Brackets,jackets and tip-toeing around the patently obvious …

Brackets,jackets and tip-toeing around the patently obvious …

The seedings have been decided upon for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and quite rightly so. The Kentucky Wildcats having ended the season ranked number one in the nation, as well having an unbeaten season bearing a 34-0 record will enter the tournament as its prohibitive favorite, to win it all . John Calipari and his coaching staff head into the Tournament knowing, the first slip-up made, will essentially put to an end a season where a great deal more was expected.

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Players on this Wildcats’ team know a winning season and the NCAA Tournament title will certainly insure great deal of plaudits and the near- certainty of a high draft position in the upcoming NBA Draft this upcoming June . With three consensus first round draft picks among this roster of stars. The names of Karl Anthony Towns , Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson simply stand out, as players likely to be taken in the top-ten picks of the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft. If not, then there is something seriously wrong among the general managers and head coaches within the NBA at this juncture.

The four seeds in the regional tournament of the NCAA Championship are Kentucky, Villanova , Duke and Wisconsin . All four teams are in regional draws which will have their pot-holes along the way . where at least one or two upsets are likely to take place as the tournament progress. Opening salvos will be fired in the when the first four teams take to the court on the 17th and 18th March , 2015, as the NCAA Tournaments gets underway to decide the Men’s national champion.

Mike Krzyzewsk and the Duke Blue Devils will certainly have their work cut out for them in this tournament, as their path is unlikely to be easy. As the top seed in the South Regional phase of the Tournament where their biggest challengers could very well be other than their own complacency a , will be the other seeded challengers in the regional phase , with those topping the list said to be , Gonzaga , Georgetown (Hoyas) and Iowa State. As talented as the this Duke team might be considered to be , I do not believe this will be the year in which Mike Krzyzewski guide the program to their fifth national title , all coming under the coaching acumen of the renowned head coach.

With either Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah missing from the Chicago Bulls’ lineup at some point of the season, it easy to understand the reasons why the team has continued to struggle in the aftermath of having lost their League MVP point guard to another season-ending injury , likely curtailing Rose’s long-term future and the rest of his career. Add in the fact, the ongoing relationship between head coach Tom Thibodeau , GM Gar Forman and Head of Basketball Operations John Paxson , is now said to have reached an all-time low, and one wonders how the franchise can gain anything meaningful out of this all, should they fail to make the playoffs .

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Bulls’ forward Jimmy Butler is seen here with Tom Thibodeau . In the absence of either Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose . It has been left to Butler to provide the bulk of team’s offense over the course of the season. Thibodeau’s relationship with the organization has been tenuous at best often becoming heated between the coach and executives, John Paxson and Gar Forman . Courtesy of USA Today/ ..

Not only has the rancor between the head coach and the front office said to have reached an unacceptable level , but it is believed with Thibodeau unwilling to resign, there is no likelihood Paxson or Forman will make the decision to fire their beleaguered coach and their having to honor the remainder of his contract. With Derrick Rose sidelined, it has been left to his teammate Jimmy Butler to step up to the plate in the absence of his more heralded teammate to lead the team by example.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers now raced to the top of the Central Division of the Eastern Conference , the Bulls are now left having to wonder, what to make of their season , while also seeking to play catch-up within the conference. A nine-point road loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder , a road defeat . Butler and his teammates’ next contest will be againstthe Indiana Pacers whom they host on Wednesday evening at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois ,.

In the contest between the Thunder and the Bulls, point guard Russell Westbrook continued his scintillating displays where he almost posted another triple-double . Easy to now understand why he become a consensus favorite for this season’s League MVP. Consider the fact also, Westbrook has been doing this all in the absence of his teammate , Kevin Durant.

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks must be now salivating at the thought of Durant’s imminent return and the chance of his teaming up once again with Westbrook, to provide one of the most dominant and productive duos in the NBA. With only fifteen games left to be played in the remainder of the regular season, it will be interesting interesting to see how the teams acquit themselves as the season winds winds down .

All is fair in love and war . Granted, LeBron James has proven himself to be something of a warrior this season, as the Cleveland Cavaliers seek to justify themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference. Their record suggests otherwise when compared to that of the high-flying Atlanta Hawks , who might just be the surprise team the regular season within the NBA . Hawks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer certainly has to be considered one of the leading favorites for this season’s Coach of The Year Award , as it would a complete travesty , were he not among the top vote-getters for the prestigious accolade.

(7)    Alonzo  Mourning   now a  senior   executive  within   the  Miami  Heat    organization   has   been  extremely  critical  of    former   Heat   player    LeBron  James   after  his   decision  to  leave  the  franchise  and    return  to  the   Cleveland   Cavaliers  .  Mourning ,   failed  to   suggest   why  Heat   failed  to  surround   James     with   players   complementary  to   his    skills    capable  of   actually   of  being   competitive   enough  to  have   won   last    season's   NBA  title  .   Getty   Images/  Paul  Miller

Alonzo Mourning now a senior executive within the Miami Heat organization has been extremely critical of former Heat player LeBron James after his decision to leave the franchise and return to the Cleveland Cavaliers . Mourning , failed to suggest why the Heat failed to surround James with players complementary to his skills capable of actually of being competitive enough to have won last season’s NBA title . Getty Images/ Paul Miller

At present, Atlanta and the Golden State Warriors are the only teams with fifty victories or more to their respective resumes`. A possible Finals’ meeting between the two seems a reality, but I believe it to be unlikely given the competitiveness of the Western Conference. Steph Curry and his Warriors’ teammates are having a terrific season , albeit, many would not have considered this to have been one of the teams to beat at the start of the year, with the transition of easing in a new head coach, and Steve Kerr assuming the reins after his predecessor, Mark Jackson’s idiotic decision to alienate himself by foistering his hypocritical beliefs outside the game , upon his players and then to some extent , denigrating the organization . Joint team-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber had no other choice but to dismiss Jackson, ” freedom of speech” rights or not . There is no longer any space for outright bigotry within the realms of sports , let alone the fact , the former head coach showed a great deal of disrespect for the franchise, with his inflammatory remarks .

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Former Golden State Warriors’ head coach Mark Jackson , foreground and his successor , Steve Kerr. This season the Warriors have not only the best record in the NBA , but the team also happens to be the league’s , most potent offense , leading the NBA in a number of offensive categories . Getty Images

If Mark Jackson wishes to make a point , then let him do so while not representing Warriors and most definitely, if he choosing to express his personal beliefs, it should not be done in such a venal way, with his wantoned disregard of others , his own ethnicity and historically what African Americans have gone through in this country, without then seeking denigrate others, because of their own sexuality. Obviously, Jackson’s own religious beliefs and his comprehension of Biblical teachings, indicates his lack of intelligence and compassion. This has nothing at all to do with “political correctness” having run amok, but more to do with simple bigotry . You don’t cry ” fire ” in a crowded theater , or show downright bigotry of others , without their being severe consequences , and those wishing to excuse such behavior are simply naive or just imbeciles.

In what turned out to be a surprise overtime win over the reigning NBA champions , the San Antonio Spurs . New York Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher suggested the team should be rewarded for the efforts in this victory. Unfortunately, victories for the Knicks have been few and far between.

If Fisher is of the opinion his players ought to rewarded for those victories , then he sure as hell does not hold these very same players accountable, for the losses amassed over the course of the season. Fisher has shown as a rookie head coach, he still has a great deal to learn , and learning on the job when you have an inadequate group of players , and a front office which remains clueless, it becomes patently obvious to see why this franchise has been a complete mess and the ongoing butt of so many jokes around the NBA. Those subscribing to the fact Phil Jackson remains a basketball genius should really rethink that whole synopsis and realize it has been his ego and complete lack of knowledge in assessing talent which has also led to this debacle. Next up for the Knicks will be a road trip to visit the equally abysmal Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday evening.

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New York Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher is seen here two of his assistant coaching staff Jim Cleamons and Kurt Rambis , as they discuss a pregame strategy in the lead-up to a game to be played the franchise’s home venue , Madison Square Garden , New York City , New York . On the road as well as at home the franchise has simply been pitiful , having been the first team this season to have lost in excess of fifty games , with a league-leading fifty-three defeats as of 17th March , 2015. AP Photo / Mark Warren .

With both the Knicks and Timberwolves likely to be part of the Lottery Pick for the right to the top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft , it will be interesting to see which of the two teams in question or one of their other fellow banal franchises will be joining them as part of this ongoing facade created by the league to seek in the Draft process.

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Picture gallery . Narrative can be viewed by clicking unto the formatted picture shown.

The NCAA Tournament will likely create a great many thrills and spills, with one or two surprises along the way, in terms of the results. This tournament will ultimately provide us with another D1 collegiate champion in Men’s Basketball. Given the excitement created in last year’s tournament, with the 2015 NCAA championship now underway, let all of the excitement now begin. I may well be wrong , but I do not believe there is now an outright favorite for this year’s NBA title , and granted, there have been two or three teams over the course of this season who have proven themselves worthy favorites or perceived contenders. Yet, a caveat remains , buyer beware, beyond stating the obvious , the only conclusion and sure thing , has been the winner from each conference championship will have an equal chance of being named the NBA champion for the 2014-15 season.

Which programs do you believe will rise to the occasion and become this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion ? With NBA regular season now winding down , which teams do you believe have been the biggest disappointment to the league and to the fans ? Also which franchises from the Eastern and Western conferences, will be the Finals’ contestants for this season?

