Sports Outside the Beltway

2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament- March 18th

This post will remain at the top of the blog for the rest of today. To see newer posts, scroll down.

As results come in today, I will update this post. I’ll also include any related tournament news here.

1st result- Old Dominion defeats Notre Dame 51-50
1st overtime game- BYU beats Florida 99-92 in double OT
Close call- #2 seed Villanova beats Robert Morris 73-70 in overtime.
First big upset- #13 Murray State beats Vanderbilt 66-65
Baylor beats Sam Houston St. 68-59
Kansas State beats North Texas State 82-62
St. Mary’s beats Richmond 80-71
Butler beats UTEP 77-59
Kentucky beats East Tennessee St. 100-71
Ohio beats Georgetown 97-83
Washington beats Marquette 80-78
Northern Iowa beats UNLV 69-66
#1 Kansas beats Lehigh 90-74
New Mexico beats Montana 62-57
Wake Forest beats Texas 81-80


2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball predictions

Here are my selections-

2010 predictions1

2010 predictions2

So you heard it here first. Duke and Ohio State in the finals.

Note- Starting tomorrow I will have a sticky post at the top of the blog featuring that day’s results. Feel free to make your own predictions in the comment.


2010 NCAA Women’s Tournament Bracket

Here it is-

2010 Women's bracket

Like with the Men’s tournament, I’ll take a shot at making some guesses predictions in the women’s also.


2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament Bracket

Well here it is-

2010 bracket

I don’t have to say. Later in the week, I’ll take a shot at predicting the outcome.


Are you ready for some bowling?

No I’m not talking about some middle aged man propelling a ball at some objects at the end of a lane, but the games that climax every college football season. Bowl season officially starts this Saturday, here are the matchups for all the college football fanatics out there.

Dec 20
Eaglebank Bowl- Wake Forest vs Navy
New Mexico Bowl- Colorado State vs Fresno St
MAGICJACK ST. PETERSBURG BOWL- Memphis vs. South Florida
PIONEER LAS VEGAS BOWL- Brigham Young vs Arizona
Dec 21
Dec 23
Dec 24
SHERATON HAWAII BOWL- Hawaii vs Notre Dame
Dec 26
MOTOR CITY BOWL- Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan
Saturday, December 27
MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL- West Virginia vs. North Carolina
Champs Sports Bowl- Wisconsin vs. Florida State
Emerald Bowl- Miami (FL) vs. California
December 28
Independence Bowl- Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech
PAPAJOHNS.COM BOWL- North Carolina State vs. Rutgers
Valero Alamo Bowl- Missouri vs. No. 23 Northwestern
Tuesday, December 30
PACIFIC LIFE HOLIDAY BOWL- Oklahoma State vs. No. 17 Oregon
Texas Bowl- Western Michigan vs. Rice
Wednesday, December 31
Sun Bowl- Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh
GAYLORD HOTELS MUSIC CITY BOWL- Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
Insight Bowl- Kansas vs. Minnesota
CHICK-FIL-A BOWL- LSU vs. Georgia Tech
Thursday, January 1
OUTBACK BOWL- South Carolina vs. Iowa
CAPITAL ONE BOWL- Georgia vs. Michigan State
Gator Bowl- Nebraska vs. Clemson
Rose Bowl- Penn State vs. USC
Fedex Orange Bowl- Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
Friday, January 2
Cotton Bowl- Mississippi vs. Texas Tech
AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL- Kentucky vs. East Carolina
January 3
INTERNATIONAL BOWL- Buffalo vs. Connecticut
January 5
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL- Ohio State vs. Texas
January 6
GMAC Bowl- Ball State vs. Tulsa*
January 8

That’s 34 games, 68 schools spread over a period of 20 days for those of you keeping score at home. An ample supply of college football for any fanatics out there.

A few notes

*- There are a few bowl games remaining without corporate names in their title. Gator, Sun, Texas, Independence. Were these games unable to find sponsors?
*- Will Oklahoma St. and Oregon combine for 70 pts or more in the Holiday Bowl? This annually has been of the most high scoring affairs.
*- Oh how has the Orange Bowl dropped. A game that featured early triumphs of Joe Paterno led Penn State, Nebraska and Oklahoma in their glory days, the first major bowl appearance of Florida State, and the all time classic 84 battle between Nebraska and Miami, has Cincinnati and Virginia Tech playing this year. I’m sure they are talented football teams, but how many people are drooling to see them play in a prime-time network slot?
*- Arizona and BYU meet in a bowl 30 years after the former left the WAC conference for the higher profile Pac Eight(Now Ten, Arizona State joined also)
*- Vanderbilt makes a rare bowl appearance. Congratulations to Commodore fans, but this is a sign of how bowls are grown way out of proportion. 6-6 college teams get bids. When I was growing up I could remember Florida State going without a bowl in 1978 even though they finished the season 8-3.

