explain how it works. But it does work way better than my system.
Having said that, bet LRMC didn’t pick George Mason a few years back.
As the North Carolina Tar Heels crashed and burned Saturday night, so did my chances of finishing in the money in Comms Before the Storm, that famous NCAA pool. No consolation points for leading going into the final weekend of the tournament.
How could a team as talented as UNC fall behind 40-12 in the first half? That’s incomprehensible. When I was a sophomore at Iona Prep, we once lost a game 112-26 to Rice High School in Harlem. We considered it a moral victory when we lost to Rice 83-33 in our gym later in the season.
But unlike the Tar Heels, those defeats were understandable. The Rice team was far better….they had Dean “The Dream” Meminger, pictured left, a future All-American point guard at Marquette University and number one pick who later played in the NBA for the Knicks and the Hawks.
Al McGuire, his college coach, once said Meminger was ”quicker than 11:15 Mass at a seaside resort.”
Give credit to North Carolina for coming back in the second half and cutting the lead to four at one point. But as Bill Parcells once said, they don’t give medals for trying.
So Comms Before the Storm comes to this — if Memphis wins, the title goes to a guy named Christopher Blogger. If Kansas survives, it might as well be Dorothy.
Well, next exactly. I have the Tar Heels to win it all. I have three of the Final Four. I am leading my NCAA pool after 60 games. But none of that is good enough.
Even if the Tar Heels win the national championship, I’m losing my pool to the winner of the Memphis-UCLA game. If UCLA wins, goes to the finals and loses to UNC, I lose by one point.; If Memphis wins and loses to Carolina, I lose.
Either way I lose. Loser. Sure, I still have a good shot at finishing in the money. But that’s not good enough when winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
Like I said three weeks ago, toughest pool in America is Comms Before the Storm.
….that is if you had Western Kentucky in your NCAA brackets….or if you knew The Drake before he broke up with the Drakette. Best game of the tournament so far, the Hilltoppers blow a 16-point lead with eight minutes to go in regulation, then come back to best Drake on an outrageous three-pointer at the buzzer by Ty Rogers in overtime, 101-99.
Rogers joins one-shot legends such as Bryce Drew, Tate George and Tyrus Edney — not to mention Christian Laettner, Lorenzo Charles and Keith Smart — who will forever be remembered for a single swish in time.
Gotta love the Drake.
Gosh, I miss Al McGuire, New Yorker, coach of 1977 NCAA champion Marquette, basketball commentator. McGuire once said: “My rule was I wouldn’t recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house. That’s not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk.”
Gotta love cracked sidewalks.
And for the upset of the tournament, how about San Diego beating the UConn Huskies on a last-second basket by De’Jon Jackson in OT, 70-69. San Diego is nicknamed the Toreros.
Gotta love the Toreros.
Almost as shocking was Siena’s 83-62 victory over Vanderbilit, another 4-13 shocker. Although CBS-TV Channel 2 in New York televised everything but the Saints. Hey CBS, last time I looked Albany was still in New York. Yeah, lots of interest here in Mississippi State-Oregon.
Gotta love the Saints
Western Kentucky, San Diego, Siena and lastly Villanova made it a clean sweep in Tampa –four games, four upsets, four lower seeds advance.
Gotta love Tampa.
You knew that Notre Dame’s Austin Carr held the all-time, single game NCAA tournament scoring record with 61 against Ohio University in 1970 right? In fact, Carr has four of the top nine scoring performances of all time — 61, 52 twice and 47 — in tournament history
Gotta love Austin Carr.
Is George Mason this year’s George Mason? It was just two years ago that Jim Larranaga’s 12th-seeded Patriots of the Colonial Athletic Association made a run to the Final Four before losing to eventual champ Florida in the national semis.
A nice story, but Cinderellas in the Final Four are about as rare as a snowy day in Miami. Really, outside of the Pac 10, Big 10, Big 12, Big East and SEC — who makes the Final Four?
Marquette (2003) and Louisville (2005) got there, but both were on the verge of leaving Conference USA and joining the Big East.
In 1998, Utah out of the Mountain West Conference lost to Kentucky in the championship game. UMass from the Atlantic 10 advanced to the Final Four in 1996.
But for a real Cinderella, you need to go back-back-back to the Penn Quakers in 1979. That same year, Indiana State and Larry Bird lost to Michigan State and Magic Johnson in the title game.
And for a Cinderella winner how about Texas Western upsetting top-ranked Kentucky in 1966. Don Haskins unheralded Miners knocking off the legendary Adolph Rupp and his top-ranked Wildcats.
Guess I’m just trying to rationalize my picks in this year’s tournament — three 1 seeds (North Carolina, Kansas and UCLA) and a 2 seed (Texas) in the Final Four.
Cinderella, forget about it. I do have a 13 seed (Siena), 12 seed (Western Kentucky), 11 seed (St. Joe’s) and two 10 seeds (Davidson and St. Mary’s) winning in the first round.
And two 6 seeds (USC and Purdue) reaching the Elite Eight. But that’s about it as far as upsets.
The final pick — the North Carolina Tar Heels edge Texas, 83-82, in a thrilling shooting for their fifth national title and second under Roy Williams.
Let the Madness begin.