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NCAA Men’s Basketball

2015 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament

Opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

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NBA

NBA news and archived stories

NBA standings (division) and conference standings

NBA standings (Playoff Picture and with games remaining

NBA results 17th March and schedule 18th March

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It’s that time of year to reflect , review and then ponder as to what happens next …

It’s that time of year to reflect, review and then ponder as to what happens next …

There can be no denying this year within the world of sports we all witnessed the highs and lows of the sporting season. Basketball crowned a new champion in the NBA with Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs winning the title, the franchise’s fifth in their admired and revered history. The fact the Spurs defeated the Miami Heat with so much ease , came as a major surprise to many who favored the LeBron James’ led lineup that boasted Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen among their ranks. Complacency and a lack of support for James, were the contributing factors leading to Miami’s demise. With James departing during this off-season, a bewildered Pat Riley , the organization and the coaching staff of Erik Spoelstra will now have to start from scratch rebuilding the roster which hopefully, will have some semblance of competitiveness this season.

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Off to what might deem a favorable start to their schedule , the Miami Heat are no longer a team to be favored or feared, though I believe they are good enough to gain a playoff berth this season, given the mediocrity of the play encountered in the Western Conference , in a season where in its infancy, the basketball in the conference has been truly astounding and banal. The results bear z this out , without delving further about the reasons why beyond stating , two obvious factors, bad coaching and no depth of talent by way of the rookie players .

While of late, singular achievements have been given a great deal of praise, with Kobe Bryant having surpassed Michael Jordan on the all-time career points list (third) and LeBron James moving ahead of Charles Barkley for twenty third in the rankings. While I believe this all to be commendable achievements, it begs the question, why are fans now beginning to make comparisons with today’s players and those of the past ? The game has changed drastically during the respective eras, along with a number of rule changes initiated by outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern. This is all overlooked as fans and analysts alike try create a debate that will be filled with conjecture and a great deal of nonsense behind the supposed logic by a number of the debaters on the matter.

On the court the Golden State Warriors led by their dynamic duo of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are seen as capable of leading the team on a dominant run in the NBA and to a deep NBA Playoff foray, albeit, they have encountered some stiff opposition resulting in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies (20-4) the Warriors still maintain a healthy lead within the Pacific Division of the
Western Conference . No major fallout from this loss, as the loss ,as the team has been able to show its resilience over the course of the season .

In the collegiate ranks of basketball, the NCAA Tournament . Kevin Ollie and the U Conn Huskies won another title which heightened the prestige of the program and the fourth title in the school’s history. The Huskies’ victim in that tournament victory, the John Calipari coached Kentucky Wildcats are once again atop of the college rankings with an unbeaten season and the deemed the best team in the country. They are likely to be a team to be reckoned with as Calipari seeks a second title win to add to his burgeoning resume’. Kentucky has cut a swath through their opponents , but I feel we are reading far too much into the accomplishments at this stage of the season ! The run up to this season’s NCAA Tournament and the event itself will place an d even greater emphasis on how good the Kentucky Wildcats are likely to be. Hard to suggest where a likely challenge is likely to come from in stopping the Wildcats’ dominance.

With its inaugural format within College Football now in motion , last season’s defending national champions the Florida State Seminoles will be looking to make a successful defense of their title. Jameis Winston the program’s 2013 Heisman Trophy winner in spite of his off the field problems has been able to lead the team to their unbeaten run this season. The Seminoles ended the regular season ranked in the top four availing the chance to be part of the playoff schedule which has been essentially adjudged a four-team semi-finals’ playoff format with contests’ winner playing in the national title game.

The four programs who are the recipients of this inaugural system are Alabama , Oregon , Ohio State (Buckeyes) and Florida State making up the quartet. While there will be continued debate as to the veracity of this format , many feel a four-team playoff is by no means the best way to decide a national champion . Yet for all of the criticism leveled and the fact an empaneled body were arbiters on this whole scheme, not everyone can state this was of satisfaction to the doubters as well as some protagonists of the new format. Money remains the driving force behind this all, without anyone trying to suggest this system has been the best possible solution after years of idiocy with the BCS format and a system so void of legality , that it was simply ridiculous for anyone to try and justify its legitimacy. Come full circle, in reality the progress made is simply miniscule , even if the new format is tinkered with at various points in the future, as is likely the case.

This year’s Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota can go out on a high if he is able to lead Oregon past Florida State in their highly anticipated game on the 1st January, 2015. Mariota is highly regarded within the college ranks and seen as one of the most dynamic players in the game as well as perhaps the best quarterback in college football. A victory in that that game, to be followed with a championship victory , will lead to certain financial gain, a high draft pick the upcoming NFL Draft of 2015.

In light of the recent disaster of Johnny Manziel’s first professional start in the NFL this season was such a catastrophe it is hard to see any positives which could come out of the debacle, where the Cleveland Browns were shutout by the Cincinnati Bengals in their divisional clash 30-0 . The fact this was a home game for the Browns was all the more embarrassing for the fans. Manziel in the aftermath of his disaster has suggested he can play better , but that must now come into question after the idiotic decision made by Mike Pettine to sit Brian Hoyer merely to gauge what the team’s 2014 draftee was capable of doing. We’ve now seen what Manziel is not capable of doing and that is to lead a team with any great authority, much less play competently at the NFL level.

As the NFL season has unfolded we have witnessed the disasters of teams thought to be contenders , merely to have their hopes blown asunder, because of sheer complacency or simply bad play and extremely bad coaching. Jim Harbaugh’s tenure with the San Francisco 49ers (7-8) is likely to come to an abrupt end after a disastrous season for a franchise which has he taken repeatedly taken to the postseason in four of the five years of his tenure .

As the NFL season has unfolded we have witnessed the disasters of teams thought to be contenders, merely to have their hopes blown asunder, because of sheer complacency or simply bad play and extremely bad coaching. Jim Harbaugh’s tenure with the San Francisco 49ers (7-8) is likely to come to an abrupt end after a disastrous season for a franchise which has he taken repeatedly taken to the postseason in four of the five years of his tenure . San Francisco’s home loss in week sixteen to the San Diego Chargers put an immediate end to their postseason hopes. The fallout from it all , has been the growing speculation Harbaugh will fired or he resigns and accepts the vacant coaching position at Michigan (Wolverines). An 8-8 is the best the San Francisco 49ers can now hope for , something no might have envisage at the start of this season’s NFL schedule.

It is extremely difficult to now try and justify any reason why Rex Ryan should be retained as the New York Jets’ head coach for next season. In spite of their narrow one-point loss o to the New England Patriots(12-3) the defeat dropped the Jets’ record , with a with a penultimate game left on their schedule, they now find themselves bearing a mark of 3-12 . The franchise’s front office will have several decisions to make beyond Ryan’s immediate future, there is also the questionable performances of Geno Smith and Michael Vick over the course of this season. It remains to be seen wheter not both players are likely to be retained for the upcoming season, but clearly , GM John Idzik and the front office staff have to ponder the drafting of a quarterback or acquiring a reliable free agent to fulfill their needs .

The NFL enters its final week of games, with a number of divisions having been decided . Yet,for all of their accomplishments, there still remains the preposterous diatribe served up within the NFC South all season long . With the Carolina Panthers (6-8-1) now holding a slender one-game lead over the New Orleans Saints (6-9 and Atlanta Falcons (6-9) , a great deal still remains on the line as they each head into the final week knowing that a defeat could end their hopes of winning the division and gaining a playoff berth . Atlanta made sure, they still remain in the hunt, with their total annihilation of the Saints in Sunday’s game, beating a demoralized New Orleans’ team 30-14 . Carolina for their part, kept up their side of the ongoing equation by making sure the Cleveland Browns’ woes continued as the team suffered their second successive defeat . Thankfully, for the Browns’ fans, Johnny Manziel was kept on the sidelines for the entire game,as his services were not needed , not even for mop-up duty .

While I thoroughly enjoyed the exploits of the Kansas City Royals during this MLB Postseason . The AL Central franchise became the rallying cry for the underdogs within the game of baseball, as they wore down team after team on their way to the World Series . Alas, for the Royals it wasn’t to be, as the San Francisco Giants and Madison Bumgarner had more in store for the underdogs than they could ever have imagined . The series’ statistics may well stated the Giants won their third World Series’ title in five years . with some ease (4-3) and in part they actually achieved that. Yet to my mind, the Royals were never in with a chance of winning game seven , simply because of their lack of postseason and veteran experience being part of their lineup !

During this off-season with the Winter Meetings in full swing , teams made their play a> to acquire the free agents sought, while also jettisoning players they believed superfluous to their needs. The Miami Marlins made the headlines for the right and wrong reasons, dependent upon your point of view , but their signing Giancarlo Stanton to his now ridiculous $325 million contract smacks of sheer lunacy and a great deal of narcissism and conceit on the part of the organization . Two years ago this very same ball-club had a burgeoning roster of high-paid stars who simply flamed out under the misguided managerial acumen of Ozzie Guillen . A last place finish in the NL East games out behind the the divisional winner and a further out of card berth sealed Guillen’s fate for the year, leading to his dismissal after a disastrous season where the team was uncompetitive and > in complete disarray on and off the field . In the aftermath of the disaster, GM Michael Hill summarily initiated the fire sale which led to the trading away of those highly paid players from 2012.

A great deal will be expected of Mike Redmond and his managerial staff this upcoming season, because of the high and renewed expectations of this team led by Giancarlo Stanton and their NL Rookie of the Year pitcher Jose Fernandez , who was also signed to a very lucrative deal by the Marlins.

For the greater part of my youth and into my teenage years, I was an avid and voracious boxing fan and aficionado . My two biggest idols from the sport are still remain Muhammad Ali , ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler with former light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins not far behind . All three fighters were great champions during their prime with each rewriting the history books with records likely to be surpassed. I now champion the world of MMA and as an actual martial arts’ practitioner (karate & tae-kwon-do) this sport I believe has far exceeded what has boxing has failed to do in the last decade and that is to draw fans in, rather than systematically pushing them away . The death of another peer of Ali’s , at the age of seventy-five Ernie Terrell died but his career was memorable for the bout in which a charismatic , flamboyant Ali taunted Terrell in a lopsided contest where Muhammad Ali showed his dominance and gave light to what he would go on to achieve in the future . .