It is my humble opinion that bowl season has gotten out of hand. Someone may say what’s the big deal? If someone wants to start a bowl game and there are two schools willing to play in it, does their records matter. A good football isn’t only a contest between stars at big name schools.

All true, but how much public money is spent on these affairs? Many of the teams are state universities who get funded by taxpayers. Then there is the game itself where police have to be taken from other tasks to work the day or night of the game or paid over-time.

With the economic downturn right now, you have to wonder if there will be less bowls in the near future. That would depend on how long a deal a corporate sponsor signed on for. I wonder how many fans of some schools plan to make a bowl trip. Are there 1,000 or more FAU Owls willing to journey from Florida to Michigan in December to watch the team play? Even if I were a Owl fan and had money, I’d stay home.

Enjoy the games.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 1 #14 – Chicago Bears – Chris Williams

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Chicago Bears are about to make their pick and the ESPN gang are all talking running back, with Reshard Mendenhall the obvious name. They most obviously need a quarterback, but there’s not anything like this value on the board at that position.

Instead, the Bears continue the run on defensive linemen with Chris Williams out of Vandy.

Scouts, Inc.: 10th

Strengths: Possesses a massive frame; is tall with good bulk, adequate arm length (33.5) and big hands (10). Displays very good overall mobility for his size, including quickness in his pass pro set. Does a very good job of using his long arms to ride pass rushers wide while he’s still getting set. Displays great footwork and gets excellent hand placement. While he may not jar defenders at the point of contact, he can lock on and then sustain his blocks. He can engulf bigger defenders once he’s in position and engaged. Displays versatility with experience at guard and tackle. He has been durable throughout his career.

Weaknesses: Still too much of a finesse player. Lacks explosive upper-body power. Does not jar defenders at the point of attack. Lacks the base and lower body power to drive defenders off the line of scrimmage in the run game.

Overall: Williams redshirted in 2003 and was ineligible in 2004, when he changed majors and didn’t qualify to play football under Vanderbilt’s stringent academic standards. In his first active season (2005), he appeared in 11 games and started the final nine at left guard, also taking game reps at left tackle. Williams moved to left tackle for good as a junior, starting all 24 games at the position over his final two seasons (2006-’07). Williams is a left tackle prospect with great feet but a bit too much finesse to his game at this point. He lacks ideal upper-body strength, which was confirmed in only 21 reps on the bench press. He also lacks ideal physicality. However, Williams possesses very good mobility for his big frame and he typically can overcome below-average strength by using excellent technique and positioning. Thanks to a productive senior season, followed by excellent showings at the Senior Bowl and combine; Williams has built tremendous momentum heading into the 2008 draft. He should be one of the top-five offensive linemen selected  likely in the middle of the first round.

Rick Gosselin: 20th

Mel Kiper: 11th

Good value with the pick.


Alabama 13, Vanderbilt 10

In recent years, despite the fact that Alabama is a perennial SEC title contender that has won twelve national championships and Vanderbilt . . . well, is neither of those, the two teams seem to always play close, low scoring games. Yesterday’s contest was no exception.

When all else failed, Alabama turned to the freshman kicker. Walk-on Leigh Tiffin’s 47-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter helped the Crimson Tide overcome drive-killing mistakes and beat Vanderbilt 13-10 on Saturday. “I knew it was a big kick but it didn’t really overwhelm me,” said Tiffin, subbing for an injured Jamie Christensen.

How big? Along with a defense that forced four turnovers, it helped Alabama (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) extend its winning streak over the Commodores to 18 games and overcome an offense that couldn’t finish off drives.

Tide fans who aren’t used to sweating out such close games against Vandy (0-2, 0-1) reacted more with relief than excitement when Juwan Simpson finally made an interception as time expired. “It’s always a relief when you win,” Simpson said. “They fought from the first play all the way through.