Muhammad Ali faces Ernie Terrell for the WBA Heavyweight title at the Houston Astrodome on the 6th February , 1967.

In light of the recent news, that Ali has been admitted into hospital with what is alleged to be a slight bout of pneumonia and with the former champion’s health having deteriorated over the past two-and a half decades. It may well seem sordid, in surmising he could now be at death’s door , wherein, if Parkinson’s disease doesn’t take him from within our midst, this latest health setback, likely will. Ali remains to this day not only the biggest icon in the sport of boxing, but his name and face are the most universally recognized in the world of sports. Outside of Michael Jordan in the NBA and Pele’ in the world of soccer, I sincerely doubt that there has been a more revered icon in the world of professional sports on a global scale.

Boxing has now become a sport, lacking in a charisma , where the top fighters in the various weight categories, simply avoid each other while formulating their prowess and claims of being the ‘true champions’ of their weight divisions . Personally, for all of the hype surrounding a potentially lucrative fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao, I will continue to maintain, it is a fight a number fans have become completely disinterested in ! Is there anyone willing at this juncture, to pay in excess of $55.00 for the “privilege” of seeing these two fighters, who have spent the past three years padding their stats with meaningless bouts , while earning exorbitant fight purses ? This has become the ” new norm” within the sport, along with the petulance of the fighters, promoters , connivance and continued corrupt practices of the various international governing bodies which preside over the boxing. Yet we wonder why the sport no longer truly resonates with fans and how it now lacks a broad-based appeal ?

Meanwhile, a viewed as a pugilistic upstart, continues to dominate the landscape and has become a multi billion-dollar industry under the main promotional flagship of UFC . MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) has now become the fastest growing sport in the world , with an increased audience participation , rising viewership and gate attendances for many of their biggest events staged around the globe. Idiots such as promoter Bob Arum and ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard continue to question the legitimacy of the sport , but have failed to recognize , while boxing has become pallid and stagnant, the growth of Mixed Martial Arts has been explosive. . In little over a decade, this combative style of fighting has caught the imagination of fans around the world and now has a growing legion of female fans, while holding on to its main demographic of males aged between eighteen to thirty-five . If you think fans of the the sport , is strictly confined to adults alone , then you would be wrong, as martial arts’ dojos are now beginning to incorporate MMA within their criteria , while still teaching their main forms of combat , such as karate, judo , taekwondo , Ju-jitsu , Krav-magav and other lethal forms of fighting.

Dana White rules the roost of the UFC, but he has now become more a totalitarian dictator, rather than a lead executive and arbiter of the sport. His apparent idiocy, in chastising many of the biggest names in the sport, who helped place it on the global map, shows not only White’s bombastic attitude, but also his naivete’ and complete stupidity. Can you imagine David Stern questioning the abilities of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson , Kobe Bryant or even LeBron James at the height of their careers ? Well, White has managed to do that with the MMA fighters, while becoming the antithesis of what is expected of a governing sports’ executive.

It may well be a great deal of schtick and panache’ on the part of Dana White, but before too long his idiocy will being to grate on the nerves of not only the fans but also the fighters themselves. The two biggest names in the sport at present are Cain Velazquez and Jon Jones , but with neither fighter having recently defended their respective titles, a small void has been created , yet to be filled by any other fighter, with the character or genuine appeal to strike a note with the masses. Ganted, the likes of Jose Aldo , Anthony Pettis and of late the sport’s only genuine female ‘star’ Ronda Rousey have a growing fan-base , but that might not be enough, unless there is a major title bout involving Jones, Velasquez or former champions Anderson Silva or Georges St Pierre. Rousey and St Pierre may well carved out side careers having appeared in a couple of Hollywood action movies, but their ” bread and butter ” remains the UFC for now .

Having been justifiably critical of the UFC and the lack transparency shown by the hierarchy concerning the drug testing of its fighters with repeatedly violations , most notably by Chael Sonnen , it will be interesting to see if Dana White is willing to welcome back the former UFC welterweight champion Georges St Pierre. Johny Hendricks’ first championship defense of the title , he won in an vacant title bout title as the successor to St Pierre, ended with his loss to Robbie Lawler. . All of the hype and actually nothing to back it up, simply indicated, Hendricks , was not all he was cracked to be .

With no major event on the schedule until January 3rd , 2015 , when Jon Jones defends his Light Heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier in a bout that will see the finality to what has already become contentious period between the two fighters , name calling asides , it’s time for both Jones and Cormier to sort their ” beef out”, rather than act like petulant children . I know the fight scene has to create an angle , with a ” hero” and a ” villain” , but when you are being asked to choose between two self-absorbed individuals, there isn’t much to actually throw your support behind. Your thoughts on that ?

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Picture gallery.

This was my simple breakdown of some of the interesting events I witnessed during the sports’ year and granted, I failed to touch on the PGA , NASCAR the NHL and even the WSOP (World Series of Poker) . So by all means chime in with your thoughts on the event or events of this sporting year which piqued your interest.

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Picture and slideshow gallery .

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(1) Dec 16, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra gestures against the Brooklyn Nets during the fourth quarter at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn , New York . The Heat defeated the Nets 95-91 . Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports …

(2) Dec 16 , 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) reacts to losing the ball against the Brooklyn Nets during the first quarter at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports …

(3) Dec 16, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Johnson (7) holds his head as Miami Heat guard Norris Cole (30) and Miami Heat forward Luol Deng (9) high-five late in the fourth quarter at the Barclays Center. The Heat defeated the Nets 95-91. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports ..

(4) Nov 11 , 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr (right) pats guard Stephen Curry (30) during the first quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena . The Spurs defeated the Warriors 113-100 . Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports …

(5) Kentucky players from left, Devin Booker , Tyler Ulis , Trey Lyles, and Willie Cauley-Stein celebrate their 83-42 win over UCLA during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game , Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in Chicago. AP Photo Nam Y. Huh …

(6) Left , Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State . Both college quarterbacks are one of the primary reasons why their respective programs will be part of the inaugural college playoff format which will decide this season’s national champion at the FBS Level of College Football . Both players will likely declare their eligibility status at the end of the playoff season , seeking to enter the 2015 NFL Draft . Mariota and Winston are considered consensus first round draft picks . Yet , there is a common belief teams in need of a passer might well be weary in light of the recent issues of Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Johnny Manziel . AP Photo / David Parsons …

(7) Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers runs off the field after the 49ers lose 38-35 in overtime to the San Diego Chargers at Levi’s Stadium on December 20th, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images / Ezra Shaw …

(8) Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) of the San Francisco 49ers shakes hands with free safety Eric Weddle(32) of the San Diego Chargers after the Chargers defeat the 49ers 38-35 in overtime at Levi’s Stadium on December 20, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images/ Ezra Shaw ….

(9) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks to his team in the huddle during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …

(10) New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan , left, and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, right, shake hands after an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Patriots won the game 17-16 . AP Photo/Julio Cortez

(11) Quarterback Geno Smith (7) of the New York Jets is tackled by defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (75) of the New England Patriots in the first quarter during a game at MetLife Stadium on December 21, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. AP Photo/ Julio Cortez …

(12) Miami Marlins’ manager Mike Redmond left and Giancarlo Stanton are seen here in the dugout at Marlins Ballpark in Miami , Florida during a home game on 2nd September , 2014 played against the New York Mets . Miami would go on lose the contest 8-6 . …

(13) In what is believed to be the last known public appearance by former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali is seen here attending the funeral of boxer Joe Frazier in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , in November of 2014. Ali was recently admitted to a local hospital where he is said to be suffering from a mild respiratory problem and a bout of pneumonia . Ernie Terrell whom Ali beat during his illustrious career recently died at the age of seventy-five. AP Photo / Steve Woods … …

(14) Ernie Terrell gets advice from his advisor Joe Louis between rounds of the vacant 1965 WBA World Heavyweight Title fight versus Eddie Machen at the International Amphitheatre , Chicago, Illinois on the 5th March , 1965 ,. UPI Syndicate ….

(15) Anderson Silva (left) is seen here with UFC President Dana White prior to Silva’s defense of his world welterweight title against Chris Weidman . The challenger would score a surprising knockout of the champion and then follow up that victory with a successful defense against Silva in their rematch which ended with a TKO after the former champion suffered a broken leg in their bout at UFC168 . Courtesy of MMA Magazine . @ all rights reserved …

(16) From left to right , Georges St Pierre , Anderson Silva and Jon ‘Bones’ Jones . St Pierre relinquished his welterweight title, taking a prolonged leave of absence from the sport . The former champion has been critical of Dana White for his lack of consistency and a stringent drug testing policy. White in retaliation, was less than salutary to one of the sport’s biggest attractions and most successful fighters in MMA history . MMA Junkie … …

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It’s still bad , at the top or the bottom and that’s as good as it’s liable to get .

It’s still bad , at the top or the bottom and that’s as
good as it’s liable to get .

College Basketball’s season has began and in many respects, the level of basketball of being played is not seen as glamorous as its professional counterpart within the NBA. Atop of the rankings remains one of the NCAA’s basketball powerhouses with the Kentucky Wildcats (9-0) casting its eye over the landscape where they reign supreme. John Calipari and his coaching staff having guided this team to the best record in College Basketball . This early in the season and one shouldn’t place a great deal in those standings as the teams have yet to find any type of consistency to their respective schedules.

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With the Wildcats ranked at number one, the second spot in the rankings is held by the Duke Blue Devils) coached by their acclaimed head coach Mike Krzyzewski, he seeks to win his fifth national title with the program. Krzyzewski and his team will be looking to be the dominant program once again within the ACC. Duke will likely be part of ” March Madness”,the climactic postseason soiree of College Basketball, unlike any other collegiate event. The Blue Devils’ next game will be against Elon in what is sure to be a lopsided contest. Kentucky will have a battle on their hands when they face the Pac-12 storied program UCLA (Bruins) in their next game .

To my mind, while the College Basketball season still remains in its infancy, we will not begin to witness the real resilience of the teams until mid January, when many of the programs have their sights set on the postseason fare and all of the visibility it brings. At the same time, there will be several players looking to shine with their displays in the run-up to that particular event.

Last season, in College Basketball the general belief and hype concerned players such as Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker , Joel Embiid and the litany of rookies drafted into the NBA. The presence of these freshmen, has simply proven to be one of the many reasons why the play in the league continues to be dire. Granted, there were always going to be bad teams in the NBA , but this season at this stage , how many of us could have imagined that so many of them would be playing so badly , with their being little coaching acumen being shown by the coaching staffs of these franchises ?

The Los Angeles Lakers have proven to be a monumental bust this season, with the team simply failing to show up, even then, it tends to be rather sporadic before they once again shift back to the depths of mediocrity . Not that Kobe Bryant and his teammates have been able to climb out of the morass frequently, judged on their play. Head coach Byron Scott could very well meet the same fate as his two predecessors if this continued ineptitude shows no signs of changing. Bryant for his partremains single-minded,not in chasing team goals , but more now at this stage of his career chasing personal goals. He is now nine points behind the career points’ total of Michael Jordan and his protagonists are trying to suggest it places the Lakers’ player on the same plateau as the NBA’s greatest player. That notion is simply asinine, needs to be seen as just sheer stupidity and without merit . Bryant will never be viewed as Jordan’s equal , never-mind being remotely close to him in stature or character.

Los Angeles will be on the road today, when the team meet the Minnesota Timberwolves . A game I might add, has a great deal at stake , with both of these Western Conference franchises looking to steer themselves away from the lower rungs of the conference. I have never been a great admirer of Byron Scott as a head coach even with his success coaching the New Jersey Nets, where he was able to take the franchise to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

The Brooklyn Nets as they are now known , owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov . This season in particular, Prokhorov has seen his team struggle with head coach Lionel Hollins , seeking to instill a great deal of discipline into a lineup that seems to have no intent on playing an iota of defense on both ends of the floor. The fact that the Brooklyn Nets have by far the highest payroll in the entire NBA should not be lost on the fans or league hierarchy , who seem to have little sense of being financially prudent , much less the executives and owners around the league being prepared to show that sense of urgency on the matter.

Lionel Hollins will takes his team bearing a 10-12 record as they sit 6 1/2 games behind the Atlantic Coast Division leading Toronto Raptors (17-6). Brooklyn just happens to be 5-5 in their last ten games and on a two-game win streak. Brooklyn’s next contest will be against the Miami Heat on Tuesday evening when the two teams meet at the AA Arena in Miami, Florida,. Miami after the abrupt departure of LeBron James have sought to build their roster around the talents of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade , with head coach Erik Spoelstra seeking rebuild his lineup around this duo of stars.

Coming off a lopsided twenty seven point victory over what appears to be the hapless Charlotte Hornets , where the Nets sank sixteen three point attempts in this contest. The Hornets I believe are a team who remain an aberration in spite of last season’s success and their having made the NBA Playoffs this past year . Michael Jordan in his new found role as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats must hope his players are able to show the discipline needed to make another run at the playoffs. As good as we might assume the Hornets’ team to be there is clear evidence the front office and coaching staff cannot be entirely happy with what they have witnessed so far this season.

Kemba Walker remains the face of this Hornets’ franchise and it will be interesting to see what moves are made if any, by GM Rich Cho at the behest of head coach Steve Clifford as they seek to bolster the roster. Next up for this franchise will a game against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the guests hope to place a dent in the hopes of the Cavaliers, as that team seeks to make a push at gaining the top seed in the Eastern Conference . James for his part, has lost none of scoring prowess as he leads the team in scoring and is well-placed in a number of other offensive categories . Yet, LeBron’s offensive prowess cannot be the sole proviso for the Cavaliers if they are to be successful this season, because his teammates will have to step up to the plate, along with David Blatt and his coaching staff showing a great deal more ingenuity than we have witnessed so far this season. Defensively , the Cavaliers have yet to prove themselves as one of the better teams in the conference or in the NBA overall . James and the Cavaliers’ next contest will see them line up against the Charlotte Hornets at home when they take the court at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio in front of a sold-out crowd on Monday night.

Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans might be considered to be having a great season, with the power forward consistently being among one of the topscorers in the league on a consistent basis during the infancy of the Pelicans’ schedule and this NBA season. This is a far cry from what the fans witnessed last season from the team as they struggled to find some consistency during 2013.

The addition of Tyreke Evans has given the lineup a great basis for their progress with their being a greater emphasis on defense as well as offense from this young team . Davis has played like an early season leading contender for the League MVP and it would prove to be extremely difficult to state he is not justified to be listed among the leading candidates for the trophy at this juncture, one quarter of the way through the NBA schedule. There might be no more than five players who considered to be having great all-round seasons , but among those names, one might consider Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, James Harden of the Houston Rockets , DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings and LeBron James .

A narrow six-point loss to the the Golden State Warriors was a clear sign , that the New Orleans Pelicans are on the right track, but there is still a great deal of work to be done by this team , with head coach Monty Williams and his coaching staff undertaking the task to the best of their abilities. Team owner, Tom Benson having bought the franchise, rather than seeing it be relocated with the organization’s previous owner, George Shinn , only all too willing to plead poverty, has begun to engineer a turnaround , that will hopefully see a return to competitive play , but also a profitable economic return on his investment for the owner.

Steve Ballmer paid an exorbitant and outrageous $2 billion for the privilege of owning an NBA franchise. In doing so he merely helped the NBA hierarchy out of a hole of their own making, with the gutless David Stern showing that he has no stomach to come down hard and punish an owner for their egregious actions and behavior. Even when left to his successor, Adam Silver to mete out punishment to the now departed Donald Sterling , the league still found a way make themselves look like complete fools , in their handling of the former Los Angeles Clippers’ owner. Come full circle , with Ballmer assuming control of the organization and still within the fans’ midst remains, Rochelle Stein-Sterling , the estranged wife of the former owner. Somehow, the continued idiocy to be found within the NBA remains , even when a new e owner comes within its midst , with Steve Ballmer acknowledging Stein-Sterling and making her an honorary lifetime member of the organization, albeit, she is said to have been well aware of her husband’s despicable racial beliefs and overtures, during his tenure as the owner of the Clippers. In this case , not only has complicity being rewarded but also he sheer mendacity of Rochelle Stein-Sterling.

As the Golden State Warriors’ ascent has been well-chronicled , with the franchise having the best record (20-2) in the NBA, there can be no denying Steve Kerr has this team heading in the right direction. Joe Lacob , Peter Guber and the members of the front office knew the successor to Mark Jackson had to be someone with skilled basketball IQ, a disciplinarian and an individual who would fit in with the ideals the owners had in mind for their franchise. Jackson for his part, proved to be far too outspoken on a number of issues that bore no relation to the Warriors’ principles or that of basketball. Along the way , he showed his ignorance and some might say bigotry , yet this should be not lost on the public when one bears in mind how out of touch the league remains on a litany of social issues which David Stern and the league hierarchy barely paid lip service to.

Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have been the primary reasons why the Warriors are off to a flying start , with the team now on a sixteen- game win streak, easily their best start to a season and a franchise record. Curry has fast become a fan favorite, with Thompson not too far behind, with his growing influence and popularity among the Warriors’ fans around the league. These two players are likely to be among the list of candidates to be team’s representatives on the Western Conference All Star Ballot for the NBA’s mid-season showcase. The prowess shown by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson make the pairing a force to be reckoned with in the NBA and be looked upon favorably against any other duo of offensive players in the league.

Kerr and the Warriors will have their next outing against the Memphis Grizzlies , a team with the second-best record in the Western Conference , while leading their division with a great deal of ease. This contest will provide us with a great deal of insight about these two teams, where Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph will lead a Grizzlies’ team intent on proving , they are to to be taken seriously as a legitimate threat within the conference as a playoff contender. I am certainly beginning to think the landscape has shifted within the Western Conference , where the only known commodities as perennial playoff contenders are the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, the defending NBA champions.

Two of the NBA’s most storied franchises are certainly having indifferent seasons. The Boston Celtics under second-year head coach Brad Stevens are still in the early stages of their rebuilding phase . A maneuver , I certainly believe GM Danny Ainge should have started at least three years ago, but inexplicably he chose to wait and here we are with a Celtics’ team still getting its feet wet and showing incrementals signs of improvement in their overall play. The New York Knicks remain an undisciplined team with their being little of positive recommendation to be made about this Derek Fisher coached lineup . To top it all , the Knicks’ front office remains clueless and that is with all due respect to Phil Jackson as Head of Basketball Operations for the franchise, but even he has to see , his task has now become a great deal tougher than first thought. Anyone of the belief that a roster made up of players such as Samuel Dalembert , Tim Hardaway Jr , Iman Shumpert , Pablo Prigioni, Amare’ Stoudemire, JR Smith and Carmelo Anthony were going to possibly compete n this league would have to be delusional or simply long-term diehard Knicks’ fans who welcomed the torture they have been subjected to over the past decade.