Vandy’s defense made Tiffin’s job harder, sacking John Parker Wilson for a 13-yard loss on third-and-8. Alabama coach Mike Shula, who had earlier called for a fake field goal rather than have Tiffin try a 41-yarder, turned to him to win the game. The son of famed former Tide kicker Van Tiffin sent a line-drive through the uprights with 7:34 left.

“It was amazing,” Simpson said. “I don’t even think they’ve practiced kicking it that far.”

Alabama had salvaged the opportunity when Wilson sidestepped a defender and hit Nikita Stover for a 36-yard pass on third-and-18.

It’s interesting how sportswriters and fans have different perceptions of events. AP reporter John Zenor says, “Tide fans … aren’t used to sweating out such close games against Vandy.” That’s certainly not my recollection.

Yesterday’s game renewed what had been an annual tradition. Here are the scores from the games starting with the 1992 national championship season (and, coincidentally, my first year as a grad student at the Capstone and first year back from military service overseas):

    2002 30-8
    2001 12-9
    2000 28-10
    1999 28-17
    1998 32-7
    1997 20-0
    1996 36-26
    1995 33-25
    1994 17-7
    1993 17-6
    1992 25-8

In those eleven games, only two were truly close (within ten points) at the end. Still, it seems that the Tide always went in tied or behind at the half and had to rally in the second half. I don’t have the breakdowns by quarter handy, though, so it may just be a couple of instances influencing my overall perception. Either way, considering how good Alabama was in many of those years–and how bad Vandy was in virtually all of them–these should all be blowouts.


Bama Opens 2006 SEC Season at Vandy

Alabama hosts Vanderbuilt tomorrow to renew its rivalry with the SEC’s doormat. The last time the Tide lost to the Commodores, their current head coach was their sophomore quarterback (and your humble scribe a high school senior).

Mike Shula had plenty of success as an Alabama quarterback, but there’s one game he’d just as soon not talk about. It was 1984, and he was a sophomore quarterback facing Vanderbilt, not far removed from his first career start. Care to reminisce, coach? No, he doesn’t. “I appreciate you bringing that up,” the Crimson Tide coach said, grinning.

The Commodores won that one 30-21 but have lost the 17 subsequent meetings with the Tide entering Saturday’s game, the league opener for both teams.

Now, Alabama (1-0) has John Parker Wilson, a sophomore quarterback making his second career start. A meaningless coincidence?

Tide linebacker Terrence Jones sure hopes so. He knows Alabama fans don’t soon forget — or forgive — losses in such a traditionally lopsided series. After all, Alabama is 41-2 against the Commodores (0-1) since 1961. The two teams haven’t met since 2002, but it’s all about perception. “If you lose to Vanderbilt, it’s probably going to be a real tough blow to your confidence,” Jones said. “Everybody doesn’t give Vanderbilt enough credit for what they do. They see them as the worst team in the SEC. But if you lose to them, people will start to think bad about you.”

No joke. Vanderbilt is a quality university but is only technically in Alabama’s league. Losing to Vandy would be an embarrasment for the Tide and something the Vandy players would be telling their grandchildren about.

Indeed, it’s odd to me that the Commodores didn’t follow the Tulane Green wave off (in 1966) to a conference more their speed. Vandy would be quite competitive–a force even–in something like the Mountain West. They’re good enough to give the SEC boys a tough fight every now and again but they will never win a conference title. That they’re the SEC’s only private university makes them an even stranger fit.


NFL Draft 2006 – Round 1 #11 – Denver Broncos (from Rams) – QB Jay Cutler

St. Louis Rams on the clock. The pre-draft buzz is that they want Jay Cutler. I don’t get it, since they seem to have a solid QB situation. Granted, Mark Bolger was hurt last year. But he’s a young guy who should heal nicely. I could see taking a QB if Leinart or Young were still on the clock. But a guy from Vandy? No way.

But the Denver Broncos can. They made a trade and moved up to get him. No word yet on what they gave up to move up from #15.

Ron Jawarski says Cutler got lucky going to the Broncos. Certainly, he’s in a better spot than Vince Young teamwise and one would think the Broncos are better than the Cardinals, who took Matt Leinart one spot earlier. In any case, it’s certainly better than anyone could have expected for a guy whose best option out of high school was Vanderbilt–a great school academically but easily the weakest football school in the terrific Southeastern Conference.

Boomer says the Broncos gave up the 68th overall pick, San Francisco’s 3rd rounder, to trade up. That’s a good move for both teams, methinks. The Rams don’t need a QB and the Broncos still have a 3rd of their own.


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