Personally, I do not believe fans of the franchise are either eloquent or intelligent enough to succinctly state the problems this team faces but yet they appear to be of the belief Jackson will be able to engineer a quick turnaround. Well, the famed head coach will not be stepping back into his coach’s shoes anytime soon and it is clear to see Fisher is way in, over his head. As to this continued idiocy, the coaching staff is experienced enough to guide these players, clearly that has become a farce of epic proportions. If anyone is trying to suggest Kurt Rambis and Roger Hinds can provide the tutelage needed, let alone assist Fisher to the best of their abilities in making this roster remotely competitive. The evidence is there for all too see, as borne out the team’s record without the continued asinine excuses being made for their plight. A five-point loss suffered at the hands of the Toronto Raptors on Sunday evening at Madison Square Garden , served notice as to how soft the New York Knicks have becomeand the fact this team is simply not that good by any stretch of the imagination to compete in the NBA.

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While I know the NBA season remains very much in its early stages , we have already reached first quarter of the schedule. The troublesome and prevailing premise has to be, when are we likely to see any type of improvement from the teams at the bottom end of the pedestal ? Certainly there is a great deal of room for improvement from the likes of the Brooklyn Nets , New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, but their issues are of their own making and not likely to get any better anytime soon. By all means, leave a comment as to your thoughts on the NBA and what you would like to see come out of this season concerning the teams ?

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) North Carolina’s Marcus Paige , middle, looks for a teammate amid Kentucky defenders, from left, Aaron Harrison , Dakari Johnson , and Willie Cauley-Stein during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game , Saturday, Dec. 13th, 2014. Kentucky won 84-70 . AP Photo/James Crisp

(2) North Carolina’s Marcus Paige , left, draws a charging foul on Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. AP Photo/James Crisp …

(3) Duke’s Tyus Jones (5) shoots past Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Duke won 80-70 . AP Photo/Andy Manis …

(4) Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski , left, and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan greet each other before an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Madison, Wis. AP Photo/Andy Manis ….

(5) Oct 7 , 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) posts up against Indiana Pacers guard George Hill (3) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana , Indianapolis . The Pacers would go on to defeat the Timberwolves 103-90 . Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports ….

(6) Klay Thompson , Shaun Livingston and Festus Ezeli of the Golden State Warriors during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on December 14, 2014 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Getty Images / Lane Murdoch Jr . …

(7) Anthony Davis (23) of the New Orleans Pelicans looks to make an offensive play as DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers looks to defend . Davis has been one of the league’s most explosive players offensively , during this season and by far the most effective power forward at this juncture of the NBA schedule. The Clippers would go on to defeat the Pelicans 120-100 in a high scoring game played on the 6th December , 2014 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California ,. Getty Images / Paul Fleming …

(8) LOS ANGELES – FEBRUARY 23: The Los Angeles Lakers coaching staff (L-R) Brian Shaw, Kurt Rambis , Phil Jackson, Frank Hamblen and athletic trainer Gary Vitti share a laugh on the bench during the game game against the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on February 23, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 122-96. Rambis is now the lead assistant on Derek Fisher’s coaching staff of the New York Knicks where Jackson is now the Head of Basketball Operations for the Knicks’ organization. Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images …

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It’s not what you do or the way that you spend , it’s just that you’d better be spending it wisely

It’s not what you do or the way that you spend , it’s just that you’d better be spending it wisely

Two things now seem to be taking center in the world of sports , one just happens to be the conference tournaments within the world of College Basketball , and the just happens to be the NFL and their free agency window to sign unsigned or trade cap hit players they deem , unworthy and destined for elsewhere . With the NCAA Tournament not yet upon us , but with the dance cards of certain teams now being set , it will be interesting to now see which programs will be granted the privilege of being an invite to this season’s competition . It seems remarkable that last season’s triumphant Men’s champion , the Kentucky (Wildcats) are likely to miss out on defending their title . This season the Wildcats have simply been pitiful within the SEC and equally so , on the national stage in their out of conference play .

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Courtesy of USA Today

Top 5: Sizing up the best conference basketball tournaments

By Scott Gleeson , USA Today columnist

USA TODAY Sports dissects the top little dances that prelude the big one. Here’s a look at the five best conference tournaments:

Big East Conference

Dates: Tuesday-Saturday

Venue/location: Madison Square Garden, New York

TV: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU

Second-round matchups (Wednesday): No. 8 Providence vs. No. 9 Cincinnati (noon, ESPN); No. 5 Syracuse vs. South Florida/Seton Hall winner (2 p.m., ESPN); No. 7 Villanova vs. No. 10 St. John’s (7 p.m., ESPN2); No. 6 Notre Dame vs. DePaul/Rutgers winner (9 p.m., ESPN2)

Quarterfinal matchups (Thursday): No. 1 Georgetown vs. Providence/Cincinnati (noon, ESPN); No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. Syracuse/USF/Seton Hall (2 p.m. ESPN); No. 2 Louisville vs. St. John’s/Villanova (7p.m., ESPN); No. 3 Marquette vs. Notre Dame/DePaul/Rutgers (9 p.m. ESPN)

BIG EAST: Conference bids farewell to tourney tradition

**Semifinals (Friday, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., ESPN) | Championship game (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN)

Main story lines: Georgetown, Louisville and Marquette finished in a three-way tie for the regular-season title at 14-4, leaving a cutthroat tournament to determine the top overall team. This is the final year of the tournament as we know it, with seven of the league’s Catholic schools — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St.John’s and Villanova — forming part of a new 10-team conference. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference (Notre Dame is likely to join the league earlier than planned), and Rutgers is going to the Big Ten. Longtime Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s potential retirement surely will be a subplot, despite his assertion he is not thinking about stepping down.

Key players: Otto Porter, Georgetown (16.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg); Russ Smith, Louisville (17.9 ppg); Vander Blue, Marquette (14.4 ppg); C.J. Fair, Syracuse (14. 5 ppg, 7.1 rpg); Jack Cooley, Notre Dame (13.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg)

Projected winner: Marquette

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Atlantic Coast Conference

Dates: Thursday-Sunday

Venue/location: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.

TV: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU

First-round matchups (Thursday): No. 8 Boston College vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech (noon, ESPNU); No. 5 North Carolina State vs. No. 12 Virginia Tech (2 p.m., ESPNU); No. 7 Maryland vs. No. 10 Wake Forest (7p.m., ESPNU); No. 6 Florida State vs. No. 11 Clemson (9 p.m., ESPNU)

Quarterfinal matchups (Friday): No. 1 Miami (Fla.) vs. Boston College/Georgia Tech (noon, ESPN2); No. 4 Virginia vs. N.C. State/Virginia Tech (2 p.m., ESPN2); No. 2 Duke vs. Maryland/Wake Forest (7 p.m., ESPN2); No. 3 North Carolina vs. Florida State/Clemson (9 p.m., ESPN2)

**Semifinals (Saturday, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., ESPN) | Championship game (Sunday, 1 p.m., ESPN)

Main story lines: Miami might have the No. 1 seed, but Duke is playing like the best team in the country with the return of Ryan Kelly, who scored 36 points in his first game back against the Hurricanes. Considering the last matchup was a close game, and Miami previously beat Duke by 27 points, a tournament championship rematch would be well received, as would a North Carolina vs. Duke semifinal. North Carolina State has been inconsistent, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Wolfpack find a late rhythm. Florida State’s Michael Snaer (14.5 ppg) has made four buzzer-beating game-winning shots this season.

Key players: Shane Larkin, Miami (13.7 ppg, 4.4 apg); Mason Plumlee, Duke (17.2 ppg, 10.3 rpg); James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina (14.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg); C.J. Leslie, N.C. State. (14.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg); Alex Len, Maryland (11.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg)

Projected winner: Duke

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In what might be the most disappointing season of his career , Wildcats’ head coach John Calipari , will have to carefully scrutinize where things went wrong for his team over the course of this program’s schedule . The loss of Nerlens Noel , certainly can’t have helped , and neither can the inconsistent play of the team over the course of the year. The only opportunity left for the Kentucky Wildcats will be their conference championship , and a spirited deep run, with the culmination of the tournament win , will be the only chance left for the players to show their prowess , and that they are deserving of an NCAA championship berth .

Inasmuch , as I have questioned John Calipari’s honesty , integrity and complete lack of character ! I can’t help but wonder ,what might have been , had he been availed his full squad of players at full strength within the SEC this season. Yet, while he and the Wildcats seek redemption , their conference rivals , the Florida Gators , are rolling along , and seem intent on proving that their play over the course of this season and their record of 24-6 , is not an aberration. And Gators’ head coach , Billy Donovan , the chance to possibly take this team on another historic run and a third national title in seven years , would be nothing short of miraculous . However, that premise is predicated upon the program gaining a favorable draw in the NCAA Tournament , beyond possibly winning the SEC championship tournament .

Mark Few and his number one ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-2) are simply looking to justify their current national ranking, while looking to make some history of their own. The West Coast Conference program seemingly has a comfortable lead within that conference , while on a win streak of fourteen consecutive games and a solid RPI (5) . Are they capable of winning college sports’ most renowned tournament ? Well that remains to be seen , although , I believe that the ultimate prize within collegiate athletics will be won by one of the more renowned programs within College Basketball !


Tom Crean
, coach of the Indiana Hoosiers , I firmly believe can and will one day be a head coach in the NBA . Though the opportunity has yet to arise , there have to be at least a few envious franchise owners and general managers around the professional ranks , certainly looking enviously at the young coach, and what he achieved at this historic program. Suffice to say , that come the off-season , when the coaching merry-go-round will begin , with perhaps one or two managerial firings , I have no doubt that Crean’s name will be atop of a number general managers’ lists . He has gotten the best out of a mercurial talent , in Victor Olidapo , while Cody Zeller , is, as good, as advertised. Granted , the team has slipped in the ranking in recent weeks, after a somewhat telling spell , where Crean’s players were exposed as being flawed on the defensive end of their game .

Crean’s resume’ speaks volumes as to his experience and character , yet I somehow get the feeling that he would now like nothing better than to lead this program to their first title in College Basketball , since the NCAA Tournament of 1987 , when they defeated Syracuse 74-73 , in what can best described as an “ epic final” . Finals’ MVP in that national championship game was Keith Smart, current head coach of the Sacramento Kings . One of the reasons behind the reverence of the Hoosiers’ program has been the abiding faith in what was essentially built by Bob Knight . As we know, the legend of this often controversial coach , is still clamored for, in this bedrock of College Basketball , which if anything, far outweighs the popularity of the NFL and resounding might I suggest all of the fable and mythical reverence that has been around Notre Dame football ?

As I alluded to earlier , Victor Olidapo and Cody Zeller have been the fulcrum that has essentially driven this Hoosiers’ team. Their most recent game , came by way of a narrow 72-71 victory over the Michigan Wolverines . Now with the Big Ten Tournament , now in full swing , it will be interesting to see how Indiana and the Wolverines fare as this particular competition gets underway , with the programs all seeking postseason aspirations beyond the recognition of being called the Big Ten tournament champions for the season.

Well , the NFL has kicked off what I like to think of as their “silly season” , wherein , the general managers around the league , seek to bolster their rosters , after the disappointment of last season . For the current Superbowl champions , the Baltimore Ravens , this off-season has proven to be an eventful postseason lull , even with the retirement of future Hall of Fame inductee Ray Lewis . GM Ozzie Newsome , and team owner , Steve Biscotti , it appears, have felt it best , not to rest on their laurels , but seek to bolster the team’s roster . In what has turned out to be something of a surprising move , wide receiver Anquan Boldin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers . And with their being ongoing rumors that the front office may well also seek to trade veteran free safety, Ed Reed to their opponents in this most recent Superbowl.

Forty Niners’ GM , Trent Baalke, either has to be seen as a wizard of or extremely fortuitous over the past five days. The franchise’s 2005 first round draft pick , in fact taken number one overall in that season’s draft , was traded to AFC West franchise the Kansas City Chiefs . A team that was in need, of an effective and an extremely efficient quarterback . None of which , was applicable to either Matt Cassel or his backup , Brady Quinn. And with new head coach , Andy Reid seeking to make the Chiefs a formidable force this upcoming season . It will be interest to see how a revamped roster will seek to acquit themselves during their 2013-14 schedule. The AFC West is likely to be a somewhat competitive race , but I do believe that once again, the division will be the Denver Broncos to lose, based upon their performances and their divisional play of last season !

As an avid New England Patriots’ fan, at this time of the season I long to see what mysteries will tend to unfold , as that mindful genius and often considered to be a megalomania-cal head coach , Bill Belichick , considers what his options might be , as it relates to the team’s roster , cap space , and whom he feels to be superfluous to the Patriots’ needs ! In what I believe to be gut-wrenching and inexplicable decision , it would appear that the front office and Belichick have decided to allow their wide receiver and in my estimation , the team’s best player , not named Tom Brady , in the departure of Wes Welker ! If the current ” twitter chatter “ is to be believed, then Welker will be off to join conference rivals the Denver Broncos , further adding to the offensive artillery of Broncos’ quarterback , Peyton Manning. Far be it for me to suggest , but the Patriots’ acquisition of Danny Amendola , by comparison , is simply allowing a Ferrari , off your lot and replacing it with a less impressive vehicle , by way of a Corvette ? Just my opinion , mind you , merely my own observation and opinion !

As to how Wes Welker’s departure might sit with Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, might be something of an indicator, as to the player’s overall reaction and any public statement that he may well choose to make to the press . Somehow, I feel that when the quarterback in question, sought to restructure his contract , in aiding the franchise with an additional $9 million

in cap space . My first instinct would have been to believe, that the Patriots would have re-signed Wes Welker to a two or three-year contract extension ! Alas, it was not to be , and yet somehow , I can’t but wonder , if this decision, won’t ultimately come back to “ bite the franchise “ in the proverbial ass !

If this is meant to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ year, this upcoming season . Then their off-season moves , and alleged ambitions , are quite impressive . Yet , beyond that , all of the talk in the world simply cannot hide the fact that , as this team goes , will be solely based upon the play of their four-year starting quarterback , Josh Freeman . Anyone , who simply believes to the contrary , clearly has not seen this team play, and how mindlessly inconsistent they can be , while exacerbating the patience of even their most devoted and loyal of fans . Two in particular , come to mind , Hillsborough County residents , and patrons of this site , SportsChump and “ Aero” , long-time devoted fans of the Buccaneers.

Buccaneers’ head coach Greg Schiano , may well be saying the sort things that he believes that the fans want to hear. Yet , I somehow , can’t help but wonder , if he believes the statements he continues to make , are based in fact, and anywhere close to being truthful . OK , as impressive as it was , the signing of Dashon Goldson , may well go a long way in bolstering the team’s defense , but their failure so far to obtain a productive free agent quarterback , veteran or otherwise , clearly hasn’t addressed the fact of one of the franchise’s biggest needs. Freeman , has become a relentless turnover machine and there seems to be no signs of abatement in that specific category of his play.

While all of the considerable talk appears to be about the Buccaneers’ wish also to obtain corner-back Darrelle Revis , a player who will not become a free agent until 2017 , but somehow given the fact that he spent much of last season on the Jets’ injured-reserve list . It might be considered too much of a gamble, for a player coming off a severe knee injury , and who no one really knows, whether or not, he can return to his best form , which came in 2007 , the year in which he was drafted by the New York Jets, as the fourteenth overall pick . In pursuant , to the Jets’ own decision , it may well be that the asking price of the franchise, may well be too high , as the Pro Bowl corner , is still viewed as one of the preeminent players at the position , as well as being one of the best defensive players in the entire NFL. Clearly , what will now take place between the Buccaneers and Jets , will all be about brinksmanship , and the sort of offer desired , and whether or not an amicable agreement can be reached .

Start afresh, and then hope that the chips will fall your way? Well, that now seems to be the mantra of the Miami Dolphins . Much like their baseball counterparts , the Miami Marlins , here is another professional sport’s franchise within the locale, that has simply done a damn disservice to their fans . Marlins’ owner , Jeffery Loria , has now taken to the print and television media , blaming that segment as well as the fans, for the ball-club’s misfortunes of last season . F#ck you , Loria , and the horse you rode in on ! You hired a self-absorbed and opinionated asshole, as a manager , who was simply unable to communicate or motivate the players under his guidance . Ozzie Guillen was never that influential in the Chicago White Sox’s winning of a World Series in 2005 , as much of the team’s success that season and into the postseason , came by way of the determination of the players , rather than the input of Guillen and his coaching staff at the time !

In the case of the Miami Dolphins, the team’s billionaire owner , Stephen “Steve “ Ross , is now seeking the city of Miami’s sole input and financing for the refurbishment of Sun Life Stadium, a venue that is entirely owned by the billionaire entrepreneur. And less we forget , the city still remains under investigation by the US Justice Department , for what is believed to be their misdeeds , in the financing of the Marlins Ballpark , which has now become something of a white elephant , which was sparsely attended for many of the team’s home games , during the venue’s inaugural season of 2012.

Perhaps, it is me , but Ross’ apparent wealth , and the very fact that he is and remains amongst Forbes’ 400 richest Americans , should not prove to be a hindrance in his being able to obtain private financing for a stadium that he owns . Furthermore, the NFL has its “ 3G financing program “ to aid their franchises with such issues . Something, I believe that Ross , his GM , Jeff Ireland , the CFO Mark Brockelman are fully aware of , but instead, would rather use a great deal of connivance and deceit , in order to get an already beleaguered city municipality , burdened with mountains of debt , looking to further plunge itself deeper into indebtedness. I was once told, by a patron, that the state of Florida has advanced from years of corruption and incompetence . Somehow, I believe that to be a myth, because the state continues to be mired with incompetence at all levels of government within the state . Simply, look no further than the rising evidence and allegations now leveled at the state’s Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll (R-Fla) ? And yet, her initial actions, in touting a business where she held an executive position , while in office, was in strict contravention of the state’s laws. Moreover , the state’s asinine governor , Rick Scott (R-Fla) , initially jumps to her defense , clearly showing , that his dumb ass , has no idea as to the rule of law , much less the goddamn laws of the legislature within his own frigging state .

The Dolphins have been bold , while seeking cap space , they have rid themselves of running back , Reggie Bush , who it appears , now becomes the featured “back” with the Detroit Lions . Good luck, on that one boys …..?

After something of a disastrous season in 2012 , this Dolphins’ team will undoubtedly have to raise the level of its play all-round , or simply suffer the ignominy of a repeat, of last year . Quarterback , Ryan Tannehill , their first round pick from the 2012 NFL Draft , had something of an inconsistent year , but obviously his exploits paled into insignificance when adjudged against that of Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck , Russell Westbrook , sophomores , Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick . That being said , head coach , Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland , have shown and will continue to show a great deal of faith in the young player , as he seeks to progress and gain legitimacy as a young quarterback in the NFL . So this season for Miami Dolphins will be imperative, as they seek some respect within the AFC East.

While I don’t begrudge the NFL at this time of the year , as it becomes, same old story repeatedly , season in and season out ! The story remains the same , it’s just the cast of characters that tend to change in terms of the change of events , and how we are asked to view them by print and television media, alike .

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Picture gallery .

With the NCAA Tournament brackets not yet set , as the conference tournaments are still ongoing, do you believe that , there may well be one or two prominent programs that will remain on the outside looking in , having not been invited to the “ Big Dance” ? And in terms of the beginning of the NFL off-season , and the recent turn of events , what major moves do you believe will be the most significant or in your estimation the biggest gamble of them all ? By all means , do take time to proffer up a comment on this and anything else , you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

Picture gallery and slideshow details .

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(1) Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos (4) shoots against Portland in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, March 2, 2013, in Spokane, Wash. AP Photo/Jed Conklin …

(2) Gonzaga’s Elias Harris (20) goes up for the dunk against Portland in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, March 2, 2013, in Spokane, Wash. AP Photo/Jed Conklin …

(3) Kentucky’s Ryan Harrow (12) shoots as Florida’s Michael Frazier II defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, March 9, 2013. AP Photo/James Crisp ….

(4) Coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats directs play against the Florida Gators February 12, 2013 at Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The Gators won 69 – 52 . Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images North America …. .

(6) FILE – In this Nov. 18, 2012 file photo, Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed (20) runs after recovering a fumble by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh. The Houston Texans will meet with free agent Reed on Thursday, March 14, 2013. The team said on its Twitter site that general manager Rick Smith is flying to pick up Reed in a private jet owned by team owner , Bob McNair . AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar …

(7) This Jan. 20, 2013, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks to wide receiver Wes Welker (83) before the NFL football AFC Championship football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Foxborough, Mass. The Denver Broncos have found a new target for Peyton Manning, agreeing to a two-year deal with Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

(8) FILE – In this Jan. 29, 2013 file photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Dashon Goldson (38) smiles during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game in New Orleans. A person with knowledge of the contract says free agent Goldson has agreed to a $41.25 million, five-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, because the team had yet to formally announce Goldson’s deal. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey …..

(9) FILE – In this Jan. 1, 2012 file photo, Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham (55) pressures Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) during the first half of an NFL football game in Atlanta. The Falcons have released running back Michael Turner , Abraham and corner-back Dunta Robinson . The moves were announced Friday, March 1, 2013, by a team that came up just short of the Super Bowl. With an almost $8 million salary received by the Buccaneers’ quarterback in 2012 , it has to be said that he offered the team a meager return on that investment . AP Photo/David Goldman ….

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😉

By Tophatal

NFL pieces within this site and College Basketball

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NFL news and stories from around the league

NFL archived stories

NFL team transactions

2013 NFL Draft and details from the NFL Combine

2013 NFL Draft : Top prospects by grade

Top prospects by position

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NCAA Men’s Basketball

NCAA Men’s Basketball news

NCAA Men’s Basketball Conference Tournament results 13th March 2013 and scheduled games 14th March and beyond

NCAA Men’s Basketball statistics 2012-13

NCAA Tournament 2013

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Tears for Fear ….. “Everyone wants to rule the world “

😉

“Shout “

One And Done …… Who Says ?

One And Done …… Who Says ?

By tophatal ………..

If there’s said to be a coach in College Basketball this season to actually not only produce but also win I would have to say that it would have to be John Calipari , without a doubt ! Considered a success where he’s been …… dubiously I might add when one considers the controversies that have surrounded the programs where he has been coach . That notwithstanding he has the Kentucky Wildcats’ program riding high , having posted a 30-1 overall , 16-0 within conference (SEC) .

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Slide show for your perusal .

The Kentucky Wildcats’ team is one with a great deal of talent with a highly explosive offense that’s led by freshman Anthony Davis , alongside Michael Kidd-Gilchrist , Twany Beckham , Doron Lamb , Brian Long , Sam Malone and an array of highly talented players . That being said we simply know that once this NCAA Tournament is over en masse` a large number of players on the roster will declare their eligibility looking to make the jump to the pros and join the NBA in search rich rewards . And as we know John Calipari has never been one to stand in the way of his players seeking to earn their way at the college level , much less getting an education _____ or in reality simply catering to their needs in allowing them to be part of that ever-increasing “throng of players” who are one and done at the college level .

In September of last year Calipari and several of his coaching peers at the collegiate level within the world of Basketball , Baseball and Football took part in a symposium sponsored jointly by ESPN , Nike Inc and the NCAA . This symposium was organized to discuss many of the issues that seem to be high profiled within collegiate athletics today. Those issues covered a vast array of topics from student graduation rates , scandals that have embroiled many of the top programs within collegiate athletics and the rather “thorny subject ” of the student athlete being paid to play. Something I believe that John Calipari may well know a great deal about albeit that nothing has ever been thoroughly proven , in spite of the so-called in-depth investigations that have been conducted by the NCAA via their Infractions Committee . To my mind , having that in-house body investigate anything related conduct violations by an athletics’ programs is akin to asking the “Medellin Drug Cartel “ to conduct an audit of the illicit drug trade in terms of the transportation of narcotics up from Central America across the Mexican US border . Suffice to say , you simply know that there’s bound to be some sort of denial as to the vast irregularities or should one say the depth and lengths of the transgressions that are said to be taking place .

Now don’t get me wrong, the likes of Jeff Tedford , Bob Stoops , Calipari , Jim Boehiem , Rick Pitino and such ESPN luminaries as Kirk Herbstreit , Lou Holtz , Rece Davis and Mark Mays , may well mean well but I find it somewhat insulting to see these coaches and analysts summarizing issues that they simply have ignored all too often . ESPN cannot be looked upon as an institution much less a broadcast outlet that speak with any veracity upon many of these issues given the fact they now have several commercial tie ins with a number collegiate programs across the nations. Perhaps none more so than that highly publicized multi-year , two decade , $3 billion deal with the Texas Longhorns for a co-owned broadcast outlet —— Longhorns Network that was initiated by the school’s football coach Mack Brown and the school’s AD DeLoss Dodds .

George Bodenheimer , head of ESPN Sports and the outlet’s president John Skinner remarked that this was a new dawn in terms of collegiate athletics broadcasting when the deal was formally announced . Well given the fact that the broadcast through its sister network ABC along with ESPN , ESPN2 and ESPNU already has cast a wide net in terms of its coverage of collegiate sports , wherein the revenues that the NCAA is said to be in receipt in from the major networks and much smaller affiliates nationwide runs into several billion dollars , annually . And one wonders why the NCAA and major college conferences are awash with so much money ? Never mind the scandals that continue to surface each year that in large involves boosters , agents coaches and even AD’s , themselves . But at the end of it all it always seems to be the athlete that at times tends to be punished with impunity .

The NCAA’s “bark ” is actually worse than “its bite “ and that is strictly because its president Mark Emmert , simply isn’t the man with the demeanor to act with real authority ! Think of him as simply being a kitten with a bowl of milk always on-hand , nothing more , nothing less !

Now with the SEC Tournament now in full swing with all of the major powerhouse programs are now seeking to play themselves into contention not just with a view to the tournament but also as a possible last chance of gaining a berth amongst the sixty-five teams for the NCAA Tournament . It will be interesting to see how the Wildcats acquit themselves as the tournament progresses . Next up for the team after their 60-51 victory over the LSU (Tigers ) in the first round . Their next game will be in the semi-finals on Saturday 10th March, 2012 against a yet to be named opponent .

Would it be remiss to suggest that a great deal is expected of John Calipari and his team at this juncture ? Certainly all of the pieces are in place with a team that can defend as well as score with almost reckless abandonment . But that isn’t simply good enough when it comes to the NCAA Tournament because a team really has to come into the national championship hitting a real rich vein of form . Complacency has been the demon that has plagued teams seen as prohibitive favorites for the national title . And though it is hard to go against the grain and not pick the Wildcats , I simply get the feeling that they will undoubtedly go deep into the tournament but somehow there’s going to be a major obstacle placed within their way that they cannot overcome . As to who that might be is anyone’s guess at this juncture .

Would it be remiss to suggest that a great deal is expected of John Calipari and his team at this juncture ? Certainly all of the pieces are in place with a team that can defend as well score with almost reckless abandonment . But that isn’t simply good enough when it comes to the NCAA Tournament because a team really has to come into the national championship hitting a real rich vein of form . Complacency has been the demon that has plagued teams seen as prohibitive favorites for the national title . And though it is hard to go against the grain and not pick the Wildcats , I simply get the feeling that they will undoubtedly go deep into the tournament but somehow there’s going to be a major obstacle placed within their way that they cannot overcome . As to who that might be is anyone’s guess at this juncture . Now a 23 game win streak is impressive given the schedule of this Wildcats’ team it has to be said that beyond their in-house conference match-ups I don’t truly feel that Calipari’s players have at all been tested this season ! The team’s sole defeat came at the hands of the Indiana ( Hoosiers ) early in their schedule in a hard-fought and competitive game , which ended in 73-72 victory for Indiana .

At this stage of John Calipari’s career in spite of the controversies , it is hard to believe that in spite of the success he has yet to win a national title . His peers such as Jim Boeheim , Rick Pitino , Mike Krzyzewski , Jim Calhoun and Roy Williams and Billy Donovan have all been lucky enough to have cut down the nets on that final day of a national championship tournament . As of yet such an accolade still awaits the Kentucky Wildcats’ basketball head coach . Chances are that this season fate will either be kind to John Calipari , or it won’t . Your thoughts ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Do you believe that this national championship tournament will be the one where John Calipari will have the honor of cutting down the nets on the final day ? Or will that honor be bestowed upon another head coach of a burgeoning program ? Chime in with a comment as and when ready .

🙂

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) NEW ORLEANS, LA – MARCH 09: Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts against the LSU Tigers during the quarterfinals of the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images …

(2) NEW ORLEANS, LA – MARCH 09: Anthony Davis (23) of the Kentucky Wildcats grabs a rebound against the LSU Tigers during the quarterfinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images …….

(3) NEW ORLEANS, LA – MARCH 09: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts during the game against the LSU Tigers during the quarterfinals of the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images ……

(4) Kyle Wiltjer (33) of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots the ball over Justin Hamilton (41) of the LSU Tigers during the quarterfinals of the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images ……

(5) Members of the LSU Tigers react after losing to Kentucky Wildcats 60-51 during the quarterfinals of the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images …….

(6) Anthony Davis (23) of the Kentucky Wildcats drives the ball around Justin Hamilton (41) of the LSU Tigers during the quarterfinals of the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images ….
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Kentucky Men’s basketball

Kentucky Men’s basketball news

NCAA Men’s Basketball results and schedule

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🙂

Reasons to love Erika Mayshawn ! Think of one at least , please ?

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Black Rob ………………. ” Whoa ”

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It Takes Two Tango But Only One To Really Cheat

It Takes Two Tango But Only One To Really Cheat

Is it me but the furor over the Final Four just might not be as exhilarating as some think it to be between what’s deemed to be the marquee match-up between two prestigious programs in collegiate basketball. The Saturday evening prime time televised game between Jim Calhoun’s U Conn Huskies against John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats is deemed that the winner will be viewed as the presumptive favorite in the finals of NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship .

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Slide show for your perusal .

On the opposite side of the draw in the Final Four we have VCU Rams playing the Butler Bull Dogs . The two teams here are if anything seen as the Cinderella stories of this tournament but given the fact that Brad Steven’s team is making their second consecutive Final Four appearance I’m inclined to believe that he will also make a repeat appearance in the Finals itself ! But that will however be predicated upon the defensive stealth of Shaka’ Smart’s Rams over the course of this game.

In what is being widely reported that by Foxsports and now picked up by ESPN that Bilal Batley a former assistant to coach Calipari while he was a coach at Memphis and at Kentucky made impermissible phone calls to potential recruits of both teams . When broached on the subject of this matter by the convened press in the team’s public interview Calipari declined to comment but only wanted to talk about his team’s upcoming game against the Huskies . Given John Calipari’s track record of failing to comply with the rules as it concerns the appropriate recruitment of players as it relates to being formally in contact with prospective recruits this only further muddies the waters as to the relevance of this game. And given that Calhoun this season has come under close scrutiny by the NCAA and his multiple violations for the same problem how can anyone view this game as a competitive match-up of two really deserving teams ?

Courtesy of USA Today

Report: Ex-Kentucky assistant violated NCAA rules regarding phone calls

By Tim Gardner , USA Today

Former Kentucky assistant coach Bilal Batley, who resigned from his post in 2009 after he was found to have violated NCAA rules by rebounding for a player during a workout, reportedly violated other NCAA rules as well.

According to a report published Friday by FoxSports.com, Batley also made numerous impermissible phone calls to recruits during his time at Memphis and Kentucky.

From the FoxSports.com report:

NCAA rules state that all telephone calls made to or received from a recruit, his parents, legal guardians or coaches must be made and received by a team’s head coach or three countable assistant coaches.

According to Memphis and Kentucky, Batley was not a countable coach at either school. NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson declined comment to FOXSports.com on the alleged violations.

But Cousins, a Sacramento Kings rookie forward who played for Kentucky as a freshman last season and then left for the NBA draft, said Batley played a “big role” in him committing first to Memphis. He then followed Calipari to Kentucky shortly after the coach’s hiring in April 2009.

Cousins was the first major recruit that Calipari landed at Kentucky and helped re-establish the Wildcats’ recruiting reputation among the nation’s elite. He said he and his mother, Monique Cousins, talked to Batley on the telephone while he was at Memphis and Kentucky.

“We stayed in contact with him frequently,” DeMarcus Cousins told FOXSports.com.

Kentucky coach John Calipari would not offer comment to FoxSports.com when he was approached after his news conference at the Final Four on Friday.

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Click on link to read article in its entirety .

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It seems that wherever Calipari has coached controversy always seems to follow and now on the cusp of what just might the most important of game his Wildcats’ career ugliness once again rears its head and the coach is again in the spotlight not for his team’s accomplishments but more for the coach’s actions and that of a member of his coaching staff . Now while it’s too early to say whether or not rules were violated with regard to recruits on this present Wildcats’ team .

One of the players the story says was a recipient of one of the calls made was former Wildcat DeMarcus Cousins who now plays in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings . What might be even more troubling is that current league MVP leading candidate Derrick Rose’s —- college career was closely questioned because it was suspected that he hadn’t met entrance requirements and it was suspected that his SAT’s were in fact taken by someone other than Rose. And though the NCAA conducted their own investigation , nothing came to light concerning the matter. But Rose has refused to address the matter publicly and John Calipari has taken the same stance. However what became clear over the course of the investigation was a close associate of Calipari , Bilal Battley had been in contact with Rose prior to his recruitment to Memphis . Make of it what you will but with there being no apparent paper trail then there’s nothing to be found we’re told . But one only has to look at the improprieties that have come to light over the course of Calipari’s collegiate coaching career ? Need one say anymore on the matter ? And oh by the way , if you’re now prepared to take that the stance you’re innocent until proven guilty try making that case given the evidence that has continually come to the fore with regard to Calipari. Unfortunately however , it appears that when the NCAA conducts an investigation they tend to show the ineptitude only seen in the silent movie era when the Keystone Cops were all the rage . What might be even more insidious concerning this matter and each time Calipari has come under a cloud of suspicion ESPN’s college basketball analyst Dick Vitale has steadfastly come to the support of Calipari but surprise , surprise Jim Calhoun as well . As the saying goes …………..” birds of a feather flock together ” .

At the end of the day sports at the collegiate level has become more about greed and what not only the players are prepared to do but now it appears also the coaches and members of their coaching staffs. This isn’t meant to be a damning indictment of this tournament or in fact all programs but what we appear to be seeing are that some of the more marquee programs will now prepared to do when there’s a great deal at stake in terms of the financial windfall that comes with winning .

As I alluded to earlier this game between two of the more storied programs within D1 college basketball . There are budding future NBA stars on both teams but the one player I believe that everyone feels will be a unanimous first round potential number one pick in the upcoming NBA Draft has to be Kember Walker ! He’s been the marquee player of this tournament without a doubt . And though this team is littered with stars and their play throughout the season has been impressive to say the very least with there being an all round contribution from all members of this roster. And though Walker wasn’t lauded with the College Player of the Year Award with the accolade going to Jimmer Fredette of the Cougars I’m not so sure that beyond that choice there’s any justification to try and state that Fredette can be considered the best player in the nation at the college level.

What we do know is that John Calipari is a very good coach albeit that we will continue to question his methods as it relates to recruiting players and his distinct wish to hide behind what he believes are his right to privacy and to my mind self incrimination. In the cold light of day what I’d like to know is when the NCAA will actually have the courage to diligently investigate an allegation of impropriety by Calipari and a member of staff given the fact that repeatedly over the course of his career questions have arisen about his conduct in the recruitment of players either by himself or his subordinates. If the NCAA can’t be trusted to do what’s right when we have a case of a coach who over the course of his collegiate coaching career has brought two college programs UMass and Memphis placed under NCAA mandated academic suspensions for violation of recruitment rules and now quite possibly a third. What that says about how naive the NCAA has been and the fact that John Calipari remains unscathed by any of these allegations leads me to believe that the NCAA doesn’t either know how to conduct an investigation or they are complete buffoons !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Tonight’s scheduled games held at Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas where we’ll see the duo of games for the two remaining berths for the national championship . I for one hope that both games are thoroughly entertaining and competitive . As to who the two finalists will be that remains to be seen but one thing we know for sure is that a fairy new champion will be crowned at the culmination of what has been one of the better tournaments in recent years. What thoughts if any do you have on the NCAA Tournament and your own thoughts as to the latest allegations associated with John Calipari and a former assistant of his ? Do you believe that the coach knew of these allegations and that Batley acted on his orders ? And which teams do you feel will prevail in the end between the quartet of teams remaining ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the topics raised within this piece .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

😛

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Jamie Skeen (21) of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams goes to the hoop against Matt Howard (54) of the Butler Bulldogs during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ………

(2) Darius Theus #10 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams draws contact against Matt Howard #54 of the Butler Bulldogs during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ….

(3) Head coach Brad Stevens of the Butler Bulldogs shouts from the sidelines against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ……

(4) Head coach Shaka Smart of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams gestures from the sidelines against the Butler Bulldogs during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ….

(5) Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun reacts during a practice for a men’s NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball game Friday, April 1, 2011, in Houston. UConn plays Kentucky on Saturday.

(6) Kemba Walker (15) of the Connecticut Huskies points during practice prior to the 2011 Final Four of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 1, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images …..

(7) Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats addresses the media after practice prior to the 2011 Final Four of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 1, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images ……….

(8) This picture from 2009 shows Memphis coaching staff (left to right) John Robic – Assistant Coach, Josh Pastner – Assistant Coach, Bilal Batley (background) – Asst. Director of Operations/Mgr., John Calipari – Head Coach, Orlando Antigua – Assistant Coach, and Rod Strickland – Director of Basketball Operations on the bench against SMU at the FedExForum. Photo by Mark Weber ……………

(9) Bilal Batley a former assistant to John Calipari while he was a coach at Memphis and then at Kentucky before leaving the program . It has been Batley’s actions that have now come into question raising questions also once again about coach Calipari and his coaching staff and the lengths they’re prepared to go to in order to recruit a potential player for the Wildcats’ program. AP Photo / Mark Sanders …….

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Burning Spear ……………. ” Marcus Garvey ” ====================================================================